Managing The Holidays with COVID

For a lot of people, the holidays can be a triggering time of year for a variety of reasons. While you may have been practicing how to manage these triggers, one new aspect has been thrown in the mix – COVID. In this episode, Sharon Wegman and Kayla Seader explore triggers such as rejection, fear of missing out, and having to say no, and setting firm boundaries. Sharon and Kayla then go on to explore areas that boundaries may need to be set, how to go about setting and respecting boundaries, and alternatives to still experience aspects of joy in this season. 

Gaslighting 101

In 1944 there was a famous movie released by the name “Gaslight.”  The film is the story of a man who marries a woman after a whirlwind relationship to manipulate her for financial gain.  Throughout the movie, the husband proceeds to do a variety of deceptive things to convince his wife that she is insane to gain control over her and her wealth.  The movie’s theme slowly created the term gaslighting, to describe a type of manipulative behavior that a person uses to try to deceive another out of truth.  Examples of gaslighting actions might include;  Blatant lying, frequent use of denial, projecting, manipulation of things dear to you, flattery, and a plethora of other manipulation tactics.  The individual who is the victim of gaslighting will often find themselves confused sometimes to the point of developing extreme depression and anxiety.  In the following podcast, Sharon Wegman and Ina Gould describe gaslighting, its effects, and strategies to deal with gaslighting.

Gaslighting 101

Codependency Looks Like

Co-dependency was a word that was coined by people working in the field of addictions to describe the behavior of members of an addict’s family that enabled the addict to continue with addict choices.  However, in the world of counseling, we have taken over the term to describe the behaviors of individuals who carry things for others that are not their responsibility. This could look like several things.  Sometimes people can have an unhealthy need for people to make them feel better. For example, if someone struggles with anxiety, they might be dependent on another individual to make them feel peaceful. This relationship struggle can cause people to control others so they don’t feel upset or it could cause people to become “people pleasers” to keep themselves or others from feeling off emotionally.  People tell me all the time that they feel like they have to carry the problems or tasks of others so that they don’t feel anxious. The crux of all co-dependency is that I carry something for someone so that I don’t have to feel _________(fill in the blank) or so that the other person doesn’t have to feel __________(fill in the blank). However, what we all need to understand is that feeling uncomfortable feelings is part of our emotional growth to wholeness; for self and others.  Whether it is our children, friends, co-workers or other family members, if we don’t feel the uncomfortable feelings of our choices, we are likely to not change. In this podcast, Cait Beiler and Sharon Wegman discuss what codependency can look like in our everyday life.

Why Counseling is So Helpful

The trend and comfort of going to counseling has only developed popularity within the past decade or so. This is a good thing, but as a therapist, I still encounter the negative views or “cliches” people see in counseling. As a culture, we are just now starting to come out of the perspective that going to counseling somehow means “you’re crazy” or “there’s something wrong with you.” In reality, we all go through hard things, and the point is we need support and safe places to process these experiences to stay healthy and receive healing. In this podcast, Sharon and I discuss the different reasons why someone might want to go to counseling and how counseling can aide and support that person in their process of healing. It is possible that as you have gotten older, you have become more increasingly aware of negative patterns you have picked up over time from your childhood. Going to counseling can help you unravel some of these patterns and find new ways to think and see things rather than being stuck in our childhood self. Another reason people might come to counseling is to find help and a safe space to process various types of trauma that have happened to them. Such trauma might include; multiple types of abuse, divorce, poverty, domestic violence, etc. Talking to a counselor can free up some of the weight and struggle you carry from these memories, as well as helping you find healthy ways to cope with your past. Lastly, you might find yourself needing to go to counseling because you have experienced the death of someone close to you. Grief counseling is a massive piece of working through a loss and the grief cycle in a very vulnerable time.
All in all, counseling is helpful for any season of life, sometimes as people, we need someone to sit and process with us in a place that feels safe and gives us permission to explore and experience our emotions. A therapist is simply a person whose job is to support and help you work out your feelings and your needs. Therapists are not afraid of the ugly feelings, so you have permission in a counseling office to be your authentic self. A counseling office is a place concerning no judgments or expectations over us, and for most of us, that in itself can be a very healing process.

Women and the Mental Load

The Mental Load- How is this impacting you and your relationships?

In our counseling office, we see the stress levels of women rise during this time of the year. Why? More often than not, women shoulder the mental load of the household, and kids being home for summer heaps more responsibilities onto their already-full plates. If you want to listen to our podcast episode on this subject, you can find that here

We see this carrying of the mental load in stay-at-home moms, women in marriages or relationships without children, and women who work full time. So, what is the mental load, and what can we do about it?

