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Divorce - What to do when divorcing with kids

Posted on October 18, 2016 at 8:30 AM



The dreaded D word.


It is never an easy decision to separate or divorce. Even as adults it can be a very taxing process in which we lose our identity, friends, family members, and some financial freedoms. Our adult brains can rationalize or even anticipate the changes that will be coming upon us, but what does it mean for the kids? How do they handle the stress of divorce and what does it do to their view of self and family?


A majority of children from divorced homes will not develop major psychological issues from the divorce. Kids are incredibly resilient and intuitive little beings. It is highly important to not let them get lost in the shuffle and turmoil of legal proceedings and divorce decrees. Children are not objects nor are they prizes to be won. They will be experiencing their own levels of loss and will be attempting to reconcile what is happening in their own minds. While a divorce may be a lasting sad memory for them, it doesn’t have to be detrimental to their development. If parents take the right steps, avoid conflict and do not put children in adult positions, the ability for them to create healthy, bonded relationships with both parents can exist.

You and your soon to be ex will set the tone for your children. Young children look to their parents for safety and will be highly dependant on the parents for social cues and other ways of learning about the world. Divorce may shake their foundation of trust and may show some regressive behaviors. Teenagers are more independent, but still will react to the changes in the family dynamic. They will have feelings of loss or grief far sooner than the child as they are able to realize the finality of the divorce. Teenagers may become more defiant and unruly as they project anger or unresolved emotions from the divorce.

It is important to remember that kids will sometimes display different reactions in each parent’s home. They may try to cause problems just to get the parents to talk in a misguided effort to reunite the family. Be patient with your former spouse, be gentle with your child, but seek out the truth. Try to work as a team to your best ability and help the child understand the new situation and what will and will not be acceptable behavior. The more you and your ex can co-parent successfully, the better the long term will be. Badmouthing or other negative behaviours by the parents can make the child feel they have to take sides and defend the other. They will remember this as adults, so be sure you are modeling appropriate emotional processing to the kids. Try to set up new routines and traditions to establish a new family order. Encourage the child to talk to both parents. Be sure to remind them how important they are to you and that you still love them unconditionally.

There is no timeline on how a child will process and recover from divorce. Some kids are more resilient than others and some have better self soothing skills. Kids can benefit from speaking with a counselor to help process the divorce. Some signs that your child may need to talk to someone would be: an increase in symptoms such as problems eating or sleeping, deteriorating grades, increased agitation, separation anxiety, difficulty concentrating, increased agitation, feeling sad, angry, or defiant. Don’t hesitate to seek counseling if your child’s symptoms persist over several weeks, interfere with their normal functioning or the functioning of your family; You feel angry, exhausted, or disappointed with your child a lot of the time, or if your child asks to see a therapist.

Divorce is a huge upheaval for everyone involved. It is never intended to hurt children in the divorce process, but noticing your child’s behavior changes isn’t always a bad sign. They trust you enough to be vulnerable and truly exhibit the emotions they are carrying. Take this as a valuable time to seek out additional supports to be sure you and your children are able to work through this road bump and continue to live a fulfilling, happy life. If you or a loved one are going through a divorce and would like to seek some professional guidance for the family, give us a call today! We would love to help!



Suicidal Behavior in Teenagers

Posted on October 6, 2016 at 8:45 AM


Sadly, suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers. Despite the seriousness of a suicide attempt, the “last straw” events which lead teenagers to attempt suicide are very common. They include situations such as family conflict, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, legal problems, or school difficulties. The underlying motives for a suicide attempt are often similar to the motives of adults, but this can vary from one teenager to another. Possible motives include really wanting to die, expressing anger, getting relief from a terrible state of mind, escaping a difficult situation, or being disappointed by a trusted person. The availability of firearms coupled with an increased use of alcohol, especially among adolescents who don’t think before they act, has been suggested as playing a role in the increased suicide rate.

Adolescents who complete suicide often talk about it or give warning signals prior to the act. These signals may include:


  • Written or verbal statements about death or the desire to end one’s life;
  • Giving away personal possessions;
  • Abrupt changes in mood or behavior, such as ending long term friendships;
  • Signs of depression such as changes in eating and sleeping, apathy, statements about feeling hopeless, and looking very sad.


While these signs don’t always mean that a teenager is suicidal, they should be a signal that there is an emotional issue that needs to be addressed.

If at all concerned, parents should not be afraid to ask a teenager if he or she is thinking about suicide; talking about suicide doesn’t make teenagers do it! Showing concern and asking questions calmly is the first step when dealing with a suicidal adolescent. Asking teenagers how they feel and if they have thoughts of ending their life keeps open lines of communication and sets the stage for professional intervention. If the teen has a specific plan to act on a suicidal impulse, the risk is greater and there is a need for immediate intervention.

Whenever an adolescent has suicidal thoughts or makes a suicide attempt, professional help should be sought immediately to protect the adolescent from self-harm. A plan can be put into place that may involve step by step processes for diffusing negative emotions.

This can include:

Implementing coping skills at lower levels of distress. It's much easier to manage the smaller emotions rather than to wait until there is a full blown crisis on your hands. Learn effective coping skills to manage stress, anger, embarrassment, etc.

Separating from a distressing trigger. Sometimes just a time out will work, but for more heated issues establishing a respite location at a the home of a trusted friend or family member may be needed to allow enough time and space to cool things off and regroup.

Professional Intervention. If your child is a danger to themselves or others they should be taken somewhere trained professionals can help evaluate and redirect the situation. This can be done by calling 911 or going to your local emergency room.


Once the initial crisis is over, treatment with a mental health professional should continue. It often takes a number of sessions to help adolescents figure out what is happening in their lives that has led to suicidal behavior and to help them learn ways to better manage these stressors. Some step-down programs may be suggested for serious issues that allow the teen to continue to receive intensive support and emotional guidance. Others may be discharged into outpatient therapy that may or may not include medication.

Behavioral techniques and family therapy are highly recommended to help the teen change negative patterns of behavior and reacting and to help families communicate better and improve their ability to resolve conflict. Treatment must address the underlying problems that lead to suicidal feelings and behavior. These problems might include depression, aggressive behavior, alcohol and other drug abuse, or impulsive behavior. There are a number of cognitive behavioral treatments that hold promise in addressing these difficult problem behaviors. If these underlying problems are better controlled, there is a significant reduction in suicidal feelings and behavior.

If your family is in need of professional interventions or outpatient counseling, please contact us right away for help. Our highly qualified, caring therapists can help you and your family get back on track and live a better life!

(Works Sited: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies) Marin



Faith Based Counseling with Susan Rosemeier, MA

Posted on September 14, 2016 at 9:50 AM


We all grow up with certain values, morals, religious beliefs and traditions that were instilled by our environments and families. However, there also comes a time when these beliefs are questioned – we come face-to-face with grief and loss, social issues, political ideology, job loss, and other tough situations. What then? What if what we believed all our lives is not matching up with our experiences; or what if there is a disconnect between what we have always believed and what friends and society are telling us? Such questioning can hinder our enjoyment in life, lead to fractured relationships with family, and leave us feeling lost and empty.


In the last decade or so, the mental health field has recognized the need for professionals to be educated in addressing spiritual elements with clients; most graduate schools now even include curriculum on integrating faith within counseling. This is in light of research showing the high percentage of individuals adhering to a faith perspective, as well as studies suggesting a positive correlation between psychological well-being and active religious faith.


Unfortunately, some clients may have experienced counselors who have viewed his or her faith as part of the problem, or even as a symptom of a larger issue. This perspective can lead to an individual feeling misunderstood, patronized, and demoralized – if this has happened to you in the past, we hope that you will consider giving counseling another try! In comparison, the faith-based counselor should view faith as part of the whole person, as well as a conviction that is to be respected and incorporated into overall treatment.

Furthermore, rest assured that spiritual practices, such as prayer or the use of scripture, will not be explicitly utilized unless you as the client specifically request it. Rather, the faith-based counselor often utilizes techniques and approaches common to secular psychotherapy practices, such as cognitive and behavioral techniques, but alongside the recognition of faith and spirituality. This is most often referred to as an integrative approach – one in which all aspects of a person are considered.

A possible question that one may have is in reference to family counseling. What if your family is interfaith? This type of family is one in which multiple religions are held. An example could be a mom and a dad who adhere to different faith perspectives, while choosing to raise their children with the option of deciding for themselves the faith with which they most align. The counselor who is trained in spiritual and faith-based treatment will work diligently to respect both views and incorporate treatment that is tailored to the distinctive and complex family. To begin, the assessment process will focus on gaining understanding for how the family system wishes the unit to function in regards to their differing faiths. Then, treatment planning will be a mutual process between the family unit and therapist so as to best serve and assist the unique needs of the family system. Just as in individual counseling, the therapist’s personal views will not interfere with the specific needs and wishes of the family as a whole.

