Category Archive Coping

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

An Interactive Study Skills Activity for Teens with ADHD

I have worked with a lot of kids and teens with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) who have a really hard time in school. Whether they have combination type (difficulty focusing/paying attention and hyperactivity/fidgeting) or inattentive type ADHD, I learned quickly that just reading over a list of study skills for these kids to try was hardly effective. Teaching study skills, especially to kids with ADHD, requires more than providing them with a list and reading over it with them, then hoping for the best. You have to get creative, and you have to make learning more interactive.

I came up with this activity for that very reason. When I would teach study skills to a teen sitting in my office who was struggling in school, I could literally see the boredom in their faces and the lack of focus in their eyes. I would lose them within mere minutes. It was hardly effective. Just as teachers often have to make learning more interactive for all their students, I had to come up with a way to make learning study skills interactive for kids who were already struggling with their schoolwork due to ADHD symptoms.

Let’s Get On to the Activity…

GOAL: Help students learn helpful study skill tips and choose which strategies would work best for them.

“PLAYERS”: Student + a counselor, teacher, or parent

AGES: Middle school through college aged students

ACTIVITY: You can actually divide this activity into three separate activities. This is what I frequently do, as let’s face it, giving anyone a whole bunch of any material to learn at once isn’t always effective. Click on the links for the printable pdf forms of the packets and cards.

Materials – Activity #1:

Materials – Activity #2:

Materials – Activity #3:

Materials – All Activities:

Before the activity, laminate (optional) and cut one copy of the Study Skill Cards for that particular activity. Cut apart each section/block on the Categories sheet; glue each block onto separate envelopes. Each block should be designated its own separate envelope:

  • “Tried it, but it’s not good for me”
  • “Already doing it, and it works”
  • “I’m interested in trying this”
  • “I’ll commit to trying it this week”

ACTIVITY:

Both student and counselor (or teacher or parent) each get a packet for the particular activity you’ll be doing. Each person also receives an uncut copy of the Study Skill Cards page. Each player needs two highlighters of different colors. The laminated, cut study skill cards can be placed between the student and counselor.

The student draws a card form the pile in between them. They then read the study tip. The counselor can also choose to take turns drawing cards from the pile if she wants, but it’s important to keep the student as focused an involved as possible. Don’t “just read” to them.

Next to the study skill tip is a number in parentheses. This number corresponds to the number matching on the packet for the particular topic. For some cards, a more thorough explanation may be found in the packet whereas the card generally holds only a brief description of the strategy.

The student, upon reading the card, determines which envelope they want to place the card in. For example, they might place the “Copy the notes. (4)” card in the “I’m interested in trying this” envelope. The student and counselor then, using a designated color highlighter for this category, highlights the study skill tip on their Study Skills Card page so that they both can remember that the tip is something the student may be interested in trying. If the student chooses to place a card in the “I’ll commit to trying it this week” envelope, the student and counselor would use the other colored highlighter to mark those tips on their individual Study Skill Cards pages.

Encourage the student to commit to trying 1-3 skills in the upcoming week, particularly if they don’t already have very effective study habits. Take note that some strategies are better tried separately and not together with another skill tip (for example, “start with the hardest” and “start with the easiest” are probably best not tried during the same week).

After all (or a majority) of the cards are drawn and designated to their appropriate category, spend the remainder of the time discussing the week’s commitments and forming short-term goals. The student then can take their cards sheet and packet with them to help remind them of the skills and their commitment(s).

For the skills highlighted and designated into the category of “I’m interested in trying this,” keep the Study Skill Cards sheet handy for that student and refer back to it as necessary in the future.

The individually cut skill cards and envelopes can be saved to use with other students.

To all the students out there, happy studying!

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Separation & Loss Jenga for Kids (free printables included)

Losing a parent or caregiver is difficult for any child, whether the loss is through death, separation, or removal from their home. Working with these children, they are often found to be struggling with grief and adjustment issues that might show up as a significant change in mood or acting out behaviors. Working with children who have been temporarily separated or sometimes permanently removed from their home can sometimes prove particularly difficult when trying to find creative ways to help them work their way through the loss of their parent or caregiver who has been a significant part of their lives for some time, often since birth.

Losing someone is never easy. While I certainly am not wanting to downplay the loss any child feels when a parent or caregiver dies, children who are separated from their homes, whether temporarily or permanently, face a unique challenge in itself. The child knows their parent didn’t die, so why can’t they still be with them? In cases where there has been neglect or abuse, a child may especially have difficulty understanding an array of confusing feelings… “I love my mom, but I didn’t like how she hurt me. But I feel guilty for not being with her but it’s kind of nice that I don’t have to worry so much or be so scared.”

In some cases, children aren’t even particularly sure why they’ve been separated from their parents or caregivers at all. They may not be given much information or they may not even realize that their parent’s neglect or other inappropriate behavior was ever wrong in the first place. From these kids’ perspectives, they have a really hard time understanding why or even how their lives seemed to suddenly be turned upside down. And sometimes, depending on the age of the child, it isn’t appropriate to offer a lot of details; regardless, it still doesn’t make up for the intense hurt and pain they feel from being separated from the only home they ever knew.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Child-centered play therapy, I’ve found, is especially helpful for these children when they are particularly young, but I’ve found that a more directive approach is often needed for middle and older elementary children and pre-teens. Seeking out ideas for techniques to work with these children has continued to result in dead ends. With the exception of a few specific techniques out there on the internet and in books for children who have lost their parent or caregiver not by death but by separation, therapists frequently need to adapt general grief activities for these vulnerable children. While this is certainly not a major problem, I began creating some of my own games, art, and other play activities myself.

The Idea Behind Separation & Loss Jenga

I came up with the idea of creating a Jenga game to help kids who have been separated from their parents or caregivers not long ago. The Jenga game has been a popular therapy tool for many therapists for years, as it can be easily adapted for a multitude of therapeutic purposes just by gluing question strips onto the individual blocks or marking the blocks with various colors and creating corresponding card decks filled with questions to ask or prompts to give children for anything from identifying feelings to learning and practicing social skills.
Coming up with questions for the individual Jenga blocks came easier than I anticipated. There are so many thoughts and feelings in these children’s minds when they’ve been separated from someone they love; pulling these thoughts and feelings out by using traditional methods of talk therapy only tend to work well for some kids (and usually these are the older ones). But give kids an activity or game, and suddenly the same things that a therapist has been trying to help the child express becomes less threatening for that child. There is a lot of psychology behind why and how play (such as playing games or doing other activities) works in the healing of children. Play is a child’s language.  It helps them express what they cannot express in words, whether it be because they don’t yet have the language or because they have been more reluctant or it has been too difficult to talk about such painful feelings.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Though I created the game with the idea of being used in therapy between a child and therapist, it can also be played in the child’s new home with their current caregiver(s). Either way, when the therapist or caregiver chooses a question block, they can read the question out loud to the child for him or her to answer or if you feel comfortable in self-disclosing a separation or loss (even if it was through the death of someone you once knew), this can be done also. Regardless of how you adapt the game, just make sure the child you’re playing with knows the rules and what you’re doing before you play. The child may not respond well if they find out after you draw your first question block and direct the question to them if they didn’t know ahead of time that this was what you had planned to do.
It’s also important to validate the child’s answers when he responds to a question. If the child discloses that he feels sad, for example, that he is no longer living with his abusive mother, it will not help for you to say something like, “What do you mean you feel sad? She did nothing but hurt you!” Just. Don’t. Really, don’t.
Even if you think the child’s answer is “wrong” (which by the way, there are no “wrong” answers in this game), validate what they’re telling you because what they’re saying is very real to them. For the earlier example, you could say something like, “It can feel sad when you’re away from a person you love and care about.” Then. Stop. Really. Don’t try to put a “but” at the end of that sentence. Just leave it there. Trust me, not validating something like this isn’t going to help build your relationship with the child. At all. This isn’t the time to refute the child’s beliefs. Please leave that up to after you know more about the child and they are further along in their healing process and have built more trust in you.
(There are no “wrong” ways to feel anyway, regardless of how we might think they “should” be feeling; it’s not up to us to tell anyone how they should or shouldn’t feel. Don’t refute a feeling, even if you’ve known the child for a really long time and you have a good relationship. Give the child permission to feel the way they’re feeling and validate those feelings, even if you disagree or can’t totally understand why anyone could ever feel such a way. Empathize.)
By the way, it’s important to let the child know before you begin playing, that they should only share what they feel comfortable sharing. If they look like they’re struggling to answer a particular question, especially, give them a pass or allow them to answer another question instead. I don’t like forcing children to rush through any healing process. This will also help build your relationship with the child and plant the seed that you’re someone that isn’t going to push him any faster than he is able or willing to go, and that helps to build trust in your relationship.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Creating Your Own Separation & Loss Jenga Game

To create your own game, simply click below and print the Separation & Loss question strips. After you print the questions, I recommend laminating the page for durability. Then simply cut out your questions, and glue each individual question onto a Jenga block. The blocks that are left over can be used as “free pass” blocks, blocks that allow the player a turn without answering a question or they can be rapport (relationship) building blocks.

I find “free pass” blocks to be helpful over utilizing each and every block for a question, as it seems to make kids more comfortable and feel less overwhelmed. Rapport, or relationship, building blocks are ones in which you can use questions such as those found below, to lighten the mood and discuss something a little more fun and less heavy. The topic of losing or being separated from someone you love can be pretty sensitive, let’s cut the child a break! I personally use some of the rapport (relationship) building questions AND a few “free pass” blocks.”

In regards to the rapport building questions I have included in this post, you obviously wouldn’t use all of the strips for this particular game or you wouldn’t have many blocks left for the separation and loss questions. You can pick and choose which of both sets of questions you would like to use. Or you might also decide to glue two questions onto each Jenga block, with one side having a separation and loss question and the other side including a rapport building question. This is what I choose to do. This way, if a child does feel particularly uncomfortable about answering a separation and loss question, there’s a “back up” question they can choose to answer instead.

Separation & Loss Jenga Question Strips

Relationship Building Jenga Question Strips

Enjoy playing!

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

55 Art Journal Prompts for Teens

In counseling children and teenagers, I must tell you that I’ve seen some incredible talent. Some kids are talented musically, some are talented in sports, some are great writers, others are great artists, and some can tell you every country’s capital as though it were as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In every kid I’ve ever worked with, I’ve found an amazing amount of creativity flourishing inside them.

creativity (noun) – the use of the imagination or original ideas

Everyone is creative in their own way. Don’t believe me? Those kids who can rattle off facts like it’s nothing to them? They had to use some creativity in order to be able to memorize and remember those facts, such as using mnemonics or using music. You have to be creative in different ways if you play a sport, remembering all the moves and such.

I hear a lot of kids (and adults, especially) tell me that they’re not creative. They think that because someone told them back in second grade that their drawing wasn’t “good enough” that they themselves are not “good enough.” I say those people that told you that don’t know what creativity is. Everyone is creative!

