Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Activity is the therapy of choice for your Body and Mind.

This month is Diabetes Awareness Month, in reading about this disease the role of exercise kept coming up. When you read about depression Exercise is a great way to help get the chemicals in the brain going in a positive direction. Food can used to comfort and to suppress our emotions which then can lead to health and mental depression and illness'.  This increases the need for movement and activity.
I have clients that we meet in a quiet area and walk while we are talking. This  helps with nervous energy and learning to pace your emotional energy into a positive outlet.
Medications are an important part of the overall treatment of physical and mental health issues, but they do not need to be the first line of attack.
Ask your psychotherapist if you can walk and talk, ask your Dr. if you can get a prescription for a health gym or join a walking group.
Exercise is not the answer, but it can be a larger part of the solution to many issues we face.
We have all read the tips on how to get more steps in. Park away from your destination, walk the stairs and many more. Start today with simple stretching when you first get up. ANYTHING to engage your body into your process of Living.
If you are interested in knowing more about walking therapy or Activity as medicine. Please feel free to contact me at: KendallWagnerMFT@CarlsbadCounselingCenter.com or call (760) 434-9694.
Carlsbad Counseling Center

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Communication and direct, kind language, shared by Kendall Wagner,MFT

Both men and women want their spouse or significant other to understand them and many times read their minds. Other times, we want them to do things our way or have the same priorities. This is a cute YouTube video that shows what men and women can go thru. I encourage women to do two things. One be more direct and second be more accepting of when the man in your life wants to go off with his friends. The only caveat  to this would be if you do not trust him for good reason. THEN, controlling him will not fix it.
Here is the video.. and for fun, see how you could respond in a kinder more direct way.
The Manslator

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I'm so Stressed Out and I Don't Know What to Do!!

What exactly is stress? What can feel stressful to one person may not make another person blink so how does one define stress? Stress is an experience a person has when the demands of his or her life feel greater than what he or she thinks they can handle. 

Life can be very stressful at times and there isn't one person who hasn't felt the effects of extra demands in his or her life. It is important to learn how to recognize and reduce stress in our lives before we feel lost and out of control. Sometimes we are unaware of the emotional state stress brings until we begin to feel physical symptoms. 

Have your experienced any of these symptoms in the past 30 days?
• Problems with sleep
    - Difficulty falling asleep
    - Waking up off and on throughout the night
    - Nightmares and bad dreams
    - Waking up earlier than usual and being unable to fall back asleep
• Headaches
• Stomach aches or digestive issues
• Chronic colds or illness
• Fatigue that will not go away
• Moodiness
• Irritability
• Difficulty concentrating
• Dissatisfaction with life
• Feeling very overwhelmed

If you have experienced at least 2 or more of these symptoms, it is very important to learn how to reduce stress right away. Listed below are some techniques that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and can have a calming effect that can help reduce the effects of stress. 

1. Take a deep breath.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Try inhaling slowly while silently counting to 4. As you breathe in, fill your belly and then your chest. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Then slowly exhale while counting to 4. Repeat this at least three times and you will find your body relaxing and feeling more grounded.

2. Observe your immediate situation without judgement.
Stressful experiences are going to happen simply because we are human and live in a fast-paced world. We make judgments quickly and very often without realizing it, which can make our situations feel even bigger than they really are. When you are feeling anxious or stressed out, practice observing your feelings, thoughts, sensations, and emotions with complete compassion and without any judgement. 

3. Write in a journal.
A daily journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down: 
• What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)
• How you felt, both physically and emotionally
• How you acted in response
• What you did to make yourself feel better

4. Look for the upside.
When facing a major challenge or situation, try to look at it as an opportunity for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes. If you find yourself in a situation that you do not have control over, try to identify something about it that is positive or something you can learn from.

5. Connect with others. 
Spend time with positive people who enhance your life because a strong support system will help buffer you from the negative effects of stress. Even if you find yourself short on time for getting together in person, a quick phone call can make a difference. The point is to not isolate yourself but reach out and make connections with the people in your life.

