Teens | Kay Trotter

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All Posts in Category: Teens

Sandtray Therapy can be transformative

Sandtray therapyUsing Sandtray miniatures to create genograms can be a transformative therapy for all clients of all ages.

Sandtray Genograms allows the clinician and client to gain awareness about the effects of family relationships on client’s choices and feelings as well as how family dynamics affect the healing process.


  • Facilitate processing of family dynamics.
  • Introduces to clients to a playful, fun activity that will allow increased awareness about the choices and feelings one experiences related to one’s family.
  • Identify & utilize effective therapy prompts to help clients gain awareness.Enhance multicultural sensitivity as the clinician can more clearly see the culture and cultural issues in the client’s miniature selection.


Is designed to help clients express feelings. Sandtray is a “hands-on,” expressive psychotherapeutic approach that translates personal experience into a concrete, three-dimensional form. Using a tray of sand, water, and miniature figurines, clients create and 3-dimensional scenes in the sand. Clients symbolically express thoughts, feelings and memories in a tangible, vivid, and  highly personalized way. The therapist uses the client’s sandtray scene as a springboard for further elaboration of emotions and their causes. As with all counseling the therapist strives to provide unconditional positive regard, reflection of feelings in a nonjudgmental manner, displayed trust in the client’s capacity to work through issues to increase the client’s ability to cope with anxious feelings.

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You can help prevent suicide

prevent suicideShow You Care: Let the person know you really care. Talk about your feelings and ask about his or hers. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

  • “It sounds like you’re angry (or jealous or something else), and it’s okay to be angry.”
  •  “I’m worried about you, about how you feel.”
  •  ”You mean a lot to me. I want to help.”
  •  ”I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.”

Ask The Question: Talking with people about suicide won’t put the idea in their heads. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Get the conversation started.

Challenge their Thinking; It’s also about helping them see that death won’t solve their problem

  • ‘It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to kill yourself.’
  • ‘I care about you, but I can’t give in to you when you act this way, so now I have to call someone here to keep you safe.’
  • ‘How are you going to feel the respect and attention you’re looking for if you are dead? You’ll be gone forever.’
  • ‘Do you really want to go away forever? You’ll leave a big hole of pain in your family and friends, who love you very much.’

Create Time-to-talk: The goal is to keep the person safe long enough to get to a time and place where there can be some good talking.

  • Go for a drive. Take them to a place where they might calm down.
  •  ‘Go for a walk or drive him ‘round the community. Only drop him back home when he’s really tired. But still watch over him.’
  • ‘Take him away from the thing that was making him angry.’
  • ‘Go to a coffee shop.’ (laughter)
  • ‘Or the beach.’ (more laughter)
  •  ‘Go to a place that’s safe for them but doesn’t facilitate their suicide fantasy, or give in to what they’re asking for.’
  • ‘Sometimes the safest place might be the emergency room.’

After they calm down and get some slept, you can make connections, like with family or support workers. Then you can talk about it more.

  • ‘Do something that makes him happy. Just ask them gently. You can listen to them. Get their story.’
  •  ‘Remind them about their family. People they care about. You can ask them, “What are the troubles in your life?”’
  • ‘Ask them simple questions. Get them to think about what they are doing. Like, “How are you feeling when you     say you want to kill yourself?” or “What are the things that make you feel this way?’
  • Help them break it down, so they can see the process of when they do this, identifying emotional     states and suicidal triggers.’
  •  ‘You can help them think about other things they can do when they feel this way again.’

Get Help: Never talk of suicide as a secret.

  • “I know where we can get some help.”
  • ”Let’s talk to someone who can help.”
  • “I can go with you to get some help.”
  • “Let’s call the crisis line, now.”

Sometimes you can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with professional skills such as:

  • Someone the person already has connections with.
  • Trustworthy family member. Someone the young person has respect for Support working together with the family member. “Family is important to provide support. It’s a partnership: support working with family and vice versa.”
  • Someone who can help build coping mechanisms and help them talk about their strengths.
  • Connect with a mental health professional or someone who can follow-up separately with the person making the threat.
  •  Someone who can talk to the whole community about suicide.
  • Anyone SAFE –  “Sometimes, to keep them safe, there might be no one left to call but the police.”

What NOT to say

  • ‘Go for it’
  • ‘Make my day.’
  •  ‘Go ahead.’
  •  ‘I dare you.’
  • ‘Here’s the rope.’
  • Giving them a challenge so they feel they have to prove it, like, ‘You don’t really mean it’ or ‘I don’t believe you.’
  • Saying something dismissive, like, ‘It can’t be that bad’ or ‘You always say that.’
  • Saying something that might make them feel more angry or alone, like, ‘Who’s it going to hurt?’ or ‘No one cares.’


Do something now: Don’t assume that they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own.

Acknowledge your reaction: It’s natural to feel panic and shock, but take time to listen and think before you act.

Be there for them: Spend time with the person and express your care and concern.

Ask if they are thinking of suicide: Asking can sometimes be very hard but it shows that you have noticed things, been listening, that you care and that they’re not alone.

Check out their safety: If a person is considering suicide it is important to know how much they have thought about it. Do they have a plan?

Decide what to do: What you decide to do needs to take into account the safety concerns that you have. Don’t agree to keep it a secret.

Take action: The person can get help from a range of professional and supportive people
Ask for a promise: if thoughts of suicide return, it is important for the person to again reach out and tell someone.

Look after yourself: It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, especially over an extended period.

2-1-1 – Local Suicide Intervention
800-435-7609 – National Teen Suicide Hotline



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Signs of self harming behavior

Adolescents often engage in self-harming behaviors alone, parents may not be aware that this problem exists.

Being observant can often uncover early signs of self-injury such as:

  • An abnormal number of cuts/burns on the wrists, arms, legs, hips or stomach
  • Wearing of long sleeves and pants even in warm weather to cover the marks
  • Frequent ‘accidents’ that cause physical injury
  • Evidence that your teenager’s friends are self-mutilating
  • Finding razors or knives in strange locations
  • Your teen locking themselves away for long periods of time in their bedroom or bathroom
  • Reluctance to be part of a social circle or social event

If you suspect a teen you know is struggle with self-harm – reach out to them and let them know that you know and that you’re there for them.

If you, or your child need additional support to manage self-harming behaviors, we can help.
Get to know our therapists and their specialty areas.

Children and teens engaging in self-harming behaviors – Help!

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.


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Teen Pregnancy: A Preventable Epidemic


There are 700,000 teen pregnancies a year in the United States alone.

85 percent of couples that don’t use protection will get pregnant.

Teen Pregnancy: A Preventable Epidemic

These are staggering statistics. But they aren’t just stats, it happened to me when I was 17. I was a happy teen. I attended church, played sports, did well in school and had lots of friends. I also had horrible self-esteem and didn’t think that I was good enough. I thought I was fat and didn’t deserve to be happy. I was very muscular from playing sports yet I was filled with self-loathing.

I also didn’t have a father growing up. To fill that void, I fell fast in love with a guy from my high school. I loved him, so a few months before my 18th birthday I gave him my virginity. I realize now, that no matter how much I loved him, that I wasn’t ready and really didn’t know what sex, love, or intimacy truly was. He signed up for the military and I was left to my own devices.

I no longer had the “love” that I was hiding behind, so I started to date, for lack of a better term, losers. They gave me attention and “love”. I gave them love too (sex), but I really thought they loved me back. They were sleeping with other girls and one even gave me something. Luckily it was curable. I thought that having sex with them would show them that I loved them. But that’s not true.

Love is earned and God-given. It is beautiful and special, as is sex. Sex is meant to procreate, with your spouse, repopulating the world. This world has twisted it and made it dirty and shameful, and “cool”. If you’re not having sex and you’re not dressing revealingly, then you’re not cool. That’s what the television, radio, and internet all say. They say it in advertisements for burgers and beer and women’s underwear. So literally our little girls are becoming pieces of meat for display. As are our little boys. I don’t know of any little boy that said I want to be an underwear model when I grow up.

But I digress. I ended up pregnant by someone that didn’t love me, didn’t care and wasn’t going to be there for me. I was a teen, pregnant, scared and alone. I ended up having an abortion, and while forgiven, I have had to live with that everyday of my life. Knowing that I could have made a difference in a child’s life, but instead I ended it. There are so many choices. You don’t have to end up like me.

  1. Be Abstinent. Save sex for when you are ready and can deal with the ramifications. It will and does matter.
  2. Use protection/get on birth control. I know it is “embarrassing” but if you can’t refrain then you must protect yourself from disease and unwanted pregnancy.
  3. Seek Counseling: There are many counselors that will help you. If you feel like you want to have sex, but know you’re not ready, talk to someone.

Don’t be a statistic like I was. Be the one that isn’t. You are worth it, you are beautiful, you are loved, your life does mean something. It doesn’t matter what size you are, what car you drive, who you date, in the end all of that will be gone in the blink of an eye. The only thing that truly matters is Love. Sex does not equal love. Protect yourself and the lives of others that aren’t born yet. That is love.

