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Forget School For the Summer!

canstockphoto3930124As we enter into summer, one question I am frequently asked by parents is : ‘What can I be working on so that my child continues to progress over the summer?’  If your child has had a difficult school year, having two full months with no formal academic activities can certainly cause worry.  Looking for answers, and at times not finding much, it can seem like there’s not much for parents to do but enroll kids in tutoring, or if possible a skill building workshop or class, or resort to working with their kids on their own with worksheets and materials from their child’s teachers – not always a fun endeavor when kids want to be outside with peers or doing something non-academic related.

My number one recommendation to these types of requests (while keeping in mind that every child is an individual and will require individualized recommendations)? READING. Yes. Regardless of your child’s age, reading ability, level, and grade, the more time your child reads, the better. Reading, and if your child is struggling with reading, reading with your child,  is simply the strongest recommendation I can offer to help your child succeed academically. 20 minutes every day. That’s the recommendation. Not a workbook. Not a program, not a technique, not a workshop. Read with your child. 20 minutes, everyday. You don’t need to learn ‘how to teach your child to read’. You don’t even need really great reading skills ! Just read with your kids. 20 minutes. Everyday. Here’s why:

In the world of education, 20 minutes a day is a magic number regarding reading. This is connected to a famous study conducted in 1987 by Nagy and Herman. The study examined how much time students spent reading, how many words read, and then performance on standardized tests measuring reading achievement. I probably don’t need to tell you; students who spend 20 minutes a day reading scored at the 90th percentile on tests measuring reading achievement. Those in the study that spent 5 minutes reading? Scored in the 5oth percentile. That’s a big difference.

Thanks to Pinterest and the internet, type in ‘why your child can’t skip reading tonight’ and the visuals that accompany this statistic will astound. But here is the logic: one student, Amy, reads 20 minutes a night, 5 nights a week. In one week, that’s 100 minutes of reading; in one month, 400 minutes; one school year, 3600 minutes; and by the end of the sixth grade – 21,600 minutes of reading!  Her friend, Mark, reads only 4 minutes a night, or not at all. In one week, that’s 20 minutes of reading; in one month, 80 minutes; one school year, 720 minutes; and by the end of the sixth grade – 4320 minutes of reading.

Is your child more of an Amy (by the end of the sixth grade, has read 21,600 minutes or 60 days) or more of a Mark (by the end of the sixth grade, 4320 minutes or 12 school days)? Given that the fluency (how fast or slow a student reads) can vary, the number words read might be somewhat different, but it’s estimated that Amy would have read 1.8 million words, and Mark over 282,00o words.

It’s such a dramatic difference, I myself had to look at that math twice just to be sure it wasn’t a trick.

Now ask yourself, who is the better reader? Who would you expect to know more? And so on…..

So this summer, let yourself and your student truly relax and enjoy some reading! In the long run, it might be the best thing you can do to help your child’s school achievement for next year.

 

 

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Thoughts And Prayers Are Not Enough

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In the hours after a tragedy inspired by intolerance and bigotry, it is difficult for me to write. I want to be angry and sad, and simply feel those feelings until they dissipate and I’m swept up in the next wave of media and life. I want to sit and watch the news, safely in my home, without action, knowing that it would likely be a reaction to the senseless hate that our country has struggled to defuse. I want to send my “hopes and prayers to the victims and their families” in order to feel a little better about the world and how I experience it, but, I also know that that isn’t, and never will be, enough. Whether you are an advocate for the LGBTQ community or an advocate for civil liberties, wishes and prayers are not enough to stop the violence and intolerance that divide our nation and break our hearts. For real and lasting change to happen we must, as participants in the democratic process, engage mindfully and thoughtfully in the political and cultural dialogues that are happening right now. Have an opinion, listen to others opinion, validate and learn about the differences, and by the grace of God or whatever you believe in, love each other. So instead of just wishing and praying, educate yourself beyond the emotional reactivity we see from Fox News and CNN.

Usually, the hours after a terrorist attack the media turns toward dialogue and coverage about the attackers that further instigates fear and polarization between
“Us and Them”. This binary mentality prevents us from seeing the individuals within the “them” and leads to more polarizing actions rather than learning to understand, communicate with, and co-exist with “them.”