There are many more ways to reduce stress than what I have listed here. What other ways have you tried to keep your life stress-free? If you find yourself unable to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed or stressed, talking to a counselor or therapist may be a good option for you to help discover ways to minimize and reduce the stress in your life.

If you would like to work on your own stress reduction or other issues, please feel free to contact me at:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Parallel Parenting a short overview. When Co Parenting is Impossible!

Along with being a psychotherapist and marriage and family counselor, I also for over 20 years have been a parenting educator, and for almost 27 years a parent myself. 

I work with families on various parenting issues, the most difficult are my court referrals (Carlsbad Counseling Center is on the San Diego Superior Court Resource list ). 
The court very often wants parent to co parent even in high conflict situations. I always say, if that were possible then most of the couples would still be together.. 

I wanted to share an article by Deena L Stacer, Ph.D. in which she shares the basics of Parallel Parenting. 

Parallel Parenting by Deena L Stacer, Ph.D

Dr. Stacer, Ph.D. has done a wonderful job of explaining the process and the mental paradigm shift that Can happen.

Carlsbad Counseling Center provides counseling, psychotherapy, parent education, supervised visitation and DBT groups as support.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

How to Be a Good Friend!

When we go thru difficult times having friends can carry us during the storm.. As a therapist, I am thrilled when I hear about how a client's friends have been there and supported someone going thru a difficult season.

What is difficult is:  How to be a good friend?

These simple guidelines can help you to be the support you want to be.

1. Listen
2. Only ask questions that help with the issue. Not out of your own interest
3. Do not give advice. We do this when we are uncomfortable or we want them to do what we would do.
     The reality is please realize your suggestions may not be what works or can be realistic for your friend.
4. Follow up, checking in to see how a friend is doing: helps and let's them know you really are there.
5. Allow humor and share your struggle not how you handled it. You do not want your friend to feel they have failed if they do not do it your (the right)  way.

For those going thru struggles.
1. Chose only a few people you are 100% comfortable with.
2. Share, vent and laugh.. knowing you are not alone really does take off some of the stress.
3. Return the favor down the road.

We all have seasons of hardship, grief, frustrations and loss. Walk along the path with someone and they will walk along the path with you. Make sure your motives to support are pure and your concern real.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Counseling vs. Psychotherapy

I was recently at a workshop in L.A. and given the traffic congestion I decided to take the train. Coming back on the Friday evening, I sat next to an attorney that commutes daily and we began to chat. The topic came up that I was a therapist. Attorney" What kind of therapist?" Me" a counselor, I do psychotherapy"

This got me thinking and realized that I differentiate between being a counselor and or a psychotherapist.

For you the client or for the person looking to seek guidance and direction, realizing what your intention is and what role the professional has is important.

A Counselor will see a couple or an individual and help them work thru, educate and find answers to a problem or a situation.

A Psychotherapist will do the same thing and will also invite you to look at the patterns and triggers that arise at different seasons of your life.

All Psychotherapists are also counselors, not all counselors are psychotherapists. We use the word Counseling to mean Therapy, but we must get clarity from you the client on what your focus is before entering into a psychotherapy working relationship.

I worked for many years at a faith based counseling center. Most of my clients  that I worked with dealt with some type of a  current crisis, marital conflicts, parenting issues along with exploring their internal world to identify and make changes that would and are long lasting. Unfortunately, there were some that came in for Counseling. Wanting direction with a rebellious teen, Aging parent, problem mother in law, holiday stress and other behavioral/ situational topics. This is fine, the mistake I made and the confusion that they had was I would deal with the current crisis, provide counseling, referrals and suggestions , then along side that  I would also begin some psycho-therapeutic exploration  of patterns and history.
This is when a person would say:

A. Wow, I see where this is coming from.. (and psychotherapy would continue or the person would decide                                                                     these are issues to be addressed down the road)

B. This isn't why I came in! (This reply was as much my fault for not clarifying the psycho-therapeutic process  as their lack of understanding of psychology. I made the assumption that we had an applied agreement to explore self, when I didn't.)

