About Julie Summers, M.A., LPC-S

Ms. Summers is the Owner/Founder of Heritage Behavioral Health Consultants, Inc. She is dedicated to developing a true group practice, where clinicians collaborate with each other for the benefit of all clients. She has brought together a group of clinicians with diverse backgrounds and experience to work at Heritage, each clinician contributing a unique perspective to the practice. Outside of her counseling work, Ms. Summers develops seminars, and consults with schools, churches, and business organizations. She is committed to developing an organization that offers clinical expertise in the treatment of the whole person emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually. At the podium, in the counseling office, or otherwise, Julie experiences life with energy and enthusiasm as she incorporates humor into her honest, practical approach to problem solving. To read more go to http://www.heritagebehavioral.com/index.php?page=staff-julie-summers

After Hurricane Harvey

Dear Friends & Family of Heritage,

“We’ve never seen anything like this before.” “….unprecedented….” “largest water event in history….” “catastrophic”…. “of Biblical proportions….”

These are the phrases we’ve heard repeated over and over again over the last several days.
Hurricane Harvey is unlike anything you or I have ever experienced before, and it is a storm we will never forget.

So many emotions are being stirred as this storm has wrecked havoc on the greater part of the south Texas coast. We feel powerless, even desperate. Some of us feel relief for having been spared from the massive damage brought by flood waters. Often that relief is followed by guilt as we witness the devastation spread across our own communities. We realize just how little control we really do have over our lives.

My heart goes out to all our families, friends, and neighbors in the greater Houston area, as well as our friends all along the Texas/Louisiana coastline who have lost so much. I can also say I have never been more proud of how our community is responding to this terrible, traumatic disaster.

I never planned on being a Houstonian and had no idea this would be my home for more than two thirds of my life. Since arriving in Houston just after the oil crash in the early 80’s, I’ve seen a few economic cycles in the oil industry, some real estate industry ups and downs, TS Allison, Katrina, Rita and Ike…and now the catastrophe, Harvey. Even through the bleak moments, Houston ALWAYS pulls together, Houston ALWAYS survives, and Houston ALWAYS comes back stronger than before. I saw a newspaper headline that read: “Houston, You Are The Change Our World Needs to See”. Further stated, “We need to follow Houston’s lead and come together, not only to overcome the storm, but to overcome the oppressive divide we are seeing in our nation.” AMEN AND AMEN. My hope, my prayer is that we will continue to do just that…put foot action to that which we were called to do “Love our neighbor as ourselves.”

Today, I love Houston more than I ever have—because of her strength, her unity, her compassion, her resilience, and her generosity.

We, the Heritage Family, will continue to walk along side you, your families, and our community as we have for the last 20 plus years. We love people. We love our relationships. We love our community. And we love YOU, for Love is the foundation of our Heritage.

My heart and prayers are with you as we rebuild together,
Julie

Building (and rebuilding) Balance

Balance in our lives is NOT a destination, meaning that once we arrive, we are done.  It is not a static goal we achieve and then maintain forever.

I like to call it “building” balance; as opposed to “achieving” balance—because like building a house, it is a work in progress, it requires maintenance, and occasionally needs reworking.   So how do we “build” this elusive thing called balance?

1)     Stay Present.  Live in the moment instead of fretting about yesterday or worrying  about tomorrow.  If you feel angry about something—feel the anger and work through it.  When you feel joyful about something, embrace the joy fully.

2)  Stop the “Spinning”.  Learn to recognize an manage your internal conflicts. (Anything that disturbs your inner peace, such as unnecessary guilt, excessive worry, unhealthy people pleasing, etc).  Be honest about who you really are and don’t be afraid to stray from the norm.  Live life according to your core beliefs.

3)  Simplify Your Life.  The more “stuff” we have and the more activities we have to manage, makes it more difficult to find just the right balance.  Learn to set appropriate and healthy boundaries for yourself.  This means allowing yourself to say “no” when necessary without feeling guilty!

4)  Know What You Want.  Take time to know WHO you are first.  Figure out what you value, by examining each aspect of your “self.”  Make active choices that lead you toward balance.  If your choices don’t line up with who you are and what you value, then you are not holding fast to your own integrity and your life will feel out of balance.

5)  Nurture Your Spirit and Embrace Love.  We all have a spiritual element to our being and with that comes an innate need to love and be loved.  With all the ups and downs in life, love is the gift that balances it all and brings us back toward a more peaceful state.  Exercise your faith.  Enjoy nature.  Keep your soul filled with positive and inspiring activities.  Be brave enough to let go of activities and relationships that squelch your spirit and prevent you from being your authentic self.  It is then we will be able to give generously of ourselves.

Balance is a fluid state that changes from day to day.  Just like the ocean tide moves in and out, look at whether your life is moving away from or toward balance.

