Julia Al-Sager is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Colorado and has recently joined Southwest Counseling Associates. She graduated from City University in Bellevue, Washington, with a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology in 2004. She has spent many years in the counseling profession and arrives at SCA with diverse, multicultural experience.
Julia began with creating a school counseling program, serving as the sole school counselor for all grades (preschool to middle) at a bilingual school in the Middle East when she lived there with her family. After that, she worked at a private counseling center. Later, when she returned to the Denver area, she worked at local agencies that serve youth, families and senior citizens. As a result, Julia is comfortable with people from all walks of life.
Julia has trained to work with individuals and families, using a wide variety of evidence-based approaches including EMDR and Family Functional Therapy. She is also currently pursuing training to become a Certified Addictions Counselor in the state of Colorado. Julia is able to work with youths and adults with trauma histories, depression, anxiety, conflicted relationships and a variety of other mental health issues.
Julia is compassionate and caring, as she works with her clients to begin their collaborative journey together toward creating a better, brighter future.
Hoping better communication will transform your marriage? In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, legendary marriage researcher Dr John Gottman calls that notion “the greatest myth of all.” Later in the same book, though, he explains how to (that's right) communicate! And we all have scars to show that it matters what we say and how we say it.
So IS communication the answer? Does it or doesn’t it matter? No, and yes.
Communication is not THE answer. THE answer is a heart attitude whereby you have
• An overall positive view of your partner that overrides negative impressions and feelings
• Empathy that moves you to sample your partner’s inner experience and make sense of it
• A commitment to respond in a considerate, constructive manner
Without that attitude, communication tools are worthless. But tools can help you build that attitude by heading off knee-jerk reactions, allowing you truly to understand and validate your partner, and phrasing responses that help rather than hurt.
So learn those communication tools, and use them. But remember: It’s not the words that will heal your relationship. It’s the heart that is sending them.
Jim Lewis, MDiv, MA, LPC
Students use the Internet for academic purposes, and all persons use the Internet for exploring the web and contacting friends and family. These are valuable opportunities for keeping in touch with all aspects of our society and our world. However, the Internet can be dangerous due to inappropriate material and online predators who seek victims of all ages.
Here are some ideas that can help insure the safety of members of your household when using the Internet:
For more information on Internet protection go to http://www.netsmartz.org.
Joan Jones, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist
The brain has long fascinated those seeking to understand human thought and behavior. The brain’s functional capabilities exceed even the most complex human technology. As our technological ability to observe the brain has grown, so have our insights into how change occurs.
Every one of us knows the difficulty of working to change a pattern of behavior that we would rather do without. Whether we hope to stop biting our nails, or break any other addictive cycle, we feel a resistance within ourselves to the change we seek. Every one of us knows the difficulty of working to change a pattern of behavior that we would rather do without. Whether we hope to stop biting our nails, or break any other addictive cycle, we feel a resistance within ourselves to the change we seek.
In large part, the brain bases its functions on patterns, or templates, that have been formed through our experiences. For example, our brain notes that when we feel anxious, biting our nails temporarily reduces our tension. Thus, it is determined that this pattern is beneficial, and should be maintained. As the pattern is repeated, it is strengthened.
For the existing pattern to be changed, however, a new pattern must be formed that is more effective than the original. As this new pattern is experienced, the brain changes; altering the existing neural connections. Thus, if we seek change we must live and experience something better.
Much as Jesus described the difficulty of choosing the spiritual “narrow path” (Matthew 7:13-14), these new experiences are hard-won. Yet, we have hope that change is possible, and that with the help of God and others, freedom can become our new pattern.
Adam Wilson, MA, LPC
Do you ever feel like a failure? Many of our clients do. What is your theology of failure? The Bible is truth, plus it reveals often spectacular failures from cover to cover, so there must be some great Biblical teachings on the concept of “failure!” In a word study, you will find references to God’s love never failing, but that is it!
Failures in the Bible aren’t; in God’s plan He uses them for good if we let Him. Peter’s denial of Him 3 times may on one level look like a failure, yet Jesus predicted it, prayed for Peter ahead of time, and told him what to do when he recovered from it (Luke 22:31-32). He not only recovered, but also led the apostles and wrote one of the great evangelistic verses in the Bible (1 Peter 3:15). God knows we are broken, but as the Redeemer, we cannot be failures!
Doug Feil, MS, LPC
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves.” - C. S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory.
I find this quote so true it is hard to express at times. True beauty, not the high gloss, high fashion, air brushed kind, but true beauty has a way about it. It stills, it restores, I think it even redeems. Think of this, your beautiful spouse tucking her hair absent-mindedly behind her ear, or a father’s gentle way with his sleeping child, and the silent swirls of a peaceful blooming rose.
True beauty has a way of almost making me hold my breath, or lose it. And I seek it for its nourishment, hungrily.
Jodi Top, LCSW
Communicating with the people in our lives can often be like one big game of "telephone." The messages we interpret from one another can be very different from the message the speaker intended to send.
This problem is only magnified by the expansion of technological communication, where complex messages are conveyed in short phrases and texts. When an offense occurs, rather than assume that the message was automatically interpreted correctly, we are wise to first clarify the message.
Confirming that the message received was interpreted as the speaker intended it to be can decrease those destructive games of "telephone" and increase true understanding.
Joel MacFarland, M.Div, MSW
“Stop and smell the roses!” is more than just a song or a nice idea. Breathing, specifically slow, deep, abdominal breathing, gives more benefits to our body, mind, and spirit than one may realize. But isn’t your breathing slow and deep enough already? Try this short test from Dr. Denise F. Beckfield in her book, “Master Your Panic and Take Back Your Life!”:
1. Sit or stand by a timepiece (clock, watch, phone) and breathe the way you usually breathe. 2. Count the number of breaths you take in sixty seconds. Don’t try to adjust your breathing. 3. How many breaths did you take? If it was more than twelve or thirteen breaths, you are probably breathing too quickly and shallowly for excellent health.
However, even if your breaths were below twelve, you could also benefit substantially from learning to do slow, deep, abdominal breathing. Dr. Beckfield’s chapter on both how and why to learn this skill is one of the best descriptions that I’ve found. Give it a try! Practice it regularly, and your health will thank you.
Jennifer E. Pollock, LCSW
Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
In my role as a counselor I am often asked to provide guidance when it comes to step-parenting, this is a guiding principal for me. To courageously listen long, long past what is comfortable until you can see into the heart of a child, until you can see not only their laughter, but are still enough to see their sadness, their hopes, their doubts about the world they live in.
Until you have fallen in love, essentially with the child, you cannot successfully direct, discipline or guide without the umbrella of the biological parent’s authority. Not because of ineptitude or incompetence, but simply because the best parenting is born out of falling in love. The long dreamy looking and watching and knowing that biological children know from their infancy cannot be replaced by a step-parent. But courageous listening, self-sacrificing until the falling in love comes will never fail to bring healthy, happy, mostly willingly, attached children to the step-parent willing to labor for it, not unlike their biological predecessors labored for theirs. Step- parents, be courageous and listen!
Jodi Top, LCSW
Learn how MCS serves Christ's global messengers and those who send them. Besides counseling, services include screening, education and crisis intervintion.
Find information and insights from staff and friends of SCA: