Categories
Mental Health Recovery Treatment

ROOTS: A 10-Week Re-Entry Program

ROOTS is a 10-week re-entry program geared to assist adolescents with transitions. The creation of individualized treatment plans benefit all variants of treatment needs.

ROOTS, Our Los Angeles outpatient program supports teens reintegrating into the home environment after long-term treatment and/or therapeutic boarding schools. Our curriculum addresses family dynamics, renewed relationships, as well as re-established boundaries and redefined roles. The treatment modalities we apply garner the cultivation of healthy change and encourage internal growth.

If more intensive reintegration is required, we also offer our 1-year Intensive Outpatient Treatment program. This IOP track includes:

  • 1 year of clinical support;
  • Primary Care Phase (Months 1 to 2);
  • Continuing Care Phase (Months 3 to 6);
  • Aftercare Planning (Months 7 to 12);
  • Individual and Family sessions;
  • Group sessions;
  • Parent support groups, and;
  • Drug testing

We also offer the first gender-specific extended care program, where clients can live in a therapeutically supported sober living environment during their reintegration. NeXT, which is the 1st licensed adolescent extended care facility is for teens 15-18 years of age. The program requires:

  • Parental involvement
  • A 90-day minimum length of stay
  • Day staff supervision and transportation
  • 24-hour crisis intervention

Also works in synchrony with:

  • Therapists
  • Therapeutic resources, and
  • Local educational environments

The staff at extended care facilitates an environment of respect and dignity while cultivating a sense of family and emotional safety for the clients.

Regardless of which track your adolescent and family take, Visions encourages healthy change, and an ability to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. By supporting healthy peer interactions, implementing self-regulatory awareness, and nurturing one’s own ability for self-care, teens learn to thrive without perpetuation of dysregulatory and self-destructive behaviors.

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Trauma Treatment

In Recovery, We Lean In to Let Go

Being in recovery from mental illness, substance abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, behavioral issues, et cetera, require that we lean into some things that make us uncomfortable. Let me tell you, “leaning in” isn’t easy. Our brains like pleasure and revile pain. In fact, finding ourselves in rehab tells us that our habitual patterns of trying to put an elementary salve on a gushing wound weren’t working very well. It means that drinking, drugging, stealing or lying our way out of our feelings doesn’t work — at least not permanently. Frankly, none of these “solutions” ever work. Not in the long or short term.

By suggesting that we lean into our difficulties instead of leaning away, I am asking for you to embrace your courage. I am also asking you to trust in your exemplary clinical team, your support team, and in your own ability to do this difficult work while you are in treatment and beyond. Positive thinking or praying for it all to magically go away are both examples of temporary, feel-good actions that don’t provide a long-term solution. It’s wise to also recognize that the recovery process often requires legitimate, clinically supported psychological care.

Recovery is about change. It’s about shifting perspectives and learning how to redefine and revise old paradigms in order to create healthy ones. When we face our old thought patterns and old ideals, we offer ourselves the opportunity to let go. We often find ourselves able to walk through our issues not around them, recognizing that while they are present, ready and willing to make us miserable, we don’t have to take the bait. When we begin to look at our issues with some awareness and compassion, their negative influence has a chance to dissipate.

Our ability to recognize the negative for what it is allows us to invite the positive experiences and influences into our lives. In our recent blog, “How do You Stay Motivated,” I quoted Dr. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., who addresses this very thing: “The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences – and in particular, take them in so they become a permanent part of you.”

Negative experiences do not have to own us; in fact, they can be part of the landscape without being part of our foundations.  This is emblematic of recovery.

The process of recovery is not something you have to do alone. In fact, you can’t. There are support groups, clinicians, treatment facilities, therapists, et cetera, as available resources to you. Yes, there are things you may have to face and work through, but coming to an understanding that you don’t have to ride through that storm alone is a welcome relief.

