Southlake Counseling’s Kid’s Craft Camp

What is Play Therapy? 

Play Therapy is a theoretical model of therapy that helps children, with the aid of a trained play therapist, prevent problems, resolve behavioral difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.  It’s a form of psychotherapy, and it uses play based materials, such as toys, crafts, and games to help children achieve optimal mental health.  It’s a great way for a therapist to observe where the child is at developmentally and see what the child is communicating with their play.  Are they communicating life experiences, are they expressing their emotions? Most children are not able to explain their feelings through words, so how they play is their language.  Play is the most natural way for children to communicate.  They don’t need to struggle with words; they can show the therapist through the toys, crafts and activities.
At Southlake Counseling we are so proud to have our amazing Play Therapist, Julie Callahan.  Before Julie was a Therapist, she was an educator and certified school counselor.  She knew how children learned about life, try on adult roles and play out their feelings through their play. When she became a Therapist, she knew she wanted to work with children because she understood them through a developmental perspective.  She knew that Play Therapy was a perfect treatment approach for children.  It was a natural transition to go from teaching and counseling children to providing therapy services for children, and also working closely with their parents and caregivers. 
This summer at Southlake Counseling we are offering a Kid’s Craft & Emotional Regulation Camp!  Using the best parts of Play Therapy, kids will use crafts, toys and activities to learn new skills in conversation, learn how to get along better with friends and peers, and emotional regulation.
Kid’s Craft Camp is Friday’s in July and August.  Contact Southlake Counseling for more info at 704-896-7776. And check out Julie’s Bio here!

 

EMDR Therapy

The Therapists at Southlake Counseling are highly trained in specialized therapy methods.

One of these methods is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is a scientifically researched and effective therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  In addition, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

Wendyleigh and Kimberly were trained by Roy Kiessling, LISW, in Advanced EDMR in Asheville, NC.

  • Panic attacks
  • Complicated grief
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Disturbing memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain disorders
  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress reduction
  • Addictions
  • Sexual and/or Physical abuse
  • Body dysmorphic disorders
  • Personality Disorders

Memories provide portable snapshots of moments that we can take anywhere, and they allow us to revisit those moments and experiences to a certain extent. Some memories, however, get in the way of everyday life by consistently invoking terror or anger to a debilitating degree. The sound of a passing airplane might suddenly have the power to evoke terrible memories. These physical responses to memories can also lead to additional off-shoots of depression and anxiety as the individual feels they are losing control of their own ability to cope as well as their ability to get through the day.

For many people, survival reactions are only experienced in short bursts, but those who suffer from chronic trauma symptoms experience longer-term survival reactions that leave issues unresolved. Talk therapy alone is not enough to resolve the chronic trauma symptoms left behind by the survival reaction. Nearly all patients who receive EMDR therapy report greater general wellness and significant decreases in trauma-related symptoms.

EMDR changes the way the brain responds to external stimuli. Therapy normally involves sensory input such as changing lights, gentle buzzing from handheld devices or sounds heard through headphones. As the sensory input switches back and forth from right to left, a patient tries to recall past trauma. Though the memories of the trauma remain, the chronic bodily and emotional reactions to the trauma dissolve.

At Southlake Counseling, the Therapists provide EMDR therapy to their clients in conjunction with other modes of therapy. EMDR is a powerful, effective and safe method for alleviating the long-term psychological impact of traumatic experiences. Kimberly and Wendyleigh help their clients to recognize the experiences around which they have traumatic memories and then work with them to reprocess those memories.  Over the course of treatment, patients experience their traumatic memories with less intensity and less emotion, resulting in decreased physical reactions to the memories.

To learn more about EMDR therapy at the Southlake Counseling, contact our office today 704-896-7776!

Southlake Counseling’s DBT Skills Summer Camp

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a research-backed group to help your middle schooler develop effective coping skills, manage self-criticism and improve interpersonal relationships while increasing overall focus, resilience and emotional well-being.