Another concern that may be on the forefront of someone seeking counseling is whether their counselor’s faith and values will influence the treatment they ultimately receive. They may even be concerned that such values may infringe upon their right to receive fair, unbiased, and nonjudgmental treatment. Rest assured that the counselor’s personal values will not dictate the type of treatment you receive; rather, you will be an active part of the treatment planning and goal-setting process. As such, you will be part of a collaborative effort that assures you receive the type of service that is most applicable to you and the values that are integral to your life.

While speaking with pastors and clergy can be helpful when seeking answers and clarity, there are times when it may be difficult to be open and honest with a person who is familiar with your background and family. Perhaps you have even had negative experiences with church or church members in the past. These situations often leave individuals feeling disenfranchised, disconnected, and possibly even confused about their beliefs. In such circumstances, it may be helpful to process these experiences with a trained counselor who understands the intricacies and practices related to churches, their structure, and how they function.


Another consideration that must be made is the training of a clergy member; while they often have an extensive background in theology and ministry-related training, they may not have the important psychological perspective that is frequently required for effective understanding and treatment. Thankfully, the integrative approach is an increasingly utilized method that is effective in incorporating both schools of thought into holistic mental health treatment.


Professionals recognize that issues surrounding faith and religion are valid and important, deserving of contemplation and processing, but too often are pushed to the backburner because day-to-day life gets in the way. Consider making the time to pursue answers and solutions – because your peace of mind and hope for the future is important!

A faith-based approach to counseling can be helpful in a variety of circumstances, such as:

  • If you find yourself questioning your religious beliefs
  • If you find yourself struggling with forgiveness
  • If you are unsure of your purpose and meaning in life
  • If you are a Christian and wish to have a counselor with a similar background and beliefs
  • If you are struggling with how to instill faith values in your children


If any of these circumstances, questions, or situations apply to you, consider scheduling a session with a therapist who is educated in both psychological and faith issues – we can provide a safe, nonjudgmental space to wrestle through these tough emotions, beliefs, and decisions.



 Photos courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock,

Fighting With Your Ex - What it Does to the Kids

Posted on September 7, 2016 at 3:00 PM

As a rule, more contact with both parents is better for children, but only if the parents’ conflict is contained. If fighting is uncontrolled, children may do better to see one parent less — and be exposed to less fighting as a result. More contact with each parent may mean sharing time with the children equally; but that arrangement is the exception, not the rule.

Many divorced families maximize contact between children and both parents by keeping a stable routine during the school week but then coming up with creative options for using weekends, school vacations, and summer holidays. Other parents recognize that major changes are likely to take place as children grow old, and this helps them to accept less attractive options for the time being. Consistency in schedules and rules makes life less stressful for everyone. Once parents agree on a plan for spending time with their children, they do well to stick to it religiously. Children want to know where they are going to be at what times, and, while a change or delay may seem small to a parent, it can be a big deal to a child. Everyone needs some flexibility, of course; but flexibility works best if it follows long after a consistent routine has been established.

A few rules on parenting alone can be useful to keep in mind. Children need love, but they also need discipline. Each household needs a few clear and reasonable rules about such things as bedtimes, responsibilities, and appropriate behavior; and parents should expect these rules to be followed. No means no, and parents make a big mistake if they let their guilt turn no into “maybe not.” Of course, a positive focus is the best way to discipline. Praising children for doing things right works much better than criticizing children for doing things wrong.

Finally, get children involved in taking responsibility for their actions and duties. Call a family meeting, explain the problem, and ask children what they (realistically) think is an appropriate solution. Children can discipline themselves pretty strictly if given the chance, and it is hard for them to argue against rules that they set for themselves.

(Works Sited: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies)

Photo sited: smarnard At

Mary Brodland, LCSW

Posted on August 31, 2016 at 3:35 PM


Mary Brodland is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who provides services for adults over the age of 60 for many types of difficult situations they may face.

As we age, we may be faced with many life transitions such as retirement, downsizing, and parenting grandchildren. These transitions cause us to review our lives; we wonder if we have lived a fulfilling life and left a legacy we deem satisfying. This may lead us to search for closure for things left undone or question whether we made good decisions for ourselves and our families. Often times we are faced with chronic health problems that can affect mood or lead to depression, which can worsen physical pain or create new aches and pains in the body.

