An interview I had with Jenny Yang (championmoms.com) for her Youtube channel where we discussed the benefits of praising your child or teen. "Praise, like sunshine, helps all things grow." Croft M. Pentz.
Article#1: I contributed to this article offering my expertise on how to increase your teen's self-esteem:
Teenhood is characterized by awkward, confusing changes that can make or break one’s mental health.
A key to thriving during this time is understanding self-esteem and self-awareness and taking the necessary steps to develop a healthy degree of both.
Parents can help their kid do so by first praising their teen for the things they do well, like getting home on time or putting away the dishes.
They can also facilitate this process by really listening to their teen and then offering advice in a way that is not overwhelming or judgmental.
Lastly, teaching responsibility and then allowing their teen to make their own decisions can go a long way when it comes to the teen’s self-esteem and self-awareness.
The teen years are, in one word, awkward. Sure, it’s a time for growth and self-discovery, but it’s also marked with confusing and uncomfortable changes. Physical, mental, and emotional changes that can leave one feeling extremely self-conscious. I remember walking through the doors of my high school on the first day, feeling suddenly embarrassed about my “too-big” feet, my “weird” curly hair, and my Hollister wardrobe—all of which I never felt embarrassed about previously. Before the teen years, I wasn’t one to worry about what other people thought of me. Sure, it was embarrassing if I tripped in the hallway or realized there was a huge stain on my shirt—but I also forgot about these things in a matter of seconds. Whereas in high school, it was the end of the world if I did anything slightly embarrassing: a dark cloud would follow me for days to come. The thing is that developmental changes often make teens ultra-sensitive. Which means it’s super important that they talk about and understand two matters regarding the self: self-esteem and self-awareness. That’s where you, as a caring parent, comes in! Gabrielle Freire, a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 13 years of experience in the mental health field, offers an effective plan for talking to your teens about self-esteem and self-awareness: 1) Start with praise.“Praise your teen for the things that they do well, such as putting their dinner plate away, getting up for school on time, or coming home from a friend’s home on time. A simple statement such as, ‘I love that you came home on time,’ or, ‘So glad you’re home, I was worried.’ That’s it… be simple and direct, no long explanation how the parent was worried and started to pace in the bedroom or that the teen’s tardiness negatively impacts the entire family. Praising your teen for things that they do well that aren’t about their appearance (i.e., hair style, makeup, or body size) assists the child in learning that their character is liked and accepted by their family. This helps with self-esteem (most people respond well to praise) and self-awareness (because their behavior impacts other people).” 2) Listen.Another thing a parent can do (again, a simple suggestion) is listen. Yeah, simple, but most parents don’t listen. Close your mouth, and open your ears. If you can try to be a neutral listener, you may hear more from your teen then if you ask questions or worse yet, if you get angry and snap at them. Just listen… know that you may need to file that info away for the future… but please parent, read between the lines (their friend Joe is drinking alcohol so that means that maybe your son or daughter is exposed to alcohol). With that info, you can start providing some psycho-education about teenage drinking or give them ideas on how to avoid a friend who may be engaging in risky behaviors such as using alcohol or drugs. 3) Teach responsibility.Give your teen a task they need to complete… like a chore. That helps with self-esteem because the teen is expected to contribute to the running of the household, which helps the teen feel like part of a group (i.e., family). When they are feeling awkward because they have a pimple on their chin, knowing that their family accepts them for who they are (even when they don’t look perfect or when they make a mistake) helps with their self-esteem. 4) Loosen the leash.Let your teen make some decisions for themselves, and don’t laugh or make fun of their decision—so, for example, if the teen is socially awkward, but they tell you that they want to learn how to act or participate in a talent show, go for it… let the teen learn how to make a decision for themselves and then the parent should be there, along the way, as a cheerleader or to pick them up off the floor. It makes for relationship bonding and lets the teen know that they are accepted by their family (when their peers may laugh at them). Also, it starts the autonomy process and helps the teen learn how to make decisions.
