Why Children are Never Too Young For Therapy

four children standing next to each other
four children standing next to each other

It’s important to recognize that therapy doesn’t have an age limit.

While the idea of children undergoing therapy may raise eyebrows for some, the truth is that addressing mental and emotional well-being from a young age can be a transformative and empowering experience. 

Early Intervention = Lasting Results

Just as we prioritize regular check-ups for physical health, the same principle applies to mental health. 

Early intervention allows therapists to identify and address potential issues before they become more deeply rooted. By working through challenges early on, children can develop healthy coping mechanisms that will serve them well into adulthood.

Building Emotional Resilience

Childhood is a time of rapid emotional development. 

Therapy provides children with a safe and nurturing environment to explore and understand their emotions. Learning to navigate feelings such as anxiety, sadness, or anger with the guidance of a trained professional equips children with the emotional resilience needed to face future challenges.

Navigating Life Transitions

Children, like adults, experience various life transitions—whether it’s moving to a new school, the birth of a new sibling, or parents that are divorcing. Therapy can be instrumental in helping children navigate these changes, providing them with tools to adapt and grow in the face of uncertainty.

Fostering Healthy Communication Skills

Effective communication is a pillar of healthy relationships. 

Therapy offers a space where children can express themselves freely and learn how to articulate their thoughts and feelings. Developing strong communication skills early on sets the stage for better interpersonal relationships in the future.

Addressing Behavioral Concerns

Some children may exhibit behavioral issues that can be challenging for parents and educators to understand and manage. 

Therapy can uncover the underlying causes of such behaviors and offer strategies to address them constructively. It’s important to view behavioral challenges as growth opportunities rather than indicators of a child being “too young” for therapy.

Supporting Parents and Caregivers

Therapy isn’t just for the child; it’s also a resource for parents and caregivers. Professionals can offer guidance on effective parenting strategies, help manage expectations, and support the entire family unit.

Creating a Stigma-Free Environment

Normalizing therapy from a young age helps break down the stigma associated with seeking mental health support. When children grow up understanding the value of emotional well-being, they are more likely to continue prioritizing their mental health as they enter adolescence and adulthood.

The 5 Benefits to Family Therapy

A healthy decision to make as a family is the decision to embark on the journey of family therapy. Family therapy can help your family to understand and appreciate each other better. 

Here are five benefits that family therapy can offer.

  • Improved and Effective Communication

Family therapy provides a structured and supportive environment for family members to express their thoughts and feelings. 

One of the biggest foundations in all relationships is having good communication. In a family that is struggling, a therapist can help identify communication patterns, improve listening skills, and facilitate healthier ways for family members to interact with each other. 

This enhanced communication can lead to better understanding and empathy among family members, which will make everyone happier.

  • Conflict Resolution

Families often face conflicts and disagreements. 

In family therapy, these conflicts are addressed and resolved by identifying their underlying causes. A therapist can guide the family in finding constructive ways to manage and resolve conflicts, fostering a more harmonious and supportive family dynamic.

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills

Family therapy equips family members with problem-solving strategies and coping mechanisms. 

Families can develop effective problem-solving skills that extend beyond the therapy sessions by working together to identify and address challenges. This can lead to a more resilient and adaptable family unit.

  • To Understand and Be Understood

Being understood is one of the greatest feelings. Attending family therapy encourages a deeper understanding of each family member’s perspective, experiences, and needs. 

This understanding can reduce misconceptions and promote empathy within the family. By exploring individual and collective experiences, families can develop a greater appreciation for each other’s uniqueness and strengths. 

  • Building Stronger Relationships

Family therapy aims to strengthen family bonds and relationships. 

Family members can develop a sense of connection and unity by fostering a supportive environment. Through therapy, families can work on rebuilding trust, improving intimacy, and creating a foundation for healthier relationships.

Benefit from Family Therapy Today

It’s important to note that the benefits of family therapy can vary depending on the specific issues being addressed and the commitment of family members to the therapeutic process. People have to want to change—this cannot be forced. 

Additionally, the skills and insights gained in family therapy can extend beyond the family unit. This can have a positive impact on individual well-being and relationships outside the family.

For more information about family therapy or questions, contact the experienced therapists at Psychological Preventative Health today!

5 Tips For Couples Going Into Therapy

Relationships are hard.

A healthy marriage is a lot of work; sometimes, you need some help. If you are working to create a healthy relationship with your partner, the following tips will help you achieve better results.

Tip: Be Yourself

Many people feel pressured to hide flaws or pretend to be the perfect partner.

It can be frightening to share your thoughts and feelings in therapy, but this is essential to any healthy relationship. Hiding your true self to your partner may seem like a good idea initially because you want them to see an “ideal” version of you, but it can damage your long-term relationship.

Being true to yourself will help you build intimacy and create a deeper connection. 

Tip: Be Honest

In marriage therapy, don’t lie to the therapist.

You might feel tempted to lie in therapy to avoid embarrassment or to prevent hurt feelings. However, even the best couples therapy techniques may not help if you aren’t honest.

Avoid these impulses by expressing your true feelings—even when difficult. The truth may be difficult to hear, but it is the only way to determine what you and your partner need to work on.

Tip: Share Your Goals

Before getting too deep into therapy, you and your partner should discuss your relationship goals. These goals can help you to stay on track, monitor your progress, and help you both to stay on the same page. 

Some common goals to have are:

  • Improved ways of communication
  • Healthier ways to resolve conflict
  • Finding the root causes of conflict

Tip: Active Listening

You should not only share your feelings and thoughts but also take the time to explain them.

After you explain yourself, make sure to actively listen to your partner when they are ready to express their point of view. It’s easy to get defensive; however, try understanding your partner’s perspective. Research consistently shows that active listening can greatly improve relationships.

You can show interest in what your partner has to say by being engaged in what they say. For example, nod along to statements or stare at them as they speak. 

Tip: Ask Questions

Along with listening, ask questions. Asking the right questions can help you understand what your partner says or where they are coming from.

When asking questions, wait until your spouse is done talking first. This way, it shows that you care and validate their emotions. It also shows that you’re interested in learning more about them.

How Does Trauma Affect The Brain?

Trauma can have a profound impact on the brain, affecting both its structure and function. When an individual experiences trauma, their brain’s response mechanisms can significantly alter. This often results in heightened stress responses, with the amygdala becoming overactive, leading to increased anxiety and hypervigilance.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to something that has happened—like physical, emotional, or life-threatening harm.

It’s normal for most people to experience trauma; however, the main difference for people with trauma-related mental health problems is difficulty moving on with their lives.

Trauma knows no bounds—whether it is age, gender, or socioeconomic status. And as common as trauma is, many don’t realize how much it truly affects you from the inside out.

How Trauma Changes The Brain’s Chemistry

For the mind and body to function properly, the different parts of the brain need the ability to communicate. However, when a part of the brain changes due to trauma, it becomes a catalyst for other problems to arise.

The hippocampus, a critical memory and emotional regulation region, can shrink in response to chronic stress and trauma. This can impair memory formation and make it more challenging to process and cope with the emotions associated with the traumatic event.

Also, the prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and impulse control, can be affected by trauma. This can result in difficulties in regulating emotions and making rational choices. Additionally, some individuals may develop dissociative symptoms, where their sense of self becomes disconnected from their surroundings, impacting brain regions related to self-awareness and perception.

