Breaking the Exercise Barrier

May 27, 2017 in Hot Topics

A lot of people have temporary motivation to exercise, but it doesn’t always last. Our daily lives provide us with many excuses to not make an effort to endure physical activity. What a lot of people don’t keep in mind is, exercise is not just for your body physically, but mentally as well. Experts widely agree that exercise can increase a positive mood. Exercising is known to be a natural antidepressant. It is something people need to do for themselves, but it doesn’t always happen.



What Holds Us Back and How Do We Break It?


Getting started is the hardest part. A lot of people find themselves never starting, just because they don’t know how to. The answer to this is to just do it. Don’t feel like you have to wait for a Monday to come around. Start where you are, and if you forget a day, carry on from where you left off. Life happens, and you will find that some days are easier to be consistent than others, but they key is to just keep going. Ask a friend to join you and set goals with you. Being in a team with someone will make you more likely to follow through with plans, and much more hesitant to quit all together.

There are so many other roadblocks that can take effect. One of the most common is, “I don’t have the time.” What a lot of people don’t realize is, you don’t need long, hardcore workouts to make an impact. Start small with a 20 minute walk everyday. Same thing goes for if you’re “too tired.” Set aside 10-20 minutes a day for any physical activity, and you may start to find you are increasing the amount of time you are spending exercising. Even if you stick to that short amount of time, anything is still much better than nothing.

If you are someone who hates exercising or feel as though you are too out of shape, focus on physical activities you enjoy such as basketball or riding a bike. It is hard for ANYONE to do things they’re dreading, so if you make it something you look forward to, you’re much more likely to follow through.

A common setback is also, “I can’t exercise because I have _________ health condition.” Is this an unfortunate hurdle? Yes. Should it stop you all together? No. Speak with your doctor about your limitations, and find out what you CAN do. Sometimes the limitation comes in the form of a feeling or mood. As mentioned earlier, exercising is a natural antidepressant. With that in mind, if you already aren’t in the best spirits that day, it can only get better from there after physical activity.



How Can We Have More Compassion?

May 20, 2017 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics

In today’s world, it is easy to be mindlessly greedy. Humans are on a path that does not necessarily require shared resources, so we are unknowingly becoming less and less compassionate. Is being compassionate a learned trait or is it biological? How can we learn to be more compassionate? The answer is fairly simple.



As a Society, How Did We Lose Compassion?


According to the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, Christine Carter, “As a society, we value happiness but we pursue it through consumption, materialism, and accumulation. I was just talking to someone from another country and he noticed that on TV, all Americans are so happy. But it’s always about the stuff we have, the food we eat, the drinks we drink.”

Perhaps to start a blossom of compassion, we need to value the simpler things in life, and enjoy each other more. It is easy to think of life as a competition and compare our own lives to others. Comparing ourselves can lead to resentment within ourselves if we fall short of our own expectations. Enjoy what you DO have, and focus less on the things you DON’T have. When we attach our emotions to material things, it is way too easy to be let down.

All humans are born with bodily systems that thrive on meaningful bonds that are long term. With this information, it shows that humans as a species are born with compassion, empathy, and the desire to be close with others. Trauma, past experiences, and cognitive issues can all get in the way of normal human instincts. Also, as mentioned above, the way we are changing culturally is no help either.



How Do We Change?


To change our ways does not have to be a huge and difficult task. Simply start small with finding ways to connect with others. If you make a genuine effort, people will notice. You too will notice that you feel good when you treat others with kindness. Another small way to start is if you catch yourself zoning out often when others talk, as soon as you notice, immediately correct it. Giving your full attention to a task, whether it’s talking with someone, or working on yourself, makes the whole thing easier.

To help ourselves be more compassionate, focus on the things that matter to you, share them with others, and give genuine advice on anything they are struggling with to the best of your ability. This way, you are building connections. Helping others realize that happiness does not reside in material things, but in the relationship we share with one another, the more it will help ourselves realize it too.

