Nothing can fully prepare someone for becoming a parent. The responsibility, early morning feedings and tasks involved in being a parent can be daunting and overwhelming. So, too, is adolescence.

Adolescence marks a transition in a child’s life from depending solely on the parents to becoming more individualistic and peer-driven. While this may be a difficult time for Mom and Dad, all parents should want their child’s transition to be as seamless as possible.

The following are key issues that family’s can work on to forge a solid bond that extends from infancy, to adolescence and well into adulthood.

  1. Parents should always provide a safe environment and evoke the reassurance of unconditional love.
  2. Create an atmosphere that revolves around mutual trust, honesty and respect.
  3. Parents should establish age appropriate limits on assertiveness and independence. Too little or too much independence can damage a child.
  4. Forge a close-knit bond that encourages a child to talk openly with the parents, while still maintaining a parent relationship (vs. a parent being a peer or friend).
  5. Children need to learn responsibility.
  6. The importance of establishing and accepting limits.
  7. The consequence of impulsiveness and not thinking about his/her actions.

Having this strong, cohesive foundation built between parents and children, helps make the transition into adolescence smoother. Having a relationship between parent and child where honesty is of utmost importance forges a sturdy bond.

If a parent and child experience adolescent tension, it may be appropriate to seek family counseling in Utah. Therapists in Provo can help parents and adolescents communicate more effectively. Therapists also provide valuable insight into why a child is experiencing a difficult time during this teenage transition. Family counseling in Provo may focus on tasks for the parents and/or children; including helping establish the aforementioned key bonding tasks. A therapist can reassure parents if a teen’s behavior is acting within the normal guidelines of an adolescent seeking independence, or if the exhibited behavior is cause for alarm.

Concerning behaviors should be addressed immediately with a counselor and include: alcohol and drug abuse (not experimentation but an abusive addiction), steady academic decline, social isolation, repeated truancy, negative self-esteem issues, repeatedly deifying parental authority, suicidal or physically threatening to others. Rest assured that licensed therapists specialize in focusing on these areas and are readily available to assist families.

When two people become devoted to sharing one life together, a variety of communication styles merge. These styles depend on a range of factors, including each person’s family background. While one partner’s family may practice open communication, the other partner’s family may feel this is foreign. Understanding, acceptance and acknowledging the difference in each person’s communication style, is vital to forging a healthy relationship. It is also important the couple develop their own communication style.

It is essential for a couple to communicate without placing blame on either party. Five important communication guidelines are:

  1. Always listen. Do not listen to just the words, but try to understand the true emotion and feelings that are being conveyed.
  2. Speak matter-of-factly without blame. For example, tell your partner “I feel bad when we don’t sit down for dinner together.” This sentence stresses two factual statements: someone feels bad (fact) for not eating dinner together (fact). Always remember that facts are not arguable and they do not place blame.
  3.  Focus on a positive to negative ratio. For example, for every one complaint about your partner, it is vital to focus on five positives.
  4. Spin complaints into requests. Instead of complaining about making dinner and cleaning up, perhaps negotiate and ask your partner if he will make dinner if you clean up after dinner.
  5. Focus on one’s inner self and see what problems each person is contributing. For communication to be successful in any relationship, both parties have to be committed to opening the path of verbal communication.

Additionally, a few more important communication tips include:

  • Clearly state what you want or expect. Instead of playing games and hinting around, it is better that both people in the relationship are on the same page.
  • Treat your partner how you would like to be treated. The world would be a much easier place if everyone abided by this simple courtesy.
  • Negotiate – no one said relationships were easy and yes, they require give and take.
  • Adapt, Adjust, Alter! Instead of preparing for war, consider if this is something that is so important a war is not avoidable. Look at the long-term consequences instead of only thinking about the present time.

Utah marriage counseling specializes in helping couples, whether married or in a long-term relationship, set communication goals with one another. A therapist’s office is a safe haven, one where couples can work on being honest and learn communication-building skills. Couples counseling in Utah focuses on understanding each person’s communication style, how to communicate more effectively, problem solving skills and effective negotiation. Provo marriage counseling offers short-term and long-term therapy for couples, providing crucial insight into thought processes, communication styles and setting strong goals for ultimately communicating more effectively with each other.

Depression is a combination of feelings, including intense, overwhelming sadness, helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. When someone is clinically depressed these feelings keep him/her from functioning normally, and often span for days, if not weeks.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, clinical depression is the diagnosis when at least five of the following nine symptoms are present at the same time:

  • A depressed, down mood most of the day, especially in the mornings
  • Fatigue or extreme loss of energy
  • Continual feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating and marked indecisiveness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • A diminished interest in activities
  • Restlessness
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Recurring thoughts that surround death or suicide

There are several different types of depression, including, but not limited to, Major Depressive Disorder, Chronic Depression, Atypical Depression, Manic Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.  

Depression is a disease, not a mood; therefore, it is not a flaw in one’s character or a personal weakness. Depression is when neurotransmitters and chemicals in one’s brain are out of balance and do not communicate properly. Several factors can contribute to depression, including family history. Scientists have discovered that genes play a role in inheriting depression. While this does not mean someone is necessarily born with depression, it relates to how someone handles a stressful event and if depression is easily triggered. Stressful events in one’s life can cause depression, e.g., losing a loved one, postpartum depression after pregnancy, divorce or experiencing a chronic disease. Certain health problems relate to depression, including hypothyroidism and anemia. Medication can also cause be the root cause of depression, particularly with steroid and/or narcotic use.       

People suffering from depression have many options in today’s world. Therapists in Utah can help diagnosis the severity of depression and offer advice if a patient should seek medical treatment under a psychiatrist or family doctor for anti-depressant medication(s). It is important to determine the core cause of depression, whether it is genetic or triggered by a stressful event. This variable factor determines the type of treatment Therapists in Provo, Utah recommend, based on each individual’s needs and requirements. Utah Counselors receive special training, helping them understand the effects of depression, how to counteract these effects with open communication and extensive therapy.

Addiction is the habitual, frequent and uncontrollable act that involves the use of alcohol, drugs and/or centers around a certain behavior. Typically, two symptoms must be present to constitute an addiction.

  1. The behavior is counterproductive and harmful.
  2. The behavior is a constant.

Addiction differs from obsessive-compulsive traits in that an addiction centers on deriving and anticipating pleasure. An obsessive-compulsive disorder stems from compulsion and relief. There may be a fine line between the two and only a licensed therapist is able to make a diagnosis.

Addiction affects not only the person who suffers from the addiction, but also the people that surround him/her. An addict may blame other people or outside circumstances for his/her detrimental behavior. Often time’s addiction is the result of a person feeling there is no escape or better way to cope with the issues he/she is experiencing. When someone feels that addiction is the best means of coping with an issue – e.g., child abuse, a family member’s death, trauma, etc. – it is because the addiction allows him/her to escape reality, distracting him/her from the deep-rooted issues he/she is avoiding.


There are several different types of addiction, including, but not limited to:

  • Alcohol Dependency – Can the person stop drinking if he/she wants to?
  • Drug Dependency – This includes illicit drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and legal drugs, such as painkillers.
  • Compulsive Behaviors – This includes gambling, video game addiction, shopping, exercising, sex addictions and overeating. 

Additionally, addiction effects many people but requires three types of central figures:

  • Victims – Those people that wallow in constant self-pity.
  • Enablers – Always provide excuses for the addict.
  • Persecutors – Put the addict in defense mode, which makes him/her seek out a method for relieving the pain.

Since addiction rarely involves treating a single individual, but requires family members and friends to receive treatment to stop the victim, enabler and persecutor cycle, it is important to seek the advice and guidance of a professional licensed therapist or counselor.

There are varieties of therapies someone can consider, especially in the state of Utah. This includes visiting a Utah substance abuse counselor, family counseling in Utah and even couples counseling in Utah. Working with a licensed professional will help someone forge a path that leads towards recovery.

“What do I know about sex? I’m a married man.” Tom Clancy

In many ways, a lot of married couples feel that way. There is an adage that a couple’s sexual life goes downhill in the course of their married life. Indeed, there are times when your, “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.” becomes the standard answer, rather than the exception.

A fulfilling sex life is an integral part of marriage – it is one way to establish and maintain intimacy between the husband and wife. Although the passage of time may diminish that excitement you might have felt when you were in your “honeymoon period”, your sexual relationship can still be fulfilling and enjoyable. One key to maintaining intimacy and a satisfying sex life is to ensure your sexual health as a couple.