Assess it over a period of time—one or two stressful days here and there does not mean your life is out of balance.  BUT, if chaos is the norm for you, try some of these ideas!

Hopefully, it will be a good “jumpstart” toward building better balance in your life.

Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce

Divorce is difficult  – for the couple, for their friends and family, for the children, for everyone involved.  The effects of a divorce have a significant impact on you and those around you.   No one can really understand how difficult it is until they experience it personally.

There are many ways to grieve and many ways to heal.  Following this outline and learning the tools to walk through each step of the emotional rebuilding process will help you through those difficult stages by offering genuine hope, assurance of forgiveness, and restoration of your sense of self.

Look at it as an insurance policy that you can choose to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again!

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

An architect’s blueprints represent the project goals. The builder’s plans are the sequential steps necessary to complete the project. To begin our personal remodeling, we first need to develop a blueprint (what we want to accomplish) and a plan (how we will achieve those goals) to get us from where we are now in our grief to where we want to be in the future.

WHAT NEXT?

Realize that “Remodeling”:

  •      Has a cost – time/energy/money
  •      Causes discomfort/there is a labor involved
  •      Is inconvenient
  •      Requires tearing down the old structure
  •      Is a process that does not happen overnight
  •      Requires a personal investment – How much will you invest?

Get a Vision:  Map out a plan and prepare for inconveniences to the best of your ability.

Get the Materials Together:

  •      What resources will you need?
  •      Consider people, tools, books, manuals, and/or videos
  •      Where will you get help or will you try to work alone?

Divorce, like other loss, brings with it significant life changes, and Divorce Recovery can be a daunting task. But, with good planning, the right tools and professional guidance, you can successfully complete your personal “remodeling.”

If you would like more information on Julie’s Divorce Recovery Program, please click here.

The Freedom of Authentic Living

There is SO much freedom in living authentically.  What does it mean to live authentically, you may ask?  Being real with yourself is hard, but necessary if you are going to live authentically.  We have to be honest with ourselves first; and then with others, as appropriate.  Living from the core of who you are requires spending some time with yourself to really KNOW who you are and what makes you tick.  These ten guidelines will help you begin your journey toward experiencing the FREEDOM that comes with living a more authentic life.

Know your purpose.   Do you sometimes feel like you are wandering rather aimlessly through life, wondering at times what your purpose is—hoping that you’ll be lucky enough to stumble upon happiness, health and prosperity?  Identify your life purpose or mission statement, and you’ll have your own unique compass that will lead you to your true north every time.   For example, “I believe I was created according to a Divine design, with a combination of strengths and quirks, to accomplish something for the greater good.”

Know your values.  
What do you value most?  Make a list of your top 5 values.  Some examples are security, freedom, family, spiritual development, or learning.  As you set your goals for the next phase of your life—check your goals against your values. If the goal doesn’t align with any of your top five values, you may want to reconsider or revise it.

Acknowledge your needs. 
 Unmet needs can keep you from living authentically.  Take care of yourself.  Choose not to cling to people, projects, or things that are holding you back or causing you to lose your balance.

Be aware of your self-talk.
  Are you blocking your potential?  Check out your first thoughts when you wake in the morning.  Are they supportive, encouraging or positive? Listen to the chatter that goes on in your mind.  Pay attention to the negative messages and turn them into positive statements.

Live your passions. 
 Honor those things that make your heart sing.  Whatever it is, do more of it.

Live from the inside out.  Tap into your inner awareness by regularly reflecting in silence.  Breathe deeply to quiet your distracted mind.  Meditate or pray. Try to manage your life from the inside out, focusing on “clean living” and nurturing the relationships that are closest to you first.

Honor your strengths. 
 What are your positive traits?  What special talents do you have?  List three—if you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help identify them.  Are you imaginative, witty, good with your hands?  Find ways to express your authentic self through your strengths.

Take time to play. 
 Give yourself time to recharge doing things you love to do or by just doing nothing.

Count your blessings.   Write down everything you are thankful for, keep your list in a journal or post it where you can see it for a little more inspiration.  Don’t edit the list!!  Include EVERYTHING you can think of, both big and small.

Prioritize relationships.  When you are true to who you are, living your purpose and giving of your talents to the world around you, you give back in service what you came to share with others—your spirit—the very core of who you are.

The Building of Balance

Balance in our lives is NOT a destination, meaning that once we arrive, we are done.  It is not a static goal we achieve and then maintain forever.

I like to call it “building” balance; as opposed to “achieving” balance—because like building a house, it is a work in progress, it requires maintenance, and occasionally needs reworking.   So how do we “build” this elusive thing called balance?

1)     Stay Present.  Live in the moment instead of fretting about yesterday or worrying  about tomorrow.  If you feel angry about something—feel the anger and work through it.  When you feel joyful about something, embrace the joy fully.