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Mental Health Recovery Service Treatment

Morgan Parker — Educator

Morgan Parker is one of our remarkable educators in our Residential program. She spends her time teaching the clients at our Latigo facility, providing them with a well-crafted through-line to their education in a supportive, clinical environment. Morgan determines the relevant educational needs for the clients, provides the appropriate support for those working with learning disabilities, and  she maintains a high standard of education.  Morgan Parker is a bright light in the Visions family: she is colorful, wise, kind, and dedicated. She is highly intelligent and not afraid to share her wisdom through humor and play. Morgan carries herself with confidence and compassion, adeptly caring for the clients and melding with the staff with grace. Morgan Parker is a true gift to Visions and we are honored that she’s been with us since 2009.

 

Read on for some kudos from the staff!

“Morgan is the Rock of Gibraltar. She is the backbone of Visions Latigo. When Morgan decided to take the job as teacher, she was a perfect fit. She had worked with our challenging population of kids as a Program Aide, and brought her experience and calm demeanor with her. Morgan’s attention to detail is impeccable. She notices glitches in the machine that help to prevent major hick-ups later on. She cares about the kids and her job, silently facing everyday frustrations with grace and dignity. I am proud to be her supervisor.” – Daniel Dewey

 

“One of the most reliable, insightful ladies out there.” —  Roxie Fuller

 

Morgan is so multi talented I don’t even know where to begin. She effortlessly blends her educational expertise with a loving and fun demeanor and tackles anything that comes her way.  Morgan insists on encouraging our kids to rise to the occasion academically, we couldn’t ask for a better teacher!  — Patrick Schettler

 

“Working with Morgan has been a great experience. Not only is she super helpful and efficient with our students but she is also fun to be around. She has a great sense of humor and says some of the funniest and most random things. She is a great addition to the Visions family.” — Adriana Camarillo

 

“I’ve always thought of Morgan as the Rainbow Bright of Visions.  The Visions family is always battling dark and complex issues, and its people like Morgan who show up with pink hair and the brightest clothing that remind us to never take life too seriously.  No doubt the work she does with the VTeam is seriously exceptional!”   — Christina Howard-Micklish

 

I love Morgan’s answers to our 10 questions — she has real wisdom and wit. Read on:

 

1: What do you miss from the 80s?

My childhood! And MTV when it actually played music videos.

 

2: If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would you go, who would you take and what would you do?

This is an overwhelming question! My brain floods with possibilities and fantasies: Sweden, Scotland, Japan, Fiji, Iceland, Bali, New Zealand, the Isle of Man…but because I’d take my 3 kids, I may choose Italy to help make some historical sites of Western civilization come alive for them, and then still have access to the beach. Travel provides the best education, and we love the beach!

 

3: What is your favorite subject to teach?

I am a bibliophile and logophile, but surprisingly I have enjoyed working with students on algebra. It is reassuringly procedural to teach, but it’s also like solving puzzles, which is fun and interactive. I like to see students figure problems out, recognize patterns, and become less intimidated by math.

 

4: Which character in To Kill a Mockingbird are you?

My only solid response to this is that I think we can all aspire to be Atticus Finch: fair, decent, resilient, accountable, courageous, and truthful.

 

5: Coffee, Tea, Soda or Water?

I am notorious for my Diet Coke consumption. I am still trying to find an acceptable, healthier replacement beverage.

 

6: What was your most embarrassing hairstyle?

Bangs were never the most flattering look for me.

 

7: What is your grammatical pet peeve?

Dangling modifiers are never OK! I also find irksome the improper use or omission of the apostrophe. And I am always willing to explain the difference between “effect” and “affect.”

 

8: Would you rather be a wizard or a ninja? Explain…

Wizard! I gravitate toward the cerebral choice. I am not known for physical prowess. I’d rather be a magician than a fighter! A ninja needs smarts but a wizard has wisdom.

 

9: Favorite time of day?

After midnight, when the world gets quiet and my brain gets alert and creative. I have always been nocturnal.

 

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

Everyone needs community and purpose, and it is rare to find both in a workplace, but at Visions I have found where I belong and can contribute. There is a lot of love, support, humor, good work, and good deeds happening here, and I am proud to be a part. I have truly met some of the most incredible people at Visions, both clients and staff!

