Synchronicity: when something happens for a reason

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Sometimes we get the feeling that our life isn’t a chain of meaningless coincidences. Some of the people we meet and some of the things that happen to us seem weirdly connected. Carl Gustav Jung took a firm position when it comes to situations which look a bit like coincidence, but are, in fact, so much more than that. Jung coined the term synchronicity in 1920 and assigned many years of study to what he called ‘meaningful coincidences’. One of the most well-known definitions given to synchronicity was published in 1952 in the paper ‘Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle’, a paper written in collaboration with the Nobel laureate for physics, Wolfgang Pauli.

In this paper, Jung names them ‘temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events’. He provides many examples from his own psychotherapeutic practice to show that inner psychological phenomena, if strong enough, can materialize in physical phenomena in the outside world. One of the most cited examples refers to a female patient with an inflated animus who tended to over-rationalize everything. She showed no signs of treatment progress although she had been seeing Dr Jung for a long time. Jung started feeling that he could be of no major help to her and confesses in his paper that he hoped for something irrational to turn up, something to stop the over-rationalizing hamster wheel the woman had been running on for so long. One day she brought into analysis a dream about someone offering her a golden scarab piece of jewellery. While sharing the dream, a scarab tapped at the window. Jung took the insect and offered it to the patient. That was the moment when the dream and the reality connected to such an extent that the patient finally became aware of what her unconscious was trying to convey to her: it was time to give up overthinking. Jung wrote that a shift in her perception occurred and the therapeutic path became smoother from there.

Many therapists mention similar examples from their practice. For example, G. met her Jungian analyst for the first time. She started talking about herself and a very significant person in her life – the priest from an Episcopal church where G. had been a teacher and a parishioner for twenty years. She told the therapist what a great shepherd Father Garcia was on the path of her becoming. When she mentioned the name, the therapist stopped. Father Garcia was his mentor when he was training to become an episcopal priest! G. and her analyst lived in a large city, had no connections to each other and still they were both highly influenced and initiated into spiritual matters by the same man. This ‘meaningful coincidence’ helped them to build a strong foundation for their therapeutic relationship and this bond that lasted for years and contributed immensely to G’s development both as a person and a psychotherapist.

Although there are many critics of Jung’s idea of synchronicity, those who experience such episodes know they are not mere coincidences happening in a vast and uncaring universe. They are meaningful, acausal and conceptually related events that happen at the same time, despite their extremely low chances of turning up simultaneously. Finally, they happen to teach us something about ourselves and to tell us it’s time we listened to our souls. If you’re one of those who is no stranger to synchronicity let us know! We love to hear the stories of the people who let their souls be heard.


A modern dilemma: your phone or your loved ones?

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happy-family-1316748The era of all-things-smart is here and life is becoming rapidly digitalized. Everything happens online, from shopping to finding jobs or the love of our life. Smartphones are more than an extension of our hands, they are becoming an extension of ourselves and we feel incomplete when we lose them or even when we run out of battery. For most of us, it’s been probably months or years since we willingly gave technology up for a whole day. Figures vary, but all of them show that we’re technology indulgent. For example, in 2014 we used to spend more time watching TV, typing, gaming or listening to a smart device than sleeping (Communication Market report by Ofcom, 2014). The numbers are even more worrying with young people as they are online for an average of 27 hours a week. In 2015, a typical American spent about eleven hours a day using a form of media (Nielsen’s Total Audience Report, 2015).

The implications

Technology makes our life more comfortable and more entertaining, but there are costs for having it all at our fingertips. Health is one such cost, as too much computer use correlates with musculoskeletal disease, vision problems, headaches, tiredness, as well as with certain mental health problems (stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression).

Another big expense is represented by our relationships. Some of us have hundreds or even thousands of social media friends but nobody to call when we’re down. We post happy pictures of our perfect life, but we cry ourselves to sleep. We feel popular, but we are, in fact, alone. Getting in touch with someone’s virtual persona does not truly connect you with them. Face to face contact is what helps, but it becomes a luxury in a busy world where everything happens online. In this context, what we miss out on really is life itself. A sunset, a smile from a dear friend, a cup of coffee at the same table, a hand shake or a hug are vital for the humanity in us. Technology is important and it makes life easier, but it shouldn’t replace it. If you suspect that your phone is stealing your life, here’s a list of things to try in order to regain control:

Be honest with yourself

People underestimate the time spent online, believing they spend half of the time they actually do, according to a study by Andrews, Ellis, Shaw & Piwek (2015). You can use technology to see how much of your time is spent in the world of web2.0 by downloading different apps that monitor your presence online, especially on the most time consuming ones, like social media platforms. This might sound funny, but it’s a first step to giving up and it’s a step taken on your current terms: the terms of a techy person.

