How to Choose the BEST Therapist for Your Child

child and parent looking at each other with connected hands london-scout-41029 unplash

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.
child happy on unsplash collection by michael-mims-134037 blog on therapy 2-

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.

 

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

How to Create What YOU Really Want for the Holidays Ahead

happy-holidays-with-snow-and-penquin

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.

A Fun Calming Technique for Children – Butterfly Breathing + Butterfly Hugs

butterfly animated smiling pink with poka dots butterfly note for board.docx - source Your child is angry and beginning to escalate. Or you know your child is anxious and not sure how to feel better. I want to share a simple, fun technique designed for children I recently learned about at the Oklahoma Play Therapy Association’s Annual Conference. Dr. Jennifer Baggerly, PhD, Professor at the Counseling and Human Services at the University of North Texas at Dallas presented the Butterfly Technique. Here is how it works:

Butterfly Breathing

  1. Let your child know there is a way to make them feel better. It is always best to help your child when the emotions have not escalated to a very high level.  The sooner you can assist the better.
  2. Ask your child to pretend to be a butterfly! Model for your child what butterfly wings would look like. Hold your arms out and bring them in toward each other. And then out again, letting your arms / wings flap.
  3. Practice together with your child how their butterfly wings work. Practice always helps for being able to remember later when it is needed.
  4. Have your child now let the butterfly breath as it flaps it’s wings. Model for your child how the butterfly breathes. There is more than one way this can be done. The most important message is for the butterfly to breathe deep. One way to model this is by demonstrating and talking through the following wing / breathing pattern.
  • As the butterfly opens its wings, take a deep breath – you can count 1, 2, 3 as you open your wings if you wish.
  • As the butterfly closes its wings, let the breath out, letting all your worries out – you can count 3, 2, 1 as you close your wings if you wish. 

5.  Continue  “Butterfly Breathing” until your child feels more calm.  Model and do this with them as they learn this technique.

Note:  One website that shows the Butterfly Breathing technique with the 1,2, 3 count is:   elfenworks.org/butterfly. In addition you may go to iTunes and look at the Butterfly Breathing app put out by Elfenworks, which is free. The Elfenworks site has a butterfly breathing script and additional information in regard to their butterfly breathing technique. 

 

Butterfly Hugs

To add to your “Butterfly Breathing” you can add “Butterfly Hugs”.  Here is how you would do butterfly hugs:

  1. The arms / wings can fold into the chest with hands moving to rest on the arms, giving a hug to yourself. 
  2. Hands tap the arms and then hands rubbing the arms from left to right.

Good luck with your butterfly breathing and butterfly hugs and remember you may find it helpful for yourself to use as well. And the more you model for your child the more he or she will probably use it!

 

 

 

 

Teaching Your Children About Giving

christmas tree for birds philbrook 2015

With the holiday season upon us, it sometimes feels like all we hear from our children is “what they want for Christmas”.  Many of us hope that we can help our children develop a more balanced approach to what they want / need and helping others with what they want / need. The focus of this blog piece will be on the end of teaching our children about giving. “Giving is a basic value that makes our society a humane and civilized one.” This is not always easy as there is just so much of us during the holiday season. So it becomes about us too as adults coming to terms with  our own balance of the two things. So it may start there with us examining our own hearts.

christmas tree brid decoration philbrook 2015 orange with seed in it

I decided to re-visit this topic that comes up for me ever so often in my own family. I was at Philbrook Museum of Art over the Thanksgiving holiday with my family and saw the beautiful outdoor Christmas tree decorated for the bird’s to nibble on. It made me think of the trees I have created in the past with my children when they were younger for the birds. And thought again of the issue of making sure I create this “self-care / other care” balance in my family. So here are a few ideas on the side of giving to others.

