Blog Section

‘Help Your Child Thrive in School and Beyond’ – National School Psychology Awareness Week 2015


This week happens to be National School Psychology Awareness Week. In an effort to promote our profession and  provide an understanding of what it is that we do – because it seems to be ever evolving, changing, and growing –  each year the national association designates a week in November to present a message to the public about school psychology.

Helping Students and Families Connect the Dots and Thrive in School and Beyond.

School psychologists are trained to support and help students build their strengths, skills and abilities and realize their goals. Specifically, we have the expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children  and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. We help students build upon their strengths, skills, interests, and abilities to ‘connect the dots’ and thrive. This includes helping them identify and plan ways to accomplish short and long term goals, building better relationships, and finding ways to keep going even when things get tough.

As many in our community may wrestle with high emotion and confusing thoughts and opinions related to incredibly important matters of faith, family, belief, and hope for the future, being accepting and loving towards everyone, even those that are very different from us, while challenging, may be more important than ever. Kids in school, especially as they get older, become notoriously peer focused! Who is getting the A? Who has the coolest phone? Who does the teacher call on the most? Who got asked to the dance? Etc. Etc. Supporting our kids to be true to themselves, yet accepting of others can be such a difficult task.


5 Tips for Creating Emotional Security for Your Children


5 Tips for creating emotional security and safety for your children when they are away from home.

It is often discussed how to create a loving home that encompasses safety, love, and security.  We validate, empower and create open dialogue, encouraging our children to have voices amongst other things.  However, the world and especially school environments can be very different from home.  There are different elements to consider and prepare for to assist in creating a feeling of safety and emotional security for our children while in these environments outside of home.

Prepare your children for various encounters, The world can be a tricky place to navigate.  Even for adults, we encounter social situations that can be tough to navigate, and know how to react.  Helping your children to understand the various encounters they may have while outside your home can help reduce anxiety, and prepare them to handle these encounters with confidence.  How to interact with the bus driver, the teacher who may scold you, the children in the class who may have buddied up, the adults at church that say hello, are all wonderful encounters to prepare your child for.  Help them with ideas for these types of scenarios based on your families ideals and personal values.

Role Play.  Don’t let the classic “What would you do if?” questions disappear into he closet with your past!  These are still present and relevant questions to present to your child.  What would do if you were left out at school?  What would you do if you were being treated unkindly?  What would you do if you saw someone being unkind?  Role play situations like these and others with your child.  It will not guarantee your child handles every situation perfectly, but it will offer them some experience and ideas to better handle situations that may present themselves when they are away from home.


Identifying and Treating Seasonal Depression

SEASONSFall time is upon us!  There are so many things that make fall a great time of year.  The food, the smells, and the holidays are all things to look forward to.  However fall also marks a difficult time for many people.  Our days become shorter, which mean we do not have as many daylight hours.  For some this transition only marks the beginning of a season change, while for others it marks a significant change in their mood.
Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a common problem that numerous people struggle with.  Many people have symptom onset in the spring time, however the majority of people notice their symptoms start in the fall and continue through the winter months.  Researchers speculate that the lack of sunlight during these months cause a change in important chemicals like melatonin and serotonin that affect our mood, appetite, and sleep.  As a result we become more likely to exhibit depression like symptoms during months where we do not receive enough sunlight to regulate these chemicals.

7 Rules in Shame-Based Families

Teen Family Time
Shame has been a popular psychotherapy topic in social media lately and due to its fame it is frequently on my mind.  Today I’ve been thinking specifically about shame-based families and how this toxic feeling is often handed down through generations.
Shame can be passed through a family in myriad ways.  A common path is for it to travel through family rules.  With some prompting, maybe you can recall some of your family’s rules.  What rules did your family have about touching and sexuality?  What were the rules regarding marriage, money, vacations, religion, socializing…?
In John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame That Binds You he outlines 7 rules that are maintained by shame-based families.

