What do you do when your young adult child is struggling in Utah Valley? At this point, parenting is different. You don’t have the same influence over them that you used to. They don’t seem to listen and don’t think you have all the answers anymore. Not like when they were young. It’s difficult to know what to do to help them when they continue to make bad choices. Here are two things to consider that will help you help them (Related Article: How To Help A Struggling College Student With Mental Health).

Mental Health for Young Adults

Your young adult child might be open to talking about their mental health. It might not be now, but they will eventually be open to it if they trust you. So, be trustworthy. Talk with them about all aspects of their life – whats going well, not just whats going poorly. If they think you are just trying to fix them or talk to them about what they need to do better, they won’t trust you. You can talk with them about depression and anxiety when it seems to come up. However, it’s important to also talk with theme about what they enjoy and are having fun with – or want to be doing. Make it a safe relationship with them by being genuinely interested in all aspects of their life.

Be Open About Your Struggles As Well

Be open about your struggles with mental health, relationships or work with your child as well. This normalizes you and models for them how to work through it. Some conventional approaches to parenting tell you to not show any weakness. However, open up! Share with your young adult child that sometimes you don’t want to go to work. Or, that sometimes you feel down. It can be relieving to them that you aren’t perfect. They can start to see you and what you are doing in your life differently. They might be able to connect with you better. This helps create a safe place for them to be imperfect in front of you.

Counseling for Young Adults in Utah Valley

I have been a counselor for young adults in Utah Valley for almost two decades. They need help and need someone that is courageous enough to point them in that direction. My counseling office is in Orem. You can check out my other clinic as well – The Center for Couples and Families.

Written by Dr Triston Morgan, PhD, LMFT

Helping your young adult son or daughter when they are at college or are college aged is difficult. Knowing when to intervene and when to let them try can be difficult. I will outline several key principles to helping them as they grow into adulthood (Related Article: How Do I Help My Child Transition Into Adulthood).

Talk With Them About Anything

First, talk with them about anything they are going through. If you only reach out when you think they are struggling then they might not want to pick up the phone or respond to your texts. So, talk with them about what is going well and what they are interested in. Not just what you think they are struggling with. For example, you might ask them about the game they like to play online, or their friends you know about. You could ask them how going to the basketball game went, even. It’s important to have a relationship with them that doesn’t just revolve around them struggling.

Ask Your College Student About Their Mental Health

Simply ask them about their mental health. They are probably more open to talking about it than you are. Ask them what their experience with depression or anxiety is. Ask them about pornography use or going to class. After you ask, hold emotional space for them to tell you about what they are going through (Related Article: Hold Emotional Space For Your Spouse). Don’t try to ‘fix’ them and tell them what to do. Instead, ask questions that allow them to tell you more. You want to understand, not turn into their boss (Related Article: How To Communicate Effectively: Avoid These Two Marriage Communication Problems).

Get Them Help If They Need It

Offer to your young adult child that you can help them get professional help if needed. Even if they don’t take you up on the offer, let them know that its an option. Again, they are probably more open to talking about mental health issues that young adults from 20-30 years ago. So, don’t be afraid to open up and offer help. A trained counselor can help your young adult with depression, anxiety, addiction, problems with school or being social.

Individual Counseling For A Struggling College Student in Utah Valley

Over the last several decades, I have successfully worked with struggling young adults. I am on many insurance panels and am happy to talk with you about your situation to see if we are a fit.

Written by Dr Triston Morgan, PhD, LMFT

Anxiety is a problem most of us face at some point or another. It isn’t a question of ‘if’ we will experience it, but ‘when’. Anxiety comes in many forms. It can be difficult to cope with when it is severe and difficult to detect when it is mild. There is a situation when anxiety is actually covering up, and is a reaction to, other emotions. Let’s talk about how and when that is the case. There are primary emotions and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are our natural emotions to a situation. For example, feeling sad when you get a divorce is a primary emotion. In this example, you might also feel other emotions such as hurt, fear, confusion, betrayal, desperation, abandonment, despair, hopelessness, overwhelmed, etc. When these other emotions, in addition to feeling sad, become too much, a secondary emotion can come in to take the role of blanketing them so that you distance yourself or numb yourself from them. It covers them up so that you don’t see them and seemingly don’t have to deal with them. Anger is a good example of a secondary emotion. Anxiety, at times, can be, but isn’t necessarily always, a secondary emotion as well. When you are feeling all of those things, anxiety can come and make you buzz so you don’t feel them. In this case, it is secondary to what is actually going on. The trick, then, is to ask yourself, ‘what am I really feeling’ and recognize, feel and cope with your primary emotions. Dealing with anxiety alone won’t be enough as it isn’t the root of what is going on.