Couples may lack sexual desire or suffer from poor sexual health due to these issues:

–          Painful sex. There are times when a woman experiences pain during sex. This may be because of inadequate foreplay, conditions that result in a lack of lubrication for the woman, vaginismus (or the condition where the vaginal muscles tighten involuntarily) or a vaginal infection. Due to the pain that a woman experiences during sex, the natural reaction would be to avoid having sex her spouse. It is highly recommended that the woman see her doctor to check what is causing the discomfort.

–          Erectile dysfunction. This pertains to a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sexual performance. There may be psychological and physical reasons for this problem. Again, this usually needs either a therapist in Utah or medical intervention.

–          Other physical health issues. Lack of libido may be due to effects of medication (i.e. anti-depressants, diabetes or heart medications and so on).

–          Stress and fatigue. The everyday stresses of life and the flurry of activities result in a tired couple – who can hardly end the day with a kiss, much less have sex. Also, if the couple is stressed over something (money, kids, in-laws), sex can get to the bottom of the priority list.

–          Relationship problems. Lack of intimacy can be traced to problems in the relationship itself. When there are feelings of bitterness, resentment or anger with your spouse, sex may be the last thing you want to share with your partner.

–          Negative feelings during or about sex. A partner may be disinterested in sex due to feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment or guilt, a negative view of sex, negativity or anxiety about one’s sexual performance.

–          Aging. Hormones that affect our sexual response and arousal ebb and flow over time. For instance, for men, the levels of testosterone decline as they age. This means that they take more time to get aroused and the firmness of the erections may not be the same. For women, estrogen levels also decrease over time, which may lead to needing more time to be aroused and less lubrication.

Getting Help

Lack of sexual interest may be due to physical issues. It may be a red flag, your body’s call for help. Do make it a point to visit your doctor to have a comprehensive check-up to ensure that the lack of libido is not due to physical problems.

Now, if your doctor issues you a clean bill of health, then you and your partner should explore other reasons. You may consider getting Utah marriage counseling to delve into the possible reasons for your sexual issues. There may be some disagreement in sexual practices or issues that the couple can’t seem to resolve by themselves. With the help of a marriage therapist in Provo, you and your partner can explore psychological and marital issues that may be the root cause of the problem.


Life, they say, is a journey that has its peaks and low points. But these ups and downs are more pronounced, more emotionally damaging with a person who has bipolar disorder or manic depression.

Bipolar disorder can be likened to a ball that is continuously bouncing – times of high energy (or mania) and times of feeling extremely low, times where one feels he can do anything and times where one can’t find the energy to lift even a finger. There are also some cases where those with bipolar disorder dwell longer on the depressed “phase” rather than in the manic phase.

The intensity of these highs and lows are so high that one’s ability to function normally everyday are seriously impaired. Bipolar disorder will also wreak damage on one’s relationships with family and friends and to one’s professional life.

When left untreated, bipolar disorder can only worsen and produce obvious negative effects not just on emotions, but also in the physical aspect such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and migraines. Bipolar disorder will also affect one’s concentration, appetite, judgment, energy level and self-esteem.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder strikes about 2.6% of Americans that are 18 years old and above every year. This means that the number of persons with this disease is on the rise. The disease is also equally distributed between men and women, and all races, ethnic groups, ages and social classes. Also based on statistics by the National Institute of Mental Health, there is an indication that bipolar disorder is a inheritable disease as close to 70% of those with bipolar disorder also have at least one close relative with bipolar disorder or major depression.

The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Although bipolar disorder is seen as jumping from one extreme to the other, bipolar disorder symptoms may actually vary from person to person. Each person may have different patterns where the severity of each phase of the cycle, as well as the frequency, varies. There are some manic depressives who shift from mania to depression at more or less regular intervals. There are also some that lean more towards either mania or depression. The intensity may vary where you can have sever mania or hypomania (mania that is mild to moderate) and severe depression or mild to moderate depression.

