Dawn Institute strives to provide quality educational material free of charge to our community. Browse our extensive catalog of articles written by our therapists on a variety of mental health topics.



Survivors of Suicide Loss

November 19th was International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day this year. Being a loved one for someone who has completed suicide is unimaginably hard. It is such a complex grief. So how do we move on with our lives so we don’t stay stuck? How do we continue to hold love for our child, parent, relative, or friend while still loving ourselves when they are gone? I have heard many people blame themselves. They blame themselves for not seeing the signs or knowing what that person was feeling or thinking. They blame themselves for not being a good support. I’ve

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Telling Healthy Relationships from Unhealthy Ones

No relationship is perfect… a relationship is two people, with two different experiences, and two different ways of thinking. A relationship can be with family, friends, or intimate partners. So naturally, there are going to be differences. Our history, previous interactions, and relationships influence how we interact in our current relationships. Just because someone did something wrong, or did something that seemed malicious, doesn’t mean it was on purpose. I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves a second chance. It’s not always easy telling healthy relationships from unhealthy ones. Here’s some steps to figure it out: o Communicate your boundarieso

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Enjoying the Holidays

“Enjoying the holidays.” As a kid, you probably got super excited about them with thoughts of eating too much candy on Halloween, dozing off into a turkey coma while watching football or a parade, or counting down the days to Christmas. As an adult, you may identify with the common, collective groan surrounding the upcoming holiday season. Balancing work, school schedules, (sometimes) demanding extended family, and exceedingly high expectations sets so many of us up for emotional disasters. If I am not careful, I can find myself stuck in an over-commit and under-deliver cycle leaving me tired, frustrated, and feeling

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Self-Differentiation: Where Do I End and They Begin?

Where do I end and they begin? A major milestone in every independent adult’s life is establishing self-differentiation. What is differentiation of self, you ask? Well, it’s the beginning of adulthood. Self-differentiation describes a few processes but begins with a separation from a person’s family of origin (we, in the industry call this the FOO) as they embark on their own journey in life. In short, it’s growing up, but it’s not just growing up — it’s figuring out who you are and developing your own secure identity. This milestone is typically smooth for folks who grew up in healthy

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Interrupting Our Pain Cycle

Have you ever looked back on arguments and wondered why you react a certain way when dealing with conflict? Perhaps those closest to you have told you that that you’re controlling, you withdraw, or you explode and blame others when a conflict occurs. Maybe you’ve even lost relationships because of these patterns. Do you ever feel dysregulated or unable to manage your emotions? That you’re in a situation and don’t know why or what to do about it? The term for this pattern of dysregulation and unhealthy responses is called a Pain Cycle. By understanding our own Pain Cycle, we

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Depression: How Do We Know?

Am I just having an off week? Why do things seem overwhelming right now? When was the last time I had a good laugh? Why is everything so hard? When was my last good day? Am I sleeping enough… or too much? These are questions we may all have felt from time to time – especially as we juggle work, children, school, friends, and family. But how do we know these thoughts or feelings are temporary or something more serious? How do we know when it might be depression? What is Depression? October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening

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Post-Traumatic Growth

We all want to recover from the trauma and hardship we’ve experienced in life, and there are many theories on how to do that. While we’d all like to grow in the wake of our harmful experiences, it can be hard to find “resilience” in the aftermath. As it turns out, resilience and post-traumatic growth are not the same thing, and a misunderstanding of the difference can lead to more shame and hurt. I’ll start with a story. Many years ago at a women’s event, a friend of mine presented what ended up being a very meaningful craft. My friend

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Understanding Your Attachment Style

Have you noticed patterns in your romantic relationships, either good or bad? Chances are — if you really think about it — you will see patterns in how you connect with people, feel loved, develop trust, and communicate your needs. Many of these patterns can be predicted by understanding you attachment style. Attachment styles affect how people feel about themselves, how they get close to one another, what they expect from each other, and the unique ways in which they show vulnerability or respond to conflict. Where Do Our Attachment Styles Come From? Humans, like all creatures, are hardwired for

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Why I Love Boundaries

I’m going to nerd out a bit and talk about my favorite topic: boundaries! I know that sounds ridiculous, but I had never heard of boundaries prior to becoming a therapist. I’ve come to love boundaries and, as something that has helped me so much, boundaries happen to be my fave discussion! My Story I used to have really horrible boundaries. I let people walk all over me, and I was constantly giving and giving… and giving. It felt like I didn’t have strong connections with family and friends, and I felt alone. It was awful feeling like I was

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Trauma Defined

Trauma. Not many conversations go by these days without mention of this buzz word. I have heard trauma defined in many different ways. Is it certain types of events? If so, why do some people walk away with post-traumatic symptoms and other do not? Can we put it into categories along a continuum? If so, why do these experiences affect some people and not others? I first heard trauma defined this way — by categories. I’ll explain these categories and then I’ll answer clearly what many are asking: what is trauma, really? Categories of Trauma I learned that there are

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