My Child Needs Therapy but Doesn’t Want to Go

I completely understand your hesitancy to force your child to do something she does not want to do, and so does your child! Very often teens do not want to admit to themselves that they cannot manage their own lives. Developmentally they are struggling with that dependence/independence battle: they want to be independent and resent their dependency. Moreover, the last thing they want to do is admit to a parent that their concerns may be valid. In fact, as a therapist, I have had teens say to me, “Don’t tell my mother I said that I don’t want her to know she is right.” 

As for the threats of never sharing again, or hating you, well, it’s working, isn’t it? The fact that you are thinking of caving in to her gives her a false sense of power, that in reality, actually makes her feel more insecure. Why? Because deep down she knows she needs help; she does not want to admit it and therefore cannot ask for help but needs you to be the adult, to create the security that a firm stance will create so that yes, she can blame you, save face and not feel as damaged as she believes she is. Your role as a parent is to take it on the chin for the team! She doesn’t need a friend. She needs an adult who will help her despite herself.

What happens then when she comes to therapy, against her will? Will she really hate therapists and therapy for the rest of her life? Will she even benefit if there is no buy in for her? It may take a while for her to fully engage with the therapist and a good therapist will let her know that that is okay, that she is more than the sum total of any problems her parents thinks she may have, and that maybe just by coming to therapy, her parents’ concerns will start to be alleviated and she can feel less pressure. A good therapist will also help normalize some of her struggles so she feels less self-condemning and more self-compassionate. She will have a chance to show the therapist what are her strengths and coping skills. Therapy is about identifying and nurturing strengths as well as helping them learn to develop the ability to cope with situations that are overwhelming for them. This process then leads to her discovering areas she actually needs help in and learn about the skills that will move her forward, all the while, telling you she hates it! 

If your teen needs support contact us today. 

A Guide to Progress

When your emotions are flooded and overwhelmed but you can’t solve the problem right away, Crisis Survival Skills help you get through the moment without acting on impulses that may make the situation worse.
However, we want to save our Crisis Survival Skills for actual Crisis. One thing I love about DBT is it teaches a very concrete way to know when to use what skills.

As a basic guideline:
On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the highest) when your emotions are a 6 or below and you’re able to feel them without engaging in unsafe behaviors, then letting yourself fully experience your emotions is best.

These skills for example include:

  • Talking to a friend or family member
  • Drawing or Journaling
  • Crying

BUT…

If you’re feeling a level 7 or above intensity it’s time to use your distress tolerance and crisis management skills until you can more calmly manage the situation at a later time.

These skills for example include:

  • Intense Exercise
  • Distraction: Watching a funny show
  • Self-Soothing

In DBT our teens learn over 100 different coping skills with a proven formula when and how to use them.

Teen need support? Contact us today.

(860) 387-5689

Here’s Why Your Teen Isn’t Lazy

It is hard to distinguish between “I can’t” and “I won’t” when your teen seems to have no energy to get up, to shower, to pick up their stuff, to do their homework and engage in other life skills that are as easy to us as breathing. To top it off, when there is something fun to do, like go out with a friend, they seem to perk up for a bit and actually manage to have a good time only to return home tired, depressed, and lethargic.

There are warning signs that may help you identify when your teen’s avoidance is a sign of something bigger going on.

Sudden change in behavior: Your once energetic, outgoing teen is suddenly isolating themselves and seems to have no energy. Grades start to fall, absenteeism increases.

Anger: Your teen may be angrier even when you ask a simple question that shouldn’t trigger such a response. Anger is part of depression and often a depressed teen feels alone, misunderstood- especially by a parent and worse, invalidated, because your concern is often expressed by addressing the behavior, the symptom and not the underlying emotion.

Overwhelm: Your teen starts to feel like small things are all too much for them. “I can’t do it.” “I might as well give up.” You notice that your once motivated teen feels easily discouraged.

This avoidance and change in behavior turns to anxiety and self-criticism that only reinforces their negative beliefs about themselves.

The truth is it doesn’t have to be this way. Perfectionism and procrastination are NOT signs of low motivation. It is not that your teen doesn’t care about chores, grades, family time, and more.

Research shows that it is an issue of emotion regulation. Your teen AVOIDS the emotions that come with doing the work.

Now that you know what the problem is let us tell you how we can help:
http://bit.ly/dbt-therapy

Teen DBT Group will help you teen learn to:

✅ Recognize procrastination thoughts and stop the cycle before it starts

✅ Manage feelings of overwhelm, depression, and anxiety so they can enjoy life and have fun while still meeting their responsibilities

✅ Have a proven technique for decreasing the “I’m not good enough” thoughts and improving self-worth

Learn more here: http://bit.ly/dbt-therapy

8 Ways To Handle Distress In The Moment

When your teen is in distress things may feel  hopeless, unmanageable, or out of control. You teen may go to any length to make their distressing feelings stop. Some teens are impulsive, while others self-destructive.

For individuals, who have difficulty tolerating distress, it feels impossible to tolerate their feelings. It can even seem like the present pain and suffering will never end. It is not surprising with these thoughts and feelings that teens who struggle with tolerating distress resort to destructive, impulsive, and out-of-control behaviors.

In DBT, we teach the Distress Tolerance Skill ACCEPTS to help teens learn how to handle their emotions until they are able to address or resolve them at a later time. Watch this video for more information about the acronym ACCEPTS and how to use it:

If you want to learn more about DBT and how it can help your teen please schedule your free 15-min consultation here.

5 Tips To Reduce Stress

Teens deal with a lot of stress. Between school, friends, social media, etc it is no wonder anxiety and depression rates are on the rise. When teens don’t have the skills to manage stress emotions can build up and are later expressed as “behavioral problems.”

Behaviors aren’t the problem they are the solution. They are solving the problem for your teens. The problem of being overwhelmed. The problem of being stressed. The problem of having too much school work. The problem of being anxious or fearing being judged.

This week in DBT we discussed how bottling emotions negatively impacts behaviors and explored skills to help relieve daily life stressors. To learn more watch this video…

 

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.