Article #2: I contributed to this article about how to set boundaries with your boyfriend, see #5 Leave the Mind Reading to the Psychic:
How To Set Boundaries With Your Boyfriend by Ben Skute August 18, 2018 In any romantic relationship, we often think of having to set boundaries as a bad thing. Isn’t our partner meant to understand us and our needs? Will setting boundaries kill the romantic side of our relationship? In romantic relationships boundaries are very important, in fact, they are essential in any healthy relationship. Boundaries come hand in hand with respect. If you want to set boundaries with your boyfriend, here is how… #1 Setting boundaries creates mutual respect and consideration These qualities allow people to be close without emotional harm. Boundaries are breached by such actions as: Reading personal mail or rummaging in personal space or demanding time, affection or consideration without considering the other person's wishes or feelings. Showing up unannounced is another classic breach of boundaries. Expecting someone to always pay for things. Talking behind backs, changing appointments because something more fun came up. Boundaries can be set with grace and gentility. Be polite and say please and thank you. You probably will lose your boyfriend if you make big, obnoxious announcements about how you want to be treated. Instead, set an example by speaking up at the moment -- saying no, thank you or I'm sorry, I don't really like that when you need to. Anyone can be subjected to rudeness and inconsideration. How you handle it determines whether you are setting boundaries or not. Most situations can be handled with polite firmness. People pleasers usually just don't know how to say no, thank you and make it stick. If you say no, thank you several times, then, gently tell the person you don't like what they're doing, that it makes you uncomfortable, and they still don't get it, then you need to sit them down and tell them you will not allow them to do that to you. For example, if a boyfriend borrows money or lets you pay for food all the time, you can say, gently, I think it's your turn to buy groceries today or I really need you to pay back the money you borrowed If that doesn't work, then have a talk -- say, I think you're taking advantage of me financially, and I can't be your girlfriend if the situation doesn't improve. So, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to lunch with you any more unless you buy, and/or I'm not lending you any money. If that doesn't improve matters, then you'll need to give that person a time out -- withdraw from personal contact, and just be very polite when you do happen to see him or her. He or she will get the message loud and clear. Perhaps your boyfriend will ask Are you mad at me? and then you can describe what the problem is. Contributors: Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today Top of Form Bottom of Form #2 Communicate Discuss your boundaries with your partner. Your boundaries may change, or you might find some that you didn't even know you had. That's ok! The sign of a healthy relationship is being able to express changes when you need to. This doesn't mean it won't be difficult, sometimes setting boundaries can be awkward, especially if your partner is sensitive. Ultimately, though, they can make your relationship stronger when you feel heard and supported. Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics Bottom of Form #3 Compromise Be ready to compromise. When you come to set your boundaries, don't be surprised if he has a few of his own. You may be opening a can of worms that neither one of you was willing to discuss...until you do. Listen to what he has to say, you both need to feel safe and supported to find the balance that works for both of you. Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics Bottom of Form #4 Reflect Take a good hard look at yourself. Sometimes we put boundaries up for a reason. Try and learn the difference between a healthy boundary and an unhealthy one. For instance, is he getting in your space or is there a deeper issue? Make sure that you know where you stand in terms of intimacy before drawing your red lines. Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics Bottom of Form #5 Leave the Mind Reading to the Psychics We've all been in a relationship where we get lost in our thoughts and feelings about that person. Sometimes we really want a relationship and like the person we are dating so we may not tell your partner what you need or want from that person early on in the relationship. Since the relationship changes (and hopefully evolves and you two grow closer) your boundaries may change too. For example, your partner doesn't call you when he is on a business trip. That may be okay at the start of a relationship, but as intimacy grows the behaviors may need to change in order for the relationship to flourish. It comes down to expectations and boundaries. Healthy relationships involve boundaries. Ideally, boundaries are discussed upfront, but if that isn't possible then tell your partner at the first opportunity. Communication skills are needed if a couple is going to talk about their expectations for the relationship. An easy way to communicate your expectation is, I feel_______ when you______. That will allow for clear communication as you share your feelings. Boundaries change, so be patient with your partner but communicate your expectations to your partner and leave the mind reading for the psychic. Contributors: Gabrielle Freire from Gabrielle Freire Therapy Bottom of Form #6 Setting boundaries is healthy and reinforces your value How a couple communicates is a very important indicator that reveals how successful a relationship will be and the relationship's longevity. Setting boundaries and clearly articulating rules create a calm, rational, positive, and loving environment for both partners to exist. It reinforces a sense of a long-term teamwork that leads to healthy and happy relationships. It gives both partners in a relationship the rules for relationship happiness, and it creates a playbook to keep each other happy and emotionally secure. In addition, setting boundaries - what you will and won't tolerate - indirectly communicates what you believe to be most important and demonstrates your understanding of your own value. For example, if loyalty is an important value to you, you must clearly communicate that cheating will have a particular set of consequences and, as such, you want certain discussions to happen before any cheating occurs. Contributors: Anna Gonowon from Exboyfriendrecovery
Article #3 An article that I helped to write about how to connect with the clients.