Is Talking About Race Just a Phase?

Family 2

As parents, the ability to talk with our kids about race can be very challenging. Over the summer,  I had a chance to talk with KSL Radio about the term “transracial” as it related to a popular story of the fallout and national conversation about race, when a white woman chose to identify as a black woman for professional and personal reasons.  In the radio interview I addressed the term transracial as an adoption term only and I discussed the history of “Passing” in a America. What I didn’t get a chance to talk about (because we only had 2 minutes) was how to help parents of children who may hear about being transracial and feel that they, too, identify with another cultural or ethnic group outside of their own.

Click the link below to listen to LaShawn Schultz talk with KSL Radio

Parents may wonder how to address it or whether to ignore it and hope it passes like a rebellious taste in music. You don’t have to be a scholar about race relations in America in order to talk to your child about racial identity. What you do have to be aware of is the relationship you have with your child and the reality of identity development in the life of an adolescent.  Adolescence can be a trying time both for the tweenager, the teenager, and their parents and caregivers. This is because identity and the ability to explore it is in a full fledged developmental process. Identity itself is a lifelong process that only begins in adolescence. Our goal in parenting through change is to help our kids navigate the questions that arise from their crises.

While racial identity development is a separate experience reserved for the lived experience from birth of a specific racial or ethnic identity, the discussion of feeling a connection and kinship to a racial group that is not part of your own and only experienced in a social interactions is different.  The ability of parents to remember and do the following 3 things will help keep your connection to your child as durable as it is flexible.

  1. Recognize that a “crisis” is not a bad thing, it is simply an unanswered question or series of questions. It’s okay to explore questions with your child because this builds critical thinking skills.
  2. Realize that your child bringing the unanswered question to you is as much a compliment as it is a hearing test. Your child wants to know if you’ll hear them and listen when they talk.
  3. While your child cannot change their racial identity, the relationship you have with them is what will change as you use your ability to talk with them as an emotional connection point.  Connection is what allows you to talk with them about race as a social construct and get underneath their questions to reach the desire for emotion and validation that is fueling the questions about their identity in the first place.

The three things are the foundation of your relational connection to your child and will make a big difference in your relationship with them all because of your willingness to understand them.


Help With Homework? Re-frame Your Approach This Year


The school year is now underway, and for most of us, that can only mean one thing. It’s just a matter of days before ‘it’ begins, ‘mom, where is my science book? I know it was in my book bag and now it’s gone!’ or ‘dad, YOU SAID you would help me with my English!’ Homework season has begun.

When did homework become so intense, so stressful? Does it have to be this way? Here are just a few ideas to re-frame the homework experience to make it easier on you and help you remember why we do it at all.

Pro or con, the homework debate has been going on for as long as most of us can remember. How much is enough? Is it worth it? Should you monitor your child? Most research leans towards yes, generally speaking, though not always in the way we might think. Overall, a good rule of thumb is approximately 10 minutes per grade, so a first grader completes about 10 minutes, and so on.


A List of Surefire Ways to Feel Happier & Fight Depression

walkway sea
A List of Surefire ways to Feel Happier and Fight Depression
Over the years depression has been steadily increasing in adults as well as children.  So how can we fight these feelings of sadness? How can we help our children?  I recently came across this website that discusses nature and our mood, and why it helps.  It is a very quick read and the website offers a list of ways that we can increase our happiness; each suggestion is backed by clinically proven research.  The source offers specific ideas and things to do for adults as well as for children.  It gives suggestions that can take as little as five minutes of your time, to more extended amounts of time.
Check out his link and get see if there is a something for you to get you feeling good:

Student Resiliency: 5 Skills Your Child Needs To Suceed This Year


Over and over the term ‘resiliency’ is being used in conversations between teachers, parents, and in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Most of us use the term casually; of course, students who are ‘resilient’ will do better at school – both academically and socially – but what does resiliency really mean?  Can parents help develop these skills? Can resiliency ‘be taught?’ In one psychological study conducted by Brock (2002d), student resiliency was determined to include specific internal behavioral skills or traits and that yes, these traits could be improved or fostered. Using that study as a framework, positive student resiliency behaviors/skills include:


