Sparkle in Their Eyes: Being Mindful in the Moment

April 10, 2015

As spring is springing and birds are chirping, things can get a little busy and hectic. My to-do list grows like the grass and the budding trees. However, I am finding it more and more important to take a minute or 10 to stop and pay attention to the world around me. I recall a conversation I had about a year or so ago with a friend of mine who now has grandchildren of her own. We were talking about all this rat race business and she stated to me “I hope you don’t get so busy that you forget to notice the sparkle in your child’s eyes.” That statement has really stuck with me. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship

February 13, 2015

Happy mature coupleValentine’s Day is a day that some people celebrate and a day that others tend to dread.  For everyone, it can be an important reminder to lift our relationships up and to think about the blessings our loved ones provide.  As a marriage therapist, and a spouse of 43 years, I remind myself that it is often the little things that matter most in a relationship.  The memories you share, the experiences you create, and the love you nurture on a daily basis provide the foundation for a lifetime of marriage.

There are some very simple guidelines to follow when you are in a relationship that, if you follow, will support the relationship through difficult times:

1. Agree on How to Disagree

One of the first ground rules is to agree on how to resolve conflicts so that they are managed with respect and result in some form of agreement.  There are several ways couples can chose to do this, but the common thread involves active listening and empathizing with your partner’s intentions, concerns and needs.  While disagreements can often turn animated, it is crucial that the respect for the other person’s thinking and feelings remain paramount.  According to research, about 75% of our marital conflicts are not solvable, yet that should not be the focus of the marriage.  You may have to let go of some expectations.  Your partner may not become the household chef, or share your standards of organization, but in letting go you gain something much richer than a good meal or an orderly home.

2. Give Technology a Break

Turn off technology at an agreed upon time in the evening when you are both home.  This includes everyone in the home, especially pre-teens and teens who want to text and play computer games.

3. Everyone Needs Their Rest

Go to bed at the same time so there is time to cuddle and relax several nights a week.  Ideally, there should be no technology in the bedroom – no TV, no phones, no computer and no paperwork from your job spread across the bed. If you have children, make sure they are in bed and getting the sleep they need.  They also should have no TV or computer games for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.

4. Schedule Time to Relax

As a couple you need to have relaxing time together for 90 minutes or more at least 3 nights a week.  Have evenings that you both agree are “low expectation nights.”  No “we have to talk” discussions should be held after the set relaxation time.  Instead, set a time for those discussions when you both have had time to think about how you can discuss the problem when you are both refreshed with sleep.  If you are sure you are right in a conflict and feel like the victim, you are probably wrong.  You are, in fact, 50% of the answer.

5. Plan a Date Night

Plan a date night every 2 weeks where you have time to relax and talk to each other.  This is a time for play, humor, sharing dreams and goals, and relaxing.  It is not the time to discuss parenting or marital issues.

6. Show a Little Tenderness

Bring kindness into your relationship.  Show that you are thinking about the other person when you are not together by what you do when you are together.  This is not about gifting, but about showing thoughtfulness to the other person.

These are just a few ideas for couples to consider in a relationship. It is important to remember that all relationships require time, resources and energy in order to grow.   Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or dread it, use the day as a reminder to reflect on your commitment and to enrich the love in your marriage.

If you are struggling with your relationship, the counseling staff at LSS can help. Call 1-855-334-2953 or visit to schedule an appointment.

Colleen Miller
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Celebrating Compassion & Kindness This Holy Season

December 24, 2014

Today is a good day to cherish memories of loved ones, embrace those who share our daily lives and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

I begin by honoring the memory of Karla Freeman. Karla not only shared her professional talents through her work as office manager at LSS Counseling Services in Sioux Falls for 19 years, but she cared for those whom LSS served. Sadly, we lost Karla in August 2013 to cancer; however, memories of Karla and her legacy of compassion and kindness will continue to live on.