Try to slowly decrease the time

Once you’ve decided to spend some time apart from your phone, it’s time to really go for it. It won’t be easy, especially if you are one of those people who wake up with their phone in their hand. Again, for the moment, you can try an app that blocks your access to the sites where you spend most of your time. Even if you don’t do it for a whole day, do it for at least one hour each day. It would still make a difference!

Replace the habit

Although it might not be a proper addiction in your case, it helps to replace bad habits with healthier ones. If you decided to cut down the number of hours spent online to 2 from 4, why not join the gym in those hours, chat to a friend or read a short-story? Technology gives us access to oceans of information, but it doesn’t necessarily make us smarter, and the old ways to expand our imagination and vocabulary, such as reading, still work well.

Make a bigger difference

Because relationships define us a ‘social animals’ before anything else, it is always worth nurturing and cultivating them. When you decide to spend time with your friends instead of your phone you invest in yourself, in them and in your relationship. On the other hand, you might find out that they struggle with the same problem and trying to work together on it can have a positive impact in your smaller or larger community. So, why not do something bigger and declare Sunday a ‘tech Sabbath’ day?

Do it yourself and also encourage others to leave their phones and go hiking, running, biking, sunbathing, swimming, writing poetry in the woods or just staring at the sky in the best company your body, mind and heart can have: your loved ones!

If you need support in balancing different sectors of your life, give us a call. We are happy to help you with time management, relationships, as well as with certain addictive or potentially addictive behaviours.



Andrews S, Ellis DA, Shaw H, Piwek L (2015) Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0139004. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139004


The Power of Dreams in Psychotherapy

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dreamcatcher-1585820Dreams fascinated people since the dawn of human kind. Throughout history, dreams moved from being associated with all kinds of superstitions to becoming the object of complex scientific research. Psychology pays a high importance to these by-products of the psyche and one of the first to acknowledge their use in psychotherapy was Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and talk-therapy. Psychoanalysis puts the unconscious in the centre of the psychological activity and, according to Freud, dreams are the royal road to it. It is worth journeying down that road because interpreting dreams help us understand what the unconscious has to communicate and this can play a vital role in one’s recovery process.

Bringing dreams to the consulting room is encouraged by many therapists today because it still represents a safe way to understand what one’s psyche is trying to communicate. There’s still this magical aura around dreams and dreaming, but in psychotherapy people learn there isn’t anything supernatural in analyzing them… It’s all about deciphering the message: associating dream contents with life events, emotions and personal experiences while trying to make as much sense as possible of it all.

Questions like “Why did this dream contents appear now?”, “Why this specific form of expression?”, “What do they represent for the client?” are often used to decrypt the message. Some psychotherapists, like the Jungian ones, go even further from the manifest content of the dream. They look for deeper meaning of what they call the “latent” content of the dream and, in order to find it, they encourage the client to associate parts of the dream with symbols and figures from mythology or folklore. This way, the client has the opportunity to realise that their psyche is a fascinating mirror of a universe where all is connected, not a simple recycling machine that makes you dream of cherry pies because you watched a cooking show before going to bed.

Finally, dreams brought into psychotherapy can give a great indication on the progression of the healing process. Here are two short examples to provide a picture of how it really works:

Dream one: A woman has a recurrent dream where she is trying to lock doors. She is afraid that something will come in. However, she cannot get all the doors locked…

Although this dream is the carrier of a high amount of anxiety, it turns out that it has a positive meaning. In dream analysis, the dreamer is the one who knows the best what the dream is telling them, while the therapist’s role is rather to provide a containing environment where they feel comfortable to make associations and find meanings. This client realises that, as her psychotherapy progresses, she starts downing defences and allowing what is coming up in therapy. She slowly moves from feeling stuck and locked up to talking about her childhood trauma. Of course, it is not the dream on its own that helped her reveal her problem, but the entire therapeutic context. In this scenario, the dream is the sign that the client is ready to start the big journey.

