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Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid

Our Guy Winch – 2014 Ted Talk Emotional First Aid

We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

 This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxLinnaeusUniversity, an independent event. TED’s editors chose to feature it for you.

Dealing with Grief

Experiencing Grief

Experiencing grief can be a grueling long path to again feel whole.  There are countless books and websites outlining the 5 stages of grief

  • Denial
  • Pain and Guilt
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

This list although generally true implies that there is a linear progression to grief and once you move past one stage you are done and will not go back to a stage multiple times. Nobody’s grief is like yours and nobody will know how you feel. There is nothing magically anyone including a therapist can do to fix you or make you move past what can be debilitating grief and sadness.

How long should you grieve?

This is your grief and it will be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. You may be laughing at the funeral hearing a funny story about your loved one and you may cry a year later when a birthday or anniversary is missed. The saying “Time heals all wounds” ignores that “grieve” is a verb and needs to be an active process.

Active Grieving

There are many ways to actively grieve.

  • Fully accept the loss
    • By accepting the loss, you are able to be open to truly grieving.
  • Talk about your loved one with family and friends
    • Talking about your loved one brings out memories of happier times and relieves the feeling of loss
  • Find time to cry
    • Crying releases chemicals and hormones that relieve stress and can alleviate the effects of minor depression.
  • Turn your loss into action
    • Find a constructive way to honor your loved one in the community

The bereavement period begins after the initial grief and is a process that has no clear end and it may take years to fully mourn the loss of a loved one. Feelings of guilt are normal as you move through bereavement as your loved one enters your thoughts less and less.

Avoiding Bereavement

There is a societal stigma about seeking professional mental health therapy. People consider their mind as something they can control and through personal strength and will they can solve their problems. Being the strong one or working so hard that you don’t have time to think about let alone grieve your loss leads to living years with unresolved trauma that manifests itself in not easily connected health and behavioral issues.

Consider that chronic pain or fatigue maybe rooted in a loss that occurred years before that you thought you dealt with or forgot all about.

If you think you may need help, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why you shouldn’t?
    • Is it financial?
    • Can’t find the time?
  • How your mourning may impact someone else?
    • I need to be strong for them?
  • Are you responsible to keep everyone happy?
    • If I am sad they will be too
  • Would my loved one want me to feel this way?
    • Would they?

The need to strongly consider professional help if you experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm, serious changes in weight, or are unable to perform daily functions such as getting out of bed or going to work for more than an occasional day.

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Talking to Your Child About School Violence

That pit in your stomach you get when you hear about yet another school shooting and the anxiety you feel sending your child to school is normal. So what do you say when your child asks what to do in the event of a school shooting at school? How can you possibly explain this to your kids and how to do you talk about it? What if your child is feeling anxious going to school, what can you do to help? All of these questions come to mind.

Here are a few strategies:

Support system and coping skills

First, you as a parent must take care of yourself first and rely on your support system. It’s like that metaphor of the airplane oxygen mask…you must put your own mask on first before helping others. Talk to friends, family or other parents about your own concerns or feelings of anxiety…you are not alone! Daily rituals like meditation, yoga or exercise to de-stress and improve your mental health is essential and will be beneficial both for you and your child.

Let your child lead the conversation  

Since, like many parents you may not be sure where to begin, ask your child what questions they have about this event and other difficult situations. This ensures you are answering their questions, while not sharing too little or too much.

Talk regularly with your child

Talk to your kids one-on-one about school and anything else on their mind. Have a safe space for children to trust they can share their concerns. A good time to do this may be in the car on the way to/from school, extracurricular activities or at bedtime. Have screen-free family time for example at dinner (where everyone puts their phones or laptops aside) and talk openly about what’s on their mind. Say things like “How was school today?” or “What did you do at school today?”  

Teach your child coping skills to de-stress

Practice coping methods like deep breathing and grounding exercises while in a calm state, so it’s easier to do when your child is feeling anxious. Hot Cocoa Breathing Technique or Figure 8 Breathing can be very effective and used anywhere if your child is feeling anxious. A grounding exercise can also be useful to practice and decreases anxiety.  

Encourage your child to acknowledge their feelings

Encourage your child to express their feelings. The reality is with social media children are exposed to more information than ever before. They are on snapchap, youtube and instragram. Ask them how they feel about what’s posted there, and if they are having any strong feelings about them. Ask if they are feeling overwhelmed, worried, sad or scared about anything and if they would like to talk about it.

