Christy Wilkie provides outpatient therapy for children and adolescents, ages 5-25. Christy typically uses a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach, but also provides collaborative problem solving and several other types of therapy. She earned her master’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University-Purdue University. Christy provides telehealth and in-person services in our Fargo location. Call 1-800-201-6495 to make an appointment.
Featuring Christy Wilkie, Therapist, Dakota Family Services
Tim Unsinn: Welcome to Mind your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to Mind your Mind.
Tim Unsinn: Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is Christy Wilkie. Christy is a therapist in Fargo and provides outpatient therapy for children and adolescents age five to 25. Christy, it is great to have you on Mind your Mind.
Christy Wilkie: Not as great as it is to be here.
Tim Unsinn: We're going to get into today's topic, which is the feelings wheel. And I don't think that means the feeling I get when I'm behind the wheel, but we'll get into that in just a second. First question up for you. Why do you do what you do?
Christy Wilkie: You know, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I really believe in the strength of the human spirit. And I think that everybody deserves to try to live their best life. I've been passionate about mental health from a very young age. My dad was a therapist, so I kind of grew up with that being a part of my language. Helping children has always been a passion of mine since as long as I can remember. So as I grew up and I developed that passion into really focusing in on mental health and understanding the stigma that's around it, and really having people be validated that the way that they feel is okay, but they can also feel better. And to try to help people find their healing and really their potential in life and realizing that they don't have to be miserable, that they can, they can have some control over their lives and live it to the fullest.
Tim Unsinn: Today's topic is feelings wheel. First of all, I'd like you to kind of tell us what the feelings wheel is. And then how do we use that in therapy?
Christy Wilkie: The Feelings Wheel is a wheel and it works from the inside out. So it starts with like the main emotions that we feel like happy, sad, mad, surprised, disgusted. And it works out to kind of further delineate what the actual feeling is. Because sometimes those big words that we learned from one we're like nine years old is really what they tell us when we're talking about emotions is that most people talk about their emotions like a nine year old does. And human beings, as a random fact, feel about 34,000 different emotions. And so for people to put words on that is really difficult. And so the feelings wheel breaks it down into the big emotions and then it delineates it farther from there. And then even farther from there to kind of expand your emotional intelligence and really kind of identify what you're feeling.
Tim Unsinn: All right. And with that many feelings, 34,000, how do we then use the feeling wheel as part of therapy?
Christy Wilkie: Sure. So a lot of people have big emotions and when we have big emotions that is often causes us to participate in behaviors that we don't want to participate in. And really what emotions are, is a loss of control. Emotions elicit a loss of control and human beings, just by default, want to find control because not having control is not comfortable. And so what a lot of people default to is anger because anger gives you the illusion of being in control when it's absolutely the opposite. Anger is an easy emotion to show, but it's very rarely the one that is behind that. So when you use the feelings wheel in therapy, you can kind of start with that angry emotion and then break it down into feeling, let down humiliated, mad, aggressive, frustrated, sad. And so then we kind of work out from there to be like, well, if you're frustrated, what is it that's triggering that frustration.
Christy Wilkie: And so it helps them get back to the origin of the actual emotion that they're feeling. Which is really good for people because it, it helps name the thing that is causing them to feel dysregulated. That's causing them to do things that hurt other people. That's causing them to do things that hurt themselves. And so instead of finding negative ways to find control, either through violence or yelling or name calling, they can find control in a positive way to, to name the thing that they're feeling, to expand their emotional intelligence, and put a word on what it is that's actually going on inside of them.
Tim Unsinn: So with 34,000 emotions, how easy, or how hard is it to even using the feelings wheel to narrow it down into an area of feelings, because with 34,000 it's gotta be just a, a wide variance of what that looks like
Christy Wilkie: You know, it's, it's, it's easier than you would think it would be. I mean, the feelings wheel, it doesn't have 34,000 emotions on it. We can't name every emotion that everybody feels, but it does. I mean, it probably has about 150 somewhere around there. And they just put words to things that people don't have words for—embarrassment, shame, guilt, those are all emotions that people don't like to feel. And your brain kind of kicks in and goes, it's a fight or flight thing. When you start feeling those icky emotions that you don't want to feel, your body starts to feel kind of icky, or that there's a threat somewhere in the environment and your brain goes into fight or flight, which is either you run away from it, or you kind of find these ways to have control over it, that aren't necessarily healthy.
Christy Wilkie: And so once people find out that there are other words they can use other than anger, and that it's okay to have those emotions, it really becomes easier than it sounds really. There's a lot of stigma attached to emotions specifically with men, but also with women that there are, there are things that we should, and shouldn't feel. I had a kid this morning, actually, that I was talking to. And he just said, I'm a boy. And I, and I feel all these emotions and I'm not supposed to be that way. And just to validate that, yeah, everybody has these emotions. Everybody feels these all, every given time. And to try to push them away, to try to make you feel better ends up hurting you in the long run, let's just figure out what it is. Like. Let's throw some words out there and see if he can relate to any of the words that I'm using. And then, and then tell them that it's okay to feel them and accept them in instead of keeping fighting them away. It, it gives people a lot of whenever you can name anything that's going on inside of you, there's some relief.
Tim Unsinn: It's probably a lot of pressure on the clients that you see, you know, talking about emotions we're not able to label. But this is a very helpful tool to label it, to name it and to say it, that's gotta be just relieving.
Christy Wilkie: Absolutely relieving. And for a lot of younger kids, those, those words don't necessarily make sense. And that's on me as a therapist to try to find ways to show them what that looks like. Whether it's through a picture or whether it's through faces, we'll do a lot of face drawings of what people look like when they feel different emotions. Because little kids have a harder time with big words, like even annoyed, embarrassed. Like that's not where they're at. And so for them to see that there's a range of emotions, they can feel rather than just mad, sad, happy is a relief. And it kind of opens up a lot of doors for lots of people.
Tim Unsinn: How much harder is it for kids that come to you that, uh, you know, we look at the feelings wheel that don't hear a lot of, or see a lot of those emotions within the house. There's not a lot of expression words verbally or physically. How is, how does that work into it.
Christy Wilkie: It actually helps a lot of families because we don't do a lot of work with just kids. When we are doing work with kids, we're doing work with families and that's super important. And it's a core value of Dakota Family Services, of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is that we're treating the kid, but we're also helping the family. And the family also needs to help put words on those feeling wheels too. And when you can just take it and give it to the parents and say, this is a tool you can use if they're having a bad day. Sit down with them and let's, let's figure this out. And then also role model with your child, what you're feeling and use it and help you expand your own emotional vocabulary. Because kids who are in therapy end up having more words to describe what they're feeling than people that have never done it. That's their parents included. So bringing the parents along on the journey with us to have it just be more of how they talk and in their house is super important.
Tim Unsinn: That must be enlightening for them as well.
Christy Wilkie: It is. I have a lot of parents that will come in and they'll explain to me what, you know, what their child is doing. And I'll explain how feelings work and why we feel what we feel and that it's okay to feel what we feel. And you kind of sometimes see the light bulb go off in parent's brains. They're like it, maybe that's what I do to. Maybe you do. And that's okay.
Tim Unsinn: You are listening to Mind your Mind. Our guest is Christie Wilkie, and we're talking about the feelings wheel, a lot of great information, love podcasts. It's an opportunity to pause, rewind, listen, again, it's a great opportunity to share as well. And in our final question, Christie, before we let you go, for everyone that I get a chance to talk with, the question is, what do you do to personally mind your mind?
