January 1, 2018
Courage and Honor
As a counseling clinician I work with people every day that typically arrive in our offices with an element in their life that is preventing happiness.
These are the courageous ones. Because, it is not those that have ‘something wrong with them’ that authentically engage in therapy. It is the ones who feel the conflict between fear and truth within. They just have not yet held hands with themselves. Not yet…
You teach me every moment the beauty of being human. It is the highest honor to spend our moments discovering Your Truth.
Thank you to All of You and thank you to…
The two Sisters, the two Aunts who saved two child’s lives.
The one who is starting to believe that when something is accomplished it does not mean that it is worthless. It is priceless.
The artist who one day will acknowledge the Artist.
The one that accepts that the relationship they wish for is no more.
The one who will see that it is not ‘word vomit’ that is written, it is actually their soul’s voice that has been written.
The Family that will see that addiction is not lack of character, it is character blocked by a disease called addiction.
The one that wishes for a holiday with a family and a partner that already has the potential to experience that holiday in a moment that will arrive as soon as they are ready to accept that potential.
The ones that will know that there is nothing wrong with them, because what they feel is the result of something wrong that happened to them.
The ones that will realize being in love with your partner is never enough, yet loving your partner is always enough.
My partner who looked at the void and said “not now”. You are the Courageous and Kind Queen.
The Mentor, now also a Friend. You were correct Doc, the dark path will always have a turn to the light. We just have to stay the course long enough to make the turn.
Integrated Counseling is honored to offer individual counseling, marriage counseling, relationship counseling, and family counseling to the Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton and surrounding Lehigh Valley areas.
As we all know, part of being in a long term committed relationship is having conflict with our partner. We are two different beings, and therefore we will have constant differences in various areas of life together.
There are three statements that we can keep in mind as we move through our conflicts that will determine the state of our relationship. These three need to be our guidelines no matter what the topic.
Honor My Partner
Preserve The Relationship
Maintain My Truth
The ‘relationship riddle’ is: How do we find ourselves to these three in the midst of conflicts?
There is a path to the answer. It does require a new mindset of a long term committed relationship so we can actually understand this model, understand what we need to do to be successful, and move to making changes that align with that success.
These are some of the core areas that we address and explore during our relationship counseling sessions. We work together to solve the riddle.
Integrated Counseling Services specializes in relationship counseling, couples counseling, marriage counseling, individual counseling, and family counseling. We are located in historic Bethlehem.
March 8, 2017
Living 1 X 4
Today we live in a world of seemingly constant flux.
Our control of events and circumstances feels like it is slipping a bit more each day.
Our schedules overflow. Double-booked is now the norm. Lunch? Sure, at my desk.
The day flies by and we are not sure if we had much choice in what we did and where we went.
Social media pushes us to ‘keep up’ with everyone else’s ‘perfect life’.
Watch the news or check out the latest on the web and we get pulled in to a world of chaos, danger, and dishonesty.
We certainly don’t match up to the ‘billboard’ stars of the stage and the field. Better buy something on Amazon to feel better.
Our heads spin. Our bodies suffer. Our relationships drift.
What is the actual goal? Not actually an easy answer.
We need to change something. Tomorrow I will get to it…
A wise man once said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.”
How does that work? What does that exactly mean?
It means this; We cannot do anything to change the world at large unless we start somewhere else first.
We cannot do anything to solve the wars, the water shortage, poverty, racism, Dems vs Reps, unless we solve our conflicts, our conservation, our place, our views.
We will never ‘measure up’ to an artificial scale.
What we can do is change Our World.
The world we live in each day.
The world that unfolds for us each moment.
We can live 1 x 4.
We can live within the four walls that make up our homes, that make up our families, that make up our work, that make up our actual lives.
We can live in and change what is always directly in front of us.
How will I honor my partner this day?
What three things can I name to appreciate this day?
How will I be a positive role model to my children today?
How many doors can I hold for someone else today?
Can I leave an extra 5% in tips today?
Can I call instead of text today?
Can I look in to someone’s eyes and say hello?
Can I ask someone, “How are you, really?”
Can I be kind today?
What will I do to positively change my 1 x 4 today?
If we change Our World, we do change The World.
Integrated Counseling Services is a licensed professional counseling practice offering individual counseling, family counseling, relationships counseling, and marriage counseling from our offices in Bethlehem.
December 19, 2016
This time of year is a formal opportunity to share sediments and thoughts with the people that grace our world.
Because of the role that we participate within while working with individual, family and couple patients, we have an intimate view in to people's lives. Their challenges, their joys, their heartaches, and their breakthroughs. At the center of our mindset is a deep appreciation for every person that we have the humble opportunity to share in the human journey.
For all of those we have met, those that we have spoken to, those that have moved on, and those that we continue to work with, we will take this opportunity to say Thank You for your courage, your strength, and all you have shared and all that you have taught us.
A hope that we share is that You can appreciate Your own strengths, Your moments of courage, Your proof of change, Your capacity to love, Your potential for happiness, Your divine Human abilities.
Integrated Counseling Services specializes in individual counseling, relationship counseling, and family counseling. We are a positive psychology based practice that honors the human ability for happiness and contentment within the challenges of the real world.
August 15, 2016
The Thought versus The Reality
In counseling sessions with patients we often discuss the principle of Thought versus Reality. This dynamic is typically present within the relationships between long term partners. When there is an emotional distance that tips the relationship to the negative, and there is a call for action, one or both partners will share “I want to have a happy and close relationship.”
As humans, we all want positive close relationships. It is the number one reason presented by research that creates happiness in humans.
“I want to…” is a Thought of something better. The Reality of something equates to the actuality of a more positive relationship occurring given the circumstances and the potential of the people involved. What we do in counseling is explore that Reality together.
The distance between the Thought of something and the Reality of something is the measure of the conflict and the chaos in the relationship. One of our goals is to bring the Thought closer to the Reality. We do this by observing behavior patterns, emotional profiles, life situations, as well as the commitment level of the partners to the relationship. These observations show the Reality.
The level of change in behaviors implemented by the partners will bring the Reality of happiness closer to the Thought of happiness.