Limit exposure to media

In this day and age this is difficult, but if you can limit the amount of violence your child sees in the news, TV show or social media. Research has shown often young children when watching something on TV believe it is actually reoccurring.

You cannot mess this up if you love your child and talk with them

There is no manual on how to talk to your child about school violence and there is no right or wrong way to do this…just talk to them. Show them you love them and empower them to focus on what they can control instead of what could happen.

Know the warning signs

Most children are resilient and will return to normal after exposure to violence in the news, however children with anxiety may need more help. If your child worries excessively, does not want to go to school, has difficulty sleeping, displays changes in school performance, changes in relationships with peers and teachers, or losses interest in activities they once enjoyed they may be experiencing anxiety or trauma it may be helpful to seek professional help by contacting tycounseling.com.

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By: Allison West Kaskey  M.Ed., Eds., LPCC-S

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Is Love More than Words?

Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me

‘Cause I’d already know (Extreme 1991)

The Day to Celebrate Love

As another Valentine’s Day arrives, we will try and make a special effort to show our partner how much they mean to us with chocolate, dinner, and flowers. I will admit that I love to receive all of those things. Then I asked myself, how will I make an effort the other 360+ days per year.

One day to keep our relationship fresh?

It’s hard to imagine one day would be enough. It can be hard to always find quality time in our fast-paced lives to make time regularly to show our partners how we feel. We fill our time with the chores and obligations of life waiting for the quiet moment that rarely comes.

Sustaining our needs with small gestures

Small moments showing love such as:

  • A loving smile from across the room
  • A quick text just to say you are thinking about them
  • A gentle touch as you pass them

When the concept of love enters our world, we look to people around us as models of a healthy loving relationship. More times than we like to admit the role models we have as children do not reflect what we come to desire in a loving relationship.

Putting our Foot in our Mouth Should be Expected and Kept in Perspective

No one ever taught us how to breathe and love seems like something we should just be able to do. Feeling love for someone in your heart is the easy part, but how we express that love in a way that is understood can be a learning process.

When we fall in love we are compelled to show our partner how we feel about them, but the message isn’t always received loud and clear even when to us the message is in high definition. When our partner doesn’t get the message, it is easy to feel rejected by our partner. Never realizing that the message is being misinterpreted by our partner. Feelings of anger and passive aggressive behavior can quickly enter the relationship. These feelings can pile on each other until we spend more time feeling defensive and insecure. Eventually growing closer in our relationship starts to take a backseat. Being vulnerable with our partner and telling them when we feel hurt or misunderstood clears the out hard feelings. Taking accountability for our missteps keeps the walls down in our relationships. We need to keep perspective on what is most important in our relationship, each other.

Understanding the Love we Give

Learning that everyone receives love differently can be surprising.

  • Do our partners need gifts, words, or acts of service to be fulfilled?

Talking with our partner about what they need to find fulfillment can answer that question. It’s important to find the time to talk before we feel hurt. Once we are hurt, our emotions can be perceived as a criticism to our partner. Expressing to our partner how important they are and asking how we can better show them love.  Leads into telling them our needs without coming across as something they need to fix. Remembering that the success of our relationship relies on each of us to be fulfilled.  Sometimes this means putting our partner’s needs ahead of our own. The natural way our partners express love is likely the way they want to receive love. So our partner may not understand how they are not meeting our needs when their approach works so well for them. Meeting their needs first may help them understand. Knowing our needs change overtime and we should continue to talk with our partner about our needs.

Change Can Be Uncomfortable

Being uncomfortable to make ourselves vulnerable especially when our concerns have been dismissed by our partner is to be expected. We should not resign accepting that our needs will never be fulfilled. We just need to change our approach in the way we talk to our partner about our needs.

Engaging a impartial 3rd party into the conversation can help . Counselors who focus on relationships or on individuals will provide an unbiased perspective. Sometimes it just takes someone putting our feelings in words that our partner understands to make all the difference.

Until we feel comfortable with our needs we may give indirect clues on what we need to feel loved. Expecting our partner to be more direct with their needs is not fair, so we should look for indirect clues from them as well.

Have you ever heard any of the following from your partner?

  • I tell you I love you every day and you never say it back
  • You used to get me flowers
  • I am so busy all I want from you is to help me with the dishes
  • Can we sit together later and watch the Bachelor?

