January 11, 2018

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Posted in Well-being tagged , , , , , at 2:56 pm by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallUnderstanding a light box

 A light therapy box mimics outdoor light. Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD.

Generally, the light box should:

  • Provide an exposure to 10,000 lux of light
  • Emit as little UV light as possible
 Typical recommendations include using the light box:
  • Within the first hour of waking up in the morning
  • For about 20 to 30 minutes
  • At a distance of about 16 to 24 inches (41 to 61 centimeters) from the face
  • With eyes open, but not looking directly at the light

Light boxes are designed to be safe and effective, but they aren’t approved or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for SAD treatment, so it’s important to understand your options.

You can buy a light box without a prescription. Your doctor may recommend a specific light box, but most health insurance plans do not cover the cost.

Here are some questions to think about when buying a light box for seasonal affective disorder:
  • Is it made specifically to treat SAD? If not, it may not help your depression. Some light therapy lamps are designed for skin disorders — not for SAD. Lamps used for skin disorders primarily emit ultraviolet (UV) light and could damage your eyes if used incorrectly. Light boxes used to treat SAD should filter out most or all UV light.
  • How bright is it? Light boxes produce different intensities of light. Brighter boxes will require less time to use each day, compared with dimmer boxes, to achieve the same effect. Typically the recommended intensity of light is 10,000 lux.
  • How much UV light does it release? Light boxes for SAD should be designed to filter out most or all UV light. Contact the manufacturer for safety information if you have questions.
  • Can it cause eye damage? Some light boxes include features designed to protect the eyes. Make sure the light box filters out most or all UV light to avoid damaging your eyes. Ask your eye doctor for advice on choosing a light box if you have eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts or eye damage from diabetes.
  • Is it the style you need? Light boxes come in different shapes and sizes, with varied features. Some look like upright lamps, while others are small and rectangular. The effectiveness of a light box depends on daily use, so buy one that’s convenient for you.
  • Can you put it in the right location? Think about where you’ll want to place your light box and what you might do during its use, such as reading. Check the manufacturer’s instructions, so you receive the right amount of light at the proper distance. (From Mayo-Clinic)
Talk to your health care professional about light box options and recommendations, so you get one that’s best suited to your needs.

January 2, 2018

Try Some Therapy in the New Year

Posted in Well-being tagged , , , , at 12:15 pm by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallDid you (or someone you know) ever have the experience in which life is going along pretty well, you feel reasonably successful in most areas, but there is just one area you can’t seem to get a handle on and it really brings you down and frustrates you? Perhaps you have a great job you love, but you can’t seem to get a handle on snacking excessively while TV watching in the evening. Maybe you’re a great mother with awesome kids, but there is this nagging negative body image that compels you to work out, even when you don’t really want to or need to work out. Maybe you’re a father who is a super sports coach for your child’s team, but you feel incredibly awkward and tongue tied in social situations with your peers.

People often think of counseling as something only needed by people with diagnosed mental disorders; and certainly, counseling is very helpful in those situations and many of my clients fall into that category. However, counseling can also be helpful for those frustrating little stuck spots that annoy an otherwise pretty content existence. Counseling can help with creative blocks, learning better communication skills, and learning how to get along better with the in-laws!

Counseling is also great for life transitions: kids taking off for college, getting married, bringing children into a relationship, retirement. All of these are healthy, but can cause distress from some people. Talking about it, really does help.

The collaborative approach I take with counseling allows you to explore any of those little troubling areas that might be getting in the way of Discovering A New Day! Take that first step and give me a call! (717)951-0266.

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

December 5, 2017

Thinking About Thinking

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:06 pm by kellyfdennis

figure-thinking-with-question-mark-100152866 I am similar to many other counselors who use an “eclectic” theoretical approach when counseling. However, I’d have to say that I do use a large percentage of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques when counseling. I use these techniques for a couple of reasons: CBT is empirically based, which just means that there has been a substantial amount of research confirming its efficacy; I find the techniques are easy for clients to understand; and the approach just makes sense.