The present Reality may be uncomfortable and not wanted. However, it is where we have to start. Once the Reality is acknowledged and understood, we can begin our work to align the two factors in the positive zone. Our finish line is to for the partners to be comfortable in believing that “Our relationship IS happier and closer.”
Integrated Counseling Services specializes in relationship counseling. We work in an open and non-judgmental model to promote positive understanding and change to couples interested in being a partner in a long term committed relationship.
May 4, 2016
Is there one secret, one insight we can use to solve most of our relationship challenges?
However, we can come to one universal thought that may allow us to begin to realize why our relationships seem, at times, so difficult. Maybe then we can decide a more productive approach.
Except for our in common Human species, we are completely different in all ways from our partner.
This is not a negative. This fact can actually free us.
Since we are very different people, we view the world utterly uniquely. Because we live in a close emotional and physical proximity these differences will result in consistent disagreement.
Again, not a negative. Simply a logical outcome of this relationship model.
If we can realize and accept that disagreements are a ‘natural’ and common part of our relationship, we can move to understanding that the satisfaction level of our relationship will be determined by our level of effectiveness in managing our way through these differences to arrive at a positive result.
The topics do not really matter since we have an Individual view on most issues. What does matter is how we discuss, share, question, and explore the issues together.
The formula is simple.
At the end of each conversation the goal is for the relationship to be in a positive state.
So, it is not about agreeing.
It is about disagreeing well.
Integrated Counseling Services specializes in relationship counseling. We guide couples to make changes in their interactions so the differences are heard and understood. This leads to a growing trust in one another and a growing respect in one another's individuality.
Feb 9, 2015
How often do we consciously think about if we are attractive to our mate?
Not just physically, also emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.
Once upon a time we cared very much if we appeared attractive. We concentrated on being all we could be in the core aspects of our lives.
The payoff was that we attained what we were after. We ‘won over’ our courted partner.
If we knew it at the time or not, we displayed many elements of our positive potential. We listened. We were empathetic. We tried to understand. We held doors. We wrote notes. We were optimistic. We were hopeful. We believed in ourselves.
And then, perhaps, the slow slide began back to mediocrity.
And now, our relationship doesn’t feel very special any longer.
And, maybe, we don’t feel very good about ourselves.
Hmmm. This doesn’t feel like ‘happily ever after’.
There are many facets and multiple levels to relationship satisfaction.
As with most things in life, all paths start with ourselves.
Perhaps we take a page from our past selves and think about making ourselves attractive again.
Not for vanity’s sake. Because we feel good when we feel attractive. And because our partner will feel that attraction, and we can begin to refuel our relationship.
Take an inventory of your relationships, your physical self, your spiritual self, and your professional self. Decide on some areas you would like to feel good about. Areas in which you would like to feel attractive again.
Starting on just a few can begin an upward spiral that will positively affect more and more areas of your life.
Do it for you first, and witness how attractive you become to others.
Integrated Counseling Services specializes in couples counseling, marriage counseling, and relationship counseling. We help couples realize where they are, so they can understand how to arrive at where they would like to go.
Dec 14, 2015
Wishing You....Presence of Presents
Holiday wishes are well founded in love, peace, joy.
These are wonderful projections. Others wishing us that we experience positive emotions.
How do these positive emotions arrive?
The season seems so busy, so hectic, even chaotic. How do we get to feel love, peace, joy?
A simple and powerful formula.
See and feel your Self experience this holiday season.
What does this even mean?
As you sit with your family, your friends, even with your self, take a conscious moment to realize that you are in that very moment. Feel the very love, the peace, the joy, or whatever emotion you are having at that very instance. Realize that the present time is taking place, just as it is, and pay attention to it just as it is unfolding.
Squeeze it in your mind.
Give it a hug.
Fully enjoy it.
Savor it like a fine wine.
Turn the wishes of love, peace, and joy in to the actual feelings of love, peace, and joy.
Integrated Counseling specializes in helping individuals and couples experience more happiness in their lives and their relationships through our individual counseling and couples counseling services.
November 6, 2015
In the most recent rendition of the Cinderella story on the screen, we see a a heroine who has suffered much loss and abuse.
Yet, she is happy with her life, mainly because of her ability to forgive those who ill-treat her.
How? Because she has developed the skill to understand other’s shortcomings and limitations, and realize she holds the ultimate choice on how to feel for herself.
She is kind. She is courageous.
The princess’ mantra to her friends and foes alike is to exhibit both courage and kindness. A unique mix.
These two attributes are at the center of evolving as a Person.
-To those that confuse you.
-To those that you cannot understand.
-To those that hurt you.
Kindness is never weakness. It is actually your most valuable strength.
-To be kind to those that confuse you.
-To be kind to those you cannot understand.
-To be kind to those that hurt you.
-To be kind to yourself.
Courage is not the absence of fear or anxiety, or unknowing. Courage is acting while fearful, anxious, and unsure.
The patients we work with have both of these assets in motion.
They are learning to be kind while understanding kindness is a strength, not a weakness.
They arrive in counseling because of their courage to reach out and ask for help, while being unsure, anxious, and perhaps fearful.
Ultimately, they will be delivered to understand how these two core abilities are the ones they will use in all of their successful relationships.
Starting with the one with themselves.
Integrated Counseling Services offers individual counseling in the art of developing well-being. We also specialize in couples counseling. The art of developing well-being with your partner
Brendan the Navigator was a sixth century priest and abbot who, according to Irish lore, in his search for the ‘Isle of Paradise’ sailed to the New World centuries before Columbus.
Brendan lived by the core tenants that death is the whole point of life. And life, from beginning to end, with all its fleeting beauty and certain pain, is an education.
Indeed a unique perspective.
This philosophy follows author and educator Steven Covey’s principle of “begin with the end in mind”.
Perhaps if we combine Brendan and Steven’s direction we can live with more purpose and attention.
Live to die. Be realistic, be aware that “this shall pass”.
A morbid thought? Quite the opposite. A freeing thought. Once we accept our imminent death then we can begin to immerse ourselves in life.
Your child will never be this age again no matter if young or adult.
You will never see the sunrise or sunset of this specific day again.