Furthermore, neurotransmitter balance can be disrupted—affecting mood regulation and reward processing. These alterations contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Trauma may also heighten sensory processing, increasing sensitivity and flashbacks triggered by sensory cues.

In severe trauma cases, PTSD can lead to specific brain function and structure changes. Disruptions in brain networks, such as the default mode network, may result in intrusive thoughts and a persistent sense of danger. Connectivity between brain regions involved in emotional processing and memory can also become disrupted.

Some trauma survivors may experience distortions in their perception of time, feeling as though the traumatic event is continually happening or struggling to organize past and present experiences. 

The Impact of Trauma

It’s important to remember that not everyone who experiences trauma will develop lasting brain changes or mental health conditions. 

Resilience, social support, and timely intervention can mitigate the long-term impact of trauma on the brain, and therapeutic approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication can help individuals cope with and recover from trauma-related brain changes and associated psychological symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced trauma and needs trauma therapy, contact the professionals at Psychological Preventative Health today.

Does Medicare Cover Mental Health Services?

Often, individuals will opt out of mental health services because of money. They think that they cannot afford it. However, there are different ways you can afford the care you need. Medicare covers many of the costs for various mental health care services. This can be outpatient and inpatient at a general or psychiatric hospital. Medicare is a great option; however, it’s important to be aware that these benefits are subject to limitations—such as copayments, coinsurance, and lifetime maximums.

Medicare Coverage

Medicare provides coverage for both inpatient and outpatient mental health care. Additionally, Medicare prescription drug plans include coverage for medications used to treat mental health conditions. It’s important to review the formulary to ensure that the specific brands and dosages you require are covered.

  • Medicare Part B

Under Medicare Part B, outpatient mental health care is covered and includes a range of services such as:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Treatment for substance use disorders
  • Diagnostic tests to ensure appropriate care
  • Occupational therapy
  • Activity therapies like art, dance, or music therapy
  • Training and education related to your condition
  • Family counseling as part of your treatment
  • Laboratory tests
  • Prescription drugs that necessitate administration by a medical professional, like injections
  • An annual depression screening

Before beginning services, confirm with your healthcare provider whether they accept Medicare insurance. Providers who don’t accept Medicare might require you to bear the full cost of care. 

  • Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A encompasses inpatient mental health care coverage, whether in a psychiatric hospital or a general hospital. 

Your healthcare provider determines the appropriate hospital setting. If care is provided in a psychiatric hospital setting, Medicare covers up to 190 days of inpatient care over your lifetime. If you’ve used up your lifetime days but require further mental health care, Medicare may cover care received in a general hospital.

  • Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D covers most prescription drugs used to treat mental health conditions. 

Your Part D coverage might be through a Medicare Advantage Plan or a stand-alone Part D plan. All Part D plans are required to provide coverage for at least two drugs from most drug categories and all drugs within specific categories, including antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.

Providing Medicare Covered Therapy

Here at PPH, we have a number of different licensed professionals who offer Medicare covered therapy sessions. Contact us today to learn more about our services and treatment options!

The Diversity Amongst Back-To-School Students

By: Katie Walker |

 
It’s time for school…again.
 
For most parents out there this is a return to schedule, structure, and knowing the kids are in what they hope is a safe place for hours of the day. For some kids its a return to friends, structure, and learning which most enjoy. Today’s blog is about every instance in between. This means the kids who dread school for fear of bullying, rejection, power struggles with teachers, being labeled, compared, and feeling school only makes it worse.
 
Also, this is for the kids who love school because it’s consistent, provides safe expectations of what to do and what needs to be done, it’s an escape from what could be an unsafe home. Having worked with kids and teens for almost 10 years now – all of these groupings of kids exist and there are some not mentioned. What I hope this blog can be is a quick reminder of the diversity of experiences the kids and teens heading back to school are going through as well as a reminder to be kind. 
 

Types of Students

1. Kids and teens who are excited and ready for school – these friends come together in this grouping for many reasons. These friends are ready to learn and really enjoy the process of learning. These friends are the kids ready to be out of their homes to hang out with friends more. These are also the kids ready to be away from their home because home is unsafe, unstable, and unpredictable. When you come across these kids don’t doubt their sincerity and don’t downplay their excitement. Welcome their energy to the classroom. 

2. Kids and teens who are dreading school – again, these friends are here for many different reasons. One can be that school doesn’t feel like it fits their needs – these can be kids with adhd, autism, depression, developmental disorders; kids who don’t feel they fit the school expectation mold and school doesn’t seem to have the ability to meet their individual needs. This can cycle the kid or teen through feelings of incompetence, rejection, embarrassment, shame – emotions and thoughts that do not help anyone thrive. If you come across these kids – welcome them, help them feel capable and needed. 
 
This group of kids and teens are also those who have dealt with bullying, assault, mistreatment in the school arena and returning to it can feel traumatizing. Their reality needs to be seen and handled with kindness as well. These are kids who may end up in the counselor’s office; missing a lot of school; “acting out” in classes and the hallways; and much more. Keep an eye out for these kids too, they just want to feel seen and heard. To feel cared for. 
 
3. Kids and teens who mask their inner world – these are the friends who “seem” fine and “seem” able to be at school, do their homework, get the extracurriculars done and don’t “make a fuss.” I use quotation marks to denote that things are not always okay and to expect kids and teens to always be okay is unrealistic and unfair. 
 
Kids and teens need to be able to be authentic, to be silly, goofy, express their innerworld, and to speak up when things are not okay. Kids and teens who mask are really masters at self-control because they got the message at some point to not make a stir, or a fuss, or to draw attention. 
 
These kids and teens sometimes have outbursts that surprise teachers, friends, and family – this is because they are trying so hard to be what they were told is “good” but their emotions, feelings, and thoughts must come out. Let kids and teens be authentic. Open their expression of self into the classroom and be grateful when they share. 
 

Final Thoughts

Now, I imagine there are more groupings of kids we could come up with. However, this gets almost all of them. If you have time, scroll back through this post and consider those groups as people in college; people in the workplace; your colleagues; your neighbors; people in your congregation or community. If we can see that everyone is dealing with something and we choose to be kind rather than assessing and judging; life could be more bearable. 
 
For you kids and teens returning to school – good luck and be kind. For the rest of us – be kind. 

8 Effective Tips for Adolescent Therapy

Adolescence is a whirlwind phase in life characterized by rapid physical, emotional, and psychological changes. It’s a time of self-discovery, identity formation, and establishing one’s place in the world. However, it can also be a challenging period marked by uncertainty, peer pressure, and roller coaster emotions. 

As parents, caregivers, and mental health professionals, supporting adolescents through this critical stage is essential to their overall well-being. 

1. Establish a Safe and Trusting Environment

First of all, at PPH Therapy we create a safe space for adolescents to express themselves openly without fear of judgment. 

Therapy sessions are welcoming, confidential, and non-critical. Adolescents often feel vulnerable during this time, so building trust with our therapist is essential to the success of therapy.

Additionally, as parents, your teens should be able to come to you for anything. Create an open, accepting environment; allow them to be free to say whatever they want without lectures or reprimands. 

