Don’t Give Up on Your Goals by Angie Miller, LPC

Last week I wrote a blog about the power of goals vs. New Year’s Resolutions and six steps for goal setting success. I promised to share a goal setting contract this week because contracts are a great way to stay on track and keep us motivated. That said, before we sign a contract it’s important to consider potential pitfalls when setting goals, aka mistakes in that stand in the way of our success. Here are Five Potential Pitfalls to avoid and a contract to keep us accountable.

 Potential Pitfalls When Setting Goals:

1. Setting Gargantuan Goals- Goals are like stairs, the best way to go up is to take it one step at a time. If you try to skip a step it makes the journey more difficult and less enjoyable. Goals should be challenging enough to keep you interested, but not so difficult that you become frustrated and lose hope.

2. Fearing Failure- Sometimes we’re afraid to set goals because we’re afraid we won’t succeed. When fear gets in the way, we tend to take the path of least resistance and set no goal at all. That way, we can avoid the risk of failure. In truth, though, we know that failure is only in our lack of willingness to try. Even when we don’t achieve our goal we learn something in the process, and knowledge is power. We can apply what we learned to our next goal.

3. Forgetting the Power of Words- If your goal starts with the word stop, it’s grounded in negativity. Words are powerful, and the words we use matter to our mental mindset. If we want our goals to motivate us, it’s best to see them as something positive that we’re striving toward rather than something negative we’re trying to escape. Take a look these goals and see how they sound with a negative connotation vs. a more positive spin:

  • Stop eating late at night (vs.) Start eating a healthy dinner that will help prevent late night cravings

  • Stop skipping workouts (vs.) Establish a workout routine that I enjoy so I look forward to working out

  • 4. Setting Too Many Goals with Too Little Time- One or two goals is achievable, five or six goals are overwhelming, especially if we allow too little time for completion. Sometimes we get so excited to change something, like our exercise diet and exercise habits, that we decide to go all in. That said, if you’re not currently exercising and you decide to workout everyday for the next six months, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. There’s also a higher likelihood that you’ll abandon your goals due to burnout or injury.

    If you’re new to goal setting or you’ve been discouraged in the past, here are two suggestions for success:

                A. Set 1 or 2 goals maximum

                B. Make the goals short term, achievable within two to four weeks rather than two to four months. The longer it takes to achieve a goal the more daunting it can become to get started, let alone see it to the finish.

    Example: For exercise, an achievable goal would be to workout for thirty minutes, two days a week, for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks if you’ve succeeded you could increase it to three days a week, or increase your time to 45 minutes per workout.

    Proceed in that fashion and though it may take longer to reach your goal, there’s a far greater likelihood that it will become part of your daily routine and a lifetime habit.

    5. Forgetting to Follow Up and Adjust if Necessary: A daily follow up is a great way to stay inspired and keep you focused. Goals take a lot of work and we’re more likely to succeed if we check in and take note of our progress. A calendar is a very effective way to do this. Each night, take a few minutes and record how you felt about your goals for that day, what obstacles your encountered, and some encouraging words to keep you motivated.

    At the end of the week, reflect on what’s working and what’s not. Above all, give yourself the option to adjust your goal/s if need be. Adjusting your goals doesn’t mean you’re settling for less, it means that you’re smart enough to recognize when you need to rethink your strategies so you can set yourself up for success.

    Remember, goals are impactful; they give us direction and help us stay motivated. They lead us to accomplishments we might never have thought possible, and they help us begin each day with intention.

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Voyage Chicago Magazine

voyagechicago staff



Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Froemel.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jennifer. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began working in the field of behavioral health while in undergraduate school in 1991.  I worked in a DCFS run residential treatment center. Upon graduation, I taught Kindergarten and Preschool and while working with young children I realized I needed to obtain a Masters’ degree to make more impactful change in the lives of children and families to help them improve and thrive. While working on my Masters’ degree in Clinical Psychology I worked as a Director of programs in Residential Treatment with Adults with severe mental illness and developmental disability. In time, I realized that I would need to better understand outpatient care so I began working at Metropolitan Family Services managing their crisis and intake department. I was able to triage families all over the city in both Spanish and English and became well-versed in employee assistance programs. I really enjoyed this work but saw the need to gain experience in providing therapeutic intervention not just assessing and triaging so I started my career as a psychotherapist. Since 1996 I have worked in inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient mental health centers and medical settings. In 1999, I opened a small private practice and found that I really enjoyed this model. Around the same time, I began teaching undergraduate Advance Psychopathology courses at DeVry University. In all of my experience, I have learned that there are limitations in the work that can be done with clients because of Medicaid limitations or merely the lack of collaborative care. In 2014, I decided that with all the changes to the provision of services that limit psychotherapists to provide good care to clients in an outpatient center I wanted to create something that was able to provide a balance to both the clinician and the client. I began Innovative Counseling Partners at this time.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Our growth started out slow and steady. The one thing I did not realize was how much clinicians really wanted/needed a place where they felt free to provide good therapy in a supportive manner; as a result, we grew much faster than I realized as clinicians were coming and asking to work in our group practice. Additionally, I did not realize how much other provider types i.e., occupational therapists, pediatricians, etc. we’re struggling to make good connection and collaboration within other behavioral health settings so we found ourselves having many referral sources. We began getting more referrals than we had clinicians so I had to really move some things off my plate to provide more administrative time onboarding clinicians, providing treatment and supervision. I had to connect to a business support group to aid in our growth and to answer our phones. I also needed more bilingual staff as we were filling all of those clinicians before I could get new ones on board. It was not easy starting a new business support group and learning a new business software while training new clinicians.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are a group of mental health psychotherapists that provide outpatient therapy in a truly collaborative manner with other provider types in Spanish and English to an insurance friendly population of adults, children, couples and families. We work very closely with pediatricians, pediatric occupational therapists, chiropractors, internal medicine doctors, non-profits agencies, and job training programs. We have 4 clinicians that are Veterans and we provide EMDR, Trauma informed models of care, services to Transgender youth, Eating Disorders, and youth and families who have struggled to connect and have required return to home after residential treatment. I am proud that we are a diverse group of practitioners that hold tightly to the model of Family Systemic care approach to aid in healing individuals, couples and families. Over half of our staff of clinicians are bilingual in Spanish and most are bicultural. We also have clinicians that speak Hindi and Mandarin. Our practice has been very intentional to ensure most if not all providers have a basis in mindfulness practice.

What were you like growing up?
I have always been an extrovert and loved helping people. I also am a huge animal lover and have been known to be somewhat of an “animal whisperer.” I was also very sport and academically oriented and enjoyed learning about other cultures and began Spanish classes in 7th grade. I enjoy running, yoga/mindfulness, working out, and love music and dance.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Valeska Anleu

Anxiety and Protein in your Diet


Are you waking at 4:00a.m.? Is this insomnia or anxiety related to a simple fix? By Jennifer Froemel, LCPC

In 2000, University of California Berkley did a study looking at clients with Depression and Anxiety and their diet. They had control groups and what they found has definitely made me talk to my clients’ about what they consume on a day-to-day basis. The findings concluded that based upon the amount of “solid protein” intake throughout the day your body may be stealing protein from your musculature as you sleep; however, in an effort to get you to put in appropriate protein the body switches on and wakes you before it steals from your musculature. Many people don’t realize that if they are not sleeping well their body may begin to change for the worse and lead to worse issues. What people don’t tend to realize is that good protein is needed for digestion to take place during your sleep cycle.

The first bit of the study determined that what people were considering as protein was not a protein that is useful to the body for good digestion. What they found was that people were considering a piece of cheese from a sandwich as good protein and the study proved that, in fact, it was not seen as beneficial to the body. The list below lists some of the real “solid proteins” the body needs.

The next thing they did was asked the participants

  1. First they asked if they had any previous experience with anxiety or depression as they have found that those diagnoses tended to have issues with sleep.
  2. they asked what sleep was like for them. They found resoundingly that most people would tend to wake between 2-4 a.m. feeling restless and unable to sleep so they would wake up. Most of the participants reported this happening for a month or more and as a result felt more fatty and having less physical strength. What they discovered was that if people did not follow the attached chart of good solid choices of protein, and had anxiety they’d likely also have insomnia. The reason being that typically when we are asleep we are digesting the food from the day and the body is extracting protein to help fuel the energy necessary to digest.
  3. They then asked their participants what they found themselves doing when waking and they found that most were waking looking to forage for food but tended to go for things like: ice cream, cereal, chips, etc.

Since discovering this information upon working with a client I will review their food intake and type and wake/sleep schedule. Almost immediate symptom relief has occurred in some cases and treatment is more psychoeducation than anything. Ultimately, we are what we eat and what we put in can hurt us in the long run in more ways than one.


Jar of Happiness

As you are faced with a challenge in life, it can be hard to step away from the darkness to do something to bring light in. After all, how can you be happy when faced with unpleasant news or are suffering with a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety? (more…)