You will never have the opportunities to be kind, to be friendly, to be loving that this day has presented to you.
This is your life. It is happening now. It is up to you alone to make it want you want it to be.
And, tomorrow never comes. Today is the day.
A great quote from a great movie, The Shawshank Redemption, sums it up for all of us.
“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Let’s get busy.
Integrated Counseling Services specializes in counseling based in the principles of positive psychology and well-being theory to help people realize their best Selves.
September 2, 2015
From Critic to Observer
How do we move from the ever-present self-judgement ‘voice’ to a perspective of self-compassion and self-care?
It doesn’t seem natural. At least not to us humans.
From our work at Integrated Counseling this area is fundamental to patients moving to a place of contentment and peace. The challenge and the opportunity is to become more an Observer and less a Critic. This allows a ‘space’ to see ourselves and understand more fully ‘Why we are the way we are’.
The answers to “Why?” can bring the freedom of understanding that many areas of pain and confusion are actually “Not my fault.” Yet, without moving from a Critic to an Observer it will be very difficult to make this important connection.
We often discuss in our therapy sessions how we could put up on the whiteboard a flow chart of a person’s whole life showing all of their experiences and interactions and how some of those resulted in pain, confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt. If that flow chart did not have a person’s name attached it would be easy to see the almost logical flow of ‘input – output’. Yet, as soon as we put our own name on the chart we become the Critic and withdraw our understanding and compassion.
You deserve to realize that many of your life’s events had a negative and detrimental affect on you, yet these experiences have nothing to do with the quality of who you are, and who you can be as a person. Yes, we are very much ‘victims of circumstances’.
Life becomes hard when we forget this fact, or if we have never believed this fact. Yet, it is a fact.
Quiet the Critic by becoming more of an Observer of your life. Bring more compassion and understanding toward your Self by realizing you are a person that has experienced traumas of different degrees. These traumas are not your fault. And, yes, you do want to be happy. That is a start.
ICS offers individual counseling and couples counseling with expertise in helping people see the potential to have more happiness in the core areas of life.
August 12, 2015
Be The Ball
Gandhi taught, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Ty Webb of Caddyshack lore told his young protégée Danny, “Just be the ball.” as the pathway to success on and off the golf course.
The translation for both quotes (from very different levels of characters) is to make the decision for your self to create the life you want to lead.
Do you want a great relationship? Then learn how to be a great partner in the relationship.
Do you want to have a great career? Then decide what you want to have as your calling.
Do you want to be happy? Then decide what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy.
Do you want to stop drinking? Then decide you will not take the first drink.
Each day is an opportunity to create your life as you want to live it. And life is simply an accumulation of the small details that make up each day.
By linking positive and productive moments we begin an ‘upward spiral’ that will have powerful momentum across our daily experiences.
By linking negative and unfulfilling moments we begin a ‘downward spiral’ that will have powerful momentum across our daily experiences.
Common sense? Perhaps. Yet, not commonly practiced. You can decide to be your own ‘ball’ that creates the small changes each day that result in a life you only have imagined, yet can be your reality.
July 17, 2015
The Lost Arts
Research shows that ‘smart phones’ are least used for…..talking on the phone.
When is the last time you actually wrote or received a hand written letter?
The arts of conversation and writing are being lost to texting, gaming, and ‘apps’.
There is nothing inherently “wrong” with our current technologies. They aim for convenience, knowledge, and connection.
As humans we have been evolving for millions of years, and we thrive and respond to physical touch, verbal conversation, and tactile correspondence.
We are not called to abandon our participation with technology. Our call is to compliment our ‘device’ use with direct ‘touch points’ that bring positivity to ourselves and others.
Our goals can be simple and doable.
Make one phone call a week to talk to someone instead of texting them.
Write one letter or short note a month to someone to thank them, sympathize with them, or celebrate them.
Witness your happiness and self-confidence increase.
Integrated Counseling Services provides individual counseling, couples counseling, and family counseling from our offices in Bethlehem.
June 18, 2015
Fighting without Fighting
There is a story that martial arts guru Bruce Lee told to explain the concept of “fighting without fighting”.
A humble champion martial artist was traveling on a ferry boat when he came upon a man who claimed to be his nemesis, and who then challenged the champion to a fight to prove that this man was the more powerful.
The champion accepted the challenge and told the man that they would have their fight on a small island in the distance. The only way to get to the island was for them both to board a small-unpowered life-boat.
The man agreed and the champion offered the man to board the small boat first. As soon as the man was safely seated on the boat, the champion pushed the small boat away from the ferry and towards the small island without himself getting in. The man was furious as he drifted farther from the ferry, and cried out to the champion. The champion responded: “It is not about winning each fight that makes a person a champion. It is about how a person chooses to fight.”
For us in relationships we must realize it is not about “winning the fight” with our partner, or being “right”.
We will disagree on many things each day because we are entirely different human beings. We will “fight”.
Realize it is about “how we fight” that determines the health of our relationship.
“Fight” to understand, not to win. Each partner has something important to say, to share. And, each partner has something to understand and to learn from the other.
Fight, without fighting.
Integrated Counseling Services provides expertise in couples therapy, marriage counseling, relationship counseling, individual therapy, and family counseling. We serve the Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton, Whitehall, Macungie and surrounding Lehigh Valley areas.
May 27, 2015
The 2 Frogs
A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead.
The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all of their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He fell down and died.
The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he was out of the pit, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.
The power of words….it is sometimes not apparent to us that an encouraging word can have such a positive impact on so many people. It starts with one person. Anyone can speak words that rob another of the spirit to continue, to believe, to persevere.
Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another. Be special.
Integrated Counseling Services offers individual counseling and couples counseling. The ability to understand our strengths, and celebrate our differences moves us to a place of appreciation. Our offices are centrally located in Bethlehem, PA.
May 6, 2015
A recent report by the U.S. Physical Activity Council reported that “roughly 83 million American age 6 and over, or about 28% of the population, reported that they did not once participate in a single physical activity in the last calendar year.”
Not one physical activity for 83 million people. And ‘stretching’ qualified for a physical activity.
The United States' lack of proper levels of exercise and logical knowledge about the need for said exercise levels is reaching epidemic proportions.
