When Passion Shows Up

I’ll never forget the first time I saw play therapy. When my late supervisor allowed me to observe my first play therapy session I fell in love at first sight. It felt right. It felt natural to me and I loved how it worked with where the child was in their development.

 

That session was a pivotal moment for me. It started a passion that motivated me to pursue my career and specialty as a play therapist and play therapist supervisor. I had so much to learn, but it didn’t stop me from moving towards my goals.

 

I had no idea what kind of challenges lay ahead, including difficult work environments, heavy caseloads, and the level of trauma and complex issues that my young clients face with courage.

 

I have non-therapist friends ask me “how do you work with …(place favorite issues here). What I tell people (and myself when I’m faced with challenges of my job) is that yes, but I get to see a child heal from a trauma, connect with their parent, make new friends, learn how to stop being afraid and live a full life. I get to watch people heal and increase their faith in their God and themselves. I get to spend my day alongside young ones who deal with so much they should be too young for.

 

At the end of the day it’s encouraging work. It’s worth it. Some cases are sad. True. I have to constantly balance my work life, and personal life, true. I have to keep my emotions in check sometimes and my support systems close. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

 

What’s your passion? What fuels you? Leave a Comment Below about how you found your passion.

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How Do I Help a Child Involved in Bullying? Show Notes from Justice For Nate

girl with paint on faceiStock_000063932169_MediumLast April I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed on Thrive Global Network in response to a death of Nate Wombles
Unfortunately many children and even adults are involved in the bullying cycle.

Many parents feel stuck  if their child is involved in a bullying situation. How do you teach your child to respond without egging on the child who bullies?

What is Bullying, and What do I do about it?

Bullying is aggressive, threatening behavior by one child or adult towards another child/adult. The whole goal of the bully is to gain power or control over a person who they perceive is weaker than them.

Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical or through technology, called “Cyberbullying.”

(http://www.stopbullying.gov/)(http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html)

Bullying can occur either by one person or groups. Groups of bullies may also be called gangs.

Bullying is not just for kids, bullying can occur at any age, even into adulthood.

What roles do people play in a bullying situation?

There are different roles students play in a bullying situation.

The person doing the bullying

The person being bullied

Someone who is both bullied and being a bully towards others.

Those who defend or stand up for the person being bullied.

Those who assist the bully.

Those who reinforce the bully by becoming bystanders.

A person can both be the victim of bullying and also bully others at the same time.

What are signs a child is being bullied?

Signs a child may be a bullying victim are:

Unexplained bruises, scrapes or marks

Changes in behavior such as eating habits, nightmares, stomach aches, making excuses to not go to school, ride the bus.

Unexplained  damage or loss of belongings

Child coming home hungry

Changes in grades

Child becomes sad, anxious, angry, or depressed

Child beginds withdrawing from others

Stops hanging around friends

Sources:  http://www.stopbullying.gov/“Bullies are a pain in the brain”, and www.Safechild.net

What do I do if I think my child is being bullied?

What parents can do if a child is being bullied:

  • Address the situation immediately.
  • If you’re not sure communicate with your child by stating the changes you’ve noticed and asking what happened. http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It
  • Role play ways to respond to the bully with your child.
  • Listen to your child when they want to talk about it.
  • Don’t encourage the child to ignore it or fight back
  • Encourage confidence and assertive communication
  • Talk to your child about who to tell if they are being bullied, create a safety plan with your child.
  • If the school is involved, allow school officials to address the other parents rather than calling them yourself
  • Seek counseling for your child if he or she is in distress (anxious, depressed, withdrawing, etc…)

What your child can co if he or she is being bullied.

The main thing to teach your child about preventing bullying is how to show confidence.

  • Don’t cry, and stay calm (crying gives them satisfaction)
  • Stay away from groups of bullies/gangs
  • Tell an adult if they see weapons, are being teased/bullied, you can help your child make a list of people they can go to
  • Go a different way than the bullies if having to walk home or go to a different part of the playground
  • Spend time with other friends
  • Run away from the situation if they are after them, preferably to an adult he or she trusts.
  • Tell their friends, friends can even help stand up for them.
  • Stick up for him or her self by using a confident voice “I don’t like….”
  • Practice what to say
  • Remember the bully wants power, it is more about their need for power than about you
  • If a child is alone and the bully wants their stuff, teach them to give it to them and leave the situation.