Essentially, the premise behind CBT is that the way we think affects they way we feelwhich inturn affects the way we behave. See, it just makes sense! The tricky part for most people is learning how to “think about one’s thinking”. Generally, we go about our days on autopilot; we may not even be aware of the “thinking” going on inside our minds. Remember when you were first learning how to drive? You had to consciously think, “I’m turning left, so turn on the left turn signal. I’m stopping, so I need to gently apply my foot on the brake.” Now, if you’re an experienced driver, those thoughts happen pretty much outside of your conscious awareness.

Similar thoughts happen for us on a daily basis. We’re going along on our merry way and, for what seems like no reason at all, we begin to feel blue, anxious, irritated, etc. Most of us look for a person or a situation to blame for this feeling when really, it’s caused by a thought that we are having.  So, you might be saying “No, that doesn’t seem right, if a guy cuts me off in traffic, I get mad because he’s a jerk!” Well, to a certain degree that’s true…but you get mad because the thought you’re having is, “That guy’s a jerk!” What if the thought you had was, “I guess he just didn’t see me coming.”? Hmm…maybe you wouldn’t feel so angry.

Something to “think” about, isn’t it?

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

November 28, 2017

I’m Giving A Little Love From My Heart

Posted in Compassion tagged , , , , , , at 10:06 pm by kellyfdennis

treeinsun2So, did you have a bad day? Or maybe a mediocre one? Did you and your daughter have a disagreement before she left for school? The car wouldn’t start; when you finally got to work your supervisor said “we need to talk” and the talk wasn’t great. You couldn’t find your favorite pen, the dog peed on your best shoes… UGH! I hate bad days.

For all the bad, I want you to know that you are deserving of good. You are capable, strong, tenacious, fearless, and bold. You know what bad days feel like and you conquer them anyway and go on to face the next day. Do you sometimes feel like giving up? Sure, sometimes the tasks seem insurmountable. Do you sometimes believe that you are the only person on the planet with sense, and wonder what the heck has happened to the rest of us? Yep.

I want you to know that even with all that stuff, you are lovable, lovely, worthy of respect and good caring from those you love. You are smart, kind, caring, and courageous. Even when you’re in your jammies and your hair’s a mess and you haven’t brushed your teeth, you are still an awesome person, waiting to give and receive love and affection.

You, my love, are my hero; courageously encountering your day even though you may struggle with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, ADHD, have children on the spectrum, are recovering from trauma and abuse. You do what you have to do to take care of your family, your job, your life.

Now, go and do what you need to do for yourself, to take care of yourself, to love and nurture yourself. Just like you do for everyone else. Shut off the TV, turn off your phone, say “no” to watching the neighbors kids, and just do something lovely for yourself, right here, right now. I want you to take care of yourself. You deserve it.


November 27, 2017

Need to Chill Out? Try This.

Posted in Compassion, Mindfulness tagged , , , , at 12:55 pm by kellyfdennis

Goat These are trying times; add the holiday hubbub in there and you may be feeling stressed out! Of course, there are two kinds of stress, eustress and distress, but it’s usually the distress that we notice the most. It can cause irritability, difficulty sleeping, headaches, elevated blood pressure, and elevated blood sugar levels as well. So, what if you could do a few things every day to help you feel less stressed out? That’d be great! Right? Well, actually, even though we there are things we can do everyday to help ourselves with our stress, we are also really good at talking ourselves out of doing them.

So, do what you need to do to get yourself to try one or all of these things this week:

-Bring your attention to the here and now by focusing on a physical sensation for a few moments. One example is to pay attention to your feet, right now. How do your feet feel in your socks and shoes, or barefoot resting on the ground, or in boots standing in line? What do you notice about the physical sensations in your feet? Just notice, no judgment, just curiosity.

-Breathe. I know it sounds cliche or maybe too simple to actually work, but conscious breathing is a great thing because it reduces the over stimulation of the “fight or flight” response which contributes to your feeling stressed out. So, stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, and then blow it out through your mouth. Do it 3 times, a couple of times a day, and I bet you’ll notice a difference in your stress level.

