Anxiety disorders – whether its generalized, OCD, social anxiety, panic attacks, phobias or reaction to a stressful event, treatment works towards eradication of anxiety symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to identify and change anxiety-producing beliefs and thoughts. Stress management and assertiveness training are often utilized to reduce anxiety as well.

Depression – therapy focuses on changing the client’s experience of emotional exhaustion to emotional fulfillment. Thoughts and beliefs that generate depression are explored and appropriately challenged. Behavioral strategies are utilized to change the client’s frame of mind and his or her daily experience.

Bi-polar – working collaboratively with a client’s psychiatrist or other physician, therapy focuses on maintaining emotional stability. Stress management and self-awareness are often utilized.

Grief and loss – therapy provides affirmation and guidance through the experience of loss so that the loss becomes a significant, but not overwhelming, part of the person’s whole life experience.

Self-esteem, identity issues – therapy collaborates with the client in exploring his or her life experiences, identifying how and where messages about the Self were formed, and challenging the validity of certain problematic self-messages. The client’s spiritual as well as psychological experiences are explored.

Should I Let My Child Have Social Media?

Here’s my answer. Growing up in the digital age is something most parents today know nothing about.  We have no direct experience of what going through middle school in the era of social media is really like.  We can, however, observe the impact of social media on our children.   I want to emphasize that we must not underestimate its impact on our children.  I believe that our middle schoolers are the most vulnerable to social media’s influence.   The reason I say this is based on child development theory.  Erik Erickson developed the “Psychosocial” stages of development.  He believed
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, Parenting, Relationships, School, and Transitions / Change.

Why is bullying such a problem these days?

Given the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the importance of addressing bullying is at its peak.  Bullying is an issue that is related to several problems in our schools, from mild anxiety problems to truancy to incidents of deadly violence.  Did you know that social rejection and bullying are common factors among students who become school shooters?  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics victims of bullying are twice as likely to bring weapons to school.  Statistics reported by ABC News state that nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids (nationwide)
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Children, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, Personal Growth, School, and Stress.

Traits of Healthy Families #6-9

Lately I’ve been expanding on Dolores Curran’s book “Traits of a Healthy Family” which identifies 15 traits that healthy families exhibit.  She is quick to point out that no family is perfect or lives out all of these 15 traits.   However, healthy families as a whole will show these qualities.  Last month’s column was guest-written by my daughter and covered the traits of “Valuing table time” and “strong sense of rituals and traditions.”  This edition will examine how and why playfulness, leisure time, balance, and shared responsibility are important in family life. We’ve all heard it said that “The
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Categories: Family, Marriage, Mental Health, Parenting, and Relationships.

Traits of a Healthy Family #3-5

Last month’s column introduced the traits of good communication and valuing family time and conversation.  In this issue, three more of the 15 traits from Dolores Curran’s book, “Traits of a Healthy Family” will be covered.  Traits 3 – 5 have to do with providing every family member with a sense of inclusion and acceptance. Trait three, “affirming and supporting one another”, really starts with the parents.   Happy parents make for happy kids.  Affirming parents have good self-esteem, and work to instill a positive mood in the home.  This positive tone in the home creates a general expectation that
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Categories: Family, Marriage, Mental Health, Parenting, and Relationships.

Traits of a Healthy Family #1-2

What do healthy families look like?  There’s a saying; “Crazy comes in many forms but sanity just has one.”  Dolores Curran, author of “Traits of a Healthy Family,” surveyed professionals in education, ministry, health care, and family counseling, asking them to identify what they observed in families they deemed as “healthy.”  Based on this survey, 15 traits were identified as components of healthy families.   There is no single family that embodies all of these traits, so don’t feel pressure to master them all.  This issue will look at the first two in Curran’s list; communication, and valuing family time
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Categories: Family, Mental Health, Parenting, Personal Growth, and Relationships.

The Challenge of Difficult Emotions

Fear.  Shame.  Anger.  Boredom.  Sadness.  Disgust.  These are feelings we don’t enjoy, and we can often go to great lengths to avoid them.  This was documented centuries ago by Blaise Pascal, who is quoted to say “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”   We try to suppress these emotions, especially fear and shame.  However, as Brené Brown has noted, emotions are like the old string of Christmas lights: when we deny or turn off one light bulb (such as anger) the whole string goes out.  Essentially, we become emotionally disabled in
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Are you Willing and Able?

Happy New Year! What I’ve been thinking about lately is will and ability.  If you think about the word “responsibility” you can think of it as “response ability.”  It’s your ability to respond to life’s demands.  Its your capacity to act.   Another thing to consider besides ability is willingness.  As great American thinker William James describes it, its the “sense of the amount of effort we can put forth.”  We all have a power of will.  It is my hope and prayer that you have an immense power of will.  It is the engine with which you drive your
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Categories: Faith issues, Mental Health, and Personal Growth.

Resolutions: How about trying to make it a happy (and new) year?

Happy New Year!  Have you made any resolutions for the New Year?  Making New Year’s resolutions is a good idea, despite the bad press it gets sometimes.  This is because they really do work! Research by John C. Norcross has shown that compared to people who don’t make resolutions,  people who make New Year’s resolutions are actually twice as likely to successfully change something in their lives.  Whether you have resolved to get physically fit, quit some bad habit, or chosen not to make a resolution, let me suggest a resolution that will change your life. This is it: work
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Categories: Holidays, Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Stress.

Empowering the Bored Child

“I’m bored.”  It doesn’t take too long before this statement is heard in the summer.  Its a monotone, depressing complaint.  It can trigger anger in parents to hear this, or at least mild irritation.  Boredom by definition is a feeling of weariness with one’s present task or lack of interesting pursuits.  Its something everyone has experienced.  Its a feeling we have to live with sometimes as its part of normal human existence.  Unfortunately, with Netflix and video games this generation of children can pacify their boredom without truly overcoming it successfully.  The result is a low-grade boredom, like a lingering
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Children, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Help! My child was diagnosed with ___________!

Anyone out there have a child diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety or other mental disorders?  This article addresses the challenges associated with your child being given a psychiatric diagnosis.  Recently a mother talked with me about a struggle she was having; how to talk to your child about their mental health diagnosis.  It got me thinking about about how difficult and sensitive an issue a psychiatric diagnosis is for individuals and families.  I have talked with parents about this issue several times  The concerns are complex and broad ranging.  For instance, what affect will knowing the diagnosis have on my
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Mental Health, Parenting, and School.