Christmas tree bird decoration philbrook 2014 grapefruit

 

Teaching Your Children About Giving

  1. Start with yourself. How do you feel about giving? Are your beliefs or values reflected in your actions?  “I feel what our children see us doing is the foundation for teaching our children about giving.”  For what we do will so much more affect our children than what we say to them. We are powerful models for our children. The second piece of this is about our balance of self-care and other care. Is our balance where we want it to be and is it reflected in a way that our children can see this balance? 
  2. Create GIVING OPPORTUNITIES that are developmentally appropriate for your children. These activities work best when done together as a family. They carry so much more weight and power this way. AND they create some very special memories and solidify the message you want to give to your children.  These activities might include some of the following: going through toys and games no longer needed or wanted and passing them on to a non-profit agency; assisting in making some holiday treats to take to a nursing home or a neighbor, having children use part of their allowance to buy something for a special toy drive or angel tree, volunteering their time to help someone who needs help, etc. All of this depends of course on the specific age of your child. 
  3. Talk with children about WHY you like to give to others in your family. This may take a bit of a different slant for different families. For some it may have a religious basis. For others it may be about their own family values. ” Regardless it is good to talk about why we give in our family.” Talk with your children about why you give. This is good for us all to consider as adults. Why do we give? For me I give because it feels right, it fits with my religious and personal value system and it always comes back as to good feelings and blessings in my own life. It is important to remember that giving comes in different forms – our time, our talents, our material goods, our money.  This is another conversation one can have with their children. This is not a lecture, just a discussion as the time arises that it makes sense to talk about it. “But again, it is the action itself that will cement in your child’s memory the value or message about giving.”  
  4. Praise your child for their giving. It always help when others acknowledge our efforts. Of course, the intrinsic rewards of giving are powerful in themselves. 

christmas tree bird decoration philbrook 2015 cranberry ring

I hope you will find your balance in your family of self-care and other care. And that you will give your children this holiday season the gift of giving. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes! Tanna

christmas tree dec for birds philbrook 2015 orange with cereal cranberry string

 

 

 

“Say One Thing You Are Thankful For About Your Family” Thanksgiving Activity

Thanksgiving animated picture nov 2015

Want to encourage your family to be thankful and appreciative of one another? I am always trying to think of ways to encourage this kind of interaction to take place in my own family and with the families I work with. We might remember to be thankful of those outside our family, but at times we overlook those closest to us. So let’s use Thanksgiving as a start point in remembering to show our thankfulness for our loved ones.

I have always liked the activity at Thanksgiving where you go around and tell one thing you are thankful for.This is a fun one to do around the dinner table.  This is fairly easy for most people to do. Most of us can think of one thing that we are thankful for. It is good to remind folks it can be a small thing. It does not have to be large. I have enjoyed this version, But I am thinking of another version for this Thanksgiving that I thought I might share.

“Say One Thing You Are Thankful For About Your Family.”

In this version you are encouraging the family to reflect about what they like about their family as a whole. It is easy to take family for granted. And Thanksgiving is a perfect time to think about this. Now it may be that you do not like everything or very much about your family. But my guess is that with some thought you can think of one thing you are grateful for. I might note that family can be the family you have created and gave birth to or it can be your family of origin.

If you really can not do this version, then go back to what you are in general thankful for. But you can use this as a time to think to yourself or with your partner or spouse what family attributes you wish to create that later your children will be thankful for. That is a bit deeper. But sometimes thinking ahead can be a good thing. What we project out is many times what we get back. It is sort of like goal setting or creating an intention.

I wish you all the very best of Thanksgivings!

Thankful orange picture with branches be thankful

 

 

Happy Journals, Happy Families

journal picture IMG_7984 (2) november 2015

I sometimes suggest a “Happy Journal” for a client who needs to do more focusing on the “happy stuff”. I at times will ask the entire family to partake in this simple, but very effective activity. I always like to remind folks that “what we focus on is what we get more of”. Thus, for those who want to have a happier family here is a tool to encourage your family to look for the happy in their lives.