Ask the Therapist | Jen Yensel & Beth Franczak

May 13, 2017 in Ask The Therapist

“13 Reasons Why” From a Therapist’s Perspective



One of the perks of working with your best friend, who is also a therapist, is being able to process work and personal life with a trained professional. Sure, Friday nights with us sound like a blast, right? Believe it or not, we actually don’t talk about work that much. However, we have been discussing something that has been on our minds lately and wondered if it has been on your minds too. We recently watched “13 Reasons Why” and know many of you have also been watching. The show caused so much emotion that we cannot stop processing the impact it had on us. There were some episodes that we had to stop watching and wait a few days before we could resume watching the show, usually after processing what was going on in our own minds. Then we got to thinking: we are two trained therapists who see situations like this all too frequently, and we were completely overwhelmed. Luckily, we have each other to process this. We want you to know that we want you to discuss and reflect on this too. Process this show with your parents, friends, a trusted adult, or talk about it with us if you need to. From our own experiences, we have come up with some ways to talk with others about this show.


Ask each other: what did you think about the show? What or who could you relate to? How might you handle the situation if you were on of Hannah’s peers, or if you were Hannah yourself? What do you do if someone is suicidal? (Call a suicide hotline, reach out to a parent or adult, call for help immediately, do NOT try to fix the situation alone.) How have you experienced bullying? What can you do if you see or experience sexual assault? What did you think about how adults were portrayed in the show?


There are a lot of PSA’s, emails, newsletters etc. out there right now about talking about this show. A lot. They range from warning of the dangers of the show to hailing it as a much needed eye opener. There is no guarantee about how anyone will react to this show, to any show or movie, or to life! What we want to do is acknowledge the fact that many of you are watching it, living lives where you can all too much relate, and many have been deeply impacted, both good and bad. Take this as an opportunity to talk openly about all the issues, feelings, and memories it brings to you. We strongly encourage adults to watch the show with your child and talk about some of the questions we addressed. It might also we helpful to have a discussion within your family about whether your child is able to understand the events of the series, differentiate between fantasy and reality, and cope with strong emotions it could potentially bring up. The show is rated “MA” for mature. Please keep that in mind. If you’re a parent, monitor what your kids are watching, and by all means, if you do decide your teen should watch, watch it with them.


Another option is to read the book. Read the book as a family. Yes, we know, we can imagine the eye rolls. However, we often recommend families read something together. Sure, we get initial eye rolls, but lots of times, they are followed by reports of a deeply moving experience. Reading the book “13 Reasons Why” prior to watching it may help generate much needed dialogue and also spare (or prepare) you for the many graphic and gut wrenching scenes.


We know that teens want to watch this show. We get it. It’s easy to get pulled into the story line and want to know what happens next, even if it is hard to watch. Adults, this is an amazing opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with your child, not only with this show, but all shows and movies. Use what is happening in your teen’s free time to engage in those important dialogues. We certainly are!

Postpartum Depression

May 6, 2017 in Hot Topics

According to an article by UH Hospitals, close to three-quarters of new mothers experience, “the baby blues” which is a short term feeling of anxiousness, irritability, or restlessness. However, postpartum depression is different. When the feelings are much more severe and last longer, which affects about 13% of women.



How Do I Know it’s Postpartum Depression?


If you just gave birth, you may start feeling the effects of postpartum depression anywhere from the time you give birth, to a week after. However, many women start to feel the effects before they even deliver. If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, you may want to see a clinician to get their opinion and to see what to do next.


Signs of Postpartum Depression:


  • Changes in eating habits
  • Crying often and for no apparent reason
  • Having little to no interest in your child
  • Not enjoying activities you normally enjoy
  • Feeling extremely anxious
  • Having “what if” thoughts
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling sad all the time


If you have a previous diagnosis of depression, you are much more likely to experience postpartum depression. Also, if you have a lack of support, or marriage or financial instability, you are also at a higher risk. Fortunately, there is hope. A mental health professional can guide you with psychotherapy, which is possibly combined with medication. You do not have to feel ashamed or like you need to struggle in silence. Postpartum depression and the baby blues happen much more often than you think. To benefit you and your new family, get the help you need.

Is Medication Right for You?

Apr 29, 2017 in Blog From The Experts


How Medication Can Assist Your Treatment


Some people think that the treatment options for mental health are therapy or medication. They may not know that the two options go hand in hand. There are those who only need counseling, for most people this works perfectly fine. There are cases, however, that have shown little to no improvement over time, and you or your clinician may consider the option of medications.

Although you may be referred to a psychiatrist for medication (psychologists cannot prescribe meds) it is still highly recommended that you continue psychotherapy. There is a bad habit where once people are prescribed, they think the medication will be the fix and that they do not need to continue counseling.