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Recovery Service Treatment

Mollie Mylar, BS, Director of Professional Relations

Mollie Mylar, BS, Director of Professional Relations, is one of the most engaging ladies I know. She is a bright spot on the marketing team, always lighting up a room when she walks in and is capable of making anyone feel at ease. She has a light in her heart, joy in her eyes, and a wicked sense of humor. She is truly humble and kind, and both of these qualities make Mollie a true gem. Mollie lives in Utah with her family, but she travels all over the United States to engage and educate people about seamless transitions in treatment.  Frankly, I lament the fact that we don’t see more of her, but I am extraordinarily grateful and humbled by the work she does; she is an invaluable player on the Visions team.  Quite honestly, the world needs more Mollies.

 

Read on for some staff accolades about this lovely lady:

 

Mollie is absolutely one of the most upbeat and positive souls you will encounter in this world; her energy is contagious. The minute she walks into a room, or you hear her voice on the phone, you cannot help but smile.  Anytime I get a chance to speak with her or see her is a pleasure and a joy. – Jenny Werber

 

I wish Mollie were around all the time!  — Jesse Engdahl

 

I like Molly.  In fact, how can you not like Molly? She is a business woman doing business in a way that doesn’t feel like business.  She is a Mom.  She is personable, humble, creative and hard working. Molly is one of the people in life that I look forward to seeing. She makes the room lighter and brighter when she walks through the door.  Good egg = Molly. And, I never use that term. In fact, I may call her and tell her she’s a good egg just so we can laugh.  – Angela Carrillo

 

Mollie is spunky, full of life and has the ability to light up any room she walks into within seconds! She has an uncanny talent for just meeting someone and making them feel like they have been friends with her for years.  – Ashley Shortridge

 

It is a pleasure to work side-by-side with Molly. Molly always finds the bright spot in the darkest situations. Molly fights for the best interest of the families and kids she works with. – John Lieberman

 

Mollie defines being authentic with every cell of her being.  This is how I see her:  Trustworthy, Tenacious, Persistent, Tall, Adventurous, Silly, Open, Hilarious, Loving and Kind.  Mollie oozes with love for her son and husband.  She is a woman I look up to.  Her balance of being mom, wife and business woman is always transparent and remarkable to be in the presence of.  I am grateful to know Mollie Mylar. – Christina Howard

 

Read on for Mollie’s answers to our 10 questions:

 

1: What inspires you to work in education?

Being able to watch families and students heal and reach their potential.  I do not like to see people suffer.

 

2: You live in Utah but you work all over the country, what do you do to stay connected with your loved ones?

Call and face time.

 

3: Would you rather be able to fly or read people’s minds?

Definitely read people’s minds.

 

4. Would you rather speak in public or work at the Los Angeles Waste pumping station for one week?

Work at Los Angeles Waste pumping station for one week.  I would do just about anything to avoid public speaking…

 

5: What is your favorite season and why?

Fall, love seeing the leaves change, temperatures drop and most of all SWEATSHIRT weather!!!

 

6: What is your Starbucks order?

 Grande Soy Latte.

 

7: If you could have been told one thing that you weren’t told when you were a teenager, what would you like to have heard?

I had an amazing mother, that I miss everyday, and I feel like she prepared me well for life!!

 

8: Funniest Visions memory?

Wearing a Christmas sweater to my first company Christmas party, (I hate Christmas sweaters)  when nobody else was wearing anything having to do with Christmas…awkward.

 

9: What do you keep in the trunk of your car?

 My own grocery bags.

 

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I love the team and what we provide for our students and families.

Categories
Recovery Service Treatment

Koreema Walden, MA, MFTi, CATC IV

Koreema Walden is an MA, MFTi, CATC IV and has been part of the Visions treatment team since 2013. She is an active member of the treatment community and served as a therapist in the drug rehabilitation/homeless program at the Veteran’s Administration prior to coming to Visions. Additionally, Koreema is an education advisor at her alma mater, Antioch University. She runs groups and Visions and also sees clients individually using her honest and compassionate approach.

