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How to “Ground” Your Child

I know most of you started reading this in hopes of finding the magic bullet for dealing with your child’s misbehavior. You should know, that’s not the type of grounding we are talking about. While you won’t be getting any discipline tips, the mindfulness grounding techniqu

es presented here pose many benefits for you and your child, including allowing your child to be more present especially when becoming behaviorally or emotionally dysregulated.

The goal of grounding is to calm the emotional and irrational part of our brain so that we can begin to think more logically about what is going on. Grounding exercises allow individuals to:

  • Remain calm and present when we become over stimulated or experience a flashback from a negative past experience
  • Begin to feel and express big emotions such as anxiety or anger
  • Catch our self in a whirlwind of worrying thoughts.

One helpful grounding exercise is bring our mind to what we are sensing in the present moment by carefully observe our surroundings and noticing what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching. This draws the mind away from worries, concerns, or large emotions and grounds us to the current space we are in.

One specific grounding technique I use with families and their children involves Lego mini-figures. Using a Lego mini-figure for this technique is not required; however, it is nice as it can have unique details and is easy to bring along anywhere you go. When the child gets upset they begin to describe the details they see on the mini-figure and what it reminds them of. Often children will describe the figures facial expression, specific cloths they are wearing, and discuss memories of playing with the figure. After the child has done this, I will have them take a deep breath before checking in with their parent or going back to play. While most children can do this on their own, I recommend the parent to participate and do this with the child in the beginning. By doing this with them, the child will become more comfortable at using this technique when they are upset.

It is important to note that while this specific technique is geared towards our children, it can also apply to us as adults. We as adults can look at our surroundings and describe what we see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. If we apply this, and other mindfulness techniques, alongside with our children, we will feel less anxiety and stress and will find that escalated situations will deescalate more quickly.

If you, or your child,would like to learn more about other helpful grounding techniques and strategies to positively manage your child’s emotional or behavior challenges, please contact us at Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555. We can provide a more specific approach to meet your individual or family needs.

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The Stranger in the Mirror

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered who the person staring back is? The feeling of not knowing who you really are as a person separate from the roles that you find yourself cast in. How often do we define ourselves generically by descriptors of those roles rather than by our character traits? A mother, a wife, a father, a son, a daughter, a coworker, etc. These terms describe our relationships, but there is more to us than simply who we are to other people. Is that really how we want to be seen by those around us? Flat, non-dimensional characters in the play called life? Where we are content taking a supporting cast role rather than starring in our own lives? Sadly, often that is exactly what happens for many of us. We become so busy that we forget to truly live and are left wondering where the time went and who we are.

Recently, my just-graduated from college daughter was having an “existential” crisis in our kitchen. Like so many of us, she’s struggling with how to identify herself. She’s technically no longer a student, though graduate school applications are in process, and she isn’t yet working in her field of study. She has described as “feeling adrift.” There is no longer a label that she can slap on to describe herself succinctly that feels adequate. What’s a 22-year-old to do? Or a 32-year-old? Or a 50-year-old? Or a 103-year-old? See, this isn’t a question of age or experience, but a question of perspective. How do we see ourselves? How do we want to be seen? How do others perceive us? Do all these different perspectives align?

I’ve noticed when I pose these questions that people (clients, friends, family) are often taken aback when they contemplate their answers. Often, they find that how their loved ones, coworkers, or acquaintances would describe them is similar to how they would like to be perceived but, not surprisingly, their self -perception is much more negative. Why is that? Why are we so quick to look outward for a measure of worthiness but so harshly judge ourselves, and our contributions, as inadequate? I wonder what would happen if, as a society, we spoke more kindly to ourselves and left self-recrimination out of our personal narratives? Would we be happier? Less anxious? Less depressed?

Positivity, gratefulness, and mindfulness are all ways that we can choose to treat ourselves with more care. These practices can help ground us and keep us focused on the good in our lives and ourselves to help us better weather the storms that life hurls our way. So, take a minute, look in the mirror, and tell the stranger you see there all the things that you want, hope, and desire for them. Treat that stranger as you would your best friend, coworker, sibling, or child that needs a little boost. Encourage that stranger to find their inner passion and foster it. Tell that stranger how much they are loved, and one day, you just might believe it.