Different life stressors such as a change in income or health may leave us wondering if we have saved enough money or are healthy enough to live independently. Many older adults are faced with varying degrees of grief or loss. This grief or loss can include the death of loved ones, friends, or pets. It can be a loss of independence, loss of job by choice or by force due to health concerns, or any number of unfortunate life events. Sometimes the loss of health and independence means that we must rely more heavily on our children, grandchildren or spouses. This can put an undesirable amount of stress and responsibility on caregivers and can eventually lead to caregiver burnout.

It is very important not to allow the stress of all these changes to become overwhelming. No matter our age we have the ability to lead a fulfilling life if we are given the proper resources and support. Mary understands how these life transitions can be stressful to older adults and can provide numerous types of therapeutic interventions for adults over the age of 60.

In cases of dementia, early or further progressed, it may be helpful to offer validation theory or life enrichment treatment. Validation theory, for those with dementia, is the best way to reach and interact with someone in any stage of the disease as it strives to create positive, comforting interactions.

Mary uses Cognitive therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Theory to help treat older adults struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, and life transitions. Mary often finds it helpful to add creative therapies such as art and music to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Other treatment modalities can be used depending on the individual patient. These may be Motivational Interviewing, Brief Psychodynamic Therapy, Experiential Therapy, or Solution Focused therapy. These same interventions may be successful in also treating caregivers who may be experiencing caregiver burden or caregiver stress. Sometimes it may be useful to teach families and their loved one about the therapeutic processes used and why a specific process is being used. This is called Psychoeducation and can help normalize the process of aging for all those involved.

If you or a loved one is beginning to become concerned about life transitions or showing signs of depression or anxiety due to aging, health concerns, or loss, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary Brodland, LCSW. Mary strives to treat all with the respect and dignity they deserve as they enter the next chapter of their lives.

Caregiver Stress

Posted on August 25, 2016 at 12:45 AM


Caring for a loved one can be a very rewarding experience. You are able to give back to a loved one in their time of need, however the stressors involved can lead to damaging symptoms and caregiver stress or burnout. The demands of caregiving can feel overwhelming at times and if left unchecked they can take a toll on the caregiver’s health, relationships and mental wellbeing. Even the most resilient people can feel the strain of caring for a loved one in need.

A caregiver is anyone who provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse or partner, a disabled child, or an aging relative. Caregiver stress is the compounded emotional and physical strain that comes with providing care for a loved one. Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging, since it is typically a chronic, long-term challenge. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better.

Without adequate help and support, the stress of caregiving leaves you vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems such as:


  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling alone, isolated, or deserted by others
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming easily irritated or angered
  • Feeling worried or sad often
  • Having headaches or body aches often


The key point is that caregivers need care too. Managing the stress levels in your life is just as important as making sure your family member gets to his doctor’s appointment or takes her medication on time.

You may be experiencing caregiver burnout if you find your energy levels are lower than they used to be; If you are constantly getting sick or feeling exhausted even after a break; If you find your life is only revolving around caregiving and you are neglecting your own needs; If you have trouble relaxing and you feel helpless or hopeless; If you feel very irritable or impatient with the person you are caring for; You may experience higher levels of anxiety or depression; You may have a weakened immune system or increased weight gain due to high levels of stress.

Caregiver stress can be managed by seeking help from others so that you are not solely caring for the loved one and taking time away. It is important for you to stay on top of your own health so that you can provide the best quality care to your loved one and the rest of your family. Only provide the care that you are capable of doing and seek out assistance from other family members or agencies that may be able to provide more specialized interventions for your loved one. Don’t forget that you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Find support in your community through groups or a therapist.


Other ways to help ease the burden include:


  • Learning more skills and better ways to care for your loved one. Seek out local classes and community education groups to help understand what your loved one is going though and more effective ways to assist them.
  • Ask others for help and accept unsolicited help. You cannot do it all alone. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Others may not be aware of the amounts of stress you are under. Assigning small tasks seems simple, but can really help.
  • Join a caregiver support group. There are other people going through this too! You need non judgemental social support and these groups are great at providing this.
  • Find caregiving resources in your community to help. Look into agencies. Contact the loved one’s doctor office and ask for referrals from the social worker there.
  • Get organized. Make to-do lists, and set a daily routine.
  • Take time for yourself. Stay in touch with family and friends, and do things you enjoy with your loved ones.
  • Take care of your health. Find time to be physically active on most days of the week, choose healthy foods, and get enough sleep.
  • See your doctor for regular checkups and be sure to alert them to your new role as a caregiver. You cannot help anyone if you are ill!