Fight the New Drug

popular kids

A few months ago I attended a presentation with my teenage son at Canyons School District titled “Fight the New Drug”.  As a therapist, I was expecting the typical “why porn is bad” -type of platform.  What I found was a fresh approach that was all-inclusive, carrying out an anti-pornography message across borders of religious beliefs, political agenda and social backgrounds by presenting it as a public health issue, rather than as a moral, political or religious argument.  Historically, pornography used to be a matter of personal opinion.  Some people felt it was natural, normal, even expected to be consumed.  Others felt it was “bad” or “wrong” due to their personal religious beliefs or political views.  However, few people, if any, seemed to have concrete evidence to support their view.  FTND’s mission exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography  by raising awareness using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

Teens learn how they are impacted  on 3 levels:  Personally, (recent finding in neuroscience), relationally (personal stories) and socially, (connecting the link to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation), in a delivery using multiple creative mediums that captivate youth!  Founded locally here in Salt Lake City, Utah as a non profit organization campaign in 2009, they have carried their message to over 300 schools and colleges in North America, reaching thousands of teens (it’s target population).  They also deliver through social media and have a massive following that has created a powerful social movement online.  Their slogans can be seen on T shirts worn by Hollywood stars like “Porn Kills Love”, “Fight for Love” or “Stop the Demand”.

What impressed me most about this presentation I attended and what I find sets it apart from any others I’ve seen, is their online recovery program, “Fortify”: A Step Toward Recovery”, free to anyone under age 20.  Most young people (I never see in therapy), suffer silently, already deeply trenched in a porn addiction, too embarrassed or ashamed to reach out and ask for help.  Fight the New Drug offers anonymity where  teens (and adults for a nominal fee) can finally seek help NOT just feel guilty.  The website also offers a free book “Parents guide to addressing pornography with children” to assist families.  FTND encompasses 4 programs: Media, Mobilization, Protection AND Recovery, a solid, comprehensive non profit that few others offer.

Check out today.


The Thing That Gets In The Way of Our Sense of Worthiness

Wasatch Family Therapy Depression

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Brene Brown that likely means that you are not a psycho therapist. She has become a ROCK STAR in profession therapy circles and I have become an ABSOLUTE Brene Brown JUNKIE!! I have read and re-read every book she has written; listened and re-listened to those same books; high-lighted, outlined and committed to memory her main premises because her research findings are revolutionary and understanding and then applying them holds the key to what she would term a “whole hearted” life.

What exactly does Dr. Brown study, you might ask. Promise yourself that you won’t lose interest and stop reading when I tell you because as unappealing as the main emphasis of her research might seem on the surface, it is essential to understanding how to develop, among other things, a sense of worthiness, the ability to feel loved and the experience of feeling that we have a place where we belong in this big bad world.

Dr. Brown studies SHAME, which is, as she puts it is “the thing that gets in the way of our sense of worthiness.” Shame is defined as, “The belief that we are not enough,” that we are somehow flawed, imperfect, less than, don’t measure up, inherently bad, that we are a mistake. We use all kinds of ineffective and downright damaging tactics to try to avoid feeling shame such as trying to be perfect so that we can avoid the judgement of others; numbing our feelings through any of a number of methods including, but not limited to, drugs, alcohol, food, television, social media, work (anything that will allow us, for a time, to escape from uncomfortable emotions); and, of all things, attempting to protect ourselves from feelings of loss by what Dr. Brown calls “foreboding joy” which is an ineffective tactic designed to diminish the experience of loss by not fully embracing the joyful moments that life has to offer – the thinking being that if we don’t fully embrace some aspect of our lives, when it’s gone, we haven’t lost anything because we had nothing to lose.