Does your tween:
• Sometimes feel “bad” or “upset” without knowing exactly why?
• Judge him or herself critically or make statements about disliking themselves?
• Feel misunderstood or alone?
• Ignore their own needs, but focus on wanting others to be
   happy?
• Feel hopeless or like they have nothing to look forward to in
   life?
• Have a hard time standing up for themselves?
• Get into unhealthy relationships with people who don’t
   treat them fairly?
• Switch friend groups often or cut others off easily?
• Avoid feelings by shutting down or self-harming?
• Tend to dwell on the negative parts of life?
Before heading back to school in the fall, many tweens can use a little help improving their social skills. Southlake Counseling is offering a DBT Skills Based Summer Camp to help rising 6th-9th graders learn the skills to cope with emotions in a healthy and productive manner.  This six week camp offers a unique blend of activities where kids will learn the skills, practice them with the guidance of our therapists, and review at the end of the session.  Sessions will be held on Fridays, from July 7th-August 11th from 9:00-12:00. Contact Southlake Counseling for more information – 704-896-7776. Space is limited.

A Moment for Vets

This Memorial Day, let’s take a moment to honor our fallen service members.  Many have died in battle to protect us and provide us our freedoms, but sadly, too many have also died here at home.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is the perfect time to shine a light on how many Veterans return home from service and require so much more than they are given. Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry.

Between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries and Depression, many of our veterans face a fiercer battle when they attempt to fit back in to civilian life.  According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2014 an average of 20 veterans committed suicide each day.  The United States has two holiday’s to honor those that have served, but there’s so much more that we can do every day:  http://bit.ly/2qtdqL7

We thank you for your service,

The Staff at Southlake Counseling

 

Four Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude During Illness

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When you’re sick, it can be hard to stay positive. If it’s a cold or flu and passes quickly, things return to normal after a short time. If you have a chronic, long-term, or life-threatening illness, that can be a much different challenge.

With every illness, there are good and bad days. Sometimes you’ll feel better than at other times. Having good moments and staying positive overall, though, is possible even during illness.

Dealing with a Diagnosis

When you first receive a diagnosis of a serious illness, it can be very difficult to cope with the fear and anger. It’s natural to have these kinds of emotions, even if it’s counterproductive. Give yourself some time to be upset, and then start focusing on all the good that’s still in your life. There are many things to be thankful for, and staying positive can actually help you feeling better longer.

You’ll also have a lot of questions you’ll want to ask, once the diagnosis has had some time to sink in. When you ask questions, ensure you get the information you need from your doctor. If he seems indifferent, it may be time to get a second opinion or a doctor who has a better bedside manner so you feel more hopeful.

What If You’re Sick for a Long Time?

With serious illnesses, you may remain sick for some time. If you spend your time thinking of the good things that are still available to you, you’ll still experience happiness. Even small joys can keep you positive and peaceful when you allow yourself to feel the joy of the moment.

To help you stay joyful, consider these options:

    1. Spend time with loved ones. Use this time to get closer to those you care about. Rather than engaging in idle chitchat to pass the time, talk with them about things that really matter to both of you. Share your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
    2. What can you do? Focus on things you’re still able to do and enjoy, as opposed to the things you can’t.
    3. Help others. You’ll find that doing what you can to help others helps you as well. Focusing on the needs of other people can make you feel better about yourself. For everyone who is facing a serious illness, there are people who are worse off in some way. When you reach out to them, it puts your struggles in perspective and gives you someone to relate to.
    4. Use positive affirmations. Replace worry and negative thoughts with positive statements as soon as they appear. With repetition, you’ll begin to do this automatically. Soon, you’ll discover a more peaceful, positive, and joyful mindset, which can also help you physically.

You’ll still face challenging days and trying situations, but there’s happiness to be found even when you’re sick. Be willing to open your heart and mind so you can find that joy. Even with a serious illness, it’s still possible to laugh, love, and experience great joy if you only allow it to come into your life.

Self Harm

door in garden

In working with adolescents and families for a number of years, I have seen the various looks of a parent – the angry look, the disgusted look, the frustrated look, the look of disdain and disbelief.  By far, the most concerning has been the look of fear and utter helplessness that parents experience when they find out their child is self harming.  With many parents having little experience or information about this, they often react out of fear and protection, as well as relying on stereotypes and less-than-reliable resources to give them direction during this often frightening time.

