Therapy During The Summer: Optional yet Necessary?

Let’s face it, kids don’t realize how much parents do for their kids: run them to sports events, to doctors, to friends’ houses, etc., Not to mention parents organize family vacations around their schedules, research schools, careers, monitor homework, so many activities all to give our children a fulfilled and happy life and to provide every opportunity we can for them. Sooo, holiday breaks occur or summer vacation, we hope we can also have a breather, a break from driving them to doctors, therapists, school functions, etc. Not only that, but as responsible parents we want our kids to have a breather too so when they say they don’t feel like “having to go to therapy when I have off” what’s a parent to do? How can they refuse them?

This is the therapeutic dilemma: we don’t want to take our kids out of school to attend therapy sessions, but then on snow days or vacation days, summer break, when they don’t have school, we don’t want them to miss out on any fun. How do we resolve this? 

When we step back for a moment and look at the big picture we are looking at one hour a week plus the drive which will not interfere with anyone’s life style.

The Good News

On the plus side that continuity of therapy is going to help your kids reach their goals much faster. Weekly therapy is most beneficial for fast and consistent results. Coming to therapy even when on break and summer vacation helps to teach your teens about commitment, and responsibility; Most importantly therapy is much more than a crisis management system. The school year can be filled with stress and overwhelming emotions. Therefore, therapy sessions can often be focused on how to manage in the moment crisis. But when things calm down during the summer, this is a time when your teens can dive deep and truly heal. They have the opportunity to explore feelings and heal distress on an in depth level because they are not dealing with weekly peer or academic stressors.

The Facts

If we give in to our kids, the negative side of losing that continuity is that our kids begin to take therapy less seriously. The progress they were making can be disrupted. It will negatively impact the generalization and maintaining of their coping skills and behavior changes. Summer has less structure and it is easy to stop practicing our skills.

I know what you are thinking…Does missing one week of therapy really make that much of a difference. Well, the answer is both yes and no. In the big picture one week doesn’t necessarily make a huge difference for some.

It is easy for one cancellation to turn into two, and so forth and so on. Before you know it your teen will only attending therapy monthly or less. Then come fall  when the stress of the school year hits, and crisis breaks out, you will be saying to yourself, “I don’t understand, you have been in therapy all summer, why don’t you have the skills to manage this by now.”

We have all been there, things get busy, and something gets put on the back burner.

#Truthbomb

The reality is if you decrease sessions, your teen hasn’t been in therapy learning to manage distress. This is a pattern I see year after year and it is an easy trap to fall into. Life gets busy, summer appears to have less stress, and everyone deserves time to themselves.

As much as any of us, if not all of us, want a breather, a break, from the hectic and chaotic life of raising of teenager, it is helpful to look at what is most important to help to resolve this dilemma. Not everyone will need the same things and same therapy, but if your teen needs continued support this summer, remember it is only 1 hr a week and the results will be worth it: A teen who has the skills to live a life they love!

If you have a teen that is in need of support as this school year is coming to an end. Click here to learn more about how Mindful Healing can help.

 

How To Help Perfectionistic Girls Learn To Love Themselves

  • Between age 8-14 girls confidence drops by 30%
  • Girls are 27 % less confident than boys in their ability to make new friends in high school
  • 90% of eating disorders are diagnosed in females
  • 98% of girls say they would change something about the way they look
  • 1 in 4 girls struggle with a clinical diagnosis, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders being the most common

In a world where opportunity is abundant and girls are excelling academically, why are girls struggling with confidence? Why do girls feel they need to be perfect to love themselves?

To start, she is socialized this way. In today’s world, with the technology boom, everywhere girls go they are bombarded with artfully crafted, photoshopped, posed, images of women. Between Netflix, YouTube, mainstream media, and their own social media there is a constant stream of comparison to a “perfect”, but fake standard of beauty that girls grow up believing is realistic, attainable, and “ideal.”