Some additional levels of home health care are available depending on the patient’s insurance coverage. Contact the insurance company directly to learn what their coverage is and be certain you have all the necessary information so that you are not hit with a large out of pocket expense. Another great resource for the elderly is the Area Agency on Aging. They have information on programs that your loved one may qualify for.

You are not alone in this and should not feel guilty or isolated in providing care for your loved one. If you need help finding resources in your area, contact the local Area Agency on Aging, your loved one’s doctor, or a local therapist or social worker to help you regain balance and enjoyment in life.



The Anxious Child

Posted on August 16, 2016 at 4:25 PM


Anxiety is a normal part of growing up. All children will experience anxiety at some point in their development. Different phases of development can lead to temporarily increased levels of anxiety, but sometimes it isn’t just a phase. When do we know if a child needs help with managing anxiety symptoms?

Children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, and shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities. We have all seen the child at daycare or school sobbing uncontrollably and attached to their parent’s ankle! Some children are quiet and reserved, never causing a scene and highly compliant with teachers. Other children are targets of bullies, constantly seeking approval and trying to fit in. What does all of this mean? If my child acts like this, is my child sick?

That’s a difficult question that will most likely need to be evaluated by a professional. Fortunately there are many options. Schools have psychologists on staff to help assess any barriers to education including emotional concerns. Your pediatrician is also a great resource. Lastly, there are child and adolescent therapists who can help evaluate your child’s needs and provide a therapeutic framework to help you and your child move through this emotional time.

Sometimes anxiety isn’t an isolated issue. Anxiety disorders can co-occur with depression as well as eating disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can come on suddenly or can build gradually and linger. Sometimes worry creates a sense of doom and foreboding that seems to come out of nowhere. Kids with anxiety problems may not even know what's causing the emotions, worries, and sensations they have. There are many different types of anxiety disorders with different symptoms, but they all share one common trait — prolonged, intense anxiety that is out of proportion to the present situation and affects a person's daily life and happiness.

The good news is that doctors and therapists today understand anxiety disorders better than ever before and, with treatment, can help kids feel better. When treating anxiety in counseling sessions there are many different therapeutic interventions that can be used. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used intervention. In CBT, kids try out new ways to think and act in situations that can cause anxiety, and to manage and deal with stress. They are taught ways to stop the negative patterns of thinking and interacting and put healthy, empowering interventions into place. The therapist provides support and guidance and teaches new coping skills, such as relaxation techniques or breathing exercises. Also, social skills can be taught to kids who struggle with shyness and there are many different activities that can help build confidence in a child.

Parents do not need to feel alone in this journey. If your child is getting help for anxiety, you should ask and expect to be highly involved in their treatment. Therapists can provide family sessions or parenting sessions in which they teach parents how to intervene more effectively and help kids work through their anxiety symptoms. In cases of panic attacks or other severe emotional reactions, a crisis plan can be put into place with the backing of professional help. Therapists can also help parents understand the “why” behind the symptoms and also help parents work through feelings of helplessness or guilt that arise after the anxiety reaction. Parents should feel comfortable asking what the diagnosis given to their child means so they can make the best decisions possible in the treatment of their child.

Medication is another option in treating anxiety. Most children will respond to the behavioral interventions, but in some extreme cases, medication may be needed. Psychiatrists and pediatricians can help parents understand side effects, dosage levels, and options when looking into medication. Often it is strongly suggested to have therapy in conjunction with medication interventions so that they learn ways to naturally cope with stress and not just rely on medication alone.

All of these directions to treating anxiety are very personal choices. You should feel empowered to help your child in a way that matches your family values and beliefs. You have the right to assert yourself and the needs of your family by asking as many questions as needed and by gathering as much information as possible to make you feel confident in your course of treatment decision.

If your child is experiencing a distressing level of anxiety, don’t hesitate to get them into treatment. Rest assured that with the right care, your child can overcome anxiety and learn to face the future ready and relaxed. We have highly trained therapists who can help your child work through their anxiety and help you better parent your anxious child.


