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Tips for Developing Healthy Self-Esteem

We are often told that focusing on ourselves is “selfish.” From time to time, reflecting on cultivating a positive self-image and nurturing self-worth is essential and beneficial. Self-esteem is crucial to our mental health, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being. When we have healthy self-esteem, we are better equipped to navigate the ups and downs throughout life, assert our needs, and confidently pursue our goals. Research suggests there are more than just psychological benefits. Individuals with healthy self-esteem are likelier to engage in health-promoting behaviors such as regular exercise, healthy and mindful eating, and adequate daily sleep. These behaviors promote stronger immune function and improved physiological responses towards stress.

When meeting someone with strong, healthy self-esteem, it may seem like their confidence comes naturally. The truth is, that having a solid sense of self-worth requires building and maintaining it through self-awareness, self-compassion, and intentional effort. However, attempting to foster this can seem daunting and fruitless if you feel bad about yourself.

Here are a few tips for boosting your self-esteem:

Increase positive self-talk and personal beliefs.

Journaling, mindfulness practices, and therapy are great ways to develop awareness regarding our internal messages that contribute to or hinder our self-worth. Practice noticing your thoughts without judging them. Record what your inner monologue says about how you view yourself. Ask yourself, “Are these hurtful or helpful?” Hurtful thoughts and beliefs hinder, while helpful thoughts and beliefs foster self-esteem. Find ways to challenge and reframe hurtful narratives into helpful, empowering narratives.

Cultivate self-compassion.

When we struggle or make mistakes, it will be difficult times to maintain a helpful narrative. Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and acceptance during difficult times. Begin journaling and exploring your internal self-criticism. Rather than being hard on yourself, practice approaching yourself with compassion that you might offer to a friend. You can be frustrated and disappointed in yourself; however, remember that everyone experiences mistakes and setbacks while chasing goals. When responding to these situations with kindness, we foster resilience and inner security of self. Practice responding to yourself differently, remembering you will still experience mistakes and setbacks. Being patient with yourself is an expression of self-compassion.

Explore how past relationships make you feel about yourself.

Throughout our lives, we must learn everything we do. How we view ourselves is often learned through how we believe others view us. Whenever you recognize negative self-talk, get curious and ask yourself, “Where does this message come from?” When experiencing rejection or criticism from important individuals, we might struggle to give ourselves the encouragement or self-acceptance we deserve. We often perceive that others will view us in the same critical ways we view ourselves. Therapy allows for exploring and understanding these experiences while gradually replacing them with more self-affirming beliefs.

Contact Pinnacle Counseling for Help with Healthy Self-Esteem

If low self-esteem negatively affects your life, reach out to Pinnacle Counseling for individual therapy. Our compassionate, knowledgeable therapists can help you navigate your feelings and give you the tools to live a healthier life.


How NOT to Raise a People-Pleaser: Foster Healthy Assertiveness with Kindness

How often do we confuse assertiveness and disrespect? Often, when children are assertive, adults mistake the behavior for disrespect. Assertiveness is expressing needs, thoughts, and feelings without steamrolling over others and allowing others to assert themselves as well. Research has found a link between a lack of assertiveness in adolescence and increased social anxiety and low self-esteem. Additionally, research has linked higher levels of assertiveness to reduced tendencies toward depressive symptoms. While counseling can help, you can foster healthy assertiveness in your children. Here’s how.

Understanding Assertiveness: Balancing Respect and Authenticity

How often do we confuse niceness and kindness? Many women, when asked, “What core value can you recall your family emphasizing growing up?” are likely to respond: “Be nice.” This message is conveyed to many children growing up, though it is especially conveyed to females. Children interpret “be nice” as not making others uncomfortable. Others might not like what they hear when you share your needs, thoughts, and feelings with them – that leads to discomfort.

