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!

Life Hack: 3 Ways Teens Can Feel More Positive

Your teen has it hard, harder than I ever did. They are often striving for perfect grades, trying to be the best at sports, and all while navigating social media…whoa though.

As a parent, you want to help, but you don’t know when you are helping or fixing. You worry about having another school year that starts off strong but the stress slowly builds up and by January they are stressed, angry, overwhelmed, and now it feels too late.

GOOD NEWS! One of the most important things your teen can learn to do to help decrease stress and live a balanced life style is to have a schedule and include time for fun!

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), this skill is call “Building Positive Experiences.” This means intentionally engaging in activities that are fun and create a pleasant emotion to help balance out difficult emotions. It will help your teen feel fulfilled and remember that life isn’t always hard!

3 Aspects of Building Positive Experiences

1) Remembering past positive experiences. Notice events that you have already experienced or that are currently going on in your life that are positive. Use your senses to fully absorb them. Reflect back on them frequently and use a gratitude journal to help make this a daily practice.

2) Build new short-term positive experiences. Allow time in your schedule to do new things or things you stopped doing that make you happy.  Start drawing again, go for a walk, meditate, etc. These can be spontaneous or planned.

3) Build long-term positive experiences. Identify activities you like to do that you can add to your schedule that may take some planning. Something that makes your life exciting…start lessons for something, apply for a job, etc. Having something to look forward to is a great way to create positive feelings and motivation!

Want to help your teen build more positive experiences. Click hereto schedule your parent consultation to learn more about the upcoming offerings at Mindful Healing that were designed with your teen in mind!

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.

GROUP THERAPY: IT’S NOT JUST “SOCIAL HOUR”

Sometimes I hear from parents that they don’t think group is right for their teen because they don’t believe that a “social hour” will help their depression or anxiety. Or that “social hour” would create too much anxiety or comparison for their teen.

But Here’s The Deal:

Support has been scientifically proven to be the #1 indicator of overall wellbeing. It leads to improved symptoms of anxiety and depression, and better physical health.

3 REASONS GROUP CAN BE THE BEST FOR YOUR TEEN:

Group helps your teen experience and learn that they are not alone

Being in a group with others who have similar struggles lets your teen know they are not the only one who feels this way and that they aren’t broken, bad, wrong or different for having the feelings that they do. It allows them to feel heard and understood and this experience is the first step towards healing.

Group hold your teen accountable their goals

Group members support each other in making healthy decisions and actionable changes. I’ve had group members commit to end toxic relationships, finish school work on time, work on angry outburst, and more… and they actually follow through because they have PEERS holding them accountable weekly and cheering them on. Peers accountability is more effective adults checking in on teens!

Group helps your teen learn to love and accept themselves the way they are

The experience of showing up week after week, sharing with teens who have similar struggles allows them to start to feel emotionally safe and be their authentic self. They begin to stop hiding behind emotional walls and allow themselves to be seen, known, and accepted for who they really are. This is a priceless experience and will rocket their self-esteem!

There are other ways to find social support for your teen. Whether you decide on group as a way to help your teen find support, or you seek connection for your teen elsewhere, our mission is to help your teen understand that they are not alone.

If you think group might be right for your teen contact us here for your free consultation.

What Teens Really Want!

It is hard to be the parent of a teenager. It is even harder to be the parent of a teenager that is struggling with depression, anxiety, anger, or suicidal thoughts. The worry, the desire to take their pain away, the sleepless nights and more…

Parents of teens that are struggling often say that they don’t know how to help them and feel that their teen is often isolating, angry, or pulling away. However, teens have a different perspective.

Watch this video to learn what teens really want and what you can do?

To learn more about how to connect with your teen click here to schedule your free consultation!

UNDERSTANDING NORMAL VS. ADNORMAL TEENAGER BEHAVIOR

With the school year starting I have been getting a lot of calls from parents worried about their teens. School anxiety is spiking, teens are beginning to feel overwhelmed and their dread of the new year is sinking in.

Parents ask me: “Lianna, how do I know if what my daughter’s is doing is a ‘normal teenager thing’ or if it’s something more serious? How do I know when I’m at the point where I should get my teenager some help?”