C. My child/parent/co-worker has a problem not me. (These are the clients that want Other to be fixed or         changed. Traditional problem solving techniques are given but psychotherapy for the person in the room is     needed for change to occur for anyone in the system.These are the times clients get angry.)

Over the years, I improved my verbal and clinical agreement with clients in the faith based setting and C was less of an issue for two reasons, I was able to refer out after the first call to a counselor that could better meet their needs and/ or explain that I was only able to help if the person sitting across from me was also willing to explore their-selves and their own patterns.

As an ACT therapist, I focus on helping clients move towards the goals and values they desire while exploring the current emotions and patterns that are causing pain, depression and anxiety.

For the therapist, clarify with your client if they are seeking a counselor or a psychotherapist.

For the client, feel free to ask the therapist questions and be open to sharing if you are looking for tools for a current situation and if you are willing and or interested in exploring changes that will allow you to handle life in a more direct and masterful way.

Kendall Wagner, MFT
Carlsbad Counseling Center

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why and How the Court Offers Programs and Resources by Attorney Bradley Corbett

Why and How the Court Offers Programs and Resources
The Superior Court of California has a commitment to all litigants—providing the community with a fair, equal, and timely system. While jail time can often be the end result for some, the court seeks to provide fair and correct rulings that will benefit and promote long term public confidence. In such an endeavor, the court often views rehabilitation classes and programs as viable options for those who qualify. This opens the door to long-term correction and justice long after the pounding of the gavel.
Why not jail?
While other rulings are often needed, i.e. jail time, rehabilitation classes and programs are better alternatives and give long term results. The accused will often be offered the opportunity to participate in a course to fulfill or in correspondence with their charge.
The following are examples included on the San Diego Court Programs Referral List and offered by centers such as Carlsbad Counseling Center:
Anger Management
Elder Abuse
Mental Health (Court Mandated Counseling)
Shoplifting and Theft
Supervised Visitation
Completion of these classes prior to or in accordance with a court’s ruling can often result in lessened sentencing. The court will often allow these classes and programs as an option for lowering or dismissing your charges. This has proven to be a just and viable option in many cases.
How it Works
While the court does not provide or affiliate with the linked courses or programs, they do compile, share, and accept services from them when in accordance with court ruling. These services will facilitate long term change and betterment. Such services can be viewed positively by the court and give you better standing in your case, and more importantly in your life.

This post was brought to you by The Law Office of Bradly Corbett. For more legal information or to request legal services, contact Bradley Corbett today for a free consultation.
                  The Law Office of Bradley R. Corbett
                  620 South Melrose, Suite 101

                  Vista, CA 92081
                  North County San Diego760.201.9839
                  Downtown San Diego619.800.4449
                  Temecula and Murrieta: 951.732.8611

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mindfulness: A tool that is useful across multiple clinical and emotional challenges.

I have been licensed for a long time (over 21 years). Over time you see "techniques and treatment models" come and go. Most of the time they are not very different to what is already being seen as the standard of care and best practices, they have only been expanded . 
When you ask a therapist what is their theoretical orientation or way of treating clients, you will hear the word Eclectic. Meaning the therapist will borrow from various modalities and styles. Mindfulness is one of those tools that can be used by a variety of theoretical orientations. 
For Example
I enjoy  international cuisines, we have spices in our kitchen collected from various countries and international food stores. Once I get them home, I may use them in ways the original cooks never considered or thought they could be used by different cuisines.  Mindfulness is like this. 
Mindfulness does have some  roots in religion, primarily credit is given to Buddhism but Christians and others also have forms of Mindfulness that are used to find the Peace that surpasses understanding. A professional well trained clinician can respect your personal values and work with you on using  mindfulness towards an acceptance of self and or changes in behaviors and reactions

Mindfulness is a tool that helps the client focus on the here and now and or past emotion without ruminating or getting triggered. Breathing is a very common tool of mindfulness. Letting past, present emotions and experiences be viewed without being overwhelmed. 

In cases of Anxiety and Depression, being able to focus on the sensations and thoughts with out reacting with an overwhelming response, allows you to then Observe the thought or feeling, Describe what you are feeling and viewing then you participate thru the event or emotion vs. reacting to a trigger. This is very similar to how it is used with people coping with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder.