Christy Wilkie: In doing the work that I do. I know that I have to be in a space in my own, in my own body and in my own brain to be able to help the people that come into my office. So I prioritize my own mental health all of the time, because I'm no good to anybody if I'm not well, myself. And everybody deserves the best version of me when they walk into the office. So I'm very good about I run. I run every morning, somewhere between three and seven miles every day. Uh, I golf, I walk, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I take time to meditate. I make sure that I get eight hours of sleep every night. Just as a fun fact, sleep over all age ranges from infants to senior citizens, it has always been imperative to everybody's mental health and how we function. So making sure that you're getting sleep and eating a balanced diet, I do all those. And I laugh a lot really. I'm really funny. I think I'm funny. I try to use my sense of humor and, and surround myself with people that elicit those positive emotions in me too.
Tim Unsinn: You are funny, and you're fun to be around. Christy, thank you so much for your time on Mind your mind. We appreciate you sharing your time and your talent with us.
New Speaker: Thank you so much.
New Speaker: Thank you for joining us for Mind your mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to Dakotafamily services.org.
People tend to perceive risk as being inherently negative. But for teenagers, risk-taking is a healthy, normal, and important part of growing up. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, about creating a safe environment for your teenager to take risks—and knowing when to step in when they start taking risks that could result in serious and long-term negative consequences.;
Fifteen-25% of American students have experienced bullying. And cyberbullying is on the rise. Children who experience bullying suffer from long-lasting effects including depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and more. Children engaging in bullying behavior are impacted as well. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services therapist, April Morris, LMSW, talks about the impact of bullying and what parents can do to help.;
2020 was the year for living with chaos. Everything—at home, at work, and at school—is out of sync and changing from day to day. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer, shares simple tips for building routine and structure into your life. She also provides an excellent, yet simple, way to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.;
Children experience grief over many things—the loss of a loved one, moving away from their friends, the death of a pet. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the stages of grief, and how to walk your child through the grieving process. He will also talk about ways to determine if your child needs to see a professional who can help them untangle the many emotions of grief.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about suicide warning signs and things you can do to make a difference. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, wants to normalize conversations about suicide so people don't feel like they are suffering alone. She says, "There is never a reason to not ask the question, 'Hey, are you OK?' Asking the question can save a life.";
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.;
When someone in our life has cancer, it's difficult to know what to say or how to help. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to April Morris about how you can best support a friend or loved one who has cancer. Morris, an outpatient therapist at Dakota Family Services, shares tips for knowing what/what not to say, and actions that speak louder than words.;
Sleep is just as important for mental health as it is physical health. During sleep, our brains process our memories, emotions, and other information. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," April Morris tells us why sleep is so important for overall well-being and encourages us to prioritize sleep. April, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, provides practical tips for improving sleep hygiene so you can live your best life.;
Stress does not discriminate, and it comes in many shapes and forms. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dr. Megan Spencer talks about ways to identify and listen to the stress in our bodies. Learn relaxation techniques for managing stress over time, self-care routines that decrease negative stress, and things you can do to bring calm into your life.;
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well-being. Exercise increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Christy Wilkie, therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about how movement, even for five minutes, can promote changes in the brain that lead to neural growth, reduced inflammation, and feelings of calm and well-being. Listen now to learn more about how moving your body can improve your mental health.;
Diagnosing children with a mental health-related condition can be controversial. Many worry this gives children a label that is set in stone and will follow them around their entire lives. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen talks about the role of diagnosis in getting children the help they need. Martinsen encourages us to think about mental health diagnoses the same as we do any health diagnosis. If you go the doctor and they diagnose you with strep throat, that doesn’t mean you’ll have strep throat forever, or that you are a strep throat victim. It just means that you have a collection of symptoms that point to strep throat, and the doctor will use that diagnose to provide the appropriate treatment.;
ADHD is diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than in the past, especially in the United States. Why? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist/Medical Director at Dakota Family Services, explains how the changing world has made it harder for people with shorter attention spans to be successful. In the past, if school was hard for you, you could get a job, work your way up, and live a middle-class lifestyle. Not so in today’s world. Learn more about this fascinating take on ADHD.;