Self  Harm is a clinical term that covers many different kinds of self injury.  Self Injury can start out as simply as scratching one’s arm or legs.  Some individuals may remove the small eraser at the end of a # 2 pencil, and push the round metal piece together to then be used as a sharp instrument.  Others begin their self injury using the blade from a pencil sharpener.  This can lead to using a razor, a kitchen knife, or an exacto-knife.  Many individuals can find many creative ways to develop, make or use every day objects to self injure.   These everyday objects are hard to eliminate from anyone’s life and make the tool used to self injure regularly accessible and easy to use.

One of the most puzzling looks of a parent often includes the word “WHY?”  For those who have no experience with this, understanding self injury seems impossible.  However, there are some basic concepts that may help you to understand, even if you do NOT agree with the behaviors.  Self injury can be addictive.  When self-injury is repeated it can become addictive.  And many times, I see this lead to self injury developing a life of its’ own.

The most common form of self-injury is cutting or burning oneself.   Other forms of self injury include: hair pulling, face picking, self-hitting, head banging, severe skin scratching, bone breaking, or interfering with wound healing.  Any of these behaviors can become addictive for the individual due to the the emotional release that occurs with the self injury.  The individual’s inability to emotionally regulate then leads to their repetitive pattern of self injury as it becomes a way to self regulate.  The perpetuating cycle is often very difficult to break without professional help.

If you have someone you love who is self harming, or simply want more information, there are a number of reliable and safe resources out there.  Below I have listed two quick links for you to connect to and in future posts, I will talk more about warning signs and ways to handle the initial discovery and what to do next.  Information is key and keeping the communication loving and open is crucial.

And as always, if you need professional help, we are here for you – please contact our Southlake Office at 704-896-7776 or go to our website – www.southlakecounseling.com

http://www.adolescentselfinjuryfoundation.com

http://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/about-self-injury.html

6 Ways to Overcome Panic

horse and boy

 

Panic is an emotion that everyone has felt at one time or another. Feeling panic is normal, but if panic is taking over your daily life, it’s time to take action to reduce it.

Understanding what it is and what you can do about it can help immensely. Panic serves a clear purpose in life. It gets your adrenaline pumping and allows you to act quickly to save yourself when you’re faced with danger. Humans are complex creatures, however, and your mind may create panic in situations where it wouldn’t help you.

Also, if these situations continue to arise, you may be dealing with a serious panic disorder, so please consult with your physician.

Here are some strategies that can help you overcome panic:

  1. Breathe deeply. Deep breathing techniques can bring you a certain level of calm during any situation. When you start to feel panicked, you tense up and your breathing becomes quick or heavy.

Take a moment to find your breath and take deep breaths in and out. The deep breathing will relax you and help you focus on taking in oxygen, instead of the stressful situation.

  1. Watch your health. Your mental and physical health are all part of the same system. When you take care of yourself, many of your problems tend to right themselves. If you have a poor diet, lack exercise, or don’t sleep well, take action to correct these core problems. Doing this will often address your panic directly or indirectly.
  1. Seek professional help. Discuss treatment options with your physician and naturopath. There are natural treatments available as well as several well-studied prescription medications that can help with your anxiety and panic concerns. Your doctor will know best if you’re a good candidate for these medications.

Remember that you must always take a holistic approach that addresses the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your health.

  1. Address the problem. Try to locate the source of your panic. Are you only panicking in certain situations, or do you feel anxious at all times? If you can figure out the source of your panic, you can address the problem by facing your fear directly.

Exercises to reduce your fears enable you to become more comfortable in situations that could set off a panic attack.

  1. Deal with your stress. Panic is more likely to arise in a stressed mind. If you study certain relaxation methods, you can keep your stress level down and make it less likely for you to experience a panic attack.

There are many relaxation methods for you to choose from that can keep you healthy and happy. Practicing yoga, daily meditation, prayer, and listening to soothing music are just a few ideas.

One of the best stress relievers is to make time for yourself each and every day. This time gives you a chance to relax, rejuvenate, and continue your day with renewed positive energy.

  1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can increase the frequency of panic attacks. To be on the safe side, avoid or limit their use. While this tip may not cure your symptoms, it can be an important factor for getting you back into a healthy mental state.

