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Hi, Everyone!

I am SO EXCITED to introduce the newest Therapist at Relationships For Better:
Erika Forsyth, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern!

I have personally grown as a Therapist by listening to Erika’s thoughtful insights about our field for the past couple years, and am thrilled to welcome her to Relationships For Better!
Erika is a gifted  and skilled counselor, and I place my full trust in her clinical judgment and ability to care deeply for her clients.

And now, without further ado, here’s Erika!
Erika_Forsyth_MFT_Intern-0001
Hi!

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern experienced in helping people, like you, create satisfying relationships with your family, significant other, and self.

Whether your current pain is from depression, anxiety, relationships, parenting, childhood issues and/or adjustment to different stressors, I specialize in equipping you to be aware of the pattern, identify its source, and have the tools to navigate toward the results you want.

I received a BA from Princeton University, a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary, and have extensive experience working with families as they journey through different developmental stages and stressors. If you are hurting and afraid right now, you are not alone.  There is hope!

I have confidence in the therapeutic process.  Imagine experiencing love, compassion, and self-acceptance in the midst of a painful moment coupled with the skills to move toward your desired outcome.

Contact me to explore how we can work together to deepen and strengthen the relationships with others and yourself.

Erika

-
Erika Forsyth, MFTI
626.379.2912
Erika@RelationshipsForBetter.com
 

   

If you’ve visited this blog before, you may know that the name of my Therapy Private Practice, Relationships For Better, is a reference to the point in traditional marriage vows in which couples vow to take one another “for better or worse”.  Through Couples Therapy, I work to help couples thrive in their marriage, even when the ‘worse’ is a harsh reality.

About six months ago, I attended a wedding in which the Pastor read aloud a letter that he had received from the Bride in preparation for the ceremony. I have not forgotten that letter since. I think you’ll see why.

Thanks to Tricia Aurand for allowing me to share her letter with you all today:

Dear [Pastor] Josh,

Thank you so much for all you’ve done for Sam and I so far. We’ve
loved meeting with you and we can’t wait for you to marry us!

I’ve been thinking about our ceremony, and while it looks like Sam and
I will basically be sticking to the traditional vows you outlined, I
would like to ask you to say something during the service about grace.
Let me explain:

Sam and I are doubters. Neither one of us has ever done or believed
anything simply because we were told to, but because we have struggled
and questioned and twisted against the mysteries of life. Both of our
journeys in Christianity have been marked by doubt, our personal views
about God and the universe are held in the face of doubt, and neither
one of us has ever had much faith in marriage, either. In fact, the
biggest question we have faced in deciding to marry is whether or not
we actually ‘believe’ in marriage.

And marriage is difficult to believe in because it is a mystery. We
talk a lot about mysteries in church – the mystery of Christmas, of
Easter, of the Trinity – and those are mysteries that are a little
easier to hold because they are so abstract. We can write them off as
unknowable, in a way; we can blunt their sharp edges by wrapping them
in spirituality. But marriage is a mystery that we’re expected to sign
up for, to live with and walk in, in all of its raw everydayness. Its
mystery is not far off in space or heaven somewhere, its mystery is
present, huge, and terrifying.

I know what the world is like. I know how big it is, how terrible and
vast, how stories never work out the way we’d write them. I know that
the thing that splits couples up is never the thing they saw coming,
it’s always the bus you stepped off the corner without looking for,
it’s always the door in your heart you’ve closed and locked without
knowing it.

I’m not afraid to spend my life with Sam, to walk with him through
sickness, poverty, and all the other things we’re about to vow to walk
through together. But I am afraid to pledge to do it, because I fully
know my own inability to keep that pledge in the face of the unknown.
And the fact that I’m going to pledge that anyway, despite the terror
that has gripped me about marriage my entire life, that fact is wholly
the work of God’s grace.

I know what I am. I know how small I am. I know the work that my hands
are fit to do – the feeble, inglorious work of writing words on a page
– and the work they are not fit to do – the work of holding something,
anything, that I love. And yet for two and a half years, the thing I
love most has held me. And that is by grace, grace alone, the grace of
a God who is made of love. Who is love itself.