Mania. During this phase, one may have bouts of high energy and creativity. There may even be a flurry of hyperactivity and euphoria, where one has an unrealistic view of his abilities and powers – he feels he can do and be anything he wants. There is a feeling that one is never wrong. The danger with this phase is that there is a tendency to perform destructive acts – ringing up thousands of dollars in one’s credit card, making very rash personal and career decisions and engaging in sexual promiscuity. Those in this phase may:

–          Be highly aggressive and may pick fights with others

–          Talk a mile a minute

–          Be very restless and irritable and easily distracted

–          Sleep very little (as he feels there is little need for sleep)

–          Indulge in substance abuse: drugs, alcohol and sleep medications

Hypomania. This is more manageable than mania since it is less severe. There is also a heightened sense of euphoria and productivity. At this time, one is in unusually high spirits. Those in the hypomanic state are able to continue with daily functions and still keep their sense of reality. However, there may still be cases where decisions made during this state can be damaging to the persons involved.

Mild to moderate depression. This phase is marked by a persistent feeling of sadness, fatigue, emptiness, hopelessness or anxiety. During this phase, one may lose interest in performing day-to-day activities, in food and in sex. When those in a manic state are prone to making rash decisions, those in the depressive state can hardly make decisions and will have difficulty focusing and remembering.

Severe depression. This phase is also dangerous as those in this phase often exhibit suicidal tendencies. They will neglect themselves to the point where they are not able to eat or sleep properly and will forget about maintaining their hygiene or appearance. There may also be times when they behave as if they have a death wish. During this phase, there is a higher risk with people who have a tendency towards substance abuse to attempt suicide.

Help for Bipolar Disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder may be a long term activity. It is also highly encouraged that those who exhibit symptoms of bipolar disorder seek an experienced psychiatrist who can provide treatment, including medication. And, to get an accurate diagnosis of a person’s symptoms, one should undergo a comprehensive evaluation that encompasses the person’s medical, psychological and social condition.

One can also benefit from the help of a Utah therapist to get coping tools to deal with damages in relationships, manage stress, as well as cope with the negative and difficult feelings or behaviors. With therapy, one can know how to avoid the triggers and minimize the possibility of a relapse.

Help for Loved Ones

Undoubtedly, the loved ones will also need help in dealing with this illness. It is important for the patient’s recovery that he has the continued support and encouragement from people he loves. And his family may need some help in this area. They can seek family therapy in Provo to help provide them with the tools needed for them to properly support their loved one.

With Utah family counseling, family members can:

–          Be more aware of the symptoms, monitor the patient’s moods and watch out for damaging or destructive behavior.

–          Gain perspective about the disorder and know the “proper” way to respond to the loved ones’ actions and symptoms

–          Work together to ensure that the home environment is healthy and supportive not just for the patient but for the rest of the family members

–          Minimize the patient’s stress

–          Help the patient make healthy choices

–          Help the patient care for himself – i.e. ensuring that a regular sleeping and eating schedule is kept

Don’t wait to get help until it’s too late! If you are looking for an experience family therapist in Provo, Utah, be sure to book an initial appointment with Dr. Triston Morgan. In the span of Dr. Morgan’s practice, he has gained extensive experience in helping individuals and families triumph over the difficulties they have in life.


The wicked stepmother… We have the fairy tales to thank for stories where stepmothers (and stepsisters) are viewed in a negative light. But with the increased number of divorces and single parents who marry again, 6 out of 10 remarriages usually have children from previous marriages or relationships. Also, according to Pew Research Center, in 2011, there are 13% of adults who are stepparents in a blended family.

Marriage (or the blending of two individuals) is hard enough to manage.  Imagine the situation if you try to blend two families with various members having different personalities. It’s only a matter of time before there will be clashes between a stepparent and child and between stepsiblings. There may be feelings of disappointment or frustration when the “new” family does not seem to gel the way one wants it to. It may be challenging, but living (and loving) together in harmony as one happy family can be done.

When You Say “I do” the second time around

When you are planning on marrying someone who has children from a previous relationship, you must remember that you are marrying into a family. You are not just binding yourself to your future spouse, but to his or her children as well. In the same way, if you have children from a previous relationship, your future spouse is also “marrying” your children. You must seriously consider whether getting married is the option that you, as a couple, are willing to take. The difficult fact is that when a couple decides to get married, it is by their own choice. The children may not feel that they are given a choice in the matter.

If you have been previously married and divorced, children (and you yourself) may have emotional baggage about the previous marriage. Your children may still be mourning the loss of that family and may be wary of having a “new daddy” in place when all they want is their daddy. Stepping into a situation like this takes patience and love. Forming a blended family successfully will also take time.

