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Play Therapy with Adolescents

Connecting with adolescents and building a therapeutic alliance can be daunting for even a seasoned therapist. How can trust be established and a relationship built when an adolescent is reluctant to engage with a therapist? Play therapy is the answer! Play gives us an entry into the world of adolescents and enables us to connect with them in a fun and engaging way.

Most adolescents are not interested in talking directly about problems. They are often more receptive to attending therapy sessions when we use fun, playful activities and less direct questioning. Talk therapy uses the left side of the brain. Playful activities tap into the right

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Do Custody Evaluations Benefit the Children, Protect their Mental Health, and Help the Family Move Forward?

While research regarding the benefits of custody evaluation is limited, we do know that the conflict and instability are harmful to a child’s wellbeing. Typically, custody evaluations are used when a solution can’t be reached and the child’s best interest is to have the best decision made as quickly as possible.

At Garrett Counseling, we developed a unique plan for custody evaluations based on our experience in the counseling field. Our approach to custody evaluations involves extensive time with the family, child, and all parties involved. Once we feel we have reviewed all of the information regarding the case, we will present a professional, thorough recommendation regarding custody. We will also appear at any court proceedings needed to present the recommendation.

So, why should a custody evaluation be considered for your case?

The Detriment of Divorce

Parental divorce is usually presents an increased risk for a range of psychological problems among the children involved. Divorce, depending on the outcome, has been linked to a 25-100% increase in the risk for extreme psychological difficulties. (1)

Divorce can increase depression and anxiety in all genders and ages. With that said, males will find parents’ divorce more disturbing than females. Males with divorced parents tend to be more depressed than males with two parent families - regardless of psychological adjustment, conflict levels, or quality of parenting. (2)

Benefits of Mediation

Studies have shown that nonresidential parents who went through mediation were much more likely to maintain contact with their children than those who did not go through mediation. In fact, 30% of nonresidential who mediated see their children once a week of more 12 years following the initial dispute (by comparison, only 9% of nonresidential parents who did not mediate see their children as often). Even greater, 54% of nonresidential parents who went through mediation speak to their children on the telephone once a week or more after 12 years (by comparison, 13% of nonresidential, non mediated speak to their children as often). (1)


At Garrett Counseling, we strongly believe in the benefits of mediation and custody evaluations. We would be honored to speak with you further about this service. Please contact us for additional information!

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Posted on in The Counselor's Cafe
Guest Blog: Mediation & Divorce

The greatest predictor of maladjustment, behavior issues, depression and anxiety in children is the level of conflict between their parents they are exposed to.

 

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Posted on in The Counselor's Cafe
Be A Voice

In the United States, slavery is not a matter of the past but continues in the modern day and is all around us. While most of us know and acknowledge that sex trafficking exists in other countries, many remain unaware that women, men, and children are being sold for sex in our nation, in our state, and yes, in our city. In my work with women rescued from sex slavery I mentored and counseled women rescued from other countries, other states, and our very own state. Women are trafficked throughout and sold for sex or labor all over our state from cities of lower SES to higher income cities such as Hoover and Mountain Brook. I’d like to take this time to bring awareness by sharing the facts, helping you learn the signs that someone is being trafficked, and advocate for the millions of adults and children who’ve been enslaved by this heinous crime. Please note that these numbers could actually be much higher, as many victims are never identified.

 

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Guest Blog: Does My Preschooler Need Play Therapy?

Do you ever wonder if the behaviors you see in your preschooler are normal or a cause for concern? Do you sometimes question your parenting strategies and wonder if there's a better way to respond to your child?


As three to five year olds become more independent their behaviors can be challenging to most parents. Children who are experiencing difficulty adjusting to the birth of a sibling, a family move or starting preschool may be feeling anxious, confused or fearful. Bedtime battles, potty training, and temper tantrums can prevent you from feeling positive about your ability to parent your preschooler effectively. Sometimes parents are able to resolve difficulties on their own. Sometimes consulting with a play therapist can put a parent at ease.