Grace is the only reason I exist. It’s the only reason Sam and I are
together, that we are a part of Mountainside, that we continue to say
‘yes’ as the tiny vessel of our love rocks on a sea of doubt. The
grace of God is so huge, so overwhelming, so complete in every moment
that I can’t help but cry when I think of it.

I am not the brave one. I am used to fear, and I never saw myself
being able to be brave enough to marry. But I am. And this courage is
a gift, like every day with Sam is. And it’s not from me, of course,
not something I’ve simply finally mustered up; it’s directly and
completely from the Giver of all good things.

So please say something about grace and where it leads us. It is hard
for us to lay claim to this amazing grace sometimes, but it does save
wretches, like us. It does find the lost. It does open the eyes of the
blind.

Thanks be to God.

Tricia

PS – Also, can we do that part where the church and the people present
pledge to support us? I’ve always loved that part, and more than
anything our community and our church have been an incredible means
of grace in our lives.

————————————

Isn’t this an incredible reflection on marriage, grace, and community?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Warmly,

Megan Lundgren, LMFT

   
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Welcome to Better Through Books!

Better Through Books is a series on my blog where I share my favorite books about relationships, marriage, communication, and dare I say – sex. These are books that I recommend to my Pre-Marital or Marriage Therapy clients in my Psychotherapy Private Practice, Relationships For Better.

I value honesty, so I must admit: I think that even the best books on marriage sometimes over-simplify relationship dynamics in the name of ‘Self-Help’. I tend to shy away from books that claim

  • 7 Easy Steps to a Happier Marriage! or
  • 10 Secrets to Making Marriage Last!

Today’s book, The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman might seem overly simple to some people. However, I stand by this book’s core concept full-heartedly:

Everyone needs love, and there are is a diversity of ways to give and receive love.

The five Love Languages (ways to give and receive love) that Dr. Chapman identifies are

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service, and
  5. Physical Touch

Its crucial in a relationship to know your partner’s Love Language. Here’s why:

I know one couple who were hurt because they felt they loved their spouse more than their spouse loved them. The wife would tell her husband how much she cared for him, and he wouldn’t always respond. Meanwhile, the husband worked hard for his family, and his wife was upset that he didn’t spend enough time with her.  The truth is that her Love Languages were Quality Time and Words of Affirmation, and his love languages was Acts of Service. Once they understood how their partner experienced love, they could better give and receive that kind of love in their marriage.

So, do you want to know your Love Language? 

Dr. Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages has released a free, brief online quiz to help couples identify their Love Language!

After you and your partner have taken the Love Language quiz at the link above, sit down with a cup of coffee and talk about what you learned about yourselves and each other.

Then, tell me about your Love Language! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Warmly,

Megan Lundgren, LMFT

P.S. You can find my other relationship book recommendations in the Better Through Books series here.

P.P.S.  Do you feel that you and your partner could benefit from Relationship Counseling or Marriage Therapy? You don’t have to wait – it is always a good time for a relationship tuneup!  If you live in Monrovia, Arcadia, Covina, Altadena, Pasadena, or other nearby cities, book your first session by clicking on the link below! I look forward to connecting with you soon.

   
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Usually you’ll find me talking about marriage research, the benefits of Relationship Therapy, and sharing the books I love to recommend to clients.

But today, things are going to get heavy.

Sadly, suicide rates have been increasing throughout America, and recent suicides in the city of Monrovia have shaken the community.

 Some people think suicide prevention is something to ‘leave to the professionals’,  but today I wanted to empower you with tools for suicide prevention.

Why?

Because you’re on the frontlines. Chances are, either you have struggled with thoughts of suicide, or one of your loved ones has. And often, there are things you can do to help.

Here are the 5 Things You Need to Know About Suicide Prevention and Response:

#1. YOU NEED TO KNOW RISK FACTORS FOR SUICIDE

Do you have any of these Risk Factors? Do you know someone that does?

