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I found this excerpt and think it really speaks to Girl Power! I am starting a new group for women that addresses issues like these and thought you would find this interesting.

Roller Coasters

Last weekend, I had a day where there was nothing on my family’s calendar. This never happens. There is always hockey, or rehearsals, or sunday school, or something. So that begged the question, what should I do? I immediately thought, I will get the grocery shopping out of the way, clean out the closet with all the shoes and coats and gloves, or plan the meals for the week. Even more fun, I could troll the yard scooping dog crap. Crazy times. But wait, since a glorious, shining day off only comes once in a blue moon, I paused before I reacted reflexively. What would I like to do? Here is what I discovered; I have no idea.

There. I said it. I have spent so many years making sure everyone else has what they need, that I’m really not sure what I need for myself. Take roller coasters, for example. I used to ride them. Now I don’t. I think somewhere along the way, as the holder of everyone’s stuff, the world decided I was a sideline watcher. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. That’s the thing, I’m just not sure. And while it would be a fun experiment to head to Busch Gardens and test my theory, I think the roller coaster question is just a tiny part of the overall conundrum. What is it that I want for myself? What fills me up and makes me feel joy?

I know I’m not alone in this. Many of my friends talk about the same kinds of issues. Sure, some of them have found fulfillment with things like yoga, gluten-free brownies, and having affairs, but I am not sure all of those are for me-certainly not gluten-free brownies!

I believe in therapy. As proof, I have been myself and currently work for a therapy practice. I don’t know about you, but the space inside my head can get pretty murky without the occasional spring cleaning. But I also believe that sometimes “thinking and talking” is not as effective as doing.

So I am going to start thinking about what’s out there that get’s me excited, other than having all the laundry for all 5 of my family members done at one time. I am also going to start some doing. Perhaps I’ll start with some mediation or some group work with other women like me. Using therapy as a springboard for action is one of my favorite combos. Going to get in there, flush out the feelings and make a plan. Sometimes seeing your feelings reflected in the faces of the other members is really powerful. I’ll make my own Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or maybe since I’m older; Witches of Eastwick. Some of this feels like what friends are for, but being in a group where confidentiality is sacred and none of the members are at my bus stop, is totally different. It’s hard to have coffee with someone after you’ve expressed that their excessive kid bragging makes you feel like you want to lace their latte.

So that’s my first step. I’m open to suggestions. Any thoughts?


Do any of these feelings resonate with you or someone you know? You can find more information about my new Women’s group on this flyer or on the website.

Posted in Adults, Group Therapy | Comments off

Sixteen-year-old Jack was brought into therapy because his parents thought he might be depressed.  Until this year, Jack had been a straight A student, played cello in the orchestra, ran track and cross country and volunteered his time daily at the local Y. When asked why he was seeking help from me at this time, his response was “My parents are worried about me because I got my first B on an exam”. When I asked him how HE felt about getting his first B, his response was, “I don’t like disappointing my parents.” Getting to know Jack was not easy. He couldn’t describe what made him feel happy and when I asked him what he does in his spare time for fun, he looked at me like I had three heads. 

Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege is worried about teenagers like Jack!  After decades of treating teenagers, Levine thinks that our teens are becoming less and less equipped to handle the everyday pressures of life. I have to agree with her.  While the demands on our teens for outstanding academic achievement get higher, the efforts to instill family responsibilities, life skill development, creativity and problem solving are at an all time low, leaving our kids surprisingly devoid of ability to work independently.  Working only for high GPAs and test scores has a way of undermining the joy in learning.

I like that Levine does not jump on the “blame the parent” bandwagon though.  Rather than labeling parents as narcissistic and indulgent, Levine empathizes with them and highlights how desperately parents want their kids to be happy and the drive to save them from failure and pain.  It’s difficult for parents to resist the constant litany of requirements their children must master in order to achieve what’s deemed “success”.  At the same time, their children are suffering terribly with troubling psychological symptoms of depression and anxiety from not knowing how to tune into themselves and their own desires, passions, and needs because they are pressured to over-focus on goals of academic success.  “Working primarily to please others and to gain their approval takes time and energy away from children’s real job of figuring out their authentic talents, skills, and interests.” (Levine)

Levine suggests there are two factors that contribute to the emotional trials and tribulations of teens today: achievement pressures and a lack of authentic emotional closeness with parents. There are several suggestions she has to help your teen build resilience and navigate through adolescence with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  1. Slow Down!  – There are enormous benefits to being present with your child because it is when your child is quiet and unpressured that s/he is able to reach inside and expose “the most delicate parts of their developing selves”.
  2. Have Dinner Together – Families that dine together bond together.
  3. Decrease Your Emphasis on External Motivation – Rather than asking questions like, “What did you get on your history quiz?”, ask, “What did you learn from taking your history quiz today?”
  4. Lessen Materialism – Value friends, family and hard work.  Material items are never a good substitute for hard personal and interpersonal work.
  5. Focus on Process Rather Than Result – Try saying, “You worked really hard on that project.” Rather than, “What did you get on your project?”
  6. Focus on the Child in Front of You, Not on the Child in Your Fantasies
  7. Help Your Child Formulate Their Own Point of View -  Try saying, “Tell me how you are thinking about solving this problem.”
  8. Whenever Possible, Delay Gratification – Try saying, “I know you think you need this right this second, but it can wait.”
  9. Model Your Own Internal Skills – Try saying, “I need to mull this one over.” Or “Hmmmm.  I’m working on this.  Let me get back to you about it.”
  10. Don’t Make Excuses For Your Child’s Bad Behavior – If they screwed up, let them own it and make amends for it whenever possible.

Posted in Anxiety in Teenagers, Communication, Depression, Parenting, School Anxiety | Comments off