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  • Jane McKinney

Accepting ourselves in the New Year

As December unwinds into the New Year, it becomes a time of quiet contemplation. We anticipate the shortest day of the year on December solstice and marvel at the first snow storm that left a white blanket silently surrounding us. Still air brings attention to breath. Breathing in and out, slowly and intentionally, sharpens focus. Adding a word or two while breathing deepens the focus, and the mind becomes calm.

Love in, love out.

In this peaceful expanse, the mind may reveal what is helpful or useful to you. That which is helpful and useful meets a need. A met need fulfills a purpose. Although such purpose might look different for each one of us, we feel this fulfillment through a sense of tranquility: “All is well.”

How can one maintain a sense of peace beyond the brief meditative moment? This is a golden question and so many resources are offered to help in this natural quest to master living a balanced life.

Dr. Marsha M. Linehan offers another useful DBT skill: ACCEPTS. The purpose is to improve distress tolerance, which helps us find peaceful acceptance of what is without a struggle.

A: Activities. Whether you choose to take a walk, bake, or put a puzzle together with family and friends, find an activity you enjoy and jump into it with 100% participation.

C: Contribute to others. Give a sincere compliment, send a holiday card, greet a stranger with a smile. Focus your mind on someone else and make a small, positive difference. C: Compare. Compare the situation you are in right now with another situation (a previous one of yours or someone else's) that is worse than the one you are in right now. E: Emotions. Watch a funny movie, read a good book, listen to music, or do another activity to create an emotion that is different from the one you are currently experiencing.

P: Push away. Keep your worry thoughts in a worry jar or put them on a shelf until it is a better time to think about them.

T: Thoughts. Focus on one positive thought over and over again, like a mantra. Examples include: “This feeling will pass;” “I’m ok, I can handle it;” and “I’ll get through this.”

S: Sensations. Create no-harm sensations that distract you from the situation, like running your hands under cold water, crunching on ice chips, a hot bath, or kneading bread dough.

Each day this month, breathe in and out love and practice creative ways to tolerate what feels uncomfortable or distressing.

Happy holidays, Jane


GROUPS IN 2020 AT A BALANCED LIFE LLC Groups offered at A Balanced Life provide intimate learning experiences for up to eight people per group. Each group is 1.5 hours and is either offered in a session set of five meetings for $125 or as a single session option for $25. Materials needed for the group are provided and included in the fee. Enrollment can be made through the website or by emailing

2020 Group Schedule Creative Clinician Group 2020 dates: Thursdays, January 23, February 20, March 19, April 16, May 28, June 25, July 23, August 20, (no group in September), October 15, November 12 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Offered as single session group one Thursday per month for $25 per person/session where clinicians gather to learn expressive arts interventions.

EFT Book Club for Clinicians Monthly, on a Thursday 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

A group for clinicians wanting to learn and sharpen skills in working with couples using Emotionally Focused Therapy. We will start with the first text by Dr. Susan M. Johnson, “The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection” to orient to the theory and practice of Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Defiant Child Book Club Session 1: January 27 - February 24 Session 2: June 29 - July 27 Mondays from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Offered twice in 2020 on Mondays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Join us as we read, discuss, and apply practical parenting strategies from “Your Defiant Child: Eight Steps to Better Behavior.” The text will be provided to you at the first session when we learn about the nature of defiance and the goals for restoring an enjoyable relationship with your child.

Love and Logic Curricula Session 1: April 6 - May 4 Session 2: September 28 - October 26 Mondays from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Offered twice in 2020 on Mondays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Each session consists of five consecutive, weekly meetings for $125. Certificates are offered to participants who complete all five meetings in the session.

Resiliency Building for Adults 2020 dates: January 18, February 15, March 21, April 18, May 16, June 20, July 18, August 15, September 19, October 17, November 21, December 19 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

An expressive arts group offered as single session group one Saturday per month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for $25 per person/session. Engage in hands-on experience to discover your creative strengths and experience your inner wisdom to guide you toward positive self-care and balance.



Look for additional dates in January 2020 for the following groups:

Child - Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Group A 10-week group for parents of children ages 3 to 8 using child-centered play therapy principles to improve the child-parent relationship. This program will take place during the fall of 2020. Additional details can be found on our website.

EFT Book Club for Clinicians A group for clinicians wanting to learn and sharpen skills in working with couples using Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Resiliency Building for Teens An expressive arts group where teens engage in hands-on experience to discover their creative strengths and experience their inner wisdom to guide them toward positive self-care and balance. Each session consists of five consecutive, weekly meetings for $125. Sessions and dates to be announced in January 2020 newsletter.

Maternal Mental Health Perinatal Breakfast Club 2020 dates: January 11, February 1, March 7, April 4, May 2, June 6, July 11, August 8, September 5, October 3, November 7, December 5 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

A monthly support group for women who are pregnant; or, who have recently given birth and are experiencing anxiety, depression or unwanted thoughts or behaviors. The purpose of this support group is to help educate, empower, and provide hope during your pregnancy and after the birth of your baby. Lap babies are welcome. This is a FREE group ($10.00 donation suggested) meeting one Saturday per month from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Free Sand Tray Therapy Program A Balanced Life LLC invites you to participate in individual therapy with Natasha Swayze, graduate student in the School of Social Work at Park University. This program includes eight free sessions of sand tray therapy.



INSURANCE UPDATE Licensed Clinical Social Workers at A Balanced Life LLC are credentialed with the following insurance plans: Jane Mckinney: Cigna, Humana, United Healthcare, Medicare, some Medicaid plans Jennifer Cooper-Nobo: Humana, United Healthcare Terry Paine: Cigna, Humana, United Healthcare, Medicare Gretchen Wells: Cigna A Balanced Life LLC is an out-of-network provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and other commercial insurance plans. We are working on Medicaid credentialing for the group practice.


A Balanced Life LLC provides therapy at a reduced rate to individuals who elect to engage in services with a Licensed Master Social Worker, who is currently under supervision for clinical licensure in the state of Missouri. Contact Jane McKinney at (816) 607-3091 to learn more.

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