  • Depression or Other Mental Illness
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse
  • Past suicide attempts by self or family members
  • Impulsivity
  • Demographics: Men are more likely to complete suicide (they tend to use more lethal means than women). LGBTQ adolescents attempt suicide at a rate 3-6x that of heterosexual youth.

 #2. YOU NEED TO KNOW WARNING SIGNS

 Did you know that 50-75% of people who complete suicide give warnings of their intentions to a friend, pastor, teacher, or family member? Listen. Be present.

Other warning signs include:

  • Intense feelings of shame and guilt.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Unexpected rage or anger
  • Withdrawing from work, school, or friends
  • Sleep problems, lethargy
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Making a suicide plan: giving away precious possessions, and purchasing or gathering suicide weapons – e.g., gun, drugs/poisons/medications, suffocation tools.

#3. YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUICIDE PREVENTION

  • Encourage them to get help. Therapy is not for ‘crazy’ people, it is simply a form of constructive support.
  • Look for ‘outsiders’. Help them to access a supportive community.
  • If you are concerned about an individual, tell the person that you are concerned. Give them an opportunity to be heard by you.
  • If he/she is depressed, don’t be afraid to ask whether he/she is considering suicide, or if they have a plan. Asking does not place individuals more at risk – you will not be ‘putting the idea in their head’.
  • Let depressed individuals know that you care, that he/she is not alone, and that depression can be treated.

#4 YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO SOMEONE WHO IS SUICIDAL

  • Do not leave a suicidal person alone to seek help.
  • Eliminate access to anything that could be potential tools for suicide or self-harm, such as unsupervised access to medication, razors, or guns.
  • Help the person seek immediate help from his or her Doctor, Therapist, the nearest hospital, or call 911. 
  • Depressed individuals are sometimes hesitant to seek help and may need your support to pursue treatment.

 

I am available for free in-person consultations about Therapy for individuals and families who struggled with Depression. If you only remember one thing from today’s blog post, I hope its this:

#5. YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES NEED TO KNOW THAT HEALING IS POSSIBLE. ASK FOR HELP.

 

Thank you for reading today. I hope you and your loved ones are better for it. If you or someone you love is in pain, click on the “Get in Contact” button below this post. I’m here to help.

 

Warmly,

Megan Lundgren, LMFT

Licensed Therapist, Monrovia

*Information from today’s post were sourced from The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and The National Institute for Mental Health

   
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Welcome to the 8th lesson in Relationship 101: Cultivating Mission in Your Relationship!

Relationship 101 an educational resource I created for my Engagement and Marital Therapy clients. You can learn more about Couples Therapy and schedule your appointment here.

Today we’re talking about cultivating a sense of Mission in your relationship!

Take a moment to ask yourselves:

  • What are we working towards?
  • What values do we share in our relationship?
  • How does our relationship impact the world?

 

Creating a sense of Mission in marriage provides meaning and direction – which is vitally important to long-term relationships.

Without a Mission, couples may feel disconnected, discouraged, or have difficulty making decisions.

Mission and values are interconnected – a Mission Statement is  simply the commitment to enact a shared value. Why go to the trouble of identifying a Mission in your marriage?

Because a Mission can focus and motivate us!

If I say, “We value hospitality towards my neighbors,” I’ve made a nice, reflective statement. However, if I say, “Our mission in marriage is to show love to our local community,” I’m ready to act!

A particular Mission helps couples to make decisions that line up with their values. How should we spend our money and time? How should we invest in relationships? Think about your Mission!

Here are some tips as you develop your Mission Statement with your partner:

  • Use plural pronouns:  ‘we/us/our’. You’re a team!
  • Include others in your mission! Check out the last blog and vlog on Marriage and Community.
  • Think BIG! Don’t limit your impact!

Enjoy today’s vlog for this week’s Relationship 101 challenge!

What’s the Mission in your relationship? I’d love to know your thoughts in the Comments! Or, as always, feel free to send me an email or schedule a therapy session.

Hope to connect with you soon!

Warmly,

 

Megan Lundgren, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Monrovia, CA

   
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