Category Archive Mental Health

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

What Happened to My Sweet Kid?! Little Monster Psychology

Take a minute and think about your child. Picture that excitement in their face right after they learn that their team won that first t-ball game. Can you see that surprised look on their face on Christmas morning when they get that much longed-for gift? Look at their face. Aren’t they the sweetest things ever? Their big round eyes, those long, beautiful eyelashes, that precious little nose, and those sweet lips that kiss your cheek every night before they fall fast asleep in their bed. Look at them. See how sweet they look while they’re fast asleep? And when they wake up so pleasant and well rested every morning and smile at you as they brush their teeth and get ready for school (without even having to be asked!), can you see them?

pic attributed to pixabay.com

Wait. What?

 Okay, so maybe you were able to visualize just how sweet they look once they’re asleep… assuming that you’re one of the lucky ones who has a child who sleeps. And I bet you can see how precious their face looks when they’re happy and content. But did I lose you at the end? Yeah, that may have been a little fiction I stuck in there. At least for many of us parents, that last part – the waking up so pleasant and smiling as they go about their morning routine – is a pretty rare scene.
My own kid is not quite so pleasant to wake up. He moans and groans and asks me for the billionth time why he has to go to school. Then he rolls over, pretending like this hasn’t been the routine for years now. He mumbles and grunts to himself as he gets dressed and eats his breakfast. And as far as brushing his teeth… Some days that takes some real work. He’ll do it, but he decided a long time ago that he doesn’t have to be happy about it. As for after school, some days are less than fun for either of us. There’s homework to be done, practice to go to, and there are baths to take. Some days he does all of this willingly and with little complaint. Then there are the days where he’s grumpy for one reason or another, and that’s when the fun begins. He wants something or he wants to go somewhere, and well, the answer just can’t always be yes. And then…
But wait, weren’t they just babies yesterday? They were so sweet. Remember when they wanted to cuddle with you? Remember those little kisses on your cheek and how innocent they seemed. And then you think about this day that you’re having now. The one where your child asked you to buy them something beyond expensive or wanted to hang out with that kid from down the street that likes to swear at everyone and smokes cigarettes when he thinks no one is looking. And you say no. Then all of a sudden, they don’t seem so pleasant and sweet. They seem… almost like a monster. WHY?!!

Little Monster Psychology

pic attributed to pixabay.com

 

In each developmental phase, kids wrestle with new skills and abilities, and these are some real struggles for them. Assuming the phase goes well, after a period of intense struggle and effort, finally a breakthrough occurs. A personal victory that changes everything. The child discards his old way of doing things and determines to keep moving forward.
Each time your child masters a new skill, be it learning how to use a spoon by himself or learning how to drive a car, he makes a leap in maturity. And he loves this feeling of mastery; it’s a rush of confidence in his own abilities. He is now stronger and more powerful. And we as parents are right there cheering them on, we’re so proud of them! This parental applause motivates them to keep striving for more mastery. To keep moving forward.
Here’s the thing though. That drive for independence, the one each and every child (and person, in general) holds within them… Well, it promotes conflict too. With mastery comes a yearning for more independence. In other words, kids will begin to reject their parent’s support. Imagine the baby who has just learned how to use the spoon by herself. Then you, the parent, try helping her use the spoon one day when you see that she could probably use a little assistance. The baby doesn’t want your help though and swats your hand away. And the more you try to help, the madder she gets.
To complicate all of this, inexperience and impulsivity play in to this drive for greater independence. Kids don’t know their limits. They don’t always know what’s good for them and what’s not. They aren’t sure when to stop and when to go. The thing they do know though is that they don’t want their parents hovering over them every step of the way. This means that eventually every parent has the unpopular job of going against their kid’s will.
Let me repeat that. EVERY PARENT has the unpopular job of going against their kid’s will, at least sometimes (and usually more often than that).
Here’s something else that’s pretty important. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to be a good parent without saying no from time to time.
So the battle of wills begins. You see, kids don’t really like hearing the word no. Do you? Kids are perplexed when they’re prevented from getting what they want. “What? Why are you doing this to me?! Can’t you see…?”
They don’t understand that we’re protecting them. To them, it feels like restraint, and they don’t like it. Not. One. Bit.
It’s actually human nature to rebel against restrictions, and no kid wants a parent standing between them and what they want. Yes, nature puts kids and their parents on a collision course. That’s why, eventually, all healthy kids must enter into battle with their parents. This fight is natural and necessary. It’s how kids can begin to define themselves as different from their parents.
That’s right. Kids have their own wants and needs, their own interests; if kids are too accommodating or compliant with their parents, they will grow to lack confidence and self-definition in life. In every developmental stage, kids instinctively battle against their parents’ restrictions. And as parents impose their will on their kids, sparks fly. These clashes are unavoidable and an IMPORTANT part of parenting.