And this is not about ‘doing the right thing’ because we have to follow ‘rules’.
This is about realizing and fully understanding that as Human Beings we are ‘physical beings’ that require a certain level of physical engagement each day to operate efficiently and effectively.
Why is this important?
Because if as Human Beings we do not meet the basic requirements that have been millions of years in the evolutionary making we will begin to falter, get sick, become diseased, and suffer a slow, pain filled demise.
There are too many factors working against us that make it imperative to take control of our bodies. Our food supply is mostly polluted, our healthcare system supports us staying ‘little bit sick’, and the pharmaceutical industry will continue to feed the population’s reliance on drugs to treat symptoms without addressing true causes.
Take 10 minutes a day to specifically dedicate to exercising so you do not become one of the 83 million. You don’t have to commit to heavy training. Take it light, keep in simple, have fun, and remember you are a Human.
Integrated Counseling Services provides expertise in couples therapy, relationship counseling, individual therapy, and family counseling. We serve the Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton, Whitehall, Macungie and surrounding Lehigh Valley areas.
April 2, 2015
Bad News, Good News
Many couples ‘sitting on the couch’ in the midst of the challenges of their relationship lament that they would like to go back to when the couple first met. The so-called ‘honeymoon period’ when the couple treated one another so well, talked deeply, had great sex often, and felt close and excited about the relationship.
First, the Bad News. There is no going back. More bad news. That time in the relationship was basically an illusion.
Relationship expert John Gottman describes it for us:
“Successful couples need to realize that the original attraction (‘honeymoon’ phase) was temporary and not viable beyond a certain point in time. This stage is fundamentally an evolutionary mechanism for selecting a mate and ensuring the survival of the human species.”
That period of time was not, and was never met to be sustainable. And the hope of rediscovering that period in the present can lead couples to be disillusioned.
The Good News:
Couples certainly demonstrated and behaved in many ways that can be duplicated and used directly to improve, enhance, and evolve their current relationship.
One of the most powerful and lasting things that couples accomplished during the early times together is that they engaged in deep, meaningful, present and empathetic communication.
It was important for each person to get to know the other, and to understand the other in order to make a decision to invest in the relationship. The primary method used was engaging one another through talking, sharing, and opening up to each other.
Couples that are struggling in the present relationship can review what they did ‘right’ when they felt close and appreciated. Communicating in an honest, patient, and interested manner was a major element that allowed the relationship to prosper and move forward.
Go back to the ‘beginning’ together, remember your strengths, and reintroduce them to your relationship. This can result in an ‘upward spiral’ of positive moments that will invigorate your relationship and deliver an increased closeness to one another.
Integrated Counseling Services provides expertise in couples counseling, individual counseling, and family counseling. We serve the Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton, Whitehall, and Macungie area.
March 20, 2015
Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky presents to us the findings around happiness and how to create greater levels for ourselves.
50% of happiness is genetic. We have a baseline happiness level that we inherit from our parents and ancestors.
10% of our happiness is from our life circumstances and situations. Material wealth or living in a certain place versus another only contributes ten percent to happiness on average.
40% of our happiness is determined by intentional activities that can be implemented by any person and will have a very significant effect on total happiness.
As Sonja states, “Happiness is not out there for us to find. The reason it is not out there is because it is inside us.”
Here are 9 Happiness Activities that can maximize that 40%....
1. Expressing Gratitude
2. Cultivating Optimism
3. Avoiding Over thinking & Social Comparison
4. Practicing Acts of Kindness
5. Nurturing Social Relationships
6. Developing Strategies for Coping
7. Learning to Forgive
8. Increasing Flow Experiences
9. Savoring Life’s Joys
Integrated Counseling Services provides expertise in relationship counseling, individual counseling, and family counseling. We are centrally located in the Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton area.
March 3, 2015
Certainly raising children and doing it well can be an every day, back and forth, push and pull of feeling good one minute, and being flooded with negative emotions the next.
Here are some thoughts on how to serve your self, your kids, and your relationship with your family.
Kids will come to us with a variety of issues. From to “My brother took my toy, and that is why I hit him.”, to “I don’t want to take a bath”, and “I will clean my room ‘later’”.
Remember that all day long kids are told “no” or “you should not…”. As parents we can get in to an unrecognized habit of not listening or honoring our children’s feelings. In most situations we mostly concentrate on the behaviors that we don’t want to occur, but are, or have occurred. We skip on our kid’s emotions.
When presented a stressing or distressing situation, try to remember three things.
1.Listen to and acknowledge their feelings.
“I see that you are angry, it is ok to get angry, and I want to know why.”
“Yes, I realize that you do not feel like taking a bath because you are having fun playing.”
“I understand that you do not feel like cleaning your room because you are tired.”
2. Positive reinforcement
“You are a very kind and beautiful boy.”
“You play very well with your toys.”
“You are very tired because you had a long, busy day.”
3. Teach to the behavior
“We don’t hit our brother because that is unkind and you are a kind person.”
“You can settle yourself down and come take a bath because I love you and want to help you get clean.”
“You are a responsible person, and you will feel better after your room is organized.”
Honor the emotion. State a positive. Help adjust the behavior. Easy in the moment? No. But, just realizing that there is an alternative way to respond, presents the opportunity for change.
Integrated Counseling Services provides expertise in relationship counseling, individual counseling, and family counseling. We are centrally located in the Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton area.
February 24, 2015
John O’Donohue was a former Catholic priest turned philosopher, lecturer, author, and poet. John died in 2008 and he graced many people with his insightful and mystical views on life, living, and dying. He was a dynamic and captivating speaker.
He tells a fantazmic story of one of his experiences while helping people at their deathbed to pass away from this life. In this one account O’Donohue shares the moments he spent with a so-called ‘Bandito’ whom John provided Last Rites as the man lie dying. He asked the man, now that he was about to pass from this life what were his thoughts about “the whole thing”(life). The Bandito offered a wide grin and said, “By Jes, I knocked a hell of a squeeze out of it.” And then, as O’Donohue recalls, “he was off”, in another two or three minutes.
