How to Choose the BEST Therapist for Your Child

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Photo by London Scout

You are feeling you need to get help for your child. You want the BEST to help your child feel better and be able to function in the world in the most healthy way possible. It is so hard to come to a place where you feel you need help. But at times that is what is needed. Part of our job as parents is to recognize this and do what is needed to help our child have a reparative experience to heal and move forward. It may be to learn coping skills or how to communicate feelings or to deal with other things that are affecting your child in a negative way. As a child therapist I always try to help those in this situation find the best fit for their child or teen and for them as parents because I know this will mean the best outcome.

Key Components in Finding the BEST Child Therapist for Your Child

  1. Take into consideration what age your child is and find a therapist who has specialized training to do work with this age. If you have a child who is under 9 years of age, it is best to consider a Registered Play Therapist. Even if your child is older than this, it may be best to go this route. Those under 12 will normally benefit from this kind of therapy as well.  Play therapists are trained to interact and treat children in a way that is developmentally appropriate and that is most effective with this age. Play therapy is not just for young children. As a Registered Play Therapist I work with children and teens in a playful, activity based way that engages and helps children / teens to process and heal. In addition, play therapy can be used with adults.  Go to www.a4pt.org to find a listing of Registered Play Therapist in your area. This is the Association for Play Therapy’s national website. It has information on Play Therapy if you go into the Parent’s Corner section. If you have a teen, then you will want to have someone who regularly works with teens. A good play therapist will adapt the therapy to match the child or teen. Please note: Different child therapists will each have their own lower age limit. For many it is 3 years of age. Therapy for under 3 years of age is normally done in a parent/child format.
  2. Check in with the therapist and make sure they treat whatever you are needing help with. Each therapist will have their own specialties within the Child Therapy world. Or some areas they do not treat. So it is good to ask before you book an intake.
  3. Find a Child Therapist who also does Family Therapy.  Good child / teen therapy work will involve parents. As a therapist we will most of the time only see a child one hour a week. Parents play an integral part in helping their child or teen to get better. Parent sessions should be a part of treatment, along with parent / child work or family therapy if this fits with the particular situation. This kind of work involves a balance of helping children / teens have a safe place to express feelings and one in which they will be encouraged to work with their parents, but not forced. I love this wonderful opportunity to help families be more whole and help each other be more supportive and nurturing of one another. One therapist licensure that has specialized training in family therapy work is Licensed Marital and Family Therapists (LMFT). But there are others who have great training as well.
  4. Read up or ask about the therapist’s professional background – training and experience. Many therapist have a website which can be helpful in an initial screening as you begin your search. Some folks do an internet search. This said not all therapist have a website. In this case you will want to ask them directly about their background.
  5. Ask parents or other professionals that you trust if they have a recommendation to look into.  Sometimes your school or child’s doctor will know of some folks they feel comfortable recommending. But in the end it is who you feel comfortable with to treat your child. I might add that I think it is best to talk with a couple of different folks to get some feel for them as a person and as a professional before you set an appointment. Some therapists are willing to have a bit of a chat with you before you come in for a parent intake. This can be very helpful.
  6. Seek an individual that you feel will be a fit for your child or teen and you as a parent. Therapists come with different kinds of training and different kinds of approaches. Plus therapists are humans. They will each have their own personalities and ways of connecting with their clients. Find one that is a fit as to feeling comfortable with their approach and their personality. If you find you or your child are not able to connect and develop a relationship, then find someone who fits that bill. I am not suggesting going from therapist to therapist. If you have done some homework before and have a parent intake, you will probably know if it is going to work for you and your child or teen. Developing a close working relationship is key. 
  7. Check out the therapy “environment”. Does it feel warm and safe? Is the child therapy room set up with developmentally appropriate therapy materials? This would include: a therapeutic sand tray with miniatures, creative art therapy materials, puppets, doll houses, make-believe props, plus other materials that will allow children to express or act out their feelings. Therapeutic games for those that are older may be a part of this therapy set up. This kind of environment leads to playful fun and healing at the same time.
  8. Don’t be shy. Ask any question that you have about the therapy process or really anything that you feel you need to know as a parent. Your therapist should be ok with questions. A good child therapist will want to have a collaborative relationship with you the parent.
  9. The practical basics have to be considered: Kind of Setting, Fees, Location, Appointment Times. This really could be an article in itself. So this is the highlights. Settings could include: Private Practice, Non Profit Organizations, School Based, Home Based. There really are some choices. There are pros and cons for each of these choices. You will want to decide what you most want from the therapy to help decide this question. There is self pay and in and out of network insurance, health savings accounts as to how to pay for therapy. There are special considerations with choices here as well.  Appointment times and location are of course another thing that will impact your choice.
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Photo by Michael Mims

