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Depression Checklist

Depression is one of those heavily used terms in our culture, applied to everything from a fleeting feeling to a serious clinical syndrome. Sometimes folks who have been depressed for a while are so used to it they do not even recognize it as depression! The following checklists are two tools to get you thinking about yourself, your mood, and your physical symptoms.

Emotional Checklist:

  • A persistent sad, anxious or “down” mood?
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed?
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or weight gain?
  • Sleeping too little or sleeping too much?
  • Restlessness or irritability?
  • Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders)?
  • Fatigue or loss of energy?
  • Difficulty with concentration, decision-making or memory?
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless?
  • Thoughts of death or suicide?

Because these symptoms occur with many conditions, many depressed people never get help, because they don’t know that their physical symptoms might be caused by depression. A lot of doctors miss the symptoms, too.

Physical Symptoms Checklist:

  • Headaches. These are fairly common in people with depression. If you already had migraine headaches, they may seem worse if you’re depressed.
  • Back pain. If you already suffer with back pain, it may be worse if you become depressed.
  • Muscle aches and joint pain. Depression can make any kind of chronic pain worse.
  • Chest pain. Obviously, it’s very important to get chest pain checked out by an expert right away. It can be a sign of serious heart problems. But depression can contribute to the discomfort associated with chest pain.
  • Digestive problems. You might feel queasy or nauseous. You might have diarrhea or become chronically constipated.
  • Exhaustion and fatigue. No matter how much you sleep, you may still feel tired or worn out. Getting out of the bed in the morning may seem very hard, even impossible.
  • Sleeping problems. Many people with depression can’t sleep well anymore. They wake up too early or can’t fall asleep when they go to bed. Others sleep much more than normal.
  • Change in appetite or weight. Some people with depression lose their appetite and lose weight. Others find they crave certain foods — like carbohydrates — and weigh more.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.

These physical symptoms aren’t “all in your head.” Depression can cause real changes in your body. For instance, it can slow down your digestion, which can result in stomach problems. Depression seems to be related to an imbalance of certain chemicals in your brain. Some of these same chemicals play an important role in how you feel pain. So many experts think that depression can make you feel pain differently than other people.

But make sure to tell your health care provider about any physical symptoms. Don’t assume they’ll go away on their own. They may need additional treatment. For instance, your doctor may suggest an anti-anxiety medicine if you have insomnia. Those drugs help you relax and may allow you to sleep better.

Exploring your depression treatment options:

Antidepressants aren’t a cure. Medication may treat some symptoms of depression, but can’t change underlying contributions to depression in your life. Antidepressants won’t solve your problems if you’re depressed because of a dead-end job, a pessimistic outlook, or an unhealthy relationship. That’s where therapy and other lifestyle changes come in.

Studies show that therapy works just as well as antidepressants in treating depression, and it’s better at preventing relapse once treatment ends. While depression medication only helps as long as you’re taking it, the emotional insights and coping skills acquired during therapy can have a more lasting effect on depression. However, if your depression is so severe that you don’t have the energy to pursue treatment, a brief trial of antidepressants may boost your mood to a level where you can focus on therapy.

In addition to therapy, other effective treatments for depression include exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, stress management, support groups, and self-help steps. While these treatments require more time and effort initially, their advantage over depression medication is that they boost mood without any adverse effects.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: 214-499-0396 or email Kay@KayTrotter.com

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How to recognize addiction in your teen

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drugs Use and Health, 9.5 percent of youths aged 12 to17 were using illicit drugs.  Many teenagers use drugs or alcohol just to experiment them, out of curiosity or to fit in with the crowd that they want to hang out with.  While some lucky teens experiment and stop or continue to use here and there without getting hooked up, but several stay addicted to drugs or alcohol and later turn into chronic addicts.  It is hard to say who will develop dependency and who will not.

However, the following circumstances can make teenagers more vulnerable:

  • Teens who grow up in a drug infested areas
  • Teen who hang out with grownup who are involved in the wrong activities
  • Teens who are unhappy and experiencing depression, stress or anxiety
  • Teens with low self – esteem
  • Teens who are uncomfortable with others around them
  • Teens who are abused physically, emotionally or sexually and
  • Teens who have anger issues and are defiant

Most teens start with alcohol or marijuana and gradually progress to using other hard drugs.  When teenagers begin using drugs sooner or later they start experiencing negative consequences such as losing interest in studies, cutting classes, playing hooky, violence, unprotected sex, risk of accidents, suicidal or homicidal ideation.