Getting Help

Panic and anxiety fears are quite common and there is no shame in getting help. Recognize the triggers and early signs of panic and start fighting it. When you do, you’ll feel free once again!

When a Flower Doesn’t Bloom…

When a Flower Doesn't Bloom...

As the seasons begin to change and my garden starts to bear it’s last vegetables, I often think about what gardening has taught me. With the recent start of school, I came upon this quote and realized how much gardening and children can have in common. How you ask? The quote above makes such sense to me – yet it is not typically how we address children who may learn differently.

We all know that children learn in many different ways. As parents, educators, professionals and other concerned adults, our question is often “How can we help them to be the best they can be?” We want children to be successful, we need them to blieve in themselves and to learn so that they can be our future. However, there are times when we fall short in our expecttions and how we may react to those children who learn differently.

When a child doesn’t learn like the rest, we say they are lazy, unmotivated or need to try harder. In these situations we usually look towards the child and insist that they need to change. We believe and often even say to the child these phrases that in fact, tear down and hurt the child. Think about it in terms of the gardening . . . This summer, my tomatos were not growing. The leaves were not as large, the fruits were smaller and not turning red, and the soil seemed hard. Did I yell at the tomatos? Tell them to perk up and insist it was all their fault? NO!!! I looked at the soil, the weather, the amount of water and more. I added fertilizer, water and weeded. I moved some peppers that were crowding these precious Roma tomatoes. And guess what? They started growing and blooming and producing more and more fruits. Not because I fussed at them, blamed them, or told them to get it together. Things improved because I changed the environment.

In taking this quote and comparison to gardneing into account, how can we tell a child they need to change? The sole responsibility of change is not with the child. We all play a part and the environment is part of that equation and solution. Instead, what we can do is help to change their environment and give them accommodations and modifications to foster their growth.

If you have a physical disability, you are given services. Learning disabilities can be harder to see than physical disabilities. However, it is just as important that learning disabilities are noted and appropriate services are provided to help support the child’s learning. So the next time a child is struggling in school don’t say, “the child need to change or try harder.” Instead, say “how can this learning environment change to better support and foster the child’s learning?” When we do this, we plant not only the seeds for tomorrow, we care for the fruits and flowers and watch them BLOOM.

Love, Trust and Snooping

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Love, Trust, and Snooping

Technology may have changed the way we snoop, but the underlying reasons remain the same. How do you balance love and trust with your hunger for more information about the people close to you?

Learn how to deal with snooping in your relationships with your children, romantic partners, and employers.

General Tips for Dealing With Snooping

  1. Understand your motives. Some people meddle out of mere curiosity and others because of anxiety. Often, they’re trying to discover any hidden conflicts so they can fix them.
  1. Communicate openly. Whatever your reason, asking for information is more constructive than snooping. It takes courage to discuss sensitive subjects, but the rewards are profound. You’ll develop greater trust, intimacy, and wisdom.
  1. Recognize the impact of technology. Social media and smart phones make it easier to access personal information. Think twice before you look. Ask yourself how you’d feel if someone did the same thing to you.
  1. Create privacy zones. It’s a personal decision when it comes to what details to share. The important thing is that you and your loved ones are comfortable with the boundaries.
  1. Brace yourself for dramatic news. You may be surprised by what you find out when you snoop. Plan ahead for how you’ll respond if you discover that your child is being a bully.
  1. Apologize when needed. Nosing around can seriously damage relationships. A sincere apology may help to repair the violation of trust. Of course, you’ll also need to change your ways.
  1. Forgive others. If you’re on the receiving end, forgive the intrusion. Even if you decide not to continue the relationship, letting go of resentments is good for your own peace of mind.
  1. Deal with underlying issues. Most of all, examine your relationships when you feel the urge to snoop. Figure out why it’s difficult to approach the person directly and why your trust is shaky.

