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How can I get through to my teenage daughter?

Dr. Andre,

How can I get through to my teenage daughter? All we ever do is butt heads, and get nowhere. She’s 15 going on 30 and I’m losing my hair over this. Thanks for any help you can offer.

 

Communication styles, ways of problem solving, and parenting styles are important aspects of getting through to teens.

It is important to have a strong and healthy belief about what one’s role as a parent first, and then how one wishes to relate according to their values, beliefs, and principles. In this way, during the years of raising and living with teens one can operate more easily from a solid set of priorities.

In a vast majority of cases, once the teen knows he has a supportive, listening parent and at the same time he is the one choosing his behaviors/consequences, things start to solidify in a  more stable manner.

If you would like more specific information regarding your happiness and healthy relationships, please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

Response from Therapist Jan Doty

Mid-Life issues

During one’s life-span there are stages and transitions to be navigated. By mid-life one has typically lived through several developmental tasks, and experiences which may have included education, career, marriage, family life, and being part of a community.

“We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie” Carl Jung

Also with middle-age comes having gone through successes, failures, joys, and disappoitments. How one learns, gains wisdom, and continues to enrich one’s life with these experiences can prepare the later years with anticipation, excitement, enjoyment or the lack of. Mid-life counseling can help you to not idealize a past, but to assist in finding meaning, passion, and still contribute to your life and the lives of others. If coping skills, problem-solving skills, or resiliency has not been successful in your life, these can still be learned and new habits can add energy, fulfillment, and satisfaction to your life.

Self Esteem

Self esteem is the ability to have and enduring sense of worth, value, and self-acceptance. Often we reject parts of ourselves, and judge ourselves harshly. To avoid feeling worse we often develop defense mechanisms that compound the issue. We often blame, get angry, become perfectionists, brag, make excuses, or turn to alcohol and drugs, or other numbing, addictive behaviors.

“…we often develop defense mechanisms that compound the issue”

One can begin to change these patterns by changing the way you interpret your life by uncovering faulty thinking, negative self talk, and self-judgment. Skills can be learned to change negative thinking, beliefs, and ways of interpreting information. Self compassion and a commitment to non-judgment and self-acceptance, while doing the work to improve one’s self-concept is the focus of therapy.

Credit: Jan Doty

Just One Thing

This post and information are provided directly from Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing the free e-newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart.

———-

Over the past few weeks I’ve been learning something about the craving, broadly defined, that leads to suffering and harm. For a long time I have tried to see how chasing pleasant experiences and struggling with unpleasant ones is a normal but inherently doomed strategy for lasting happiness. I’ve found great though sometimes uncomfortable truth in this perspective, call it futility. But lately an additional truth has been landing – frankly, a more enjoyable one – that of fullness, the truth that you are already safe and strong, fed and fulfilled, and loved and worthy.

This second truth is hard to recognize, mainly because your brain is lying to you to help you survive (to put it bluntly). Thus this week’s JOT: feel already full. When you have the chance to feel at all peaceful, happy, loved, or loving – take it in. Let it sink into you, weaving its way into your brain. Then over the time there will be less and less cause inside your body and mind for that craving which leads to suffering and harm.

For me, the felt recognition of fullness has been deeply pleasurable and fulfilling. It’s a profound practice – which is why this JOT is a little longer than usual – and I hope you like it. And this week’s one minute video tracking the chapters in my book, Just One Thing, is very relevant: Feel Safer (the audio is a bit funky, sorry).

Also:
Mindful Hub invites you to visit their website this month for short daily meditations, inspirational essays, and mindful movement exercises that encourage letting go.

*  The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, is a world-class resource for mindfulness, compassion, empathy, parenting, and positive psychology. GGSC has a phenomenal website chock-full of useful information. It also puts on regular workshops, brings out vital books, supports first-rate research, and has a fantastic newsletter. I’m on its Advisory Council and can tell you from direct experience that it has a great and unique combination of academic prowess, heart, and service.

Warmly,

Rick

#104 | 12/7/12

Just One Thing

Just One Thing (JOT)is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.Just one thing that could change your life.

(© Rick Hanson, 2012)

 

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Rick Hanson, PhD 
This comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited lecturer at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. See Rick’s workshops and lectures.
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Feel already full.

Why?

One slice of the pie of life feels relaxed and contented. And then there is that other slice, in which we feel driven and stressed. Trying to get pleasures, avoid pains, pile up accomplishments and recognitions, be loved by more people. Lose more weight, try to fill the hole in the heart. Slake the thirst, satisfy the hunger. Strive, strain, press.

This other slice is the conventional strategy for happiness. We pursue it for four reasons.