“Be nice” shapes individuals into people-pleasers. Chronic people-pleasers prioritize the needs of others while minimizing their own needs. They learn to be reluctant to express their thoughts and feelings, creating a mask of agreeableness while suppressing their authenticity. Setting healthy boundaries becomes difficult for people-pleasers due to their fear of disappointing and angering others and, ultimately, their fear of appearing “selfish.” People-pleasers frequently find themselves in problematic relationships, particularly attracting narcissists who thrive on being the recipient of most of the attention.

Children should be encouraged to assert with kindness, not niceness. Kindness rarely requires sacrificing your own needs and wants or your authentic voice. Kindness is about respecting and being sensitive towards others. Ways to assert yourself and foster your child’s assertiveness with kindness include:

  • Encouraging to seek ways to identify and respectfully express feelings, thoughts, and preferences.
  • Allowing for age-appropriate choices and decision-making processes to build a sense of autonomy and confidence.
  • Modeling appropriate assertiveness and boundary-setting in and out of the home. Respectfully and sensitively express your needs, feelings, and opinions while saying “no” in a firm, nonaggressive manner.
  • Staying open when your child respectfully challenges you and appreciating them for their growth.

Understanding the distinction between assertiveness, disrespect, niceness, and kindness fosters healthy relationships and self-esteem. Encouraging assertiveness with kindness empowers children and adolescents to express themselves authentically while respecting others.

At Pinnacle Counseling in Arkansas, we promote this approach through our individual, family, and child counseling services, helping clients build resilience and confidence in navigating life’s challenges with grace and authenticity.

If you or your child is suffering from low self-esteem, depression, or social anxiety, contact Pinnacle Counseling today.

Rachel Bannert has achieved the status of a nationally-rostered (CPP) clinician

Rachel Bannert has achieved the status of a nationally-rostered Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) clinician, a remarkable accomplishment she accomplished amidst the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this journey, Rachel demonstrated unwavering dedication, investing a significant amount of time, energy, and compassion. CPP serves as a therapeutic haven for young children up to the age of five and their caregivers, especially those who have undergone distressing or painful experiences such as loss, separation, medical trauma, or abuse. Additionally, the therapy proves valuable for children displaying challenging behaviors, experiencing changes in caregiver or placement, coping with family members’ physical or mental health difficulties, and for caregivers seeking to enhance the parent-child relationship. Rachel’s commitment to CPP is a testament to her resilience and commitment to promoting the well-being of children and families.

School’s Almost Out for Summer!

May is in full swing. It is a time of beautiful spring flowers, warmer weather, and outside activities. It feels great to pack away those winter clothes. You may be attending graduations (maybe you have a child graduating, but that is an entirely different subject). Younger children may be going on school field trips, participating in year-end concerts and bringing home paperwork for summer sports and camps. Then, before you know it, the kids are home for the summer!

For single parents and families where both parents work outside the home, it can be a challenge to find summer childcare. Perhaps you are trying to decide if they are old enough to stay home alone. Maybe you worry about what they will be doing when you’re not around. For the stay-at-home parent, you may have to re-arrange your entire schedule. It can be stressful to find activities to keep them busy, while still allowing you time to take care of everything else!

While we want our kids to keep active and busy (no parent enjoys hearing “I’m bored” all summer long), we need to remember that our kids also need to have down time. Summer is a great time to decompress for kids who are always on the go during the school year. Quiet time is good for our kids. When giving them time to recharge, you also give them the ability to activate their imagination and creativity. Spending time outside enjoying nature actually provides many mental and physical health benefits.

Depending on the age of your kids, you might consider looking into community activities that are available. Local libraries often host special programs during the summer. There are many youth camp options available for most ages. Contact other parents and look at taking turns hosting play dates. Look at the movie theater options. Kid’s Bowl for Free is a great program. Do you have a local swimming pool that offers lessons? Are you and your child willing to commit the time required to attend practice and play a sport?

Summer is a great time for kids to learn how to be independent, to work around the house, not just picking up after themselves, but doing dishes, laundry, mowing the lawn or other age appropriate chores. If you have older children and have a business at home, show them how to do simple duties. Let them really help you out and pay them for their time. If you have an older teen, help them look into a part time job.