2. Focus on Active Listening

Listening actively and empathetically is a cornerstone of effective adolescent therapy. 

Please allow them to voice their concerns, fears, and dreams, and refrain from interrupting or imposing adult perspectives. By truly hearing their experiences, you can gain insights into their inner world and develop appropriate interventions.

3. Validate Their Emotions

Adolescents experience many emotions, and validating what they’re going through is essential. Even if their emotions seem irrational, acknowledging their feelings as real and significant fosters a sense of self-worth. They’ll feel seen and understood.

4. Encourage Self-Expression 

Not all adolescents are comfortable expressing themselves verbally. 

Therefore, be open to alternative forms of expression, such as art therapy, music therapy, or writing. Engaging in these creative outlets can help adolescents process their emotions and experiences in a non-threatening manner.

5. Address Identity and Self-Esteem Issues

Adolescence is a time when young individuals seek to define their identity and sense of self. Therapy can be a safe place to explore questions of identity, self-esteem, and self-worth. Encourage adolescents to discover their strengths and values while gently challenging negative self-perceptions.

6. Address Peer Relationships and Social Challenges

Peer relationships play a significant role in an adolescent’s life, often bringing joy and stress. Discussing friendship dynamics, conflict resolution, and social challenges can help adolescents develop healthier relationship patterns and coping strategies.

7. Cultivate Resilience and Coping Skills

Helping adolescents build resilience and effective coping mechanisms is vital. Teach them how to deal with stress, setbacks, and disappointments constructively. This will empower them to face life’s challenges more confidently.

8. Normalize Seeking Help

Many adolescents may hesitate to seek therapy, fearing it makes them “different” or “weak.” So, normalize the idea of seeking help for mental health, just as they would for physical health. Emphasize that therapy is a tool for personal growth, not a sign of weakness.

6 Reasons To Go To Couples Therapy

Maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship requires effort, communication, and understanding. However, even the strongest partnerships encounter challenges and conflicts that can strain the bond between partners. 

When difficulties arise, seeking professional help through couples therapy can provide invaluable guidance and support. If you and your partner are considering therapy, here are six reasons to inspire you.

1. Enhancing Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills

One of the fundamental pillars of a successful relationship is effective communication.

Couples therapy offers a safe and neutral environment where couples can learn and practice healthier ways to express their needs, concerns, and emotions. Therapists provide invaluable tools and techniques to improve communication skills, such as active listening, assertiveness, and empathy. 

In this space, couples can reduce misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and deepen their connection by learning to communicate more effectively.

2. Gaining a Deeper Understanding of Each Other

One of the best things about couples therapy is that it facilitates a deeper understanding of one another’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. 

Skilled therapists guide couples through conversations that uncover underlying issues, past traumas, and unmet needs. This increased awareness fosters empathy, compassion, and a greater appreciation for each other’s experiences. By gaining insight into their partner’s inner world, couples can strengthen their emotional connection and build a more solid foundation for their relationship.

3. Strengthening Relationship Bonds

Relationships evolve, which means couples need to nurture their bond continuously. 

In couples therapy, partners can rediscover what initially drew them together and reignite the spark that may have diminished over time. Therapists guide couples in developing shared goals, interests, and values, fostering a sense of partnership and teamwork. Couples can build a resilient and enduring connection by investing in their relationship through therapy.

4. Resolving Long-standing Issues

Unresolved issues and resentments can create a significant strain on a relationship. 

Couples therapy provides a structured and supportive environment for addressing these long-standing concerns. Therapists assist couples in identifying the root causes of conflicts and guiding them toward effective resolution. This process promotes forgiveness, healing, and a sense of closure, allowing couples to move forward with a renewed sense of harmony.

5. Strengthening Emotional and Mental Well-being

Relationship difficulties can take a toll on individuals’ emotional and mental well-being. 

Couples therapy focuses on the relationship itself and offers support for individual growth. Therapists help partners develop self-awareness, self-esteem, and coping strategies to manage stress and emotional challenges. As individuals experience personal growth, they bring a healthier and more balanced self to the relationship, benefiting both partners.

6. Preventing Future Issues

Couples therapy is not solely reserved for relationships in distress; engaging in therapy as a preventative measure can be incredibly beneficial. 

In therapy, couples can prevent lingering issues from escalating into significant challenges by addressing minor concerns early on. Additionally, couples therapy equips partners with tools to effectively navigate future conflicts and maintain a healthy relationship in the long term.

34th Annual Boston International Trauma Conference | Part 4

By: Katie Walker |

 
Here we are at the end of the journey and I promise, at least for me, the full saga is not anywhere near over. We were reminded multiple times these past 4 days that a therapist who wants to be of help to their clients/patients will always keep learning to provide the best possible care. The next thing they shared after education is for each therapist in attendance to make sure they are actively doing their own therapy to again, be able to provide the best possible care. 
 
This morning was 3 brilliant individuals who have been adding to the trauma field in their own ways for decades. 
 
1. Dante Cicchetti PhD (https://icd.umn.edu/people/cicchett/) – Discussed the consequences of child maltreatment from the perspective of developmental psychopathology and with research evidence of what affects children, teens. He defined child maltreatment as anything from abuses, neglect of all kinds, divorce, fighting in family, homelessness, and much more. He has decades of research that discuss options for how to treat and look at ways to support the healing of children and teenagers. He looked originally at groups of people in the middle socio-economic status (SES) and said child maltreatment was very, very prevalent with them. He shared that it was and still is not only the lower SES that experiences trauma due to poverty and other environmental factors but that the middle SES has at times more covert maltreatment as well because of societal expectations. Anyway, his work makes a lot of sense to me as I’ve seen it in practice *and* experienced some personally. Take a look at his website if you are interested in more. Or they even mentioned in the conference to Google Scholar his name and you’ll find dozens of articles. 
 
2. Diana Fosha PhD (https://aedpinstitute.org/faculty/diana-fosha-phd) – Treating attachment trauma with AEDP. She has created a therapy practice called Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) which is an empirically supported model that gives patients corrective emotional and relational experiences that mobilize changes in the brain. Whew, that was a mouthful. Essentially what I gathered is she has done research both through scientific methods and through hands on practice that incorporates a focus on secure, healthy attachments. She shared that sometimes when we go to therapy we are getting the first healthy attachment in our life and it can be new, overwhelming, scary *and* healing, transformative, and empowering. This really spoke to me as I completely agree and support the idea that as therapists we need more compassion and attunement in sessions with our clients to help them. Again, check out her name, work and when you are searching for a therapist ask if they know AEDP is this felt right for you!
 
3. Matthew Fleischman PhD (https://www.neurofeedbackadvocacyproject.com) – Treatment of developmental trauma for children with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a tremendous treatment option that is noninvasive that has amazing research outcomes that as far as they know are long lasting. Neurofeedback has been around since the 1980s and the research as well as practice of it has increased significantly. I don’t know how to explain this treatment, only to share that I have had Clients go and do neurofeedback then return to therapy with me greatly improved. It’s important to note that sometimes the unknown could feel scary. However, making a plan with your therapist to get you into neurofeedback can help you feel empowered in making choices for your life. I know for people close to Layton Utah there are a group of neurofeedback practitioners that do good work. Here is a direct link to the neurofeedback advocacy project website that explains what it is. You can also explore the website and find more information. (https://www.neurofeedbackadvocacyproject.com/about-nfb)
 
4. Adriana Barton (https://adrianabarton.com) – “Wired for Music” is a book she has written and a cumulative report of information gathered across multiple disciplines to discuss how important music and rhythm are to our lives. She discussed music and rhythm and how they stimulate social and biological processes involved in psychological healing. “Throughout human history, music has been used as medicine. Drawing from neuroscience, anthropology and evolutionary biology, [her] book explores how a music habit can enhance everyday life, from moods and memory to social relationships and the age-old search for meaning.” This was an excerpt from her website and was reiterated in the workshop. She shared, “musical rhythms, brainwave entrainment and neurochemicals [were] discussed in relation to music’s evolutionary role as a ‘social glue,’ demonstrated to increase feelings of trust and interpersonal connection.” This showed me that when a kid or teenager talks to me about how music helps them – I need to validate them and include more music opportunities in my sessions. 
 
It’s been so great to take you all through what I have learned. I promise, if you are reading these as a person looking for therapy – call our office. There is hope. If you are a fellow therapist or teacher, or someone who loves kids and people – call our office. We are with you. If you happen to be a policy maker and want to know what to do you help our area – please call our office. *We can do more to help people.*
 

34TH ANNUAL BOSTON INTERNATIONAL TRAUMA CONFERENCE | PART 3

By: Katie Walker |

 
Come with me for day by day takeaways on the latest and greatest in trauma treatment: 
 

34th Annual Boston International Trauma Conference (https://traumaresearchfoundation.org)

 
Today was amazing. There is so much that has been going on in the neurobiological and neuroscientific research of trauma injuries, trauma, and methods to help heal trauma. Since it was a lot of science lingo I cannot do justice here in a blog I am going to provide names, some of their research topics, and websites. It will be up to you to either take my word for it that there is a tremendous battery of research available and still being done to understand the brain and the impact emotions and trauma have on it; or do some of your own reading (highly recommending you discover it for yourself too!). 
Very, very similar in the afternoon session was experiential innovations in treatment of trauma. Those exercises are best learned through doing so I will provide names and some websites then please discover the magic on your own. 
 
1. Bessel van der Kolk M.D. (https://www.besselvanderkolk.comhttps://traumaresearchfoundation.org) – Provided an overview of the past 3 decades of trauma research and trauma explorations. He has hundreds of published research articles; podcast interviews; teachings; trainings; recorded interviews; dozens of books. 
2. Kerry J. Ressler M.D, PhD (https://www.mcleanhospital.org/profile/kerry-resslerhttp://www.resslerlab.com/kerry-ressler.html) – Has done a tremendous amount of research on the neuroscience of fear and PTSD. He has information about how trauma impacts all of our sensory systems. This work is really important for helping us be able to gain understanding of how trauma also can impact our genetics from generation to generation. 
3. Martin H. Teicher M.D, PhD (https://www.mcleanhospital.org/profile/martin-teicherhttps://www.bbrfoundation.org/about/people/martin-h-teicher-md-phd) – Shared a brief reaction and addendum to Kerry Ressler’s talk. Martin Teicher is one of the founding researchers to look at the biological impact of developmental trauma on the brain at different ages and stages of life. 
4. Tania Singer PhD (https://taniasinger.dehttps://taniasinger.de/the-resource-project/https://humanize.com/#weglot_switcher) – She gave a review of what was shared on Day 1; go check it out again! 🙂 Her work could change things for society. 
5. Ronald D Siegel PsyD (https://drronsiegel.comhttps://www.chacmc.org/ronald-siegel) – He discussed some of the mindfulness work from Day 1. However, in this talk he went into mindfulness, compassion & psychedelic-assisted therapy and how evoking “non-ordinary” states can deeply benefit trauma treatment. Okay, I have a pretty open mind to drugs when they are used in a trained, healthy, purposeful way. The research they discussed is extremely promising for healing. 
 
In the afternoon there were 3 different people/groups discussing specific treatments and interventions:
1. Bethany Brand PhD (https://bethanybrand.com) – Finding Solid Ground…even with the most dissociated individuals! Bethany has increased the amount of research and proof of positive treatment outcomes for people living with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and other dissociative and traumatized disorders. She reported that until she began her research that the most recent research prior to hers was from the 70s and 80s. She has created a treatment workbook and there is a companion book as well. I promise I’m not getting paid to share this; but here is a link to Amazon where you can find the book then the workbook is the same title with the work “workbook” after it (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0190636084/?coliid=I1CJH0ZW8TL8R&colid=1BNGF7R4MAIIP&psc=1&ref_=list_c_wl_gv_ov_lig_pi_dp). As a therapist who did not learn enough about DID in any of my schooling; if sharing this book knowing that treatment options are available to learn – I want to let everyone know. If there are treatment options for groups of people who need help and are underserved; I’m more than happy to name resources. 
2. Licia Sky (https://liciasky.com/index.html) – Embodied self awareness, identity, multigenerational stories, and the emergent process of healing. Licia is a gentle, kind, embodied soul. She has spent decades learning about and sharing the power of movement. She has shared the healing knowledge that our bodies already possess but through life and different circumstances we have stopped listening to our bodies. If you follow the link to her website that will take you directly to videos of practice. I know at least for me when I include body work in my healing, life journey that I feel so much wholeness. 
3. Andres Gonzalez, Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Cathy Malchiodi PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT (https://holisticlifefoundation.orghttps://www.cathymalchiodi.com) – Empowering communities to heal trauma. Okay, this one just amazed me. I work with almost all ages, but lately I’ve been working most with kids and teens. This work Andres, Ali, and Atman have been doing for 20+ years is truly inspired. They have worked with kids and teens in schools to teach them regulation skills that, through the years, have shown to improve outcomes for those they work with. They are based in Baltimore, MD and have seen over 100,000 (per their website) kids and teens not end up in prison, in gangs, detention; being the first in their family to graduate high school. Please check out the website above – this is the Holistic Life Foundation. If you are a therapist or someone reading this in Utah – our state could *greatly* benefit from bringing this to our kids and teens in school. We need to do better taking care of our kids and teenagers and this could be a good option. Cathy Malchiodi is an expressive arts therapist; experiential work. She has years of working with people and communities. She has done some work with Holistic Life and has years of her own work and treatment tools. She is definitely worth checking out as well. 

34th ANNUAL BOSTON INTERNATIONAL TRAUMA CONFERENCE | Part 2

By: Katie Walker |

 
Come with me for day by day takeaways on the latest and greatest in trauma treatment: 
 

34th Annual Boston International Trauma Conference (https://traumaresearchfoundation.org)

 
Okay today was like drinking from a fire hydrant – but completely refreshing and so worth it. I attended three sessions today and have a lot to share. Before I get in to it here are the topics I will be writing on: 
 

1. Conversations about SMART Implementation Across Cultures.

Featuring Elizabeth Warner, Alexandra Cook, Anne Westcott, Heather Finn, Alicia Hu, Mei Ling Hu, Kasey Pendexter, and Mari Kjølseth Braein. (https://smartmovespartners.com

SMART is a form of body focused therapy currently focused on children and teens however there are current projects exploring what this could look like for adults. SMART stands for Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Therapy. 

 

2. IFS and Addictions. 

 
Looking into a different way to treat, talk about, and thinking about addictions. 
 

3. Keynote Talk: Psychological Trauma Underlying Mental Processes.

 
These two men have created a different way to consider trauma, healing, and the human experience. For me personally they have changed the way I am a therapist and the way that I relate to myself and others. 
 
Okay – now that was a lot. It’s just getting good though so feel free to skip ahead or read through each description! 
 

1. Conversations about SMART Implementation Across Cultures.

Featuring Elizabeth Warner, Alexandra Cook, Anne Westcott, Heather Finn, Alicia Hu, Mei Ling Hu, Kasey Pendexter, and Mari Kjølseth Braein. (https://smartmovespartners.com)
 
This conversation started off with different members of the group sharing some basics about SMART method for therapy. SMART stands for Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Therapy. This therapy takes three threads of treatment: somatic regulation, trauma processing, and attachment building; works on them in the therapeutic relationship and hopes to build the individual kid’s window of tolerance. There is a hierarchy of development that SMART uses to inform priorities and treatment options. This hierarchy looks at a child’s development from sensory processing foundations up through 6 levels to integrated engagement with the whole self in the emotional, motor, cognitive, and social areas. 
 
Though this conference session was aimed at helping therapists see how this could be used across a multitude of cultures – the highlights I want to share can be seen as benefits to finding a therapist for yourself, your child, or teen that includes SMART methods. 
 
There are 7 tools they draw from: tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, sensation satiation, combining inputs, rhythmicity, and safe space. These tools are sensory systems; can be seen in occupational therapy, play therapy, and somatic experiencing type therapies. Also though with a little google search you can access ideas to help while you find therapy to help bring everything together in a coherent way. 
 
More important things: 
 
1. All children and teens need to move to find that “just right” space; their safe space.
2. Tending to safety is a priority in the process which models what most children and teens miss in the home environment in different ways.
3. This model can allow for attachment security and create attachment bonds so the child and teen can experience examples in vivo of regulation and repair.
4. When trying to adapt SMART for different cultures and communities there needs to be participation of members of that community in learning and teaching to provide the best understanding. one example here was that SMART has been adapted for the deaf and hard of hearing community and seen tremendous success in finding regulation for kids and teens. 
5. Both therapists, teachers, parents all need to understand that children know what they need; they need us as the adults to slow down and listen.
 
Again – amazing work, amazing therapy offering. This blurb does not do it justice. It is worth learning more. 
 

2. IFS and Addictions. 

 
Looking into a different way to treat, talk about, and thinking about addictions. 
 

I have a love love relationship with IFS (Internal Family Systems). A very, very brief overview of this therapy is that all of us have a core “Self” that is considered: compassionate, curious, creative, confident, calm, clear, courageous, and connected. This “Self” is who we really are underneath different “parts” that developed in almost extreme ways to help us or the “Self” cope with something traumatic or dysfunctional. “Parts” come in three categories and those categories can have multiple different behaviors, attitudes, thoughts that come with them. 

There are “exile parts” that are parts of us that have been hurt, traumatized, sad; they are exiled because our system wants to protect us from danger, discomfort, and to keep us safe.  There are “manager parts” that rush in the extreme to make sure the exiles never get triggered. An example of a “manager” would be an internal critic – the critic’s job is to make sure we don’t do things that trigger the exile and that voice comes with a lot of shame typically. Then there are “firefighter parts”; these are parts that rush in when an “exile” breaks through a “manager”‘s efforts and will do anything to decrease the emotion, thought, hurt by any means. These means can be addiction, daily behaviors (shopping, distracting, avoiding), self-harm, and suicide. These “firefighters” do anything to keep us safe and safety comes to mean that our exiles don’t feel hurt anymore. 

 
I admit that at times this can sound really suspect. There are parts of me that want me to be safe and happy but do it by keeping the hard stuff locked away? Well – it’s real. I’ve experienced it as I have worked with Clients helping them discover, learn and care for their parts as well as doing my own work. 
 
How this relates to addiction – in most areas, America especially – addiction is seen as a moral failing. However, when you talk to anyone who uses or has addictions, behaviors they use to escape – the things people are escaping return to the “exile parts”; shame, trauma, bullying, fighting with parents and so much more. 
 
When we choose to see addictions as parts that are trying to protect us from emotional and mental harm; there is a tremendous increase in compassion to ourselves and the efforts we make. If we adopted this mentality locally, nationally – there would be more healthy people in recovery. We would see people seeming rested, kind. 
 
There is *so* much more here. I’ll leave this session with the title of Dick Schwartz’s last book, there are “No Bad Parts.” 
 

3. Keynote Talk: Psychological Trauma Underlying Mental Processes.

Gabor Mate (https://drgabormate.com) and Richard Schwartz (https://ifs-institute.com/about-us/richard-c-schwartz-phd)

These two men have created a different way to consider trauma, healing, and the human experience. For me personally they have changed the way I am a therapist and the way that I relate to myself and others. 

 
I have almost too much good I can say about Gabor Mate and his work. He has a tremendous amount of research, work, and experience he brings into the trauma field. Today’s talk was about the impact of stress, trauma, and emotional turmoil on the physical body. 
 
He shared about how his years as a family doctor showed him that the questions doctors don’t ask are truly the real reason why we are all sick. Some of the questions he mentioned are about our childhood trauma; experiences of loss; how daily family life is; environmental concerns. He shared significant clinical experiences showing the correlation of increased stress with increased inflammation in the body and when we dismiss or shove our emotions down then our own immune system will become depressed. When the immune system becomes depressed we are more likely to become ill. One metaphorical example he shared was that emotions, especially healthy anger are a boundary marker for us of what is okay and not okay. However he compared the literal purpose of our immune system to that it is a boundary of what gets to come in and stays out of our body. 
 
He draws together impressive evidence of a literal mind/body connection that is at play within us daily. To learn more check out his website listed above, podcast interviews he has done, as well as any of his books (The Myth of Normal is the most current one). 
 
Now, it was great to hear from Dick Schwartz again. In this talk what he shared was very similar to the session earlier in the day. He added on the implications of IFS being used at a systemic level to facilitate large scale healing and resolution. Some of these large scale examples he gave were: group therapies, conflict resolution, mediation, legacy burdens, activism, companies, group therapies. He shared that there is more than enough evidence that groups, people, cultures, employees just want to be witnessed. This idea of IFS being used in systems could bring us miraculous outcomes. 
 
Phew – that’s today! Check back tomorrow for more information about conference sessions and then a bonus workshop just for understanding traumatized kids. 

34th Annual Boston International Trauma Conference | Part 1

By: Katie Walter |

Come with me for day by day takeaways on the latest and greatest in trauma treatment: 

34th Annual Boston International Trauma Conference (https://traumaresearchfoundation.org)

This year I am attending the conference from the comfort of my living room and home office 🙂 And…it is completely worth it! The conference this year is 4 days of amazing information from researchers and practitioners that continue to create the best treatment options for individuals living with trauma and those of us who work in the trauma field. 

Today I attended “From Empathic Distress to Compassion: Building Resilience in the Face of Trauma” with Tania Singer (https://taniasinger.de) and Ronald Siegel (https://drronsiegel.com)

They discussed research that is helping to train peoples’ minds to improve three things: 

  1. attention & mindfulness (through breathing meditations and body scans)
  2. care & compassion (through loving kindness meditations and dyad exercises)
  3. cognitive perspective taking & theory of mind (through dyad exercises and observing-thoughts meditations)

A few interesting things they brought up early on is that attention & mindfulness are self oriented  skills. Care & compassion are self and other oriented skills (about relating to others and relationships). Cognitive perspective taking is a self and other oriented skill that is called “meta” meaning that you work on thinking about how you and others are thinking. 

The main research study here can be found on Tania Singer’s website (https://taniasinger.de) under the menu topic ReSource Project. This study was conducted for at least a year and phases were done in person as well as virtually because part of the study occurred while Germany was in lock down d/t COVID 19. Two things she shared from this study was seeing that the brain actually thickens, grows, and shows improvements in people who were doing the training. The parts that grow play a role in empathy, care and compassion. Second thing – that  peoples’ capacity and tolerance for social situations increases. 

Now, for those of us living with trauma this may sound great but very overwhelming. When it comes to tools, resources, and healing therapy is still a great way to go. Finding a therapist who will work with you, be patient, listen to you and provide some gentle guidance; all good things. One timeline for healing with improving feeling and sensation in the body as well as ability to name those things was 6-9 months with help. 

Okay, cutting this short here because really; this is better learned and done together. Head over to the Meet Our Team tab and see if anyone of us feel like a good fit to help you in healing from trauma and learning to find compassion for yourself. 

Come back tomorrow where I will be writing about “How to incorporate Neurofeedback into Trauma Treatment – Latest Developments”; “IFS and Addictions” … and possibly more! 

Common Misconceptions About Seeking Therapy

There was a lot of stigma surrounding topics like mental illness and addiction. Fortunately, nowadays, people are much more open about seeking the help they need. 

Here in Ogden and Salt Lake City, therapy can be used to treat many mental conditions, including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But, of course, you don’t have to have any of these specific conditions to seek therapy—anyone can meet with a therapist.

However, therapy can sometimes still get a bad rap. Some people might be too dependent on what they see on television or in fictional books, which causes a distorted view of what therapy is.

Even though a lot of information is available, it can be easy to fall for the misconceptions surrounding therapy.

Only “Crazy” People And Those With Big Problems Go To Therapy

First, “crazy” has many different connotations—sometimes, good ones. Secondly, it’s untrue.

If you are in a crisis, therapy can make a huge difference in your life. But you don’t need to suffer from a severe mental illness to get to therapy. Therapy clients often struggle with the same issues we all deal with daily: relationships, self-doubt and confidence, self-esteem, and work-life stress.

Therapy Is Like Talking To A Friend

It’s easy to see therapy as a conversation with a friend. Because with friends, you can share your feelings. And a good friend can be there for you during stress or emotional distress. 

However, therapy is very different from your relationships with family and friends. Your therapist is a trained professional who has learned the most effective evidence-based techniques to assist you in taking control of your mental health.

Also, your therapist will help you manage your emotions and challenge your negative thoughts, behaviors, and patterns. They will teach you how to build good relationships and avoid toxic ones. During your sessions, you’ll learn techniques to calm your emotions and stay grounded.

You Only Need One Session

Sometimes, movies make it seem like one session solves all the problems, but it doesn’t work in real life.

Here at Psychological Preventative Health, most of our sessions are scheduled for 55 minutes. And you can’t learn everything about someone in 55 minutes. Getting to the root of the problem will take many sessions.

Therapy Doesn’t Work

You might think therapy is a joke.

If you’re in a bad or dark place in your life, it can be difficult to imagine not feeling like this. However, therapy works and has made a huge difference in many lives.

Of course, it’s important to remember that therapy is a journey that’s unique to each individual. No two experiences will be the same. Therapy makes the most impact when you meet the right therapist who caters the best treatment for you.

Seek The Help You Need Today

If you want to take control of your life, schedule a session today!

With two convenient Utah locations—Salt Lake City and Ogden—Psychological Preventative Health is here for you. With our team of licensed SelectHeath professionals, you’re in good hands.

Back To School Therapy Tips To Help Transition

Help Yourself and Your Children Transition Back to School

This is a time of year when there are so many changes for kids, teens, and parents alike. Returning to school brings new and old friends, activities, learning, expectations, and grades. All of that is the added stress of social media, being a kid, family member, and parent.

Okay, writing that started to bring some flashbacks of school…phew! This post is hopefully going to provide ideas, tips, and general direction for kids, teens, and parents to help navigate the coming school year.

Mentally Prepare Yourself and Your Child for The School Year

Going into the school year is a big transition time and everyone involved in this process needs to be on the same page. The ideas to prepare and plan for our life skills, time commitments, education priorities, mental health, and play – giving them chances to be a kid. These things become complicated when expectations are kept silent or one-sided.

Taking time to break each of the above areas down will help parents and caregivers have an idea of how to help their kids and teens.

Priorities to Consider

Life skills examples include planning, organizing, cleaning, communication, boundaries, and responsibility.

male and female sit over young male smiling at a computer as the mom pats the boys head

Time commitment examples include sitting down together and going through all 168 hours you and your child have in one week. Consider all 24 hours in a day and really help them look at how their time is spent. Look for opportunities to have transition time between school, activities, and homework.

Education priority examples include everyone setting realistic expectations for performance.

Openly discussing learning ability, factors that can impact that, and really having an open min on both sides to accepting limits as well as pushing limits when appropriate.

Mental health is so crucial for kids and teens. The amount of stress, environmental factors, friends, bullies, and social media are all so much to handle. Managing times for breaks; discussing anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, and self-harm; support systems; and normalizing conversations and acceptance of these things can open so much in having your kid or teen come to you.

Play examples include time with friends, rest, fun activities, creativity, and using imagination.

older and younger female walk down a shrubbery path and the older woman has her arms around the younger child

With all the things to consider going into a new school year remember that everyone at home is going to have some high emotions during the first 6-8 weeks and then things hopefully will even out.

Keep in mind that home can become a safe place for kids and teens when they know, and trust parents are on their side with their best interests in mind. Invest the time now to be able to create a successful school year for everyone.

CBT, DBT, and ACT? What do these mean? How can they help?

Types of Behavioral Therapy for Mental Health

Here at psychological preventative health, we utilize evidence-based treatments to help you on your wellness journey.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) are examples of those treatment modalities.

This guide will help break down the main elements of CBT, DBT, and ACT.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

“People’s reactions always make sense once we know what they’re thinking” – Judith Beck

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment modality commonly used by mental health professionals. The premise behind CBT is the idea that psychological problems, or difficulty in mental wellness, might occur when a person has unhelpful ways of thinking that can lead to unhelpful patterns of behavior. The thoughts that occur may be in our awareness or they can occur subconsciously.

The goal of CBT is to identify negative core beliefs and automatic thoughts that interfere with our ability to function and find peace in everyday life and work towards a more positive self-image.

chart of cognitive behavioral therapy with circles and arrows going in a circle with the descriptions: thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical sensation

CBT is an ongoing process, so it does not end when the therapy session is complete. During the session, the client and therapist will work together to come up with ideas to help bring greater insight into the thoughts and feelings of the client throughout the week.

The client might journal, take notes about feelings and thoughts, read relevant books, and practice exercises that have been taught during the therapy session.

Who can benefit from CBT?

Cognitive Therapy has been found to be very effective in treating depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, and other mental illness.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

“Emotions are not good, bad, right, or wrong. The first step to changing our relationship to feelings is to be curious about them and the messages they send to us.” – Lane Pederson

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another treatment modality used in psychotherapy in individual or group settings. In DBT, therapists help clients gain greater flexibility in their thinking through skills training.

This is accomplished by synthesizing opposites – and finding a middle ground. So, rather than looking at things as black and white, we can find the grey in between.

Other skills addressed in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), include acceptance, distress tolerance, and interpersonal skills.

The client and therapist plan together ideas and activities that will work towards their goals.

This might look like completing a diary card daily and reviewing and practicing skills learned.

This also allows the client and therapist to process skills used during the following session.

Who can benefit from DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is helpful for anyone who becomes overwhelmed by intense feelings and emotions and also might engage in unwanted behaviors such as self-harming behavior, rage, anger, impulsive behavior, substance abuse, suicidality, or experiencing a lot of conflict in interpersonal relationships.

This technique is helpful for those suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and especially those diagnosed with personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.

What is Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

“What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.’’ – Carl Jung

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT – and pronounced as the word act) is yet another psychotherapy modality utilized at Psychological Preventative Health.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) works to allow people to move with all aspects of life, both the wonderful and the most difficult parts, by utilizing skills in mindfulness, goal orientation, and acceptance. In this treatment, acceptance is used to counteract avoidance.

darker photo of a therapist and patient with the therapist writing some notes and the patient looking down

While utilizing ACT, the therapist and client work together to identify personal values, goals, and practice re-directing your thoughts and behaviors to move towards your ideal.

A critical element to ACT is the application of skills discussed and practiced in between sessions. This may include journaling, worksheets, and other exercises to enhance the therapeutic learning experience.

Who can benefit from ACT?

ACT has been found to be effective in working with individuals who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and other behaviors that increase difficulty in life.

We’re here to help guide you on your wellness journey

Our caring clinicians at Psychological Preventative Health can help provide thoughtful and gentle guidance through the difficulties of life.

If you have any questions regarding your mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be more than happy to help you get the care, treatment, resources, and respect that you need and deserve. We look forward to serving you!

Dating 101-Why Doesn’t He Call Me Back?

Men are not as complicated as we think they are. And for that matter, neither are women. We

are just different, and while we understand we are different, no one ever really shows us how

much different we truly are. At PPH Therapy we teach you how to understand those unique

differences and how to take advantage of both individuals inherent differences instead of

making our lives more difficult. Biology shows that we are social creatures, we want

companionship and to be with other people. Often, we hear people say “I am fine to be alone, and that’s fine, however “I want to be alone forever”, is rarely stated.

The age-old complaint of men using women for sex and women using men for money is

notorious and can be infuriating to both sides. However, it goes back to biology as well. Men

and women are programmed to meet biological needs. For men, sex ensures their genetics are

passed down. For women, money, aka security ensures that they can take care of their children without having to worry about the necessities such as food, and physical protection.

While we can expand on this more and we will, for now here are a few tips for the ladies, and as a side note, men would do well to take note of this too as this helps you, (you just don’t realize it yet).

Little Effort- Ladies, effort is the key word here. A man values what he has to work

for; if he puts little effort into the relationship startup, he will put little effort into you in

the long run. This includes initiation which can be explained in the following paragraph.

Initiation- You initiate all the texts, calls, and contact. If a man really wants you he

will yearn for contact both emotionally and physically. if you do all the work- well, lets

just say he will take it, but in a nutshell, he doesn’t have to work for it, so it is not valued

as much. Now some will say initiation is good for women too, and it is-minimally. We are

always looking for that fine line, just don’t be on the wrong side of that line ladies.

Last-minute Invites- This one should be self-explanatory, but I will explain it anyway.

Generally, if you are after a hook-up only… well, then this is your green light. Go ahead,

and accept that late notice invitation. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule,

but statistically speaking… the odds are not in your favor, so gamble away!

Xbox or Porngraphy- These pretty little habits are not so pretty although people want

to believe that they are harmless. “I am not cheating on my wife, all I want to do is relax

a little”, is what I hear over and over. However they are a means of instant gratification

that promotes deterioration of relationships by reducing effort. (See bullet point #1) We

can get into this at another time. But for the sake of these tips right now… Xbox and

Porn (red flags)= no bueno!

Goal Achievement- He obtained the goal too quickly. Men gain self-esteem through

accomplishing tasks, goals, and objectives.   What happens to effort when a goal is

obtained? Well, if you haven’t figured it out then read on…

Goal Attainment = Effort Decline = Effort Decline in YOUR Relationship = NOT GOOD

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t personally believe that men are trying to be

manipulative or vindictive, but I do believe that GENERALLY, and I capitalize that as

there are always exceptions to the rules, GENERALLY men don’t think that far ahead!

They are just trying to meet a need and once met, (unless they have put a signification

amount of TIME and ENERGY into the relationship), they go after the next need, or

want…aka another woman to put it bluntly.

Needs- Never meet his needs before yours are being met. Men value what they have

to work for, and effort declines once they have obtained that. Once again I feel like I

may be sounding like a broken record here, but this is important so I repeat…Men value

what they work for NOT what is given to them. They will take what is given to them for

sure but this lowers their self -esteem as well as yours in the process. I can explain this

later, but men increase in personal self-esteem by giving and women by receiving and

yet we tend to sway in the opposite direction these days.

And finally…

Value Yourself- If you do not, no one will. What does this look like for you?

While these tips are not exhaustive by any means, we become better by not biting off

too much. Practice these, and when your good at implementing, come back for more!

– Melanie

How to Manage Your Child’s Emotions

Your Child Can Feel Better With These Simple Tips!

1. Set up a Routine: Make sure backpack, clothes & homework are ready the night before. Have a family meal time or family fun time each day. Let your child know the plans for the next day.

2. Stay Calm: Even if your child is begging you, crying & melting down. Your child can sense your anxiety. Put on your “Game Face” and remain positive. Focus on your child’s strengths instead of their weaknesses. Help them follow through with their obligations whether it is with a playdate, school, church, or home.

3. Do NOT avoid your child’s fears: Help your child face their fears. Avoiding the “thing” that causes your child’s fear will only make it worse! Letting your child stay home from school because they don’t want to be away from you will only make it harder the next time. There may be tears, tantrums & sad faces but know that with time then that will go away. The best way to conquer anxiety is to face anxiety!

4. Be Prepared: Making sure that your child’s homework is done, tests are studied for & materials ready will help ease their anxiety. Many times, students are not wanting to come to school because their homework is not done & missing more school will only increase that worry adding upon their stress. Whatever your child’s fear is, you can help them feel more prepared and confident.

5. Teach your child strategies: Children can be taught strategies at a young age to help deal with their anxiety. They will need your help & guidance on how to use these strategies because children won’t know how or when to use them on their own. Strategies include deep breathing, fidget or sensory toys, positive self-talk, & relaxation or mindfulness methods.