 

There’s something cool about using art in therapy. Please note that while I know some various art therapy techniques, I am not a fully trained or certified art therapist. I do, however, use quite a bit of creative expressive techniques in my work as a therapist. One technique I use to help show people that they are creative and that creative expression is remarkably healing is assigning them to journal. Whether it’s through writing, music, art, or any other creative expressive technique, we can find healing in our lives.

Let me say that you don’t have to be an “artist” to do an art journal. There is no “wrong” way to do art; there is no “bad artist.” Art is an outlet for the thoughts from your soul to your hands and onto paper. For art journaling, you can draw, you can color, you can paint, you can collage… the possibilities are endless. I’ve included in this post some of my favorite art journaling prompts that I use especially with teens (and even adults!). Please note that just because the prompt might say “draw,” doesn’t mean you have to draw. If you’d rather collage or do some other form of creative expression (like knitting or writing or sculpting, etc.), you can still use these prompts! Don’t overthink them. Just let yourself be in the moment and do it. Draw in the dark if you think you’re “not a good artist!” Just let yourself be. Just try it.

55 Art Journal Prompts for Teens

  1. Draw a picture of yourself as something other than a person.
  2. Draw a picture of your family doing something.
  3. My perfect day looks like…
  4. Draw the monster you struggle with (i.e., anxiety as a monster, anger monster, depression monster).
  5. Make a picture of the person you let other people see and a picture of the person you really are.
  6. Draw a picture of how you think others see you.
  7. What makes me unique…
  8. I feel happiest when…
  9. I wish I could…
  10. Draw or paint your emotions.
  11. Create a picture using only colors that calm you.
  12. Create a collage related to a quote that inspires you.
  13. Create a picture of what freedom looks like to you.
  14. Document an experience where you did something you didn’t think you could do.
  15. Draw or collage someone you admire.
  16. Draw a place where you feel safe.
  17. Create a motivational collage.
  18. Create a timeline and journal the most significant moments in your life, with the most important moments highlighted visually.
  19. Create a picture of an important childhood memory. Try to understand why it was so important to you.
  20. Illustrate a fairy tale about yourself. If you could put yourself into a happily ever after situation, what role would you play? How would the story go? Create a visual story that tells the tale.
  21. Create your own coat of arms. Choose symbols that represent your strengths.
  22. Draw a comic strip about a funny moment in your life.
  23. Create a picture for someone else.
  24. Who are the anchors in your life? Make an anchor and decorate it with the people and things that provide you stability and strength.
  25. Make a mind map that is a visual representation of all your thoughts.
  26. Draw your dreams.
  27. What do you need right now at this time in your life? Draw a picture or make a collage depicting this.
  28. Draw or collage a picture showing what you are currently worried about.
  29. What smartphone app would you like to create or see created? Represent this visually.
  30. If magic was real, what spell would you try to learn first?
  31. What problem are you currently grappling with?
  32. Create a picture of what helps you feel better when you’re feeling down.
  33. What is something you really wish you could tell or explain to your family?
  34. What is something you really wish you could tell or explain to the teachers at your school?
  35. What is something you really wish you could tell the other kids at school?
  36. What do you wish would get better?
  37. Draw your superpower (or the superpower you would like to have).
  38. Create a vision board.
  39. What is your good luck charm?
  40. Draw a picture of something that is better broken than whole.
  41. What do you need help with right now?
  42. What question are you afraid to ask?
  43. What people or activities leave you feeling drained?
  44. Create a picture of how you would like your home to feel.
  45. Draw or collage 10 things that make you feel loved.
  46. Design your own logo.
  47. Create a picture depicting what keeps you up at night.
  48. If I really loved myself I would…
  49. I’m afraid people won’t like/love/accept/want me if they knew ____ about me.
  50. If you came across a genie in a bottle who could grant you three wishes of anything at all in the world that you want, except for more wishes, what would you wish for?
  51. Create a picture of what everything would look like if you woke up tomorrow and everything was better.
  52. I think I’m really good at…
  53. Draw a picture of where you would be if you could be anywhere right now.
  54. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  55. Draw a self-portrait WITHOUT drawing your face (make it symbolic).

There you go. Have fun! 

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

The Worry Worm Game

Children with anxiety sometimes have a hard time opening up about what they’re worried or anxious about. Enter the worry worms. Worry worms are simply construction (or cardstock) paper worms that look like… well, little worms. I use them in play therapy, but you can easily make your own worms at home and play the worry worm game.

The Game

Worry worms are pretty easy to make. Simply draw or trace a worm onto brown construction paper (or cardstock paper works well too). Make several worms, and cut each of them out. Wa-la! Worry worms! I laminate my worms, simply because this allows me to keep them durable for multiple children to play with.

Next I hide these little guys (the worms) around the room for the child to find. For each worry worm the child finds, they are asked to tell one worried thought they have or have had.

Simple right?

It looks like a game of hide-and-seek to them, but let me tell you what really happens when you play the worry worm game:

  • The child is identifying their worried feelings. This is a huge thing. The mastery of this skill is a major foundation to helping children learn how to cope and regulate their emotions.
  • The child is able to begin tolerating the idea and practice of sharing uncomfortable thoughts out loud because they are motivated by the challenge, reward, and fun of finding the hidden worms.
  • The game itself offers a titrated set of exposures to anxiety producing content that is completed while remaining grounded in the safety of the worm prop.
Have fun playing the worry worm game! Do you have ideas or strategies that you use to help kids talk about their feelings? Please feel free to share in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas to use in the playroom!

