Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Self Help for 2014 - What are you resolving to do next year?

As each year comes to a close, we’re often compelled to think of our New Year’s resolutions – This year, I’m going to…“cut chocolate out of my diet and drink less soda.”, “exercise more – maybe 3 times a week?”, “read more books or join a book club”, “do more of the things that I want to do, but never get around to doing.”… the list goes on.

These resolutions translate into the various components of life -- relationships, financial stability, health (emotional, spiritual and physical), giving back to the world, having a meaning in life -- all of which influence each of us differently, shape our experiences, and affect our overall well-being.

As this year nears its end and we look ahead to 2014, what if, instead of thinking about our resolutions, we challenge ourselves to view the different aspects of our lives as part of a broader journey toward greater personal growth?

If we ask ourselves questions such as: How can I be kinder to myself? How can I ask more for what I want and need? And how can I communicate my feelings with others more effectively? Then we’re thinking about the things in life that lead to healthier living. Taking the time to figure out these issues is no easy task, so we at Another Look at Healing, LLC – Counseling and Wellness Center, would like to offer several tips to help you along your journey:

1.      Take reasonable steps. You want to match your personality, skill set, strengths and weaknesses to the goals you’re setting.  And make sure the goals are not too big or too small. This way, the chances of disappointment are decreased, and your motivation increased by achieving what you have set for yourself to accomplish.

2.      Set clear goals. The more you can identify and clarify your goals, the more motivated you will become to achieve them. For example, write down specific lists of exactly what you want to accomplish, and then break it down into tangible, practical steps.

3.      Use your senses. See, hear, and feel what it’s like to have that thing or person you so desire. Visualizing your goals may inspire you to achieve them!

4.      Your goals are yours and not someone else’s. Your goals need to resonate with who you are and what you’re capable of.  Focusing on what someone else has that you don’t or what someone else can do that you want to be able to, can impose a lot of stress without much joy. Keep our #1 tip in mind here!

5.      Balance. Balance. Balance. Sticking to one area of your life too much and for too long while ignoring other areas may backfire, so be aware of your priorities, and look at your life in the long term as well as short with a sense of moderation.

Finally, your actions speak louder than your words. When you respect your word (whether thinking to yourself or talking aloud) and follow through with your actions, you build a sense of trust within yourself that helps you become stronger, more determined and more you. This holiday season, look inside to find the wisest part of you for the answers of what you want to accomplish this next year.
If you need any additional support learning how to become more authentically you, and have the healthier, happier life you always wanted, our counselors are available to help. Call us today at 240-274-5680 or email us at for a free consultation.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

HANDLING RELATIONSHIP BUMPS - by Dr. Stephanie Buehler @ The Buehler Institute

It isn't the bumps--it's how you handle them that counts.  Here are some pointers for getting past conflict and returning to harmony: 
    couple hugging
  • After an argument, make sure that the issue has been resolved.  
  • What will be different in the future?  How will you make that happen?
  • If the conflict has passed and is resolved, forgive your partner, who is after all only human--just like you. 
  • And apologize.  Whether you started the conflict or helped it to escalate, take responsibility and say sorry. 
  • If it is an issue that doesn't have a good solution, accept the outcome with grace.
  • Don't use your ability to forgive to manipulate a partner or guilt trip them.   
  • Be assertive.  Stay with "I" statements when telling your partner how you are feeling and what you want going forward.
  • Plan to do something that fosters a feeling of togetherness.  This can be as simple as lying in spoons, or going on a date.
  • Learn to let go and move past conflict.  Holding onto feelings of anger can foster more conflict.   
Couples that are harmonious tend to have a better sex life.  The phrase is, "make love, not war," not "make war, hang onto bad feelings, and try to repair it with sex"!

Article written by:
Dr. Stephanie Buehler
The Buehler Institute

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Giving Thanks and Self Care this Holiday Season

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

Each year, Thanksgiving Day reminds us to take a moment to note the things and people in our lives for which we are grateful. While we may feel gratitude for those people or things we already have in our lives, sometimes it is not only difficult to acknowledge and embrace those feelings, but to truly appreciate that for which we are thankful as well.