The Set Up for Beginning Your Happy Journal Family Adventure

  1. Have a family meeting where you set down and explain what you are going to do as a family. “Because we want to focus on the good or what makes us happy, we have decided we are all going to keep happy journals. What we focus on we get more of. So here is a way to put more focus on the happy.”
  2. Have family members choose from a variety of decorative spiral notebooks or journals as to what they like the most. I would suggest that you buy a few more than you need so that there will be some choice for everyone. Plus you can pick out ones that you know will be a hit with each of your family members. If you have young children or those who like to draw you may want to include some that are blank paged journals.
  3. Suggest that everyone write in their “happy journal” everyday. “We would like for everyone to write down something in their happy journal everyday. This way it gets to be a habit for us all to think more about the “happy stuff” that is going on in our lives.” You can suggest that everyone try to think of 3 things that made them feel happy that day. Or whatever number of things that you feel would work with your family. Or you could leave it open ended, with no set number.
  4. Each person can write or draw what made them happy that day. This is helpful for those who are not writing yet or for those who prefer to express themselves in this way.
  5. Maximize or let your happy experiences grow by sharing them with one another.  This could be done in a set way or a more spontaneous way.  Some possible more structured ways of sharing might be: sharing at the dinner table every night one happy thing that everyone is planning on writing in their happy journal or sharing at bedtime with each other. Sometimes tying an activity to a routine already in place can help. In a more spontaneous way, you might ask your child, “What have you found to put in your happy journal lately?”
  6. All family members participating makes this a very powerful activity. When children and teens see there moms or dads write down what is making them happy and sharing this, they will see that this is a family value or something that is important – to focus on the happy stuff or the good.

I hope you will try this whether your family is just you as a couple or if you are a couple with a young child or if you are a single parent family or a blended one. It is all good, encouraging each other to see the happy things that are all around us!!!

Bixby “Pumpkin Patch” – A Fun Family or Couple Activity

pumpkins with people and counry in background at pumpkin patch IMG_7755 (2)

If you have not been to Bixby’s Pumpkin Patch in a while, you should go check it out. We had not been in a couple of years and were surprised at the wide variety of things to do. This would be a wonderful fall break activity or any time in October. Their last day is October 31. So you have a few more weekends to have a bit of fun in the Bixby countryside. For those of you that do not know, Bixby is South of Tulsa, going straight out on Memorial. Bixby is known as one of Oklahoma’s strong produce areas due to its rich dark soil, being close to the Arkansas river.

Here are the “basic’s” as to info on the Pumpkin Patch:

What: “The Pumpkin Patch”, which is associated with Carmichael’s Produce on South Memorial (but not at the same location)  has pumpkins of all sizes, colors and shapes , plus other decorative fall produce and corn stalks. Animals (lots of babies and mamas) of all kinds. Camel Rides. A Cane Maze. A Pony Go Round with Live Ponies. Hay Bale Climbing Area. Wagon Ride.  A Concession Stand. And more.

Where: 17137 S. Mingo, Bixby, OK (South East Corner of 171st and Mingo). Steve Carmichael suggested I remind folks that you will need to go down Memorial and over the Arkansas river into Bixby before you can access Mingo in the Bixby area.  This is slightly into the country. Yahoo! The best contact number is: 918-366-4728. This is Carmichael’s Produce number and they are best able to answer questions for you about the Pumpkin Patch.

When: Current – October 31, 2015. 9:00 am – 7:00 pm   Monday – Saturday   &   10:00 am – 7:00 pm Sunday

Why: For a Very Fun Fall Family or Couple Activity. For all ages.  And there is no entrance fee.

Come take a picture tour of some of the things to see and do at the “Pumpkin Patch”

goat mama with two babies one nursing pumpkin patch

Mama Goat and her Babies

sheep pair at pumpkin patch

A Pair of Beautifully Marked Sheep

porcqupine at pumpkin patch close up

A Gorgeous Porcupine

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A Pretty Rabbit

There are many more animals to enjoy, but too numerous to include. You will find chickens, pigs, horses, camels and more. So if you are an animal lover, you will love this. Many of the children were enjoying feeding all of these sweet creatures.

pony carosel with real ponies at pumpkin patch

A Fun Real Pony Carousel

tanna in maize maze at pumpkin patch

Enter the Cane Maze

This was actually much larger than we realized. It was so much fun to weave in and out of the paths. Scare Crows were placed throughout the maze. A fun walk for a family or as a couple. So hope you will consider this fun venue that is only open in October. Here is to lots of fall fun!