You will need to set up the foundations even before the marriage. You will also need to develop a good relationship with the children, especially if these children are in their teens.  It will also be a challenge to expect these children to accept you and your authority as a parental figure.

Here are some issues that need to be addressed in a blended family:

–          Decisions that will have an impact on the whole family – where to live, how each one is to relate with the others and so on.

–          Jealousy (especially if there are children resulting from the “new” relationship)

–          Feelings of not belonging

–          Grief due to the loss of the previous family relationship

–          Confusion, especially over the new identity as a family

–          Resistance to the stepparent or stepsiblings. “Why should I listen to you? You’re not my mother?” This can be a possible response and must be addressed in a positive manner.

–          Relationships with members of the extended family. How do you deal with ex-wives or ex-husbands, as well as a “new” set of grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins?

–          Implementing rules and discipline in the home.

How Family Therapy Can Help

Prior to marriage, it will be helpful to seek family counseling in Utah. This is a great way to start right and begin the journey through the maze of conflicting and negative emotions into building a home where everyone feels he belongs and is loved.

Couples’ pre-marriage counseling will help the future husband and wife to:

–          Discuss expectations with regards to important matters such as disciplining children, handling money, religion, celebrating holidays and other issues that relate with the family.

–          Discuss feelings regarding the previous failed marriage. Each individual can get help to dispose of emotional baggage that he or she may have been carrying as a result of a previous marriage.

–          Help you build a plan for the blended family. You can discuss how you will structure the blended family in such a way that every member feels that he or she is part of it.

Starting Right

Here are some tips as you plan for your blended family, even before your marriage:

–          Don’t make too many changes all at once. The children may still be adjusting to the loss of the previous family structure. If you are recently divorced, it is wise to wait for a year or two before you remarry.

–          Exercise patience and not force your way in. It will take time to build trust and acceptance. Stepsiblings will not instantly love each other. Stepchildren may not immediate see you as someone with the authority over them. Give the children time to ease into the new family.

–          Have realistic expectations. From the start, accept the fact that the “new” family will not fit the traditional pattern with traditional roles. Also, don’t immediately conclude that fights amongst stepsiblings are due to the blended family.

–          Find ways for the blended family to enjoy each other’s company. Take as many opportunities for all members to experience “life” together. For instance, invite your fiancé’s children to spend the night in your house or go on a camping trip together.

–          Be united as a couple. The issues that face a blended family may drive the spouses apart. It is important to remain committed to nurturing and strengthening your relationship. Make sure that you spend quality time together so that you stay united as you face the challenges in your blended family. This is particularly important if your children try to issue an ultimatum that you choose between them and your fiancé.

–          Provide stepchildren with their own space. When building your new home together, give each stepchild his own space, even when new siblings have to share a room. Give each child the freedom to decorate his or her own space.

–          Encourage open communication. Foster open communications where you are just there to listen to what your child feels about the prospective blended family.

–          Include them in the wedding ceremony. There are unity ceremonies which you can include in the wedding ceremony to make your children feel part of the union. For instance, in a sand ceremony, children from previous relationship can have an integral part in the program, where the officiating minister explains how each member has something to bring into the relationship.

–          Set limits and rules that members are expected to follow. Although children, especially teens, may chafe at boundaries set for them, limits and boundaries are actually a positive signal for the children. It shows that you love and care enough for them to want to spend time and attention in their development and discipline. However, you must also be realistic in that you can’t expect to be the enforcer of the rules as the stepparent. Let your spouse do the enforcing during the first few months when you come together as a blended family.

–          Get the help of a family therapist. An experienced Utah  family therapist will help, especially during the initial years of the blended family. If you are looking for a licensed marriage and family therapist in Provo, Utah, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan is an experienced therapist who is licensed to practice in the state of Utah. He has been instrumental in helping individuals, couples and families go through the challenges they face and emerge as stronger, better persons.


“All my life I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. Something missing or damaged.”
“Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants.”
So says Cassandra Clare in her book City of Bones.

The teenage years are fraught with drama, pressures and challenges. It is a time of confusion – where the child transitions into adulthood and is coming into terms with it. There is pressure from inside (as a teen tries to discover his identity and adjusts to changes in his body), from peers (as a teen desires to be accepted by friends) and from parents.