6. Cut down Screen Time: Studies show that our screen time increases anxiety and depression and decreases social skills. Your child should have a maximum of 45-60 min of screen time a day (This does not include screen time for school or homework)! Use technology as a tool rather than a distraction. Encourage them to go outside and play.

7. Good Sleep: Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep at night. A good bedtime for elementary students is 8:30. This allows them to at least get 10-12 hours of sleep. Make sure they are not on electronics at least an hour before bedtime. This will help their brains relax and regulate their melatonin levels, which helps them sleep better.

8. Healthy Diet: Our food is our fuel. Studies show junk food increases anxiety and depression. If our children aren’t eating healthy, they won’t be able to function. They will be more restless, anxious & emotional. Healthy food will improve anxiety and depression.

Resources for Anxiety and other Emotions

Technique’s

Any Mindfulness technique could be helpful. You can use these or google different ones

Techniques: Any Mindfulness technique could be helpful. You can use these or google different ones

● The Color Game-Find everything in the room that’s a certain color, then go to the next color

● Come back to the 5 senses- example: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste

● Sing your thoughts to the tune of Happy Birthday or say them in a funny voice (Like Minnie Mouse)

● Lock up your worries in a worry box in your mind, then set a worry time to open up the box and talk about your child’s worries

● Take deep breaths with your child In for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds

● Tell your safety brain “That’s a lie” then tell your brain true information (ex: List the people at school who care about your child if your child is afraid of school)

● Give your child a stress ball or sensory toy to play with while they talk to you

● Imagine every detail of your happy place or memory like you were actually there

Books:

● Workbook to do with your child- What to do When you Worry too Much by Dawn Huebner or What to do When you don’t want to be apart by Kristen Lavallee, What to do When Fear Interferes, What to do when your temper flares, What to do When Mistakes Make you Quake, What to do when you Grumble too Much, What to do when Bad Habits Take Hold, etc (There is a whole series of these books for different emotions you can search What to do workbooks for kids)

● The Illustrated Happiness Trap by Russ Harris-Easy read for adults with some techniques to help the worries

● You can Google “Books to help kids with anxiety (or whatever emotion)” and a long list of helpful books come up

Websites:

● Mind yeti- guided mindfulness for kids https://mindyeti.com/power-portal

● Yogamedo youtube channel- Yoga for kids helps them learn some skills to de-stress

● www.cosmickids.com or Cosmic Kids.com on youtube

● Worry Wise Kids-Info on anxiety for parents www.worrywisekids.org

● NAMI- Info on anxiety https://www.nami.org/

● Google “mindfulness techniques for kids” online

● Youtube relaxing music with fish on youtube- Have your child focus on the fish when upset

Free Apps:

● Relaxio (White noise app)

● Stop, Breathe, and Think (guided mindfulness app based on your mood)

● Headspace (General guided mindfulness/meditation app)

● Mind yeti app (Goes along with the website mentioned above)

● Mindful Family

● Insight Timer

● Smiling mind

● My Strength- free classes, tips, and trackers for mental and physical well-being

● SafeUT- 24/7 therapists you can call, text, or chat with- you can also send in tips of someone who may need help

Community Resources:

● SAFE-FAM- Free Mobile Response and Stabilization services for any child or caregiver ○ 1(833) SAFE-FAM (723-3326)- They come into your home and work with your child for free ● Call 2-1-1 for more resources for children and adults

8 Mindfulness Activities You Can Do as a Family

Mindfulness is a simple, yet powerful way to relieve stress and help with emotional regulation, and there are so many benefits for children and adults. You can practice mindfulness regularly (even if you are feeling good) to enhance the wellbeing of your family. Here are ten simple tricks you can try with your family (You can think of some of your own too!):

1. Take a listening walk Go someplace (backyard, nature, the mall, etc) and walk together in silence, listening for sounds you typically overlook: leaves rustling, a pine cone falling from a tree, your own steady breath. To make it more fun, you can turn paper cups into amplifiers by cutting a hole in the sides of two cups and putting them over your ears.

2. Take a 30 second vacation Imagine every detail of where you want to go on vacation (can also be your happy place or a happy memory) as if you were actually there in your mind. What can you see, taste, touch, and smell while you are there? You can do this as long as you would like.

3. Savor some silence During a period of enforced quiet, go through your regular routine, and see what you hear, see, smell, and feel in the silence.

4. Try a sitting meditation A formal meditation can be difficult for kids (and adults!). But it is very effective— The most common form of meditation is to focus on the breath. You can have your family focus on their breathing, or find a guided meditation on an app or website (Stop, Breathe, and Think, Mind Yeti, Insight Timer, Headspace, Smiling Mind, and Mindful Family are a few.)

5. Play the Color Game While you are walking outside or sitting inside, you can play the color game with your children. Find everything in the area that is a certain color, then you can go to the next color. You can also play this game with patterns (stripes, polka dots, lines, etc) numbers, letters, and shapes. This game helps calm the mind and bring us back to the present.

6. Really taste what you’re eating Be in the present moment with the taste, textures, and temperature of foods that you are eating. Focus on how it feels to chew or sip in your mouth. Ask everyone to spend the first few minutes of certain meals silently noticing the food in their mouth. If your mind wanders to something else, simply bring it back to the present moment.

7. Listen Carefully/Spend Time Together Without distractions like TV, social media, phones, or electronics, be fully engaged as you listen to each other and spend time with each other. Notice how you feel about each other when you do this.

8. Notice your body A “body scan” is a great way to notice how your body feels in the present moment. Sit or lie with your kids and, starting with the toes, silently or out loud bring awareness to one body part, until you’ve worked your way up to the top of your head. If you want, you can have each person describe how a specific body part feels (ex: “I’m focused on my stomach, and it feels rumbly,” or “I’m focused on my left toes, and they feel tingly.”)

11 Tips to Parent Your Anxious Child by Anne Marie Albano, PhD

1. Respect and validate your child’s feelings. Anxiety is real and not pleasant.

2. Teach your child deep, slow breathing. This is an easy and very portable skill for self-soothing and calming.

3. Listen to your child and ask, “Tell me what you are thinking.” This will help to reveal scary thoughts and scenes that build up in your child’s mind.

4. Rather than swooping to reassure, ask your child, “How likely is (that thing you are afraid of) to happen?” You’ll be teaching them to challenge their anxious thinking.

5. Prompt your child with “Tell me some things you can do to handle this situation,” and help them to brainstorm rather than just giving them solutions. This will help them feel empowered.

6. Give up the idea of “mental health days,”“skip days,”“sleep with mom nights,” or other ways of avoiding feared situations. This just makes the anxiety stick more firmly and lead to further avoidance.

7. Encourage your child’s attempts to be brave, no matter how small they may seem to you. Use labeled praise such as “I’m so proud of you for sleeping in your own bed last night.”

8. Work with your child to outline small steps leading to a bigger goal.

9. Create opportunities for your child to practice being brave and coping, and then high-five their efforts.

10. Recognize when you are anxious and say aloud what you can do to calm down and solve the situation. You’ll be modeling coping for your child, but be mindful and don’t overshare your anxiety!

11. Use a feelings chart to talk about how you feel, and model it for your children, “I feel sad because I burnt dinner.”