The most common early warning signs are:

  • Sudden mood changesBajeerao Patil
  • Irritability
  • Signs of low-self esteem
  • Uncommon behaviors
  • Staying too long in bed
  • Staying up too long
  • Lack of interest in general activities
  • Poor choices
  • Impaired judgment
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent long-lasting cough
  • Tired or red eyes
  • Frequent arguments
  • Defiance
  • Letting on discipline
  • Unwillingness to follow directions
  • Aloofness
  • Repeated health complaints
  • Lying or dishonesty
  • Things start disappearing from the house including money
  • Decreased interest in school
  • Falling grades
  • Cutting classes
  • Breaking laws
  • Weird sense of dressing (carelessness)
  • Mysterious friends
  • Change in friend circles
  • Spending more time outside the house or in the basement of the house
  • Negative attitude
  • Depression

Mind you, the above-mentioned signs can be of some other problems too.  If necessary you must consult your family physician without unnecessary delay.  Parents can play an important role in preventing their teenage children from using drugs by having open communication, educating them about drugs, demonstrating responsible behaviors (role modeling), and keeping an eye on their behaviors including being mindful of the company they keep.  Once a friend of mine suspected that his fourteen years old son was smoking marijuana, but he wasn’t sure about it.  His son had started bringing home his friends who had never had visited them before.  My friend didn’t know how to find out the truth.  He confronted his son, but his son created a scene and stopped talking to his dad for a while.  However, later his father smelled marijuana in the basement and also found some traces of marijuana there.  The son couldn’t lie any longer.  After the use of marijuana was confirmed, his father warned him not to bring his wayward friends home and also lovingly told his son not to hang out with his friends who are using marijuana or any other drugs.  Now my friend’s son has already completed a degree in Engineering and has well paid job.  Luckily, his marijuana use was found out before it got out of hand by his vigilant parents.  You think about it.

Struggling with addictionthere is help!

PatilPhotoGuest Author | Bajeerao Patil

Bajeerao Patil has been treating addictions as a drug and alcohol counselor for over 25 years. He has Masters Degrees in Social Work and Human Resources. He is an avid teacher of addiction and recovery.  He is affiliated with the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association.  Bajeerao Patil is an author of Insanity Beyond Understanding and Lifelong Sobriety. To learn more about Bajeerao Patil and his work, visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/0989569810/ and http://www.bajeeraopatil.com/.

 

 

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How to Guide Teens Through Loss and Grief

Max Schwolert

I recently had the honor of talking to an intimate group of parents who where at a loss as to how to help their children cope with the loss of a friend, 17-year-old Max Schwolert, who died from complications of the flu during a holiday vacation. Those who knew Max, and those who never had the pleasure of meeting a Schwolert, had many questions. Only one being: “How can I help my child through this?”

As a parent or support person, you have the opportunity to gently guide your teenager in living with the loss, as I do not know one ever truly “gets over it.”

A loss of a friendship can be hard on a teenager, just as it can be on adults. It is important to validate your teen’s feelings of loss. In validating those feelings, you make it easier for him or her to share their stories about the friendship, the memories of happy and sad times. Bereaved children and teenagers will need ongoing attention, reassurance and support. It is not unusual for grief to resurface later on, even well after the death. This can happen as they move through different life milestones, and develop as individuals.

As a parent or support person, you have the opportunity to gently guide your teenager in living with the loss, as I do not know one ever truly “gets over it.” Many teenagers feel guilty because their friend died; yet they have a chance at life and graduation, and romance, and experiences, and even new friendships.

One thing that is very important for parents to know is: When your children are grieving and crying, your job is not to fix them. It is natural to want to make their crying stop, but this desire really is more about your pain because it hurts you to see your children cry. But, your job is not to make their pain go away, but to walk hand-in-hand with your child so they can learn to work through this pain. In other words, you have to honor your child’s feelings and allow them to have them so they can learn to process and express a range of emotions, and react in appropriate ways in emotional situations.

Parents also need to realize that, in your intention to fix them, you send the message that you don’t see them, and they therefore do not feel heard by you—this “not being seen and heard by you” can lead to a fight. This is because you have failed to understand your child’s real point and their thoughts or feelings underlying that point. I recommend you quit trying to fix your children and start communicating that you believe in them.

When your child is crying or upset and you don’t know what to do, stop and take a moment to reflect what you are seeing in your child. For example you could say, “You’re really angry. You want this to be over because this is really bothering you.” This will let your child know they are being heard and touched.

It’s also good to ask your children, “What do you need from me now?” Then, if your child just needs you to listen, they can say, “I just need you to listen.” Or if your child wants you to take some action, then they are able to tell you what action to take. This helps them feel like they have some control because death makes all of us feel out of control.