Gratitude is the base from which appreciation grows. That means we can be grateful for something or someone in our lives without really appreciating it. The subtle shift from gratitude to appreciation involves being more thoughtfully aware and active in reflecting on the reasons we feel grateful about something or someone. Through present moment awareness, we begin to generate feelings of appreciation.

For example, we can be grateful for having a close friendship. However, we can go further and appreciate our friend’s beauty, intelligence, and sense of humor, as well as her thoughtfulness, trustworthiness and helpfulness. In this way, we move beyond thankfulness as we consciously recognize the value and significance that our friend adds to our lives.

The next step – expressing our appreciation or “giving thanks”, in the language of the season – is often the greatest challenge.

All too often we remain silent, not showing the people we love how thankful we are to have them in our lives. This is not necessarily for lack of good intentions. Life just gets in the way or we struggle to find the words. We forget to say a simple “thank you”, or write a heartfelt note of thanks.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on these intentions. This is a time to ask oneself, “Am I thanking those who mean the most? Am I giving back a bit of what I have been given?” But even if we lack the ways to express our appreciation, simply bringing to mind our thankfulness and appreciation will make us feel brighter, lighter, happier, more inspired, energized, and loved this holiday season.

For more help feeling good this holiday season, counseling can help. Call or email us today for an appointment at 240-274-5680 or

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC - Counseling Center for Women and Families

Monday, September 30, 2013

Why Is Going to Therapy So Difficult?

Ever feel like therapy is too hard or wished it didn't have to be so hard? Most people have that feeling at one time or another during a course of treatment and it may help to have a bit of understanding of why it is such a challenge and what is going on inside of you. So, first, applause to you for taking a step in a direction of helping yourself!  Regardless of what you might feel you need help with, actually looking at what is getting in your way of change can begin the changing process! As you already may have realized, change itself is difficult. Look how long you have been going along in your life, feeling, acting, behaving, being this certain way. Even when you have the best of intentions of changing; said change is often still quite challenging. 
We as humans are hard wired to build up defenses (essentially ways of protecting ourselves from "potential" harms way). When you come to therapy often times those defenses are no longer working effectively for you. It is likely because the defenses have become more of a barrier to those around you and yourself from feeling whatever it is that you may feel. A well trained therapist will help you to become aware of these defenses and feelings that arise during your sessions and explore what might be occurring. Your therapist wants to help you reach your goals; with time, patience, and a good fit you may just see and feel some of the change you are hoping for and working towards.Try and be kind to yourself during this process; its tough, though you are worth it.

For more assistance finding a therapist who is a good fit for you, feel free to call our office at 240-274-5680 or for more information about our therapists, visit

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP

Friday, August 23, 2013

What to say when someone dies...

Everyone experiences the loss of a loved one as part of life. Though it is a part of life, it can often be a difficult one to know how to navigate for those directly and indirectly affected by such losses. Others losses can remind us of our own recent or distant losses. You may be afraid to say “the wrong thing”; however if you stop and think about it, is there a “wrong” way to show and express your sympathy for ones loss? Take this opportunity to really stop and think…

Now, in thinking about someones loss try and challenge yourself to wonder what you would want and need  from a friend, co-worker, or family member if you were the one closely affected by the death.

Do you want someone to be with you?
Do you need some space and time to reflect?
Do you need to not think about making dinner for the next week?
Do you want a hug and a good cry?

It is important to remember everyone grieves differently, in our own way and own time. It can be helpful to keep in mind that even though some time may have passed, the loss is still very real and present for that person. Acknowledgement of this can be so meaningful; having a witness to ones grief (whether it  be a therapist or friend) can really offer the feeling of not being so alone.

If you have having a difficult time with a recent or previous loss, and want some support working through it, feel free to call our office at 240-274-5680 or email us at to start getting the help you are looking for. 

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC

Monday, July 22, 2013

Six Quick Tips for Dating this Summer!

It can be a daunting, tiring process, but it can help if you do your best to go in with a positive outlook and positive, hopeful attitude.  Whether you are in the dating world or thinking about how to get back in the dating pool here are a few tips and ideas that can help keep you afloat.