Plan ahead for some of their time, just don’t try to plan every minute. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype that kids need to participate in every sport, every sports camp, music camp, church camp, go to competitions, and have every minute filled. They will survive being bored occasionally and maybe even learn to thrive in that quiet time.

Don’t forget to plan your own “me time” in the schedule too! Summer can be stressful if you’re not prepared. When you’re stressed, the children will feel it too. If you are having difficulty coping or your child is struggling with transitioning to a new routine, make an appointment with a professional that can give you tools to manage the stress.

Pinnacle Counseling Acknowledged by CitiScapes Magazine


Because of our exceptional mental health services, Pinnacle Counseling was recently honored by CitiScapes Magazine as one of their Best of the Best in Northwest Arkansas of 2022. Out of all the mental health centers in the area, Pinnacle emerged as the best partly because of our client-focused philosophy, which centers on your needs. Our experienced counselors provide guidance and support to help Arkansas natives navigate difficult situations and improve communication and emotional connections within relationships.

Our owner, Travis Webb, is thrilled with this acknowledgment, and stated, “Since transitioning into new ownership in August 2021, the last thing we were thinking about was being Best of the Best. The main goal simply being how can we be better than we have been. It came as a great surprise after being informed regarding this achievement. I hope we can continue to provide amazing services to the Northwest Arkansas area. We are only as good as the people that believe in us.”

In addition to individual therapy, Pinnacle Counseling provides marriage and relationship therapy services. We understand that relationships require effort and can help you address any issues that affect your quality of life. Our family counseling services are designed to help you develop healthier communication patterns and build stronger emotional connections. Our counselors will work with you to identify problematic family dynamics and provide guidance to improve your family relationships.

Trust Pinnacle Counseling, the Best of the Best in Northwest Arkansas, for Compassionate, Professional Mental Health Services.

Pinnacle Counseling holds a perspective of authenticity, compassion, cooperation, and development towards the therapy process. Our team of therapists aims to facilitate their clients in discovering their inner strength, gaining clarity, and recognizing that the route to their personal peak rests within them. It is an honor for us at Pinnacle Counseling to be part of your voyage towards transformation and restoration through client-centered mental health therapy.

Feel free to contact us to explore how one of our therapists can support you in your healing journey.


Transitioning Back to School

Summer will soon be coming to an end and the more carefree, less structured days will be just a memory.  No matter the age of your child, some pre-planning will help ease the transition back to school.  Whether your child is leaving for school for the first time or approaching their final year of school, preparing ahead can prevent anxiety and stress.

Our children have faced a lot of changes and challenges over the last couple of years.  This can be very stressful to children that have difficulty with change.  Others have difficulty with focus and struggle to follow school routines.  Knowing where your child is at will give you the ability to help them cope with the upcoming transitions.

Schedules will be getting hectic. What activities will your child be involved in? Do they actually start before the school year? Will you be needing after school care?  Will they be changing to a new school?  Will transportation methods change this year?  What will be the same? What will be different?

In the coming weeks, slowly move back to the schedule you will be following during the school year.  This will help your child be ready for that new routine.  Being well rested is key to a child’s success in school.  By establishing routines a few weeks before school starts, you can ease into those new bedtimes and earlier rising times. Getting that good night’s sleep will come easier when school starts.

Review any school information you have been sent. Buy clothes and supplies early. Involve your children in picking out their supplies and new clothes.  This can help them get excited about school.  Practice having clothes picked out the night before, backpack ready, and a healthy breakfast planned. These routines can prevent morning chaos. Make note of important dates coming up.  Plan to attend your school’s open house and meet the teacher. Having a strong connection with your child’s teacher can help with communication throughout the year.

Your student may be concerned about homework, meeting new people, bullying, adjusting to a new school or new schedule, just to name a few things. Are you unsure about how your child is feeling? Signs to look out for might include unexplained fatigue, sleeplessness, stomach aches, headaches, withdrawal from activities previously enjoyed, or unexplained sadness. 

If your child is showing a lack of enthusiasm for going back to school, sit down and talk to them about it. Is something in particular causing them to feel anxious about school? Once you know what is causing the stress or anxiety, you can make a plan with them on how to handle it. Establish methods for coping when they feel overwhelmed.

If you have a new student or younger student you may want to find books about going to school or on how to identify feelings. This is also a great way to encourage literacy.  Even if your child is not feeling stressed about school, you will still want to have open communication about your expectations for the new school year. If you have older teens, you will want to discuss your expectations for things like grades, athletics, work or curfews.  Talk to them about how to find balance between school, work and life.

You are your child’s best advocate. You can help them feel good about themselves and have a successful school year.  If your child needs professional help in making a smooth transition into the new school year, we have therapists available for your needs.

When Relationships Hurt

Relationships are very important to our lives and for the most part are good for us. But what do we do when a relationship is no longer good for us? How do we recognize when a relationship has turned toxic?

Unhealthy, negative relationships don’t just happen with a spouse or romantic partner. You can have a toxic relationship with parents, siblings, co-workers or friends. Any relationship, between 2 or more people, that has an unhealthy dynamic is defined as a toxic relationship. A toxic relationship leaves you feeling worse about yourself and generally unhappy. A healthy relationship leaves you feeling good about yourself and brings positive outcomes to your life.

Signs that you are in a toxic relationship can include any of the following:

  • Feeling as though you are never good enough.
  • Feeling like you can never do anything right.
  • Always feeling under attack.
  • Always needing the other person’s approval.
  • Always needing to be careful of what you say or how you say it.
  • Not freely being yourself.
  • Being put down by the other person.
  • Always being blamed for the problems, the other person takes no responsibility.
  • You are left with a constant feeling of negativity.
  • Isolated from other relationships.

Toxic relationships take a high toll on mental health.

  • Constant state of stress.
  • Depression.
  • Negative thoughts.
  • Lower self-esteem.
  • Anxiety.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Lack of self-care.
  • Isolation.

What to do when you recognize you are in a toxic relationship:

  • Set boundaries on what you will accept or not accept from the other person.
  • Stop contact with the other person, if necessary, if they won’t respect boundaries.
  • Start practicing self-care: eating right, exercising, etc.
  • Seek help from a professional if you need support in breaking unhealthy patterns.

Pinnacle Counseling has therapists that can help you find ways of working through your interpersonal relationships, individually or as a couple. If you would like to talk to a counselor that can help you cope and give you some guidelines on how to set boundaries, please call 479-268-4142.  In this time of social distancing Pinnacle Counseling is offering both TeleHealth and in-office services, following all CDC safety guidelines to protect everyone.

The “Lost Generation” of Autistic Adults

By Rachel Freeman

How does autism come to be diagnosed in adulthood? What impact does a diagnosis have after decades of living with undiagnosed autism? 

Autism used to be a rare diagnosis.  Ever since the definition of autism was expanded to encompass Asperger’s Syndrome and became autism spectrum disorder, it is estimated to affect 1-2% of the population.  Many clinicians have not been taught what this diagnostic change looks like in their practice.  Because many people’s symptoms were either misdiagnosed in childhood or were not recognized at all, it has become increasingly common to receive a diagnosis of autism in adulthood. 

Autism is a developmental disorder that has to do with differences in brain wiring and is NOT a mental illness. However, living with autism—especially if it is not identified for 40 or 50 years of one’s life—can contribute to traumatic experiences and feelings of anxiety, low self-worth, and isolation.  It is those feelings, left unaddressed, which can then lead to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. 

The years that can pass between the time someone suspects they are autistic to the time they receive a diagnosis can leave a person feeling misunderstood, ignored and even dismissed by health professionals. The presence of other diagnoses, such as mood disorders, can complicate the diagnostic process.  Many late-diagnosed adults discover their autism in the process of receiving treatment for anxiety or depression, or while their child is being diagnosed with autism. Many people seek a diagnosis after a lifelong feeling of being somehow different from others.  