 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Should I be worried about my cutting teenager?

Posted on August 3, 2016 at 2:55 PM


"Why does my teenager cut themselves? How can my child cut themselves? What does cutting mean? Is my child suicidal because they are cutting? How can I help my teenager to stop cutting?"


  One of the most frightening things a parent can find is their teenager cutting themselves. They may have small marks on their arms, legs, or abdomen or you may find sharp objects in their room. Noticing bloody tissues frequently in the trash is also another strong sign your child may be cutting. This can be a very frightening discovery for a parent, but this is not a suicide attempt. This a cry for help. Today we are going to discuss what cutting is, how to help, and what to do next.

It sounds counterintuitive, but don’t panic if you find your teen is cutting. Although this behavior is extreme and disturbing to most parents, it is not always suicidal behavior. Cutting is a type of self-harm along with scratching, hitting, burning, or hair pulling. These are actually coping skills even though they often are misguided. Teenagers who engage in self harm are trying to relieve themselves of pressures or emotions they are unable to manage in healthy ways. Some report they harm themselves to feel pain that reminds them they are still alive, specifically in major depression or states where they feel numb or disconnected..

Most teens hide the cutting behaviors and don’t want anyone to know, not even friends. They wear clothing or jewelry that covers their scars or cut on the inner thigh, where no one would notice. The cutting behaviors can release endorphins and some people report getting a feeling of euphoria right after cutting. This feeling can be fully engrossing and, due to this, cutting can be habit-forming,. Sadly, many people underestimate the risks of getting seriously sick or hurt that go along with it.

Self harm behaviors can also be a cry for help or attention. Any teen caught engaging in self harm should be evaluated for any additional suicidal tendencies. If there is no intent or plan to commit suicide, therapy can be a very effective way to learn alternative coping skills and to gain comfort with labeling and expressing emotions. It is important to remember that cutting is a symptom, not a core issue and in a world where teens are under increased pressures and unrealistic ideals, they can succumb to unhealthy coping skills.


If you find that your teenager is cutting or engaging in self harm make sure you are calm when you confront them. Remember that they are struggling with managing emotions and may have labeled themselves negatively because of this. Try to take a non-judgemental stance and focus on validating their feelings rather than trying to argue them or immediately change their behavior. Don’t be surprised if your child resists talking to you. This is hard for them and they often are good kids who hold themselves to high standards. Stay calm and patient until they are ready to talk. And lastly, don’t ignore the child or problem and hope that it will just go away.

Here are some more ideas of how parents can help:



  • Teaching your children healthy ways to express negative emotions. Get comfortable with uncomfortable discussions! Lead by example and keep an open door policy with emotional issues.
  • Really know your child. Don’t assume anything! Take time to check in with their world. Keep an eye out for bullying or trauma that may have occurred.
  • Talk to your child. Communication is key. Let them know that you love them unconditionally and are there to help.
  • Don’t focus on the self injurious behavior, but rather the emotions behind it. These overwhelming feelings can make a forming mind feel lost and confused. Help teach them effective, healthy coping skills.
  • Don’t feel guilty or make your child feel guilty. This isn’t something either of you want. It just is.
  • Make it a team effort to seek out a counselor that your child feels comfortable opening up to and allow them the opportunity to work on building emotional regulation skills.

With the right treatment, love and support your child can get through this. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help at any time. School staff, your child’s doctor or even clergy can be a good place to start. Find someone you feel comfortable working with. This is a difficult topic and you will need support along with your child. We have several therapists on staff with significant experience in these issues. Give us a call today if you need any help with a self injurious teenager!










Life Review = Life Affirmation by Mary Brodland, LCSW

Posted on July 25, 2016 at 9:30 AM


I open my eyes and see the popcorn ceiling with it’s dimpled surface. The bed under me might be comfortable to most, but I have “Arthur” (arthritis) bad in my back and nothing has felt comfortable for quite some time. I turn my face slowly to the right and am met with a deflated sheet; plain and cold looking. I used to tear up each morning when I looked that way because for fifty-one years, that now empty flat sheet was filled with my warm, best friend and love of my life. It’s been 5 years now, and no, I’m still not “over it.” Hell, I’m not even in our home; the home we paid off, painted, gardened, and raised our family in. I’m here in this popcorn ceilinged square called apartment 202, in the “wisdom wing.” Clever.