When we choose to do nothing but listen or perpetuate the hate and fear rhetoric, we are ignoring our responsibility and opportunity to heal. By all means, send your prayers to these people, but also know that actions like voting, donating time or money, or having dialogue with others that promotes understanding and tolerance will help move us in the right direction.

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Camp Gregory – A Weekend of Healing for Grieving Children

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Children who are experiencing grief and loss struggle with identifying how and what they are feelings, as there are often no words to describe the emotions they experience. Oftentimes, they feel isolated and alone in their pain and confusion. Camp Gregory gives young children the experience of healing together with other children who have also suffered loss and are trying to process their feelings of grief. Join us for a weekend of play therapy, laughter and healing.

Location: Grandview Family Counseling, 1576 S. 500 W. Bountiful, Utah.

Dates: Friday, August 5th and Saturday, August 6th.

Facilitating: Holly Willard, LCSW RPT-S and Clair Mellenthin, LCSW RPT-S.

Ages 5-8 from 9am-12pm Friday and Saturday.

Ages 9-12 from 1pm-4pm Friday and Saturday.

Cost: $200

To register, call (801) 406-9002 or visit grandviewfamilycounseling.com.

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Good Intentions, Bad Advice

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http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/clair-mellenthin-llc-good-intentions-bad-advice

Clair Mellenthin visited Fresh Living to talk about what you should do in that situation. She says it’s important to trust yourself as a parent, and when you are needing advice, seek out information from trusted sources.

5 Way to Deal With “Advice”

  1. Smile, and say “Thank you” then walk away (and then choose to either toss it to the wind or think about it later)
  2. Ask how this advice has worked with their own child
  3. You have permission to just say, “You know, its a bad day today” and not justify your or your child’s behaviors to others
  4. Say “Parenting is a tough job some days. Its lucky I love this little guy”
  5. Set a boundary- if someone is overstepping their role in your or your child’s life, it is okay to set a limit and tell them no (wait! This is parenting right?!)

For more information from Clair, visit wasatchfamilytherapy.com or call (801) 944-4555

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The 22 Day Challenge: Honoring our Veterans

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As a therapist, I am always happy to see social media bringing awareness to mental health issues, especially suicide. This month an army veteran in Michigan started it to get people talking about POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER.
To accept the challenge, you do 22 push ups each day for 22 days to raise awareness and funds to show military men and women they are not alone.  Every day, an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide because they cannot cope with what they’’ve been through, CBS2’s Emily Smith reported (newyork.cbslocal.com)
Former Navy SEAL Kevin Lacz portrayed himself in the film “American Sniper” alongside Bradley Cooper, who played Chris Kyle. Kyle became a mentor to Lacz in Iraq. Kyle is known as the man with the most sniper kills in U.S. history. He was murdered by a former marine suffering from PTSD after he was honorably discharged.
“It’s an issue that’s alarming, stunning, striking… and I think we need to pay more attention to it,” Lacz said.
He worked up a sweat for the PTSD awareness challenge, but he said there’ is a stereotype that everyone who serves has the disorder.
“They estimate 20 to 25 percent do. There’’s another 75 percent who don’’t and people are quick to put the label if you served overseas you have PTSD.”
But Lacz said the issue and experiences that cause it should be talked about by everyone including war veterans themselves.
“There’s always that perception don’t ask what someone did overseas, but I think people want to know,” he said. “Your experiences are powerful. You led squads while your buddies were playing video games in college.”
Here at Wasatch Family Therapy, we are always trying to being awareness to suicide, a topic many do not like to talk about.  Take this holiday to read up on the stats of suicide and take the Push Up Challenge, which shows war veterans they are not alone and have an army of their own to help empower them once again.
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There and Back Again: How To Create Your Own Red Book of Westmarch

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but journaling can actually improve your quality of life. If you’re like me, you may be thinking “Yeah right like I really have the time to sit down to a bureau with my feather pen dipped in fresh ink to write in a red leather-bound book about all my adventures like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins” but in actuality you have more time than you think.