 

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Inside a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library – Part 2

Therapy Books, Kindle LibraryIn my last post – Inside a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library – I shared just a few books you can find in my Amazon Kindle library, including books about depression, anxiety, ADHD, executive functioning, life skills, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, and stress management.  If you thought that was the extent of my Kindle book collection, let me assure you with this post that my first list didn’t even cover half of my wide selection.

I’m a huge research junkie.  And I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who treats a wide variety of mental health issues and concerns.  I like knowing what the latest research says about what might help those struggling with mental health issues.  I am up front with my clients that sometimes I just don’t know all the answers (nor should I), but I will try to help them find someone or something that might.

Soooo… My Kindle library is quite extensive.  Even after sharing this post, I won’t be able to list every single book.  My bookshelves are the same.  My books may soon need their own house!  I frequently get asked about the books I have – both Kindle versions and those that are hard copies.  As promised in my last post, today I will share a few more selections you can find in this counselor’s Kindle library.

Again, as with the last post, I want to note that this is not a sponsored post.  Amazon.com, nor anyone else, is paying me to share my book selection.  Also, just because I have a particular book in my library doesn’t necessarily mean that I recommend it.  Most of the books in my Kindle library are really good.  Others, maybe not so much.  You live, you learn.  You’ll find that some books are specifically written for clinicians, while others are written for everybody else.

So here we go again…

Some Research

From a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library – Part 2

Therapeutic Resources: Parenting, Family

  • “101 Bedtime Questions to Help Kids Talk About School” by Aaron Shaw, PhD
  • “365 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ to Your Kids” by Jay Payleitner
  • “The Defiant Child: A Parent’s Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder” by Douglas A. Riley
  • “Great Games! 175 Games & Activities for Families, Groups, & Children” by Matthew Toone
  • “How to Motivate Kids – No Nagging Required!” By Susan L. Paterson
  • “Little Book of Routines: A Practical Guide for Mums and Dads” by Michelle Kemp
  • “No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
  • “A Parenting Guide to Crisis Intervention for Today’s Teens and Difficult Children” by Steve Stevenson
  • “Playful Parenting – Fun Games & Activities for Families” by Judy H. Wright
  • “Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… In You and Your Kids” by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller
  • “The Staycation Jar: 200 Family Fun Ideas for Creative Meals, Main Events, Silliness, Love Projects” by Erica McNeal
  • “Toddler Discipline” by Rhonda Hart
  • “Who’s the Boss?: The Win-Win Way to Parent Your Defiant, Strong-Willed Child” by Don MacMannis PhD &Debra Manchester-MacMannis MSW
  • “Zombie Party Ideas for Kids: How to Party Like a Zombie… Zombie Approved Kids Party Ideas for Kids Age 6-14” by P.T. Hersom

Therapeutic Resources: Couples, Relationships

  • “The Drama Triangle (Transactional Analysis in Bite Sized Chunks” by Catherine Holden
  • “Games People Play” by Eric Berne
  • “The High-Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy, and Validation” by Alan E. Fruzzetti, PhD
  • “Relationship Guides: Exercises to Improve Relationships” by John Gottman & Julie Gottman

Therapeutic Resources: Play Therapy

  • “Play in Family Therapy, Second Edition” by Eliana Gil
  • “SANDPLAY: A Sourcebook for Play Therapists” by Susan McNally

Therapeutic Resources: Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • “Adult Asperger’s Syndrome: The Essential Guide” by Kenneth Roberson
  • “Asperger’s Syndrome: A Definite Guide Toward Understanding and Treating Asperger’s Syndrome” by Robert Korsh
  • “Autism: Help for Autistic Adults, Understanding Adults with Autism” by Mark Spectrum
  • “Creative Expressive Activities and Asperger’s Syndrome: Social and Emotional Skills and Positive Life Goals for Adolescents and Young Adults” by Judith Martinovich

Therapeutic Resources: Trauma

  • “Breaking Free: A Handbook for Recovery from Family Abuse and Violence” by Esly Regina Carvalho, PhD
  • “The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms” by Soili Poijula & Mary Beth Williams
  • “Self Help: Child Abuse: Childhood Abuse” by Hanna Monahan
  • “Sexual Assault is Really Rape of the Soul” by Bob Bray
  • “When Your Anxiety and Fears are Complex PTSD from Complex Trauma (C-PTSD): The Truth About Childhood Trauma, Relationship Trauma, Workplace Trauma, Natural Trauma” by J.B. Snow

Therapeutic Resources: Bullying

  • “The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job” by Gary Namie PhD & Ruth Namie PhD
  • “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle (Updated Edition)” by Barbara Coloroso
  • “Employee Rights Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Back Against Firing, Harassment, Discrimination and More” by Richard Campbell
  • “Know Your Rights: Easy Employment Law for Employees” by Charles Henter
  • “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Robert I. Dutton
  • “Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace” by Patricia Barnes
  • “When You Work for a Bully: Assessing Your Options and Taking Action” by Susan Futterman
  • “Your Rights in the Workplace” by Barbara Kate Repa

Therapeutic Resources: Addiction & Recovery

  • “The Addiction Recovery Skills Workbook: Changing Addictive Behaviors Using CBT, Mindfulness, and Motivational Interviewing Techniques” by Suzette Glasner-Edwards
  • “Kickstart Your Recovery – The Road Less Traveled to Freedom from Addiction” by Taite Adams

 Therapeutic Resources: Grief

  • “Grief and Loss: How to Get Through the Five Stages of Grief, Death and Loss after Losing a Loved One” by Ariana Kats
  • “Grief Recovery” by C.S. Hickman