 

Koreema is seriously funny. She brings a sense of adventure, honesty, and joy into her work. She is relatable and compassionate toward the adolescents she works with and she is a wonderful addition to the outpatient team. Koreema she fits right in at Visions. She is a pleasure to work with and is someone who is respectable and forthright in her work. Koreema is a hard one NOT to adore.

 

The staff thinks highly of Koreema; check out what they had to say:

 

Koreema continuously has a high level of positive energy, and is fantastic at motivating just about anyone!  – Ashley Shortridge

 

That girl is so funny!  And smart.  – Jesse Engdahl

 

In the time I’ve know Koreema, I have felt nothing but love and support from her. She has an amazing energetic spirit that everyone can pull from and always brings strong, honest advice to the table. It has been a pleasure working alongside such an amazing person. – Nick Riefner

 

Koreema, our baby of the bunch.  She has been a wonderful asset to our outpatient team. Koreema’s strengths lie not only in her ability to assimilate into a new, fast-paced environment but also a keen sense of how to connect with an adolescent milieu. We are lucky to have her and look forward to her continued growth at Visions.  – Fiona Ray

 

Of course we asked Koreema 10 questions. Read on!

 

1:  What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?

There wasn’t a job that I wanted, but I had role models. My maternal grandmother was a business owner and a fierce one! She had her real-estate license and was trained to do income taxes. She owned a clothing store, was raising some of her daughter’s children and was fiercely independent. She was also kind and supportive (financially and emotionally) of others. I think I wanted to be like her:  a woman who was independent, self reliant, self-assured, strong, and brave. I thought that’s what women did and how they were. Have I come close?  I think I’ve learned over time that there was no reason for me to do everything on my own.

 

2: What are you most proud of?

I was the first person in my family to graduate with a BA and a Masters Degree. My mom drilled in my head that the way to a better life was through education. She always told me education would be bring me freedom and would be something that nobody could take from me. This is something a lot of women still don’t have in this day and age: The opportunity to attend school and be free.

 

3: Cats or dogs? 

Neither. I’m not a pet person at all. I have a child and changing his diaper was bad enough!

 

4. Would you rather watch Sherlock or Doctor Who?  

Who is Doctor Who anyway? Honestly, neither.  Now if you ask me about music, I’m so in. Music cleanses my soul, my mind, and my heart and it tells me a story.

 

5: What is the best part of being a parent? The most challenging?

Best part of being a parent is seeing my son’s brain and his mind take off. Every day, something that is old to me is taken as new to him: Words, places, books, history, people, etc. I find such delight in seeing him experience the world.  What is most challenging is that every day isn’t awesome; some days are better than others and some days we disagree on things.  I have to remember he has a mind of his own, I can’t control it or him 24 hours a day.

 

6: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Both!! I get up around 6:30/7am, or I can stay awake till 12/1am.

 

7: What Muppet are you?

I’m a mixture of Scooter (he was behind the scenes conducting everything) and Animal (he was loud, crazy, out of control needs to be tamed). Good thing I’ve gotten a little older.

 

8: What makes you laugh?

Friends, Family and Comedy movies. I love to laugh.

 

9: If you could go back in time for a day, what and where would you go?

I would be a little girl at my grandmother’s house running around on her property and hanging out with no cares or worries in the world!

 

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?   

Because I like Visions’ philosophy and the work that we do.  Working with teens is not easy (I was one). I get to come to work and be inspired, learn from fresh eyes, and be a part of an amazing integral hardworking team. I feel that Visions and its team work extremely hard at what they do. It’s enjoyable because everyone is supportive of one another and we work as a team.