The bottom line is: Don’t fix your children. Instead help them learn how to feel and appropriately express their feelings. As parents, we can teach and guide our children to handle their emotions in ways that validates their feelings, while fostering healthy interactions with the world. In fact, emotional regulation is essential for children’s overall wellbeing.

Remember you’re the most important person to them as their parent and they just want you to walk with them on this journey.

On the flip side, it’s also okay for parents to cry and grieve in front of their children. While you may think you need to hide your pain from them, crying actually allows you to honor yourself and to feel your feelings. It’s okay to feel your pain because we all have to go through the struggle before we can come out on the other side.

The Struggle to Become a Butterfly 

There is a well-known story about a man who tried to help a butterfly out of its cocoon by slitting the cocoon open. The butterfly that emerged had small, unformed wings, and died soon after. What the man didn’t realize is the butterfly needed the struggle out of the cocoon to force the fluid into its wings; to stretch and open them so that the butterfly could fly. By trying to shortcut the process, the man had instead doomed the creature.

I use this story to illustrate that, while it’s hard to watch someone you love struggle, sometimes we need to learn to wait and let the process unfold on its own.

Remember: WITHOUT THE STRUGGLE, THERE ARE NOT WINGS!

If God allowed us to go through life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. We would never be able to fly.

How To Help Your Teens

  • Be honest and let them know what’s happening
  • Be willing to listen, and available to talk about whatever they need to talk about
  • Acknowledge the emotions they may be feeling—fear, sadness, anger
  • It can be helpful for parents, or other adults, to share their own feelings regarding the loss
  • Frequently reassure them they are safe, who is caring for them, and which adults they can trust to ask for further support
  • Keep routines and normal activities going as much as possible
  • Talk to them about grief – what it is, that it’s normal, that everyone is different
  • Avoid expectations of adult behavior – allow them to be the age and stage they are and encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings – give them ideas of things they could try, such as doing physical activities, writing, singing, listening to music, talking with friends, reading etc.
  • Allow questions and provide honest answers
  • Comfort them with hugs, cuddles, holding their hand, and by encouraging them
  • Speak calmly and gently to them – and be calm around them
  • Talk about death together; answer any questions they may have
  • Let them help in planning the funeral or something to remember the loss

IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE WHEN YOUR TEENAGER IS STRUGGLING WITH THE LOSS MORE THAN WHAT IS NORMAL.

Recognizing the symptoms is one way of helping your teenager deal with the loss such as: 

  • Teenagers can experience symptoms of depression and have angry outbursts.
  • They can also be at the opposite end of the spectrum by showing a lack of emotions and feeling numb.
  • There can be problems in school with failing grades or delinquent behaviors.
  • Further symptoms showing difficulty processing the loss might include personality changes, self-destructive behaviors (drinking, drugs, etc.), withdrawal and isolation, or even suicidal thoughts.

While this is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms, it does give you an idea of how hard the loss of an important relationship can be on a teenager. If you are concerned about any extreme reactions, or if you think the young person may have become depressed, contact your doctor or other trained adviser, such as a counselor, senior staff member from their school, social worker, community or youth worker or a local family support agency.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: 214-499-0396, Kay@KayTrotter.com or visit her web site www.KayTrotter.com

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I Offer This Blessing—To Bless The Wonderful Person So Worthy Of Love That YOU Are

As I sit here pondering the past year and reflecting on my life and the treasures bestowed to me and the ones yet to come, I find that I am grateful for it all. For the joys and for the sorrows, for without these experiences I would not be the person I am today. Through the losses in my life’s journey amidst the pain and tears I also was blessed to discover that the ONLY thing important in life is the relationships we have with each other—our connectedness with loved ones. Everything else is just stuff.

So, with this in mind I “Send Blessings Out Into The Universe With Your Name…….I offer this Blessing—for you. My hope is that you will embrace and “recognize your infinite good which is part of the very fabric of the universe.” I also pray that you send out blessings wherever  you go and these beautiful words on the gentle art of blessing written by Pierre Pradervand is a wonderful example of how to bless others in your everyday life. – Dr. Kay Trotter

Be sure to also watch this beautiful video “The Gentle Art of Blessing” where  Janes Joy brings Pierre’s words to life with music and wonderful photo’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WegAgepCYfo

“The Simple Art of Blessing” by Pierre Pradervand 





On awakening, bless your day as it is already overflowing with an abundance of goods that show your blessings. For bless means to recognize the infinite good which is part of the very fabric of the universe. He expects us to sign a manifest.