Therapeutic Resources: Emotions

  • “Emotion Amplifiers” by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • “Emotions and Feelings: How do you feel today? A Kids Book About Emotions and Feelings” by Jenny River

Therapeutic Resources: Communication

  • “Body Language” by Craig James Baxter
  • “Non-Verbal Communication – Body Talk” by Dr. Harry Jay

Therapeutic Resources: Online Therapy/Counseling

  • “Online Counselling: A Handbook for Practitioners” by Gill Jones & Anne Stokes
  • “Online Therapy – Reading Between the Lines, A Practical NLP Based Guide to Online Counselling and Therapy Skills” by Jethto Adlington
  • “Therapy Online: A Practical Guide” by Kate Anthony & DeeAnna Merz Nagel

Therapeutic Resources: Creative Expression

  • “The Big Book of Therapeutic Activity Ideas for Children and Teens: Inspiring Arts-Based Activities and Character Education Curricula” by Lindsey Joiner
  • “Creative Expression Activities for Teens: Exploring Identity Through Art, Craft, and Journaling” by Bonnie Thomas

Therapeutic Resources: Miscellaneous

  • “1001 Solution-Focused Questions: Handbook for Solution-Focused Interviewing” by Fredrike Bannink
  • “20 Change Exercises for Group Workshops” by David Williams
  • “Allen Carr’s Easy Way for Women to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr
  • “Creative Problem Solving Techniques to Change Your Life” by Colin G. Smith
  • “The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual: Practical DBT for Self-Help and Individual and Group Treatment Settings” by Lane Pederson, Psy.D., LP, DBTC
  • “Free Your Mind” by M.P. Nearly
  • “How to Light Up a Room: 55 Techniques to Help You Increase Your Charisma, Build Rapport, and Make People Like You” by Kate Kennedy
  • “Inspiration, Confidence, Success: Motivational Ideals to Live By” by Nicholas Muir
  • “Over 600 Icebreakers & Games” by Jennifer Carter
  • “Ten Interesting Things About Human Behavior” by Suzanne Davis
  • “Top 100 Quotes About Education: Great Quotes and Amazing Images that Will Change the Way You Think” by Marco Dragovic
  • “The Top Ways to REMEMBER EVERYTHING” by Ian Stables
  • “Treating Somatization: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach” by Robert L. Woolfolk & Lesley A. Allen
Well, there you have it: a comprehensive list of the therapeutic resources I keep daily at my fingertips in my Kindle library. Watch for future posts and I may just give you a peak into what sits on my bookshelves. 😉

 

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Inside a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library

Books!

 

I admit it.  I’m a research junkie.  This is no surprise to anyone who knows me, including the clients I work with (and their parents).  When I want to know something, I’m notorious for finding every bit of research I can on it.  If, in my research, I find a book cited frequently or I find a raving review, I can’t help but check it out on Amazon.com and most likely, add it to my Wish List.

Then of course, there are also times that I just browse a topic I’m interested in learning more about in the Amazon.com store just to see what’s out there and look over the many reviews to see if the particular book is worth my time.  Kindle book, paperback, hardback, spiral-bound…  My iPad and my bookshelves are filled with resources I use in my counseling practice.

I often get questions about the books in my library – both in my Kindle library and my hard copy library.  Today I thought I would share a few of the many therapy books (my “therapeutic resources”) you can find on my Kindle.  I will share some of my other books in a future post.

I should note that this is not a sponsored post.  Amazon.com, nor anyone else, is paying me to share my book selection.  I want to further note that just because I have a particular book in my library doesn’t necessarily mean that I recommend it.  Most of the books in my Kindle library are really, really good.  Others, maybe not so much.  You’ll find that some books are specifically written for clinicians, while others are written for everybody else.

Okay, so here goes…

On the Tablet

From a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library

Therapeutic Resources: Mindfulness, Meditation, Relaxation, Stress Management

  • “10 of the Best Relaxation Techniques: Helping You Live a More Balanced and Peaceful Life” by Michael Hetherington
  • “Five Minute Meditation: Mindfulness, Stress Relief and Focus for Absolute Beginners” by Lisa Shea
  • “Lolli and the Lollipop: Meditation Adventures for Kids” by Elena Paige
  • “Meditation: The Proven Guide to Alleviate Anxiety, Depression, and Stress” by Nathan Reynolds
  • “Mindfulness for Busy People: Everyday Mindfulness Tricks to Enjoy Your Life, Be Happy, Reduce Stress, and Create Freedom” by Marta Tuchowska
  • “Mindfulness without Meditation: Creating Mindful Habits that Actually Stick” by Shea Matthew Fisher
  • “Mindfulness for Beginners – Change Your Life by Living Anxiety Free and Stress Free” by Angel Greene
  • “Mindfulness for Beginners – The Anxiety Cure: A Guide to Replacing Worries, Anxiety and Negative Thoughts with Happiness and Fulfillment by Using the Power of Mindfulness” by Henry Hill
  • “Name That Emotion: A Mindful Approach to Understanding Your Feelings and Reducing Stress” by Erin Olivo
  • “The Primal Meditation Method: How to Meditate When Sitting Still is Infuriating” by Matt Peplinski
  • “Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)” by Eline Snel
  • “Stress Management Made Easy – How to Relieve a Stressed and Worried Mind Today” by PP Brennan
  • “Zen for Beginners: How to Achieve Happiness, Focus & Mindfulness by the Power of Zen Buddhism” by James Arvin

