I really appreciate positive psychology because the concept and activities are simple, yet applicable and effective to so many areas of life. You don’t need a psych background to use the worksheets and resources I’ve listed below. One of the most extensive online resources is a link from PositiveDisintegration.com. I am impressed with the wealth of information on this site.
Being a child therapist, I LOVE GAMES! I must first share these games and tools I found on Amazon to teach our children, and clients, and even ourselves the art of positive thinking. I ordered several myself already and can’t wait to show you!! Please order some for your own use and send in a video or review for the readers and I! I get really excited about these things 🙂
Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
I’ll never forget my first year as an LPC-Intern. I knew only what the books taught me and nothing about real world application. I’m pretty sure I literally shivered with nerves through my first year of face-to-face counseling sessions, and I sought my supervisor’s validation constantly. However, where my counseling skills and confidence lacked, my passion and thirst for experience made up for it. Continue reading “Advice for Psychology and Social Work Majors and Aspiring Professionals”
Distractions. The temptation for the kids to want to play instead of eat dinner, and for me to watch the news instead of prepare dinner, is one example of how distractions affect us at my house.
Stress. Getting yourself and the kids ready in the morning is no easy task and often very stressful. You do “what you have to do” just to get out the door on time.
Change. There’s no getting around the fact that changes in your family/life happen and adjustments have to be made. New babies are born, job schedules change, kids start new extra curricular activities… all requiring a modification to your routine.
Lack of Energy. I don’t know any parent who feels they get enough sleep and with all the activities of life today, disregarding a routine is very tempting, especially when you kids are resistant (bath, bed, etc.).
I talk a lot about my life as a mom on this blog. Usually I am sharing joyful moments, techniques, and other positive themes on parenthood. I’ll be completely honest though. While a moment doesn’t go by that I don’t love my kids more than life and want to give everything to them… the truth is that I don’t always love “parenthood.”It’s a HARD JOB, often filled with stress and always requires sacrifice. I work hard as a mom. I give my whole heart to them and desire to give them a happy, structured, opportunistic childhood. I want to raise them with good character and values. This kind of parenting requires a lot of effort and I am thankful to have a wonderful husband and father to my children to share in these responsibilities. Still, all you mothers and father know what I am talking about when I say that being a parent isn’t easy.
Negative Self-Talk = Negative Mood
In the middle of the most stressful times, like getting the kids dinner and bath by yourself, when one of them has an ear infection and the other is testing boundaries like there is no tomorrow, all on an empty stomach and back ache from an injury during your work out… Yes this is me! 🙂 You have to draw strength to continue without biting everyone’s head off! 🙂 I noticed my self-talk was very negative during these moments. I was really making those stressful times even more miserable for myself and spiraling into a state of stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. I want to look back and know I enjoyed my kids when they were little, not the experience I was having.
A Letter From My “Negative Self” to My “Positive Self”
When things are calm (aka when kids are in bed or entertaining one another) my mind set and perceptions about parenthood are totally different. I decided to write a letter from my calm, joyful self to my stressed, negative self.
I’m going to share this personal letter with you here.
I know you are stressed right now and feel like giving up. Raising kids is hard, especially when both of them are so young. Please remember: You are strong; You are a good mommy; Your kids are amazing; And this won’t last forever! Time will go by so quickly… it already has and you want to relish in the precious moments you have with your babies. Give yourself a break if needed! If your kids are in bed 30 minutes later… they will get an extra long nap tomorrow. If water splashes out of the tub, just put a towel down. If the kids are crying and clingy, it’s because they miss you… give them love and nurture them tonight! Take it moment by moment and remember to breath. Your babies are precious and your family is beautiful. There is no reason to stress like you are. Take care dear kimmy and focus on that warm bath and glass of wine you have planned for later tonight!