I often work with college students who have a difficult time transitioning to the workload, social aspect and emotional difficulties of being out of the home. Going off to college or leaving home for the first time can be complicated. Many young adults struggle to make the adjustment and need help. Those who make it to my office often have a family member urging them to get help, or they have realized that they need help an are proactive enough to get it (although this is more rare). I work with these clients to develop independent living skills so that they can function at work, school and with their friends, while maintaining a good connection with family at home. One of the reasons the struggle is that they haven’t had a chance to go out on their own yet. It seems ironic, because now that they are out on their own, its too much for them. Don’t worry – this is normal. Its ok to have a difficult time in this transition. However, its important to note several milestones as they progress:

  • Financial – are they able to financially manage their money without parents overseeing it all?
  • Social – are they able to balance their social life with work and school? Do they have a social life or are they secluded in their apartment”
  • Scholastic – are they able to meet the demands of school and ask for help when needed?
  • Work – are they working and are they able to maintain a job while engaged in the rest of their life?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these, they might need help. See out a therapist who knows how to help young people transition here.

By Triston Morgan, PhD, LMFT

My four-year-old daughter placed herself in the middle of our living room to play with blocks. She was so engrossed with building a wooden castle that she didn’t notice her two-year-old sister walking towards her with her right arm stretched far back to slap her older sister across the head. When that slap came, my older daughter went from happy to surprise to anger and then lots of tears. She ran towards me seeking justice. “Mommy, she hit me!” My younger daughter remained still, looking innocent. I immediately walked over to her with my older daughter in hand and said, “Hands are not for hitting. Say sorry for hitting please.”  I’m sure many parents can relate to this scenario. Teaching our children the skills for making amends is an important life skill and is not so much about saying the words “I’m sorry”.  

There is a belief amongst some parents that enforcing premature apologies on children is not effective. Their reasoning is that premature apologies teach children to lie and encourage insincerity. It also creates shame and embarrassment. Other studies show that young children have the ability to be empathetic even before they can speak; therefore, parents should encourage apologies (Smith, Chen, Harris; 2010). As I reflected on my research and my knowledge as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I recognized several things we can do as parents to create productive apologies: 

  1. Keep yourself in check: It’s frustrating to see your children fight, especially when it happens at inconvenient times. However, it’s important to remain calm and model for your children how to handle frustration.   
  2. Be immediate when possible: When you see an incident occur between your children, address it. The best time for learning and growth is when the incident is still fresh in their minds. However, when there are time constraints and the issue cannot be addressed right away, it is important to tell your children when and where it will be addressed. Be consistent when using the alternative and follow through.  
  3. Ask instead of tell: Avoid lecturing. Ask questions instead. “Tell me what happened?” “What were you feeling when you hit your sister?” Validate the expressed emotion and help them to understand that it is okay to feel frustration and sadness; however, it is not okay to hit or throw things. Help them to also make the connection between emotion and action. “Look at her face, how do you think she’s feeling right now?” Asking these types of questions enhances empathy. 
  4. Problem Solve: Ask questions about what they think they should do when they feel frustrated or sad. Help them to come up with solutions.  Ask questions about how they can make things better with their sibling/s. 
  5. Have them practice a do-over: When your child identifies the solution, have them practice it with the other sibling/s. Praise them for their efforts at the end.    

What is more important than the phrase “I’m sorry” is what children take away from the experience. We can facilitate and enhance learning opportunities by not focusing on the phrase “I’m sorry” but instead more on what can be learned from this situation and how can we improve.  

 

Originally posted here: http://www.provofamilies.com/2018/02/07/forced-apologies/

For most of us, depression is something that comes and goes. For a few of us, it’s something that comes and stays – for reasons that we don’t always know or understand. When we lose someone lose to us or have a situation that hurts, we might feel down. This type of depression can be situational more than anything else. This happens often after women give birth. For months following, they might feel down or blue. If they are able to pull themselves out of it through sleep, eating well, taking a shower, reading a book or some any other way that they use to cope, then its usually not post-partum depression. If it doesn’t go away after these attempts, it can be something more serious and may need medical or professional help. Depression is the same way. We can’t expect to pull ourselves out of depression on our own when it is the more serious type. Counselors are trained professionals who can help. Many of them will utilize the power of your relationships and invite your family to attend sessions. This helps because you are then able to connect to those who matter most and work it out together.