Although indirect these clues can indicate a desire from our partner. We may just hear them as a complaint about us as a partner or just see them as another thing they want us to do. Both thoughts are correct they are complaining and they are asking us to do something. The challenge is for us to realize they are asking us as their partner to show them love in a way they need to receive it.

Back to Celebrating Love

So as Valentine’s Day passes and our grand gestures are eaten and wilt, let’s resolve to make everyday a day where we are open to loving our partner by doing, showing and telling them in ways that allow them to feel appreciated and understood.  Let’s understand that the spark that brought us together doesn’t need to die, but can be kept alive with taking the time to notice and talk about our love. Because at the end of the day our love is unique to us and not like anyone else’s it deserves special effort every day of the year.

 

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Technology and Mental Health

Teens, Technology and Mental Health

I bet you’ve seen a lot in the news lately about the impact of technology on the mental health of teens.  If so, like so many of you I’m trying to make sense of it all. Several articles referenced generational research by  Jean Twenge. Who in 2011-12 saw something shocking in her research that “scared her to the core.” More than 50% of teens had iphones, therefore creating the iGen. The iGen, born between 1995 and 2012, have never known life without smartphones!

One article, included alarming statistics on technology:

  • 1 in 5 children has a mental health condition
  • 43% increase in ADHD
  • 37% increase in clinical level depression in teens
  • And even more alarming a 200% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old

Additionally, for at-risk teens technology can be linked to problems with attention, behavior and self-regulation, according to a 2017 Duke study.

Some say, this generation is on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades!!!

However, it’s not all so bleak. The positive impact of technology for the iGen was reported in an article stating this  generation is physically safer, they drink less, drive later, and are waiting longer to have physical relationships with significant others.

For adolescents, 11-15 of lower economic status, a study found technology also had a positive impact. For example on days when teens spent more time using technology they were less likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression. Possibly meaning, the short term impact of technology is beneficial, but not long term. In this study, teens spent approximately 2.3 hours a day using technology and sent 41 texts a day on average.

What can we do about it, a few tips:

  • For parents hold off as long as possible getting your child a smartphone.
  • If your kids need a phone to call for rides, emergencies, etc…get them a basic phone.
  • Set ground rules and monitor usage (no technology while eating dinner, etc.)
  • If all else fails, there are apps to control the amount of time and restrict viewing.

What else?

  • Model appropriate use of technology (I know it’s tough, I can’t put down my ipad!)
  • Limit your technology distractions while your kids are home.
  • Talk to your kids and encourage they to come to you if something is wrong, say it daily!

 

I know it seems overwhelming and scary, but you are not alone and we can help! 

 

By: Allison West Kaskey  M.Ed., Eds., LPCC-S

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Time-Out: A Different Approach to a Classic Consequence

We have probably all said it as parents-“Go to your room!” “You’re in timeout!” Our intention is that our child will sit and think about the bad choice they made, possibly ponder ways to make better choices, or make the connection between poor behavior and missing out. But what if the room you send them to is full of toys and electronics? And what if they really wanted/needed a break from the activity they were just removed from?

For some kids, especially older ones, a timeout can actually be a reward. This can lead to an association between acting out and getting what they want-a seed no parent wants to plant. It might be helpful to offer this sort of “break” as a proactive solution before your child actually acts out. When you first notice your child’s cues that they are heading for a meltdown, suggest a place or two they could go to relax, regroup, or whatever you want to call it that will appeal to them. Remind them of some activities they could do there to help them center themselves-color, read, listen to music, crumple paper (or any other healthy coping skill that works for them.) This helps them learn a healthy way to get some down time.

What if this doesn’t work? What if your child continues to escalate and makes a bad choice? Let me introduce you to time-IN. This type of consequence acts as a way for your child to “give back” for their poor behavior. Older kids can benefit from additional chores for specific infractions, like cleaning a bathroom for swearing or taking on a siblings’ chores for the day if they were mean to that brother or sister. Younger ones often respond well to writing/drawing an apology letter or picture. Always keep in mind that the consequence needs to be age appropriate and realistic. A four year isn’t going to write a two page letter just like an eleven year old isn’t going to clean your gutters. It’s about the effort they put in.

As we all know, every child is different. For some kiddos, time-outs are sufficient and for others, time-ins are ineffective. Keeping expectations and consequences consistent is the key.