pic attributed to pixabay.com

Now we as parents enter into a crucial moment after we set a restriction for our child. The child will see how far he can push his parents and give him what he wants. It’s his will against theirs. It’s up to us, the parent, to decide what we’re going to do at this point: stay firm and refuse to give in to demands, or concede to the child’s demands. Sometimes the choice is an easy one, such as one where we are trying to protect them from a potentially dangerous situation. Sometimes the choice is more difficult to make. Should we give in? Should we negotiate? Not all choices are black and white, but it’s up to us as parents to do our best to help our children and protect them. It’s up to us to help our “little monsters.”
ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

8 Parenting Resolutions for the New Year (with Free Printable)

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to “be a better parent.” Okay, so it’s one of my resolutions every year. Every. Single. Year. Yes, I strive for this every year because the truth is that I’m by far not a perfect parent. I sometimes lose my patience. Sometimes I get frustrated and raise my voice. Okay, honestly, sometimes I even yell. Yes, I know, this is what every single parenting book I’ve ever read says not to do. But I’m human. I have emotions. And some days are hard. Really hard. My mind is on something else, I’m overwhelmed, I’m stressed, I’m tired, I’m in a hurry. And on top of everything else we grown-ups have to do, we’re expected to be “perfect parents.” Our society tells us that anyway. But the truth is, there are no “perfect parents,” just parents who are, darn it, doing the best we can.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t strive to do “better” in my role as a parent. Even those that we perceive as excellent parents still aren’t sure they’re doing it right. We’re all just doing the best that we can, and honestly, that on top of loving and caring for your kids, is what I consider to be good parenting. We don’t have to be perfect for us to be good parents, so let’s first preface this article with a resolution to stop being so hard on ourselves!

Even though I know with one hundred percent certainty that I will never be a “perfect parent,” I still strive every day, moment by moment, to do the best I can. So I came up with eight parenting resolutions for us parents who made this one of our goals this year.

1. Recognize the Goals of Discipline

One of the most important things that we, as parents, can do is recognize the goals of discipline. Too often, we respond to our child’s misbehavior as though consequences are the ultimate goal. This isn’t true. According to Drs. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, as they wrote in their book “No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” there are two basic goals of why we discipline our kids:
  1. To attain cooperation in the short-term
  2. To instruct our kids in ways that help them develop the skills and resiliency to handle and cope with life’s challenging situations, frustrations, and emotional storms (in the long-term)

2. Be Responsive, Not Reactive

How do we typically try to accomplish these discipline goals? Threats and punishment. Our child misbehaves, and we dish out the consequence, right? So what’s really going on is that our kids ACT and in response, we REACT.
Well, you ask, what else are we supposed to do? Just let our child get away with their misbehavior? Absolutely not. To be more effective in accomplishing what we’re setting out to do (our goals of discipline), we should instead RESPOND to our child’s behavior. Instead of being REACTIVE, we want to strive to be RESPONSIVE to our children.