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Recovery Service Treatment

Nick Riefner: Recovery Mentor

Nick Riefner is one of our beloved Recovery Mentors. He has been with Visions since 2011. Nick spends his time at our Residential and Outpatient facilities, carrying with him a sincere, honest dedication to working with teens. Coupled with his passion for being of service, his genuine kindness and a commitment to quality care, Nick  is someone to celebrate.  He’s playful when he needs to be; he’s serious when he needs to be, and he has a keen ability to relate to the clients in a way that they can genuinely relate to. Working with teens is an adventure; Nick is skillful at navigating the terrain with a sense of humor and relatability. Nick not only cares for the teens he works with, he shows the same level of compassion for those he works with every day. For Nick Riefner, helping others is more than a job; it’s lifestyle.

 

Check out what some of the staff had to say when I asked them about Nick:

 

“It is an absolute honor working with Nick. I met him when I walked into Latigo for my first night shift and he immediately made me feel comfortable. There’s just something about him- everyone loves him. I’ve learned a lot from Nick and so have the clients. He’s a prime example of what recovery looks like.” Ashley Harris 

Nick is an amazing recovery mentor because of his passion for his work and ability to relate to clients. He openly acknowledges that recovery is a day by day process, which helps clients see the silver lining of their storm cloud. – Corinn McWhinnie

 

The moment I met Nick I knew he was special. He is a calming, kind, and supportive soul. One of Nick’s best qualities is his ability to level a room with his passion and sincerity. Nick truly has what it takes to work with teens. Every day when I get to work, Nick is right there checking in to see if I need any help. I feel honored to work with such a great guy whom I trust and depend on.  – Noelle Rodriguez, Psy.D

“Dude… that’s gnarly bro”!!  When talking to the kids about an issue that they are having a rough time with in their lives. And that language the kids get, they 100% relate to what Nick is saying and he is being genuine and real. – Koreema J. Walden, MA., MFTI

 

And last, but certainly not least are Nick’s answers to Visions 10 questions:

 

1: Sand, Sea, or Surf?

Sand.

2: What made you decide to work with adolescents?

I decided to work with adolescents because my journey and experience began when I was an adolescent.

3: Would you rather be Gonzo or the Cookie Monster?

Cookie Monster all the way.

4: What is your favorite way to give back?

My favorite way to give back is listening to someone who needs to be heard or who wants to be heard.

5: Who inspires you and how are you like them?

Who I am inspired by would definitely be my co-workers.  I strive to carry out the same love and compassion given to both myself and the residents in my personal life on a daily basis.

6: Would you rather have Morgan Freeman narrate your life or have Chuck Norris narrate your life?

Morgan Freeman.

7: A nice cuppa tea or a locally sourced pour-over?

Locally sourced coffee for sure.

8: What superhero power do you have?

My secret super power is I can instantly make roller skates appear on whomever I want.

9: What piece of advice would you offer someone scared and newly sober?

I would suggest they embrace the possibility that change might be a good thing and to learn how to start embracing love.  Especially for themselves.

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I choose to work at Visions because I feel the care given to clients and the dedication to seeing they are set up for a successful life are amazing. Most of all, the care for given to each other not only as coworkers but as family can’t be found anywhere else.

 

 

Categories
Recovery

A Look at Recovery: Complete Abstinence

Recovery can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but what it means when you are talking about recovery from addiction and mental illness is complete abstinence. You can’t dabble here and there. An alcoholic can’t smoke weed, and a pothead can’t drink; a heroin addict can’t have a drink now and again and an anorexic or bulimic can’t go on juice cleanses every so often. They just can’t. It’s not wise action or safe behavior. It’s also not indicative of abstinence.

 

Being sober and in recovery means:

  • You don’t drink or use drugs. Period.
  • You eat mindfully and healthfully if you are recovering from an eating disorder.
  • You have a recovery program that you are a part of and that you continue to participate in: 12-step, Refuge Recovery, Al-Anon, et cetera.
  • You are of service to others.
  • You are seeking mental health care if you need it.
  • You are getting help from someone who has been doing this longer than you have and are on a recovery path that you admire.
  • You learn to ask for help and accept help when it is offered.
  • Your relationships are stable or are becoming more and more stable as your recovery time increases.
  • If you are required to take medication, you do so under the care of a physician who is aware of your addiction history. You can’t go rogue here.

