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5 posts from February 2009


A personal note from Sandee Nebel

With Valentine's Day decorations everywhere you look, February definitely lends itself naturally to the themes of love and relationships. How appropriate that at White Picket Fence Counseling Center, our next free community workshop fits right in with these themes. Join us on February 17th for Healthy Relationships 101. We are confident that anyone who comes to this one will take away something helpful.


Today's article was inspired by a book that I have referred to a lot over the years, The Five Love Languages ( Even though author Gary Chapman is a biblical marriage counselor, his ideas about relationships work for every type of relationship and for people in every faith. Through his work, Chapman helps people to speak and understand each other's language.


Sandee S. Nebel, M.S.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

White Picket Fence Counseling Center, LLC

Building Relationships

Relationships are what make our lives rich. These may include romantic relationships, but just as important are our relationships with friends, family, loved ones, people at work and even the people we relate to on a daily basis – whether we know them or not. We also have a relationship with ourselves, and some have a very important relationship with a Higher Power.


The premise of The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, is that we all have different ways of expressing ourselves in relationships. We learn a love language as we grow up, but then we may learn other ones as we grow a bit older and independent of our families. People will automatically give love in the way they're used to receiving it, or in the way they like to receive it, and that can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and conflict.


Chapman's Five Love Languages are: words of affirmation (kind, loving statements about the other person), quality time (spending time together and being attentive to the other person), receiving gifts (small or large, gifts that are meaningful to the person receiving them), acts of service (taking care of things for the other person) and physical touch (small gestures, sexual intimacy, massages or a simple pat on the shoulder).


Do you know which love language you speak? More importantly, do you know how the other people in your life feel loved?

I see a lot of potential applications for this work, but in particular in relationships between parents and kids. I've heard of children feeling rejected when their parents don't spend time with them, because they crave the love language of quality time. Meanwhile, their parents speak the love language of receiving gifts, so they send gifts regularly as their way of expressing love. Talk about getting your wires crossed! Communication is misfiring and no one's needs are being met.


Getting right with your relationships is not just important in February and on Valentine's Day. Relationship problems are commonly an underlying issue behind eating disorders and other substance abuse problems, problems at work, and difficult emotions such as depression, frustration and anger. When your love language is not being spoken, when your love needs are not being met, it may be challenging to find success in any area of your life.


Identifying a disconnection in your relationships can actually be a huge relief. Because once you have, you can start the process of learning how to understand each other better; how to give the other person what they need and ask for what you need.


Here are some things to keep in mind as you're preparing to have this kind of conversation:


  • Write out your thoughts before you say a word – journaling always helps to get clearer about what's going on for you
  • Read over your words, meditate and give yourself some time to be sure it's what you want to say
  • Consult with a trusted friend or family member, mentor or therapist for an objective, supportive opinion
  • Rehearse with a friend, or in front of the mirror, before the actual conversation
  • Plan the conversation for a time that feels peaceful, when you can both give your full attention
  • Express your appreciation for what the other person has been doing – show them you understand that in their love language, it was a loving act
  • Tell them what you need them to do instead of what they've been doing, or in addition to it
  • End with an expression of gratitude and appreciation for your relationship


Note how you've "bookended" the part of the conversation that might be most challenging – the part where you're offering constructive suggestions and asking them to do something differently. Before and after that, you're expressing positive thoughts, gratitude and appreciation. That can go a long way to getting your message heard.


In order to have the deep relationships that sustain us and bring meaning to our lives, we need to find that common ground of communication and mutual expression of love. When problems crop up in your relationship, it's so crucial to get to the bottom of your communication problems and start speaking the same language. Whether you sort it out in family therapy or on your own, it's well worth the effort.

Liz's Corner


Reaching out to the community...


Can you believe it is already February? The year seems to be flying by, and fast approaching is a very important week. The week of February 22  to February 28 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week . The largest outreach endeavor in the nation, this week is held annually by the National Eating Disorders Association. The goal is to educate the public about Eating Disorders; to offer those suffering easier access to treatment; and to recognize the pressures and behaviors that lead to unhealthy behaviors. As a board member of the Eating Disorder Network of Central Florida (, Meghan Moran, R.D, Licensed Dietician, and I are chairing local efforts to further the ideals of NEDA. We have organized a program to bring treatment professionals into local schools and colleges to give free presentations about Eating Disorders. During NEDAW, doctors, therapists and dieticians will be meeting with students, faculty, and parents to help educate and enlighten them on this very important topic. If you have any schools in mind that you think could use such a presentation, please let us know. We have several schools already lined up and have many professionals willing to give their time for this worthy cause.


Meghan and I will also be presenting another workshop as part of our “Nourish Your Soul” series. On February 11th, we will be hosting Gentle Eating, an experiential workshop and asking those dealing with anorexia, restricting and/or bulimia to bring their dinner to White Picket Fence Counseling Center, where we will sit outside on the porch, eat dinner together and discuss the practice. The goal is to process what thoughts and feelings come up as we sit down to a meal, in addition to discussing what a healthy meal looks like. Please call us to register if this is something that may be helpful for you!


Also, our next community workshop is fast approaching…join us on February 17th to discuss Healthy Relationships 101.  In this hour-long group gathering, we will talk about how to make relationships better and stronger. Wherever you are in this process, you are welcome to attend.


Liz Strong, MA, NCC

Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

Upcoming Events

nourish your soul series: gentle eating experiential workshop

on Wednesday, February 11th at 6pm, reservations required


Tuesday, February 17th is our community free workshop, Healthy Relationships 101.  This can apply to everyone!  To attend, just give us a call (or email) and bring two cans of food when you arrive! 


Four(4) week Eating Disorder Group with therapist and dietician - Wednesdays from 5-6:30 is starting a new session on the 18th and registration is now open.  Six(6) week Tuesday Group will also be re-starting the end of the month with Sandee and Liz.


New!! New Image Group is a Bariatric Surgery Support Group.  The first session is on Monday, February 23rd from 7-8:30pm.  Facilitators are Sandee Nebel, LMHC and Candace Chemtob, Registered Dietician 


National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 22-28th.  Let us know if you hear of a school group that could use a guest speaker to spread the message.

Tip for Making the Most of Your Therapy Time and Expense

If this is not your first time in working with a therapist, let your current therapist in on what you feel worked best for you in the past and also what didn't seem to be so helpful.  You can save a lot of time (and consequently money) if you share this information early.  Stay open to new ideas and share what you feel is working best.  This can help you to be somewhat efficient in a process that can take some time...