The teen starts to learn more about himself and his environment. The teen may to discover boundaries and new ideas and try to test them. The pressures may further be compounded by events that are beyond the teen’s or his family’s control.

This time may also be a time of growth, where the teen learns to deal with these pressures constructively. When he does this successfully, he is able to emerge from the adolescent years stronger and ready to face the challenges of adulthood. However, there may be instances where a teen meets with challenges and is unable to cope with these in a healthy manner. There may be a need for some outside help, such as individual or family counseling in Utah to help the teen through the issues the face him.

It is important for parents and care givers to know if a teen needs some form of counseling – Utah substance abuse counseling, individual or family counseling or anger management therapy.

A teen may be particularly vulnerable when he has experienced or is experiencing the following:

–          The development of an illness or a disability due to an accident

–          The death or sickness of a loved one

–          Major changes in his life – the breakdown of his parents’ marriage that ends in divorce, moving to another location or school, the loss of a boyfriend/girlfriend, drastic changes in his family’s financial situation.

–          He is a witness to a traumatic incident

–          He is a victim of abuse or bullying

–          She has or has had a teen pregnancy

Also, a teen’s behavior may be his cry for help. If parents are aware and alert, they will be able to see that there is possibly a serious problem that requires Provo counseling. Here are some signs a parent should watch out for:

–          Signs of depression: Extended periods where the teen feels despair, sadness and anger.  These may also be times when a teen is overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Depression may also be manifested in a lack of energy or appetite, changes in sleep and eating patterns, withdrawing from family and friends, as well as a neglect of personal appearance and hygiene. Please note that teens may exhibit signs of sadness or distress and this can be perfectly normal. However, if these feelings persist, they may indicate depression.

–          Pre-occupation with death/suicide: A serious red flag may be a teen’s constant inferences towards death or suicide through jokes, letters, or choice of music. The teen may also discuss this fascination through everyday conversation. Some behavior that also point towards suicidal tendencies would be the sudden giving away of personal possessions that you know they consider valuable or saying “I love you.” or asking, “Will you miss me?” out of the blue.

–          Violent or risky behavior. Bouts of temper, where the teen may start harmful behaviors towards self or others. For instance, he makes use of behavior that intimidates or bullies others or he may try to start a fight.  He may also mistreat or hurt animals, damage other people’s property or may try starting fires.  The teen may also exhibit behavior that is considered risky, such as being sexually promiscuous, being involved in illegal activity or carrying a dangerous weapon. The teen may also try to run away from home.

–          Physical signs. Unexplained weight loss of gain, frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after meals, refusal to join in family meals or a lack of appetite may hint at an eating disorder.

–          Signs of substance abuse. Your child may start experimenting with alcohol, tobacco and drugs. This may be indicated by “strange” behavior, such as brushing his teeth the moment he comes home, his smelling of smoke, beer and alcohol beverages becoming missing.

–          Deteriorating performance in school. There may be a drop in grades, disciplinary problems with persons in authority and truancy.

–          Other behaviors. These negative behaviors include bed-wetting shoplifting, lying, refusing to submit to authorities and at times, breaking curfew or staying out all night.

It is important to understand that there may be an inherent cause as to why a teen behaves in the above manner. This is where therapy and counseling can help. Therapy can help the teen trace the cause of their negative behavior, why their behaviors is negative and how they can make use of tools to change thoughts and behaviors towards the positive. Therapy can also help teens come to terms with the stresses they are experiencing and discover constructive ways by which they can deal with these stressors and problems.

A teenage is especially vulnerable and as parents, we are tasked to safeguard their physical and emotional help as we try to prepare him to face the demands of being an adult. With early intervention and counseling, you can help lead him out through the maze of adolescence, towards a successful future as an adult.

Dr. Triston Morgan, whose practice is based in Provo, Utah, is a licensed therapist with a wealth of experience in dealing with troubled teens. If you are looking for someone to help your teenager deal with the stresses and issues he is going through and you are based in Utah, feel free to contact Dr. Morgan for an initial consultation.

Who doesn’t want to be body beautiful? We want to be racing a la Katy Perry in our skin tight jeans, and we want to answer “yes!” to The Pussy Cat Dolls’ question: “Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” Every day, we are bombarded by images of models and celebrities in their form-fitting clothes and hunks with six pack abs.