Sometimes the holidays hurt. When we have lost loved ones or when we are reminded of what we used to have, the holidays can turn from joyous to painful. During these times, it’s important to remember a few things. First, let the pain come in – embrace it. There is no need to try and hide from it or run. If we try to hide from it or ignore it, we often develop addictions to cover what we are feeling – ways to numb ourselves from uncomfortable emotions. In this numbed state, we don’t ever get to embrace and subsequently let go of painful emotions. It’s important to remember that in order to let go of something, we first have to have it (embrace it). Remember that these emotions come and go, they won’t stay with us forever. Second, find a way to honor your loved ones who have gone on or circumstances lost. I spoke with a friend once who had dealt with the loss of a job and a more abundant life. During times when this was more apparent, he was able to be grateful for the relationship he had and focus on enjoying them above all else. After having material possessions and different opportunities pass him by he realized what is most important as he put his life back together. As he did this, he was able to be grateful for past opportunities and current blessings. Third, some find comfort in having what I call ‘Present Mindedness’ – the ability to be in the moment. We let ourselves enjoy the here and now without stopping ourselves because we need to maintain anger or sadness from the past or from other current situations. We don’t have to punish ourselves – we deserve to be happy now.

I am often asked the question, “Do I need medication?” As a counselor in Utah County, I work with couples, families, individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, pornography use, drug and alcohol use and other issues – all of which might need medication at some point. As a counselor, I am not trained to prescribe medication or do medication management, however, I often collaborate with practioners (i.e., MD’s, nurse practioners) who are. Together we are able to help many individuals overcome anxiety or depression. Talk therapy (couples counseling or individual therapy) and medication are often a good combination to combat the issues that bring most people into therapy.

My colleagues who prescribe medications often tell me how medications act like crutches. They aren’t meant for long term use or to be a ‘fix-all’, but rather, they are meant to give support so that an individual can gain strength. Once strong enough, the crutches are discarded and the individual moves on under their own power.

So, when clients ask if medication is warranted, I refer them to someone trained in this type of treatment. Medication is not always the answer, but there are times when it is best practice, however, to use medication and traditional talk therapy together (i.e., Bipolar disorder treatment). I refer them to see an MD, psychiatrist or nurse practioner. I encourage them to meet with someone who does Genetic testing for medications. This is a method where an individual submits a DNA sample which is sent to a lab for testing. The results show the individual and prescribing professional which meds are most likely to work with the individuals genetic structure (usually for anxiety or depression medications). My nurse practitioner colleague tells me that this ‘takes the guess work out of medication management’. Given that the typical experience for individuals trying medications is months of trial and error, this is a relief to many.

As a therapist in Provo Utah, I often work with clients in a faith crisis. They come to me wanting to leave their religion or try to understand what they have been taught through a different lens. One thing I work with them on, inevitably, is letting go of some of the culture (real or perceived) that can accompany religion – the culture of pressure to be perfect or to at least appear so. Working with them to understand how to hold on to what they believe while letting go of certain surface level cultural aspects of living in an area which is highly religiously homogeneous. This can be a difficult task given the pressure to conform and follow.

My suggestions to individuals in these circumstances is to do the following: Differentiate between your religions doctrine and the culture. Most people see these as different. Understanding the difference will help you embrace what you believe and let go of what can be damaging.

 

At one point or another anxiety will impact you. Most of us have an experience with anxiety that makes us feel scared and stressed. Anxiety is the body’s emotional and physical response to a stressful situation or anticipation of a real or perceived difficult circumstance.

 

It’s important to understand that anxiety is largely a physical reaction to a real or perceived stressor. Calming your body down when anxious allows you to engage the coping skills you have at your disposal. When working with clients presenting with anxiety one of the first things we do is focus on techniques to cope through physical exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. After clients possess the skills to calm their bodies down when anxious, we are able to work on the emotional, relational and intellectual aspects of this difficult emotion.

 

Anxiety can often take the role of a secondary emotion – an emotion that presents itself as an attachment to your primary emotion. For example, if you are feeling sad, lonely, stressed overwhelmed you might get a general sense of anxiety. Knowing that anxiety is sometimes a secondary emotion helps you to know dig deeper to see what is really going on. Addressing the previous emotions in a specific and deliberate manner helps anxiety lessen.

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