2)  Stop the “Spinning”.  Learn to recognize an manage your internal conflicts. (Anything that disturbs your inner peace, such as unnecessary guilt, excessive worry, unhealthy people pleasing, etc).  Be honest about who you really are and don’t be afraid to stray from the norm.  Live life according to your core beliefs.

3)  Simplify Your Life.  The more “stuff” we have and the more activities we have to manage, makes it more difficult to find just the right balance.  Learn to set appropriate and healthy boundaries for yourself.  This means allowing yourself to say “no” when necessary without feeling guilty!

4)  Know What You Want.  Take time to know WHO you are first.  Figure out what you value, by examining each aspect of your “self.”  Make active choices that lead you toward balance.  If your choices don’t line up with who you are and what you value, then you are not holding fast to your own integrity and your life will feel out of balance.

5)  Nurture Your Spirit and Embrace Love.  We all have a spiritual element to our being and with that comes an innate need to love and be loved.  With all the ups and downs in life, love is the gift that balances it all and brings us back toward a more peaceful state.  Exercise your faith.  Enjoy nature.  Keep your soul filled with positive and inspiring activities.  Be brave enough to let go of activities and relationships that squelch your spirit and prevent you from being your authentic self.  It is then we will be able to give generously of ourselves.

Balance is a fluid state that changes from day to day.  Just like the ocean tide moves in and out, look at whether your life is moving away from or toward balance.

Assess it over a period of time—one or two stressful days here and there does not mean your life is out of balance.  BUT, if chaos is the norm for you, try some of these ideas!

Hopefully, it will be a good “jumpstart” toward building better balance in your life.

Gaining Compliance with Your Child

How do you keep your child from going “Mommy or Daddy deaf”?  Often, it can seem very difficult to get your child to pay attention to you, or to get them to do their daily chores, or to do their homework, or eat their vegetables.  The list seems infinite!  But not to worry… gaining compliance with your child is possible. Try some of these helpful strategies and you may just see an increase in the percentage of cooperative behavior in your household.

  1. Specific Commands – State specific, one-step, 10-words-or-less commands to the child.  For example, “Pick up your shoes now, please” or “go brush your teeth now.”
  2. Use Effective Warnings – After the child is non-compliant to a specific command, give him or her one warning.  For example, “If you don’t [do specific command], then you will [have specific consequence].”
  3. Use Natural/Logical Consequences – If the child doesn’t comply with the warning, give a consequence. The best consequences teach, rather than punish, the child.  For example, if the child leaves his/her bike in the driveway, then they lose their bike privileges for a specific time period.
  4. Reinforce Compliance – Offer praise or other forms of positive attention when the child complies with your command.
  5. Pick Your Battles – When trying to change several behaviors, do not ask the child to comply with too many new things simultaneously; choose those things that are most important and work with the child on those.
  6. Increase Positive Reinforcement – Pay attention to and reinforce neutral and positive on-going behavior.
  7. Don’t give in – Avoid allowing your child to get his/her way by escalating his/her aversive behavior.
  8. Ignore – Don’t pay attention to mild attention-seeking behavior (e.g. whining, pouting, etc.).
  9. ACT—DON’T YAK! – No need to threaten or yell.  Avoid escalating your behavior to get the child to comply.
  10. Stay cool.  Remember:  YOU DO NOT WIN A POWER STRUGGLE BY HAVING ONE.  Don’t get emotionally involved (angry, frustrated, etc.).

Remember that getting your child to be more cooperative may take some time.  Add in lots of love and a little patience, and you will have the key ingredients to make this a successful endeavor.

Is There a Tornado in the House?: Recognizing ADD/ADHD

What is ADD/ADHD?

When many people think of attention deficit disorder, they picture an out-of-control kid in constant motion, bouncing off the walls and disrupting everyone around. But this is not the only possible picture. 
Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, while others sit quietly—with their attention miles away. Some put too much focus on a task and have trouble shifting it to something else. Others are only mildly inattentive, but overly impulsive.

The three primary characteristics of ADD/ADHD

Children with ADD/ADHD may be:

▪    Inattentive, but not hyperactive or impulsive.

▪    Hyperactive and impulsive, but able to pay attention.

▪    Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive (the most common form of ADD/ADHD).

Children who only have inattentive symptoms of ADD/ADHD are often overlooked, since they are not disruptive. However, the symptoms of inattention have consequences: getting in hot water with parents and teachers for not following directions; underperforming in school; or clashing with other kids over not playing by the rules.

Is it really ADD/ADHD?

Just because a child has symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity does not mean that he or she has ADD or ADHD. Certain medical conditions, psychological disorders, and stressful life events can cause symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD.

Before an accurate diagnosis of ADD/ADHD can be made, it is important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities:

▪    Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.