People crossing the street, on the bus, at your place of work, bless them all. The peace of your blessing will be the companion of their way and will have a discreet fragrance light their way. Bless those you encounter in their health, their work, their joy, their relationship to God, to themselves and others. Bless them in their abundance and their finances. Bless them in every way conceivable, because such blessings not only sow the seeds of healing but one day, like so many flowers burst forth with joy in the arid areas of your life.

As you walk, bless your village or city, those who govern and its teachers, its nurses and street sweepers, its priests and prostitutes. At the very moment someone expresses any aggression, anger or lack of kindness towards you, respond with a blessing silent. Bless them totally, sincerely, joyfully, for such blessings are a shield that protects you from the ignorance of their misdeeds, and diverts the arrow that is sent to you.

To bless means to wish and want unconditionally, totally and unreservedly good unlimited – for others and the events of life – drawing on sources deepest and most intimate of your being. This means reverence and awe with a total look that is always a gift from the Creator and that whatever appearances. One that is supported by your blessing is set apart, consecrated the world.

Bless everything and everyone, without discrimination, is the ultimate form of giving, because those you bless will never know from where does this sudden ray of sunshine broke through the clouds of their skies, and you will rarely witnessed in this light their lives.

When, in your day, some unexpected upsets you you as far as your plans, burst into blessing, because life is going to teach you a lesson, even if the cut may seem bitter. For this event you believe to be undesirable if you have in fact created, in order to learn the lesson that you escape if you hesitate to bless him. Events are blessings hidden and cohorts of angels follow their footsteps.

To bless means to recognize beauty everywhere hidden from material eyes. This is to enable the universal law of attraction, from the depths of the universe, will bring into your life exactly what you need in the moment to grow, grow, and fill the cup of your joy.

When you pass a prison, bless its people in their innocence and their freedom, their goodness, their pure essence and unconditional forgiveness. Because we can only prisoner of the image we have of ourselves, and a free man can walk without chains in the courtyard of a prison, as well as citizens of a free country may be trapped when fear lurks in their minds.

When you pass a hospital, bless its patients in the fullness of their health, because even in their suffering and disease, this fullness is just waiting to be discovered. And when you see someone crying or seemingly broken by life, bless it in its vitality and joy for the senses do not show that the inverse of the splendor and ultimate perfection that only the inner eye can perceive .

It is impossible to bless and judge at the same time. Then hold in the desire to bless you as an incessant inner resonance and as a perpetual silent prayer for you and those are the peacemakers, and one day, you will discover all the face of God.

 – Pierre Pradervand

PS And above all, do not forget to bless this wonderful person, totally beautiful in its true nature, and so worthy of love that YOU are.

http://vivreautrement.org

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: 214-499-0396, Kay@KayTrotter.com or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com

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How Parents Can Help Children Through Traumatic Events

By Rise VanFleet Guest Blogger. Rise VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC
Child/Family Psychologist
Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
In practice for nearly 40 years, with specialties in traumatic events, chronic medical illness, strenghening parent-child relationships (esp. Filial Therapy), and Animal Assisted Play Therapy. Author of dozens of books, manuals, chapters, and articles on play therapy, Filial Therapy, AAPT, and canine behavior.

Too often our world is shaken by traumatic events such as natural disasters (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods), war, school and community violence, acts of terrorism, accidents, housefires, life-threatening illness, separations, loss of a pet, kidnappings, and so on. Such events can leave all of us feeling helpless, and children may be particularly reactive to events that make them feel unsafe. Children who are directly exposed to such events can become traumatized, and the emotional impact of trauma can last a very long time if it goes unnoticed. Some children are exposed to trauma indirectly through sensationalized or repetitive newscasts or by hearing and seeing others‘ emotional reactions, and there’s evidence that children can be traumatized by this indirect contact with trauma as well. It’s important that parents have information about trauma, its impact on children, and how to help their children understand and cope with these events.

When something traumatic occurs, it’s important to give children an honest but simple explanation of what happened. They are bound to hear about it through television, schoolmates, or overheard adult conversations, so it’s best if their parents or primary caregivers play an active role in helping them understand the event. It’s also important to reassure children that you, their parents, will do everything you can to keep them safe. Some children blame themselves when bad things happen, so parents need to tell them firmly that it’s not their fault.

Caregivers should limit children’s exposure to newscasts about traumatic events. Broadcasts are geared toward adults, and children may not have the reasoning abilities or coping mechanisms to deal with repeated views of people crying, buildings on fire, and so on. Although children’s programs often portray violence, the emotional tone of the news conveys its “reality” and children and adolescents can become extremely frightened, whether or not they show it. You need not restrict their exposure entirely, but screen carefully what they do see!