Your Turn: Writing a Letter to Yourself
Practicing positive self talk and positive affirmations is not a new concept. However, I found it very helpful to write this. The act of writing itself is therapeutic, such as journal writing. You also have something to reference during your times of stress. We all see things differently when we are in a good mood versus a bad mood. Reminding yourself of your “good mood perceptions” can encourage you to push through and give you positive affirmations that may be hard to come up with during times of stress.
You don’t have to be a parent to use this tool. Whether you are battling an illness, training for a competition, attempting to loose weight, or studying for an exam or overall degree, this can be a useful tool to apply in your life. When you feel strong, confident, and joyful, this is the time to sit down and write down reminders to yourself about how you feel now and the reasons to push through whatever adversity you are facing.
Applying This Tool In Therapy
I find that client’s often describe their moments of distress in therapy as being really bad at the time, but when they talk to me they say things like “I know this is normal…” or “At the time it felt so hard…” Writing a letter to can be an excellent homework assignment. Have the client write a letter to themselves when they are feeling more positive and strong and use it as I have described here.
If I haven’t responded to your email or facebook post, or you have noticed my blog posts have been few and far between, it’s because I have been a very busy woman! Over the last many months, I’ve worked on establishing a new place for my clinical practice. If you have ever set up a new office, or moved into a new home, you know the errands and tasks are endless… or seem that way at times. I am so happy to be moved in and wanted to share my space with you all!
While I looked very hard for a space that separated the play therapy room and talk therapy room, I actually decided on a larger space that allowed me to combine the two types of treatment, and still have room for a desk and work space!
As you can see from these two pictures, the play area is behind the talk therapy space. My desk is off to the side, away from everything else.
The combined space has worked out great and here’s why…
One reason is that sometimes I don’t know how receptive a child will be to play therapy, especially when they are around 7-8 years old. This allows for the child the have the opportunity to explore both spaces as needed.
My games, art materials, sand tray, and sand toys are in the play area, but I am able still access these items quickly and easily with teens when I want to incorporate these modalities into their treatment.
I like to read to some of my younger clients toward the end of a play therapy session. It’s easy to walk over to the couch and snuggle up with the teddy and blanket on my couch.
Having a play area in the back is a reminder to adult clients that I work with all ages. If they want to make a referral, they know I am equipped to work with children as well!
The lighting in the area is divided between the play area and talk therapy space. I can turn on the light in the talk therapy space without turning it on over the play area, and vice versa. This minimizes distraction the toys may cause adult clients and creates an even calmer environment.
Psychotherapy (aka Talk Therapy) Space
My goal for this area is to create a warm, calming, and safeenvironment for clients. The colors are greens, blues, creams, and brown. The lighting is dimmed. For auditory purposes, I have a white noise machine in the corner and a zen like fish tank that trickles water very, very lightly. In addition to the sound and a visual calming effect, the fish is also a way to bring the outdoors in… very important for me since I don’t have windows.
Play Therapy Space
The play area was the funnest to put together, of course. My goal was to display the toys in a way that made them easily visibleto the child and easily accessible, yet organizedand not distracting. I have sooo many toys and sand tray items, yet there are still some things I need (like puppets and a puppet center). Soon I’ll post more on my play room and share more detail about the toys and games I have. Here are a few good pictures to give you a general idea.
My waiting room is just the right size. My goal was to create a space that was comfortable, blocked sound from the counseling office, and offered some perks to make clients feel special and welcome! These perks include coffee, tea, and water, free wifi, toys and games for kids, reading materials for adults, contemporary music, and a bubble gum machine (my personal fav!).
So, that’s pretty much it! Please feel free to ask questions or make comments (love positive ones especially!) on this post. I’m also interested in hearing if you have a personal experience with a counseling/play therapy office and any feedback for me just starting out!
Autism is one of those words that was once rarely heard of, and now it seems to be all we hear. 1 in 88 children are now diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder; an alarming number, which has made drastic changes from the 1 in 150 reported in the year 2000. What is Autism? How did my child get Autism? What can we do to help? The questions are endless, and while scientific advances are on the rise, we are still limited in our knowledge of how Autism manifests, and why we continue to see this increase in prevalence.
Autism is a developmental disorder, characterized by developmental delays, most apparent in language and social interactions. Since Autism is considered a “spectrum” disorder, characteristics differ from individual to individual. While some diagnosed with Autism may engage in tantrums and aggressive behaviors, exhibit little to no language, and show little interest in social engagement, others may have average language skills, show no aggression, and enjoy social interactions. As the saying goes, “Once you’ve met one individual with Autism, you’ve met ONE individual with Autism.” With an increase in awareness, parents are asking more questions, screenings are being done at 18 months, and professionals are creating Autism Assessment Teams to get thorough and comprehensive evaluations complete as early as possible.
The types of therapies available for an individual diagnosed with Autism are endless, however, those most often recommended include Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA, the only scientifically validated method of therapy for working with individuals with Autism, is a comprehensive therapeutic method, which encompasses: language, social skills, cognitive skills, self-help skills, fine & gross motor skills, and the management of problem behaviors. Throughout treatment, data is collected on all aspects of the treatment plan to ensure changes are made as needed to maximize success. Due to the extensive nature of the skills addressed in ABA therapy, it is most often recommended as an intensive approach; some individuals receive between 15 and 30 hours of therapy per week (intensity of services is determined after the initial evaluation). While ABA is generally done in a one to one setting, some groups that focus on building social skills may also be ABA based.
Spectacular Kids ABA Therapy & Consulting, LLC, is owned by Dana Harris, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), who has been providing ABA services for 12 years. Spectacular Kids currently provides ABA, Speech, and Occupational Therapy to individuals with and without a diagnosis of Autism or related disorders. ABA therapy is provided on a full-time or part-time basis servicing both in-home and clinic-based clients between 12 months and 10 years. Our Speech and Occupational Therapy services are provided in clinic only by our partner, Brite Success; these therapies service individuals from childhood through adulthood. Our clinic is located at: 3059 Woodland Hills Drive Kingwood, Texas 77339. Contact Spectacular Kids for more information: 1-800-460-7459 ext 207 or visit our website at www.spectacularkidsaba.org.
Doesn’t it feel good when someone you love rubs your shoulders or surprises you with a warm bath? Hopefully you know this feeling of being cared for and loved. It’s often the little things that make a big difference in our relationships.
I am definitely referring to romantic relationships, but also relationships with our kids can be included here too. In a continuing education seminar I attended a while back, the presenters shared some of their techniques for improving and reparing relationships between caregivers (parents, grandparents, foster parents, etc.) and children. One of the ways they did this was to have the child and their guardian display acts of nurturing. These acts included rubbing lotion on each other’s arms and feeding crackers to each other. So simple, yet so effective.
Rub, scratch, or pat their back.
Prepare a favorite meal and/or dessert.
Communicate how you feel. Tell your loved one how much you love them.
Draw a warm bath. Throw in some bubbles, relaxing scents, or candles too.
Smother in kisses and give great big bear hugs.
Buy them something special. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but make it a meaningful gift.
Be playful. Life if full of stress and tension. Making a funny face, bumping their hip with yours, or playing a silly joke can remind each other of life’s joys.
Show interest in their day. Ask questions about their day. Show interest in what they have to say.
Stroke their head or play with their hair. Who doesn’t feel special when your head is rubbed or hair is played with.
Make physical contact when you walk by, such as rubbing their shoulders or touching their back.
Try these acts of nurturing as often as possible with your loved ones and notice how they help strengthen your relationship. Feel free to share your experience and ideas as well!
I am so excited to welcome this guest post by Carol Sepulveda, MSW, LCSW-S. I have known her for some time now and she is a very special lady, helping kids and families everyday. Enjoy!
I have a passion for books and for as long as I can remember I’ve been particularly interested in autobiographies, but not just any autobiography, I’m fascinated by people who have inspiring stories to tell. I love to read about persons who have lived life’s difficulties and found a way to triumph over their problems. I enjoy reading about the man who is a recovered alcoholic and works to support a treatment center. I’m intrigued by the woman, who after years of abuse creates a foundation of hope by opening a counseling center for teenage girls.
