Blog Section

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.


When Frustration Overflows – Tantrums Promote Learning


Review of Hand in Hand Article “When Frustration Overflows — Tantrums Promote Learning”

Have you ever found yourself sitting across from your little one who is in the midst of an emotional outburst and realized that it could possibly be the ideal time to connect with your child? Expressing emotion can manifest in many different ways, what we do with it as parents and caregivers can offer us a gateway to connecting and attaching to our children in amazing and powerful ways.
The article “when frustration overflows — tantrums promote learning”
published  by~ Lyra L’Estrange who is a Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor with Hand in Hand can be found at:
In this article you will gain some insight into:
  • Why tantrums can be a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child.
  • Understanding your child’s needs
  • Allowing you child to feel heard and validated
For more specific support surrounding parenting dilemmas and struggles contact Melanie Davis CMHC with Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.
Hand in Hand Parenting
Author of article: Lyra L’Estrange



KIDS GROUP FLYER SLC - SUMMER 2015This weekly group is designed to help school-aged children navigate the challenges of social situations and understand what it means to be a friend. Focusing on understanding their role and impact on those in their world.

  • Keep and make friends
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Discover skills for coping with anxiety
  • Strengthen social skills

Next Group begins: Wednesday, July 15th (5:00 – 6:00 PM)

Price$50 per week/ per child

Ages: 8-12


Dr. Hanks Publishes Peer-Review Journal Article “Bringing Partnership Home”

Dr. Hanks Publishes Peer-Review Journal Article “Bringing Partnership Home”

As part of my dissertation study I created a model of family transformation to help families move from a dominator systems to a partnership organization that values cooperation, caring, connection, collaboration,  celebration of all contributions, compassion,  conscious language usage, and creativity. Based on Riane Eisler’s Cultural Transformation Theory, my Partnership Model of Family Organization offers a path for families to shift from ranking to linking.

Bringing Partnership Home: A Model of Family Transformation

Free article access here

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, Wasatch Family Therapy


Eisler’s cultural transformation theory suggests that the global crises we face can be addressed only through movement to a partnership model of social organization. Drawing on cultural transformation theory and systems theory, a partnership model of family organization (PMFO) is outlined as a practical framework to guide families toward partnership relations. Eight components of PMFO are presented and expanded on as a path toward furthering familial and societal transformation. The eight tenets of a PMFO are: 1) cooperative adult leadership, 2) connecting orientation, 3) caretaking emphasis, 4) collaborative roles and rules, 5) celebration of unique contributions, 6) compassionate communication, 7) conscious language use, and 8) collection and creation of partnership stories. Finally, specific strategies of application of the PMFO will be discussed.


Cultural transformation theory, marriage and family therapy, family organization, partnership model, dominator model, partnership model of family organization, family life, partnership studies, partnership families

Download the article for free


Social Skills: Let’s Teach Them !


As this school year wraps up, most students and parents will eagerly, or  for some anxiously, wait for report cards. Progress in reading, math, writing, physical education and perhaps, depending on your district or structure of your school, aspects of learning such as ‘motivation’ or ‘character’ will be indicated somewhere on the document. However, do you know how your child is functioning regarding social skills? Does it really matter?

Research in education today signals a resounding yes. In generations past, children acquired these skills almost exclusively at home and within their families. With increasing negative societal influences and various sources of stress bombarding so many of us, it’s hard for parents to go it alone. Schools can often be an important partner with parents to provide positive social skills development. Yet, what can you do if your child doesn’t seem to be interacting socially in age appropriate ways?


Preventing Meningitis: What You Can Do

Preventing MeningitisGuest Post by April Young Bennett, Communications Director, Voices for Utah Children

For the first time, Meningitis A will be included among the requisite vaccines for Utah 7th graders during the upcoming school year. This is good news for Utah children. Meningitis kills 10-15% of the people infected and many other victims suffer serious consequences, such as the loss of limbs, nervous system problems, deafness, brain damage and seizures or strokes. While Meningitis B vaccine is not required for school entry, Meningitis B vaccine is also available. Ask your doctor for both vaccines and keep your teens safe from this deadly disease. Reference A 


5 Ways To Be an Amazing Mother-In-Law: Dr. Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

When an adult child gets married, it can be difficult for his/her parents to navigate their new role as an in-laws. I am learning this myself, as my oldest son got married in the not too distant past. Unfortunately, our culture has created a negative stereotype of in-laws (particularly mother-in-laws), but your own experience can be a positive one! Here are 5 ways to be an amazing mother-in-law:

5 Ways to Be an Amazing Mother-In-Law

1) Expect and Embrace Differences A family unit can thought of as a sort of “organism;” it has its own traditions, belief system, and even its own quirks. When a new person enters this family (through marriage), there are bound to be differences. Recognize that there is no such thing as a completely seamless transition, and expect your new son-in-law or daughter-in-law to do some things in a new way. You can learn to celebrate these differences as well! It can also be helpful to talk about family expectations in order to navigate this change.


A Case For Vaccinating Your Child: Guest Post


I wanted to switch things up a bit and put out an article about a medical/social issue by guest blogger April Young Bennett of Voices for Utah Children. Today’s topic? A case for vaccinate your child. Read on to learn more about this important issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet on June 24 to consider adding Meningitis B vaccine to the list of recommended youth vaccinations. This disease kills 10-15% of the people infected, and other victims may suffer serious consequences, such as the loss of limbs, nervous system problems, deafness, brain damage and seizures or strokes. Widespread vaccination could prevent outbreaks like the recent outbreak at the University of Oregon (UO) where a student died and six other contracted the disease. Similar outbreaks have taken place at other campuses, such as Ohio University and Princeton. A positive recommendation for youth vaccinations for Meningitis would mean that insurance companies not already covering it will be more likely to do so. This is excellent news!

Immunization Works

Widespread vaccination campaigns have a proven track record for preventing deadly disease. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization made an exciting announcement: Rubella, a disease that causes miscarriages and severe birth defects, has been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere thanks to immunization. Similar success was achieved in at eliminating smallpox from the Americas in 1971 and polio in 1994.


Esteem Building Exercise for Teens

Wasatch Family Therapy
Believing positives about yourself when you feel crummy can be difficult and sometimes feels impossible. This is especially true for teens suffering from Anxiety or Depressive Disorders. Often times, teens, like adults, get stuck repeating or focusing on negative aspects or assumptions about them selves, and are resistant to looking for a more balanced or kind perspective. This constant self-criticism not only amplifies negative mood and behavior, but also makes it more difficult to see those positives that actually exist. To help counteract the negative self bias I hear from many teens I work with, I ask them to develop a “Positives List.”

Unfortunately for most, simply writing down positives is not a big enough step to actually believing those positives. The key step to making this process work is in writing a detailed account (1-2 paragraphs) about when, in the past, they actually demonstrated that quality or characteristic. I usually have them write 2 examples, but sometimes one is enough. When appropriate I also have them add when and how it impacted others or their environment positively. This process requires that they begin to search for actual memories to back up the positive they have listed, rather than just stoping with a word bank. Since the event has already occurred it is easier for the positive qualities to be substantiated.