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Sam’s List of Books & Podcasts To Keep the Therapy Going Outside Therapy

Here is a list of some of my favorite recommendations for books and podcasts to help keep the therapy going outside of therapy. These books and podcasts cover a variety of topics, from brain and behavior, child care, depression, and mindfulness. I particularly like Tara Brach’s mindfulness podcasts, as she offers listeners a dose of humor along with insight, and guided meditation.

BOOKS

Ekhart Tolle- A New Earth

Ekhart Tolle- The Power of Now

Michael Singer- The Untethered Soul

Brene Brown- The Gifts of Imperfection*

Dan Siegel- Brainstorm

Dan Siegel- The Whole-Brained Child

Dan Siegel- No Drama Discipline

Tara Brach- Radical Acceptance

Catherine Pittman -Rewire Your Anxious Brain

Ruby Wax- A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled.

Sue Johnson- Hold Me Tight

Jen Sincero- You Are a Badass

(*everything by Brene Brown is a good read)

PODCASTS

Tara Brach

The Hidden Brain

10% Happier

The Hilarious World of Depression

The Good Life Project

Not Another Anxiety Show with Kelli Walker

The Positive Psychology Podcast

Magic Lessons

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The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness

Does this title seem cheesy?  Well, it is legit!  Over the last 15 years the science of happiness is a serious area of study with validated research supporting it.  Among the findings are:

1-The brain can be changed. The scientific term for this is “neuroplasticity” meaning you can teach the old brain new tricks.

2-We can train our brain like a muscle, by adopting new thought patterns that can rewire negative thoughts.

3-All of us are hard wired for negativity (blame evolution!) so we all need to learn new ways to react and deal with everyday stresses.

4-Re wiring the brain does not take a lot of effort!
A few simple things will go a long way to change sadness into happiness.

As a therapist, I am always looking for new tools that support my 5 main treatment goals for clients:

1) Conquer negative thoughts, 2) Gain confidence, 3) Boost optimism, 4)Reduce Stress and last: Improve Relationships.  Don’t these 5 ares cover most everything?
One tool I have discovered to be very helpful is the website happify.com.  This website is amazing and has helped many of my clientele gain daily tools to manage stress as they sign up for daily happify, a video, quote, story or exercises that sets the mood for your entire day. What I love about this website is it is run by Positive Psychologists, Mindfulness coaches and other PHD level professionals that use research to instruct online users HOW to achieve overall balance and happiness. In addition, they offer ways to track your happiness but implementing a test every 2 weeks that measures your happiness. As a therapist, I endorse this fantastic website and find  it to be a great supplement to weekly therapy.  Most of the methods are based on DBT, (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) which is a evidence based therapy with practical methods that work fairly quickly. Check out happify.com today and understand how “Happiness is Winnable”. Best part is it is free!

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3 MYTHS of Self Compassion

canstockphoto7797192To most, compassion is a commendable quality. But for some reason, this quality is limited to “others” in our culture, not often for “oneself.” Lets explore 3 possible false assumptions that may prevent us from applying compassion to oneself.
1-Self Compassion means weakness.
Susan didn’t express any painful feelings while going through her divorce. She believed she had to be “strong for the kids” and power on no matter what. This meant putting herself last and ignoring any emotional or physical needs.  When Susan fell apart 3 months after the divorce was final, she wondered why she was able to be “strong” in the beginning, but then suddenly became “weak and unable to handle even the smallest tasks”. What Susan didn’t realize is that instead of being a “weakness”,
researchers are now discovering that self-compassion is one of the most powerful influences of coping and resilience, that we have available to us.  How one relates to themselves when the going gets tough- as an enemy or ally-is often what determines ones ability to cope successfully.
2- Self compassion is narcissistic.
High self esteem requires standing out in a crowd-or being “above average” in the American culture. The problem of course is that it is impossible for us to be outstanding, all of the time. When we compare ourselves to those “better” than us, we will always feel like failures. An example of
this is teen bullying.  One teen told me “picking on wimpy nerds boosts my self esteem and makes me feel cool”. After many sessions he finally discovered he needed to focus on himself, and ways to feel more secure, rather than his demeaning behavior towards others. Narcissism usually results in exercising power over others; self compassion is the opposite-empowering oneself so there is no need to compare or put others down.
3- Self compassion is selfish.
Some confuse self care with selfishness and assume caring of oneself automatically means neglecting everyone else.  As a therapist, I am always amazed when I meet people who consider themselves to be good, generous, altruistic souls, who are perfectly awful to themselves.  Caring for oneself is actually the opposite: it’s one of the most important things you can do to have healthier relationships, and it does not mean you neglect loved ones! In reality, beating yourself up can be a paradoxical
form of self centeredness.  When we can be kind and nurturing to ourselves, however, many of our emotional needs are met, leaving us in a better position to focus on others. Therefore, having self compassion equals the ability to have more to give others, not less to give others.
These 3 myths often stand in the way of caring for ourselves. More information and even classes on ways to improve self care can be found at www.mindfulnessprograms.com or web search (name of State) i.e.. “Utah msar”.
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New DBT Women’s Group Begins Sept. 8th!