1. Broaden your options by joining in different activities that interest YOU in order to create a win - win situation. Do something you enjoy whether its playing softball, running, board games, reading books, etc. There is likely a club or activity partners looking for people like yourself to partner up with. Even if you don't meet someone "special" the chances are you are at least having fun, meeting people, and putting yourself out there. (You can try to find fun things to do in your area!)

2. Take a risk and allow yourself to be moderately vulnerable. You don't have to reveal all of your deepest, darkest secrets on the first date. However, it helps to be genuine and allow your personality out for others to get to know you. 

3. Don't limit yourself to the bar scene, or thinking that's the only way to meet someone new. Everyday and every place provides opportunity to connect with others ( think book store, airport, church/temple, gym). Try going alone; you will be more approachable and more inclined to make conversation with others.

4. Make eye contact and smile.

5. Been in the game for a while? Try taking a break and “dating yourself”. Nourish, give to yourself, and love you before you get back to trying to love someone else.

6. If you want help with your dating and relationships, counseling can help you better understand your needs and wants, as well as help you understand what might be working or not working with the dating you have tried and what you can do differently to create the outcome you desire. For more information about setting up a counseling appointment, contact us today at or call 240-274-5680.

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When life hands you lemons…

You don’t have to make lemonade. You can make lemon bars, lemon cookies, or you don’t have to make anything at all! You can hold them, look at them, throw them, squeeze them, juggle them, give them away, peel them, or anything else you might imagine! In this day and age opportunities may seem endless, and while that might sound wonderful to some, the abundance of choices may lead others to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. So if lemonade sounds good to you, then start squeezing! Others may want to weigh out other options before deciding what to do with their lemons.

The great thing about life and choices is just that: you have the choice! YOU get to choose! So if that choice feels more like a trap ask yourself what are the possible best and worst anticipated outcomes? Usually, life falls somewhere in the middle.

If the choices feel too overwhelming or you want support dealing with stressful times, counseling can help. Email us today for more information at

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC Counseling and Wellness Center for Women and Families

Friday, May 31, 2013

Everyone is doing it… Online Dating: The Do’s and Dont’s

If you are one of the fish swimming in the dating pool you have likely tried or thought about trying online dating websites to potentially meet a match. A decade ago online dating was nearly unheard of, while in this day and age, practically “everyone is doing it”. If you are single and trying to meet someone new and are thinking about trying (or are already using) an online dating website we have a few tips to think about.

-Be you! It’s easy to get anxious when meeting someone new, so try a quick relaxation exercise like deep breathing prior to a date.
-If you choose to drink alcohol, allow yourself a limit to maintain your best judgment
-Meet in a public space and keep it simple…coffee shop, restaurant, book shop
-Trust your gut, it’s usually right on
-Practice common sense
-Keep an open mind, you never know! Do you have a “type”? Get out of that comfort zone and meet someone different
-Talk on the phone before meeting to get a feel for the person
-Even if the first date is a bust, try to find something you like about each person you meet
-Relax! Have fun!

-Reveal too much private information before knowing someone (how much is too much? If you wouldn’t want to put it out on social media sites, think before you share). If it is someone you’d like to get to know more, things will unfold naturally.
-Post revealing photographs
-Become too involved back and forth before meeting; yes you want to know who you are going to meet, however at the same time you want to manage your expectations since a false sense of intimacy can be created prior to real personal interaction has occurred.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Are you a Mind Reader? Do you wish people knew what you wanted?

The mind-reading fantasy

“He should just know how it makes me feel when he does that!”
“She should know what that look on my face means by now.”

The fantasy of mind-reading in our relationships is a real wish for many people. What is it? You know when you expect your partner, parent, or friend just knew what to do or say? Or wish she knew just what you wanted for your birthday without having to spell it out? Mind-reading is the idea that your significant other always knows just what you think/feel/want/need and how to respond accordingly. The reality is, without asking, you may not know what she wants, and without her telling you, you really may not know. What you think, and what actually is happening in an others thoughts just might be two different realities.

What this comes down to is the desire one has for another to anticipate and meet his/her own needs. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well it can be.  Mature, healthy adults are responsible for having our own needs met; oftentimes in the communication to and with our partner.
What can you do? Start by being more aware of this kind of thought process of mind reading.  Take a moment and try and take a more global picture of the situation and see if you could be jumping to conclusions based on a possible false belief. Instead of assuming you think you know, ask. Ask for clarification. Take the opportunity to learn what your loved one wants and needs from you.