3. Be Intentional

So how do we become responsive? By being INTENTIONAL. By making CONSCIOUS DECISIONS based on principles that we’ve thought about and agreed on BEFORE a misbehavior even occurs. This means considering various options and then choosing the one that helps us achieve, or at least move toward, our intended outcome (the goals of discipline). What lesson do you want to teach? Are you wanting your child to learn self-control? Understand the importance of sharing? To act responsibly?
Whatever you’re trying to teach, your response should be directly related to your goal. Yelling and screaming demands at your child when he punches the wall in anger isn’t going to actually teach him how to handle his anger more appropriately. In fact, our reacting like that will only model for him the opposite of what you’re looking to teach.  Really, think about it. What are we really teaching him when we ourselves clench our teeth, spit out a rule, or spank them in reactive anger?
Using fear and punishment actually teaches our kids that POWER and CONTROL are the best tools to get others to do what we want them to do. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely NOT what I want my child to learn from this kind of situation. Not only are our hair-trigger reactions generally not going to be very effective in getting our message across (especially when you consider the long-term), but this kind of reaction is also counterproductive in terms of building your child’s brain.

4. Connect and Redirect

What are we supposed to do? How do we teach our children to be more cooperative, to learn self-control, to become more responsible?
Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson encourage and teach us to CONNECT AND REDIRECT. When your child misbehaves, do you still love them? Sure, you might be angry with their actions at that moment, but you still love them, right? We want our kids to know that we love them. We may not like their particular choices or actions at certain moments, but even when we’re angry, we still love them. LET THEM KNOW that we love them not only during times when they’re making us proud, not only when they’re displaying kindness to others, and not only when they’re home playing quietly and showing cooperation. SHOW them you love them when you’re addressing their misbehavior too.
 Connection means giving our kiddos our attention and letting them know that we respect them enough to listen to them. It means letting them know that we value their contribution in working together to solve the problem at hand and communicating to them that WE’RE ON THEIR SIDE – whether we like the way they’re acting or not.
Make no mistake, connection is NOT the same thing as permissiveness. That connection should be COMBINED with clear and firm boundaries that create structure for our kids. That’s where the “redirection” comes in…
 Once you connect with your child and she is more calm, we can then redirect her toward more appropriate behavior and help her see that there IS a better way. Here’s something to remember. Until your child has calmed (or regulated) her emotions at least to a certain extent (reaching closer to her emotion equilibrium, as we psych folks call it), she isn’t going to hear a word you’re saying, regardless of how logical and rational your explanation might be.
 Not only is your child physiologically wired like that, that’s how ALL humans are wired. When we experience a stressful or threatening situation, our body reacts in ways to help us deal with the perceived danger. Our body shuts down its nonessential systems and begins to channel blood flow to our large muscles. Then it begins creating extra fuel for energy. It heightens our sensitivity to signs of danger, all the while releasing hormones that will help us deal with the stress. When all this occurs, it also impairs our ability to process information and to think clearly before we speak – exactly the abilities we need to have in order to work through difficult situations. This process is called flooding. And when we become flooded, we operate from a self-preservation mindset. We seek then to protect ourselves (think fight, flight, or freeze).
When our emotional arousal is really high like that, our thinking and reasoning abilities are overwhelmed. Consequently, we say and do things that reflect being overwhelmed. Once our emotional arousal goes up, our thinking abilities go down, and we start to lose the emotional balance we need to communicate effectively. Then we become reactive. Being upset and likely having a lot of negative thoughts in that moment, we start to say things that don’t always reflect what we really want (like attention, understanding, and so on). Instead, we just end up saying something bitter or nasty.
Now let’s apply this to our misbehaving child. She misbehaved, and now she knows that she’s in trouble. When we’re in trouble, our brains send signals to our body that we are in a dangerous or stressful situation, so just like every other human, her brain sends her body that same signal. Nonessential systems are shut down. Emotional arousal goes up. Thinking abilities? They’re likely out the window right now. Now start talking to her. Does she hear you? Probably not, remember that her body’s nonessential systems are shut down at the moment. She’s in survival mode now. You might be too. Best to connect and let her calm herself (you may need to help her do this, particularly if she’s very young) so she can reach equilibrium again so she can begin fully understanding what you’re saying.
 