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Next Group Begins Sept. 8th, 2015!

MINDFULNESS and INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS

6 weeks / Sept. 8 – Oct. 13

Tuesdays 6:00-7:30 pm

Led by Monette Cash, LCSW

Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.

Please contact us to register for the group!

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NEW DBT WOMEN’S GROUP BEGINS SEPT. 8TH!

canstockphoto3065314

Next Group Begins Sept. 8th, 2015!

MINDFULNESS and INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS

6 weeks / Sept. 8 – Oct. 13

Tuesdays 6:00-7:30 pm

Led by Monette Cash, LCSW

Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.

 

Please contact us to register for the group!

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DBT WOMEN’S GROUP BEGINS JUNE 2nd!

canstockphoto3065314

Next Group Begins June 2nd, 2015!

Tuesdays 6:00-7:30 pm

Led by Monette Cash, LCSW

Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.

 

Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance    (6 weeks / June 2 – July 7)

Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness    (6 weeks / Sept. 8 – Oct. 13)

 

Please contact us to register for the group!

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Say YES to Chocolate Cake! Interventions for Eating Issues

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Specific forms of therapy have proven to be very effective for those who struggle with any extreme eating patterns. You know the drill: the holidays hit, we overeat or eat all the nutritionally weak foods, then resolve, usually in January, to stop all sugar intake or eliminate total food groups like “carbs”. We’re disciplined for 2 or 3 weeks then our body feels deprived and we do a complete 180. Does this feel like banging your head against a wall? It does to me!

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers 4 techniques to find balance in eating.:

1) Sequence NOT Elimintation. The order in which we eat foods does make a difference. Try to eat nutritionally dense foods FIRST, but don’t eliminate food groups altogether. Eliminating ALL SUGAR or ALL CARBS leave us feeling deprived and the psychology behind that process increases our desire for something. Often nutritionists recommend eating lean protein first because as it is more filling, then vegetables/fruits, then grains, then desert. One client I worked with 5 years ago lost 50 pounds just be adopting this technique. She lost her strong desire for sugary deserts over time because she didn’t feel deprived of them (she could have them if she wanted them….just after the healthy stuff). She set herself up to succeed not fail. It took 6 months, and by then it was a lifestyle for her,. Today, 5 years later, she still wears the same jeans.

2) Measure progress with Feelings not Numbers. Rather than weighing yourself everyday, try tapping into how you feel at the beginning of each day. Do you feel bloated? Do you feel fatigue? My guess is over time, after eating healthier, you will wake up feeling energized, more relaxed about food having a sense of control over your health. Scales increase anxiety whether you have lost or gained weight. If you are down, you become more anxious increasing worry about maintaining that weight; more rigid in food choices, and ultimately set yourself up to buckle under pressure.

3) Start and end your day with Breathing Techniques. Ideally, a trained therapist can teach you these skills, called “mindfulness skills”. DBT offers one skill called 4 Square Breathing which leads to balanced food choices throughout the day and relaxation at night.

4) Stay in the Present Moment. When you make unhealthy choices, don’t dwell on it day after day or even hour after hour. Stay present and start making heathier decisions now. Beating ourselves up about poor eating habits only lead to extreme cycles once again. Stop the head banging once and for all! Personally, I eat chocolate cake to prevent binging! To learn more about mindful eating contact our office about enrolling in a 6 week DBT course.

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DBT WOMEN’S GROUP BEGINS MARCH 10th!

canstockphoto3065314

Next Group Begins March 10th, 2015!

Tuesdays 6:00-7:30 pm

Led by Monette Cash, LCSW

Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.

Series 1: (6 weeks / Mar. 10 – Apr. 14)  Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance

Series 2: (6 weeks / Apr. 21 – May. 26)  Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation

Series 3: (6 weeks / Sept. 8 – Oct. 13) Mindfulness and Interpersonal
Effectiveness

Please contact us to register for the group!

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