It started thirteen years ago when Karla saw a client family quietly struggling to get through the holidays. A family who would never ask for help, but needed it desperately. A family who needed to know that someone cared for them and that someone was watching over them.

In the distance, Karla was watching with a compassionate and respectful heart. She sought out a few local donors who were willing to provide gifts to help lighten the heavy load this family was carrying.

The following year, Karla matched a few more local donors with counseling clients who had basic needs during the Christmas holiday, but also a special gift or two to warm their hearts. Over the years, these acts of compassion and kindness have become known as the Adopt-A-Family Program.

2014 Dec 24 Blog picToday, I embrace all staff of LSS Counseling Services who continue the legacy of Karla Freeman. Because of the generosity of nine donors, LSS Counseling Services will help lighten heavy loads for 20 families who are struggling with life’s challenges.

I feel blessed and so appreciative to be surrounded by LSS professionals as well as generous and thoughtful donors across South Dakota who have made LSS one of their giving priorities not only during the holiday season, but year round to provide professional, confidential and affordable services.

May this Christmas season allow you to feel God’s presence and compassion in your life as we cherish memories of loved ones, embrace those who share our daily lives and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

Blessings to you and your family this holy season,

Betty Oldenkamp, LSS President & CEO


Click here to support LSS services and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

Happy Holiday?

December 2, 2014

For most of us, the holiday season brings back memories of our childhood and leads to excitement for time with family and friends.  Along with this excitement, the holiday season can also bring increased stress and worry.  As we move into the holiday season, it is good time to take stock and plan for the coming weeks.  Here are a few things to consider.   Read the rest of this entry »

Native Culture

November 19, 2013

Did you know that almost 30% of the Native population is under 18 years old? With over 1,000 students in the Sioux Falls School District, Native Americans make up one of the largest minority groups in the community. Cultural identity, while different for everyone, is something we all carry with us. No matter who we are the cultural context in which we were raised plays a role in how we see the world. Read the rest of this entry »

LSS Makes it Easier to Ask for Help

August 8, 2013

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Whether people are experiencing depression, having a difficult time at work, struggling with relationship issues, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, taking the step to start counseling can be a difficult decision.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

LSS Counseling Services recently restructured its intake process to make it easier for people to ask for help. Clients and referral sources can now call 1-855-334-2953 to access counseling services statewide. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Know if You’re Stressed

July 2, 2013


Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic and alert. It helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration.

But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Memorial Day

May 25, 2013

Memorial Day often feels like the start of summer, the moment we take a breath and relax for a long weekend. For some it is the day we pull out the camper or work on the yard.  However, Memorial Day is intended to be a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Many visit cemeteries and memorials and some place flowers or flags at gravestones.

Flag Read the rest of this entry »

Trauma Recovery Techniques

April 5, 2013

As a clinician at LSS Canyon Hills Center (CHC) in Spearfish, I have had the privilege to learn and apply trauma recovery techniques in my work with adolescents in residential care. All of the young people who come into placement at CHC have traumatic histories and are struggling to cope with the feelings the trauma continues to cause them to feel. Using Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which we refer to as TF-CBT, my clients tell, and re-tell, and re-tell the stories of their traumatic pasts. As we work together to examine their thinking about the trauma and they begin to feel more and more comfortable telling their stories, each client begins to find healing and a more positive outlook on their past as well as their future. They gain a new, more whole and confident sense of who they are despite the trauma they have survived. Read the rest of this entry »

LSS featured in television ad

March 9, 2013

addiction adFor our Rapid City area friends, look for LSS on the new television ads highlighting the work of Rapid City agencies!  Three LSS staff members are featured in a new public service ad.  The spot highlights the different agencies in Rapid City that are involved in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Collaborative, and encourages viewers to visit the HelpLine Center for more information.

Please check out the addiction information ad by clicking above!

Together we can make a difference. Make a financial gift to LSS today.

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