The Candid Counselor

Helping individuals overcome anxiety, depression, and life's issues

Dr. Julia Becker

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Licensed Psychologist
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Serving the greater Waco, TX area, including Woodway, Hewitt, Lorena, Bellmead, Robinson, and China Spring.

Talking to Kids About Relationships This Valentine's Day

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, February 14, 2019 0 comments

For kids, teens, and even adults, Valentine's Day may bring anxiety, unmet expectations, and disappointment.

Kids are bombarded by messages about what love is and how love should be expressed. These messages come from many sources, including school, family, friends, church, social groups, and the media. Messages about love occur all year long, but during Valentine’s season these thoughts and expectations about love intensify. Furthermore, romantic love is often a major focus during the teen years.

To learn more about how to talk to your child about love and relationships, read my recent article on Hooray For Family.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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Is Thanksgiving good for your mental health?

Posted by Dr. Becker Saturday, November 3, 2018 0 comments

Can you imagine having Thanksgiving all year long? Not exactly the turkey and pumpkin pie, but a spirit of gratitude. Research shows that practicing gratitude leads to increased happiness and overall wellness. Please read my article to learn more about practicing gratitude.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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Keep the Stress Out of Your Family Fun: 4 Simple Steps

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, September 20, 2018 0 comments

There are so many fun fall activities in central Texas that are perfect for families! Sometimes even fun activities can cause stress when we strive for perfection and worry about missing out. Please read my Hooray for Family article for tips on keeping your family activities fun and stress-free!

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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Help Kids Cope with Stress by Exploring Expectations

Posted by Dr. Becker Tuesday, September 4, 2018 0 comments

Our brains constantly take in information and make connections. As thinkers, we naturally form expectations about the world around us. Although we may not always be aware of these expectations, they still affect us. Unmet expectations can lead to stress, anxiety, or depression. In my recent Hooray for Family article, I discussed ways parents can help kids cope with stress by identifying and discussing expectations in several key areas. By having these conversations, parents will be better prepared to help kids cope when their expectations are not met. To learn more about helping kids cope with stress, please click here to read my article.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

How Can Parents Help Kids Cope With School Stress?

Posted by Dr. Becker Tuesday, August 28, 2018 0 comments

When I work with teenagers or college students, their parents often ask me how they can help. Whether their child is dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, or general stress, parents often wonder what to do and what not do. In my recent interview with the Wacoan magazine, I discussed some of the challenges facing teens and young adults today. Technology, pressure to succeed in school, and concerns about friendships all contribute to stress. Many people recognize the importance of seeking counseling to treat depression or anxiety. However, we often forget the value of prevention and striving for good mental health. 

We take care of our physical health by going to the dentist or physician for checkups, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy.

What do you and your child do to maintain good mental health?

Please click here to read more about common stresses, prevention, and positive mental health practices.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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While we would all like to focus a bit better, sometimes focus problems interfere with important life goals, including academic and career goals. ADHD is often suspected as soon as difficulties with focus arise. Some of the inattentive symptoms of ADHD include concerns many people can relate to, including:

Poor attention to detail

Difficulty sustaining attention

Poor organization

Difficulty starting or completing tasks

Being easily distracted

ADHD is only one cause for poor concentration. Depression, anxiety, poor diet, and poor sleep habits also cause similar problems with focus and productivity. The first step toward improving focus is to determine the cause of the poor focus. If ADHD is the cause, treatment usually involves medication, as well as counseling to address time management and organization. If anxiety is causing poor focus, the goal of counseling is to reduce overall anxiety and calm the body and mind when anxiety peaks. If multiple factors are causing poor focus, it is important to understand and address each of these factors simultaneously.

Sleep is often an underappreciated factor in poor focus. Sleep impairment may occur as a single problem, but it often occurs along with anxiety, depression, or ADHD. Research shows that sleep is crucial to mental focus and productivity. A psychologist can assess sleep quality and help with developing better sleep habits.

If you have concerns about poor focus or decreased productivity, please call to set up an evaluation.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

How Does Stress Affect Physical Health?

Posted by Dr. Becker Tuesday, July 24, 2018 0 comments

Stress is not just unpleasant; it can also cause physical health problems. Even a few minutes spent worrying causes physical changes in the body.

Our complex brains constantly send signals thorough the entire body and receive signals back from the body. Our thoughts and emotions impact these signals, as well as various stress hormones including cortisol.

Short term stress causes various physical problems, including:

Difficulty sleeping
Edginess/increased heart rate
Muscle tension
Upset stomach

Long lasting or chronic stress responses are linked to more serious conditions, including

Heart disease
Gastrointestinal disorders
Chronic pain

The effects of stress are based on how we cope with the stressful event, rather than the stressful event itself. Stress will always be a part of life, so improving coping skills is essential for minimizing the harmful impact of stress. If stress is a problem in your life, consider counseling. Research shows that effective counseling changes the brain, and these positive changes lead to greater resilience and improved coping with stress.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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How can I reduce my stress when my life is so busy?