5. Ask Yourself, “Why? What? How?”

While all of the above is going on, this is the perfect time to think about how to respond to your child’s misbehavior. Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson provide us with an excellent model in which we can take the time to ask ourselves three important questions. Remembering these questions (and answering them) is important and can help us respond to each and every misbehavior our kids is exhibiting.
 WHY did my child act this way?
Look at what your child is doing, and ask yourself why he might be acting the way he is. Look deep at what’s going on beneath his particular misbehavior. I personally recommend using Positive Discipline’s Mistaken Goal Chart for this (check out #6 below). When asking yourself this question, try not to approach it with assumptions; instead, approach it with curiosity. An assumption would be asking yourself this question and deciding right away that your kid’s just being a brat, plain and simple. Or he’s just being selfish or spoiled. Approaching this with curiosity, however, will help you recognize that there’s very likely something deeper going on (again, check out #6 where we’ll briefly look at “breaking the code”).
WHAT lesson do I want to teach in this moment?
The goal of discipline is not to dish out consequences. We want to teach our child some lesson. Maybe it’s learning how to control his emotions more appropriately. Maybe it’s for him to understand the value and importance of sharing, or perhaps you want him to start acting more responsibly. Whatever the lesson you want to teach, keep this in mind when choosing how you want to discipline his misbehavior.
HOW can I best teach this lesson?
Remember your answer from the previous question? Okay, now think about how you can most effectively communicate that message you want to get across. It’s important that when pondering this question, you also consider your child’s age, their developmental stage, and the context of the situation (did he realize the bullhorn was on before he raised it to the dog’s ear?).
 
Imagine that your four-year-old comes up and smacks you really hard while you’re emailing something important for work and can’t stop right away to play. This very act is likely enough to trigger your own emotion regulation system, so first it’s important to remember to take a moment for yourself to calm down so to avoid simply reacting. (I know, easy to say and harder to do, but you can do it!) This pause between reacting and responding is the beginning of choice and intention as a parent.
As soon as you’re able, you then want to pause and ask yourself the three questions:
  1.  Why did my child act this way? More than likely in this case, she hit you because she wanted your attention and wasn’t getting it. First consider her age. Is this behavior typical of a four-year-old who is wanting attention and can’t immediately get it? Definitely. Is the behavior pretty developmentally appropriate for a four-year-old in this situation? Absolutely. It’s hard for any child this age to wait. Add that to her big feelings of this moment, and you likely have a recipe for dysregulation and misbehavior. At four, she’s not old enough yet to be able to always be able to calm herself effectively or even quickly enough to prevent acting out. In that moment, hitting is her default strategy for expressing her big feelings of frustration and impatience. She still needs some time and skill-building practice to learn how to appropriately handle her anger and for delaying gratification. That’s why she hit you. She wasn’t just being a brat, I promise.
  2. What lesson do I want to teach in this moment? What do you want her to learn from this? Obviously, just because she’s four and not developmentally capable yet of always being able to handle her big emotions appropriately, we can’t just let her walk around hitting people. The lesson isn’t that hitting merits a consequence; the lesson is that there are better ways of getting your attention and handling her frustration than to resort to violence. You want her to learn that hitting isn’t okay, not that feeling frustrated or angry isn’t okay.
  3. How can I best teach this lesson? First, try connecting with her. Pull her to you, get on her eye level, and let her know that she has your full attention. Acknowledge (validate) her feelings and model how to communicate those emotions more appropriately: “It’s hard to wait. You really wanted me to play with you, and right now you’re mad that I’m busy. Is that right?” Now she knows that she has your attention, and you have hers too. Now talk with her, keeping in mind that as she becomes calmer, she’ll be better able to listen and actually hear what you’re saying. Explain that hitting isn’t alright, and talk about some other alternatives she can use in order to get your attention.

Click for your free poster to help remind you of the 3 questions!

 

6. Break the Code

In all likelihood, you’ve probably already figured out in your years as a parent that kids seem to speak a language of their own. The way kids “speak” is most often portrayed in play and behaviors. With children and adults alike, all behavior is purposeful. This is actually one of the major premises of Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory. Dr. Glasser, who is also the founder of Reality Therapy, notes that almost all behavior is chosen and that we’re driven to satisfy five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. In essence, behavior has a purpose. “All of our behavior is our best attempt at the time, given the resources at our disposal (knowledge, skills, etc.) to meet our needs.”