Dream two: A woman has not spoken to her sister in a few years, but she mentions in therapy that she has been thinking that she should perhaps reach out and call her relative. She dreams she is at the swimming pool where she and her sister used to go to when they were children. She stresses that it is a beautiful place and the old rock pool is just as she remembers it. She recalls having a happy feeling in her dream and deciding to go swimming.

It is quite obvious that the dream relates to the relationship with her sister. The fact that she wants to swim is a sign that she is ready to heal the past and to jump back into the relationship. She is becoming aware that it might be a risky endeavour – the pool is made of rocks – but she is also becoming aware of the fact that it is worth the risk. As mentioned before, everything that happens in a dream matters – from events, to characters, to feelings and sensations. On the other hand, everything that appears in the dream is a symbolical, coded reflection of both real life events and of of one’s inner world: in dreams, parts of us are communicating themselves and, with the right therapist, we can make sure they hear each other and work together for a better life, for a better us.

Paying attention to dreams does help us heal and grow. Are you interested in dreams and in a psychotherapeutic approach that values the power of dreaming? Give us a call at +1 847-967-0952.

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Going through Changes? Counseling Can Help You

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perfect-storm-1519619From day one, our lives go through many changes. Our bodies change, as well as our minds, our relationships, our behaviors, values, needs, motivations and so on. Due to this transforming nature of our existence, we usually have to deal with events such as ending a relationship, quitting a job, losing a beloved one or giving up a bad habit, having a baby, changing career or moving abroad. Wanted or not, expected or not, change isn’t always easy and varied degrees of stress, anxiety and other emotional issues can come with it. This is why many people decide to look for professional support such as psychological counseling or therapy when they’re in a transitional life phase.

If you find yourself in that boat as well, you might consider seeing a counselor. Here’s a short list of what you can gain from counseling:

A place to manage stress – By definition, change means dealing with novelty and confronting the unknown. This triggers different amounts of stress, which can affect one’s behavior, as well as their psychological and physical health, as shown by research. Seeing a counselor before an expected change can prepare you to cope better with the coming situation by discussing or visualising what will happen to you next. Later on, during the process of change, a therapist can help you learn relaxation techniques, as well as how to make sense of your emotions. Most probably you will go on an emotional roller-coaster, going from hope to despair, from happiness to immense sadness, from fear to anger. You can also learn how to let go and how to take control over your life, or, simply put, how to find shelter in the middle of the storm.

A place to be emotional and vulnerable – For some of us it seems very difficult to accept that we are scared or that we need help. Change is often a time when we put aside many masks and discover we can be as frightened as a child: it’s not easy to accept that you’ll have a baby and be responsible for someone’s life for the next 18 years or to be left by someone you’ve been married to for decades. This is a time when you feel emotional and vulnerable and in counseling you can do it with no restrictions. Because this is a place where you’re not alone – it’s the place where you can cry and shout, where you can be listened to and accepted for who you are. Remember that we all go through changes and nobody is here to judge your tears.

A place to get informed – counseling isn’t only about listening to people, but also about orienting them in the right direction through the provision of insights and information. You might go through a difficult time after deciding to quit smoking or after being diagnosed with a life-long disease and would like to get some group support. A counselor can offer you information about where to find such groups or what other methods to use in order to cope with this new life situation.

A place to discover and re-discover your strengths – Changes usually test your strengths quite a bit, making you push yourself or, on the contrary, learn to accept our limits. Either way, you’ll end up learning something new about yourself and the better you know who you are and what you can do, the better you’ll cope with change now and in the future. A counselor is the witness of your progress, no matter how fast or slow that is, the honest mirror that you might need to look into in order to remember that you can make it.

A place to learn as you go – As human beings, we never stop learning: we make sense of past experiences, adapt to new ones and challenge ourselves to leave the comfort zone for more learning, which is then the equivalent of a even better adaptation and of a better life. During transitional periods, which throw us out of that comfort zone, the learning process is sped up and it can be quite easy to repeat past mistakes, to make fast decisions or just to give up and run away. A counselor can support you in staying on the right track, in connecting the past and the present, in understanding what went wrong before and what can be done to avoid or minimize unhappy outcomes. More than that, through counseling you can manage to structure your life better and to see the bigger picture: we all learn as we live and everything we live shapes us in beautiful ways if we get to make sense of it.

If you need support in dealing with change, we can help! Just give us a call at +1 847-967-0952.

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Coping with Mental Health Issues During the Summer

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mental health


For most children, teens, and college students, summer is a season they look forward to because of freedom from school and the long days of sunlight perfect for summertime fun. Adults also enjoy summer because they get to spend more time with families. But for some, mental health issues can be more prevalent in the summer. It’s difficult to understand, and even more difficult to treat.

Why are Mental Illness Symptoms More Prevalent in the Summer in Children and Teens?

Much of the symptoms from mental illness that appear during the summer are because the summer means less structure since there’s no school taking up much of their waking hours. Structure often prevents children and teens from thinking about the emotional pain they face in their day-to-day life. With more time on their hands, thoughts become what students are then left with.

Boredom often triggers symptoms of anxiety and depression. It becomes difficult when the child or teen has no short term goals to accomplish like they would in classes. Having a sense of mindfulness and purpose helps keep symptoms of mental illness at bay. The children most affected by boredom happen to be those struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – many of these youth struggle with the unstructured days of summer. Their ADHD symptoms can worsen and they can also experience anxiety and irritability.

How to Deal with Symptoms more Effectively

Experts say for healthier children in the summer:

  • Schedule time to have family conversations about behavior and mood changes
  • Go outside
  • Limit time spent with electronics (i.e. television, computers (Internet), and video games)
  • Be active and exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take your medications regularly
  • Speak to your doctor before making any changes to medication
  • Be part of something. Develop your strengths and interests.
  • Parents should also provide some consistent structure during the summer for their children.

Adults Get the Summertime Blues Too…

Adults who dislike the sun and hot weather might experience depression and anxiety as they watch life pass them by during the hot summer months. This may be entirely due to their body chemistry.

Although seasonal affective disorder (SAD) usually occurs for most people during the winter months, some people experience SAD in the summer.

What causes SAD? Some believe that the lack of sunlight in the winter months increases melatonin in the body (which regulates sleep) during hours later than you’re used to, and this can cause depression during some of your waking hours. In the summer, not going outside due to a dislike of the sunlight and hot weather can cause similar symptoms to winter SAD.

Some signs you may have SAD in the summer:

  • Trouble getting out of bed in the morning or insomnia
  • Little or no energy
  • Increased appetite or weight loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • No interest in normal activities or friends

SAD is treatable. Here’s some alternatives:

  • Light (photo) therapy- exposing oneself to a special type of light for a certain amount of time each day
  • Medication
  • Change in diet
  • Stress management
  • Vacation to a sunny climate in the winter.

Although summer can be difficult for children and adults with mental health issues, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of your symptoms and enjoy your summer to the fullest extent.

If you feel that you need some extra support this summer, please contact us today.

You Have Been Diagnosed with a Mental Illness. Now What Do You Do?

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People deal with a wide range of emotions when they are first diagnosed, ranging from relief to fear.  Some may feel relieved to know the cause for all their symptoms is real and not “all in their head”, while others may face an existential crisis and wonder “Why did this happen to me?”

One in every five Americans has a mental illness, and many more experience acute episodes of sadness that is akin to depression. So no matter how alone you may feel, you are truly not; furthermore, nowadays they have more treatment options available than ever before, making the light at the end of the tunnel much, much brighter. You can make your treatment and recovery work for you once you find the right treatment and really work at it.

Taking control of your treatment and recovery:

Do research about your mental illness. You want to find out as much as you can about your diagnosis. Once you discuss your symptoms with your psychiatrist and receive a diagnosis, ask for some reading material about your specific diagnosis. Finding out about your symptoms leads to mindfulness and self-awareness, which is key in symptom management. Talk to people who have your mental illness about what treatments worked for them, and bring these alternatives up to your psychiatrist.

Find emotional support. Educate your friends and family about your mental illness. Talk about your symptoms and how they might impact the family. Explain to them how they can help you and how they can be a part of your treatment. Having empathy from the family could make a significant impact in recovery. There are many support organizations such as DBSA that offer support for individuals with depression or Bipolar Disorder and their families. Finding people who understand what you are going through and have succeeded in their treatment can be very reassuring.