Some don’ts when dealing with bullies (Romain)

  • Don’t cry
  • Stay calm
  • Don’t ignore
  • Don’t taunt the bully.
  • Don’t beg the bully not to hurt you.
  • Don’t believe the names they call you are think negative about yourself
  • Name call back or agree with them
  • Try to fight back

What can bystanders do to help bullying?

“Research shows that bystanders intervene only 20% of the time, but when they do, bullying  stops about 50% of the time,” Bazelon said.

Even the smallest act of intervention can work wonders, she added. “Bystanders can help in many ways, simply by standing with the victim or touching their shoulder during an incident, or even by sending a supportive text or calling them on the phone afterward.” http://info.character.org/blog/bid/177221/Be-More-Than-a-Bystander-Speak-Up-Against-Bullying-and-Violence

  • Stand up for the person being bullied
  • Don’t give bullying an audience
  • Help the child being bullied get away without getting yourself in harms way.
  • Tell a trusted adult
  • Be friends

What teachers and schools and organizations can do if bullying is occurring:

First get the facts from multiple sources.

  • Listen to those involve without judgement or labeling
  • Separate children involved
  • Make sure person doing bullying knows what the problem is
  • Identify reasons child may have bullied
  • Have clear consequences:
  • have class discussion, role play situations
  • Attempt to help children make amends
  • stopbullying.gov has several tips on involving person doing bullying in consequences , including apology letters, doing good deeds, and what to stay away from
  • Provide opportunites for bullying education

Signs your child is bullying other children:

  • Gets into frequent arguments or fights with others
  • Is angry
  • Blames others for their problems
  • Unexplained new belongings or money
  • Frequent trips to the principle’s office at school.

There is a quiz at the end of Bullies are a Pain in the Brain to screen if your child is bullying others.

What to do if your child is bullying others?

  • Don’t get defensive, take responsibility for your child.
  • Talk to your child to tell you what happened and listen to their side.
  • Try to find out the issue your child is dealing with that led to the bullying behavior.
  • Set limits.
  • Apply consequences to the behavior
  • Provide alternatives to aggressive behavior.
  • Ask your child how you can help.
  • Seek professional help for your child if necessary to deal with the source of the issue.

Why do people bully others? According to stompoutbullying.org

  • Power and Control is the main issue surrounding bullying behavior
  • Sometimes someone else is also bullying the child
  • Child may be having difficulties at home or have experienced abuse, neglect or witnessed aggressive behavior themselves
  • To avoid getting bullied
  • For social power
  • Some plan their bullying and are liked by others but not their victims

Why don’t kids tell?

stopbullying.gov reported on the Indicators of School Crime and safety that bullying is reported to adults less than 40% of the time

  • Feeling helpless
  • Fear or intimidation by others
  • Not wanting to be seen as a tattletale
  • Feelings of isolation and withdrawal

What are the risk factors for being bullied?

It’s important to note that while these are risk factors, not all children with these characteristics are bullied.

  • Seen as quiet or different by other children
  • Difficulty speaking up for themselves
  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Are anxious, depressed or low self esteeme

What are the risk factors for bullying?

There are two types of those who bully defined by stopbullying.gov

Those whose goals are concerned with popularity, power, control.

Those who are more isolated, have low self esteem, less involved in school, less social involvement with peers.

Other risk factors include:

  • Are aggressive
  • More difficulties at home
  • View violence as a way to handle their problems
  • Less involvement from parents,
  • Negative view of others
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Have friends who bully

What are the long term consequences of bullying?

  • A NY Times article summaries a study by the JAMA network on psychiatry that found long term consequences of childhood bullying into young adulthood.
  • Young adults were interviewed/assessed on which role they played in the bullying scenario and placed into different groups
  • Outcomes included increased anxiety and panic for those who were victims, increased panic for those who were both bullies and victims and increased instance of adult antisocial behavior for those who were bullies but not victims.

“A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.” www.stopbullying.org

Resources and links

“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” written and illustrated by Trevor Romain

“Cyber Bullying Not More” by Holli Kenley, MA

stopbullying.gov

http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It

http://safechild.org/categoryparents/preventing-bullying/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/effects-of-bullying-last-into-adulthood-study-finds/

http://acestoohigh.com/2015/03/02/bullying-starts-early-with-parents-and-babies/

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html

Ten Questions to Ask When Looking for a Therapist

question markSometimes when you are entering therapy for the first time at an agency or private practice it’s hard to know if you are making the right choice for your child. Think about it, when looking for a therapist, many people look up their insurance provider list, find a few names, ask a friend, pastor or teacher, and maybe look them up on the web. The following are ten things parents should ask when finding a therapist for their child.