This is such a powerful account about the essence of this existence. How much do we fully participate in our lives? It is often said that ‘life goes so fast’. I don’t know if that is true for everyone. I suspect that for those that lead a full, interesting, challenging, and adventurous life their time on the physical earth lasts about as long as it should. There is always ‘more to do’, but if we pay attention to filling up our days with new and positive experiences then we will end up filling up our lives.
So we can ask ourselves a question as the sun sets on each of our days; Did we “knock a squeeze out of it today”?
Here is a video of John’s talk. It is well worth the few minutes to view.
Integrated Counseling & Coaching is a professional services organization that offers life coaching, career coaching as well as individual counseling, relationship counseling, and family counseling. Our office is centrally located in Bethlehem and serves the greater Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton areas.
February 12, 2015
What is this thing called Mindfulness..?
The concept and practice of mindfulness is gaining more ‘mainstream’ attention especially since companies such as Google have incorporated mindfulness in to some of their employee programs.
What is mindfulness? Often, the most powerful and valuable concepts are the most simple.
Mindfulness is just as it reads. Being mindful. The key driver is to be mindful now, in the present moment. Allow you mind to simply think about exactly what you are doing, right now.
If you are reading, think about the process of reading and ‘view’ yourself processing each word, moving your eyes along the page. If you are walking, move your mind to how each step feels, what your feet and legs are doing, hear your heartbeat. If you are driving, feel the grip of the steering wheel, listen to the tires rotate on the road, view yourself moving with the contour of each curve. That is it. Think about what you are doing, right now.
Why? As humans we are wired to excel and be most effective when we immerse our brains in the 'here and now'. If you think about it, the present moment is all that exists, and there is great power for us when acknowledge that fact. When we do, we can minimally endure the moment, most times maximize our participation in the moment, and sometimes deeply enjoy the moment.
The goal for mindfulness is not necessarily to be happy. That depends on what the present moment brings for us. Being mindful is about knowing that we will thrive in each moment, whether under duress or within joy, if we move our minds to participate with our bodies in the only reality that exists. Now.
Integrated Counseling & Coaching is centrally located within the Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton areas. We offer professional life coaching services as well as certified counseling for individuals, couples, and families.
February 6, 2015
It Takes Time…
As we see athletes and entertainers dazzle us with their brilliance, talents, and wealth it pulls on us a tinge to ask; “why am I not more like them?”
The reality is that we see the result of years and years of practice and attention. The people on the flat screen and the ‘big screen’ are the world’s experts in their field. And, they did not get there ‘overnight’.
Research has shown that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of consistent attention and practice to become elite and expert in any specific endeavor. Tom Brady has worked for over three decades on his craft of football. Katy Perry has been singing, dancing, and rehearsing for thousands of hours in order to be able to perform on the stage.
For us we can begin today….or tomorrow. Whenever we decide to make a change to learn something new or start a new activity it can be done slowly at first as long as it is done consistently.
It takes about 30 days for a new pursuit to become a habit. That is how long it takes our brain to create and solidify a new neural pathway that will allow us to comfortably engage in a activity with comfort, attention, and ritual.
Think about an area of interest and passion. Make a goal to add that activity to your life. Start slowly, yet consistently for 30 days. Create reminders (notes, bracelets, alarms). You will begin to have a new part of life sprout up for your enjoyment and growth.
Integrated Counseling & Coaching provides life coaching and counseling services to the Allentown, Easton, Bethlehem and surrounding areas. We offer complimentary initial consultations.
Life Coaching. Who needs it?
World Class Athletes
Top Tier Executives
No person typically reaches the heights of happiness and success without coaches and advisors who share their expertise, experience, and wisdom in order to guide the individual to reaching their set goals and career aspirations.
Life coaching is a process in which strengths are identified, obstacles and challenges are discussed and analyzed, goals are set, progress is measured, and adjustments are made.
A life coach has a unique perspective to offer an individual in that a coach can view their client ‘outside the box’ of the person’s own internal vantage point. This allows the ability to see assets, offer a solution focused framework, and be a resource that a person can be accountable to in setting and reaching goals.
A team consisting of a motivated person that desires an increasing level of well-being matched with an experienced coach that has expertise and wisdom creates a powerful dynamic to move a person to achieving success in multiple aspects of life and career.
Remember that anyone that has moved through the challenges of life has done so with the help of a teacher, advisor, or coach that has become a trusted mentor in guiding that person to meaning, passion, and achievement.
Integrated Counseling and Coaching offers life and career coaching based on strength building and a solution focused approach. With over twenty-five years working with business professionals we offer broad insights to help identify and discover a person’s path to achieving happiness and success.
Complete this simple exercise that can produce a true direction for your life.Draw three circles large enough to write within.
Label one circle Meaning.
Label one circle Pleasure.
Label one circle Strengths.
Within the Meaning circle write the answers to these questions.
What is meaningful to me?
What is important to me?
Within the Pleasure circle write the answers to these questions.
What is pleasurable to me?
What do I enjoy doing?
Within the Strengths circle write the answers to these questions.
What are my strengths?
What I am good at doing?
Review the answers in all the circles and find what is similar in each.
This will reveal what area in your life you can begin to explore that will bring you true happiness and well-being. The common answers in each circle is the beginning to what lies within your passions in life and what you is your true calling.
Integrated Counseling and Coaching offers professional life and career coaching for individuals who are looking to advance towards achieving their goals and arriving at a fulfilled life and career.
What is Right with You
A prevalent viewpoint for many patients entering therapy is that they are attending sessions because something is ‘wrong’ with themselves or their relationships. This ‘problem focused’ attitude can be traced to the Western medical model that concentrates on what is currently ‘hurting’ the patient. This medical approach has proven to be very effective especially in trauma situations.
In the therapeutic relationship a problem-focused perspective can be counteractive in the basic approach. Patients coming into therapy have a lifetime filled with experiences in which they have met challenges and solved difficulties. Patients have immense strength that have, and continue to serve them very well.
Patients have the opportunity to reflect on the past in which they have used their strengths in similar situations that they find themselves entering therapy in which they have proven to be successful as individuals and within their relationships. The circumstances may not be the same, however if a person reviews when they experienced moments of happiness and contentment in their lives, they can find ‘seeds’ to use within their present challenges.