As I already noted, children and adolescents are no exception to this theory. In fact, it’s quite evident once you “break their code.” The behaviors they exhibit are done so in order to satisfy their needs, particularly their need for love and belonging.
Positive Discipline, a parenting program founded by Dr. Jane Nelsen that teaches young people to “become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities,” uses what I consider to be one of the best and most valuable resources to help us “break the code” of our child’s misbehavior: The Mistaken Goal Chart.
Seriously, you’ve got to get your hands on one of these. You can find an excellent PDF version of The Mistaken Goal Chart here, or if you have very young children (ages 0-3), here’s a great PDF version especially for parents of those kiddos. Really, print that out. I use it in parenting my own children, as well as in my own private practice when working with children and teens. And if you’re looking for an excellent parenting resource, check out Positive Discipline; it’s widely used and praised by many, many psychologists and therapists.
According to Dr. Nelsen, “‘Mistaken goals’ are called such because their behavior is based on mistaken beliefs about how to achieve the primary goals of belonging and significance.” There are four mistaken goals of behavior:
  1. Undue attention – to keep others busy or get special service
  2. Misguided power – to be boss
  3. Revenge – to get even
  4. Assumed inadequacy – to give up and be left alone

Let me briefly summarize.

  If your child’s goal is undue attention, then his mistaken belief is “I belong only when you pay constant attention to me, and/or give me special service.” But let’s look at the coded message; this is what he’s actually saying: “NOTICE ME. INVOLVE ME USEFULLY.”
 If your child’s goal is misguided power, his mistaken belief is “I belong only when I’m the boss, or at least when I don’t let you boss me around.” Coded message: “LET ME HELP.”
If the goal is for revenge, his belief is “I don’t belong, and that hurts, so I’ll get even by hurting others.” Code for: “I’M HURTING. VALIDATE MY FEELINGS.”
 And finally, if his goal is assumed inadequacy, his mistaken belief is “I give up. Leave me alone.” Again, the coded message: “DON’T GIVE UP ON ME. SHOW ME A SMALL STEP.”
Look again at coded messages. All of a sudden, instead of just anger, annoyance, irritation, and helplessness, you’re liable to also feel a little compassion for what the child must be going through. If a child could say “Don’t give up on me,” instead of portraying through their actions “I give up, leave me alone,” it helps us begin to answer that question from earlier: “WHY is my child acting this way?” Looking at it that way, from their core belief, helps us to better help them.
 Think about it this way: Imagine an iceberg. We only see the tip of the iceberg. The belief is hidden underneath. We just have to remember to look for it.

 7. Validate feelings

Imagine this common scene between a caring mother and her child (found in “Positive Discipline Parenting Tools” by Dr. Nelsen, Mary Nelsen Tamborski, and Brad Ainge):

Billy is sad because his friend doesn’t want to play with him.

Billy’s mom tries to comfort him by saying,

“Don’t feel sad, Billy. You have other friends, and I love you.”

Okay, raise your hand if you have been an actor yourself in this play. Don’t be shy, my hand’s raised too. Raise your hand again if you remember being the child actor in this scene when you were younger. My hand’s raised.

Let me first preface what I’m about to say with the fact that, maybe like your own parents or caregivers, Billy’s mother cares and loves him a lot. She’s in no way intentionally trying to do the opposite of what I’m getting ready to say here. Just like you and I are also not trying to purposely do the opposite when the same scene plays out with our own kids. Billy’s mom loves Billy and is sincerely trying to help him and comfort him. Unfortunately, she’s not validating her son’s feelings here.

As children, we’re often taught that we shouldn’t feel certain feelings. Not because of malicious parents and caregivers, but because of parents and caregivers who are actually trying to protect us and shield us from those negative feelings. Often we do the same with our own children. It’s important that we instead, validate our child’s feelings and experiences: “You‘re sad because your friend doesn’t want to play today. I know how much that hurts. I felt the same way when my friends didn’t want to play with me.”