The right therapist for your child is out there. With a little bit of research you will find the BEST therapist for your child. Best wishes in finding the right fit!

PROFESSIONAL DISCLOSURE: THIS BLOG IS OFFERED AS EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION AND IS NOT OFFERED AS PROFESSIONAL THERAPEUTIC SERVICES. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO SERVE AS TREATMENT. FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. STROM INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY THERAPY IS NOT LIABLE FOR ANY ACTION OR NON ACTION YOU TAKE IN REGARD TO THIS ARTICLE.

Setting & Keeping Healthy Holiday Boundaries

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photo by andrew-walton

As we are now immersed in the holiday season, it is a good time to decide if it is gong the way we want it to go. There are so many ways to celebrate and so many activities to be involved in. Lots of decisions as to what to do within this potentially beautiful time of the year. So getting a clear vision of what you want is a good start  The second part can sometimes be the more challenging one – setting boundaries.

Here are Five Tips in Setting Healthy Holiday Boundaries

  1. Creating a Vision of What You Do Want. This is the first step in creating healthy holiday boundaries. What is it that you most want and desire for the holidays? What kinds of things would you see  yourself doing if you were creating a holiday that you most wish to create?
  2. Sharing Your Vision with Your Partner and Children. This may or may not be their vision. So it may mean being able to collaborate and find a way you can all have some things you most desire. Or you may have two visions – one for you and one for your family, coming to a place of self-care and of spending conscious mindful time with your family.
  3. Set Healthy Respectful Boundaries to Protect Your Emotional and Physical Self. If you feel something is just too much or you really do not want to participate in something, it is ok to say no. We can say this tactfully and politely. But we can say no. We can suggest something else that will work for us. Or we can just say no. This is hard ,for we all want others to be happy with us. But in the end we really need to do what is best for us and our emotional and physical health. If we are concerned about hurting feelings, we can say something positive and express our caring if we feel the other person will see our no as a rejection.
  4. Whatever You Decide, Enjoy Each Moment in a Mindful Way. Be good with what you decide. Try not to second guess yourself. Or feel guilty or selfish. Your job is to be joyful and take good care of yourself. I am not saying we do not care or assist others, just that we do it in a way that balances with what really works for us. It may be it feels good to do something extra for somebody. The thing is that we are doing it because it is what we really want to do or feel is the best for us in the long run. It is all about the many choices that lay in front of us and mindfully choosing.

Enjoy this wonderful holiday season. Peace and light to you all.

 

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photo by alexey-kuzmin

 

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

Facing the Dragon Together

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Bad things happen. We struggle. We feel pain. We need our loved one by our side. This is what Dr. Sue Johnson, Creator of Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy would call “Facing the Dragon Together”. As human beings this is one of the reasons we are wired for human connection and bonding, to get us through the tough times. As Dr. Johnson would say, “We are bonding mammals.” It is part of our survival system.