There are three common myths about journaling that I’d like to dispel in this particular blog:

Common Myth #1: I Don’t Have Time To Journal – Believe it or not, journaling doesn’t have to be a four-hour long engagement with you and your thoughts on paper. It can be a quick couple of lines jotted down to describe your day or some lingering thought you had or perhaps just a reflection on something you heard or experienced (I mean that’s pretty much like being on social media where you already work wonders easily with 140 characters or less).

Common Myth #2: My Life Isn’t Interesting Enough – Rubbish. You are a human being, exisiting in a world full of so much good, bad, and downright ugly where you interact with people all the time whether it be colleagues, family, or friends and you’ve yet to cease to live to tell the tale! You have more going on in your life than you think and it’s great material from which to

Common Myth #3: Journaling Is For Great Writers – Nay! You do not have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winner to be qualified to keep a journal. Journals do not judge you for having poor grammar or incoherent run on sentences nor should you! So feel free to write whatever comes to mind and don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t have to.

The cool thing is journaling has adapted to the digital age. This means for those of you who are tech savvy and prefer the electronic alternative to the old pen and paper method, you can download free journal apps on any of your mobile devices. As for myself personally, I enjoy the best of both worlds so I bought a journal and I downloaded an app for when time is sparse.

Journaling has a myriad of benefits. Just the idea of keeping track of your thoughts, reflections, and experiences can be very rewarding for your posterity who may not have had the opportunity to know you while you roamed the earth. It can be a source for inspiration and creativity when those moments of genius strike. According to a widely cited study by James W. Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal, “Writing about important personal experiences in an emotional way…brings about improvements in mental and physical health.” Proven benefits include better stress management, strengthened immune systems, fewer doctor visits, and improvement in chronic illnesses such as asthma.

Needless to say journaling has endless benefits and you can always use something that will benefit you.

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4 Easy Ways to Start Cheating On Your Spouse

  1. Always remain emotionally distant. When you have a problem keep it to yourself. Never allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to the other person.
  2. Reach out to old flames on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media sights, so you can see what they are doing on a daily basis.
  3. Start talking to these old flames regularly. Find out about their current likes and dislikes. Examine if they are happy in their relationship.
  4. When you are sad, angry, hurt, confused, and/or any other negative emotion toward your spouse turn to this new/old friend for support. Your spouse does not need to know. This information will only burden them and create even more emotional distance. Lean on and confide only on this new friend. Emotional closeness with someone of the opposite sex holds no danger for you. In the long run you are looking after your spouse and hopefully protecting them from hurt feelings.

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If you find yourself falling into any of these categories and feel that the relationship with your spouse is not going well, call Wasatch Family Therapy today. We are ready to help you through this difficult time and teach you effective ways to strengthen your relationship, and keep proper distance and boundaries in areas that may lead to cheating in the future.

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3 Things I Learned From the Kardashians

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While I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, I have to let you in on a guilty pleasure of mine; I love watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Most reality TV leaves me scoffing, changing the channel or, commenting with ridicule and judgment (I can’t help it), but when it comes to viewing Kim K and the rest of the family I walk away from each episode thinking “huh, amid the chaos there is something going well with this family”. It took me a while to sift through the grandiose- ego driven aspects of the show to find what I consider to be 3 real strengths that they demonstrate that could be applied to family therapy.

  • Pit and Peak

In one episode, the family sat down to family dinner, something they seemingly do often, and over the course of the meal each member took turn talking about the “Pit and the Peak” of their day. In other words, they were all present to check in with each other and share their experience of the day. There wasn’t much problem solving going on, but that seemed to be okay. The purpose of the exercise was more to hear and be heard.

*How this applies to family therapy: Spending meal times together and disclosing how your day went can be a great way to understand where people are emotionally, as well as offer support and praise. When we check in (and do it often) we are better able to avoid personalizing someone else’s bad day and this reduces conflict.

  • Be Real (real assertive that is)

For those of you who watch (and I know you’re out there), it is clear to see that this family has no problem putting themselves out there. While it may be a bit narcissistic or over the top in the show, what is also happening is self-validation. The Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Kris are willing to be vulnerable and verbalize when they are dissatisfied with one another. Rarely does this family let things get swept under the rug. When they are frustrated they let the other know and this creates the opportunity (for drama) AND for resolution. Yes, there are many times where they do not demonstrate assertive clear communication, but they are willing to put themselves out there and work it out.