Save the mind reading for the fortune tellers…

Monday, March 25, 2013

The World's Most Important Relationship Tip

Excellent Article by Dr. Stephanie Buehler, Director, The Buehler Institute:

It isn't remembering your partner's birthday.  It isn't learning how to rub his or her neck just right.  It isn't remembering their favorite dish to order from the local Chinese place, either.

No, the world's most important relationship tip is as old as old can be:


However, it's not that simple.  You have to listen on many different levels, all at once.  You have to listen in such a way that your partner feels heard.  You have to open your "third ear" and listen with passion, love, and wisdom.  You need to place all your attention on your partner's words and listen, not just to the literal meaning, but to all the shades of meaning underneath.

Have you ever had this dialogue:

Partner:  You're not listening to me.

You:  Yes, I am.

Partner:  No, you're not.

You:  Yes, I am.  (Repeat what partner says verbatim.)

Partner:  That's what I said, but it's not what I mean.  You don't get me at all!

You: (Scratching your head.)  Whatever!

In this exchange, the listening partner thinks they're all over it because they heard the words.  But they obviously missed a lot of information.  They missed their partner's tone of voice, their body language, and the feelings behind the words.

Your partner isn't simply a word-producing device, with sounds coming out of their throat and mouth that come from nowhere.  Your partner is a thinking, feeling human being.  When they need you to listen, really listen, they are speaking with the hope that they will be understood without having to spell out every single little detail.  If you are intimate partners, it is expected, at least to some extent, that you know your partner well enough that you understand the significance of what they are saying.

This type of exchange often happens when the listener is concrete.  That means they are very literal and focused on what is happening on the immediate present.  When someone is concrete, it means that they lack flexibility to understand that there is so much more going on.  It is like being tuned into one channel and not realizing that others exist.

Can you develop better skill as a listener?  As a matter of fact, yes!  Here are more tips to make the original tip even better.  For example, don't anticipate what your partner is going to say, and don't start creating a response until your partner has finished speaking.

While your partner is speaking, check in with yourself.  What emotional response do you get from their words?  Do you feel sad, upset, angry, amused, or confused?  Can you sense any tightness or other signal in your body, such as in your stomach?  And, what do you notice about your partner's face and body?  Are they tense?  Are their eyes wide open?  Or are they downcast?  What does this body language tell you about the importance of what they are saying?

Once your partner has spoken, check in.  Make sure you heard what they said.  Ask.  Then reflect.  How do you want to respond?

Try letting your partner know that you understand from their words that they might be feeling angry or distressed or whatever.  If you don't get the feeling behind their words just right, ask them to describe it to you.

Respond to the feeling first--very important!  That is what makes your partner feel heard.  Give your partner sympathy or whatever is required.  Even if you don't share their point of view, be patient.  Let your partner know they are as important to you as you are to yourself.

Only then can you begin to offer advice or to brainstorm, not before.

I think you will be amazed with the result.  You and your partner will feel more intimate.  You will fight less.  Your partner will feel more understanding toward you, as well.

Yes, the most important relationship skill is to listen.  The second most important relationship skill is how you speak to your partner--but that's for next month, stay tuned!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can you hear me now? Making technology work for you AND your relationships.

Technology in this day and age has come so far and is remarkable in so many convenient ways. This convenience of texting, emailing, tweeting, instant messaging, face timing, skyping, facebooking, may be taking a toll you your relationships. Now there is no doubt that these vehicles for communication often are an aid in communicating and staying in touch with our friends and family but what are the consequences of the lack of face to face and telephonic conversations? Let's see how all of us can make adjustments in our lives for the best use of our communication for ourselves and in relation to others.

For those who grew up without cell phones and computers:
Keep in mind you could be missing out on staying in touch if you are resistant to using the latest and greatest tools.
Are your kids responsive via text? Better at keeping in the know when they let you know where they are with the touch of a few key strokes? Learn to use it; be in the know so stay in touch with your teenager with guidelines of use (expectations of time response and consequences if non responsive).