The work within therapy is to cultivate those ‘seeds’, move to grow them, and then apply certain emotions and behaviors to serve them in their current lives. This becomes a ‘solution-focused’ approach that relies on strengths instead of concentrating on weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. The key thought is to address and manage our weaknesses, grow our strengths, and move to implementing habits that we have already used in the past to improve our present.
Integrated Counseling Services offers professional individual and relationship therapy to help patients realize their own treasure chest of strengths that allows one to see their potential as people and their abilities within relationships. ISC serves the Lehigh Valley from our offices in Bethlehem.
Carol Dweck is a renowned psychological researcher and she provides us insights into the two different mindsets that define the attitudes, and therefore behaviors of humans.
The Fixed mindset approaches life and its challenges as static, determined, and mostly immovable. A fixed view believes that nature has delivered a set level of intelligence and potential, and these levels cannot be improved beyond a moderate increase in success. When a person has a fixed mindset life’s challenges are never truly dealt with and are accepted as fate.
A Growth mindset views life through a lens of being able to constantly improve one’s place, condition, and result. Learning through experiences is a cornerstone to reaching and resetting potential. Challenges are opportunities to gain from life’s hardships and move a person to a new level of flourishing. A growth mindset moves a person to determine for oneself situations that are presented as moments to apply dynamic creativity.
Our mindset can be applied to our relationships, our careers, our education, and our social circles. As humans we have the continuous opportunity to grow in our lives through our experiences that can breed learning and ultimately an accumulation of wisdom.
Integrated Counseling Services offers professional therapeutic services for relationships, families, and individuals. Our focus is to lead people to realize their true and realistic potential, and provide the tools to move to higher levels of well-being. Our offices are centrally located in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.
October 3, 2014
11 Thoughts for Relationship Nurturing
- Engage in reflective listening with one another with the goal of understanding the other’s emotions
- Move from “right & wrong” to “just different”
- In conflict ‘move towards’ instead of ‘moving away’
- Plan regularity for specific time to be alone with one another
- Actively look for opportunities to appreciate one another
- Realize that every interaction during the day is an opportunity to improve the relationship
- Support one another’s ‘alone time’
- View sex and intimacy as an area of open discussion and understanding
- Want to know your partner and want to be known to your partner
- Permit your partner to express their emotions without judgment
- Realize that a long term committed relationship is one of the most challenging situations in life and one of the most rewarding
At Integrated Counseling Services we specialize in relationship counseling and work with couples within all different facets, phases, statuses, issues, challenges, and goals. Therapy offers the opportunity to realize the potential of your relationship and to move towards that potential grounded in understanding. ISC serves the Lehigh Valley from our centrally located offices.
September 11, 2014
Freedom can be defined as a life-style that affords certain independence of decisions that governs one’s life. Are we “free” as Americans? Depends on who you ask and their vision of freedom.
The better question is “Are we free as Humans?” Ultimately we are and will always be free to choose our path and create our life.
Easy? Defined? Not often. Confusing? Hard? Painful? Yes, in many ways.
Knowing the challenges that we each face in varying degrees there is still one universal fact that will always be so. We can create our lives, and this inherent ability to create allows us pure freedom that is not defined by government, birthplace, or generation.
Our ‘toolkits’ will be different than others. Our ‘starting position’ will not always be at pole. No matter where we begin there are some fundamental truths. What we know can always be expanded upon. What we have built can always be made more beautiful. How we plan our lives can always be more effective for ourselves. In short, we create our worlds and we have unlimited potential to do so.
This is not about being ‘lofty’, ‘dreamy’, or ‘aspirational’. This is about being realistic about your humanness and understanding your divine nature to direct your life to the things that bring one meaning, purpose, and accomplishment. These are the drivers that fill the canvas with your masterpiece.
At Integrated Counseling Services we specialize in individual and professional coaching that allows one to understand, build, and move towards a potential of well being within the multiple facets of life. ISC serves the Lehigh Valley from our offices in Bethlehem, PA
August 27, 2014
Couples are called to realize that a Long Term Committed Relationship brings together two individuals who are inherently different in many ways. Gender, biology, chemistry, upbringing, life experiences, goals, interests, likes, and dislikes are the main areas that partners bring into a relationship that are substantially dissimilar from one another.
Because each of us see our daily experiences from our own ‘lens’ we often believe, without even realizing, that we expect others to perceive life from our ‘point of view’. We need to come to a realization that others have their own unique view, and this can be very different that our own. This understanding will lessen minor and major points of contention with others.
Many conflicts within our relationships stem from not understanding our partner’s differences before we conclude that they are rejecting us. Our opportunity is to ‘define the differences’ between one another, and move to understand and accept these individual characteristics.
When we accomplish a deeper level of insight into our partner’s distinctive nature we move to a state of appreciation and celebration for the unique strengths, weaknesses, and potentiality that we each bring to a life shared within a long term committed relationship. This moves the relationship from conflict to one of acknowledgement and provides ongoing opportunity for growth as each partner continues to change and evolve.
Integrated Counseling Services serves the Lehigh Valley from our offices in Bethlehem, PA with expertise in relationship therapy, individual counseling, and life coaching. We offer a complimentary initial session so individuals and couples can become familiar with our approach and offices.
July 18, 2014
Silence and Space
It has been said that the sound of music does not come from the notes, but from the spaces in between the notes. The brief moments of silence during the beats create the rhythms.
As humans we are called to recognize the healing power of silence, and how we must take moments to reflect, re-energize, and re-organize, if only briefly, during our incessantly busy days. Our mind, body, and spirit all react in a positive manner when we take some time to just rest and be still.
During our conversations within our relationships we can improve our communications by taking a ‘space’ between what is said to us and our response. We do this in order to slow down, understand, think about our response, and deliver with more understanding and empathy. Often we rush to a response based solely on our emotions. Our emotions are very important, however we need to take the other’s person’s emotions into account within our conversations as well. Allowing that ‘space’, which can last only a few seconds, can bring about vast positive changes in our exchanges with others.
Creating moments of Silence, and taking Spaces are engaging in the art of ‘doing by non-doing’. Often the moments we are most powerful and most effective as humans happen when we understand and realize our ability to produce change happens when we don’t act, and allow the Silence and the Spaces to do the work for us.
June 16, 2014
Permission to be HumanIt is important to realize that our emotions are ours to express and share with ourselves and with others. Emotions cannot be judged as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’. Emotions are actually ‘ammoral’. Emotions can be challenging to express, and it is vital to allow ourselves and others to accept and hear emotions no matter what those emotions may be.
One of the most difficult and conflict enhancing moments is when we open up and share an emotion with someone in a significant relationship, and that person replies, “you shouldn’t feel that way.” We at once feel rejected and not heard. That leads to negative feelings towards that person that can lead to relationship dissention.
Permission to be Human is simply allowing others to be human by allowing them to express emotions even when we disagree with those emotions. Permission to be Human is also allowing ourselves to have emotions without judging ourselves as negative or unworthy.
We are human, and as humans we have emotions of all sorts, varieties, and meaning. Allow those emotions to flow. Look at them without judgment. This will allow us to begin to understand those feelings in a clearer and more insightful way.
Permission To Be Human
The reality of our humanity is that we are emotional beings. We have and express emotions of all kinds all day long.
As humans we need to understand that our emotions are 'amoral'. Meaning they cannot be judged as 'right' or 'wrong'. Emotions are simply thoughts often expressed verbally. Emotions can lead to specific behaviors. Behaviors can be judged 'morally'. They can be viewed as 'right' or 'wrong'. Emotions cannot and should not, especially within those expressed by our partners in a relationship.
Providing 'Permission to be Human' is simply to allow ourselves and others to have and express emotions openly and freely without judgement. The difficulty becomes when emotions expressed by others are not aligned with our own emotions, thoughts, or perceptions. We often rush to judge other's emotions through our 'lens'. This can lead us to verbally challenge or disagree with another's shared emotions. When we do this it can result in a feeling of being 'shut down', disregarded, or opposed by other persons in our relationships. This can bring outright high levels of conflict that impede our relationships to grow and evolve.
Providing the 'Permission to be Human' begins with ourselves. We need to realize that we have emotions of all kinds, and it is 'ok' to have any emotions that rise. We need to begin to accept our emotions without judgement or criticism even when they are bothersome to us. Providing ourselves some 'space' to have and express our own emotions is imperative to reaching our potential as a person.
When we begin to allow ourselves the permission to have emotions we are in a better state of mind to allow others to do the same. Instead of jumping to oppose and judge other's emotions we can move to understand their emotions, which can lead to a deeper sharing of one another.
Remember your humanness, and as humans we are designed to be emotional beings. Emotions that are met with openness, honesty, and acceptance will lead us to more confidence as a person and bring forth the opportunity to know the people we care about most in a more meaningful way.
April 28, 2014
Meditation. What is it? 11 Beneficial Reasons to Practice.
Meditation yields a surprising number of health benefits, including stress reduction, improved attention, better memory, and even increased creativity and feelings of compassion.
The practice can take on many different forms, but the one technique that appears most beneficial, and which also happens to be among the most traditional, is called mindfulness meditation, or focused attention.
By mindfulness, practitioners are asked to focus their thoughts on one thought and one thought alone. The goal is simply to be firmly affixed to the present moment. This typically means concentrating on the breath — observing each inhalation and exhalation — and without consideration to other thoughts.
When a “stray” thought arises, recognize it, and then turn back to the focus of attention to the breath.
1. Increased Immune Function
2. Decreases Pain
3. Increases Focus & Attention
4. Improves Memory
5. Improves Creativity
6. Makes you more Compassionate
7. Decreases Stress
8. Decreases Anxiety
9. Decreases Depression
10. Increases Positive Emotion
11. Increases Grey Matter
April 4, 2014
Well Being TheoryMoving toward a higher level of overall well being is the conscious or unconscious drive for humans. The lack of attainment, or confusion of what constitutes well being often lies at the center of our challenges.
The five elements of well being are:
Positive Emotion – the regular feelings of happiness, joy, caring, celebration, intimacy. These are not fanciful emotions as they are grounded within the human experience
Engagement – the authentic involvement with people, events, challenges, responsibilities for the sake of being interested in such elements of life
Meaning – deep attachment, appreciation and emersion in work, play, relationships, or moments alone
March 21, 2014
10 Most Toxic Food Ingredients
The following are found to be some of the most toxic foods and additives to foods. All can have extreme short term as well as long term implications for the human body, physically and emotionally. Be sure to read your ingredients, ask questions, and research the answers.
1. Palm Oil> raises LDL cholesterol. Found in most fried foods
2. Shortening> partially hydrogenated oils clog arteries
3. ‘White’Processed Foods> these food are stripped of all nutrients
4. Corn Syrup> high fructose corn syrup boosts fat storage
5. Artificial Sweeteners> aspartame, saccharine, sucralose are harder on metabolic system than sugar
6. Sodium Benzoate & Potassium Benzoate> each known carcinogens
7. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)> potentially cancer causing preservative
8. Sodium Nitrates & Sodium Nitrites> preservatives known to cause colon cancer and lead to diabetes
9. Blue, Green, Red, And Yellow> linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers
10. MSG> high levels of free glutamates have been shown to seriously affect brain chemistry.
March 7, 2014
Text in Context
It is inevitable that during relationship therapy sessions a couple will bring up an occasion (and typically several) in which they were in conflict during an exchange of texting. The accusations fly as to who texted what, and who meant what. Often one or both partners will whip out their phone to exhibit the evidence.
It is important to understand that technology tools such as email and texting where originally designed and used for business exchanges. A ‘golden rule’ in business is to keep emotions out of communication. The disconnect when using email or texts within intimate relationships is that such relationships are full of emotions, therefore these tools fail to deliver positive results in some types of exchanges.
A best practice for couples is to use texting in only certain forums. For example, texts are very useful and productive within sharing logistical information. “We have dinner reservations at 6pm at Bravo.” “Please stop and pick up some milk on your way home.” “Kelsey has dance in Emmaus tonight.”