Autistic people may: 

  • Find it difficult to understand facial expressions or tone of voice 
  • Find it difficult to understand social rules and to form friendships 
  • Be under- or over-sensitive to sound, touch and light (this can range from subtle to debilitating)
  • Have difficulty regulating their own emotions, and when emotions are high, find it difficult to think clearly and make decisions
  • Like routine and order and respond to change with a high level of anxiety
  • Place a high value on honesty, to the point of being blunt
  • Appear to be insensitive to others’ feelings 
  • Appear to behave strangely at times
  • Require very specific directions when doing something new
  • Struggle to find and maintain employment, despite intelligence and work abilities

Autism symptoms can vary vastly from person to person and require different levels of support.  Resilience factors can be present that help one cope with symptoms or lessen their impact.  For instance, the way one’s parents dealt with the symptoms in childhood can have a major impact on one’s self-worth and coping ability. 

The process of being diagnosed and its aftermath can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, but it can also change one’s life for the better.  Benefits of getting a diagnosis can include: 

  • Recognizing what has been wrong all these years, and realizing it’s not your fault
  • Being able to let go of impossible struggles and reframe one’s self-identity
  • A period of self-discovery, self-acceptance and even a sense of belonging as one interacts with others in the autistic community
  • Being able to be up-front about who you are and what you need from yourself and others
  • Helping you and those close to you understand why you may experience certain difficulties and what you can do about them.  It may correct a previous misdiagnosis and mean that any mental health problems can be better addressed. 
  • Unlocking a different version of yourself that has not had a chance to develop

You don’t need to be formally diagnosed, have it “on the record,” or share that diagnosis with others in order to experience benefits.  Sometimes just knowing you have autism can help make sense of life experiences, explain what you may have previously viewed as character flaws, and lead to discovering ways to support yourself with appropriate coping skills that reduce the negative effect of symptoms on your life, while increasing the effects of autism’s gifts.   A life with undiagnosed autism can seem full of failures to achieve goals that seem easy for others to achieve.  However, when you look at what you have been able to accomplish so far despite undiagnosed autism, it can be amazing. 

It’s Back to School Time Again

Summer has been flying by and the school year will soon begin anew. This year may look different than last year did for kids. That means the stress levels for both students and parents may be higher than normal.  Covid-19 has impacted all of us one way or another.  Last year your child may have done virtual learning, in school learning or a combination of both.  Your child may feel strange about going back to the classroom if they have been doing virtual learning. Classroom sizes may be larger than last year for those who were in the classroom.  The debates still rage about masks and vaccines.   

Sports and other extracurricular activities are starting up again making schedules more hectic.  Your student may feel concern over academics, social interactions and meeting new people, adjusting to a new school or new schedule, just to name a few things.  Even if your children are excited about the new school year, they may still experience anxious feelings as they go thru the transition to new routines. They will also pick up on your stress if you are worried about it.

Some stress is normal and can be positive, but too much stress is harmful for both the physical and mental health of you and your children. How do you know when it is too much stress?  Signs to look for might include feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, sleeplessness, stomach aches, tension headaches, withdrawal from activities previously enjoyed, or unexplained sadness.  

How can you help your children manage their stress?  Talk to them. Help your child learn to recognize the signs of stress and anxiety.  Make a plan for what to do when they begin to feel anxious about things like homework, their grades or how to fit everything into their day. Make a list of activities they can do when they start feeling stressed.  Activities to help relieve stress could include taking a break to pet the cat, calling a friend, walking the dog, listening to music, physical exercise, and so on. Choose simple, calming activities that are easy to follow through with.  Make sure they have “un-scheduled” time to relax every day.  Establishing routines such as having their backpack ready, clothes picked out and breakfast planned the night before.

By knowing how to relieve your stress and helping them relieve their stress, you can help them feel good about themselves and have a successful school year.  You are your child’s best advocate. If you or your child needs professional help in overcoming stress and anxiety, we have therapists available for your needs.


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