There is this constant pressure to look good – which includes having those curves at the right places. This is a time when gyms, fitness trainers, diet programs and the entire fitness industry are doing good business. Indeed, we tend to go on a diet or take on a physical fitness program to look the best we can.

However, this search for the perfect body may leave us vulnerable to an insidious problem – eating disorders. To be sure, eating disorders are rooted in a number of factors, not just the search for body beautiful. These factors include a poor self and body image, the family environment, life events and many more. There are also instances where food is used as a coping mechanism to those who are overwhelmed by the pressures they are facing in life. Needless to say, food becomes the focal point of one’s attention to the point where this pre-occupation results in damaging behaviors. The obsession with food, weight and a great body also affects one’s ability to see themselves in a more objective manner.

Eating Disorder Facts

Below are the most common types of eating disorders:

–          Anorexia. This is rooted in a distorted body image where one see himself or herself as being “too fat”, never “thin enough”. Because of this, those stricken with anorexia may starve themselves and may sometimes also exercise obsessively to the point where their bodies are gaunt and underweight. Anorexia nervosa produces serious damage to the body which can even end in death.

–          Bulimia. This is marked by the compulsion to go on an eating binge and then purge what was eaten to avoid gaining the weight. Bulimics may make use of diet pills, laxative or vomit inducing tools for them to get rid of the possible weight gain as a result of the eating binge.

–          Binge eating disorder. This is marked by a compulsion to overeat, even when one is already full. The urge to overeat is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and self-disgust, which perpetuates the vicious cycle as the more one feels bad, the harder it is to resist the compulsion to eat.

These eating disorders do not just strike women. These past few years has seen an increase in the existence of eating disorders in men. Based on statistics provided by the National Eating Disorder Association, there are ten million Americans with an eating disorder. This translates to some 10 to 15% of the population having some type of eating disorder.

Statistics also show that the eating disorders may last for one to 15 years, or even longer. If the case is serious enough and no moves are taken to treat the disorder, health consequences are irreversible, where 5 to 10% of those with anorexia die after ten years and 18 to 20% of those in anorexia die after 20 years since contracting this illness.

Signs of Eating Disorders

As parents and for our own health, we should be alert to spot signs of an eating disorder. Here are some of them:

–          Unhealthy pre-occupation with weight and dieting. This involves an obsession with counting calories, ensuring that one gains or losses a certain amount of weight and constant dieting, even when they are objectively within their ideal weight.

–          Change in eating behavior. An anorexic may avoid eating with the family or any social event that involves eating. A bulimic person will often ask to be excused and will make trips to the bathroom immediately after a meal. Those with a binge eating disorder may try hoarding food or eating alone. Food may also mysteriously “disappear” from cupboards and refrigerators and food wrappers may be found under the pillow, inside pockets and so on.

–          Physical signs. This includes the growth of hair in unusual places like the face, absence of menstruation, swelling of the glands that result in one’s looking like a chipmunk, poor teeth, complaints about stomach aches or dizziness and blood shot eyes. Bulimics are also marked by poor dental hygiene and cracked lips as a result of self-induced vomiting.

–          Compulsive and often excessive exercising, even in bad weather.

–          Rapid and unusual weight loss or gain.

–          Use of diuretics, diet pills and laxatives. Those who are diabetic may try to avoid taking in their required dose of insulin.

–          Evidence of purging. There are signs of vomiting or the use of enemas in the bathroom.

Getting help

Eating disorders are best identified and treated while it is still early and the physical effects are not yet serious. Those with eating disorders will benefit from counseling and therapy during this time. This will help those with an eating disorder come to terms with the reasons behind the behavior and equip themselves with tools to help them towards positive and healthy behaviors.

However, it is also important to remember that those with eating disorders are struggling and may be wary about getting help. There may even be some who will resist getting help. Although it is beneficial to get your loved one or friend into a therapist in Utah as early as possible, you must be exercise caution when you approach and communicate with the loved one concerned.  You must remember not to be confrontational, but instead calm, respectful, loving and positive.

With the help of an experienced counselor or therapist, one can address issues of poor body image, which is commonly the root of the eating disorder. The therapist in Provo can also help the patient through feelings of confusion, shame and loneliness that result from the eating disorder. The therapist can provide cognitive-behavioral therapy to help those with eating disorders to be aware of negative thoughts and behavior and how to counter them with positive coping tools. This may also include education and equipping on issues such as good nutrition and healthy ways to manage one’s weight.