I had the opportunity to obtain some additional training with Dr. Johnson this last weekend in Austin. The focus was on Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy for Trauma Survivors. This kind of therapy focuses on adult attachment. As we are now learning, attachment and bonding is not just for children.  We all need a secure base of attachment with knowing someone is there for us and will respond with helping us to face the dragons we encounter.


Dr. Johnson’s acronym: ARE is helpful in looking at the key points of attachment.

ARE YOU THERE FOR ME?

  • Are you ACCESSIBLE? – Do I matter?
  • Are you RESPONSIVE? – Can I depend on you?
  • Are you ENGAGED?

What is NOT helpful when couples face internal or outside the relationship distress is DISCONNECTION. Isolation and withdrawal only fuels our panic and feelings of being over-whelmed. This leading to escalation of helplessness and more disconnection. This is a behavioral cycle that  make matters worse.

The dance of  “attunement, engagement, and responsiveness” leads us to the  “safe haven” we all need. Reaching out and taking a chance and engaging in a “dance of attachment” with our partner is what we need to “face our dragons together”.

When we experience fear, we need a place of safety. We need connection and comfort to sooth our anxiety.  This is what our secure attached relationship can provide.

We all have dragons to face at one time or another. Secure attachment to our partner protects us from trauma. Plus, we cannot forget the “healing power” of our relationships if we must face trauma. So take your partner’s hand and face your dragons together!

Source Material for this Blog Article: Facing the Dragon Together: EFT for Traumatized Couples. Presented by Dr. Sue Johnson. November 3-4, 2017 in Austin, TX.
Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

 

Five Strategies to Ease Anxiety Due to Ongoing Tragedy in Our World

Five Strategies to Ease Anxiety Due to Ongoing Tragedy in Our World

As I write this I think about another event in our country that has occurred leaving us all shaken and disturbed. The massacre in Las Vegas has affected us all and our feelings of safety. I woke up last night … Continue reading

“Letting in the Good” Even When Things Are Not Going As Planned

The Brown Couch at the Airport

We had just started our vacation and so happy about this time off to re-coop and spend some time with each other as a family.  As we were walking toward our gate at the airport we got a text from our airlines saying there was going to be a 3 hour delay. Not the way we envisioned the start of our trip. We were exhausted from a very busy week and the rush to get off and frankly it was a bit of a bummer.

I was thinking to myself “I really just need to lay down for a bit.” Had been planning on trying to sleep on the plane, which actually normally does not work out too well for me. But that was the plan. We went no more than around the corner and my husband spotted a brown leather couch straight ahead in a quiet spot away from the gate areas. A little closed coffee shop “oasis”. Perfect! We settled in. Of course I got the recline position with my husband being a wonderful pillow to lay up against. As I lay there I started thinking maybe this is what I needed – a place to lay down and rest as I probably would not have been able to really rest on the plane. We talked and were together in this unexpected time & place. It was actually really nice to cuddle up for a bit and catch up, without any pressing agenda. And take a little cat nap, feeling all safe and cozy up next to my husband in a quiet area.

As I truly let go and relaxed, I started noticing small things around me, a woman who was traveling with her little dog and it being given its own special water in a little bowl. The sweet little puppy dog prancing and excited about his water break. The lovely Indian Sculpture that was close to where we sat, had the late day sunlight streaming in across its features, creating a halo around it.

Right before we boarded our plane 3 hours later we were told that due to lateness and delay, we would need to spend the night in Seattle opposed to traveling on to our destination. Not in the plan. My first reaction, was “Another delay! What is going on here?” Well what was going on was a mechanical problem. I came to the decision to be grateful for not being on a plane that may have a safety issue and getting an unplanned bonus day trip into Seattle. We had at one point thought about doing this, so we ended up getting our original wish after all. So we boarded and I got out my favorite peppermint tea and enjoyed the night lights from above. Don’t see those everyday.

The “good stuff” is all around us, even when it does not come on our time-table or in the package we might envision it in. Or unfold in the way we planned.  We just have to be open to seeing the good and letting it into our very imperfect, human lives.  

