The #1 Skill To Help Your Teen Cope Long Term

Of all the different techniques that we, at Mindful Healing, can help teens learn, Belly Breathing is the most important. Why? Because it can be applied to just about every distressing situation your teen may encounter from being bullied to having to do homework they would rather avoid. 

Belly Breathing-The goal of belly breathing is to help your teen learn to be calm and non-judgmental. Simply allowing thoughts to come and go without being attached to them. 

Simply, ironic isn’t it? It is simple AND it isn’t. Belly breathing takes practice both physically and mentally. Learning to belly breath has more benefits that I can possibly list here, but I will give some of my favorites. 

Benefits

  • We learn to become an observer of our-self creating space between thought, feeling and behavior.
  • We learn to have more control of our thoughts and increase focus.
  • We calm our central nervous system and its reaction, we connect our feeling brain and thinking brain. This one is crucial. This is the only way to connect our feeling brain and thinking brain. Want your teen to be able to think when upset? Belly breathing is the #1 skill!

How to practice: (Belly breathing) Sit comfortably, imagine a balloon in your belly…allow thoughts to come and go…just notice sounds, physical sensations, emotions, be non-judgmental.

Just remember that the use of mindful breathing is the basic brick in the foundation of all the other techniques that can help your teen cope with life events!

If your teen needs additional support with learning actionable coping skills contact us today to learn more!

Parents Stop Doing This One Thing to Improve Your Teens Resilience!

Worry! Worry! Worry! That seems to be every teen parent’s companion. Did they do their homework? Are they in with the wrong crowd? Will they get into the right school? Why did they get a B instead of an A? How can I help them make friends? Why won’t my teen talk to me? What can I do to help their teacher understand… understand my child suffers from… understand they are overloaded… understand, understand, understand. Why do they stay in their room all day on social media when the sun is shining and they can go out and have fun? And these are just the “normal” worries. 

Parents are often so busy trying to prevent their worst fears from coming true, or trying to fix situations out of their fear that if their child has to endure the natural consequences of their behavior, they will never recover and will get worse; they will never speak to you again; they will hate you; they will lose what little confidence they have… name the fear, whatever it is and you have a parent rushing around trying to fix or prevent situations concerning their child. 

Does your teen feel protected and safe as a result of these efforts? No! Even if they seem relieved at first, parental resolution of their problems reinforces their own fears about themselves: What they feel is incompetent, unable to resolve their own problems, helpless and ever more anxious. What they lose is the opportunity to build resilience, to realize that they are capable of resolving the left curves that life will throw their way. They lose the ability to be proactive in their own life and lose the confidence that will drive them to face difficulties head on and find a way to figure things out. 

What can you do? 

  • Make a list of your worries
  • Make a list of potential consequences if you don’t intervene .
  • Evaluate your worries in terms of life and death issues, literally and if the issue is not something that will lead to death… how bad can it be? For you? Or for your child?
  • Make a list of the positive outcomes that will happen if they do resolve their situation on their own  and if not,
  • What can they learn from their mistakes? 

Need parenting support? Contact us today.

(860) 387-5689

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

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.

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.

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!

Saying “I’m Just Impulsive” Is An Excuse

Saying, “I’m just impulsive” to justify acting out is just an excuse. It is a way to not take ownership of your own behaviors.

It’s like saying, “just like to be alone” to justify isolation or “I’m just a messy person” to justify not cleaning or doing chores.

However, there are skills that you can learn and actions that you can take to change your behaviors. You are not powerless!

And at Mindful Healing, while we believe that you’re doing the best you can at any given moment, we also believe that you can improve, be more skillful and make better choices.

Often times emotional teens act without thinking. Teens tend to think about what they want in the moment and don’t always think about all the consequences.

In fact, this happens a lot with teens in general. The pre-frontal cortex the area of the brain that controls reasoning and decision making isn’t fully formed until approximately age twenty-six.

So making effective decisions takes some effort.

Your teen needs to learn and practice skills so they don’t respond in an instant to intense emotions…

and self-harm, or lash out, or refuse to go to school, or cave to peer pressure, etc.

We’ve see teens act impulsively all the time in order to avoid intense emotions.
And we’ve heard the response “I’m just impulsive” many times, as I am sure you have. But this is not an excuse. They CAN improve.

It’s time to stop blaming lacking skills as personality traits and own the responsibility to do the work to improve.

Because we know you can.
Because we believe in you.

Are you ready to believe in you too?

When your teen is ready, we are here!

What The Heck Is DBT and Why Will It Help My Teen?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive treatment model that offers hope for teens who have not seen improvement in other therapies. It is based on actionable skills and focuses on problem solving and acceptance-based strategies. DBT is led by a DBT-Certified therapist who is intensively trained by Behavior Tech.

At Mindful Healing, LLC our DBT program for adolescents involves group skills training. These actionable skills focus on helping teens learn to feel in control of their emotions rather than their emotions being in control of them. To transfer skills to the home and school environment, many teens also participate in individual DBT and parent coaching.

DBT is used to treat teens with anything from school avoidance to suicidality. It is the gold standard of evidence based treatment for emotion regulation in teens.

What Skills Does DBT Teach?

DBT skills group is a co-ed open-enrollment group. It runs for 26 weeks.   Group has a maximum of 8 clients to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fully engage. We ask that you make the commitment to attend for a minimum of 12-weeks to give your teen ample time to develop skills and begin to see progress.

DBT skills training is very structured and consists of five modules.

Mindfulness skills: Teaches teens how to focus the mind and to observe and describe what they are feeling and thinking in the moment without judgement. These skills can help teens reduce reactivity to painful thoughts and emotions.

Distress Tolerance: Learning how to accept yourself and the situation. More specifically, learning to tolerate a crisis and being able to recognize urges to do things that would be ineffective, such self-harm, without acting on them.

Emotion Regulation: Addresses emotional sensitivity, mood changes such as depression, anxiety, or anger. In addition, recognizing and coping with negative emotions, and reducing one’s emotional vulnerability by increasing positive life experiences.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: It’s often relationships with others that are the triggers for self-destructive behaviors in teens. Interpersonal effectiveness skills teach adolescents how to engage more effectively with others. In addition, it enables them to feel more supported by others.

Middle Path: Teaches teens how to shift perspectives and see more than one viewpoint rather than only extreme thinking and behaviors. These skills involve learning about how to compromise and negotiate, as well as methods of behavior change, validation and acceptance.

Additional DBT Supports Available At Mindful Healing:

Individual DBT psychotherapy: This is the main way of developing and refining the ability to apply skills taught in DBT skills group to daily life. Individual DBT focuses on helping teens identify personal triggers for behaviors and explore skill based solutions.

Parent Tele-Coaching: Many parents feel unsure of how to approach a particular situation, when or how to set limits, if setting limits will make things better or worse, how to encourage skills use, etc. Parents can contact our intake corrdinator to arrange an individual parent coaching session for assistance in developing their own skills!

Commitment Strategies: “Commitment strategies” are a cornerstone of DBT treatment. Not all adolescents choose to come to therapy. Some are encouraged by parents or friends to seek treatment, and may not be “motivated” initially to attend therapy. Special commitment strategies are used to help adolescents gain a better understanding of their behaviors, and how DBT skills will help them meet their own unique individual goals!

In a nutshell, DBT teaches teens actionable skills to help them learn to live a life they can love! DBT targets the issues that cause distress. It teaches teens skills to deal with them without having to resort to self-defeating behaviors.