 

Recovery is one of those things where there really is no grey area. You’re either in…or you’re out. When we come across someone on the slippery slope of relapse or in the full swing of addiction, what we may find is a chorus of denial and accusations of judgment. An addict certainly doesn’t want to hear that they are slipping down the rabbit hole.

 

The delusion of addiction tells them that they are just fine.

 

What can we as family members and loved ones do?

We have to maintain strong boundaries. If we are in recovery ourselves, it’s a good time to reaffirm our own programs, and ensure we are staying grounded and that our needs our met. Remember that in order to help others, it’s important that we help ourselves first.

We may need to reach out to therapists and arrange an intervention for our loved one, or we may need to make that phone call to a treatment facility to get our son or daughter into treatment.

No matter what the next step is, we must make sure we do it with firm boundaries, compassion, and love in our hearts.

 

The suffering involved in untreated addiction and mental illness is great. Dysregulation is common, along with anger, resentment, and a feeling of isolation. Family systems often start to show signs of wear, if they weren’t already. Addiction doesn’t magically appear! It’s important that the family is ready and willing to begin the work of recovery as well and come to accept that it’s not just the addict in the “hot seat” of recovery.

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Recovery

We Are Celebrating Chris Shumow

Twelve years ago, Chris Shumow set out to create a treatment culture that cared deeply for both staff and clients.  The Visions Family is lead with Chris as Dad.  Day to day, he is dedicated to making sure Visions is providing treatment at its fullest potential.

 

Chris constantly pushes for what’s best for the kids and their families.  He is still on the frontlines after all these years taking intake calls and welcoming families on campus in their deepest times of struggle.  Chris is dedicated to working hand in hand with his clinical team, always pushing his team to think outside the box.

 

Shumow maintains a strong focus to keep Visions as a strong company, but he never forgets to care for each staff member as an individual.  It is clear to all who surround him that Chris’ top priority in life is to be the best father to his herd of 4 children. Chris often reminds all of us, “In order to provide the best treatment for teens and families, we must first take great care of our staff.”  This is evidenced in Chris’ every action.

 

The staff echoes this sentiment. Please read on!

 

Chris may be one of the most passionate and committed individuals for helping teens and families. Chris skillfully handles challenging situations with a gentle approach and determination to provide the best service to each family. I cannot think of a better person to have in my corner.  – John Lieberman

 

He scared me in my interview 8 years ago.  I’m pretty sure he only took a chance on me because I mentioned something about surfing to which he replied, “Surfers are good people.”  Chris is truly that…a good person.  I am forever in gratitude for the opportunities he has trusted me with.  I still have a lot to learn from him.  – Christina Howard

 

I can’t imagine a cooler boss.  He’s just ridiculously kind, humble, down to earth, and hilarious.  Understanding, generous, smart, the list goes on and on. – Jesse Engdahl

 

I met Chris Shumow some 12 years ago and took a chance with him on a company called Visions. He took a chance on me and I am still here. So, after 12 years I am still thrilled to come to work and I owe an infinite debt of gratitude to Chris (and of course his wife Amanda). Now we are both a bit older and much grayer, but all the more wiser and prosperous. – Daniel Dewey

 

He has always been a caring, interested and thoughtful boss. I feel fortunate. – Noelle Rodriguez

 

You can always count on Chris to tell it like it is, he’s such a great, loyal, humble man. — Roxie Fuller

 

I have learned so much from Chris about the work we do, but nothing resonates more than his insistence on always staying focused on the solution.  The culture we have at Visions starts with him, this whole thing was his idea after all. – Patrick Schettler

 

It has been clear to me from day one that Chris cares about his “kids” more than anything else.  I remember sitting in an office with him and tearing up about one of the clients who had gone off to college. “This is why we do this,” he said.  His commitment to the health and well-being of the clients is why I’m still here after 9 years. – Joseph Rogers

 

I have worked with Chris for twelve years and he always operates with the best interests of our kids and parents in mind. – Bill Hoban

 

Fair, trustworthy, hardworking, loyal, and consistent are just a few words to describe Chris in the workplace.  Who knew when we started 12 years ago with 6 beds and about as many staff that our “vision” would come to life the way it has?  Chris has been on call for 12 of those years answering thousands of calls from desperate families 24 hours a day.  He has become such an amazing leader and really has grown from the “operations guy” to the true CEO he is.  (Although we hate titles!)  He is well respected in the field of addictions and mental health. He is my partner in every way and I am so proud of his hard work. – Amanda Shumow

Categories
Adolescence Family Feelings Parenting Prevention Recovery

How Do You and Your Teen Deal with Conflict?

