Monday, April 27, 2015

Self Harm / Self Mutilation How therapy can help!

Self harm is a dangerous practice where individuals that are feeling overwhelmed by their emotions cut, scratch, burn or otherwise self mutilate.  Often times the self harm or self mutilation is done in order to externalize an internal pain.

For instance a teenage girl whose parents are getting divorced and is feeling depressed and anxious about it may be unable to cope or express her emotions. Instead she makes many superficial cuts to her arm. This does two things: 1) gives her a sense of release in the form of pain and a ritual, 2) shows how much she is hurting to anyone that sees the cuts (this may be subconsciously done).

Oftentimes self-harm becomes an addictive behavior with a build up of emotions (anxiety, depression) and then a temporary post self harm release. This relief of emotions is accompanied with guilt and remorse for the self harm behavior. These new feelings of remorse add to the previous anxiety/depression build up necessitating another self harm incident.

Treating self-harm like an addiction includes monitoring the feelings leading up to the self harm behavior and disrupting the cycle before it becomes too overwhelming.

The cycle can be disrupted by a number of methods including; repeating a self affirming positive mantra to oneself, going for a walk, calling a friend or otherwise engaging in pleasurable activity to delay and disrupt the self harm.  It is important to learn healthy coping skills to interrupt the self harm cycle.

If an individual needs the catharsis of self harm perhaps a less damaging ritual can be substituted. For example instead of burning your hand hold onto an ice cube. Instead of cutting yourself, draw on your skin with a red marker.

IMF# 76409
Supervised by Kendall Wagner, MFT

If you or a family member would like to talk with Jon more about this subject or any other counseling situation, please feel free to contact him at: Jon Stein Email or call him at 760-517-6449

Friday, April 24, 2015

How we really Parent!

I am amazed and yet I also have been there... Moms and Dads will call and ask me how to handle a situation with their child. For young children it may be a bad grade, a fight with a friend , for tweens: many times the situations that are causing parents concern are social ostracizing or loss of interest in activities that they once happily and willingly participated in. Later in High School, many of the same issues arise again but with our children now vocally sharing why they don't want to do an activity or agree with a family perspective.

This is an overview, but the bottom line is, our children will live by the same principles we have lived by through out their lives. Not what we have told them.

We are concerned that they are not living the lessons taught at church or synagogue, but at home they see us drink, gossip , argue and take short cuts.

Parenting is NEVER what we say but what we do.

We threaten to ground, disciple or respond in a certain way when our children do not finish homework, follow up on tasks at work or school or treat us with disrespect. But because we do not want our children to lose out on an opportunity or we do not want to deal with the anxiety of watching them not follow through. WE hound, cajole ,threaten and assist so the task is done. This is about us not tolerating the pain, disappointment, embarrassment and anxiety that letting our children rise and fall (when appropriate) creates in us. If we were not emotionally invested in our childrens' choices, would we be better parents?

This is the parenting lesson our children learn. REALITY is life and natural consequences must be experienced. It is hard to think they may not make the team, get into the right university, not be in the right social group.. BUT when we push it, they learn life is never about their own powers and abilities.

What tools for LIFE do you want your children to possess.. Give them the life experiences and consequences for them to learn through you not by you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What has happened to the Sleep Over?

I have started to ask parents of children ages 6 and over about sleep overs. Almost 100 % say they do not happen, that given the weekend events they are not doable. There was and is a small portion that are afraid of letting their children go to anthers house. For those parents, I challenge them to start the sleep overs at their own home.
A part of raising Whole, Well Balanced Adults is to teach them an appreciation of how others live and do life. The best way to start this is with sleep overs. Every family is different and has different family cultures.
Family vacations to other countries and cultures are seen as enriching and valuable.
The childhood sleep over is the first step in this process.

Children are very committed to sports, theater and homework so that normal non parental organized social time is gone. Most parents share, "they cannot let their children have sleep overs as they will then not do well in the next days events. " 

I am not against organized activities. What I am challenging parents to do is let their children have a full, multi- experiential upbringing. This teaches tolerance, appreciation of other cultures, a renewed appreciation of their own home life and learning to navigate unfamiliar waters in a relatively safe setting.
The picky eater learns to navigate food choices outside of home. The adventurous eater finds more foods that he/she likes.
You child will learn new ways of doing even the mundane, from dinner habits, nighttime rituals.
How other families communicate and how other children are parented.

No your children will not sleep, and Yes they will be grumpy the next day. Why not! Can we as parents put our personal/professional goals for our children in perspective and our own egos in balance? Can we start to help our children assimilate in the other aspects of childhood and growing up that are essential to survive the differences that they will encounter as adults as they launch into the world?

In a world where we are trying to teach our children that diversity is OK please consider allowing your child the first step in the process and a very old traditional right of passage, that we enjoyed and learned from our own growing up.