Determine your health care options. Typically most people receiving treatment for a mental illness have a psychiatrist and a therapist. Compile a short list of psychiatrists in your insurance network and do some research on them for ratings and reviews. You want to make sure that other people have had good experiences with this doctor. Do a similar search to find a few therapists that you can call. Ultimately, once you have that shortlist of doctors and therapists, who you choose will come down to which psychiatrist and therapist you can get in to see first. Don’t leave out the possibility of intensive day programs as a treatment option, as they can be very helpful with learning coping skills and curbing problematic behaviors.

Be honest and open with your psychiatrist or therapist. Bring questions about your diagnosis and treatment to your appointments. Speak openly about your progress or any difficulties you are having. Your treatment is ultimately what YOU make of it.

Continually persevere and advocate for yourself and recovery. Be assertive – make sure your needs are being met, both in your personal relationships and your treatment. Before long, you will be on the road to recovery and back to living your life again.

Looking for Love: Know Yourself First

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Looking for Love -“Love comes when you stop looking for it.”


While those words may seem illogical some, they do have truth to them.  When we are not focusing on trying to attract someone, we have time to better ourselves, making ourselves more interesting and happier people.


And who wouldn’t want to start a relationship with a really interesting, really happy person?


The trick is to find what truly interests you.  Choosing an activity based on how you think you will appear most interesting or who may also be interested in that activity is just bad news.  Find something that makes you lose track of time when you’re doing it.  Something that you can’t wait to do again, even after you’ve just finished.


Once you find that one thing that makes your heart sing, pursue it.  You’ll be amazed by the results.

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Avoiding a Depression Relapse

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When it comes to depression, the road to recovery can bring many mixed emotions: relief, worry, joy, and even fear. With the help of therapy and/or medication, many people do indeed experience this recovery. Yet in the back of their minds, they might be wondering what they can do to avoid a depression relapse.

If you are recovering from depression and questioning what the future might hold for you, try taking the following steps to help you avoid or manage a depression relapse.

Counseling Center For Emotional GrowthDon’t stop your treatment regimen until you talk with your care provider

Though you might feel better, stopping medication without the supervision of a care provider can have dire consequences. You might experience headaches, sleep interruptions, or even symptoms of withdrawal.
As such, make sure to ask your doctor about changing your medication regimen. They can guide you in ceasing, cutting back, or even sticking with your current dosage(s).
Remember too that quitting therapy sessions can have negative consequences. While some therapy methods are intended for short-term outcomes, others are intended to take place over longer periods of time. Discontinuing therapy can leave some much-needed work undone and can leave you more vulnerable to a depression relapse.

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Four Tips to Help Manage Adult ADHD

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ADHDManaging ADHD as an adult can often feel overwhelming. With schedules and responsibilities that only become more complicated as you grow older, you might find your confidence slagging when you don’t get things done.

These four tips can help you not only boost your confidence but also strengthen your ADHD coping methods.

Learn as much as you can.

Read books, talk with professionals, and seek out other people with ADHD. Don’t just focus on the medical literature; make sure to explore people’s personal experiences too. You can even try connecting with adult ADHD support groups.

In these explorations, always remember that ADHD is a medical disorder: it is not a moral failing or lack of willpower, nor does it reflect upon your intelligence or capabilities. In fact, finding ways to manage ADHD takes plenty of intelligence and strength.

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Managing the Holidays After Divorce

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Life after divorce is a time of redefinition: redefining your family, redefining your marriage status, and sometimes even redefining yourself. When it comes to the holidays, all this redefinition can add unwanted stress to your celebrations. If you find this stress creeping up on you, consider taking these steps to help manage your holidays this year.


•  Preserve some old traditions, start some new ones.

Managing the Holidays After Divorce -

A change in your holiday traditions is inevitable after a divorce. Nonetheless, this time of transition shouldn’t mean that you have to give up everything you enjoy about the season. 

Try making a short list of the traditions that are most important to you. Are there ways that you can still integrate these traditions into your new family structure? Depending on your current relationship with your former spouse, can you participate in any of these traditions together? Some people find they can make this work, and others simply cannot. Do what makes the most sense for your family. Read more >