A mother sitting at her computer, drinking coffee with a child in her lap

What is the mental load?

In a relationship, women tend to carry the load of information and tasks tied to the household. This means they’re carrying what it takes to manage and organize the home,  and the unseen tasks that go into having a household and/or family. 

While men can also be mental-load-bearers, we see this more often than not in women. That’s because it’s a traditional role that women can easily fall into because it’s what we’ve seen historically throughout generations.

Women are often raised by mothers who took care of the cooking, cleaning, scheduling, child-rearing, etc, who learned it from their mothers, and so on. It’s not to say that boys don’t do chores, but it’s often a socialized role that women take on. Often, it’s something we slip into without realizing it. Our husbands might not notice or know what all is on our plates, and we might not even recognize it because it’s so familiar and what we saw growing up.

Why are we talking about it now when it's been going on for generations?

Unfortunately, we no longer live in a time where it’s generally feasible for a family to live off of one income. In the generations before us, it was maybe a fair-ish split for men to take on the responsibility of working outside of the home and bringing in income, while the woman took on the responsibility of the home and kids. However, today we see women working full time jobs along with men. And when we don’t have an awareness of who is carrying the mental load of the home, it can sneak up on a couple and cause tension, frustration, resentment, disconnection between partners, and more. 

Examples of the mental load:

  • Children sports/activities (carpooling, scheduling, cleaning equipment, etc)
  • Pet care (vaccinations, flea/tick treatment, etc)
  • Stock of household supplies
  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking
  • Holiday planning
  • Family event planning
  • Children’s homework/school (conferences, Spirit days, birthday treats, etc)
  • Parenting methods, styles, values, etc
  • Appointments: dentist, doctor, etc
  • Vacation planning

If you are the partner in the relationship carrying the mental load, you be experiencing a variety of things like frustration, burnout, less room for creativity or downtime,  feeling devalued, feeling taken advantage of or like there are unfair expectations in your relationship, feeling like you’re the adult in the relationship or like you have to parent their spouse, or a loss of trust or safety in the relationship.

Two oxen plowing a field

How does this impact the marriage or relationship?

Parenting and household management is a two person job, so when it falls to one person, it’s an unequal partnership.

We read an analogy from a blog post on, by Karla Hardin, about being “equally yoked,” in a relationship. When the partnership is equal, it’s like two oxen plowing a field. They’re of equal strength and ability, they’re both pulling their weight, so the job gets done and it gets done well. We call this equally yoked. While it’s still work, it’s lighter because it’s shared, and they’re going in the same direction

When you’re unequally yoked, you’re different sizes, strengths and experiences. If one ox is pulling the main weight, the team of oxen will end up walking around in a circle. They can’t move in the same direction, they’re at odds, and even though the work is somewhat getting done, it’s falling to one and they’re working against each other. 

So, what now?

Whether you already know you are shouldering the mental load in your relationship, or you recognize that you are after reading this, you might be asking yourself, “okay, what do I do now?!”

As with most things related to mental health and relationships, there’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all cure. Each person has their individual personalities and traits, and each relationship is unique, so as usual, we always recommend working with a therapist who can help you with your specific situation. If you’re in the state of PA, you can check out our list of counselors here

It’s important to recognize that this is not an easy fix. Once we recognize who’s carrying the mental load, it’s not like that will switch a flip and equal things out. If only! As we said earlier, this is often a generational or ingrained structure, so it will take time and work from both people in the relationship. 

In having this conversation with your partner about the mental load, remember the goal is connection and an equally-yoked partnership. Here’s what we recommend for starting the conversation in your marriage or relationship:


If you bring this to your partner and they're willing to learn and share the load (even with some initial pushback):

  • Start with a truth telling session: tell your partner how you feel. Recognize they might be defensive at first- if you’re coming to them saying you’re feeling frustrated, betrayed, or like you’re doing most of the work, they might feel shame. When we feel shame, we tend to get defensive, and our brains cannot connect when we’re feeling defensive. You can say things like, 
    • “I’m not attacking you”
    • Name what’s going on if they start getting defensive with statements like: “even if what I’m saying makes you feel bad, please focus on listening well, which means you might have to sit with your shame and choose to not focus on it.”
    • Ask them “how can we create a safe, secure environment in order to have a potentially difficult conversation like this?”
  • Name the season and what is required in that season “In the winter, there wasn’t much outside work. Now that summer is here, there is. How are we going to deal with this together?”
  • Coauthor how the next season will look:
    • List the things that need to be taken off your plate. Ask them which ones they’re comfortable handling, or which ones you can bring in outside help
    • Schedule a time each week and each come prepared with what needs done that week. List it out, divide how they will get done