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By: Torrie Giovinazzi, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC

 

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Tips to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s that time of year. The holidays are over and it’s back to reality. You’ve returned to school or work and are trying to get back into a “normal” routine. If you are feeling run down, tired, lethargic, and unmotivated you may have a case of the winter blues. Don’t worry, you are not alone! Most everyone feels like this from time to time. If after a couple weeks you are not feeling better it could be a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or depression.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is believed to be caused by the changing seasons and lack of sunlight. Typically, symptoms begin to worsen in the fall and peak during the winter months. Symptoms of SAD are similar to that of other forms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness, lack of concentration, social withdrawal, and fatigue.

If you have been diagnosed with depression or SAD it may be time to seek professional help. The earlier the treatment, the more effective. Treatments for SAD include light therapy, a healthy diet, exercise, relaxation, and counseling and medication. For more ideas for treatment for living with SAD click here.

If it’s a case of the winter blues, it should pass. In either case it’s important to be kind to yourself, implement self-care techniques, and seek professional help if symptoms do not improve. Here are a few tips to help shake your winter blues:

Light therapy

If you feel like the lack of sunlight really does affect you, Light Therapy Treatment is an easy way to boost your light intake. Other options include getting outdoors if possible up to 20-30 minutes a day or taking vitamin D supplements after consulting with your doctor.

Eat mood boosting foods

Eat mood-boosting foods such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries may help prevent the release of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland, lean foods high protein like turkey, chicken, omega-3 fatty acids (flax seeds, walnuts and salmon), foods with folic acid that can be found in leafy greens, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, oranges, fortified cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, and soybeans.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the best mood boosters. It’s difficult to get motivated when you are feeling tired, so find something you enjoy whether it’s walking, yoga, running or spinning or zumba class. If you can find a workout partner or an accountability partner that will help with motivation.

Meditate

Meditation helps to focus and quiet your mind, while increasing your level of awareness and inner calm. There are many ways to meditate including: breathing techniques, guided visualization and mindfulness. If possible, start with a few minutes a day. There is a great app called Headspace that can be downloaded and used anywhere.

Plan something fun

Get together with friends or make plans for future fun activities and events. Studies have shown that anticipating a fun event may even bring just as much or more happiness that experiencing the event. Most importantly, it’s experiences rather than items that boost our mood.

Relax

Everyone can feel down from time to time in the winter months and the worst thing you can do for yourself is feel like you should always be happy. Take time to focus on yourself. Do things that make you happy and feel calm such as reading a book, drinking a cup of tea, or taking a bath. Reflect on what you want most for yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself.

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By: Allison West Kaskey  M.Ed., Eds., LPCC-S

 

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Introducing Your Child to the Idea of Therapy

Tips to help your child get used to the idea of going to therapy

 

1.) Do not lie to your child, regardless of their age

They need accurate, age appropriate information about what to expect at their first appointment. Providing them with facts they can understand not only helps decrease their anxiety, it helps lay healthy groundwork for a positive experience in therapy. Telling them their therapist’s name, office location, or even showing them a picture of their therapist are all helpful ideas.

2.) Give them some say in the matter

When kids feel like they have choices, it helps them feel more confident about new situations. Younger kids might like to pick what outfit they will wear to their first session, or select a special toy to bring. Older kids might have a day of the week they prefer, or may even have preferences about whether they see a male or female therapist.

3.) Let them express their thoughts and feelings

They might cry and tell you they don’t want to go. That’s ok-therapy can be overwhelming for adults at first thought too. Children respond well to stories and characters they can identify with personally. Reading some books together about beginning therapy also might help ease the transition. The following are available on Amazon:

4.) Encourage them to ask questions

It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers! Letting them know that, together, you can ask the therapist all sorts of questions when you meet will help reinforce the idea that everyone will be working together!

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If your child continues to be distressed about the idea of therapy, please reach out to their therapist for more personalized ideas about how to help!

 

By: Torrie Giovinazzi, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC

 

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Welcome to our Newest Clinician

Welcome Torrie Giovinazzi to the TY & Associates Family

Torrie graduated from Kent State with a Master’s degree in Community Counseling. She is an independently Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in the state of Ohio and is endorsed by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Torrie has provided therapy for a wide variety of mental health issues in both outpatient and community settings. Her specialties include early childhood, trauma, sexual behavior problems, adjustment issues, anxiety, depression, and behavioral concerns. Torrie utilizes an array of therapeutic techniques and interventions to individually tailor to each clients’ needs. She enjoys working with people of all ages, and strives to make sure her clients understand the therapy process through psychoeducation and a collaborative treatment approach.