 

Tanna at Fairbanks Botaninal Garden August 2017 off the path by some blue flowers

 

Here I am a little bit off the path checking out some of the beautiful flowers around me on my  vacation.  Was it a “perfect vacation”. No. More delays on the way back, but you know we had lots of “good things” to happen. Some of those unexpected and just as powerful as the planned ones. Here is to stepping off the path and making your own happiness in whatever the circumstances.   

 

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

Gratitude for the Small Things Grows Your Relationship

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Do you give your loved one credit for when he or she “tries” to show their love or caring? Gratitude for these small steps can create a beautiful chain of more happiness and connection in your relationship.

Maybe it is not exactly what you had hoped for but it is a try or an effort toward what you do want. It is easy to get into a state of wanting it exactly the way you want it and standing firm that you will not be content unless it is that way. I am not saying you should give up on what you want or need, but that you should consider the “process” of getting where you want to be in your relationship.

Some Things to Consider as Loved Ones “Try” to Show Their Love and Caring:

  1. It does not have to be perfect. When you expect perfection and your sweetheart comes up short, it is a set up for dis-contentment or unhappiness. Maybe you want or hope for more. And that can come. But in the moment you can acknowledge the try or effort toward what you wanted or hoped for. Maybe you want a sharing of chores in the household. Your husband chooses to help with dishes one night. It may not be all you want, but it is a start. 
  2. Search for the parts in the try that feel good to you. Be mindful of what is being done or offered to you. It is Valentines Day and your husband brings you chocolates home. You like chocolate but you had hoped for something new and different. You can still enjoy the chocolates, savoring each piece knowing your spouse was thinking of what he knew you liked and was trying to please you. 
  3. Let your loved one know you appreciate what they did do. This will bring more of this your way and beyond. You have been telling your wife you would like to carve out more couple time away from the kids. You are thinking in your head a weekend away. She sets up a 2 hour date night. You choose to thank her for carving out this special one on one time to be just with you. 
  4. Let the good stuff from the try or effort sink in and stay with you. Let it nourish your inner self and know you are cared for. Let it be a part of you, not letting it slip away. Keep it as a touchstone to remember and build on.

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Moving Toward More of What you Do Want:

  •  Do express your needs and desires. Do so in a calm, respectful manner, letting your partner know how this specific action will help to make you a better couple and increase happiness for both of you. Avoid demanding or insisting.
  • When these things occur let your happiness show, telling your partner how this makes you feel and express your thankfulness. This does matter. Your visible reaction and encouragement helps your loved one to know it is worth it.Plus it makes them feel very good as well. And it increases your chances of more connection.
  • Do illicit and ask your loved one what it is that THEY need or are hoping for in your relationship. Try to work toward these desires if it is a healthy request that could strengthen your relationship.

Let the small acts of love take root in your heart for they can grow and fill your soul with happiness and joy.

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

 

 

Less Serious, More Playful

Less Serious, More Playful

Feel like your life is one endless stream of “to do” tasks? All work, no play. You can go through your life seriously “serious” all the time. I have to admit I tend to run this way, full of purpose … Continue reading

One Strategy to Recapture Your Calm & Focus on What You Do Want

One Strategy to Recapture Your Calm & Focus on What You Do Want

We all have been there. Too much to do. Too much to manage. Too much overwhelm. Just simply too much! There are lots of things we can to do work on these issues. Sometimes due to circumstances we have to … Continue reading

“Lean Into” More Happy Feelings

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After you have done some processing of your upset feelings, consider “leaning into” your more happy feelings.  I am not talking about disconnecting or not acknowledging your upset feelings. Your emotions are your guides to telling you that you need to attend to and work through something. But after you have processed your feelings, it can be healthy to begin to choose to not let the issues of life steal your joy, to begin the process of “leaning into” your happiness.

What does it mean to be “lean into” your happiness?