 Guest Blogger: Stephanie has many years of experience as a nanny. She has always loved children and has continuously been involved in childcare activities. Currently she is one of the writers for houstonnanny.com. If you want to get in touch with her, you can email her at stephanie. Houstonnanny@gmail. com.


Do Something

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

WebMD Teen Pregnancy: Medical Risks and Realities

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Parenting Teenagers During Divorce

Parenting teenagers during divorce can be challenging. While your teen is busy trying to exert independence, parents still need to lay some ground rules to make sure that both parents stay involved in their child’s life. The key is to have a mutual understanding between you and your teen.
[button url=”http://www.kaytrotter.com/parenting-teenagers-during-divorce/” target=”_self” size=”small” style=”limegreen” ]More Info[/button]

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By Daniel Folmer – LPC-Intern and Tracie Posehn LPC-Intern, Counselors at and Supervised by Dr. Kay Sudekum Trotter – Counseling Services PLLC

“Being part of the Nintendo generation taught me that turning on a game was an easy escape from reality. Whatever academic, social, or occupational problems haunted me during the day, there was always a place I could succeed: video games. For people who struggle in reality, gaming and technology can easily takeover as the watermark for success. How can we recognize problematic usage of technology and gaming? How can we help those who seem to be stuck in a pattern of abuse?” – Daniel Folmer, LPC-Intern

Can Gaming be Beneficial to the Brain?


  • Video gamers show improved skills in vision, attention and certain aspects of cognition.
  • Gamers perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking – (Daphne Beveller, University of Rochester)


  • Facebook – Bullying, Gossiping, Predators
  • Video Games – Violence, Drugs, Alcohol
  • Pornography
  • Twitter – Uncontrolled Communication
  • Chat Roulette
  • Tumbler
  • Text Messaging

Screen Time – How Much is too Much?

A University of Bristol study surveyed 1,000 kids ages 10 and 11. Over a period of seven days, the children filled out a questionnaire reporting how much time they spent either watching TV or at a computer – something doctors call “screen time” – and answered questions describing their mental state. An accelerometer measured physical activity levels.

Kids who spend more than two hours of screen time a day were 60% more likely to have psychological difficulties such as depression or ADHD. Those who got more physical activity fared better than their sedentary peers, those with more screen time still scored worse in behavioral areas such as hyperactivity.

According to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, teens who spend more time watching television or using computers seem to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers.


61% spend around 20 hours of screen time per week, on average

32% spend around 40 hours of screen time per week

7% are exposed to more than 50 hours of screen time per week

Source: American Heart Association’s 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

Prolonged exposure to rapid image changes during critical periods of brain development (like on a TV show designed for an infant) may precondition the mind to expect high levels of stimulation.  This may then make the pace of real life less able to sustain our children’s attention. The more hours a child views rapid-fire television, the more likely they will have attention challenges later in life.


  1. Kids under 2-years-old should not watch any TV
  2. Kids older than 2 should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics


 Internet Addiction Disorder

Salience: Using the Internet dominates the person’s life, feelings and behavior.

Mood modification: The person experiences changes in mood (e.g., a “buzz”) when using the Internet.

Tolerance: Increasing amounts of Internet use are needed to achieve the same effects on mood.

Withdrawal symptoms: If the person stops using the Internet, they experience unpleasant feelings or physical effects.

Relapse: The addict tends to relapse into earlier patterns of behavior, even after years of abstinence or control. (Griffiths, 2003)

Iowa State University Professor Douglas Gentile found that 8.5% of 1,178 youths studied are addicted to video games, using the same standards for addiction used for pathological gamblers.

Youth included in the study played video games 24 hours per week. They were more likely to have video games in the bedroom. Youth addicted to video games were also twice as likely to have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Youth studied were found to have attention deficits in school, lower grades, were inclined to steal, and had more health problems.

Teens, who play violent video games, may exhibit lingering effects on brain function, including increased activity in the region of the brain that governs emotional arousal and decreased activity in the brain’s executive function, which is associated with control, focus and concentration. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Compared with the group that played the nonviolent game, the group that played the violent video game demonstrated less activation in the prefrontal portions of the brain, which are involved in inhibition, concentration and self-control, and more activation in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional arousal.

A study in China has shown that teens spending at least five- to 10-hours a day on the web are one-and-a-half times more likely to develop depression than moderate users

A loss of interest in social interaction and other symptoms of addictive behavior is present among teens who spend an excessive amount of time browsing or playing games online.

Some teens show signs of anxiety while away from the computer.

Why do Kids Play Internet Games?