Girls are also socialized to be the “good girl.” Girls are encouraged from an early age to be “good.” They receive praise and encouragement when being behaved, especially when better behaved than others. Young girls interpret this “good girl” as needing to be a “perfect” girl get praise and approval.

How to Help The Perfectionist In Your Life

Burst the Bubble

There is no such thing as perfect. I don’t know about you, but I have never met a perfect person. I sure am not perfect. We all have strengths, we all make mistakes.

Teach Her How To Fail

No more participation trophies. Stop buffering her sadness. It is okay to fail. Feeling sad and disappointed when we fail are appropriate responses. #Truthbomb…It sucks to fail. It’s a crappy feeling AND it happens to all of us. Teach her how to feel disappointment without attaching it to her sense of self-worth.

Happily Imperfect

Help your daughter see how it is her imperfections that make her unique. Help her to see how if perfectionism existed that everyone would essentially be the same and that would boring. Embrace her imperfections as part of her and help her to reframe them as unique qualities that are solely hers! Teach her to understand that there is a freedom in not having to be perfect (it is way too much work trying to accomplish that goal).

Role Model Imperfection

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in front of your daughter. There is no perfect parent either. Be willing to own your mistakes and role model that your self-worth isn’t attached to your mistakes.

No Body Shaming Talk

Since we are not perfect either, you may struggle with your own self-doubts or imperfections from time to time. Avoid any self-criticisms or body shaming talk in front of your daughter.

It’s okay for your daughter to have goals and strive for excellence. To truly accomplish all she can your daughter will need to take risks and be willing to fail on her journey to excellence. Helping her learn overcome her perfectionism and love herself is an important step to getting there.

If your daughter struggles with self-doubt or perfectionism and needs to learn to fully accept herself the way she is click here to learn more about our #GirlConfident Summer Intensive.

Riding The Wave From Crisis To Coping

What would happen if you actually felt your feelings? Sounds awful right? At least it does to many of the clients we work with at Mindful Healing.

What happens, if you are used to  feelings being overwhelming and unmanageable your natural response is to avoid them and push them away. All distressing feelings become “the enemy.”

Creating Crisis

The problem with this is it actually makes things worse. If every time you feel distress you avoid it, you never learn to feel distress.

An important part of learning to tolerate difficult emotions is learning to Ride The Wave.

Here is the distinction:

Crisis Management Skills: When you are experiences overwhelming emotions that create an urge to engage in self-harm, impulsive, or self-destructive behavior it is recommended to use distraction skills to help you manage your feelings.

Emotion Regulation Skill: If you are feeling sad, anxious, lonely, stressed etc, avoiding your feelings will only make them worse. Buried feelings never die.

At Mindful Healing, we teach the DBT skill Riding the Wave to help clients learn how to tolerate distressing feelings without acting on negative impulses. We focus steps to learn and practice riding the wave:

  1. Notice and Observe the emotion
    • Non-judgmentally notice how you are feeling
    • Try to name the emotion if you can
  2. Accept the emotion
    • Don’t try to avoid the emotion
    • Don’t try to change the emotion
    • Don’t judge the emotion
    • Don’t attach yourself or values to the emotion
  3. Sit with the emotion
    • Notice any physical sensations of the emotion
    • Allow yourself to focus, experience, and breathe through the feeling
  4. Allow and Release the emotion
    • Allow yourself to feel the emotion as it rises
    • Know that the feeling has a peak, like a wave and will then fall. Be a witness to this process.
    • All the emotion to pass. Don’t ruminate on it or get caught in a thinking trap

Where is Frodo? Not another blog promising the magic fix once you find Mount Doom

Frodo, Where is Frodo?-Boromir

I let him go-Aragorn

Then you did what I could not. I tried to take the ring from him-Boromir

The ring is beyond our reach now-Aragorn

Fellowship of The Ring, Lord of The Rings- J.R. Tolkien

Even if you are not familiar with the scene (though unfathomable to me), many of you may still be able to relate. An anxious Boromir, wondering where Frodo is after trying to control a situation and take something away from him that he didn’t think he should have. Aragorn was able to accept that it wasn’t his choice to control Frodo’s decision, despite disagreeing and allowed Frodo to leave regardless of the dangers ahead.

Parents and family members of loved ones who have had a recent suicidal crisis or recent addiction crisis often find themselves in the same position; torn between trying to control and trying to accept. I know my family and I did. When faced with watching a loved one’s life hang in the balance, the life-shattering fear that overwhelms you, that incapacitates you, can be unbearable; it is indescribable. What can you possibly do?

When you see a loved one struggling with a chronic and life threatening mental illness, all you want to do is help them. There are many things you can do to help, but in the end you didn’t cause it, you can’t control, and you can’t cure it. I have found that there is nothing more challenging than trying to find that fine line between support and enabling; boundaries and rejection; or accountability and blame.

Each person in your house probably has a different perspective as to the “correct” way to “help” your loved one. This often causes even more tension and blame in the home.  Remember you are all impacted and the path isn’t clear. Don’t underestimate the value of taking care of yourself. Try to devote small amounts of time each week to doing something that rejuvenates you. Try focusing on the present moment and enjoy the good times when they are present.

If you or someone you know have a family member with acute/chronic crises and need support click here to learn more.

My Coping Skills Aren’t Helping

Have you ever been having a great day and then all of the sudden felt sick to stomach? You start feel nauseous. Your heart feels like it is going to pound out of your chest!

There you are just trying to go on with your day and you literally feel like your body is attacking itself. You might if think “I am having a heart attack?”

You are feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and your vision is blurry.

You can’t focus on your thoughts that are cycling through your head on repeat.

You wonder if this is anxiety or a sign or symptom of something much worse. Should you go to the hospital or doctors?

Eventually, things get better, but you still fell unsettled. You don’t know exactly why this happened and you feel like you are walking on eggshells just waiting for it to happen again. The fear of having a panic attack becomes its own constant anxiety.

The problem with panic is the level of intensity. No amount of journaling, thinking of something positive, or listening to music is going to bring you out of your panic attack.

Let’s be real here! These coping skill just don’t work for panic. The reality is that coping skills don’t mean that we don’t feel our difficult or distressing feelings. Coping skills teach us to cope with them…how to feel them without going into crisis. They can help decrease the frequency and intensity of distressing feelings.

So how do you cope with panic you ask?

Great question? A huge part is accepting your anxiety. The more we avoid something the bigger it gets. Buried feelings never die. So acknowledging your anxiety and panic is the step. Then creating some space from it by being the observer.

Acknowledge your anxiety and panic. Focus on what’s happening and acknowledge that physical sensations and try to shift out of the thoughts. Similar to going for a jog, your heart-rate is high, breathing deeply, muscles might be sore (especially me). Your body will need time to return to status quo.

Shift your mind to the physical aspects of your panic and remember that your body needs some time to return to status quo.

When you learn to identify your anxiety, accept it, focus on it as an observer you will feel better able to cope. If you or someone you know needs help developing coping skills for anxiety and/or panic we are here to help.

What is EMDR and Can It Really Help?

To be fully transparent, I thought Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) was a load of crap for a really long time. I mean, just look at the name, Eye Movement Desensitization, what the heck does that even mean? How is moving my eye’s around going to heal my panic or trauma? Let’s get real here! Sounded like another fast fix promise meant to prey on people in pain.

BUT…One year, close to my birthday (that’s when all our yearly training requirements are due) I realized I still needed to take more training courses to meet my annual requirements. The only course that fit my schedule was an introduction to Mindfulness and EMDR. “Ugh,” I thought.

Turns out, everything is always as it should be. I got to experience first-hand the fast and immediate benefits of EMDR. We did a simple practice exercise in the training. Going through the protocol on an insignificant frustration allowed me to let go of a frustration and wound I didn’t even know existed, least of all how significantly it was impacting my daily life! Each day after that was brighter, easier, and more peaceful for me. I literally felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders (and for those of you who know me, know I not the rainbows and optimistic type). This was truly an amazing experience.