-Do some active muscle relaxation. Stand up and reach your arms to the sky, bend over and touch your toes, turn your body to the left and then to the right. If you have a little more time, practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation, a yoga pose or two, or take a nice warm bath. All the while noticing how good it feels to relax your muscles.

-And finally, Feel the Love! Place your hand on your heart (skin to skin contact is best), visualize someone who is dear to you, a person, a pet, a spiritual figure, and then allow yourself to feel the love coming from that person, pet, or figure, and allow yourself to feel the love flowing from you back to them.

Some pretty easy and not-so-time-consuming ways to de-stress this holiday season. I hope you’ll try it!

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!


November 16, 2017

How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach

Posted in identity tagged , , , , at 3:02 pm by kellyfdennis

longfence A loonngg post, but well worth the read~Kelly

BY LEO BABAUTA ZenHabits.net

Let’s say you’re feeling unmotivated, unsure of yourself, aimless, can’t find your passion, directionless, not clear on what your purpose in life is.

You’re in good company — most people are in the same boat.

Now, there about a million things online telling you how to find your passion in life, and that’s a good thing. It’s a search worth undergoing.

I’m not going to give you a fool-proof method, or a 5-step method, nor share my passion manifesto with you today.

I’m going to give you a one-step method.

However, that one step is a doozy.

The One Step to Finding Your Purpose

It’s simply this: learn to get outside your personal bubble.

Your personal bubble is the small world you live in (we all have one), where you are the center of the universe. You are concerned with your wellbeing, with not wanting to look bad, with succeeding in life, with your personal pleasure (good food, good music, good sex, etc.).

This is the bubble we all live in most of the time, and people who say they don’t are trying to prove something.

When someone tells you you look fat, this only hurts because you’re in your personal bubble. You take that statement (a colleague who says you look fat) and believe that it’s about you, and feel the pain or embarrassment of how the statement affects you. It matters a lot, because in your bubble, what matters most is how everything affects you personally.

I’m the same way, and so is everyone else.

Some other problems caused by this personal bubble:

  • In our bubble, we’re concerned with our pleasure and comfort, and try not to be uncomfortable. This is why we don’t exercise, why we don’t only eat healthy food.
  • This fear of being uncomfortable is also why we get anxious at the thought of meeting strangers. It hampers our social lives, our love lives.
  • Because we don’t want to look bad, we are afraid of failing. So we don’t tackle tough things.
  • We procrastinate because of this fear of failing, this fear of discomfort.
  • When someone does or says something, we relate that event with how it affect us, and this can cause anger or pain or irritation.
  • We expect people to try to give us what we want, and when they don’t, we get frustrated or angry.

Actually, pretty much all our problems are caused by this bubble.

Including the difficulty in finding our life purpose. But more on that in a minute — I ask for your patience here, because this is important.

What Happens When We Get Out of the Bubble

If we can learn to get outside this personal bubble, and see things from a less self-centered approach, we can see some amazing things:

  • When someone says or does something, it’s not really about us — it’s about pain or fear or confusion they’re feeling, or a desire they have. Not us.
  • When we have an urge for temporary pleasure (TV, social media, junk food, porn), we can see that this urge is a simple passing physical sensation, and not the center of the universe.
  • We can start to see that our personal desires are actually pretty trivial, and that there’s more to life than trying to meet our pleasures and shy from our discomfort. There’s more than our little fears. Including: the pain and suffering of other people, and compassion for them. Compassion for all living beings. Wanting to make the world better.
  • We can tie our daily actions, like learning about how our minds and bodies and habits work, or getting healthy, or creating something, not only to our personal satisfaction and success (trivial things) but to how they help others, how they make the lives of others better, how they might lessen the suffering of others.

We become less self-centered, and begin to have a wider view. Everything changes, from letting go of fear and anger and procrastination, to changing our habits and finding work that matters.

How does this relate to finding our life purpose? Let’s explore that.