▪    Major life events or traumatic experiences (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, bullying, divorce).

▪    Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

▪    Behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

▪    Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, neurological conditions, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.

Positive effects of ADD/ADHD in children

In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:

▪    Creativity – Children who have ADD/ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADD/ADHD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.

▪    Flexibility – Because children with ADD/ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.

▪    Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADD/ADHD are rarely boring! They are interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they are not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they are a lot of fun.

▪    Energy and drive – When kids with ADD/ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.

Keep in mind, too, that ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADD/ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.

Helping a child with ADD/ADHD

Whether or not your child’s symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are due to ADD/ADHD, they can cause many problems if left untreated. Children who cannot focus and control themselves may struggle in school, get into frequent trouble, and find it hard to get along with others or make friends. These frustrations and difficulties can lead to low self-esteem as well as friction and stress for the whole family.

But treatment can make a dramatic difference in your child’s symptoms. With the right support, your child can get on track for success in all areas of life.

Don’t wait to get help for your child

If your child struggles with symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD, don’t wait to seek professional help. You can treat your child’s symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity without having a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.

Options to start with include getting your child into therapy, implementing a better diet and exercise plan, and modifying the home environment to minimize distractions.

If you do receive a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, you can then work with your child’s doctor, therapist, and school to make a personalized treatment plan that meets his or her specific needs. Effective treatment for childhood ADD/ADHD involves behavioral therapy, parent education and training, social support, and assistance at school. Medication may also be used, however, it should never be the sole attention deficit disorder treatment.

A Note From Julie: An Attitude of Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude allows us to live abundantly. Gratitude unlocks our ability to live life to its fullest each day. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. A spirit of gratitude helps us makes sense of our past, it brings us peace for today, and creates a sense of hope for tomorrow.

This year, may you live with an attitude of gratitude on the other 364 days as much as you do on the one day set aside to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

– Jules

A Thanksgiving Prayer for You

My prayer for you is that this life becomes all you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too.
If you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
If one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walking till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
You find GOD’S GRACE in every mistake,
And you always GIVE more than you take.

– Unknown source

A back to school thought from Jules: The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win but think you can’t,
it’s almost certain you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go
to the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins
is the man who thinks he can.

– Walter D. Wintle

Thanks to Coach Edd Burleson, this inspirational poem, painted in large purple and gold letters, lived on the locker room doors of our small Central Texas school gymnasium. I saw it every day for 12 years. Under the strong leadership of several wise administrators and numerous compassionate and gifted teachers, that small town school has a long history of athletic, academic, and artistic successes.

More importantly, I left that educational environment with a strong sense of who I am; passionate about pursuing whatever might lie ahead, confident that I could try anything (at least once), and a desire for lifelong learning. PLEASE HEAR ME— without parents and educators instilling (and sometimes insisting on) strong values, this would not have happened.

As another school year begins, we want to encourage you to be involved in setting your children, and the children around you, up for success. This month, Jill offers insights on adjusting the parent tool box, using her expertise as a former classroom teacher. Additionally, Samantha shares some helpful tools for maintaining healthy communication within your family during this often chaotic season, and Patrick discusses very practical guidance regarding concussion safety for our student-athletes.

Our Best to You and Yours,

Jules

A Note From Jules – Freedom

Can you imagine what it might be like to be FREE? …I mean, really FREE??? Thankfully, and as a result of those who have and continue to fight for our peace, we still live in a country that offers us much freedom.

Just as our heroes count it an honor to serve this country, we feel it is such a privilege to be chosen to journey with someone on a quest for freedom from emotional bondage. Through exploring such things as relationship patterns, a history of abuse, family of origin issues, and painful emotions, we look at feelings, attitudes, habits, and beliefs that may be inhibiting your personal growth and success.

Although little of it may be conscious, emotional baggage can hurt you and the people you love. Entangled relationships with parents, grandparents, and unhealthy people can cause chaos and suffering. These enmeshments can diminish your ability to enjoy your life and your relationships – they are ways in which you can lose identity.

Most healthy people explore and organize their emotions, attitudes and beliefs. They know what they want, how they feel and why they feel that way. They find solutions to problems quickly. They have similar challenges as less happy people – but healthy people deal with them much more efficiently. Healthy people don’t get stuck for long… they try not to sabotage themselves.

Do you feel bad about your past relationship(s), or remorse about lost opportunities? Do you respond emotionally to your past?

We have developed many ways to help people safely open their luggage, untangle their emotional baggage and sort out their stuff. We want to help YOU replace your legacy of limiting beliefs, irrational emotions and unwanted habits with a healthy heritage of intimacy with your own feelings, improved communication, healthy self esteem and continued personal growth for yourself and your children.

Be safe, be FREE, and let the fireworks fly!

Jules