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Five Do’s and Don’ts of Separation Anxiety

Do Implement a Good-Bye Ritual

         Brainstorm with your child a short ritual you will both perform every time you say goodbye. This could be a secret handshake, a special song, a mantra you say together or a combination of words and touch. Anything that is meaningful for both you and your child will work.

Don’t Use Tough Love as a Go To

 Karen Young of Hey Sigmund explains how fighting against our natural fight or flight instincts is a losing battle.

“We humans are wired towards keeping ourselves safe above everything else. It’s instinctive, automatic, and powerful. This is why tough love, punishment or negotiation just won’t work. If you were in quicksand, no amount of any of that would keep you there while you got sucked under. You’d fight for your life at any cost. School is less dramatic than quicksand but to a brain and a body in fight or flight, it feels the same.

            Instead, empower your children by teaching them how this primitive part of our brain works and breathing exercises they can employ to combat them.

Do Encourage Your Child To Express Feelings Through Art

            One of the most therapeutic and helpful things your child can do to understand and combat their anxiety is to explore their fears and experiences through art. A study conducted by Khadar et al. (2013) showed that the boys with separation anxiety developed more adaptive behaviors and emotions, and the children tended to share more feelings and improved their communication skills. This particular study used the medium of paint, but drawing, sculpting or any other medium that appeals to your child can be used.

Don’t Teach Your Child to Fight Their Anxiety

         Instead, teach your child to recognize and verbally point out what they are feeling and where in their body they are feeling it as an outside observer. Have your child thank their anxiety for doing its best to keep them safe. But use their thinking brain to then tell the anxiety that they are safe and that they’ve got this.

Do Externalize the Anxiety

         Have your child describe their anxiety—what it feels like, what it says and what it looks like. Then have your child design a creature that embodies anxiety. Have your child name the object and talk through the aspects of the creature your child creates. This gives you and your child a way to visualize, separate their feelings from who they are and a new language to speak about their anxiety.

If your child is experiencing separation anxiety that is concerning you, please schedule an appointment with me by calling 801.944.4555

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Kate Hofer, LPC Presents Art Therapy Training for Professionals

Wasatch Family Therapy’s Kate Hofer with Collette Dawson-Loveless will present a CPRT for Teens and Art Therapy training on April 27th, 2012 for the Association of Play Therapy Utah Chapter. The training  focuses on strengthening the bonds of attachment between parent and child. The training will be held at the Foster Care Foundation located at 5296 S Commerce Drive #400, Murray, UT 84107.

Contact the Association of Play Therapy Utah Chapter for Registration.

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Clair Mellenthin, LCSW RPT-S Joins Provo Team

I am so excited to be joining our Provo Team as the new Clinical Director in Utah County. I am looking forward to building up our practice in Provo, where Kate Hofer, LPC and Mike Morgan, AMFT are busy building a strong foundation of excellent clinical work to offer our clients and the community. In March we are going to be offering several exciting new groups, workshops, and services including:

The K.I.D.S. Group
This is a therapy group for children ages 8-12 who need a social skills building group to address
• Anxiety
• Difficulty making and keeping friends
• Building confidence and leadership skills
• Group begins Wednesday, Feb. 22nd 4-5:30 pm

Hold Me Tight Workshop for Couples
This is an 8 week workshop facilitated by Haylee Heyn, AMFT using Emotionally Focused Therapy skills to build stronger, closer connections to your partner. Space is limited so please register early! See our website for more details.

For Professionals: Kate Hofer will also be teaching a monthly Art Therapy Techniques workshop. More details to follow.

– We are pleased to be partnering with the University of Southern California Masters in Social Work program and are looking forward to having graduate level interns in our Provo and Salt Lake City office.

We are thrilled to be offering our clients in Utah County excellent services and community resources. I am looking forward to growing Wasatch Family Therapy and being part of this wonderful team!

Warmly,

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S

Clair Mellenthin

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW

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