Tips for Dealing with Snooping Between Adults and Children

  1. Put safety first. Common sense and the law recognize that parenting is a special situation where your actions may be necessary. If a child’s wellbeing is in danger, snooping may be justified.
  1. Give advance notice. It helps to let your kids know that you may check their text messages or enter their rooms. Making them aware may even discourage the behavior you want them to avoid.
  1. Consider the evidence. Ideally, your children will come to you when they’re looking for support. If direct questioning fails to work, you may need to take further action. Watch for signs like changes in behavior, falling grades, and troubling friendships.
  1. Be a positive role model. Children tend to copy their parents. If you communicate directly and respect people’s privacy, your kids are more likely to do the same.

Tips for Dealing With Snooping Between Adults

  1. Understand workplace policies. Privacy rights are very limited in the workplace. Use your own devices for personal communications.
  1. Follow the law. Outside of the workplace, adults enjoy a greater expectation of privacy. At a minimum, check your state laws before doing anything questionable, like recording a phone call.
  1. Discuss expectations. Setting up boundaries and expectations early in a romantic relationship will likely build trust and make for a strong, long-term relationship. Try talking about your values at the start of a relationship. See if you agree on the meaning of fidelity. Check if you’re compatible when it comes to sharing passwords.
  1. Be more transparent. Consider the difference between being private and being secretive. It may be okay to guard your passwords if you have nothing to hide.

The temptation to snoop is natural, but giving in to those impulses can undermine your relationships. Protect yourself by communicating directly and treating others with love and respect.

The Make Up Miracle for Couples Who Argue

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The Make Up Miracle for Couples Who Argue

Conflict is a natural part of every relationship. As much as you love each other, you sometimes find yourself at odds over how to raise your children, pay off your mortgage, or do the laundry. Try these tips for resolving and preventing arguments so you can weather the rocky times and enjoy more harmony.

Steps to Take After an Argument

1) Cool off. If tempers are flaring, you may be better off stepping away until you calm down. Take a walk or clean out a closet. Let your partner know that you’re willing to talk later when you’re less likely to say something that you’ll regret.

2) Look at the big picture. Remind yourself about your partner’s good qualities. List the positive aspects of your relationship. It will help you to keep things in perspective.

3) Apologize when appropriate. Hold yourself accountable for your contribution to the conflict. Ask for forgiveness when you’ve made a mistake.

4) Respect each other’s feelings. You and your partner will be happier if you consider how your actions affect each other. Be willing to spend Valentine’s Day at an overcrowded restaurant if it makes your partner feel special.

5) Reach out. A little reassurance can keep tensions from interfering with intimacy. Offer a hug or a friendly smile.

6) Follow up. Some differences require more than one conversation. Congratulate yourselves for agreeing to cut back on spending on cable TV and new shoes. Agree to weekly sessions for tackling the rest of your household budget.

Steps to Take Before an Argument Begins

1) Communicate openly. Being direct and transparent will help prevent misunderstandings from piling up. Share your inner thoughts and emotions. Ask your partner what they’re thinking instead of making assumptions.

2) Work together as a team. Pull your weight around the house. Divide responsibilities fairly. Take turns leading major projects, such as supervising home renovations or planning family vacations. This is even more important if they’re becoming a burden for one person.

3) Spend time apart. Give each other some space. Your relationship will be more stable if you build a support network rather than counting on your partner for everything.

4) Establish priorities. Distinguish between deal breakers and minor irritations. There’s a big difference between losing an entire paycheck at the racetrack and buying a few too many boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

5) Acknowledge your weaknesses. It’s easier to accept imperfections in your loved ones when you realize that you can be difficult to live with too. Maybe you snore or have trouble remembering anniversaries.

6) Laugh together. Humor is good for relationships. You’ll enjoy each other’s company and feel more connected. That closeness can help prepare you for dealing with serious challenges.

7) Socialize with other couples. Role models come in handy for relationship skills that you may have missed growing up. Spend time with your next door neighbors if they seem to have a strong marriage. Observe how they interact.

8) Seek expert help. Self-help materials and therapists can provide valuable advice. Encourage your partner to join you. Let them know that you want to build a more meaningful life for both of you.

9) Assess your relationship. In some cases, you may discover that it’s time to move on. That can be true if a relationship is undermining your self-esteem or you have different goals. If you need to go your separate ways, an amicable break up will minimize resentments and speed up healing.

Loving relationships require work. Remember how much you care about your partner and let them know it, especially when you disagree with each other.