1. What is your background in (_child’s problem__)

2. What are your fees, and do you take my insurance.

3. How long have you been practicing

4. How much will I as a caregiver be involved in my child’s therapy

5. What methods do you use (i.e. play therapy, theoretical background)

6. Can I get information about (play therapy, sandtray,) or Can you explain it to me?

7. How will I know if therapy is the right choice for my child?

8. How much will I as a parent be involve?

9. How long will therapy last?

10. What do you do if for some reason my child needs to see someone else?

Case Notes and Divorce: A Parent’s Rights

Case Notes and Divorce: A Parent’s Rights

I find that therapist who work with children often work with divorced or divorcing parents. I thought I would share this article from my liability insurance company that I think will be helpful.

Sandtray Therapy 101

filley imageI recently attended a wonderful 2-day sandtray workshop with Denise Filley at Marietta Counseling Center for Children and Adults in Marietta, GA. I have been using sandtray work with my clients since I began this journey of becoming a play therapist, this was the most comprehensive training on sandtray work that I have attended. We covered a range of topics including materials, history of sandtray therapy, and also different perspectives of using the sandtray.

This workshop was highly experiential, including practicing with a partner, group activities, and also individual sandtrays.My favorite part of the training was a partner activity where we did mutual story telling in the sandtray. I had the privilege of practicing that activity with a co-worker, and we took turns picking a figure and adding a story line. I found that after this weekend workshop, we created about 6-7 different types of sandtrays, and I stayed with the same partner throughout the training. At the end of the training we had a larger group tray with about 4-5 different members. We all took turns adding figures until we thought the tray was finished. I found it to be very process oriented, and by the end of the training felt more relaxed and had relieved some stress that I had been experiencing at the time, in addition to feeling like I build some positive relationships with other therapists.

The staff at Marietta Counseling showed professionalism and also hospitality by providing breakfast in the morning, snacks and beverages throughout the training, answering questions, encouraging networking, and also the time they spent setting up all of the sandtray figures!

After this training I felt prepared to go back to work and utilize the techniques we learned right away. I look forward to practicing and increasing my experience using sandtray therapy. I hope to attend future trainings led by Denise Filley, as well as held at Marietta Counseling Center for Children and Adults.

Links:

Denise Filley’s Workshop Schedule

Information about Marietta Counseling Center for Children and Adults

Dealing with Dyslexia: Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D,” by Margot Finke

“When Horatio has difficulty reading, his parents meet with the teacher to discover why. Horatio hears the words Dyslexia and Special Ed. “No way! Kids will think I’m dumb.” But he does go and with amazing results.”

I just received a new book by Margot Finke, Illustrated by Ellen Gurak. Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D,” is a book for children dealing with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a common learning disability among children where the brain has difficulty processing written words.

Horatio is an intelligent boy who makes good grades and many school subjects, except for reading. He just can’t make since of all the words. Horatio and his parents go to meet with his teacher and he finds out he has dyslexia. Horatio has many thoughts and emotions about this, and also is worried about what others will think when he has to attend a special class. To his delight, Horatio begins learning ways to read books and even begins to write!

I enjoyed reading this book. The rhyming has a comfortable pace, and the illustrations are colorful and vivid. Margot does a wonderful job of including the symptoms of dyslexia along with common emotions and thoughts a child might have when discovering they have this problem. It also includes a teacher, parent guide in the back with resources and also signs a child might be experiencing dyslexia. I would recommend this book for anyone working with children who have learning disabilities, and plan to use it for my own clients.

Where to buy

Margot’s Book Page

Autographed books available here.


Amazon


Powells


Guardian Angel Publishing


Links

Book Trailer

Margot Finke’s Website

Reviews

View a Play Room

You may be wondering what a play therapy room looks like. Click on this link for the University of North Texas Center for Play Therapy and experience what a play therapy room can typically look like. Their website also is a good resource for parents who may have questions or concerns about play therapy. You may also view photos of a play room from Pam Dyson’s website. There are links to her website and blog on the right hand side of this page.

Sam Feels Better Now! To Be Released!

SamcoverFINAL

My most current project is a children’s book titled “Sam Feels Better Now!: An Interactive Story for Children” Illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier, publisher is Loving Healing Press.

About the Story

“Sam Feels Better Now!: An Interactive Story for Children” incorporates elements of trauma therapy, as well as play and expressive therapies to assist children in working through crisis situations, traumatic events, and grief by helping the character, Sam learn ways to cope after his own difficult situation.