Do you see the difference? It’s an important tweak to the wording. By validating our kids’ feelings we’re allowing them to discover that all feelings are normal and okay, that they can work through their feelings, and that they can even learn from them. Just something for us all to remember the next time we feel like fixing, squelching, or  denying our child’s feelings. If you’re not quite sure what to say in responding to your child when they’re feeling their big feelings, try something like “How are you feeling about that?” or “I can see that makes you very mad,” or “Little brothers can be so annoying.” Obviously you would want to substitute the appropriate words based on the situation. 😉

8. Empower

Finally, one more thing  for us parents and caregivers to aim for is to strive to empower our kids. Share control with your kids so they can develop the skills they need to have power over their own lives. Some suggestions for how to do this (Positive Discipline):

  • Teach life skills.
  • Focus on solutions together.
  • Have faith in your children.
  • Let go (in small steps).
  • Increase self-awareness: “How do you feel? What do you think? How does this affect what you want in your life?”

Alright, there you have it. Eight of my parenting resolutions for the new year. Wish me luck (and lots of patience)!

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

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

18 Things to Know About Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Personality DisorderDo you know what Obsessive-Compulsive Personality is?  No, not Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.  OCPD.  Many people think they are the same thing.  They’re not.

Although 15 percent of those with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder also have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the two are actually very different psychological disorders, characterized by totally different sets of diagnostic criteria identified by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, or DSM-5 (the bible in mental health).

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an identified anxiety disorder, while Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is, well, a personality disorder.  OCD is characterized by recurrent, persistent thoughts that are often unreasonable in nature (called obsessions), which lead to repetitive behaviors (called compulsions).  These obsessions and compulsions can manifest in many different ways, but they frequently and most commonly center on theses such as a fear of germs, cleanliness, the need to arrange objects in a specific manner, checking and re-checking things an excessive number of times, counting things, and hair-pulling.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, on the other hand, is more about personality traits and perceptions.  “Those with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder exhibit a long-standing, consistent pattern of preoccupation with perfectionism, inflexibility, mental and interpersonal control, and rigid adherence to rules and procedures,” according to Samantha Gluck’s article “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis” found at the Healthy Place website.  Additionally, while OCD can certainly be problematic and offer its own set of significant difficulties, it isn’t something that makes a person toxic or abusive,  Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, however, can make an individual extremely difficult to get along with, and in some cases, may even make the person toxic and controlling in their relationships.

Now that you know the difference between Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and won’t confuse the two, here are 18 facts to introduce you to the personality disorder that affects 8 percent of the population.  It is so common, in fact, that chances are good that you have probably encountered an individual with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder at some time in your life.

18 Things to Know About Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

  1. Symptoms of the personality disorder usually appear by early adulthood.
  2. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder can affect both men and women, though it occurs more in men.
  3. At the root of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is a deep fear of failure.
  4. Individuals with the disorder exhibit an excessive preoccupation with details, lists, schedules, rules, and orderliness.
  5. These individuals are extremely conscientious and can be described as perfectionists.  Their perfectionism interferes with their ability to complete tasks, and because they fear others won’t be able to perform up to their rigid standards, they are usually unwilling to delegate tasks.
  6. People with the disorder follow a strict adherence to moral and ethical codes and rules and can become upset when others don’t follow these same rules or adhere to the same moral code.
  7. Characteristic of the disorder, these individuals can be described as inflexible, being unable to agree to changes in rules or procedures.
  8. Those with the disorder are often workaholics; friends and family come after work, resulting in few friendships and poor relationships.
  9. A person with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder may exhibit hoarding behaviors, as they have difficulty throwing anything away.  The items hoarded are often useless and worthless and hold no sentimental value.  There are different reasons for this:  Many have difficulty parting with things because they worry, “What if I need it someday?”  Some believe if there is a chance that an item can one day be fixed, they won’t part with it.  And then there are some individuals who feel that they must part with the item “the right way.”  For example, they can’t just give it to charity, it must be given to the right charity.
  10. These people generally have difficulty expressing affection and watching others openly express emotions around them.
  11. Those with the disorder possess a deep need for order and control.  When one loses control of a situation, intense fear and anxiety result.
  12. As with most mental disorders, a combination of biology and environmental factors likely lead to the development of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.
  13. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is vastly underdiagnosed.
  14. People with the personality disorder can vary in their housekeeping rituals.  Some are obsessively clean and tidy, and some are obsessive about labeling and organizing.
  15. These individuals often excessively hoard money and might be considered miserly.
  16. In order to be diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, the person’s symptoms must significantly interfere with daily functioning.
  17. Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is often difficult. Treatment options that don’t fit within the individual’s cognitive schema will likely be rejected by the person.
  18. Prognosis for an individual with the disorder tends to be better than that for other personality disorders if treatment is obtained.