These stories and others like them resonate in my core as I identify with what the author’s have to say and vicariously experience their pain and triumph. Many of us have either been wounded or know someone who is. We have our own stories to tell and we’d like to share them with someone who will listen and understand. If we’re fortunate we have that special someone who gets us, if we’re really blessed we’ll seize the opportunity to become one of those persons who through our pain helps others.
Because we’ve experienced emotional pain, we can either identify or relate to others or we can avoid and deny. I often tell my supervisees that the best counselors are those who have received counseling. I believe that those persons who have dealt with their own emotional problems are better at empathizing with their clients. They are better listeners; they listen with their ears and their eyes, they listen with their heart.
By considering what a person feels you confirm the value of that person. Children become caring and loving individuals when their parents empathize with them. Research indicates that child neglect is associated with a lack of their parent’s emotional empathy. A child learns empathy when she sees her mother hug a friend in distress. He learns empathy when he sees his dad help a neighbor. He learns empathy when his parents understand what he feels. A lack of empathy can result in antisocial behaviors and many persons who are addicted seem to have impaired empathy.
So how do you acknowledge or consider someone’s feelings? How do you let your child know that you really understand? Well it’s a simple approach really, something that social workers and psychotherapists have always done. We reflect the feeling.
Try not to react, instead be slow to respond.
Don’t ask questions, a question indicates you don’t understand.
Look into your child’s eyes and try to figure out what he might be feeling. Is he frustrated, angry hurt or disappointed. If you get it wrong don’t worry they’ll let you know.
Become a mirror, a reflection of your child and state the feeling. “Last night I scared you.” “You’re so disappointed, you really wanted that position.” “You’re sad that the boys didn’t let you play.” “You’re confused and scared. You didn’t think I’d do that again.”
After you reflect the feeling STOP and allow your child to share (or not) whatever he has to share.
Your child will most likely feel a sense of relief when he knows that you understand. No longer does he have to live in loneliness and isolation. You see you’ve just given him permission to feel what he feels. You’ve also given him an opportunity to open up and share his feelings with you. He knows you get him.
Carol Sepulveda is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist. She is an independent practitioner in Kingwood, TX. She specializes in children particularly Children of Alcoholics and Adult Children of Alcoholics. Carol Sepulveda is author of Papa Get Help, A Story of Hope for Children of Alcoholics. Carol is a parent education facilitator trained in a variety of parenting program. See Carol’s articles in Recovery Today and her research article Child Teacher Relationship Training (Sepulveda, Garza and Morrison, February 2011), International Journal of Play Therapy, www.carolsepulveda.com.
I bought this CD many months ago and have finally taken the time to start listening. I love Adventures Within so much, I wanted to share it with you all!
Kids Relaxation (www.kidsrelaxation.com) is one of my favorite blogs. It’s filled with wonderful ideas for teaching kids (and adults) relaxation techniques using quite a bit of guided imagery.
Here is what I love so far:
The CD was a purchase I made to use with kids in session, but I have actually found it to be useful for myself, and for adults too.
The female voice narrating is both calming, as well as kid-friendly. In other words, it is relaxing, but will still keep kids engaged.
The CD starts out by teaching HOW to relax through imagination, deep breathing (she calls it balloon breathing), and positive self talk.
There are numerous guided imagery scenaries on the CD.
I am still working my way through the entire CD, but so far my favorite is Finding Strength in the Storm. And guess what? You can purchase each one separately on mp3. I linked you to my favorite, but certainly suggest listening to more than one.
If you have a relaxation or guided imagery CD or mp3 you enjoy, please share!
We did it! We finally won the bedtime battle with my two year old.
There are millions of parents out there who struggle with getting a child to go to bed, stay in bed, sleep through the night, sleep in their own room… and the list goes on. When you finally find the secret for your own child, it feels like you conquered the world. I want to share what we did to have success in our home. I’ll also preface this by saying these tools won’t work for everyone. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again… every child is different!
