Self Help True North Counseling

How is Your Health?

I only ask because it matters.

First, let’s get a definition of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The WHO has adopted the Bio-Psycho-Social Model of health. I like it. Healthy people have high levels of Well-being.

Why does this matter?

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion began a website back in the 1990s ( to monitor the health of Americans.

Here is what they said: “People with higher levels of well-being judge their life as going well. They feel very healthy and full of energy to take on their daily activities. They’re satisfied, interested, and engaged with their lives. They experience a sense of accomplishment from their activities and judge their lives to be meaningful. These people are more often content or cheerful than depressed or anxious. They get along with others and experience good social relationships. Personal factors, social circumstances, and community environments influence well-being.”

Being healthy affects your quality of life. There, I said it. If, as Mental Health Professionals, we only focus on your mental health, we are not helping you!

I am not satisfied with just addressing your mental health issues. As such, I’m going to provide several postings that will focus on Nutrition and Fitness.

I want to start by asking you to complete an assessment that was developed by the Rand Health. It’s called the SF-36. It’s free. It will measure the impact that your health is having on your quality of life. I took it and scored a 95 out of 100. Here is the link:

Let me know how you scored, I look forward to continuing the conversation about mental health in the comments!








True North Advice Blog

Unsolicited Advice – How To Give Advice

There is one thing, above all others, that can hurt a relationship more than anything. It’s insidious and most of us have experienced it. At the time, you may not have been able to name it, but you knew that there was something going on that you did not like. As the title of this blog suggests, it’s unsolicited advice.

I know some of you are already asking, “is giving advice that bad?” No. I give advice as a therapist all the time. My sons have asked me for advice as have my friends. When they ask, I give it. But there is a huge difference between solicited and unsolicited advice. Believe it or not, unsolicited advice is a subtle form of disapproval.

I work with adults who struggle with their relationships. Unsolicited advice is a common issue that comes up when individuals are struggling with their relationship with their parents. Most of the time it looks something like this…

You join a parent, or parents, for dinner and there are a lot of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ coming up in the conversation. A common line among those who give unsolicited advice is “What you need to do is…” It can be very subtle and often is. A great way to see if you are receiving unsolicited advice is to ask yourself some of the following questions when leaving the person, or people, in question.

  • Are you leaving feeling like you are not doing enough?
  • Do you feel like you need to do more?
  • Are you leaving feeling like you’ve got a lot of newfound self-doubts?
  • Are you feeling disappointed in yourself?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you’ve been given unsolicited advice.

It isn’t just parents who offer unsolicited advice. Siblings and friends do it as well. Recently, I spoke with a father who was constantly giving advice to his grown daughters and he couldn’t figure out where all the conflict within their relationships was stemming from. When I pointed out that it might be the unsolicited advice he was giving, he stated that he worries about them and wants to help them avoid the same struggles he faced. I told him that was fine, but his strategy was backfiring. Instead of taking the advice, his daughters were avoiding him and tuning him out. He was a wonderful man, but he had let his anxiety spill into his relationships with his daughters and hurt them. All because of unsolicited advice.

My parents never gave me unsolicited advice. Well, I take that back. Once upon a time, my mother tried to give me and my brother unsolicited advice about a problem between us. She was well-intentioned and hated seeing us struggle over the issue, but we gently told her that this was something we’d take care of ourselves. She surrendered and we solved the problem!

Now, I know you’re not asking for my advice, but stop giving unsolicited advice to your grown children, your friends, your siblings, and for that matter, anyone. No one likes it. It sends a message that you don’t approve of them and, do I dare say it, that you’re better than them. Nothing sours a relationship like talking down to people. I once heard Norman Lear interviewed and he was asked about his youthful demeanor. At the time he was 93 and he responded, “I talk to everyone like I’m their peer” and that’s great advice!

True North Counseling and Therapy

Body-Mind Connection

body-mind connectionI remember sitting in the conference room during college; maybe February 1980. I know, I’m ancient. But the speaker made this point. Our bodies and our minds are so closely connected that they catch each other’s diseases. Today we call it the body-mind connection.

The practical application of this statement is that you can affect your mental wellbeing by addressing your physical wellbeing and vice versa. A poorly maintained body can and, most likely, does create mental health problems. This includes a lack of exercise and poor nutrition. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a good gut-health promotes positive wellbeing. It can also be said that exercise can create a state of euphoria.

Because of this connection, I decided that counseling, although very important, was not enough to help people find peace and serenity. I decided to seek out additional interventions and certifications to address this body-mind connection and became a nutritional and fitness professional.

At True North Counseling, we believe that people benefit from counseling that addresses the whole person. This means helping people “map out” a journey that involves eating that promotes a healthy body, a moderate exercise plan, and the practice of mindfulness. We are guides for you on this journey and we practice it every day in our own lives.

True North Therapy

Acting Yourself into a Way of Feeling

Sometimes you simply feel stuck. You feel stuck in a relationship, or a mood, or in a standoff with a workmate or employer. And on top of this, you feel hopeless. The way out involves “acting as if.” The saying goes, “It’s easier to act yourself into a way of feeling than feel yourself into a way of acting.”

In a marital or romantic relationship, this means: If you want to feel romantic, then act romantic. You can rekindle the romantic flames by doing the things that will promote positive feelings. This could include what has become known as the Five Love Languages.

When people experience depression, they tend to withdraw from activities that previously contributed to their wellbeing. One approach to helping them is to encourage them to slowly re-engage in these activities, acting themselves into a way of feeling.

None of this is easy. Relationships are complicated. Feelings are slow to recover from loss or trauma. But little changes can lead to bigger changes and healing. We are there to act as coaches to help instill hope.

True North Counseling therapists have a history of instilling hope in our clients. Our hopefulness comes from seeing our clients use this principle in their lives by acting and feeling differently.