1. The brain evolved through its reptilian, mammalian, and primate/human stages to meet three needs: avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others. In terms of these three needs, animals that were nervous, driven, and clinging were more likely to survive and pass on their genes – which are woven into our DNA today. Try to feel not one bit uneasy, discontented, or disconnected for more than a few seconds, let alone a few minutes.

2. You’re bombarded by thousands of messages each day that tell you to want more stuff. Even if you turn off the TV, worth in our culture is based greatly on accomplishments, wealth, and appearance; you have to keep improving, and the bar keeps rising.

3. Past experiences, especially young ones, leave traces that are negatively biased due to the Velcro-for-pain but Teflon-for-pleasure default setting of the brain. So there’s a background sense of anxiety, resentment, loss, hurt, or inadequacy, guilt, or shame that makes us over-react today.

4. To have any particular perception, emotion, memory, or desire, the brain must impose order on chaos, signals on noise. In a mouthful of a term, this is “cognitive essentializing.” The brain must turn verbs – dynamic streams of neural activity – into nouns: momentarily stable sights, sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and thoughts. Naturally, we try to hold onto the ones we like. But since neural processing continually changes, all experiences are fleeting. They slip through your fingers as you reach for them, an unreliable basis for deep and lasting happiness. Yet so close, so tantalizing . . . and so we keep reaching.

For these reasons, deep down there is a sense of disturbance, not-enoughness, unease. Feeling threatened and unsafe, disappointed and thwarted, insufficiently valued and loved. Driven to get ahead, to fix oneself, to capture an experience before it evaporates. So we crave and cling, suffer and harm. As if life were a cup – with a hole in the bottom – that we keep trying to fill. A strategy that is both fruitless and stressful.

All the world’s wisdom traditions point out this truth: that the conventional strategy for happiness is both doomed and actually makes us unhappier. The theistic traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity) describe this truth as the inherently unsatisfying nature of a life that is separated from an underlying Divine reality. The agnostic traditions (e.g., Buddhism) describe it as the inherent suffering in grasping or aversion toward innately ephemeral experiences.

Call this the truth of futility. Recognizing it has been both uncomfortable and enormously helpful for me, since you gradually realize that it is pointless to “crave” – to stress and strain over fleeting experiences. But there is another truth, also taught in the wisdom traditions, though perhaps not as forthrightly. This is the truth that there is always already an underlying fullness.

When this truth sinks in emotionally, into your belly and bones, you feel already peaceful, happy, and loved. There is no need for craving, broadly defined, no need to engage an unhappy strategy for happiness. And you have more to offer others now that your cup is truly full.

How?

Recognize the lies built into the conventional strategy for happiness to wake up from their spells. Mother Nature whispers: You should feel threatened, frustrated, lonely. Culture and commerce say: You need more clothes, thinner thighs, better beer; consume more and be like the pretty people on TV. The residues of past experiences, especially young ones, mutter in the background: You’re not that smart, attractive, worthy; you need to do more and be more; if you just have X, you’ll get the life you want. The essentializing nature of cognition implies: Crave more, cling more, it will work the next time, really.

As you see through these lies, recognize the truth of fullness. In terms of your core needs to avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others, observe: that you are basically alright right now; that this moment of experience has an almost overwhelming abundance of stimulation, and you probably live better than the kings and queens of old; and that you are always intimately connected with all life, and almost certainly loved. Regarding our consumerist and status-seeking culture, consider what really matters to you – for example, if you were told you had one year to live – and notice that you already have most if not all of what matters most. In terms of the messages from previous experiences, look inside to see the facts of your own natural goodness, talents, and spirit. And about the impermanent nature of experience, notice what happens when you let go of this moment: another one emerges, the vanishing Now is endlessly renewed.

Abiding in fullness doesn’t mean you sit on your thumbs. It’s normal and fine to wish for more pleasure and less pain, to aspire and create, to lean into life with passion and purpose, to pursue justice and peace. But we don’t have to want for more, fight with more, drive for more, clutch at more. While the truth of futility is that it is hopeless to crave, the truth of fullness is that it’s unnecessary.

Finding this fullness, let it sink in. For survival purposes, the brain is good at learning from the bad, but bad at learning from the good. So help it by enriching an experience through making it last a 10-20 seconds or longer, fill your body and mind, and become more intense. Also absorb it by intending and sensing that it is sinking into you as you sink into it. Do this half a dozen times a day, maybe half a minute at a time. It’s less than five minutes a day. But you’ll be gradually weaving a profound sense of being already fundamentally peaceful, happy, loved, and loving into the fabric of your brain and your life.