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Posted on in The Counselor's Cafe
Understanding Anxiety Part 2

While you are waiting to see the therapist, there are some things you can do to slow down and sometimes stop the sensations at the onset. It is logical if you know what adrenaline and cortisol do to the body. Adrenaline causes the heart to beat faster, so taking a walk helps to use up the chemical. If you are sitting at your desk at work and cannot move at that moment, remember to add some fitness into your afternoon or evening. At the onset of symptoms, begin drinking water. Cortisol causes a thickening of the blood, and thick blood is hard to pump, so drinking a tall glass of water will help increase blood flow. A few swallows is not enough. It will need to be 8 oz or better. Secondly take a deep breath and hold it till the count of 10 seconds. Blow out slowly. Do this because the anxiety cycle involves the brain reading low oxygen when the shallow breathing of anxiety/panic begins to rob the blood of the normal supply of air. You can help to reset the system by drinking water and deep breathing so the blood moves well and is filled with the oxygen needed for the body to function. You will be using your human brain to control your animal brain. Now look around and determine if there really is a danger. Nobody else seem distressed? Well then, it is probably you starting your own signal of danger because of the troubles you are thinking about. The “what if” thinking gets people all of the time. Drink the water, breathe deeply and slowly, and look around. Remind yourself that you are actually safe even though your body says “HELP”. The next part is where talking to a therapist is really helpful. If you are triggering this anxiety a lot, maybe you need some time with a person who is trained to help you recognize some changes that need to be made in your life.

 

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Posted on in The Counselor's Cafe
Understanding Anxiety Part 1

We live in a culture of speed and instant fixes. Anyone or anything that gets in our way is considered a problem in our thinking. We do not tolerate discomfort and if pain or distress occurs, surely a professional will take care of the issue. Even though our bodies are the same as our ancient ancestors, the stressors are quite different. The ancient humans faced ravenous beasts and starvation, and modern man in America is plagued with financial woes and relationship discord. Although the problems are different, the internal alarm system referred to as anxiety is wired the same as in the early history of mankind. In the search for managing stress and anxiety, a brief study of the reasons for the symptoms (or loudness of the alarm) should help improve the unpleasant physiological responses.

 

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How Play Therapy Can Help Children Recover From Trauma

Research is ongoing, but many studies have shown that play therapy helps increase engagement, process trauma in safe space, and reduce manipulative cognitions. Primarily, Release Play Therapy and Structured Play Therapy have been used in the treatment of trauma victims.

Safe and Secure Environment

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Therapy & PTSD

According to the National Center for PTSD, as many as 7-8% of people in the United States will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. This number jumps to 11-20% when looking at veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and/or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). With numbers this large, we felt it was important to discuss how therapy can help individuals suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

 

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Posted on in The Counselor's Cafe

Good morning! Well, truthfully it has not been a good morning. It’s been a mom morning. You know the kind where there doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the house. Oh wait, and the ‘out of creamer’ kind of morning. The kind of morning where not one child is dressed appropriately for school. The kind of morning where, of course, no one followed through with that rule in our house of having decent clothes laid out the night before. The kind of morning where you say Jesus’ name more than once, and you aren’t sure if it was in the heart of desperation or anger (Yes, honey, I promise I repented!!). We are honest in this right? So in this kind of morning, my heart yearns for mom companionship. The non-judgemental mom friends. Not the ones who have gotten up at 4 am to cook breakfast for the entire family, those kind of friends are the ones I need on other days. But today, I just need to reach out to those of you who struggle like me on certain mornings. And yes, even you high achievers have these mornings if you are honest! I feel as though it is time for honesty as parents. So here is where I’m at and where I want to go. I want to go through the adventure of seriously turning chaos into order by thinking long term about this parenting thing and I want to stop beating myself up for expecting my kids to be kids, yet hold them accountable.

 

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Posted on in Inner Workings
Bookshelf: Wild About You
Wild About You is a children’s book written by Judy Sierra with pictures by Marc Brown. This book illustrates many themes, such as the struggle of wanting to start a family via adoption and how sometimes it takes a village to raise children. One important theme shown by this book is that despite looking different or coming from different backgrounds, the most important factor in adopting a new member into a family is unconditional love provided by the parents. This book also reveals the difficulties in raising a child without an support system. Without help from others, the pandas and the kangaroo would not be successful in raising their adoptive babies. This book would make an excellent tool to help children who may struggle with understanding why some families adopt, or why other families may look different from theirs. 
 