For those who might use modern day communication tools a little too much:
Try to be mindful about the amount of use of texting and emailing. Texts can be a nice way to show someone you are thinking of them though try to take breaks from your phone. For example, leave it in the gym locker or turn it on do not disturb, and if you can fathom the idea, see how it feels to leave the phone at home when going out for the evening. Take opportunities when in company of others to be present and thoughtful about the use of your phone. Think about how it feels when someone you are with is constantly looking at his/her phone. See if you can limit your texting to those times when need to be in touch and let someone know quickly where to meet or are running late. Remember how it feels when you receive a phone call from an important person. Consider how good it feels to hear that persons voice. We are all doing the best that we can to stay in touch. Try your hardest to make the best choice of the use of the different modes of communication.

Benefits of in person contact: 
You can see, hear, and touch. Sometimes you just need a hug, or a hand to be held. Sometimes words over text can be misunderstood without tone of voice. Being present with another allows us to feel more connected, have eye contact, a mirroring smile, or a pat on the back when needed. Notice when you might change your choice of words,emphasis, and tone when face to face, telephone, or email. Awareness is the first step of making improvements in your communication and relationships.

Monday, January 28, 2013

More Sex through Cooperation and Communication

A thought provoking article below by Dr. Stephanie Buehler, Director of The Buehler Institute.
Thought you would enjoy! - Amy Hooper, Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC 
Yes, Dear:  Sexy Words?  You Bet! 
Long ago, a friend told me his secret for a long and happy marriage, two little words that made a huge difference in his relationship.  Those two words were "Yes, dear."  I know, it seems so simplistic that you're wondering if you're going to spend the next 3-4 minutes of your life reading this article.  But hear me out.  There's actually science behind this.

John Gottman, an internationally renown psychologist and couples therapist, taped couples to detect patterns in those who stayed together, and those who split.  What he noticed is that cooperative couples tended to have the longest relationships.  For example, if a husband noticed his wife was cooking dinner (and vice versa), he would set the table without being asked.  A woman who asked her partner to empty the dishwasher would be told it would get done, and it would, without any discussion or argument.

More science:  Men who do chores get more sex.  It's true.  In a study of male partners, those who took out the trash got laid more often.  We might take it a step further and imagine that when asked to do such chores, instead of a groan, they responded by acting cooperatively.

Look, we all have tons of stuff to do.  We all have our pet peeves.  And we all want to get along.  When your partner asks you to do something, do you argue?  Do you think your partner is a nag?  Do you respond with, "Why don't you do it yourself?"  Do you cause a fight?  Do you criticize your partner for wanting you to get your wet teabags out of the sink or running your banana peel down the disposal?

Let's go a little further.  What do you suppose your partner thinks when, after asking you to do a few small things and getting barked at, when you come around looking for sex?  That's right, they don't feel like cooperating with you!

Maybe it's not little things, though.  Maybe it's big things, like where to live or whether or not to have children.  Such discussions still require cooperation, not a bulldozer.  In such cases, cooperation takes the form of listening.  What is your partner trying to say?  Go deeper:  What is your partner FEELING?  Is there panic?  Dread?  Excitement?  You become more cooperative when you tune in, not just to the words your partner is saying, but their feelings.  Something else happens, too.  Your partner feels HEARD.  Now they are more likely to listen to you in return.  And there it is, a cooperative discussion instead of a fight.

What if you are the person who is always asking for things to get done and getting resistance?  I would still invite you to look at whether or not you are cooperative.  Are you, for example, overly controlling about finances, holidays, or family visits?  Are you unable to stand up to others to protect your partner's feelings?  Do you do things for your partner that you don't especially like, just because you feel loving?  Or do you dig in your heels, roll your eyes, and cross your arms while you grudgingly accompany him or her? 

You see how being cooperative is a big deal now, right?  Can you see how resolving to be more cooperative can improve your relationship quickly?  Can you also see that even if you think you are angelic in the cooperation department that there is room for improvement? 

I could go into all the reasons we might stop being cooperative, but that would miss the point.  I think it's best to simply resolve to act in a more loving and cooperative way with your partner in 2013.  Now what do you say to that?  That's right:  Yes, dear.