  • Achievement
  • Exploration
  • Socialization
  • Killing

What Can Parents Do

Few children are excited to have the activities they love taken away or limited.  When making a change to the habits in your home, provide logical reasoning for placing a limit.  Your child does not have to agree with you, but, by providing fact-based reasoning, you demonstrate working in the best interest of the child rather than a sudden burst of authority.

If you feel your child is engaged in TV or Video Games extensively and want them to do something else, help to give alternative activities to meet similar needs. Here is a list of more positive, real-world based activities to supplement your child’s technology usage:

SPORTS                           YOUTH GROUP                           SCOUTS

NATURE                          SCHOOL CLUBS                          FINE ARTS

Remember, you are the parent and the role model for healthy living.  Help your child make healthy choices by setting an example and making a change for the family and not only the child.

Begin the conversation by identifying family and personal values, and then move towards negative behaviors you have seen increase/exist.

Meeting Your Child’s Emotional Needs

  • Expect to meet with resistance initially and allow for your child to voice opinion and show emotion
  • When setting a limit, provide a replacement activity for your child while making a transition to a new habit/behavior
  • Be clear that you are setting a boundary rather than entering negotiations
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings and argument against making a change. Remember acknowledging is not agreeing, it just shows “you heard” your child
  • Listen and show empathy without changing your position
  • Be consistent in your expectations and have clear consistent consequences that are enforceable
  • Provide verbal and non-verbal encouragement when your child is making appropriate choices
  • Note positive changes you observe: better sleeping habits, increased productivity, greater patience and tolerance, respectful communication . . .

Concrete Limits and Boundaries That Can and Need to Be Set



You can contact Daniel Folmer to schedule an appointment or arrange for Daniel to come speak to your group about Internet Gaming at:

  • 214-499-0396
  • Daniel@KayTrotter.com
  • or visit the web site http://www.kaytrotter.com/internet-addiction/

Additional recourses:

How TV affects your child: 


Internet Addiction increases depression in teens: 


Even TV in the background Impacts Brain Development: http://www.wakingtimes.com/2012/10/02/even-tv-in-the-background-impacts-brain-development-in-children/

Positive Technological Avenues:




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BULLYING: Teen shares battle of exclusion at Flower Mound school

Mental bullying can be just as damaging, and even soul crushing, as physical bullying. See how one girl coped with mental manipulation at school and view Dr. Kay Trotter talking about it on the Dallas morning news program Daybreak – WFAA-TV, Channel 8.


When 13-year-old Sara McCann was in the fifth grade her mom knew something was wrong at school.

“It’s not a shove you in the locker kind of bully,” said mother Renee McCaan. “It’s a, ‘Hey, do this and if you’re not going to do this we’re going to just discard you.'”

“It’s usually like a big group of girls,” said Sara, fighting back tears. “And I feel left out sometimes, like at lunch, whenever there’s nowhere to sit and no one will go sit with me.”

For the last three years, Sara said a group of popular girls at school made it very clear she was not good enough to join them.

“Whenever they would leave me out, I would feel like a nobody,” she said. “I mean, they wouldn’t say that to me, but it was what was implied I guess.”

Sara’s mother said this type of insidious alliance amongst students perceived to be cool caused harmful effects on her daughter.

“It’s like me putting pressure on myself saying, ‘Why am I not good enough to sit with them?'” Sara said.

According to the teen, it was covert, damaging and soul crushing – a type of mind manipulation that may not be easily detected by teachers.

“In the classroom, for example, if we have a project or something and the teacher will tell us to get in groups and it will be like a group of four and I’ll usually be like the fifth one,” she said. “I don’t have any where to go.”

When asked if she wished the teacher would break the students into groups as opposed to having them do it themselves, Sara choked up.

“Yes,” she said. “So that I would have somewhere to go.”

As Sara talked, her mother also fought back tears.

“You feel that pain,” Renee said. “You do. You feel it for your own child. You kind of inject your own memories in there. You want to swoop in and save the day.”

Renee did not talk to the principal about Sara’s issues. Instead, she sought counseling for both her and her daughter.

“I could have taken her out of the school and created a very big disadvantage for her because I’m taking the opportunity away from her to learn how to navigate these pressures in life,” she said.

Through counseling, Sara learned how to set boundaries, how to navigate the pressures and she discovered a new passion in horseback riding that has given her a new-found confidence.

“It’s not those girls that I want to feel wanted by,” she said. “It’s the people that I love that I want to feel wanted by.”

E-mail izzy@wfaa.com

View Dr. Kay Trotter talking about how to cope with mental bullying on the Dallas morning news program Daybreak – WFAA-Channel 8 Video on Bullying

WFAA-Channel 8 Video on Bullying

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