Feel Safer - Just One Thing
Feel Safer – Just One Thing

EMDR: training the mind with positive therapy

When words aren’t enough, EMDR therapy

Have you been through years of therapy but still feel as though you are suffering?  Do you have a lot of insight into your issues but feel that talking about it isn’t helping?  If so, EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) might be the right approach for you. EMDR is a mind-body system therapy. Traditional talk therapy can be helpful for many issues but talking alone doesn’t access all of the elements of what is disturbing you or keeping you unhappy.   Consider that our brain has two hemispheres; the left is more logical and the right, more emotional. EMDR connects what we logically already know with what we feel, both emotionally and physically through body sensations.

EMDR combines elements of several different therapies with alternate right and left (bilateral) eye movements, tones, or tactile stimuli. In essence, the bilateral stimulation encourages the left and right sides of the brain to communicate effectively. The brain releases the fight or flight response. As a result, clients find that they feel more in the present and less controlled by what lies underneath.  EMDR helps to identify, process, integrate and release negative emotions and memories, and it is used worldwide to help victims of trauma to heal and move on with their lives. EMDR is used to address everything from resolving the effects of life trauma to enhancing personal performance, rebuilding the Self and healing anxiety and depression.  For more information about the process of EMDR and what happens in the session visit the following web site:  http://www.emdria.org/

In New Orleans, contact our Metairie therapy office here.

In Mandeville, Madisonville, Covington & Hammond, La, contact our Mandeville counseling office here.

Dana Duet-Champagne, M.Ed, LPC, NCC

Stress: Its Effects and How Therapy Can Help

There is no question about it… We all experience stress from time to time, but if stress creeps into your life too often or lasts over long periods of time, it can cause serious negative effects on both your physical and mental health.  Over time, stress can affect many crucial parts of your body, including your immune system, heart, stomach, lungs, muscles, reproductive organs, and skin.  Stress can also affect the way you think, act, and feel; causing concentration issues, fatigue, and moodiness.  It can also lead to more serious issues such as depression and anxiety.

There are many things that can lead to stress and/or worsen your stress.  Without the proper coping skills, it can be very difficult to deal with problems that may arise in your life.  Common problems that cause stress include, relationship conflict, major life changes, stress in your family, a demanding job, conflict with co-workers, unemployment, financial issues, loneliness, health problems and emotional problems.

The best way to manage your stress is to learn and use healthy coping skills.  It is important to incorporate stress-relieving techniques into your life to help relax both your mind and body.  Some of the simpler techniques include journaling, doing something you enjoy, tapping into your creativity, talking to a family member or friend, starting an exercise routine, joining a yoga class, getting a massage, or occasionally indulging in your favorite sweet treat. Something that can be slightly more difficult, but extremely helpful, is partaking in techniques that help you relax your mind by focusing on the present. One such technique is meditation, a method of relaxation that requires you to focus your mind on one thing such as your breathing, so that your mind can be free of all distraction.  Another technique is guided imagery, a method in which you listen to your therapist or a recording of someone describing a peaceful scenario in great detail to help your mind relax. These techniques are like mini vacations for your mind. Other techniques that focus on relaxing your body include deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Both relieve muscle tension and can help to slow your heart rate.

The above mentioned are some of the great ways to relieve stress in your life, but if you find your level of stress or the effects stress has taken on your life to be too much for you to handle on your own, then it may be time to seek outside help.  A therapist can be a wonderful guide to help you navigate through some of the more difficult and complex stresses in your life.  A therapist can personally teach you the coping skills you need, and be the supportive shoulder you need through your difficult journey.

 

Priscilla Hurd

M.Ed., NCC, LPC-I

Process of therapy & counseling

Counselors will use a variety of techniques derived from a variety of theories to work with any given individual. I would like to take a moment and tell you a bit about one of mine. I know that when a client comes through my door, it is important that I do at least three things. First, I mentally prepare myself for the new client. I take a moment to have a few deep breaths and I visualize all of my personal issues being waved out the door until later as I need to be present for the person that will come through that door. Next, as I greet my client, I want them to feel comfortable and welcome in my office, so I offer them a cup of water or coffee. I also joke and ask them if they had any questions as they read through the mountain of paperwork that they are bombarded with when they decide to make an appointment.
More often than not, this will be a person’s first visit to counseling, so I want to be sure that I explain to them my philosophy about counseling without throwing around a bunch of theoretical jargon. What I tell them is that as I visualize how human brains work, and I compare it to a file cabinet. I believe that all persons’ experiences in life, good or bad, small or big, make up the person, and all that information is stored in the file cabinet (brain). Some people are able to take the time to process and organize thoughts and feelings regarding each of these experiences, and do a nice job of keeping the file cabinet tidy. Many people, however, may not do such a great job with this. Perhaps an experience is too painful, sorrowful, bittersweet, or just taken for granted. Sometimes time does not permit, and experiences are tossed into the cabinet drawers without regard for how they are thrown in. If this happens, often the file cabinet drawer becomes too full too fast. Then things get crowded, messy, and things start to spill out. This is when a person may begin to experience that feeling of being overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious. This is the point where I usually enter the picture.
To me, counseling is that process that helps the person pull out the files in the cabinet, put all the pieces together, organize the experiences, and make sense of them. It is at that point that the person can begin to store away all of those experiences again. Some are discussed at length, while others are simply acknowledged and relished for a moment. I believe a person gains a perspective during this process that it is possible has never been seen before. This is how I define an “ah-ha” moment. This is my favorite moment. The light-bulb moment. When this process is complete, what the person finds is that not only have their files stopped spilling all over the place, but that they have a significant amount of room still available to them. More room in that cabinet for filling it with life and love, with hope and sorrow.
At the end of that process I simply remind the person of the work done, and let them know that my door is always open should they find that they need me again. It is my hope that at the end of any counseling relationship, the person leaving my office feels more empowered, and knows how to file away their experiences in a more healthy way.