When one decides and makes the commitment to in depth change and growth, Mindfulness allows one to explore how past experiences, memories and emotions interfere with a fuller sense of self in the present. One can see the past events as events that are there but no longer require a lot of behaviors to hide avoid or react to. 

There are many clinical theories that use Mindfulness, DBT, ACT, 
MCBT , Psychodynamic and more. 

If you have any questions or would like to know if using mindfulness would be helpful to you, please feel free to contact me at: Kendall Wagner, MFT #31553


Friday, May 1, 2015

Hope and Understanding: Borderline Personality Disorder

There are so many misconceptions about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), not only by clients and family members but within the therapeutic community itself. BPD is treatable , it does require hard work, commitment and a long term relationship with your therapist.

In my office I use DBT and Mindfulness exercises as a part of the treatment approach. Clients can learn, take and utilize the tools when away from the office.

Here is a wonderful YouTube about understanding BPD.

BACK FROM THE EDGE: Borderline Personality Disorder.

Please feel free to contact the center directly if you have questions about this or other mental health  concerns.

Kendall Wagner,MFT



Monday, April 27, 2015

Self Harm / Self Mutilation How therapy can help!

Self harm is a dangerous practice where individuals that are feeling overwhelmed by their emotions cut, scratch, burn or otherwise self mutilate.  Often times the self harm or self mutilation is done in order to externalize an internal pain.

For instance a teenage girl whose parents are getting divorced and is feeling depressed and anxious about it may be unable to cope or express her emotions. Instead she makes many superficial cuts to her arm. This does two things: 1) gives her a sense of release in the form of pain and a ritual, 2) shows how much she is hurting to anyone that sees the cuts (this may be subconsciously done).

Oftentimes self-harm becomes an addictive behavior with a build up of emotions (anxiety, depression) and then a temporary post self harm release. This relief of emotions is accompanied with guilt and remorse for the self harm behavior. These new feelings of remorse add to the previous anxiety/depression build up necessitating another self harm incident.

Treating self-harm like an addiction includes monitoring the feelings leading up to the self harm behavior and disrupting the cycle before it becomes too overwhelming.

The cycle can be disrupted by a number of methods including; repeating a self affirming positive mantra to oneself, going for a walk, calling a friend or otherwise engaging in pleasurable activity to delay and disrupt the self harm.  It is important to learn healthy coping skills to interrupt the self harm cycle.

If an individual needs the catharsis of self harm perhaps a less damaging ritual can be substituted. For example instead of burning your hand hold onto an ice cube. Instead of cutting yourself, draw on your skin with a red marker.

IMF# 76409
Supervised by Kendall Wagner, MFT

If you or a family member would like to talk with Jon more about this subject or any other counseling situation, please feel free to contact him at: Jon Stein Email or call him at 760-517-6449

Friday, April 24, 2015

How we really Parent!

I am amazed and yet I also have been there... Moms and Dads will call and ask me how to handle a situation with their child. For young children it may be a bad grade, a fight with a friend , for tweens: many times the situations that are causing parents concern are social ostracizing or loss of interest in activities that they once happily and willingly participated in. Later in High School, many of the same issues arise again but with our children now vocally sharing why they don't want to do an activity or agree with a family perspective.

This is an overview, but the bottom line is, our children will live by the same principles we have lived by through out their lives. Not what we have told them.

We are concerned that they are not living the lessons taught at church or synagogue, but at home they see us drink, gossip , argue and take short cuts.

Parenting is NEVER what we say but what we do.

We threaten to ground, disciple or respond in a certain way when our children do not finish homework, follow up on tasks at work or school or treat us with disrespect. But because we do not want our children to lose out on an opportunity or we do not want to deal with the anxiety of watching them not follow through. WE hound, cajole ,threaten and assist so the task is done. This is about us not tolerating the pain, disappointment, embarrassment and anxiety that letting our children rise and fall (when appropriate) creates in us. If we were not emotionally invested in our childrens' choices, would we be better parents?