Therapeutic Resources: Depression & Anxiety

  • “The 18 Rules of Happiness: How to Be Happy” by Karl Moore
  • “40 Worth-it Life Quotes” by Jade the Mystic
  • “The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry, and Panic” by Jennifer Shannon
  • “Cognitive Behavior Therapy: CBT to Cure Anxiety, Fight Depression, and Beat Back Against Natural Phobias” by Nathan Bellow
  • “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A Practical Guide to CBT for Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, Addictions & Other Psychological Conditions” by Jane Aniston
  • “Confidence: Positive Thinking: How to Get Confidence” by Laura Boyle
  • “Depression Help: Stop! 5 Top Secrets to Create a Depression Free Life” by Heather Rose
  • “Gratitude Journal: A Daily Appreciation” by Brenda Nathan
  • “Happiness 365: One-a-Day Inspirational Quotes for a Happy YOU” by Deena B. Chopra and KC Harry
  • “Happiness Quotes: Inspirational Picture Quotes About Happiness” by Gabi Rupp
  • “365 Quotes for Daily Motivation” by Jonny Fox
  • “The Irritability Cure: How to Stop Being Angry, Anxious and Frustrated All the Time” by Doc Orman MD
  • “The Most Unique Anxiety Relief Workbook for Your Child in the Universe” by Renee Jain
  • “The Secret to Happiness: Change Your Life Around” by Jenna Louise
  • “Success and Happiness – Quotes to Motivate, Inspire & Live By” by Atticus Aristotle
  • “Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety” by Kelly G. Wilson & Troy DuFrene

Therapeutic Resources: ADHD, Executive Functioning, Life Skills

  • “21 Ways to Organize and Declutter Your Home” by Jane Denham
  • “The 4 List Method: A Simple Way to Organize Your Life and Reclaim Productivity for Entrepreneurs and Others Living with Disarray” by Ketra Oberlander
  • “The Adult ADHD Tool Kit: Using CBT to Facilitate Coping Inside and Out” by J. Russell Ramsay and Anthony L. Rostain
  • “Cleaning Hacks and Decluttering Ideas” Box Set by Riley Stevens, Kathy Stanton, & Rick Riley
  • “Clutter Kills: How to Declutter and Release Your Power” by William Wittmann
  • “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD” by Mary V. Solanto
  • “Effective Decision-Making: How to Make Better Decisions Under Uncertainty and Pressure” by Edoardo Binda Zane
  • “Focus: How to Overcome Procrastination and Distractions (2nd Edition)” by Zayne Parker
  • “Goal Setting: 10 Steps to Success: Write It Down and Make It Happen” by Matt Morris
  • “How to Improve Your Memory and Remember Anything: Flash Cards, Memory Palaces, Mnemonics (50+ Powerful Hacks for Amazing Memory Improvement)” by John Connelly
  • “How to Stop Living a Cluttered Life and Get Organized” Box Set by Kathy Stanton and Rick Riley
  • “How to Study” by George Fillmore Swain
  • “Level Up: Ways to Be More Productive, Manage Time and Get Things Done” by Zak Khan
  • “Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs” by Darlene Mannix
  • “Masterful Focus: 33 Tips to Improve Concentration, Work Smarter, and Be More Productive” by I. C. Robledo
  • “Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program Therapist Guide” by Steven A. Safren, Carol A. Perlman, Susan Sprich, & Michael W. Otto
  • “The Motivation Switch” by AJ Winters
  • “Motivation: Master the Power of Motivation to Propel Yourself to Success” by Ace McCloud
  • “Organize Your Day: Life-Changing Tips on Becoming More Productive, Clutter and Stress-Free!” by Jessie Fuller
  • “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD (2nd Edition-Revised and Updated) Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized” by Susan C. Pinsky
  • “Rock Your To-Do List: Get to Your Biggest Goals Faster, with Less Stress, in Only 15 Minutes a Day” by Lain Ehmann
  • “Smart but Scattered Teens: The ‘Executive Skills’ Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential” by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, & Colin Guare
  • “Time Management Systems: 3 Simple Time Management Systems for Busy People” by How To eBooks

Kindle

There you have it… Just a few of my growing library of Kindle books!  I didn’t even start to cover the books I have on relationships, parenting, family, addiction, and trauma recovery.  Those will come later:-)

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

17 Coping Strategies for When You’re Stressed

 

I have a confession.  I don’t handle stress very well.  In fact, if I don’t do something about it before it becomes overwhelming, it won’t take long before anxiety kicks in.  I have another confession.  I sometimes don’t take the time to stop and actually do something about it before becoming overwhelmed.

There you have it:  an actual therapist with years of education and training and years of experience, and much like many of the clients I see, I too experience an anxiety that intrudes upon my life when I’m stressed.  It might seem strange that a therapist wouldn’t know how to handle stress very well, but the truth is that I do know how to handle stress.  I can just never seem make time to actually handle it.

So what’s a human to do?  That’s right.  Human.  That’s the thing.  We all feel stress, maybe some more than others, but it’s human!  It happens to everyone!  Some people just handle, or cope, with it better (and more effectively) than others.   

Here’s the thing, I know that if I would just stop and listen to my body, I could prevent, or at least better cope, with that anxiety that will soon take over my life when I’m feeling stressed.  Here are 17 of the most effective coping skills that I’ve found to help me find some peace.  Give them a try.  You may find something that will help you too.

www.creativeresiliencecounseling.com

17 Spiritual Strategies for When You’re Stressed

First off, let me note that you don’t have to consider yourself to be a “spiritual” person just to be able to use these techniques.  “Spiritual” strategies are simply skills that can affect a person on a more spiritual, mindful level.  Satisfying the human need to feel worthwhile and connected (and at peace) improves a person’s core well-being.  These strategies aren’t like ones that simply distract you; those are temporary fixes to use when you aren’t able to more effectively cope at that moment (such as when you need to concentrate on the test you’re taking at the time).  Distraction isn’t very effective to help in the long-term because the moment the distraction is no longer present, the stress or anxiety generally returns.  Spiritual strategies are more effective not only in the moment, but also provide peace and calm in the long-run.