For those who are looking for a therapist in Provo, Utah, be sure to visit Dr. Triston Morgan’s office for an initial consultation on how one can get help for an eating disorder. Dr. Morgan specializes in providing a positive, non-confrontational environment as therapy is provided for a patient’s recovery.


All is quiet at the home front, or so it seems. The house is well-kept, the children are well-behaved and the couple looks happy. But like an iceberg, there is something more below the surface – there may be domestic violence.

A marriage is a partnership that ought to provide a place of safety, comfort and love to both partners. But sadly, this is not the case all the time. Domestic violence may not be easy to spot, especially if the ones being abused feel the need to cover it up. Also, one may not be even aware or recognize that he or she is in an abusive relationship. The abuse may start subtly and then get worse as the cycle of abuse goes on and on.

Domestic abuse is about the abuser aiming to exercise control and power over the partner. The abuse may come in different forms:

–          Emotional: The abuser heaps insults and criticisms, making the victim feel helpless and have a bad image about himself or herself. This is designed to undermine the victim’s self-confidence and sense of worth.

–          Control, including economic abuse: Here, the balance of power in the relationship is skewed in favor of the abuser. The victim is left out of the decision-making process – this includes decisions about the household, about friendships, down to little things such as what to get from the grocery. There is a bid to make the victim financially dependent on the abuser since the abuser holds control over the family’s finances, even the victim’s earned income.

–          Intimidation. This is instilling fear in the victim, not just for himself or herself, but also for the children. The intimidation may be through blackmail, damage to property, threats of physical harm or the display of weapons.

–          Physical abuse. This may be inflicting physical injury (such as slapping, kicking, biting and anything that causes physical pain). It may also come in the form of withholding access to food, medication, sleep and other resources needed for the victim to maintain health.

–          Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse comes with sexual contact where the other partner is unwilling. There are cases of marital rape, forcing the partner to commit acts that are against the victim’s will, forcing the partner to have sex with others, attempts to demoralize and damage the victim’s sexuality (such as criticizing sexual performance).

–          Isolation. This is cutting off the victim from family, friends, social and work ties.

–          Blaming and denial. The abuser turns the tables and accuses the victim of causing the abusive behavior or he or she may deny the abuse.

An abusive relationship may also be marked by constant accusations of unfaithfulness, intimidation, extreme jealousy and attempts to exert excessive control (of where you go, what you wear, who you see and how you spend your time).

You don’t have to be a victim

Domestic abuse is a vicious cycle. As the cycle turns and turns, the victim falls deeper and deeper into the cycle. With continued abuse, one may lose their self-esteem and sense of reality altogether and may even accept the abuse as natural and deserved. There may even be fear in that you feel you can’t get out of the situation.

However, you can break free from the cycle. You see, without any form of intervention, the cycle will most likely go on and on. Breaking free of the abusive relationship may be the only way to stop the abuse. The good thing is that there is a lot of help available for victims of domestic abuse. There are hotlines one can call; there are safe houses one can go to.

The Question of Marriage Counseling

There is still a debate on whether going to Provo marriage counseling is an effective way of breaking the cycle. It is believed that unless the therapist has extensive experience and training in domestic violence, couples therapy may do more harm than good.

Sometimes, the victim comes for couples counseling in Provo in the hopes of changing the abusive spouse. But that is not the aim of counseling. Counseling encourages open communication but in an abusive relationship, being open may just expose the victim to even more violence, where whatever he or she discloses during the sessions can be used as ammunition for the abuser to step up with the abusive behavior.

However, individual Utah counseling may help. This is usually more effective when the victim has decided to leave the situation and escape the violence. Through therapy, the victim can come to terms with the fact of abuse and be given tools to properly respond to this abuse and to make moves towards protecting oneself.

Therapy will be instrumental in repairing the emotional and psychological damage wreaked by the domestic violence. Counseling can provide tools to restore your self-esteem and heal the scars of the abuse. The therapy sessions can be times when anger, fear, guilt and resentment can be threshed out and released.

If you feel the need for therapy to help you break free of the cycle of domestic violence and you happen to be in Provo, Utah, feel free to set up an initial appointment with Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan is an experienced and licensed therapist who has helped individuals be equipped with the tools they need to cope and live victorious, satisfied lives.


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