This is the parenting lesson our children learn. REALITY is life and natural consequences must be experienced. It is hard to think they may not make the team, get into the right university, not be in the right social group.. BUT when we push it, they learn life is never about their own powers and abilities.

What tools for LIFE do you want your children to possess.. Give them the life experiences and consequences for them to learn through you not by you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What has happened to the Sleep Over?

I have started to ask parents of children ages 6 and over about sleep overs. Almost 100 % say they do not happen, that given the weekend events they are not doable. There was and is a small portion that are afraid of letting their children go to anthers house. For those parents, I challenge them to start the sleep overs at their own home.
A part of raising Whole, Well Balanced Adults is to teach them an appreciation of how others live and do life. The best way to start this is with sleep overs. Every family is different and has different family cultures.
Family vacations to other countries and cultures are seen as enriching and valuable.
The childhood sleep over is the first step in this process.

Children are very committed to sports, theater and homework so that normal non parental organized social time is gone. Most parents share, "they cannot let their children have sleep overs as they will then not do well in the next days events. " 

I am not against organized activities. What I am challenging parents to do is let their children have a full, multi- experiential upbringing. This teaches tolerance, appreciation of other cultures, a renewed appreciation of their own home life and learning to navigate unfamiliar waters in a relatively safe setting.
The picky eater learns to navigate food choices outside of home. The adventurous eater finds more foods that he/she likes.
You child will learn new ways of doing even the mundane, from dinner habits, nighttime rituals.
How other families communicate and how other children are parented.

No your children will not sleep, and Yes they will be grumpy the next day. Why not! Can we as parents put our personal/professional goals for our children in perspective and our own egos in balance? Can we start to help our children assimilate in the other aspects of childhood and growing up that are essential to survive the differences that they will encounter as adults as they launch into the world?

In a world where we are trying to teach our children that diversity is OK please consider allowing your child the first step in the process and a very old traditional right of passage, that we enjoyed and learned from our own growing up.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

NAMI North Coastal San Diego upcoming Monthly Educational Meeting!

This is not your typical post and I will not do these often.. But for those of you that are in San Diego I wanted to make sure you are aware if you are not yet.. about
NAMI National Alliance on Mentally Illness.

The Carlsbad Counseling Center is located in North San Diego County on the Coast... Our local chapter has many different groups, educational opportunities and trainings.. These are for the family that has a member with mental illness and for the person themselves.. Coming up this Thursday is a great talk about the chemistry of mental illness and how chemistry can help alleviate some of the problematic symptoms... Here is the link...to this month's Monthly Educational Meeting with:

Dr. Manish Sheth, Ph.D, M.D.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church Hall
2775 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

5 tips to help your child (and you) cope while they are in Therapy

There are multiple reasons why a child or adolescent enters into psychotherapy.. With Children, most often, the therapist will use play, art and other expressive mediums to help the child process , cope and restructure their current behavior and coping patterns... I always tell parents, the therapy does not stop at the end of the hour, with patience, understanding and planning, your child in therapy (while still a challenge) can continue to grow thru your hands on parenting tools. And a sense of normalcy can be kept outside the therapy office.
How can you help.. Here are 5 tips.

  1. Always have free time after an appointment. We are all fragile after therapy and you child is the same. This is a great time to veg with a book, show or play in their room.
  2. Have art supplies and outdoor activities ready. Along with needing down time, children will continue to process, We have all heard and it is true  Play is a child's work.. Have crayons, paper and an area they can do art, for outside: a bucket of water and a paintbrush, large outside chalk.
  3. Stay firm on house rules. Your child will already be feeling overwhelmed, unsafe and or insecure, either from the topics that have been dealt with in therapy or because of the reasons that they have entered therapy. They will act out and test the limits a bit more. You must let them know the boundaries are still there and you are still in charge... They need to test the boundaries to know they are still there and you can keep them safe.
  4. Never use therapy as punishment. Although tempting, keep yourself from speaking derogatory about having to be in therapy and or "If it wasn't for your (father, mother, your behavior,ect.) You wouldn't have to go". This makes the child feel worse and undermines the work they are doing in and with their Therapist.
  5. Respect your child's privacy. As adults we usually do not share our therapy content or even the fact we are in therapy with others... As we find support for ourselves thru our friends and family, we talk about what is happening.. Unfortunately, your child does hear you and internalizes the messages you send... and share with others.. Your child may already feel violated and exposed... What you share about your child gets passed on...and remember if you would not want the information shared about you, please do not share it about your child. This triggers children into secretive behaviors and limits your  ability as the parents, to be a sounding board down the road. 
So Remember, you child will act out, be a bit or alot more difficult to deal with.. Giving them space, grace and options to keep working thru their issues.  These 5 tips will allow them and you to have less strife, behavior problems and an increased sense of calm in the midst of an emotionally challenging season.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What to expect when your child is in Therapy