Micah P. Hatchett, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Clinical Director & Counselor
Northshore Counseling and Wellness

Child Behavioral Problems: How Family Counseling Can Help

Too often parents send children with behavioral problems to individual counseling without recognizing the crucial role they play in remedying the problem.  When looking at counseling from a systemic approach, you recognize that children are largely a product of their environments.  As individuals in a family, we all play a role based on the roles and behaviors of the other family members.  It is impossible to fully understand a person in isolation because we are all a part of an emotional unit, a family. You must look at the unit as a whole in order to properly remedy the source of the problem.

It is often said, “Children don’t come with an instruction manual,” which is why family counseling can be such a wonderful tool to help you figure out the best ways to parent your child, based on the overall structure of your family.  Children function best when living in a structured and stable environment.  This helps to create a sense of safety and security for the child, thus allowing them to thrive.

Child behavioral problems often emerge during times of major life changes, such as parental divorce, a death in the family, birth of a new sibling, or moving to a new location. These life changes can lead to a change in the family’s current balance, and thus lead to role changes.  Because these changes can cause instability, it is important during these times to check in with your child; communicate with your child about their thoughts and feeling, and look out for any changes in their mood and/or behavior.  During these times it is also important to maintain a routine, and stay consistent with any rules, consequences, and rewards system in place.

In family counseling, parents and their children are able to work together with the help of their therapist to learn the tools needed to create a happy, healthy family unit.  You will explore possible sources of your child’s symptoms by looking at the structure and roles of the family unit, create a personalized treatment plan, learn new communication skills, learn new parenting techniques, and implement them while under the guidance of your therapist.

 

Priscilla Hurd

M.Ed., NCC, LPC-I

Anger Management Group Therapy

Managing Anger, Group therapy helps you live a better life

We offer therapy groups designed to help you learn:

  • Where problems with your anger may come from
  • How you can benefit from “sensible” anger
  • What tools are available to help you deal with anger

These groups are designed to be informative AND supportive!

Topics will run in 8 week cycles.

  • Groups will meet every Friday from 6-8 p.m.
  • Groups are scheduled on demand, please call to confirm
  • Each group is 2 hours long
  • Can’t commit to all 8 groups at once? No problem! There is no obligation to attend all 8 groups in a row
  • Cost $50.00 per 2 hour session (those who pay for all 8 weeks will receive a 10% discount!)
  • Attendance letters given out at the end of each session if needed
  • Participation in the group is required to receive letter of attendance

How do I sign up?

Please call Northshore Counseling and Wellness at 985-624-2942 or 504-717-4043 or sign up for the anger management group here. Credit/debit card payments may be taken over the phone at the time of registration. Payment is required for the group before the session either over the phone or with a check or cash upon arrival. Please arrive to the clinic at least 5 minutes before the meeting time if you are bringing a payment.

Group Therapy: How it works for you

How group therapy can help you improve with others:

  •  Safety and comfort in commonality
  • Increased speed of healing breakthroughs
  • Support of others
  • Involvement in positive change for others

Group counseling is a very powerful and effective way to engage in personal change.  While some people are initially hesitant to share their struggles or concerns with a group of strangers, participants in group counseling soon understand that the group is intentionally set up so that all members of the group are accountable to being respectful and keeping all information confidential.  This allows members to quickly become comfortable within the safety of the group, and therefore gain tremendous benefit from the support of not just a therapist but an entire group of people.  Common benefits of group therapy include the speed with which breakthroughs and change can happen, the knowledge for each member that he/she is not alone in their struggles, the growth that comes from being able to receive support as well as from being part of a change process for others.

Read more about Group Therapy services and how you can benefit from them here.