So here they are:

  1. Practice mindfulness.  (I can’t stress the value of this one enough!)
  2. Enjoy nature.
  3. Get involved in a worthy cause.
  4. Take a walk or go for a hike in the woods.
  5. Pray or meditate.
  6. Practice random acts of kindness.  (This is especially helpful for me personally.)
  7. Practice gratitude.
  8. Keep a gratitude journal.  At least once a day, write 3-5 things that you’re grateful for.  (An alternative is to identify at least 3 positive things that happened that day.)
  9. Listen to a playlist of your favorite songs.  (Research shows that music really does heal the soul!)
  10. Gaze at the clouds or stargaze.
  11. Go outside.
  12. Volunteer your time.
  13. Make a present for a friend or make a treat for your neighbor.
  14. Plant something.  Garden.
  15. Start practicing yoga.
  16. Send someone flowers.
  17. Surround yourself with positive people.

I hope you’re able to find something on this list that helps you better manage your stress too!  If you know of other strategies that help you cope with stress, please leave a comment so I can add them to my list!

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

42 Cognitive Coping Strategies That Will Work Your Mind and Help Regulate How You Feel

Coping strategies (also referred to as coping skills or self-regulation skills) carry enormous potential to be effective at calming us down, helping us cope with life’s situations, and assisting with regulating our wide array of emotions.  There are SO MANY types of coping and self-regulation strategies.  Some work better for children and adolescents, while others are better suited to be used by adults.  Individuals generally find that some techniques are more effective than others, depending on the situation, the emotion one might be feeling, or what you’re trying to achieve by utilizing a skill.  There are numerous coping strategies out there that a person can try, if they’re just willing to give them a shot.  Most people find that not every coping skill they find suggested on Google or Pinterest or even in therapy proves to be effective for everyone every time.  A coping technique that your friend may use to help him calm down when he’s angry might not be as effective for you when you’re mad.  That’s okay because there are LOTS AND LOTS of coping strategies out there!  If you find that one technique doesn’t seem to help, look for another.  Just don’t ever completely trash a skill though, as sometimes it takes more than a couple tries to notice that a strategy really helps, and what may not work today may help significantly in the future, and vice versa.

Cognitive Coping Strategies

So, What Exactly Are “Cognitive Coping Strategies?”

In my last post, I introduced a list of diversion strategies to help people better cope with their emotions, as well as distressing events they may be experiencing in their lives.  In this post you will find a list of 42 positive cognitive coping and self-regulation skills that you can try when you’re in need of something that involves using some brain power and thought processes in order to help influence the way you feel and/or behave.  You will likely find that some strategies may be more appropriate for adults, while others might prove more appropriate for children and teens.  Trying all of them, however, won’t hurt you as long as the task is within your skill level (for example, a five-year-old may find it difficult and equally frustrating if she tries to learn how to code).  These techniques can be utilized by anybody, though some skills will probably appear more appealing than others.

Try them out.  Let me know in the comments section if they help, or maybe you have some of your own ideas that you would like to share!  Remember, if one strategy doesn’t seem particularly helpful, try something else.

42 Cognitive Coping Strategies That Will Work Your Mind and Help Regulate How Your Feel

  1. Make a gratitude list.
  2. Keep a daily positive experiences journal.
  3. Brainstorm solutions to a problem you’re facing.
  4. Make a pros and cons list.
  5. Keep an inspirational quote with you.  Cognitive Coping Strategies
  6. Find different inspirational and meaningful quotes and start a notebook so you can read them whenever you want.
  7. Write a list of goals.
  8. Create a vision board.
  9. Make a bucket list.
  10. Make a “forget it” list.
  11. Take a class (online or on a campus).
  12. Act opposite of negative feelings you’re experiencing.
  13. Write a list of your strengths (and refer to it often).
  14. Complete a crossword or word search puzzle.
  15. Play a word game on your phone or on your computer.
  16. Make a to do list.
  17. Write.
  18. Journal.
  19. Make a list of your best qualities.
  20. List things you’re proud of.
  21. Start your memoir.
  22. Start a blog. Cognitive Coping Strategies
  23. Research your family tree.
  24. Start a dream journal.
  25. Write a letter.
  26. Call or write your senator to discuss an issue that’s important to you.
  27. Learn a new skill (like typing, bookkeeping, etc.).
  28. Learn 10 new words.  Cognitive Coping Strategies
  29. Learn photography.
  30. Do a puzzle.
  31. Play a videogame.  (Minecraft is an excellent game that works your brain!)
  32. Count things.
  33. Study and learn a foreign language.
  34. Study and learn sign language.
  35. Join a book club.
  36. Check out a book from your local library.  Cognitive Coping Strategies
  37. Research something you’re interested in or would like to learn more about.
  38. Color a mandala or a page from an adult (or child’s) coloring book.
  39. Learn how to play an instrument.
  40. Practice playing an instrument.
  41. Learn how to read sheet music.  Cognitive Coping Strategies
  42. Learn how to code.

Hope these help!  Check back for future posts about other types of coping strategies!