One of the hardest aspects for parents raising teenagers is understanding the difference between normal teenager behavior and unhealthy, abnormal teenage behavior. It’s normal for teens to become cranky, withdrawn, and — let’s be honest — irritating at times. But how can you tell if a teen is being moody or showing the warning signs of anxiety and depression? How can you distinguish typical teenage behavior from dangerous red flags?

WHAT’S NORMAL AND WHAT’S REASON FOR CONCERN?

I put together this list to help you get an idea of some of the differences to keep an eye out for. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but hopefully will help give you an idea of the basics.

WHAT CAN PARENT’S DO TO HELP?

Teen’s are always communicating with us, verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes we are just too distracted to notice all the signs. Listen to what they are saying and what concerns are on the minds. Ask questions for clarification, if you are a nag. Just own up to it, admit to being annoying and ask what they mean. Pay attention to their body language or any changes in behavior.

If you think your teen is in need of additional support contact me today!

3 Tips To Help Your Teen Cope With Back To School Anxiety

As you know school is starting and you know what happens next feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. I am going to address some of things you can do as a parent to help your kids be successful this year despite feeling anxious.

Many of us believe that by the time our kids reach high school they have back-to-school anxiety under control. Nope. Many of the teens I work with talk consistently about worrying about returning to school. They worry about a number of issues including classes, being liked, fitting in, finding their way around, what to say, managing their schedule and work load, etc.

Something I see a lot of with the teens I work with and I am sure many of you parents are familiar with too as that when teens get this anxious and uncomfortable they beg and plead to stay home. They actually can make themselves sick.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP…

So bearing in mind that your teens are nervous not only about the first day, but the first few weeks or months here are some tips you can use to help your teen adjust to returning to school:

  1. Look At the Basics

Have a routine. Start about 1-2 weeks before school starts. Get their sleeping back on track for a school schedule. Eat breakfast! No one copes well when they are hungry. Pack your book bag the night before, decide on your outfit, etc.

  1. Avoid reassuring instead focus on problem solving

Parents this doesn’t mean solve the problem for them. However, try to avoid statements like everything will be fine. Your teen doesn’t believe this and it can feel invalidating. Instead try to ask them problem solving questions, such as, If (worst thing) happened what would you do? Use things they identified as being anxious about (try not to come up with your own things, this may increase fears).

3. Encourage them to breathe

Practicing their coping skills will help them feel more confident when school starts. Try making this part of your house-hold routine. Role model using this as a skill or practice it as a family before or after dinner.

If your teen needs support with coping skills for returning to school contact me here  to learn more.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF YOUR EMOTIONS

Does your teen feel overwhelmed by emotions, hide from them or shove them down? Facing distress is difficult and a common reaction for teenagers is to shove those feelings away. Sometimes the emotions we are having feel so overwhelming we don’t want to feel them or deal with them so we shove them away, we are not even interest in going close to them because we are afraid to of what might happen if we connect to them.

It’s normal to have a range of emotions and every day is not going to be perfect. It’s okay to experience them.

How To Face Difficult Emotions

We have discovered that if you acknowledge them and label them the intensity with decrease and you will get through it quicker. In DBT we use the skill “riding the wave” to help teenagers learn to experience their emotions in the moment without their emotions being in control.

A surfer doesn’t fight the powerful ocean wave; he moves with the wave riding its natural tide. “Riding the wave” is also a practice of surfing your own powerful and negative emotions. Rather than fighting sadness, anger and other negative emotions, it’s about allowing your emotions to wash over you like a tidal wave, riding them out until they pass so that you can make wise decisions from a place of calm rather than a place of emotional turmoil that can often lead to destructive or ineffective behavior that doesn’t serve your goals.

When your teen is in distress it can be challenging to control or manage intense emotions. They may be flooded and inundated with negative emotions and harmful urges. There may be a feeling of hopelessness as the emotions are too overwhelming to deal with.  This is when riding the wave comes in handy.

Also known as Urge surfing, riding the wave involves observing and coping with the experience without trying to change it. As the more frequent tendency is to avoid, escape, or shove the feeling away, so riding the wave may seem unnatural. Riding the wave will give your teen a sense of personal control over uncomfortable feelings. Riding the wave allows one to sit with his or her discomfort, sorrow, and pain, instead of fighting the feeling by acting impulsively and engaging in harmful and self-destructive behaviors.  Although it can seem counterintuitive, accepting painful emotions allows for freedom from suffering.