 

Written by Intern Josalyn
 
Josalyn is a Senior at Jacksonville State University, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology with an interest in pursuing a career in mental health counseling and advocating for social equality.
Hits: 1347

Posted on in Inner Workings
Bookshelf: The Day the Crayons Quit

One day, as Duncan was getting ready to color in class, he opened his box of crayons only to find a stack of written letters. One by one he opens the letters and begins to read. To his surprise the letters are from the crayons! Letter after letter, color after color, Duncan acknowledges each complaint. But what were the crayons complaining about? Each one had a feeling of being overworked , underworked,unappreciated, and/or misused. Duncan came up with a plan and decided to color one big picture using every color to its best abilities. The Picture was so unique and beautiful that Duncan’s teacher gave him an A+ for creativity.

 

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Why Should I Pursue Play Therapy In My Practice?

More and more counselors are turning to play therapy in their practices. At Garrett Counseling, we are experts in play therapy and utilize the method regularly.

 

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What Parents Need To Know About Play Therapy

Often times, what we discover in our conversations with parents is that they do not fully understand what play therapy is or how it may benefit their child. We want to help parents be better equipped to make decisions and help their children.

 

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Effects of Nature Therapy

Nature - Based Therapy is becoming the therapy of choice for many counselors, and with research showing positive results, it’s easy to see why! Nature - Based Therapy refers to programs that promote mental health through an on outdoor environment. At Garrett Counseling, we are big proponents of Nature - Based Therapy, and here is why:

 

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In Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families, Lauren Krasny Brown and Marc Brown explore all of the different possibilities that can arise as a result of a parents’ divorce. The topics covered include why parents might get a divorce, how things may change, how a child can expect to feel as a result of the divorce, what holidays and special occasions may look like after the divorce, and even the possibility of step parents and siblings. This would be a great book for a child whose parents have or are getting divorced. It would also be great to use as a conversation starter for those who are unsure of how to tell their child about the already made decision to end a marriage. If a child is acting out as a result of their parents splitting up, this book would be a great reference for them to explore and name their feelings, therefore allowing them to cope with those feelings in a healthier way. The authors approach this subject in a sensitive manner that may allow young readers to come to terms with the difficulties that accompany change in their families.

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The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Review by Intern Jessica

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Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

 

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In “The Owl Goes on Holiday” by Ulf Stark and Ann-Cathrine Sigrid Stahlberg, the Owl is a school teacher to the children of the animals in the forest. The stress of teaching has begun to take its toll on him. He has not been sleeping very well lately and feels exhausted while he is giving his lessons. The owl is eager to take some time off and relax, so he decides to take a vacation. At first, the owl enjoys his time off, but eventually begins to miss his schoolchildren. He feels well rested and heads home to get back to work. When he returns, he finds that one of the mice that he teaches has gone missing. He is quickly able to find the missing mouse and return to his work. Sometimes your daily life can become tiring. You feel like you are exhausted and just need to get away for a while. This story demonstrates that vacations, even if it’s just a short one, are necessary to allow ourselves to rest and recuperate. Doing the same work every day can make you feel like you are living in a rut. Going through life in this rut can drag you down and make you feel exhausted. Just a day of getting away and relaxing can improve your well-being, mind, and performance.

Find something you love and something you are passionate about and use that as an escape from daily life. - Intern Tara

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In “The Friends in Fantasy Forest” by Ulf Stark and Sara Nilsson Bergman, Tuka is sad because his house is blown away by a snowstorm the day before his birthday. All of his friends pitch in to surprise him with a new house and a party. This is truly a wonderful surprise! When he gets to his new home, all of his friends are there. All but one: his best friend Kota. He again becomes sad because his best friend isn’t there to celebrate his birthday with him, but his attention is drawn to a big box in the corner. What’s in the box? The best surprise of all: his best friend Kota! This story beautifully illustrates the importance of friendship. Life can become pretty overwhelming at times.

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