*How this applies to family therapy: Passive communication often creates resentment and stress in families. Practicing assertive communication (like letting people know how you really feel) on the other hand, leads to a higher likelihood that those un-met needs that are causing conflict, will be met. Families that can “Be Real” with each other in respectful and validating ways are more likely to resolve and rebound from conflict and build secure attachments to one another.

  • Play

From creating their own music videos on family vacations, to wrestling, or playing pranks on each other, this family prioritizes play. No doubt that they are not short of drama or chaos, but their efforts to play and have fun with one another help counter balance the pandemonium and strife.

*How this applies to family therapy: When we forget to have fun with our families it limits our opportunity to learn and grow together. Play can be a stress relieving and bonding experience. With children, play can help them learn and develop various skills such as motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills. Play teaches the parents to be patient towards their children and can have the added value of increasing the child or teens self-esteem knowing they will be attended to. Families who take the time to play together, are often more cooperative, supportive and have better and more frequent communications.

While I am not suggesting that we all start emulating the Kardashians, these few point may be work trying to incorporate into your family dynamics.

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Getting Unstuck: 3 Ways Couples Can Move from Problem to Solution

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Keeping a relationship running smoothly can be difficult and challenging, especially when you and your partner may want different
things or misunderstand each other’s needs. Couples often become frustrated with each other when they can’t seem to find solutions to problems, and a feeling of “being stuck” begins to develop. When a couple can’t seem to move forward from or through their issues, they begin to question their feelings for each other, and whether or not they should even be together. If you and your partner seem to be feeling this way, click on the link below for 3 ideas that may help you begin getting “unstuck”.
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/04/09/3-ways-couples-get-stuck-and-how-to-move-through-it/
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Do Your Thoughts Ever Run Away With You?

Do your thoughts ever run away with you?

If you answered “yes” to that question, you’re not alone. Thoughts may come and go like clouds in the sky, and emotions may change like the weather, but when a thought storm comes rolling in, it can feel overwhelming, stifling, and paralyzing. In those moments, it is helpful to remember the following:

  1. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to fear. It puts your body into “fight or flight” mode and it is completely legitimate to feel  a fear response to a real or perceived threat.
  2. Tuning into your body’s fear response is the only thing you can control and it’s the first thing you’ll want to attempt. Your brain can’t function and help you dial back your fear response if your body is readying itself for a fight or a sprint.
  3. When you experience anxiety, check to see if you are in current danger or if you are worried about potential danger. Then adjust your response. If you are in current danger, get to a place of safety. If you are worried about potential danger, begin a calming process to help yourself understand what it is you’re worried about and why.
  4. Pay attention to your breathing. When we are in fight or flight mode, our breathing changes to rapid, shallow breaths to help us move quickly in defense of our safety. Once we reach a place of safety, our breathing changes to slower, deeper breaths to help our system calm itself and return to a baseline of normal functioning. How do you breathe when you are anxious? If you can recognize your breathing and mindfully work to slow it, you will begin to calm yourself in the process.

CALM THE STORM

So what do we do with our thoughts? We treat them like clouds passing in the sky, like pieces of the weather patterns in our lives. We treat them like cars on the freeway. We watch them come and we watch them go. We recognize that some thoughts will make our breathing rate increase and others will help it decrease. We realize that our thoughts are powerful but they are not the only reality we can choose to believe. We see our thoughts for what they are, ongoing experiences and commentary about our lives. Like radio static in the background or elevator music when you’re placed on hold during a phone call. Thoughts are present but they do not have to always be overwhelming or overpowering when we are able to remember that they change as frequently as the clouds in the sky.  As we learn to watch the shape that our thoughts form, we can give our thoughts permission to change without taking us along for the ride. In doing this, we give ourselves permission to observe the process without becoming overwhelmed by or hooked into it.  It takes practice and it takes awareness to get into the habit of observing your thoughts as thoughts on the stage of your reality. It is one of the most helpful ways to assist you in managing your relationship with anxiety.

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