Children who are roughly 3 to 12 years of age, given the opportunity, will often play out scenes from a traumatic event. Sometimes older children will, too. For example, following a car accident, parents might see their children playing out car crashes and rescues with their toys. When parents see this, they might worry that it’s damaging somehow for the child to play out the traumatic situation. Actually, it’s often just the opposite: it can help the child cope better. Just as we adults need to talk with others after experiencing something frightening, sad, or devastating, children need to play through their feelings and reactions to the trauma. It can be very beneficial if parents allow their children to play this way while showing acceptance of the child’s feelings. To stop such play can cut off the child’s primary means of coping. Of course, children should be distracted to some other activity if they are playing in ways that are actually dangerous to themselves or others, or if the child is becoming obviously upset by the play. If a child constantly plays out the traumatic event and seems unable to think about anything else, then limits should be set on the amount of time spent playing out the traumatic events. (If children’s play appears to be upsetting the child further or if they seem “obsessed” with their trauma play, parents should consider a consult with a mental health professional, as these behaviors might signal that the child is already traumatized. If children’s play appears robotic and the child seems “not there” while playing, a consult is warranted as well.)

It’s important to permit children to talk about their reactions to a traumatic event when they want to. Although such conversations can be difficult, especially if we’re experiencing our own reactions to the trauma, they do help all of us in the long run. One of the worst things we can do is say to our children, “Don’t play that way.” or “Don’t talk about it–it’s over–let’s get on with things.” Denial of the child’s reactions can lead to larger problems later. While it’s important to let children express themselves, including their feelings of anger, sadness, or helplessness, it’s also important to help them focus on the positive aspects of trauma situations.   In the wake of many disasters, there are many amazing, touching stories of selfless acts, heroic deeds, and the very best of human caring coming from the most horrible of conditions.  Although we see some of the worst of humanity after traumatic events, we also see vastly more of the very best.  It’s important for our children to hear about them because it adds to children‘s sense of security, connections to other people, and hope for the future.

The natural tendency of children to play out the things that are happening around them is their way of trying to understand. Because they are PLAYING, it feels safer to them, and this is very important. Too much TALKING about scary events can actually scare children more. Some talking is important to give children some basic information and to answer their questions, but it is through their play that children, especially those under 12, have a real opportunity to understand what is going on. Throughout the world, children in war zones are seen “playing war.” Children play doctor or medical scenes when they or someone in their family has been ill or hospitalized. Aid workers noticed that children directly affected by the Oklahoma City Bombing were playing with small plastic dogs sniffing around in piles of blocks, much as real dogs were used to find survivors in the actual rubble. After September 11, children throughout the world were reported to be playing scenes of planes hitting buildings, firefighters and rescue, buildings crashing down, and even funeral themes. A boy in the U.K. played scenes of police officers arresting “bad guys” after the terrorist bombing of the London Underground. A girl from New Orleans who had been moved to a shelter after Hurricane Katrina involved several other children in play where she was the “Mama Alligator” who was trying to save her babies (the other children) from the “Cane” (hurricane).

Long after a traumatic event has occurred, parents should remain alert to any signs of trauma in their children. When children are traumatized, the effects may occur much later than expected. Sometimes traumatized children look quite “normal” on the surface after the event, and then experience post-traumatic symptoms weeks, months, or even years later. It’s fine for parents to ask their children what they’re thinking and feeling about the event from time to time, and then really listen to what they say. On the other hand, it’s best not to “bombard” children with questions about how they’re feeling or to hold lengthy discussions with them, as this might actually raise the children’s anxiety levels. It’s good for parents to share their own feelings of fear, sadness, anger about an event because it helps children see that these reactions are normal and can provide good coping models. (A caution, though: be sure that you share your feelings simply and don’t elaborate to a point that could frighten the child further. Always reassure them that you’ll keep them safe.)

One of the most beneficial things for children after a traumatic event is for their day-to-day environment to return to “normal” as quickly as possible. Getting back to some sort of daily “routine” can help kids feel safer and keep the traumatic event from becoming the only focus of their lives. This can be challenging following some disasters, but working toward as normal an environment as possible under the circumstances can help. Parents can help children find a balance between playing/talking about the event and doing daily tasks and other types of activities.

