By Hannah Slattery, LPC, NCC

Growth Mindset

Think about your relationship with failure. Now, think about what it means to be resilient. Is there a way that both can work together? Over 30 years ago Dr. Carol Dweck noticed differences in how her students were impacted by their academic failure experiences. Some would be completely devastated, which would then negatively impact their entire academic career, others acknowledged the experience but rebounded rather quickly. These noticeable differences initiated her interest in people’s underlying beliefs about learning and intelligence. She then coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Fixed and Growth Mindsets

In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. A fixed mindset individual continues to strive for success but steers away from failure at all costs. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can become smarter, they realize that their effort affects their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

Our mindset is developed from an early age and can be based on socioeconomic status,

religion, cultural factors, and more. The relationship that we build with success and failure will ultimately be our guiding factor for the rest of our lives. Dr. Dweck found profound data from her research stating, “ For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life? Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

Instead of approval

We are so eager to prove ourselves in this world. The way we think about ourselves and the

relationship with have with failure and success can either put us in a position of power over ourselves or the idea that we can only use what we have been given. One of the most important components that Dr. Dweck reports on is that instead of working through life in search of approval, we should seek a life full of new information and experiences.

Want to develop a growth mindset and feel more successful? Call us today to schedule an appointment!

By Hannah Slattery, LPC, NCC

Dr. William Glasser, internationally recognized psychiatrist who is best known as the creator of Choice Theory and author of Reality Therapy, believed that most of life’s unhappiness derived from our dissatisfaction in our relationships. One of the key differences between Dr. Glasser’s workand others is that Glasser believed in personal choice. We tend to blame and excuse our behaviors on external factors, ie. I yelled at my husband because he didn’t take out the garbage when I asked him to. Blaming external factors for our behaviors encourages us to continue to lead unsatisfactory lives. 

Our 5 Basic Needs

The reason we are yelling at our husband to take out the trash or getting upset that our wife won’t initiate intimacy is that we are trying to get our needs met. The issue isn’t that we are trying to get our needs met, it is how we are trying to fulfill the needs. Dr. Glasser established the 5 basic needs that he believed everyone possessed; survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. These needs were not placed in a hierarchy, rather a spectrum where an individual may possess a higher need for love and belonging and a lower need for freedom. 

If we are to believe that our marriage is based on love, shared values, and common goals, then why do we continue to say or do hurtful things? The idea is that we are trying to meet our needs in the best way we can. One crucial tool to help your relationship is to understand your partners’ basic needs. If my partner has a strong freedom and fun need but I have a strong survival and love and belonging need we may have to work harder to better understand each other. Having strong basic needs that conflict with each other does not mean you have to live in a relationship full of conflict. One of the first steps to establishing a healthier relationship is to ask yourself and then your partner, “ Do I want to put maximum effort into rebuilding or healing the relationship?”. 

Start taking responsibility

The most empowering and eye-opening experience you can have with yourself and your partner is to start to take responsibility for your actions. You cannot help that your partner didn’t take out the trash when you wanted them to, but you can help if you yell or hold hurt and anger when they don’t. This doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t share household responsibilities but most people would be a lot more willing to take out the trash for their partner who isn’t constantly yelling at them. We have the power to change our lives based on the choices we make, this is regardless of age, experience, ethnic background, or hormonal function. 

10 Axioms of Choice Theory 

There are ten axioms to Choice Theory:

  1. The only person whose behavior you can control is our own.

  2. All we can give or get from other people is information.

  3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.

  4. The problem relationship is always part of our present lives.

  5. What happened in the past that was painful has a great deal to do with what we are today, but revisiting this painful past can contribute little or nothing to what we need to do now: improve an important, present relationship.

  6. We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

  7. We can satisfy these needs only by satisfying a picture or pictures in our Quality Worlds.

  8. All we can do from birth to death is behave. All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four inseparable components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.

  9. All Total Behavior is designated by verbs, usually infinitives and gerunds, and named by the component that is most recognizable.

  10. All Total Behavior is chosen, but we have direct control over only the acting and thinking components.

These 10 components can be highly effective in reestablishing healthy boundaries with yourself and your partner. If you are currently unsatisfied with your relationship with your partner and are interested in couples therapy please feel free to reach out to Graceful Therapy to schedule an appointment. 

Updated: Aug 4

Annmarie O'Connell, LPC, CADC, NCC

When I hear the term “social distancing” a part of me cringes. Not because I do not believe in it or the evidence that physically separating ourselves from each other is exactly what is needed to slow down or stop COVID-19.  It is more because the term itself suggests that we should distance ourselves from being social altogether. As a therapist, I am inclined to say that isolation at its worst contributes to an increase in depression, suicidality, and addiction. These things, when not properly treated, can be dangerous. In fact, it is cited that evolution itself shows us social behavior and social connection are vital to regulating our emotions.

When I was training to become a therapist I became very interested in reading about Polyvagal Theory. This theory, by Stephen Porges, provides us with a more sophisticated understanding of safety and danger, one based on an understanding of our bodies and the physiological features of those around us. It tells us that a soothing voice or a calm face can dramatically alter the way we feel. Attuning with another person can shift us completely out of fearful states. In this theory, social relationships are the most important factor in combating issues like depression and trauma. I often prescribe the same concept to clients. Engage socially, even if it makes you uncomfortable. The proof is in the way we seem to feel better after doing it, even if getting there is almost painful.


So how can we still maintain our mental health in the depths of social distancing? Can we begin to look at it as Body Distancing or Physical Distancing? Can we keep the social part with friends and family? I have been attempting to Facetime those I love in order to remain connected. I Facetimed with my sister and discovered that she is insanely calming in a crisis and remembered that through her caring face and ability to attune to me over the phone. This really shifted my day. Can you make it a point to reach out to connect even if it's just for a few minutes on the telephone? Connecting in this way is much different than text or social media. 

There are also options available for daily prayer groups via teleconference or church services streaming online. If you are a person in recovery, there are options to attend recovery programming via Zoom or other online conference platforms. At Graceful Therapy, we have the opportunity for telehealth so this way your therapist can connect and attune to you and your body can respond and begin to become more regulated. 

In these unprecedented times, it is difficult to know how we will react or respond when spent in self-quarantine. I think it is important to get a daily reprieve and engage in self care and social connection, even if it is just for 30 minutes. Sometimes in these kinds of situations, our mental health symptoms hit out of nowhere and it is difficult to reach out for help. If you already have the support in place, whether it is a therapist at Graceful Therapy or a friend or family member, it will be easier to relieve some of them.

Please email me if you are looking for a link for prayer or a meeting for addiction at

2683 Route 34 Oswego, IL 60543

(630) 733-9108

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