Couples should agree not to use text when the ‘conversation’ moves into an emotional area such as a disagreement, or a follow up to a previous discussion where conflict was present. Text is void of tone, therefore the words used are often taken out of context and left up to the recipient to place meaning on the information. During times of when the emotions are high the words are read but misinterpreted. This only adds to the negative emotions and pushes the couple deeper into conflict.
These situations can be avoided by simply texting “Call me so we can talk about this together.” “I am not sure what you mean so let’s pick up the conversation when I get home.” “I think I don’t agree with you, but we can talk when I see you so I can understand better what you are trying to say.”
By understanding the limitations of texting a couple can not only avoid unnecessary conflict, but they can open the opportunity to show that they are interested in learning more about how the other feels and move to a more positive level of communication within emotional moments.
February 28, 2014
The ‘Honeymoon’ Period
Most couples recall the tender and exciting times when the relationship was new. It was a time of closeness, deep discussion, epic sexual encounters, and consistent time spent together.
Years later if couples find the relationship struggling in several areas that result in an uncomfortable level of conflict they often recall the ‘Honeymoon’ period and yearn to “go back there”.
We all realize that we cannot venture back to the past, but we do wonder what can be done now to capture some of the ‘magic’ experienced.
One element that can be mined from the prior closeness of the relationship is the way each partner spoke and communicated to one another. It was present-focused with a high degree of wanting to understand and discover new things about our partner.
Remembering and recommitting to this level of communication with our partner will be fundamental in re-connecting, even within the present conflict, and moving towards a common place that sets a possibility for an increasing level of relationship satisfaction.
February 21, 2014
Circle of Trust
The most critical element of engaging in therapy whether individual, couples, or family is the ability for the patients to establish a trust based relationship with the chosen therapist. Because of the nature of the dynamic this bond is essential to the positive potential of the engagement.
We stress this to all prospective and new patients. It is their right and obligation to the process to determine their overall comfort level without pressure or expectation. The patient is provided the free choice to engage in and continue therapy based on this fundamental establishment.
Therapy begins a new relationship between therapist and patient and this union must have the beginning and evolving elements of any other relationship. Central attributes must be trust, a feeling of safety, comfort, and open communication. If these attributes are created then therapy has a true opportunity to be healing and transformative.
February 14, 2014
The 13th century Persian mystic Rumi termed the phrase ‘cleansing conflict’ to describe the communicated differences between people within a relationship that are shared, understood, and accepted as unique aspects of the individuals who participate in the flow of a intimate exchange of information. To air these differences is an opportunity to flush out the emotions to someone who is trusted to care and be a resource for understanding and guidance.
There will always be a quantity of conflict in all relationships. Each person has a different biology, experiences, values, opinions and viewpoints. The measure of a relationship is what is done with the conflict when it surfaces. Couples are called to dance with one another within conflict instead of lobbing ‘bombs’ across a divide.
Listening to one another is the key component in learning to ‘dance’. When conflict is greeted with openness, a desire to understand, and honest empathy the area of disagreement becomes an opportunity to learn about the other and to move to deeper appreciation.
A couple has many occasions each day to move ‘towards’ instead of moving ‘away’ from their partner. Couples can view moments of conflict as a call from their partner to engage in a healthy exchange that provides the path to deeper emotional intimacy.
February 7, 2014
Top ‘Presenting Problems’ for Couples Engaged in Counseling
- Conflict levels
- Communication issues
- Differences in raising children
- Lack of intimacy
- In-law challenges
- Abuse (physical, emotional, substance)
Fundamentally all presenting problems are issues of a lack in proper communication that goes well beyond being able to talk to one another. Communication in a committed relationship is essentially learning the skills to listen effectively with reflection, understanding, and empathy.
January 31, 2014
Potential determines ‘Stay or Go’ in Relationships
ICS specializes in couples counseling, however it is more appropriately called ‘relationship’ counseling since that is the fundamental area of analysis and discovery. It is made clear that the agenda within therapy is not necessarily to keep the couple together. There is not a drive to move a couple apart because of high conflict level. Any preconceived ‘goals’ of the therapist would be a disservice to patients.
The motive of therapy is to move towards discovering and understanding the ‘potential’ of the relationship. The potential for both members. Potential is directly linked to the deep level of commitment from each member. The level of commitment is a very personal statement from each partner as to their core belief in moving forward towards, or away from the relationship with their current mate.
Once the potential becomes clear then the basic direction for the couple can be made in regards to ‘stay’ or ‘go’. Based on this answer the couple may truly begin the work within relationship counseling.
Joe is awesome! Great environment, service, and technique. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. He worked wonders for my family.
You helped save my marriage and my family. Thank you.
We wanted to thank you and say we think you are very good at what you do.
A unique and refreshing approach to relationship counseling. You are very good at what you do.
Very helpful and enlightening. Thank you.
Very valuable and enlightening experience.
I don't think we would be married right now if we didn't do the counseling here.
Environment, Quality, Wait Time, Customer Service
“We had a nice talk with the counselor and am glad we made the appointment now I look at things differently”
Joe is a "natural" when it comes to Professional Counseling. I would not hesitate to recommend him. Dr. Francis S Gaal, Individual-MarriageFamily Therapist
After our last session something clicked. You not only saved my marriage but my family too.
“Therapist was able to accommodate a session last minute and worked well.”
We just wanted to say thank you and we think you are very good at what you do.
..talking to you about our relationship and what we need to do to move to being more happy together and as people.
We appreciated your unique approach to counseling. It was what we needed.
...for your time during our last session. It was a good one and we learned a lot.
Session was very helpful.
Thank you for your work with us in helping us understand our relationship and one another much better.
my time as a client and was very helpful in meeting my personal and professional goals.
Experience in both business and counseling provides a powerful combination to support life and career guidance through professional coaching.
We were happy to find someone in Bethlehem and we have progressed here in just a few sessions then in other therapy that did not help us and took months.
The experience was positive and helped to improve my situation
Would recommend to others facing relationship challenges
Learning a lot...
...about relationships and how to improve ours.
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- State Licensed Professional Counselor
- Masters Degree Counseling Psychology
- Certified in Positive Psychology