When trauma has been caused by humans, as in terrorism, it is important for children and adults alike to remember that we gain strength from our human connections and that most people are good. Broad, angry statements about other ethnic groups can add to children’s sense of insecurity and promote prejudice and uninformed backlash effects. People throughout the world have struggled for a long time with our “differences,” and that struggle continues. Acts of terror are intended to divide us, and we can resist this and help our children feel much safer by teaching them that these bad deeds are the work of individuals (or small groups of individuals) and not of any broad ethnic, racial, religious, or other group.

Many children are quite resilient when dealing with traumatic events, but it’s good for parents to know what to look for when their child might be struggling. Here are some signs that your child might be experiencing post-traumatic problems:

  • anxious, “edgy”, nervous, agitated
  • difficulty concentrating
  • refuses to go to school; difficulty with schoolwork
  • becomes angry quickly
  • aggressive, either verbally or physically
  • nightmares, or repetitive nightmares
  • won’t sleep in his/her own bed; sleeps on floor or wants to sleep with parents
  • easily startled by noises or situations similar to the traumatic event
  • reverts to “younger-age” behaviors like bedwetting, nail biting, thumbsucking
  • won’t talk about what happened
  • talks excessively about what happened
  • becomes very dependent–clings to parents or other caretakers; fears separations
  • problems with friendships and siblings–seems aloof or argues
  • seems “different” than he/she did before; personality seems a bit different

Although these signs might be related to other things, if the signs persist, are intense, are different following the trauma, or if several occur for your child, it could be a sign of a traumatic reaction. If you or your children experience continuing distress that interferes with your day-to-day work, school, and family life, you might consider consulting with a therapist.  The sooner a post-traumatic reaction is determined and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be for the child (or adults, too). A qualified mental health professional can help the child and the parents.

Play therapy can be very effective with traumatized children. The play gives them some “distance” from which to explore and deal with their feelings. Even teens and adults can benefit from treatments which involve play and art or other expressive interventions. Words can fail us when we experience intensely frightening events, and other means of expressing ourselves become necessary. Sometimes family play interventions can be very helpful. If you have questions or concerns about your child, contact a local mental health professional. Make sure that he or she has experience with trauma, and having a background in play therapy can be a big plus.

For information on finding play therapists who specialize in children please visit The Association for Play Therapy director at http://www.a4pt.org/directory.cfm.

Or contact your local and state psychological, social work, mental health counseling, crisis, medical, or school counseling associations or professionals can make referrals to adult therapists.

Please visit Rise VanFleet visit her web site “Family Enrichment & Play Therapy Center” for more great parenting articles and great resources. http://www.risevanfleet.com

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How to De-Stress

HOW-TO-DE-STRESS-

One of my favorite de-stressor or coping skills that I teach to all my clients young and old that can be done anywhere at any time is “Deep Breathing.”

Deep Breathing is a very powerful and very simple technique. It’s amazing how just taking just 3 deep breaths changes your brain chemistry proving you with instant relief to stress and tension.  This type of breathing teaches you to breathe slowly from your “diaphragm” or belly. Deep breathing relaxes you and directly reduces many of the symptoms of anxiety and panic – Don’t believe me! Give it a try

Just 3 deep breaths changes your body chemistry

HERE IS HOW

  1. First sit comfortable with your legs uncrossed and place one hand on your belly about 2 inches below belly button.  Let your eyes close.
  2. Focusing your attention on your belly as it rises and falls as you slowly breathe in and out. Now let your breathing get even slower, and count one…two…three as you breath in and one…two…three as you breath out. Expand your belly as much as you can – like a balloon.   You know you’re doing “belly breathing” right when you can feel your belly expand.  Then, exhale to the slow count of 3, just letting all the air out of the balloon.  As you exhale, just feel yourself letting go of tension.
  3. Keep repeating the belly breathing to the slow count of 3.  As you breath, try to keep a continuous flow of air without thinking about the beginning or end of each breath.
  4. Pay attention only to the feeling of the breath.
  5. If other thoughts wander in, just let them wander out again.
  6. If you have trouble getting the hang of Belly Breathing, try lying down and putting something on you’re belly. Then put all your attention into making it go up and down with each breath.
  7. Once you have mastered your Belly Breathing, you can use it when you have symptoms of anxiety or panic.  Many of the “scary sensations” of panic are related to “hyperventilation”, which simply means rapid breathing.  Also, during panic, people tend to breathe from the chest instead of from the belly.  Breathing rapidly from the chest increases anxiety.  Breathing slowly from the belly lowers anxiety and reduces many of the “scary sensations” of panic.If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Coping Skills

S  T  R  E  S  S:   the problem

Whenever we experience emotional distress arising from the four core wounding experiences – loss, rejection, betrayal and humiliation – we have a choice of “hiding” from or ignoring these upsetting experiences.