The Wider View, and Our Life Purpose

Once we get out of the bubble, and see things with a wider view, we can start a journey along a path like this:

  1. We can start to see the needs of others, and feel for their suffering.
  2. We then work to make their lives better, and lessen their suffering.
  3. Even if we aren’t good at that, we can learn skills that help us to be better at it. It’s the intention that matters.
  4. As we go about our daily work, we can tie our actions to this greater purpose. Learning to program or become healthy (for example) isn’t just for our betterment, but for the betterment of others, even in a small way. This gives us motivation on a moment-to-moment basis. When we lose motivation, we need to get back out of our bubble, shed our concern for our discomfort and fears, and tie ourselves to a bigger purpose.

In this path, it doesn’t matter what specific actions you take or skills you learn to make people’s lives better. What career you choose is not important — what matters is the bigger purpose. You can always change your career and learn new skills later, as you learn other ways to fulfill this purpose. You’ll learn over time.

What matters is becoming bigger than yourself. Once you do, you learn that you have a purpose in life.

How to Get Out of the Bubble

Sounds great, but getting outside this personal bubble isn’t as easy as just saying, “Let it be so.” It takes work.

First, you must see when you’re stuck in the bubble. Whenever you’re angry, frustrated, irritated, fearful, anxious, procrastinating, feeling hurt, wishing people would be different … you’re in the bubble. These are signs. You are at the center of your universe, and everything is relating to you and your feelings. When you can’t stick to habits, or have a hard time with a diet, you’re in the bubble. Your momentary pleasure is what matters in this bubble. Outside the bubble, they’re just little events (sensations of desire, urges) that can be let go of.

Second, when you notice that you’re in the bubble, expand your mind and heart. See the bigger picture. Feel what others must be feeling. Try to understand rather than condemning. See how little and petty your concerns and fears have been. Realize that if others treat you badly, it’s not about you, but about their suffering.

Third, wish others well. Genuinely want their happiness, just as you want your own happiness. See their suffering and wish for it to end or lessen.

Fourth, see how you can help. How can you lessen the suffering of others? Sometimes it’s just by paying attention, just listening. Other times you just need to be there, just lend a hand. You don’t need to go around solving everyone’s problems — they probably don’t want that. Just be there for them. And see if you can make people’s lives better — create something to make them smile. Make one little part of their world — a cup of tea, an article of clothing you’ve sewn — be a little space of goodness.

Repeat this process multiple times a day, and you’ll get better at it.

You’ll learn to be bigger than yourself. You’ll learn that the life we’ve been given is a gift, and we must make the most of it, and not waste a second. You’ll learn that there is nothing more fulfilling than making the lives of others a little better.

So…I Wrote You a Love Song

Posted in Compassion, Self Image tagged , , , at 8:55 am by kellyfdennis

blackeyedsusansI know that sometimes you feel like you messed up. There are days when you feel like you can’t do anything right. You might wake up in the morning and are convinced that you cannot possibly face the day and all there is in it. Or maybe you look in the mirror and say to yourself “if people knew the real me, they would not want to hangout/be with me.” You try again and again and again and believe that you just aren’t measuring up.

So, I wrote you a love song; not because you asked for it, but because you deserve it:

Nothing that happened yesterday has to determine who you are today; you are strong and resilient; you are worthy of health, happiness, love, and affection.

You are radiant, beautiful, important, and worthy; you can claim your happiness, peace, grace, and love.

May you be grounded and centered; may you move through your life with mindfulness, grace, and compassion.

My wish for you is to face today with an open mind, speak kindness to yourself, capture the love that is waiting for you.

You are enough, what you do is enough.

You are loved.

November 14, 2017

Can’t Make It to the Office? No Problem!

Posted in Online Counseling tagged , , , , , at 10:28 am by kellyfdennis

computerandtabletwvseeTry video counseling!

Sometimes it just doesn’t work to stop what you’re doing and come into the office for a counseling session. One of the kids woke up sick, you woke up sniffling, the furnace broke and you have to wait for the repair man, or maybe you’re at a conference across the state and don’t want to miss your session. All very good reasons to try video counseling.

I use VSee, a HIPAA compliant platform similar to FaceTime or Skype, but secure. It’s a free program, you can download it on your computer, your table, or your phone and take your counseling session wherever you go! I like it better than telephone counseling because we can see each other and feel more connected.