It’s important the client feels engaged right away, in that the therapist feels welcomed and receives dedicated care from the get-go.
Once the client and counselor have decided they’re a good match, the counselor can help them feel more comfortable by explaining everything they’ll need to know about the first session: no surprises makes for less anxiety.
Open ended questions also help to create a comfortable therapy space, in addition to assisting the therapeutic process and helping the client to share their feelings.
It’s also important that therapists assess each case individually and then cater to that client: for example, one may take different approaches with an anxious client and a depressed client.
Also, active listening is an effective counseling technique, where the therapist reflects what the client has just communicated to them.
Finally, it’s beneficial for counselors to close a session by asking if the client has any questions or would like to share any final thoughts or feelings.
*Gabrielle Freire is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has been for 14 years. She has worked in the mental health field since 2004, providing individual, group, and family counseling.* Engagement is a primary focus of the initial portion of treatment. (There are typically 4 phases of treatment: the engagement phase, intake phase, implementation phase and the transition or discharge stage). I start engaging with someone when they first call me and ask me questions about therapy. I ask open ended questions to get the potential client talking about their symptoms and behaviors, that helps me get an idea if I will be able to help him or her (by this I mean to see if I have the experience and training to meet their clinical needs). If I can help them, i move on to schedule the appointment, I ask their availability versus telling them a date/time that works for me. To also aid with the comfort levels, I tell them info about the first visit including parking suggestions and tell them to wait in the waiting room. That allows the client to not have to worry about when I will get them out of the waiting room. It also helps them plan their trip if they know where to park. Someone who is anxious may worry about finding parking, someone who is depressed may not have the energy to look for parking and give up rather than look for a parking spot. I ask open ended questions to help them talk about their feelings. The open ended questions helps the potential client understand that I’m interested in them (which I believe builds the relationship). When we have that first phone call, I have an idea if they are depressed, anxious, if they had trauma, ADHD, impulsivity problems etc. That helps me prepare my office/myself for when they come in. I will act differently with someone who has depression versus someone who is anxious. For example, for an anxious person, I may talk in a calm voice and try to let them talk more than say a depressed person who may not have as much energy to formulate questions. I put myself in their shoes and talk about things that I think they may want to know (not that I’m all knowing but I do know that coming in to a therapy office may be overwhelming and they may forget to ask questions). Someone who had trauma may need me to move a little slower and not make any quick body movements which they might interpret as jarring. Other ways I help a client feel comfortable is by using active listening skills; reflecting back what they said to me, not interrupting, nodding my head when they speak. Those are all great ways to connect with the client. I ask them, “how did that make you feel” versus “you were feeling sad.” Also, matching body language is another way; it works on the subconscious mind, so if the client’s legs are crossed, I may also cross my legs. I don’t cross my arms even if they have their arms crossed because arm crossing is more noticeable and I wouldn’t want the client to feel that I was disconnected from them or I disapproved of what they were saying. I will even slightly nod my head when they are talking so they can see me validating what they are saying. Additionally, I almost always end a session asking if they had any questions. That allows for clarification and also demonstrates that I value their input in their treatment. I also write treatment plan goals with their input and never reject an idea for treatment. I don’t laugh at them if they share something out of the ordinary and don’t laugh at them if they make a mistake.