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conflict comes up frequently in the adolescent years,

almost as though drama and discord are part of the growing-up process. But how our kids learn to deal with conflict is often a result of watching the way the adults around them deal with it. Parents, teachers, mentors, influential adults: all are their mirrors.

 

Where conflict becomes problematic is in the unskillful ways in which it’s managed. Teens need to develop self-regulation skills so they can A: recognize what has triggered their anger, and B: respond to it skillfully.

 

Try any of these 5 suggestions to help manage conflict:

 

1: Take a time out: In other words, walk away from the conflict fueled situation to collect your thoughts and calm down. You can take a walk or take some deep breaths.

2:  Use “I” phrases when you communicate. “I feel” instead of “You’re being so lame” is a wiser method of communication. It shows the ability to take responsibility for one’s feelings and actions and eliminates the blame and shame game.

3: Mirroring: By mirroring, we “reflect” what the other person says. “I hear that you feel frustrated” is much more helpful than “You are so frustrating,” or “Why are you so ANGRY?” By mirroring, we recognize what the other person is saying, and as a result, we let them know that we “see” and “hear” them. When someone feels seen and heard, it validates their feelings and allows them to be present for someone else’s process. It’s powerful.

4: Own up to it. Take responsibility for your own actions without pointing fingers at the person you’re angry at. If you lied, own it. If you cheated, own it. If you were mean, own it. You will be more respected and revered if you are honest. In the language of the 12 steps: Keep your side of the street clean.

5: Respect. If you are respectful of others, they are more apt to be respectful toward you. If someone treats you disrespectfully, try the counterintutive practice of being respectful toward them anyway.

 

Remember this: adolescents aren’t born equipped with problem solving skills or tools for conflict resolution. They have to learn these things. They learn them from watching their parents, teachers, and mentors. If a teen’s adult representatives are poor communicators, or if they handle frustration with anger or discord, then teens will learn to communicate via anger and discord.

 

Parents, when conflicts within the family arise, how do you handle them? Do you yell? Do you slam doors? Do you get into a shouting match with your teen?

 

If negative reactions to conflict are your go-to, then conflict will continue to flourish. Yelling won’t solve any problems. It will create more problems. Here’s a common scenario: your teenager arrives home 15 minutes past their curfew. You’re angry, frustrated, and worried. Your reaction to your teen when he or she walks in is to start yelling at them. All of your fears and frustrations come to a head. What if, instead of yelling, you calmly asked, “What time is your curfew?” “What time is it now?” and finally, “Can you tell me what the punishment is for being late?” Several things happen in this scenario. Your teen is given an opportunity to take responsibility, and they can even begin to recognize that the punishment isn’t that egregious.

 

Parents and teens alike need to know how to self-regulate. Try to integrate some of these into your life:

  • Take a time out.
  • Count to 10 before you respond.
  • Be fair: allow both parties the opportunity to express their views and experiences.
  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Have empathy.  Empathy is the ability to understand and feel the feelings of another human being. It’s the ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes. Doing this may allow you to have compassion for the person you are angry at.

 

Resolving conflict requires a cool head and an open heart. Adolescence is a messy time—rather, it’s emotionally messy. Hormones are raging, moods are swinging, in truth, it’s a party you don’t want to go to but one that is a regular part of life. We were all teenagers once. If we can remember that piece, we can develop empathy. If we can remember what it felt like to go through this rapid-fire change, we will hopefully ourselves to be kinder and more loving to each other.

Categories
Mental Health PTSD Recovery

Treating PTSD in Children and Adolescents

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not just for adults:

it also occurs in children and adolescents. Children and teens that witness violence and have post-traumatic stress symptoms require psychological care, but studies are suggesting that while children may experience the full range of post-traumatic stress symptoms, the manifestation of symptoms can differ from that of an adult.

 

The Journal of Pediatric Psychology says, “in the DSM-IV, eight criteria require verbal descriptions of experiences and emotional states. The lack of developmental modifications may result in an under-diagnosis of PTSD. “(Pynoos, Steinberg, & Goenjian, 1996). Scheeringa et al. (1995) Additional  “evidence suggests that children may experience disabling PSS (post-traumatic stress symptoms) that warrant treatment, but not meet criteria for PTSD (Carrion, Weems, Ray, & Reiss, 2002).

 

What has become crucial in defining this diagnosis for adolescents is the way in which clinicians understand how PTSD presents in youth. There is still a debate within the field of pediatric psychology about whether or not distinct youth criteria should be established — thus far, post-traumatic stress symptoms have been assessed primarily using criteria outlined for adults.  When assessing youth for PTSD, the adaptation for youth includes the “simplification of language and concepts.” However, there continues to be discussion amongst clinicians about the need for separate qualifiers for youth.

 

Symptoms of PTSD might include classic stress responses such as nightmares, fear and a general response to distress, but according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there may be some symptoms unique to children and adolescents like:

 

  • Reenactment of the event
  • Regressed behavior
  • Separation anxiety,
  • Specific forms of behavioral, academic, and somatic problems”

Did you know: Between 25 and 87% of youth report experiencing at least one traumatic event before age 20, with girls reporting more episodes (Elklit, 2002)

 

Noelle Rodriguez, Psy.D. and Visions Outpatient Psychological Assistant shared some of her experience working with teens who suffer from PTSD. She listed some of the manifestations she sees and how she helps treat them:

  • High levels of depression because PTSD is misdiagnosed
  • Inability to formulate trusting relationships
  • Drug use to attempt to access or regulate feelings

Noelle also finds teens with PTSD also present with some or all of the following:

  • Poor time management
  • A need to find a voice but feels silent inside
  • Loss of self, feeling fragmented
  • Somatic symptoms i.e., body pains, headaches, etc.
  • Disassociation
  • Sexual promiscuously–looking to feel connected
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of boundaries, which leads to more mistrust

Noelle takes her PTSD clients through a process of deep, insightful work that helps them strive toward shifting their paradigm to include:

  • Empowerment;
  • Sobriety (if applicable) on their own terms;
  • Replacing maladaptive behavior with healthy behaviors, for example:
  • Learning to ask for help, finding a support group, becoming able to  recognize and identify PTSD symptoms before they have a chance to fully manifest
  • Self-care
  • Learn how to identify danger vs. safety
  • Develop tools with which to to deal with blame, shame and doubt
  • Time management
  • Honesty in relationships
  • Finding their voice and learning how to speak up for themselves
  • Learning to get grounded when one is in emotional pain.

 

Peter A. Levine, Ph.D, originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing and the Director of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute has transformed the way in which I personally view PTSD.  He says in his book In an Unspoken Voice, “I hope to convey a deeper appreciation that their lives are not dominated by a ‘disorder’ but by an injury that can be transformed and healed.” Like Noelle, he talks about the need for someone working with PTSD to learn to self-regulate. Levine says this self-regulation “allows us to handle our own states of arousal and our difficult emotions,” and that it is what fosters the ability to “evoke a sense of being safely ‘at home’ within ourselves, at home where goodness resides.” Trauma work is a deep process. It involves learning how to hold ourselves with a sense of compassion while we look at the darkness that has swaddled our hearts.

 

So whether or not the DSM catches up, knowing that we have clinicians who are well versed in trauma work and who are willing to guide our youth to recovery is profound. Triggers eventually become tools we work with instead of against. And ultimately, with deep, consistent work, we develop the skills to change our relationship to our trauma and to heal.