So, instead of canceling or rescheduling next time you have a conflict, give video counseling a try!

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

October 12, 2017

Nervous About Counseling? Here’s What to Expect.

Posted in News tagged , , at 12:51 pm by kellyfdennis

CreampuffI met an individual at the local café the other day and we started chatting. She stated that she thought she would benefit from counseling, but was hesitant to make an appointment because she had no idea what to expect. This was causing her undue anxiety. I explained to her what would happen; she felt much better and set up an appointment. As a result, I thought it might be helpful to outline what you can expect at your first appointment.

Once you decide to make an appointment and give me a call, I’ll take some info over the phone, and ask you for a brief summary of why you’re seeking counseling. After that, we’ll move to setting up your first appointment, called an intake evaluation. I’ll direct you to my website (www.kellyfdennis.com) to print out some new client paperwork for you to fill out before you get to my office.

When you get to your appointment, I’ll review the paperwork you completed. Then we’ll process your payment and I’ll begin to ask you some questions to give more details about the reasons you’re seeking counseling. I’ll ask you some questions about your family history, schooling, social relationships; as well as questions about things in your life currently, such as job and/or school, current relationships. Then we’ll talk about the current symptoms you are experiencing that are, or may be, a part of the reason you’re seeking counseling and what coping skills you might already be using.

I think therapy works better when you take an active role (rather than just responding to only my questions). Therapy is really a team effort; I am trained to ask the right questions, but I’m not a mind reader, so feel free to add information that you believe might be pertinent. It can be helpful to write down some things that are bothering you ahead of time when you’re not feeling nervous, which, by the way, is completely normal.

In addition, try to be open and honest with your emotions.  Many clients have apologized for becoming tearful or expressing their feelings vociferously in their first session. This is not bothersome for me and actually helps me to understand your situation better.

Finally, try to come to therapy with realistic expectations. It is not a quick fix. Working through problems takes time, effort, and commitment to the therapy process. With effort on your part and a strong therapeutic relationship, it can be a successful tool toward resolving problems.

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

August 2, 2017


Posted in Well-being tagged , , , at 11:46 am by kellyfdennis

I recently became a member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. For many years after taking training in clinical hypnosis, I have been using hypnosis as a part of counseling for those who request it, or for those to whom I suggest it might be a nice adjunct to therapy. It is interesting to me the responses I get from people and the mistaken beliefs they hold about hypnosis. I thought I’d share some of the myths about hypnosis incase you’ve ever considered it, but are afraid to try because of something you may have “heard” about it.

Myths about Hypnosis from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis website:

People often fear that being hypnotized will make them lose control, surrender their will, and result in their being dominated, but a hypnotic state is not the same thing as gullibility or weakness. Many people base their assumptions about hypnotism on stage acts but fail to take into account that stage hypnotists screen their volunteers to select those who are cooperative, with possible exhibitionistic tendencies, as well as responsive to hypnosis. Stage acts hep create a myth about hypnosis which discourage people from seeking legitimate hypnotherapy.

Another myth about hypnosis is that people lose consciousness and have amnesia. A small percentage of people, who go into a very deep level of trance, will fit this stereotype and have spontaneous amnesia. The majority of people, however, remember everything that occurs in hypnosis. This is beneficial, because most of what we want to accomplish in hypnosis may be done in a medium depth trance, where people tend to remember everything. In hypnosis, the client is not under the control of the hypnotist. Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves. A hypnosis simply serves a facilitator to guide them.

I would add that we naturally go in and out of states of hypnosis pretty regularly. Have you ever been traveling on an interstate and suddenly, it seems, you are at your exit and you really don’t remember getting there? We also are in natural states of hypnosis in those groggy moments between sleep and awake in the morning and being awake and falling asleep at night (hypnogogic).

Our conscious mind is very powerful. Sometimes it can be helpful to get it out of the way and be able to tap into the unconscious mind which can help to facilitate lasting change. Talk to me about it sometime!

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!


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