So I lie here in bed thinking, “What now.” But no one answers.

I say aloud, “does anyone know who I am? What I did in my life? Did I do it right?” Still, no answer.

I think to myself, “what will I be remembered for?” and a wave of I should have’s and what if’s comes crashing down on me to the point where guilt, regret, loss, and worry swallow me up as I realize I don’t like what I’m seeing. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, now that I’m 80 years old, widowed and stripped of the life I worked so hard for...

This story echoes the sentiments of many of my clients. We do things in life based on what we know at the time, or sometimes it’s because of who we were at the time. Regardless, we all look back now and then and scrutinize the path we’ve led, especially when that number we call “age” starts creeping to greater heights. Sometimes we look back and are happy with what we see; and sometimes what we see stops us in our tracks. It becomes like shackles on our wrists... we can’t move. The past is hard enough to stomach, but the future seems just as hard or even harder to swallow.

This “look back” is what we call “life review,” and it can be very daunting to handle because as it implies, it’s a review of your whole life! That’s a lifetime of decisions, changes, growth, and events to digest. I’m here to suggest that your life review doesn’t have to be daunting and it doesn’t have to signify the “end game.” Your life review can be a time of closure, celebration, and hope. Make your life review an affirmation of life.

Images courtesy of ponsulk at and Unsplash at

"I hate my ex, but I love my kids!" What to do during a conflict driven divorce

Posted on July 18, 2016 at 7:45 PM


Research makes it very clear that the more parents fight with each other — before, during, and after a divorce — the more psychological problems their children experience. This is especially true when children witness or overhear the conflict, or when they are put in the middle of a dispute. Even very young children feel tension, torn loyalties, and mixed messages when their parents are struggling. Obviously, disagreements are expected between divorced partners. Different philosophies about raising children can become difficult to manage, and old hurts and new jealousies can create many reasons for anger and pain.

Getting angry often feels good to a parent (at least for a while), but children benefit the most if their parents cooperate. The solution usually is not for former spouses to be friends, but it often works better if parents have a polite, businesslike approach to working together in rearing their children. The point is that although some fighting may be good for a parent, it is not good for children. Therefore, a simple and very important rule about fighting is: Keep children out of the middle.

Some children develop psychological problems following their parents’ divorce, but many more have trouble making an adjustment. Crying, worrying, and constant questions about the divorce are obvious signs; but increased aggression, disturbed sleep, spending more time alone, or lower grades also can be warning signals. Parents often have a hard time being objective in evaluating how their children are coping, and obtaining an outside opinion can be a great help. Child-care providers or teachers, for example, see many children and can give valuable feedback. While this is a private situation, it may help to alert those closest to your children that there is a divorce proceeding and ask them to let you know if they notice any changes in behaviors or actions of your child.


While all children are upset to some degree when their parents first separate, if the children have ongoing problems, their upset is frequently tied to continuing problems in family relationships. The parents may still be fighting; one parent may be inconsistent in spending time with the children; or the schedule may be too complicated. Alternatively, one or both parents may be disciplining the children ineffectively; the children may not be getting enough affection; or parents may be putting too many emotional and practical burdens on the children.


Friends and relatives rush to aid a family during a crisis, but many people do not know how to react to a divorce. As a result, instead of helping out, many potential supporters move away from the divorced family. For this reason, parents and children often have to ask for help in coping with divorce, and this is the time to ask. In addition to seeking the help of friends and relatives, many parents also find self-help books useful at this time. Parents should call on professional helpers, too, if there seems to be a need.


Divorce mediators usually specialize in helping divorcing or divorced parents negotiate their own legal agreements in a more cooperative manner. They assist you in finding solutions and compromises to get your family to the next step, whatever that may be. They will not tell you “what to do” but help you both work through difficult conversations and find the right solutions that match your needs and values as best as possible. Therapists who are familiar with divorce and comfortable in offering direction also can provide objective opinions, support, and advice to individuals, to parents and children, or to former spouses. If you want more clarity between a counselor and mediator, check out this article from The Huffington Post:


Your children are your legacy. Be sure to make the best decisions in this trying time for everyone. You may have a slew of negative emotions toward your former spouse, but that person still holds a very valuable piece of your child’s heart. If you find that you are struggling with managing emotions after or during a divorce and would like to talk to one of our family counselors about your unique situation, give our office a call today to get started.


(Works Sited: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies)