Kristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling Kristin Perry, LMFT
Kristin's Comfy Couch Family CounselingKristin Perry, LMFT
27.08.2014
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Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble It can be terrifying when you see a sudden change in your teen and don't know what to make of it. Sometimes, you may wonder: "What's normal?" "Am I making too much of this?" "Does she just want attention?" "Am I really the only parent who has a problem with this?" "Am I too hard on him?"The fact that you're asking these questions shows excellent parenting radar and a real concern for your child. While this list is not exhaustive, it's a solid start. It captures many of the problems I see come up in teen therapy. If any of the things listed below are happening with your kid, you're not making too much of it. It isn't about attention. You're right to be worried. Your child needs help, right away!Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble:1. Sudden negative change in peer group, friends they are not willing to introduce2. Social Isolation3. Bullying: either being the perpetrator or the victim of abuse is a concern and requires help.4. Self-harm: cutting, picking, burning, self-starvation, or high risk sexual behavior. If you notice a sudden dramatic weight loss, see any unexplained marks or scars, or if your child suddenly starts wearing long sleeves or more concealing clothing, look more closely. Ask questions. Get help!5. Any break-up with a best friend or first love that is being taken particularly hard: excessive crying, expressing feelings of hopelessness, or obsessive thinking, talking, or social media mentions about the loss are significant signs there's a problem.6. Substance abuse7. Falling or failing grades8. Dramatic change in appearance or lack of interest in basic grooming, extreme irritability or aggression, crying, expressing feelings of numbness and disconnection, change in appetite, or sleep pattern are all signs of DEPRESSION, and should be taken seriously.9. Lying or secretive behavior10. Expressing ANY thoughts of suicide: verbally, by gesture, or in writing The need for help is URGENT: if your teenager has a specific plan for how to commit suicide, access to the means of self-harm they describe, or an expression of intent to actually do it.If your kid starts giving away emotionally significant items, seem to be trying to tie up loose ends, or say "goodbye" to anyone, these are also RED FLAGS. If you see this behavior. or you have any doubts, get help immediately. Go to your nearest emergency room, call 911, or call the police Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT). It's okay to err on the side of caution. In fact, it's a really good idea to call, if you have any doubt at all.Teenagers can get in over their heads really fast. It's alarming how quickly they can get into real trouble. They are more impulsive, while being less able to think long-range and problem solve, than adults. Teens can suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and serious anger management problems, just like adults. When this happens, teens really need help. If you're a parent and this is happening with your child, you probably need some help, too. These are complicated scary problems. It's important to have a person with professional psychological training assist you. There's a lot at stake. Things can get better, with the right guidance.Please, act quickly, if you notice any of the Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble. If you aren't sure, or have any questions, you can call me: Kristin Perry, MFT at: 760-978-6071. If you can't reach me and think it might be serious, please, call 911.A little rebellion is normal teenage stuff. A little moodiness is normal teen emotion. Being kinda bratty is normal teenager behavior. Raising a teen is tricky. An adolescent's process of becoming independent can be quite hard on everyone concerned. They're a little bit prickly, sometimes. Counseling can help with these normal developmental issues, too. Teen therapy can improve family relationships, communication and coping skills. Counseling can help get things back on the right track. It can also save your kid's life.Whatever your particular situation, I wish you much luck, love and peace as you care for your family.Take care!Kristin Perry, MFTKristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling760-978-6071
So, you have taken the leap and decided to see a therapist. Or your child might benefit from counseling. Either way, you are faced with a range of choices and decisions. What type of therapist should you see? What approach is best? How do you distinguish between the different mental health specialties, and why should it matter? Information online may be even more confusing. Some therapists espouse amazing results. Testimonials from clients are not permitted by many licensing boards, yet are listed on some websites. Life coaches sometimes boast high rates of success, despite the absence of any licensing, certification, or regulatory board that monitors competence in coaching. And unfortunately, there are endless debates about what approach works best for different problems. I often see questions and comments online that reflect understandable confusion about the differences between mental health professionals, particularly psychologists and psychiatrists. Psychological and intellectual testing are confusing as well, along with questions about who can administer and interpret evaluations. What exactly is involved in a gifted or ADHD evaluation? Are psychologists merely "testers," as some have labeled them? Even more troubling, I recently stumbled across online comments  that characterized psychologists as less helpful than other mental health professionals. The author claimed that psychologists are more focused on psychopathology, and are less "strength-based" than members of other counseling professions. Why is commentary like this a problem? It is inaccurate and delivers misinformation to the public. It contributes to unnecessary and arbitrary divisiveness among mental health specialties. It creates divisions that have nothing to do with how therapy is implemented, or with the quality of services that are provided. It perpetuates meaningless stereotypes about what "clinical" means, and when or how therapy is helpful. I have worked as a clinical psychologist for over 30 years, and have had the privilege of collaborating with a range of mental health professionals. I have tremendous respect for the diversity of training and experience of psychotherapists in different fields. Since we all benefit from the variety of approaches, training and experience among mental health professionals, it is disheartening to witness divisiveness or stereotyping about different mental health professions in print or online. In response to this confusion - and some misinformation out there - I felt prompted to write about the mental health specialty that I know best. And while any given psychologist is not necessarily a better psychotherapist or the right therapist for you, there is some basic information that needs clarification about the field: 1. Clinical psychologists have more years of training than any other mental health specialty. That's right - even more years of mental health training than psychiatrists. They receive a doctoral degree after approximately five or more years of post-graduate education and training, and then are required to earn post-doctoral hours before licensure. Much of their training involves supervised experienced within a range of internship settings. (Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, though, except for those with additional training who are granted prescription privileges within a few states in the U.S.) 2. Psychologists (including school psychologists and neuropsychologists) are the only mental health professionals with adequate training, and authorized by most states in the U.S., to administer and interpret intellectual and psychological testing. Along with psychiatrists, psychologists also are authorized to diagnose mental health disorders. 3. Psychologists receive training in research methods, and they use research-based strategies to inform their treatment decisions. Their research training helps them evaluate recent findings in the literature, and determine what is useful to include in their work. Despite claims that psychologists are too "clinical," or too focused on psychopathology or "diagnosis," they still can be strength-based, compassionate, creative, and relational. These abilities are not mutually exclusive! In fact, training in diagnosis and the complexities of personality and psychological disorders is a good thing. Would you go to a primary care physician, a reading specialist, or even a car mechanic who was not trained to "diagnose" the problem? Understanding what causes distress informs treatment decisions. It does not detract from one's ability to empathize, relate and offer support in psychotherapy. Does this mean you must see a psychologist for psychotherapy or parent coaching? Of course not!  There are thousands of excellent, highly skilled psychotherapists who would be the right fit for you or your child. Make sure that any therapist you choose is licensed, has training and experience in the area which you are seeking to address in therapy, uses good boundaries (i.e., does not spend the session sharing his/her personal life with you), and is someone with whom you can achieve a good rapport. Coaching is an unlicensed and uncertified profession, so use even more caution with personal or parenting coaches. If you need to find a psychotherapist, seek out referrals from respected sources, such as your physician, spiritual adviser (e.g., minister, rabbi, priest), or a school counselor. Trust your instincts. Get informed. Pay attention to what works for you. Don't just assume that your insurance company will provide a helpful referral. In fact, many therapists refuse to accept insurance because of meager reimbursement and possible breaches to confidentiality. When you start therapy, come prepared to work hard and to collaborate with the therapist. Learn more about what to expect, and identify personal goals for yourself. You may feel uncomfortable at first, since speaking with a stranger can feel awkward, but give it a few sessions before making a decision. Of course, if you or your child feel extremely uncomfortable, or your gut instinct tells you that the therapist would not be a good fit for you or your child, then look elsewhere. All because your physician or neighbor recommended a particular therapist does not mean he or she is right for you. In my opinion, a great match is a highly trained, experienced psychotherapist who is collaborative, empathetic, compassionate, curious about the human condition, and respectful of differences, individual values and boundaries. Your therapist is never going to be your friend; however, you must feel accepted, understood and valued. If you are seeking therapy for your child, find a therapist with child or adolescent training and experience, who engages easily with your child, and who readily includes you in the treatment. Although therapists guard children's privacy, helping you feel part of the therapy process and understanding how to better communicate with and help your child is essential. This might entail occasional or frequent meetings with you and the therapist, or meetings that include your child, or even the entire family. Therapy is just a start. Ultimately, we all need to extend what we learn in therapy to the world at large. Improved self-esteem, communications skills, self-awareness, and the elimination of nagging symptoms can be a springboard for enhanced relationships with our children, family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues at work. It provides a unique opportunity for exploring long-standing concerns in greater depth and receiving useful, direct feedback. Therapy also encourages us to make healthy and meaningful decisions, enjoy the present moment, and feel better about ourselves. The following are blog posts about psychotherapy for those who are gifted or who have gifted children: When is it more than giftedness? A psychologist's perspective A gifted person's guide to therapy Five misconceptions about therapists Gifted children and adults: When is therapy helpful? Stress management toolbox: Nine tips for parents of gifted children When does therapy benefit gifted adolescents?
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