Last month, I received this email from a reader, Sarah:
I have followed your blog for some time and I love all the great tips and advice you give out.
I am currently finishing my last semester of grad school and in May. I will have a master’s in school counseling. Before this, I taught Emotional Disabled special ed middle school boys and have years of experience with kids from various races. So I feel that I am pretty vetted when it comes to “knowing” what makes children tick…expect when it comes to my 3 year old. I know that they go through phases and he is starting to test my husband and me, but HOLY MOLY!! When it comes to disciplining him, you would think I have never met a child before. I have excellent classroom management, but I can’t seem to “manage” him.
Bedtime is one of our biggest issues lately. We let him watch a half hour of Scooby Doo after he has put on pajama’s, brushed his teeth and gone to the bathroom (assisted of course). When it comes time to go upstairs, you would think we are sending him into a gas chamber. His new thing is that he is scared. We have a nightlight in the hallway, one in his room, we play soft music and keep his door open. He looks for any reason to keep us in the room and screams bloody murder when we leave. We have even offered the choice of letting him sleep on our floor. Again, the screaming and tantrum. He isn’t going to bed late, 8:30, so it isn’t that he is overly tired. I just don’t want nighttime to become a stressful event.
He has also developed the art of back talk. We don’t let it go uncorrected, reminding him how he is supposed to talk to us. I would like to know where my sweet baby went. Please offer some advice.
This email sounded just like me last month. In fact, I read it to my husband just to give us a sense that normalcy and we were able to laugh a little at the sheer similarity of our circumstances. Misery really does love company sometimes, right? Well, since this email, we have been bedtime battle FREE for at least three weeks so I thought it was time to share my experience here.
What We Were Up Against
Let me put it this way. Every day, I would literally dread the two-hour long bedtime routine and battle to get my toddler resting peacefully in his bed.
He screamed bloody murder when we tried to leave his room.
He tried to manipulate sleeping in my bed (sometimes we let him).
Toddler took forever to fall asleep so we waited in his room until he did so we could sneak out (if he was the slightest bit awake he knew we were leaving).
My husband and I both stayed with him through the entire routine (“We are in this together” mentality)
Everyone is exhausted at the end of the day so patience was running thin.
He now has to wait his turn for attention since his little sister has arrived.
How We Turned Things Around
I received my regular post one day from one of my favorite parenting blogs, Sleeping Should Be Easy, talking about bedtime battles. I found some good reminders about what I should be doing to help my son go to bed with less of a fight and talked myself into getting serious.
Routine. Routine. Routine. Establishing a routine for kids is so very important and I had let ours slip quite a bit. Like I said, we are tired at the end of the day and we have a new little one in the picture as well. However, giving up on a routine was not the answer. He was going to school at varied times, eating at varied times, missing baths every now and then… you name it. If I could cut a corner, I probably would. Now, we stick pretty close to a routine. Our evening routine looks something like this: Dinner, Bath, Books, 10 minutes snuggle with lights off.
Divide and Conquer. My husband and I were sharing the evening routine, but going overboard. We both helped bath the kids, read the books, etc. This led to no one ever having a break or being able to take care of other necessities around the house. Today, only one person handles the bath and bed time and the other just gives a good night kiss.
Communicate the Sequence of Events. Even though my son is only two right now, he understands a lot. We tell him what part of the routine is next. I even give him time warning, such as “5 minutes left of bath time, then we read books.”
Call in the other parent in the end. This has actually worked miracle wonderfully for our son. At the end of our “snuggle” time, I tell him I am going to get daddy to tell him good night. He understands this well an doesn’t object to me leaving because he wants to see his daddy. We then wait about 5 minutes before sending in the next parent. By then, he is pretty well tired and falls asleep soon after.
Like I said, these techniques won’t work for everyone, but maybe they will give you some ideas. If you have some toddler bedtime words of wisdom to share, please do!