Sources

“Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis” by Samantha Gluck

“OCD vs. OCPD”

“Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Treatment”

 

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

In Other Words… The Power of Positive Reframing – with Free Positive Reframes Printable

In Other Words... The Power of Positive ReframingDo other peoples’ expectations influence our performance?  Do the labels we place on others affect their behaviors?  The truth is, the words we choose to describe things, people, and events indeed affect how we think about them!  A label, whether it be positive or negative, can change your whole experience.  Your perception completely changes.  And give a person a label, and more often than not, they will live up to the labels given to them.  That’s pretty powerful!

An Important Experiment

In 1964 a Harvard professor named Robert Rosenthal became the first psychologist to study whether one’s expectations can affect another person’s performance.  He conducted an experiment at an elementary school south of San Francisco in an effort to figure out what would happen if teachers were told that particular students in their class were about to experience a “dramatic growth in their IQ” and destined to succeed.

Rosenthal took a standardized IQ test – Flanagan’s Test of General Ability – and printed a new cover for each of the test booklets that were given to the students.  The booklets reflected the test’s new fabricated title:  “Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition.”  Rosenthal told the teachers at the school that this test had the ability to predict which students would be experiencing a growth in their IQ.

After the children took the test, Rosenthal then chose several kids from every class at random and told the teachers that the test had predicted that those particular students were “on the verge of an intense intellectual boom.”  In truth, there was nothing to distinguish the chosen students from the other children at all.

The students were followed over the next two years, and the findings were astounding.  Rosenthal learned that the teachers’ expectations of those chosen students actually did affect their performance!  Rosenthal reported, “If teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ, then increasingly, those kids gained more IQ.”  More research found that expectations affect teachers’ moment-to-moment interactions with their students in a number of ways.  In this case, the teachers had given the students that they expected to succeed more time to answer questions, provided them more specific feedback, and given them more approval.  Additionally, the teachers were observed to consistently nod, touch, and smile more at those selected students.

In Other Words... The Power of Positive ReframingPositive Thoughts and Words Change Our Whole Experience

The truth is that by using positive language in our thoughts and words when we refer to a person’s actions and behavior, we are able to change our perceptions and ultimately able to change our whole experience.  This can be particularly important in our interactions with children and adolescents, whether we are their parents, teachers, bus drivers, therapists, or even acquaintances.  If we are able to think positively about the challenging behaviors that children and teens can bring in particular, we can actually effectively change our own feelings about the child.  The more positively we perceive their behavior, the more positive feelings we have toward the child.  Yes.  Our words and our expectations are that powerful.

Changing Your Perception

So, exactly how can we use positive language when referring to a child’s behavior when it can be so darn challenging?  With the practice of positive reframing.  Positive reframing entails taking a challenging behavior or quality that often carries a negative connotation and applying a strengths-based spin on it.  By applying more positive language to an otherwise negative label, we are purposefully focusing on naming a child’s positive behaviors and qualities.  After all, no one likes to be negatively labeled.  When we possess the ability to see the positives amidst the challenges and problems, we can ultimately influence how the child behaves.

Examples of Positive Reframing

Need examples of how to put a positive spin on those negative characteristics and behaviors?  I have included a free printable of several common characteristics that children and teens can sometimes possess that generally carry a negative connotation.  The list I’ve created is actually an expansion of a list I’ve seen floating around Pinterest for several years.  I’ve actually seen it on a number of websites, and I’m not sure of the list’s original author, but they did an excellent job.  I have used their list many, many times!

In Conclusion…

The words we choose to describe things affects how we think about those things.  Thinking positively about the challenges we face changes our perception, ultimately changing our whole experience.  With positive reframing, we are able to increase out ability to cope with the challenging behaviors that children and adolescents can sometimes present.  Reframing also improves our ability to be able to solve the problems creatively with the child.  Think of positive reframing as a powerful tool in your mental box of tricks.

 

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