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

54 Diversion Strategies to Help You Cope

Diversion Coping SkillsCoping skills (also called self-regulation skills) are great.  Seriously.  They have the potential to be effective in a number of ways.  Feeling sad or depressed?  Find a coping strategy that helps lift your mood.  Feeling angry?  There are coping skills to help with that.  Are you feeling anxious?  There are strategies you can try to help you feel better.  Feeling a sense of emptiness?  There are techniques for that too.  Just feeling upset in general?  Yep, there’s coping strategies for that as well.  Feeling bored?  Choose a coping skill to help you get out of that funk.

There are numerous types of coping and self-regulation strategies.  Some work better for children and teens; others work better for adults.  Some techniques are more effective with helping to fight urges to self-harm.  Other techniques are more helpful when you’re feeling depressed or anxious.  And then there are others that can help calm you down when you’re feeling angry.  There are even strategies out there that help individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different coping skills out there that a person could try.  Just check out Pinterest and Google.  That’s a good thing because most people find that not every coping skill will prove effective for everyone every time.  A coping skill that helps your friend may not help regulate your feelings at all.  What helps you control your anger might not be as effective at lifting your mood when you’re feeling depressed.  That’s okay because there are lots and lots of coping skills out there!  If you learn that one technique doesn’t help, look for another.  Don’t completely trash a skill though.  Sometimes it takes more than one or two tries to notice that something really helps, and what may not work today may help significantly a few months from now.

What Are “Diversion Strategies?”

In this post you will find a list of 54 diversion strategies that you can try to help cope with those overwhelming emotions we all feel sometimes.  “Diversion strategies” are coping skills that will allow you to stop thinking about the situation contributing to your distressed emotions, at least for a period of time.  These techniques aren’t necessarily meant to be the final solution, but they can be quite useful in keeping you safe, distracting you until you have a little time to think more clearly, etc.  These strategies are particularly useful if you can recognize the warning signs of those overwhelming emotions.

Try them out.  If one doesn’t seem very helpful in regulating your emotions, try something else.

54 Diversion Strategies to Help You Cope

  1. Pet your pet.
  2. Learn how to play an instrument.
  3. Play an instrument.
  4. Write or journal.
  5. Draw or doodle.
  6. Paint.
  7. Color.
  8. Try photography.
  9. Act.
  10. Sing.
  11. Dance.
  12. Take a shower or bath.
  13. Garden.
  14. Pull weeds.
  15. Mow the grass.
  16. Take a walk.
  17. Go for a drive.
  18. Watch TV.
  19. Watch a favorite movie.
  20. Go to the movie theater to watch a movie.
  21. Watch cute or funny cat videos on YouTube.
  22. Play a game.
  23. Go shopping.
  24. Clean or organize a room.
  25. Read a book.
  26. Read the newspaper.
  27. Read a magazine.
  28. Do a crossword or word search puzzle.
  29. Take a break or vacation.
  30. Read the comics section of the newspaper (or buy a comic book and read that).
  31. Change your clothes.
  32. Take a short nap.
  33. Paint your nails.
  34. Find your pulse.
  35. Floss.
  36. Get a haircut.
  37. Play with Play-Doh or something squishy.
  38. Explore Pinterest.
  39. Change your profile pic.
  40. Re-watch your favorite TV show.
  41. YouTube for a while.
  42. Take quizzes on www.buzzfeed.com.
  43. Stargaze or cloudgaze.
  44. Bake cookies.
  45. Make a nice meal.
  46. Go outside.
  47. Play a videogame.
  48. Clean.
  49. Reorganize.
  50. Do laundry.
  51. Rearrange your furniture.
  52. Build a fort.
  53. Record each minute/second/breath you take.
  54. Count things.
Hope these help!  Check back for future posts about other types of coping strategies!
ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Coping Skills for Kids: From A to Z

child's artwork photoMost, if not all, children and adolescents, whether struggling with a mental health issue or not, sometimes have difficulty self-regulating, or utilizing healthy coping skills.  Kids who have difficulty identifying their feelings can especially find it hard to calm down and self-regulate when they experience strong emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, and grief.  Below is a simple list of healthy coping skills for kids:  from A to Z.  Be forewarned that not all strategies will work for your child.  Often you will find that what may work for one child won’t seem to help another.  It’s best to let your child choose a few strategies to try, one at a time, to see what works best for her.  If you have a preschooler, you may have to help them pick out a few techniques.  Just be patient.  There are many, many coping skills out there; your child will eventually find one or more that helps best.

 

Coping Skills for Kids:  From A to Z

A – Get ARTSY!  Draw, color, and/or paint!

B – BLOW BUBBLES!

C – COUNT backwards from 100 (or a lower number, if you have a younger child).

D – Practice DEEP breathing.

E – EXERCISE!

F – Smell some FLOWERS.

G – GO somewhere, like to the movies.

H – HUM a tune.

I – INVITE a friend over.

J – JUMP rope or JUMP up and down.

K – KEEP it simple.

L – LISTEN to music.

M – MEDITATE or practice MINDFULNESS.

N – Write in a NOTEBOOK or journal.

O – Go OUTSIDE!

P – PET your pet!

Q – Learn to QUILT or sew.

R – READ a book or the comics in the newspaper, or ask someone to READ to you.

S – SING!

T – TREAT yourself to something yummy or do something fun to TREAT yourself.

U – UNDERSTAND that all feelings are okay.

V – VISUALIZE – Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a safe place.

W – Create WORRY stones.

X – ‘X-hale!

Y – Practice YOGA.

Z – ZZZZZ… Sleep.

 

 

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