It’s challenging to accept our thoughts and manage our emotions, but if we can learn how to “ride the wave” of our feelings we can prevent our urges from dictating our behavior. Your Teen will be more secure in knowing they have more control over their behavior and be able to respond rather than react!

This can be a difficult skill to learn. If you think your teen might benefit from riding the wave or other coping skills contact me here to learn more about Teen DBT Skills Group!

SHIFT OUT OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS (GOAL IS NOT TO CHANGE THEM)

If your teen struggles with negative self-talk the DBT mindfulness skill “Fact or Judgement” may be the solution. They can enjoy the moment without negative thinking.

Thoughts and Feelings aren’t Facts

Anybody who has worked with teens or has teens know that negative self-talk teens are very hard on themselves and this impacts their behavior. Using “Fact or Judgement” can help teens notice what’s happening in their mind and have more control over their emotions and reactions.

For example, if a teen fails a test in school they may think “I’m not good enough. I’m a failure. I’m never going to succeed in school.” Thoughts like this just keeps going and going in their head and by the time they get home they may not be willing to talk or have an angry outburst and as the parent you have no idea why. They may even not want to do their homework, or not want to go to school anymore.

When using “Fact or Judgment” helps teens observe their negative self-talk and ask themselves is this a fact, or is this a judgment? This will help to give emotional distance from the thought.

Teens can say: “I’m having the that I am stupid because I failed this test and this is a judgement. The fact is that I didn’t study. I am passing the class.”

This will in turn impact their behavior: If your teen is no longer feeling like a failure or stupid and has stopped the negative-self talk wheel, they may be more open to studying, going to school, talking to you, etc.

Don’t Let Your Thoughts Drive You

Remember don’t let your thoughts take control. Thoughts are not facts. Practice noticing your thoughts and letting them go. Remind yourself of what the facts of the situation are. Ask yourself what is true here? What amI reacting to?

Some teens have even mentioned that it is helpful gain distance from their thoughts by saying them out loud or talking to them in third person (ex. Lianna this negative thought is just a thought, your facts are…).

This doesn’t mean to invalidate our feelings, just to acknowledge that the thought is just a thought and a fact is fact.

Need more support or tricks for your teen? Book your free parent consultation here.

WHY SUMMER BOREDOM BUSTERS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

“Mom…Dad…I’m bored.”

Sound familiar? I used to say this to my parents all the time, even into my teens. Believing that your parents are responsible to entertain you is an innate belief in children. Parents feel on the spot to provide a solution or even like a bad parent if they haven’t entertained their children.

It is easier today than ever for teens to get bored. Children and teens boredom is easy to satisfy in the moment with the constant access to electronic entertainment (YouTube, Social Media, Video Games, etc). However, this constant access has created an increase in boredom as well. Teens are requiring “bigger and better” entertainment to be entertained. Their attention span is decreasing. Teens require more intense entertainment at a faster pace to not get bored. Electronic entertainment has also impacted their enjoyment of face-to-face socializing with family and friends. Social skills are decreasing with social anxiety rates increasing.

What should you do when your children and teens get bored?

Children need unstructured time. One of the biggest challenges as children is learning how to manage unstructured time. This is an important skill for your children to learn. Unstructured time is essential for children and teens. It gives them the opportunity to learn decision making. It helps them to explore their inner and outer world and begin to discover who they are. This is time when they explore their creative and authentic self.

A key to this unstructured time is no screen time. A good way to start is to agree as a family to times during the week that the family won’t use any devices. One day a week or a few hours a day. You may get some push back, but it will be worth it. Just encourage them and use your connection to help them see the value.

Think about before we had phones and we had to just wait in line or at the movies. Remember, how your mind would wonder to creative things or solve problems. This ability to vacillate between focused and unfocused thinking helps to create a sense of self and empathy.

Boredom is normal is teens and encourages them to actively entertain themselves. Join my Correction to Connection Workshop for more tips about parenting teens.