In today's episode of "Mind Your Mind," Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, talks about the many changes occurring in the teen brain. The teenage brain is highly susceptible to stress, but it is also very resilient. Learn coping strategies you can teach your teen to protect their brains and help them cope with stress and emotional struggles.;
Going back to school after summer vacation can be a stressful time for both kids and parents. The transition from the unstructured summer to a more regimented routine can lead to stress and anxiety. Worries about fitting in, bullying, homework, getting to school on time, and dealing with peer pressure are all additional stressors that may weigh on children when it's time to go back to school. In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” Tim Unsinn speaks with Therapist Falan Johnson. Falan helps us understand why back to school anxiety is common, provides strategies for managing the added stress, and shares resources parents can use to prepare their children for the new school year.;
The grief of losing a friend or loved one to suicide is complicated and can be especially difficult. In addition to the grief, sadness, and loneliness of any loss, people might experience guilt, confusion, rejection, anger, and shame. The stigma of suicide complicates it even more, often preventing survivors talking about their loss or getting the help they need. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Tim Unsinn visits with Dakota Family Services' therapist, Christy Wilkie. Christy helps listeners understand the complicated nature of suicide grief and how to move through it with compassion and self-acceptance.;
You will be shocked at the seemingly safe places predators can connect with your children online. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the things you need to know to keep your children safe. Learn the many websites and platforms used to target children, how to monitor their internet usage, and how to talk to your children about the dangers.;
Pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but some women struggle with their mental health as they transition to motherhood. Depression, anxiety, and other pregnancy-related mental health conditions may surface during or after pregnancy. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Tim Unsinn speaks with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer helps us understand the common symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, as well as what to do if you think you may be experiencing it.;
Did you know that in addition to calming and focusing our minds, meditation can improve our physical health? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services, about the surprising health benefits of meditation. A regular meditation practice can increase longevity, reduce the risk of dementia, reduce inflammation, and play a significant role in the treatment of high blood pressure and immune disorders. Learn about the many forms of meditation and how you can start your own meditation practice today.;
Anxiety and depression are invisible illnesses—meaning they don't have outward symptoms visible to others. Because they are invisible, they are often hard for people to explain. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Host Tim Unsinn visits with April Morris, LCSW, Therapist, Dakota Family Services. April references the spoon theory of chronic illness created by Christine Miserandino, an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and lupus patient advocate. Listen now to learn more about spoons as a metaphor for energy and how you can use them to understand and explain anxiety and depression.;
While we hear a lot about autism in the news, many of us still have misconceptions about its causes and symptoms. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist Falan Johnson dispels some of these misconceptions and explains the three levels of autism. Johnson then focuses on the least understood level—high functioning autism. Learn how to identify symptoms of high functioning autism in your child, the importance of early intervention, and ways you can support them.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.;
Going through infertility tests and treatments can be an extremely difficult and lonely time for couples. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel talks about his own experience. He also shares tips for couples struggling with infertility, and for friends and family members who want to be supportive but don’t know what to say or do.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Therapist Falan Johnson about panic attacks. What do they feel like? What causes them? How can you prevent or manage them? Listen now to learn more and discover techniques that might work for you or your loved one.;
Are you concerned about your child's mental health but aren't sure what to do? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, Therapist Jesse Lamm, as they discuss ways you can support your child through a difficult time.;
Are the stresses of college (constant worry, fitting in, lack of sleep, etc.) affecting your ability to function? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, as they discuss ways to manage or eliminate the stressors that are impacting your well-being.;
Are you struggling to get enough sleep each night? Maybe you have difficulty falling and staying asleep. You can't get comfortable. You feel anxious and your brain just won't shut off. According to the Sleep Foundation, over one-third of adults in the U.S. sleep for less than seven hours a night. Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, in this episode of "Mind Your Mind," as they discuss how insomnia can affect many other areas of your life, as well as practical tips to improve your sleep hygiene.;