If your partner is resistant, the following could be helpful:

  • Boundaries and consequences
    • If your partner is not willing to help you decrease your workload by doing their own laundry, you can choose to only do your own/the kids’ laundry. If they are not willing to help with food prep or meals, you can choose to only cook for yourself/the kids or meal prep just for yourself and the kids.
  • Seeking a therapist for yourself to work through it

We hope this was helpful for you! Be sure to give our newest podcast episode a listen, which expands on all of this information with examples, tips, and more. 

The Mental Load of Women

In this episode, professional counselors Sharon and Kayla discuss the mental load of women and how it can impact not only the person, but the relationship they’re in. They talk about ways to start the discussion with your partner about the mental load to reach a place where things feel more balanced in the relationship.

Strategies for Dealing With Emotionally Unhealthy Parents

In this episode, Sharon and office administrator Mandy discuss strategies for dealing with emotionally unhealthy parents as a follow up to part one. They also chat about new changes coming to their office that you can hear at the end of the episode! After this episode, we will be taking a hiatus from our podcast to focus on those changes, so make sure to follow us wherever you stream your podcast, and on Instagram @wholeselftherapists. Check out our website,, for more announcements and updates on our classes, groups, and programs.

Emotionally Unhealthy Parents

An emotionally unhealthy parent is one who has never worked through their own past or childhood wounds, so they cannot handle hard emotions or feelings. They will often justify not having done so, and show a pattern of unhealthy behaviors and communication. In this episode, therapists Sharon and Cait describe the traits of emotionally unhealthy parents, and give examples of what you might see or hear if you bring a tough emotion or situation to them. Find and follow us on Instagram @wholeselftherapists. For more information, check out the book at the link below! (Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link. If you choose to purchase through it, it does not change the price in anyway, but we get a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases).

Tips for Effective Communication

Professional counselors Cait and Kayla discuss what to do (and what not to do) to communicate effectively in safe relationships. They go through the tips in the book Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and Keep– Love by Rachel Heller, Amir Levine and explain each step in depth and with examples. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to effectively communicate your needs, or how to ensure you’re hearing your partner and they’re hearing you, or what’s really happening when one partner blames the other for not making dinner, this episode is for you! Find us on Instagram @wholeselftherapists. Attached Book Link: Brene Brown The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage Book Link:

Back to School: Strategies for Parents

In this episode, counselors Cait and Sharon build off the previous episode about what kids are feeling when it comes times to go back to school. They discuss what anxiety is, how kids experience it, and how important it is for parents to be able to attune to their children’s feelings to help them work through whatever they are experiencing. They give examples of how to attune, and then strategies for parents to help their kids work through their anxiety and prepare for the transition back to school. Follow us on Instagram @wholeselftherapists

Back to School- What are kids feeling?

In this episode, professional counselors Cait and Sharon discuss why children might start acting differently when August hits. They explain why kids might start feeling more anxious, and what anxiety looks like in kids who don’t have the language or awareness to explain or name what they’re feeling. Find us on Instagram @wholeselftherapists!

Money Beliefs

In this episode, professional counselors Cait and Sharon discuss how our adult views and decisions surrounding money were formed and influenced. While it is a topic sometimes seen as taboo or not something everyone wants to discuss, it’s helpful to dig into our feelings and reactions around money- it can tell us a lot about ourselves and our beliefs. Find us on instagram @wholeselftherapists!

Food Beliefs

In this episode, professional counselors Sharon and Cait discuss how our relationship with food was influenced and how we might’ve formed our beliefs about it. They discuss the different variables, how to avoid passing unhealthy beliefs to our children, and how to break unhealthy beliefs tied to food. If you are in the state of Pennsylvania and are interested in scheduling with our counselor, Joanna Faljean, visit our website at Like, subscribe, and follow us on Instagram @wholeselftherapists

Parenting is Triggering (Part 2)

In this episode, Sharon and Cait follow up on the last episode about how parenting is triggering. They discuss what can trigger parents or caretakers in each age group of newborns/babies, 0-5, and up, and how we can cope when we are triggered.

The book mentioned in today’s episode can be found here: