Hope, Patience and Persistence

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HopeOur challenges provide us opportunities to grow, change, reset our goals and strive for something. I believe this stronger now. On May 23rd, 2012 I began a journey of one of my most difficult challenges. Hit by a texting driver going 40mph into my stopped vehicle, the impact is something I can still vividly recall. The next two years of doctors, chiropractic, painful massage, tests, and rehab appointments to treat the injuries were exhausting.

The daily chronic pain and headaches is something only another chronic pain sufferer would understand. Doctors asked about my mood and if I was depressed. Being a mental health professional I thought I knew depression well from my patients, but had never experienced it myself. I denied symptoms of depression because I continued to move forward, go to work, and live my life. They say hindsight is 20/20. I realize now that I am past the worst of it, that I was depressed and I know more about depression because of it. Depression affects people differently and often when we are in it, we can’t tell, we just feel muted. For me, the chronic pain and stress of trying to treat my symptoms and limited exercise negatively impacted my mood.

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.”- Orison Swett Marden

Hope was an essential part of my healing story. I had hope that the next treatment would work and trusted the professionals that I worked with. Hope is something that grounds us, whether its an expectation of something better or the meaning we assign to difficult times. Hope was a beacon of light for me that got brighter and stronger as I moved through my journey of healing.

Patience has never been my strong suite. I’m the type of person who likes things fast, and would rather do it myself than wait. The past two years required me to be patient. To be patient with the doctors, the appointments and the process. To be patient with my body and not push it before it was ready. To be willing to rest, recover, and be still. To be more mindful and prioritize self care.

Finally I had to be persistent. Persistence is defined as a firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Benjamin Franklin said “energy and persistence conquer all things.” To overcome this challenge, I had to be persistent. That meant showing up, following the advise and guidance of health professionals, and advocating for what I needed. Persistence for me meant not giving up hope that I could recover. It meant expecting that I would.

In June of this year a neck surgery to remove a rib and scar tissue largely fixed the problem. The doctors said I was done treating. That was both thrilling and terrifying news to hear. The medical profession views treatment end as absence of symptoms related to the injury, but what about my fitness and mental health? What about making me whole? Yes my “treatment is over” but now my journey to physical and mental wellness and wholeness has just begun. The pain has subsided, but I am not who I was two years ago. That’s the interesting thing about life’s difficulties, you never come out the same person and in many ways I am grateful.

I was hit by a car and it changed me. I am better. I am stronger. I am mentally tougher. I understand and can help.

Call us today for an appointment. 425-295-7697 or www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

Behavior Modification Using Sticker Charts

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Each new school year I start to think of what are my kids doing well and what areas need a bit of tweaking. We are also the sort of family who need a visual reminder to implement something new.

Behavior charts can be very effective if implemented well and relied on as a positive agent of change.


  •  They set clear expectations. In order to set one up you actually have to put some energy into thinking what behavior do I want to see more of. 
  • Reward Positivity. I like to add attitudinal statements to my expectations. For example, “completed homework with a positive attitude”, “talked about three good things about my day.” With these I am not only shaping the completion of a task or communication, but also emphasizing how I want that to be done and communicated, which I value greater than the task or behavior.
  • You get what you pay attention to. Not only do you do the work up front to determine what do you want to see more of (positive behaviors), you actually start looking for them.
  • They provide immediate feedback. Even if the child is working toward a longer term goal, applying a sticker or point immediately after the desired behavior is dually reinforcing. The child is praised and one step closer to their goal.
  • It is motivating. It’s human nature to want to work towards something. Rather than focusing on what not to do or being redirected. The chart provides the child with a blueprint towards success.
  • We enjoy rewarding our kids. The problem is when we give them so much for free, they don’t have any interest in “working” for something.
  • Less consequences. I feel strongly that children want to do the right thing and please their parents. Charts can flip the focus towards positively shaping behavior rather than getting stuck in a punishment cycle which is not as effective.
  • Bring more peace to the home. This is probably the most important for most of us. We don’t want to fight with our kids to do things and struggle to get them to comply. We want our homes to be peaceful, safe and joyful. I find that when we are using a behavior system, we have a little bit more peace. Kids wake up happy to put on their morning stickers and end the day with positive end of day stickers.

Often parents comment that their hesitance to implement a behavior chart is they do not want to bribe their children for positive behavior. Rewards are not bribes. Rewards are contingent on a behavior and are set up in advance. Rewards are based on competency.

For example, imagine this common scenario at the grocery store. Child begins nagging mom for extra treats and snacks, and becomes disruptive and loud. Then comes the bribe: “If you stop asking me to buy extra treats and keep quiet the rest of the trip, I’ll buy that cereal you want.” Often this comes with reminders of the bribe and chance, after chance desperate to get the child to comply. Bribes happen in the moment. Rewards however, are contingent on a behavior and are set up in advance. “If you stick to the items on the list and don’t ask me for anything else, you can choose a special snack for school lunch when we are done.” The difference is you are telling the child in advance what you expect and how to earn a reward for their competent behavior.

Rewards are meant to shape behavior and do not have to last forever. Start where the child is at and when competent move on.

Rewards are part of our daily life. For example, receiving a raise at work can work as positive feedback about one’s performance and thereby increase intrinsic (internal) motivation. It really depends on whether the rewards are used to control (intrinsic motivation decreases) or inform (intrinsic motivation increases) such as when it is based on competence.

If you need help determining which behaviors to target and how to implement a behavior system and get the buy in from your child. Call 425-295-7697 or www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com for an appointment.

-Amy Ford, Psy.D.

Running for Mental Wellness

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Into the sunset Running for Mental Wellness

I have been a runner most of my life. I started running competitively at age 8 in order to participate in a family activity (running 5k fun runs) and be like my older sister who had fallen in love with the sport and become quite good. My running journey took me through the highs of winning state championships and competing at the collegiate level for University of Washington to the defeats and disappointments of lost races and injuries.

I value running now more than ever having been away from it for the past two years. Running is my therapy. As I hit the pavement and get into a repetitive rhythm it becomes the beat to my thoughts. step.step.step.step. With every step free associating the days activities, worries, plans, and inspirations. The mind needs a quiet place to wander non judgmentally.

Where can you let your mind go and spend time attending to your thoughts?

Get outdoors. Unplug and attend to your thinking. Get a massage.

Sit with a counselor who will listen and help you believe that you matter.

As I fatigue, I work on my breathing. I visualize breathing out toxins and negativity with a quick rush of air out wooosh, breathing in calmly and slowly wellness and positivity whiiiish. There is nothing more powerful for relaxation training than to push yourself physically to breathlessness and regain control repetitively for 30 minutes.

Breathing is important and deep breathing is a skill that takes practice. When do you work on your breathing? Find an activity that makes you breathless. Practice yoga, prayer and meditation and focus on your breathing. It benefits the body and soul.

As I tire more I check my posture. I can do it on my own now, because of years of coaches yelling “FORM!” as I fatigued. Form is very important mentally and physically in running. As we tire, we tend to lope bending forward at the waist and our stride drags behind us. This can impact us mentally as we look more toward the pavement and bring more negative thoughts in. A runner knows that the most important time for good form is when they are tired. Shoulders back, head up, drive those knees. Good form tricks the runners mind into believing that they are fine, feel good, and then they do.

Just like good form is essential for a runner finishing the run or race,

good form is vital to overcoming life’s difficult times.

It is in these times that we need to hold our heads higher,

find someone to encourage us and yell “FORM” from the sidelines,

and drive our knees higher toward the goal.

As our form gets better, we believe we can finish the race

and if you believe you can do it, you will.

-Dr. Amy Ford

Dr. Amy Ford is a professional psychologist, licensed mental health counselor and owner of Dayspring Behavioral Health.

Need some encouragement to hold your form through a difficult time? Let’s talk. Call for an appointment 425-295-7697 www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

The Paradox of Changing our Feelings and Thoughts

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Sorrow, grief, anger, anxiety, self-criticism, defeating thoughts:  every person I know dislikes these experiences.  Most of us at one point or another have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to escape, change and get rid of them.    But alas, our efforts typically don’t work and the thoughts and emotions persist, leaving us with a feeling of failure, inadequacy and a sense of being flawed.  We wonder; Why can’t I just be happy?  Why can’t I change my thinking?  What’s wrong with me?

What if I told you it is not our lack of effort or will power that is the problem, but that the fault lies with the natural way our brains work?

Research shows that thought suppression actually strengthens thoughts.  Let’s go ahead and try it out ourselves.  I am going to ask you not to think about a specific word.  Set a timer for 30 seconds and then try your best not to think about it using whatever strategy you want.  With a pen and paper write a tally mark every time you do.  Are you ready?  Do not think about an apple.  Begin.

If you are like almost all humans, you thought about an apple at least once during that 30 seconds and more than likely you thought about it many times.  Maybe you tried to think about something else like berries instead of apples as a strategy, and I bet you still thought of an apple.  This is a natural and normal brain process.  What does this experiment teach us about trying to escape, change or get rid of difficult emotions like anger and sorrow or negative thoughts like “I am a loser” or “I can’t do anything right”?  That’s right; these actions make those thoughts and those emotions more likely and at times more intense.

You are probably having the thought so now what do I do?  Paradoxically, the most effective way to lessen the impact of our difficult emotions and thoughts on our life is to actually let them be there, open up to them and notice them for what they are – only part of the experience of being human.  We also experience joy, excitement, love and have positive and neutral thoughts.  Emotions and thoughts change like the weather and come and go like clouds in the sky.  Sometimes this happens quickly and sometime more slowly, but if we allow ourselves to open up to challenging feelings or notice difficult thoughts without struggle they will eventually move on without us doing anything at all.

- Aimee Bakeman, MA LMHCA

Want to learn more about coping with difficult thoughts and emotions? Call or email us on our website for an appointment 425-295-7697 www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

Patience is a Virtue

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Fans of the HGTV network have probably seen the show “Renovation Raiders.” Interior designers, construction workers, and a whole crew of helpers descend on a house and completely renovate an entire room in a matter of a few hours while the family is out to dinner. I want that!

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t usually work that way. In fact, I usually find that my goals take a lot longer than I predict, and there are always unforeseen challenges along the way. This is especially true when it comes to changing our minds, hearts, and relationships. Sometimes we have unexpected breakthroughs and take great leaps forward. At other times it feels like one step forward and two steps back. In my own journey I sometimes feel like a little kid asking over and over again “Are we there yet?” In those moments of restlessness and impatience, I find comfort in the words of author

Alexandra Stoddard, who writes:

Slow down.

Calm down.

Don’t worry

Don’t hurry.

Trust the process.

Changing unhealthy habits and beliefs that you have held all your life is not a quick and easy process, but it is possible. And the rewards on the other side are worth the effort. If you find yourself asking “Are we there yet?” Let me encourage you today: “Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.


- Carla Munger, MA LMHCA

Mindfulness and Daily Life

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Mindfulness.  This catchy word seems to be everywhere lately.  Be mindful, notice what is around you, and be fully engaged in the “here and now”.  But is this realistic?  Could any of us be fully engaged in every moment and remain functional in our lives?  There is no doubt in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we are often multitasking on autopilot;  driving a car, talking on the phone and listening to music or making dinner and helping kids with homework and thinking about that last business meeting and what needs to be done at work.  This capability of going into our mind while completing another task physically is how we are able to problem solve, plan and move towards accomplishing future goals.  It is also how we recall past events in order to make changes or continue with actions into our future.  Is this inherently a problem?  Being mindfully aware, taking time to fully engage in the moment is very important at times, especially when we use it to live towards the values we hold most dearly.  When we use mindfulness to be aware of which activities move us towards these values or away we begin to figure out what a meaningful life is for us.

So if a person is walking, listening to music and making a grocery list in her mind, and it brings her closer to caring for her body and replenishing her spirit by appreciating music, exercising and planning healthful meals the multitasking is working for her.   However, if she finds she is depleted or on edge after the run, perhaps this is a cue to run mindfully:  smelling the scents around, noticing the movement of the body, the sensations of the air and sweat on skin, and appreciating the sights.  Music and shopping lists may be best done later.

Mindfulness is powerful, but is impossible to engage in at all times.  Take time to consider what in your life is most deserving of your full attention and focus your mindfulness there.

-Aimee Bakeman, MA LMHCA

Want to learn more about how to use mindfulness to clarify your values and start living your best life? Call or email us on our website for an appointment 425-295-7697 www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

Goal Setting

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Kids in leavesJanuary 1st seems to get all of the attention as the start of the New Year. But for many of us, September is the time when we set goals, make plans, and embark on new challenges. One of the keys to success in our new endeavors is careful planning. I often remind clients to set SMART goals. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym to help us remember to set goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time specific. It is critical to think through not only where we want to go, but also how we will get there. I was reminded of the importance of SMART goals today when I came across this quote:

 “A dream written down with a DATE becomes a goal. A goal broken down into STEPS becomes a plan. A plan backed by ACTION makes your dreams come true.” –Greg Reid, motivational speaker

 As the summer fades and the school year begins, I encourage you to dream big, and to lay hold of those dreams by planning out the practical steps you will take along the way.

-Carla Munger, MA LMHCA

Four, Seven, Eight

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We have a powerful de-stressing tool always at our disposal—it is our breath. One deep belly breath can signal the brain to activate relaxation. Try it. Clasp your hands together, put them behind your head, and inhale deeply to the count of four. Feel the breath go deep down into your belly. Hold it to the count of seven. Exhale to the count of eight. Note to parents: This works well with kids. Have them pretend to be a balloon filling up with air. It’s a great exercise at bedtime and/or when people need to calm down.

-Mary Brandenburg, MA LMHC

Taking the Mysticism out of Meditation

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Meditation PictureThere is a whole lot of confusion out there about meditation. Words like enlightenment, mantra and nirvana are often used. This can make meditation a bit intimidating. It doesn’t need to be that way.

Teachers of meditation will say it is “allowing what is.” That’s a poetic way of saying allowing your thoughts to come and go without fighting them. Don’t try to keep them away, don’t suppress them and don’t hold on to them.

In the world of fly-fishing, they talk about “catch and release”. This means that you hook a fish, reel him in and look at him, then gently and kindly let him go. It’s the same with your thoughts during meditation. It’s a process:

Recognize that you are having a thought

Non-judgmentally return to meditation

Repeat and repeat and repeat

The goal isn’t to clear you mind. It isn’t to stop the fish from biting the hook. It’s to start to recognize when your mind wanders then bring it back to your meditation.

And it will wander… things you have to do today, things you should have done yesterday, how obnoxious that guy is at work, what the weather is like is Saskatchewan…. Let it go and return to the meditation.

It doesn’t matter if your mind wanders for a split second or 20 minutes. What matters is that you refocus without judgment.

Some meditation experts and gurus will talk about how sitting for meditation will relieve stress and calm the mind. This is very true, but this is only one small reason for meditation. The real benefit comes after doing it as a practice. It soon becomes clear that thoughts are just thoughts. They come. They go. Some are true. Many are not. Many can be painful. You don’t have to hold on to them.

A wise person once told me “Thoughts (even painful thoughts) are like birds flying over your head. They will always be there, and they will never stop. But you can learn to stop them from making a nest in your hair.”

Tom Benson, MA LMHC


Relationship Tune-Up Packages

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Like cars, relationships run best when we give them regular maintenance. Busy schedules, tight budgets, and the stresses of life cause wear (and sometimes friction) in relationships. The New Year is a great time to invest in a relationship tune up.

In order to serve this need, Carla Munger is offering couples counseling packages focusing on boosting the health and happiness in your relationship. These sessions will help keep your relationship running smoothly, with a focus on improving communication, increasing emotional connection, and working together as an effective team.

The four-visit Relationship Tune-Up package is available at a special cash rate of $200. A couple’s personality-style assessment is available for an additional fee. Insurance billing may be available, please inquire for further information.

Dayspring Behavioral Health offers a full range of mental health services Learn More