Posted by Dr. Becker Sunday, July 1, 2018 0 comments

Life is often busy and demanding. Finding quick and effective ways to reduce stress is crucial for good health. Try taking just a few minutes  to relax each morning and afternoon. You could take a walk, practice deep breathing, tense and relax muscles, or engage in an enjoyable hobby. Whatever activity you choose, the key is to be focused on the present moment. When your mind strays to future plans, worries, or thoughts about the past, gently bring your focus back you your present activity. This is a quick and simple way to decrease daily stress. Research shows that mind wandering and worrying are linked to negative health outcomes and increased depression and anxiety. Learning to focus your mind through consistent, brief practice is an excellent way to improve physical and mental health. If stress is still a concern, consider counseling to help develop coping skills.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

Teacher-student relationships: When are they too close?

Posted by Dr. Becker Tuesday, June 20, 2017 0 comments

There is growing concern as the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships continues to rise. Many of these educators did not set out to have a sexual relationship with their student. When asked about their reasons, “It just happened” is a common answer.

But how does it happen?

It often happens gradually as teachers form close relationships with students. These close relationships may be formed through the teacher’s involvement in extracurricular school activities, social media, or mentoring roles. As closeness develops, some teachers begin to cross boundaries. For example, teachers may share too much personal information, give the student special privileges or gifts, or begin relying on the student for emotional support. Small boundary crossings often lead to larger boundary crossings.

The ultimate boundary crossing occurs when a teacher has a sexual relationship with a student. Such behavior has devastating consequences for the student, the student’s family members, and the school system. Therefore, it is crucial that schools, teachers, and parents take action to prevent these inappropriate relationships before they are started.

What can schools do?

      1. Provide training for teachers about boundary crossings

      2. Provide support and mentoring to teachers

      3. Provide training for students about appropriate teacher-student boundaries

What can teachers do?

      1. Routinely ask themselves the following questions:
                         *  Who does this relationship benefit?
                         *  Why am I seeking extra contact with this student? Is it to meet my
                             needs or the student’s needs?

      2. Be aware of boundary crossings occurring with other teachers, and provide accountability.

What can parents do?

      1. Communicate with children frequently about their relationships, stressors, concerns, and everyday life events. Make time each day to stay up to date on important events and concerns for your child.

      2. Trust your instincts. If your child’s relationship with their teacher seems too close or inappropriate, investigate and set appropriate limits.

Note: This is a growing concern that has recently been addressed by Texas lawmakers. Dr. Becker was interviewed about this topic by ABC’s News Channel 25. Click the link here to view the full story and interview.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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How to deal with kids who are “picky” eaters

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, April 21, 2016 0 comments

First, you have to stop using the word picky. Giving kids that label will set the expectation that they should refuse most new foods. Try replacing “picky” with more descriptive phrases, such as “Chloe takes a while to decide that she likes something,” or “Zachary likes his food prepared a certain way.”

Many parents think that kids are not eating enough vegetables, yet it is very rare for a parent to be concerned that kids are not eating enough pizza or macaroni and cheese! To get kids to eat vegetables, parents often try bribing, threatening, bargaining, or punishing. These approaches can result in a tiresome power struggle that often leaves a child feeling like vegetables are the enemy. The key is to help kids change their perspective and to think positively of vegetables.

Although changing someone’s perspective is not a quick or easy thing to do,  investing the time to do this now will help relieve some of the pressure parents feel at the dinner table. This change will also help to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy (or at least healthier!) eating.

To help kids shift their perspective on healthy foods, try some of the following activities:

1.    Encourage your children to help plant or pick vegetables and fruits. Seeing where food comes from provides a sense of pride and appreciation. Even having just a tiny herb garden in your backyard can help instill that sense of pride and appreciation. No time or space for a garden? Visit the farmers market. Talk to your kids about where the food comes from. Let them carefully select which peppers or bananas to purchase.

2.    Let your child decide how to season their foods. Experiment with different spices or toppings. Giving kids control over this small aspect will help them take ownership for their foods.

3.    Instead of asking whether or not they like it, encourage your children to say what they like and don’t like about it. For example, it was crunchy, it was bitter, it was mushy. Ask them to describe the flavor of the new food in as much detail as they can. Then have them rate the food on a scale of 1 to 10 to describe how much they liked it.

4.    Choose a “vegetable of the week” by asking your child which vegetable they would like to feature that week. Each day do something related to that vegetable. For example, one day you could research some of the health benefits of that food. The next day create a collage or other form of artwork showing the unique features of the vegetables. Another day might involve searching for the most delicious recipes involving that vegetable. At the end of the week it is finally time to eat and enjoy that vegetable!

These are just a few ideas to get your kids thinking differently about vegetables. Feel free to get creative and come up with a few of your own ideas!

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

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