  1. It means to move past what is “not going right” in your life.
  2. It means to face each day with an expectation that it is going to be a good one.
  3. It means to focus on the good that is in your life.
  4. It means to live in “the present moments of your life”, finding the happy that is right there in front of you.
  5. It means to fly above the muck below, letting in your happy feelings.

Again this is not to say you should ignore your upset feelings. It is more about moving through to what is good in your life. It is good for you to allow your sad or angry or upset feelings to come up to explore and decide what you want to do with them. You can decide.  You get to choose what you do next. “What do I want to do with these feelings? Do I need to take some kind of action or no? What will make me feel better?” And then going with it.

At some point it is up to you to decide what you can do to feel better and to “lean into” the more happy feelings that reside within you.

It is a bit of a two-sided coin, this balancing of acknowledging your feelings and processing them AND the moving to a more happy place that is inside of you.  It is really about being respectful of all your feelings and caring about yourself enough to move to place where there is more happy, peaceful feelings. It is possible to have both going on within your self. You can be in a grieving process or have been hurt badly and still allow for joy to express it self. You can take a break from your upset and let more happy feelings come into your life.  And at some point you can decide to let go completely of the upset. So “LEAN INTO” more happy today!

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

How to Create What YOU Really Want for the Holidays Ahead

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I cannot believe I am writing a blog post on this, but it has already began – the thinking, the obsessing, the worrying, the planning, the stressing about the holidays ahead. The four upcoming holidays can feel like they all merge together into one massive overwhelm. It can be hard to separate them out. But of course it does not have to be that way. I want to share some ideas on creating holidays that are truly what YOU want. And now is the time to contemplate all of this – at the beginning of this time frame.

It is so easy to get caught up in it all and end up doing things you may not really want to do. Or to sometimes not really plan and end up not doing what you really want to do with your holiday time. So here are some ideas to consider.

 Questions you might ask yourself about the upcoming holidays that may help you be the true “creator” of  YOUR  holidays:

  1. What would my perfect holiday times look like? What would I be doing? Who would I be with? Ex. – For some it may mean enjoying time with loved ones. or slowing down to enjoy a special what ever it might be.
  2. What does each holiday really mean to me? Or what do I want it to mean to me? Ex. –  One family may say it is a time to reflect on what we are really thankful for?
  3. Does what I do reflect what I want my holiday to look like and be about? Ex. – Yes and No. Maybe yes we spend time together. But no there is too much competition with iPhones, video games, etc.
  4. What are my most favorite memories of past holidays? What was I doing? Ex.- One child may say when we had the snow ball fight in the front yard. Dad may say, when we went out looking at holiday lights and had hot chocolate after. Mom may say when we all made a holiday meal together.
  5. What are my most un-favorite memories and what can I do to avoid these from happening again? Ex. – This might be for some – the stressing and rushing and overwhelm.
  6. Do my holidays all merge together without a real feel of truly enjoying each one for what they are? A very good question, are we really mindfully enjoying each holiday?

Develop a Flexible Plan That Fits You and Your Family

  • Meet together as a couple or a family to talk about some of the above questions.
  • Decide together (or for yourself if you are single) what your main goals for the holiday are. Is it to relax? To be with family? Enjoy special holiday activities? Celebrate a particular religious belief? A mix?
  • As a couple or family you can put together a flexible plan of the kinds of things you want to do and begin gradually to work toward this.  Incorporating everyone’s ideas is very important if you are in a family or as a couple.
  • Keep in mind that too much will feel overwhelming for most people and that thoughtful choices are a much better route to go. It is not so much about how much you can pack in, but incorporating what you most want to do and really taking time to ENJOY it.
  • Try to stay open and flexible as plans shift and change as they will at times. Knowing you can be happy even if things do not happen exactly as planned.

My hope for you and your family is that you create what you most want and desire. Happy Holidays to you and your family!  holly-leaf-small


Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.