Our ability to effectively cope with challenges and upsets requires learning and practicing skills so they become everyday coping tools. Just learning about these principles is not enough. Remember about 75% of what you do is out of HABIT.

Training our brain to use health coping methods means we can heal our own emotional wounds so we also feel better about ourselves.

We need all three coping brain functions, thinking, feeling and self-protection, to get over experiences that make us stressed, worried, angry or upset.

C   O   P   I   N   G:  principles

  1. Recognize that no thought or feeling is wrong in itself, it is what we do with it that really counts.
  2. Become aware of the way your body feels as tension begins to build up— remind yourself to breath.
  3. Recognize that you don’t have to go through this alone — help is available from a wide range of sources.
  4. Work to improve communication with your family and friends
  5. If you are experiencing fatigue or feeling overwhelmed, reduce your responsibilities for a period of time.
  6. Recognize that family and friends have to deal with their feelings too.
  7. Share honestly and lovingly how you are feeling
  8. Do things each day that are nurturing to you. Include fun activities, relaxation, time alone, and exercise.
  9. You can work to solve some of the problems that are causing you stress.
  10. Accept that guilt and worry about things you CAN’T change are useless and energy-draining.
  11. Give yourself credit for whatever level of coping you are achieving.
  12. Remember, there is no “instant fix” for stress.
  13. Develop a love and respect for yourself — because each of us is, with our strengths, a special and worthwhile person.

L   I   F   E   S   T   Y   L   E:    body – mind – spirit

You can’t always avoid stress but being able to identify what causes it is the first step toward helping yourself cope better. If you have difficulty pinpointing the causes or “triggers” of your stress, try keeping a record to help you identify patterns of stress.

To effetely use this chart, make a note of all your activates during the day and how you felt at the time. Fill in the chart whenever a stress symptom occurs, noting what happened just before. At the end of the week evaluate when you felt stressed and when you felt relaxed.

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Morning
Afternoon
Evening

R   E   L   A  X  A   T   I   O   N:   restores balance

For long-term stress relief you need periods of mental and physical relaxation throughout the day. Relaxation is a set of skills that teach you how to combat the effects of stress and restore the balance between body and mind to enable healthy, happy living.

WHY: long-term stress changes the balance of hormones in the body and leads to exhaustion. A suppressed immune system, slower metabolism and slower cell repair, result in rapid aging, weight gain, and greater risk of degenerative disease.

S   I   M   P   I   L   E:  coping skills

  • Learn to become aware of when you are experiencing stress — listen to your body
  • Practice deep breathing – just 3 deep breaths will change your body chemistry
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness practices – the state of being attentive to and aware of the present moment only
  • Guided Imagery or Visualizations
  • Journal about your feelings, thoughts and worries
  • Use Positive Affirmations to change negative self-talk
  • Exercise daily
  • Get a Massage
  • Pick a hobby
  • Cut down on activities
  • Unplug from technology – turn down the noise
  • Get outside – your brain is created to respond positively to nature — soothing your soul
  • Get enough sleep
  • Seek social support  – talk to someone
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Positive Affirmations – Creating our life experience in every moment

What are Affirmations?

Every thought you think every word you say is an affirmation. All of our self-talk or inner dialogue is a stream of affirmations. We are continually affirming subconsciously with our words and thoughts and this flow of affirmations is creating our life experience in every moment. Our beliefs are just learned thought patterns that we have developed since childhood, many of these work well for us, but others may now be working against us, they are dysfunctional and may be sabotaging us from achieving what we believe we want.

Every affirmation we think or say is a reflection of our inner truth or beliefs. It is important to realize that many of these “inner truths” may not actually be true for us now or may be based on invalid or inappropriate impressions we constructed as children, which if examined as an adult can be exposed as inappropriate.

Why affirmations work

Positive affirmations are designed to challenge those negative beliefs and start to stem the flow of negative thoughts and words that seek to validate them. Affirmations are more than just repeating words. It is a whole process of becoming aware of your thoughts and words in everyday life, choosing to think and project happy positive thoughts. The more you can consciously inject the spirit of you affirmations into your daily thoughts and words, the quicker they will work for you.

Will Affirmations help me?

Yes. No matter what aspect of life you’re dealing with or who you are, affirmations will not only make you feel better about yourself and your life. But if used correctly, they can manifest real change in your life. Changing the way you think, reprogramming your mind and removing the old negative beliefs that have been sabotaging you again and again throughout your life. They can enable you to achieve the life you’ve always wanted for yourself!