So, naturally I sought out my own EMDR therapist to see if it really worked or if it was a fluke. I needed to know I didn’t drink the EMDR Kool-Aid. “Had to be a fluke, right?” “Eyes moving, still sounded silly to me.” But low and behold, it was not. Next thing I did, was sign up to become an EMDR therapist. Extensive training later, I can officially say I drank the Kool-Aid and am honored to be part of the club.

So you are still probably wondering…

WHAT THE HECK IS EMDR?

EMDR is a form of therapy that allows you to deeply heal from symptoms of emotional distress. This type of deep healing is often believed to take years of processing and talk therapy. Repeated studies have shown that by using EMDR therapy you can have the same benefits as years of other forms of treatment.

EMDR was originally used to treat clients suffering from trauma and has proven to be the most effective method of treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It has since been proven to be an effective treatment for anyone with anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, relationship issues, depression, grief, addiction, and more.

During EMDR sessions, the therapist uses bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement) to stimulate both sides of the brain. The theory is that this continual movement releases traumatic or emotional experiences that reside in the nervous system. This then taps into the mind/body connection, allowing you to heal both emotional and physical symptoms simultaneously.

Many people like EMDR because they can begin to process experiences or feelings they aren’t able to easily talk about.

WHAT ABOUT SKILLS? DON’T I STILL NEED THEM?

Absolutely! EMDR is a therapy that allows clients to heal from past negative experiences and core belief systems that are holding them back, similar to CBT. However, it often is combined with other forms of therapy to meet your individual needs as the client. For example, EMDR can be combined with CBT or DBT. Many times panic, depression, anxiety, or PTSD can prevent you from learning the day to day coping skills and interpersonal skills that are needed to be effective in your daily life.

If this sounds like something that would benefit you or you want to learn more contact us today to schedule your free consultation!

How Can Observing Something Help Me?

Observation as a coping skill, sounds ridiculous, right? For many people this can be one of the most basic, yet challenging skills. In DBT Core Mindfulness Skills are the foundation of all skills training. Observation skills teach us to take-hold of our mind. Observing is sensing ourselves and our environment without labeling or judging it. It allows our mind to be quiet!

Watch this video to learn more about DBT Observe Mindfulness Skill, the benefits, and how to build and use it!!

If you or someone you know could benefit from DBT skills click here to learn more about DBT at Mindful Healing!

Does Therapy Really Need To Be Weekly?

Wouldn’t less therapy be just as good? After all, I’d have more time to work on things between sessions, right?

One of the problems with going to therapy is that it’s a weekly commitment. Which, let’s be honest, can be a real pain. This is a large time commitment. Not to mention a considerable cost.

Yet, why do the majority of therapists and counselors recommend weekly sessions? Why not every two weeks?

Why Have Weekly Therapy Sessions?

Attachment and Emotional Safety

One of the main reasons that, I, and many other therapists recommend weekly therapy is that it helps make that work deeper. Weekly sessions allow for you to build the healing relationship necessary for trust, emotional safety, and vulnerability deep clinical work.

Reinforcement for Learning

One week is just enough time to review skills or try out a homework assignment if you use one.

“Use it or Lose It”

Long gaps in therapy can mean forgetting important themes, trends, and what you were working on. It can allow for defense mechanisms to take hold and lead to longer term therapy.

Builds Trust and Openness

It takes a lot to start therapy and open up. Having too much time between sessions can make your inner self less accessible for change.

Less to Catch Up On

Having longer gaps between session can keep the focus on catching up rather than diving into the deeper work.

Slippery Slop

Two-week sessions can easily become monthly or less, if you are sick or away and miss an appointment. If you miss another now it becomes weeks before you are in session.

Practice and Repeat

Making changes involves repetition and in the moment feedback. Weekly sessions allow clients to practice what they are learning and insights they are gaining and process them soon after.

Avoiding Relapses

Change is hard. We naturally like consistency. When things get stressful, old behaviors arise. Longer gaps between sessions make it easier to fall into old habits and behaviors.

Provides a Sense of Consistency

Between sessions is when a lot of therapy work is done. Thoughts, feelings, and insights can arise. This can be overwhelming. Knowing your next session is right around the corner and on a consistent basis can provide a sense of security.

Therapy is a commitment and if “you work it works.” When you or your teen is feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious weekly therapy is fastest most effective way to develop long-lasting coping skills and heal underlying triggers so you can live a life you love!

If you want to learn more about therapy options that might be right for you contact us today!

What’s Your Real Problem?

I get calls from concerned parents all time. They are worried about the behaviors their kids are engaging in. What parent wouldn’t be concerned if they see their child struggling? Maybe your teen is avoiding school because they are anxious. Maybe your child is in college and drinking and partying too much led to them not returning for second semester. Maybe your teen is isolating or self-harming. Regardless of the behavior, I have to tell you, the behavior is NOT the problem, it is the SOLUTION.

I know, you probably think I am crazy at this point, but just keep reading. The problem is that they lack coping skills! Your kids don’t know how to feel intense or difficult emotions and they don’t have any real coping skills to manage them in the moment.

So, what do they do? They find another way. The “solution.” For each child, teen, or young adult (and let’s be real some of us as well), this might look different, but the concept is the same. They are all managing their feelings or essentially avoiding their feelings because they don’t know what else to do!

GOOD NEWS, There is a better way! 

There are coping skills that very effectively help teens learn to manage their feelings in the moment! Your teen can learn them today! You can learn them too and how to help your teen put them into practice on a regular basis. Any day now you can be on your way to having a happier healthier teen.

We help your teen envision a life worth living and imagine that they can be in control of their emotions. We help them to identify what their current behaviors are doing for them and teach them how coping skills can help them reach their same goals without the negative consequences (such as shame).

Sound good? Schedule your free 15-min phone strategy session to learn more about how coping skills to help you and/or your teen start the year off right!

Break The Negative Thought Cycle For Good!

Have you ever noticed yourself stuck in a negative loop of thinking similar to a hamster running on a wheel? Your thoughts just keep spinning and spinning, yet, you’re going nowhere. Well, this may be due to “Thinking Traps.” Don’t worry, we all have them.

“Think Traps” can impact more than just our thoughts, but our mood and actions. When we get stuck in a negative thought our mood starts to go downhill, and this impacts our actions. What makes this even more dangerous is that if we don’t break the cycle our “Thinking Traps” can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Let me show you how it works:

Teen’s thought: No one likes me…Which Leads to..

Teen’s Mood: Feeling Depressed…Which Leads to…

Teen’s Action…Isolation…Which Leads to…Teen’s friends not reaching out as much which reinforces the belief that “no one likes me…” which leads to

Teen’s new thought: I’m unlovable…So forth and So on…

What To Do? Tips To Break The Thinking Traps Cycle:

Let me be real with you for a minute. One of the most common suggestions for this is to “challenge the distorted thinking.” This is all fine and well, BUT, when your thoughts are betraying you how are you going to believe your new more positive thought?

I find breaking the thought cycle first is the most effective way to deal with a Thinking Trap. This can be accomplished by reestablishing your mind/body connection. In Teen DBT Group this week we learn how to use mindfulness to observe and describe the physical sensations of our feelings to help break our thought cycles. This allows us to experience our feelings as mindful observers without the being on our judgmental hamster wheel.

Once you have reestablished your mind/body connection and your thoughts are no longer going round and round then you can gently challenge the thought. For example, asking yourself, “How do I know if this is accurate?” “Is this thought effective for me?” “Am I making assumptions?” or “Is there another explanation?”

The ability to begin to recognize your thinking traps and mindfully break the cycle can improve your mood. It can help shift you out of negative thinking and help you to engage in more positive behaviors!

Want help breaking the cycle? Click here to schedule your Free 15 Phone Consultation!