Reasons Counseling Should be Continued Through the Duration of Medications:


  • Meds do not heal traumas, only counseling can
  • Counseling is a way to heal mentally, medication is to heal physically (although it is internal)
  • Medications will not suddenly make life issues, phobias, or mental health problems disappear
  • Being on medication without professional guidance can lead to misuse accidentally or getting off track



For Those Worried About Starting Medication


Starting a medication can be a scary thing at first. You may have heard horror stories or are concerned about the regimen. Here are some thoughts to ease your mind.

Before anything else, trust your clinician. Remember that they have your best interest in mind. Be open to communicating with them your concerns or fears. They will help you adjust and tell you what to expect. Also, chances are you will start on a smaller dose of the medication before your clinician decides if and when you need a higher dose. If you are worried about forgetting to take your medications regularly, they can help you come up with a system and schedule that will work for you. Through the duration of you being prescribed, still ensure there is a solid communication. If you feel like the specific medication is not for you after you have given it a fair chance, tell your clinician.

Finding the right medication for you is very important. The process can take some time, but that is no reason to be afraid of trying it. The process may be intimidating, but overall it can highly aid your treatment plan.

Summer: The Time for Transitions

Apr 22, 2017 in Hot Topics

The summer time can be a place of nostalgia for kids everywhere. It’s warm, sunny, and school free. However, for parents, summer can be a stressful time. Also, different age groups require specific things and transitions for the start and end of summer. With it being just around the corner, here are some tips for smooth transitions of care.



Keeping Young Kids Busy During Summer


If you have kids young enough to need a babysitter or daycare, you understand the struggle of paying a ridiculous amount over the summer. Unless you have a job as a teacher or a stay at home parent, chances are you don’t have the ability to just take off work during the summertime. It can be a difficult thing to find a place for your kids to go during the day that won’t keep them indoors while there is beautiful weather outside. You may want to consider a babysitter rather than daycare, but you’re unsure about how your kids will respond, and you aren’t sure about trusting someone who isn’t “official.”


Since hiring a babysitter can be much more inexpensive than daycare, consider these tips to ensure you and your child transition smoothly:

  • Trust Your Gut- If you think someone will not get along well with your child, or perhaps mistreat them, don’t hire them. It’s as simple as that.
  • Allow Your Child to Meet Them First- Before you hire them, it is probably a good idea to have your kids interact with them before you seal the deal. It is important for them to be comfortable around them.
  • Find Someone With Your Morals- During an interview, ask questions to get an idea of their disciplining habits, values, and opinions. If someone is going to be spending a lot of time with your child, you want to make sure they will honor your requests, especially if you have a religion or disciplining preference.
  • Actually Talk to References- This does not just apply to their references they listed (although you should check those out too). Ask around about them. Try to find not only positive feedback, but negative as well. It is important to see the things people complain about in that person. If they are things that don’t bother you, then great. If so, then you might want to reconsider.
  • Find Someone Fun- Obviously they still need to discipline, but overall, find someone your kids will enjoy being around and make memories with.



Teens During the Summer


This subject can be intimidating to a lot of parents. Just think, “So, my hormone enraged, moody, and maybe even at times reckless teenager has a car and A LOT of free time?” For them, this sounds absolutely fantastic. Recall when you were a teen. Summer nights were probably some of the best of your life. While you don’t want to deprive your child from these valuable memories, you also don’t want them running wild. There is a fairly simple answer to this. Encourage them to get a job. It seems too simple doesn’t it? Think about it, they stay in one place, they are likely to make friends, and they will make money. They will have to have a job at some point in their lives, and getting a job in high school will only give them more experience.

Some parents are against their kids having a job in high school because they want them to focus on school. Well, it is summer. Most likely, they don’t have any school work. Also, if they want to continue their job into the school year, you should let them. It teaches impeccable time management skills that they WILL use later in life.

Like mentioned earlier, be sure to still give some time for your teen to be a teen, because they deserve to enjoy their youth. Yes, it can be extremely difficult to look the other way every now and then as a parent. However, you can still let them enjoy themselves, while still being in control. It is about finding the right balance. While it can be like pulling teeth to try and talk to a teen to see how they’re feeling in order to grasp on what is going on in their life, it can be done. If you can’t seem to get any answers out of them, pay attention to their behaviors to be sure that they are still being responsible.



When School Rolls Around Again


It can be hard after a summer full of staying up late and doing nothing, to transition into the school life again. Make sure a couple weeks before you start preparing them to get back into a routine. Younger kids require more time than teens (teenagers can bounce back pretty fast, usually). To prepare them, start school shopping for new supplies or clothes. This can get them ready to start back up, and who doesn’t love new stuff right? Tell them they can’t use any of the new things or clothes until school starts, since it is for school. This will get them (almost) excited for school again.




For Those Graduating 


Summer is especially transitional for the young adults graduating. A routine of 13-14 years is about to change. If they are going to college, it can seem very surreal to you both that they are starting a new chapter and growing up. If they are moving away for college, this can be very hard for you, so think about what they are thinking. Chances are, they’re excited to go, but also very nervous. Start dorm shopping together to help it feel like home. Even if they are not going to college and they are going to the military or working, again, chances are they are still going to be moving out sometime soon after graduation.

Graduation is probably the most difficult and exciting transitional time in a young person’s life. It opens a lot of doorways to adulthood and it is a whole new experience, even if they were independent before. Be excited for your child, and let them know you’re proud. Also, be there to be supportive no matter what path they are pursuing after high school.


Mind and Body Connection

Apr 15, 2017 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics

The mind and body connection is something you are sure to have heard about before. It sounds like something spiritual, but in reality, it is something everyone should pay attention to.



How Does it Work?


The connection between your mind and body can go both ways. This means that how you take care of your body affects your mental health, and how you take care of your mental health affects your body.

For an example of when your physical changes your mental, someone going through treatment for a disease is always recommended to see a psychologist. Seeking treatment during these times can aid in healing or coping by setting a clear outline of expectations, strengths, and weaknesses.

As for proof of when your mental changes your physical, just look at those who are depressed. People suffering from depression or anxiety are more likely to have insomnia and low sex drive. It also can have negative effects on your heart that can be permanent.



Why Hasn’t Anyone Thought of This Before?


According to the National Institution of Health, up until around the 1800s, people believed that emotions and the body were connected. This idea eventually fizzled out as new antibiotics and medicines were discovered to help treat ailments. Luckily, recently scientists and doctors have started to prove that there really is a connection between the mind and body. Things like yoga and meditation have been more widely accepted as a mean of healing, and often recommended to clients in addition to psychological treatments.


If you are going through a treatment or a hardship in your life, look into something like meditation, yoga, or support groups. Finding the compliment to the care you are already receiving can be the way to boost yourself up even more.



Parents Aren’t Friends

Apr 8, 2017 in Hot Topics

Growing up, you may recall a friend you had that had a mom or dad who always let you drink and party at their house. They were the, “cool parent.” At the time, it was awesome. They constantly wanted to please their child and wanted to make sure they were always having fun. This happens often among parents, and usually, the parent thinks they are doing the right thing and it doesn’t mean they are “lazy” or “bad parents.”



Cool Parents


Parents can be misguided and assume that just because they act how they think their kids want them to, that their child will confide in them more. However, there is no evidence that children trust “cool parents” more. In fact, sometimes the intentions can be misread and embarrass you kids. Your children need an authority figure in their lives. Also remember that just because they need an authority figure, does not mean you have to be an authoritarian type of parent. You can still manage a great relationship with your kids and still be in control. It is up to you as a parent to find the right balance between being too cool and too authoritative.

Children of parents who seek their approval tend to be much more unhappy than those who do not. You are in charge and you do not need your kids to always like you, and they won’t. You could be doing everything perfectly, and there will still be many days where your kids despise you.



For Kids


There will be times where your kids asks you, “why can’t you just be cool about this?” Chances are it is because it’s something inappropriate that they already knew you would not allow them to do. Remind them that while you’re there for them whenever you need, you’re not their friend. You’re their parent.

Don’t worry, someday they will understand. Saying no to your kids is not always easy, but it is what they need.

Adult ADHD

Mar 25, 2017 in Hot Topics

Typically, when people think about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they think of a wired 8 year old boy who annoys their teacher in school. However, adults can have it too, and it affects men and women. Although men in general are more prone to ADHD, it is estimated that about 4-5% of adults have it. Many of these people never get treated for many reasons. One reason being the stigma behind ADHD. Adults tend to think that they do not have it, because it used to be such an over-diagnosed mental disorder. Also, many adults are hesitant, especially college aged kids, to go to the doctor for it in fear of them being labeled as a drug abuser just trying to get Adderall.



Symptoms of ADHD


  • Hyperactivity
  • Easily Distracted
  • Poor follow-through
  • Poor listening skills
  • Procrastination
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fidgeting
  • Annoys others easily
  • Name calling
  • Interrupts others
  • Often acts as if he or she is being driven by a motor
  • Low self esteem
  • Rejection from peers and adults

As an adult with ADHD, you do not have to feel ashamed to be in the situation that you are in. About 8 million adults in the United States alone suffer from ADHD. With proper treatment and therapy, you can cope and be able to handle your symptoms better.


Treatment Options:


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants (Prescription drugs commonly used for treating ADHD)
  • Therapy
  • Support Groups


While there is no cure for ADHD, the things on the list above can certainly help.

How to Know if Your Child is a Bully

Mar 18, 2017 in Blog From The Experts

No parent ever wants to find out that their child is being bullied. Often, they think, “Well if the parent of the bully would just step in and do something about it, everything would be solved.” Often times it is not that simple. Many parents are not even aware that their child is a bully. Another problem is that some parents can be in denial or misread their kid being aggressive or mean and often dismiss it. What about you? If you found out your child was bullying kids in school, would you be confident enough as a parent to step in? The parents can often times feel like they failed and may not think they can do anything to change their kid’s behavior.



Signs Your Child is Bullying Others


  • They Have Mean Friends- This is almost a sure sign. If their friends push them around, are rude or mean to other kids, chances are you child is seeing this behavior, and copying or leading it.
  • Short Temper/Easily Frustrated- At home, if they find it difficult to control their anger, this will translate to other situations as well.
  • Violence at Home- Kids will either lash out at others because they are upset, or simply because they think violent behavior is normal if they encounter or see violence at home.
  • Thinking They Annoy/Bother You- Your child will start to find attention in other ways if they feel like they bother you a lot or if they think you don’t have time for them.
  • Obsession with Popularity- Being popular has a persona that is carried out through multiple different medias of a mean good-looking person that somehow everyone still likes. While sometimes this is reality to them, you need to show your kid that there are better ways to be liked, and that “popularity” is not exactly what they think it is.
  • They get into Trouble at School- This is a major red flag. Listen to teachers and staff about what they are saying to you. Do not dismiss it as, “just teasing” because things like that can still hurt feelings and continue to escalate.
  • Your Child is/was Being Bullied- A lot of times kids will cope with being bullied themselves by lashing out at others because they are insecure.



Sometimes, it is hard to distinguish if your child is actually bullying other kids. It is fairly possible that they have good grades and plenty of friends. That is why even if you don’t necessarily think they are a bully, it is important to talk to them about compassion for others. Tell them that they lose nothing by being kind to others. You have to remember that they are kids and they are still trying to fit in and find their place, so they might resort to things that make them feel like part of the crowd. Kids understand much more than we give them credit for. If you explain to them that they are causing real pain to others, then chances are, it will give them some perspective and they will think twice about bullying. However, this is sometimes not enough.


If you think your child is bullying because of problems at home or from them being bullied, make sure to show them support. Scolding them and putting them down for violent behaviors only promotes more violent behaviors. Again, explain to them what they are doing and how it is affecting others. Ask them what they need themselves to feel better and more confident to stop bullying others. Be sure to add that “just teasing” is still bullying.


Most importantly, if a teacher comes to you with a problem about your child, listen. Make a plan with them on how to solve the problem. You may want to consider counseling for your kid if you don’t think the problem goes deeper than a few talks with them. Know that violent or malicious behavior harms the aggressor as well as the victim. It is never too late to change and have them started on a better path. By seeking help and a solution for the problem, you are doing your job as a parent.



Childhood Bullies Can Turn Into…


  • Abusive spouses/parents
  • Depressed adults
  • Dealing with a lifetime of built up anger and aggression
  • An inability to build meaningful relationships



Again, do not feel like you have failed as a parent. Showing efforts to solve the problem makes you a good role model. Think about if the tables were turned, and your child was the one being bullied. You would want the bully to stop and the parents to step in. If you know your kid is a bully and choose to ignore it, how are you as a person any better?