I wanted to address the issue of how children behave outside of therapy... Parents and guardians expect acting out behavior in therapy.. via play, art or expressive therapy modes.. BUT.. dealing with the child after therapy or as they are struggling with processing the issues that come up can be a challenge that parents are not prepared for.
I tell my adult clients to not schedule appts., meetings or other events for at least an hour after therapy. Sometimes sessions are restorative and healing other times as part of the process they bring up past hurts... 
The same rings true for children. Always take them to the park, home or beach to let them work off some steam, not expecting them to keep it together (right after therapy) and unwind... 
Children are in therapy for a reason and in many cases very painful ones... They are overwhelmed and need to feel safe.. Therefore they will test boundaries, practice their new found voices and say or do inappropriate things that they are now realizing.. 
Children do not have filters.
Children come into therapy for a variety of reasons, some need to open up, some need to learn better social or coping skills and some need to deal with a painful current situation... 
Children will have bad days and if they require therapy, then their days may be very stressful... 
Add this to your own pain and struggles with many of the same issues and parenting a child in therapy.. can cause and will create a whole other level of needed strategies... 
Part 2 will be more specific coping strategies....
(will be posted on Wed. Jan. 7th)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pushing the Reset Button for 2015

Now that we have made it through the holidays, licked our emotional wounds created by family members and listed our positive practices for the New Year.. It is time to push the Reset Button for 2015.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ― Maya Angelou

What does this mean? Simple.. Start Fresh! When you are ready, take a deep breathe in and slowly exhale ... While breathing, breath out what ever you are holding onto... Here are a few examples.

  • Past relationships are done... 
  • I will cautiously and positively treat my friends and foes in a kind way.
  • My future choices will be based on my learned wisdom not past mistakes.
  • I look forward to learning and growing in all areas.
  • I am leaving wounds, pains and grief in the past and moving forward.
There are many basic truths that you can write... List no more then 3-5 statements and look at what is still eating at you and leave it in 2014's memory bank... Start 2015 acting and thinking the way you want it and you to be... There is a great 12 step saying.. Fake it until you Make it!... This is so true... All behavior and ways of thinking take practice... 

Last note of caution.. This does not mean going back (into unhealthy relationships) and allowing others to hurt and use you... The wisdom from the past experiences MUST guide your choices and help you to be your own best advocate and care taker... 

So when you are ready, write your list, find a quiet spot.. 

Breathe In and Push the Reset Button for 2015!...

(you will need to do this often at first until the new patterns become  a set part of your Daily Life)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Resolutions vs. Positive Pampering!

For so many, New Year's Resolutions mean changes and giving up of foods, habits spending or other areas where we cut back... This is one of the main reasons we break them so soon...
List 3 positive things that you already do for yourself and commit to doing them more often...
Some examples...
I will set money aside in my budget to eat out once a week. (vs. I will eat out less)
I will pay myself first out of each paycheck. (vs. I will spend less or start to save)
I will walk around the block each week and meet one new neighbor (vs. I will work out more)
Last example.. but there are so many...
I will eat more of my favorite vegetables. (vs. eating less...)

Basically, make positive pampering statements that take out the words less, lose or budget.
We all grow and change.. work with what you have and improve your assets.. the other issues will fade into the background.