Affirmations for Health

  • Every Cell in my body vibrates with energy and health
  • Loving myself heals my life. I nourish my mind, body and soul
  • My body heals quickly and easily

Affirmations for Abundance

  • I prosper wherever I turn and I know that I deserve prosperity of all kinds
  • The more grateful I am, the more reasons I find to be grateful
  • I pay my bills with love, as I know abundance flows freely through me.

Affirmations for Love

  • I know that I deserve Love and accept it now
  • I give out Love and it is returned to me multiplied
  • I rejoice in the Love I encounter everyday

Affirmations for Romance

  • I have a wonderful partner and we are both happy and at peace
  • I release any desperation and allow love to find me
  • I attract only healthy relationships

Affirmations for Weight Loss

  • I am the perfect weight for me
  • I choose to make positive healthy choices for myself
  • I choose to exercise regularly

Affirmations for Self Esteem

  • When I believe in myself, so do others
  • I express my needs and feelings
  • I am my own unique self – special, creative and wonderful
  • “I am ready and willing to release the past, now

Affirmations for Peace and Harmony

  • All my relationships are loving and harmonious
  • I am at peace
  • I trust in the process of life

Affirmations for Joy and Happiness

  • Life is a joy filled with delightful surprises
  • My life is a joy filled with love, fun and friendship all I need do is stop all criticism, forgive, relax and be open.
  • I choose love, joy and freedom, open my heart and allow wonderful things to flow into my life.

Steps to Saying Affirmations

  1. Affirmation Mirror work – Perhaps the most powerful way of using affirmations is to state them whilst looking in the mirror. Some of the most important messages you have received have been from people looking you straight in the eye. By looking yourself in the eye as you state your affirmation you magnify the importance of the message to yourself.
  2. Written Affirmations – A great way of keeping your affirmation at the forefront of your mind is to write them down, leave notes or cards around so that you notice them throughout the day.
  3. Say Affirmations with Passion – Say your affirmations with passion, the higher your emotional state as you say them, the more effective they are.
  4. Sing or Chant Affirmations – One of the most effective ways to use affirmations is to sing them! The mind is much more accepting of affirmation messages when they are sung.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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How Bishop, a Golden Retriever, helped Karen feel safe

Guest AuthorDaniella San Martin-Feeney is the Program Coordinator for Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Chimo AAT is a non-profit initiative based in Edmonton, Canada, which facilitates the implementation of AAT programs in health and social service facilities, as well as schools.  Their focus is on mental health, and their mission is to facilitate the use of animals to help those in need.

Daniella’s second Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) case study shows how AAT can benefit the therapist-client relationship, and set the stage for optimal healing.  It also takes place in an office.

Case Study 2

HOW BISHOP, A GOLDEN RETRIEVER HELPED

KAREN FEEL SAFE 

In order for therapy to be successful, clients need to feel they are in a safe environment.  The client must trust their therapist before they can talk openly about their personal thoughts and experiences.  The importance of this point is demonstrated by a recent experience Terry Wilton had with a client. Terry’s client, who we will call Karen, is a victim of sexual abuse. Karen was very apprehensive about being alone in an office with a male psychologist. The following comments from Terry and Karen demonstrate how Bishop, Terry’s canine partner, helped Karen feel safe:

Karen – Having the dog here makes me feel more comfortable about being in a closed room with the therapist. I enjoy Bishop being in the room.  It makes me feel a lot better, more safe. I feel like I can express myself more when Bishop is here. I like coming to these sessions, and Bishop makes it a lot easier for me to be here. The animals really help! I recommend that every therapy session be done with an animal.

Terry – Having Bishop present made the client feel very much safer and able to tolerate being in a closed room as a female with a male therapist. This is a MAJOR benefit! Bishop play[s] a very important role of both comfort and distraction…[Sometimes] when [Karen comes] to a session she [is] very distressed. Focusing on Bishop allow[s] us to move out of that distress so we [can] come back to the issues at a decreased level of emotional intensity. The client is more relaxed and able to work in therapy when she is sitting on the floor with Bishop beside her…[she] spends the entire session petting Bishop and having close physical contact with him while we talk. [Karen] is more able now to move forward and talk through the things she needs to. We are establishing a greater therapeutic alliance as therapy continues.

Taken From: Comment section from Client and Therapist Chimo Project Questionnaires (2002), as published in Improving Health Through Animal Assisted Therapy. L. Urickuk with Dennis Anderson. 2003.

Visit Daniella at Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy web page: www.chimoproject.ca.

Check our her blog at: http://chimoaat.wordpress.com

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