Family Answers

How do I heal my fear of attachment and abandonment?

A way of starting the path to healing is to honor the spectum of emotions (comfortable and uncomfrotable).  When we experience traumas and in this case learning that a parental figure would no longer be in the same home on the day-to-day basis is rightfully so- a difficult event for a child to process. The emotions that have resulted from this experience and the residual effects (that show up in your present day life) are all trailheads of information to further explore.  What did you need back then that you can give to yourself in the present? (verbally, symbolically, creatively etc).  As you strengthen your muscle of vulnerability you can start with establishing what safety looks/feels like for you in proximity to other people. Trust is something that takes time to establish and being mindful of your needs and ability to communicate them to those you share space with is a starting point.  As you are mindful of your current attachment style, give yourself grace along the way as you unlearn patterns that are no longer working for the way you want to show up in relationships moving forward.  I'm curious, what you mean by "safely grow"? To be vulnerable is to risk, there is the possibility that things will not turn out how we want them and even in that there is still an opportunity to be present with ourselves and how we respond to the situation. When things work in our favor (comfortable emotions), things to consider include but are not limited to:  1. Did I honor my own boundaries? 2. Do I feel safe to share what I actually felt without holding back? 3. Is this relationship recriprocal? When uncomfortable emotions come to visit, curioisty around the emotions that still sting are trailheads of areas in your life that need further attention.  In the opportunities available to further explore and get to know yourself intimately, you can build on the information that you gradually uncover and move from a place of authencitity at the pace that works for you in the place you are currently in.  Addressing abandonment wounds take time, be gentle with yourself as you gradually address something that has been challenging. 
Answered on 11/28/2021

How do I forgive my parents and stop them from triggering me?

Dear Bec,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the dynamics between you and your family, and your struggles with forgiveness regarding the pain you've been suffering from.    We do have the right to be angry at how the lack of courage from the ones who have hurt us and have left us feeling unresolved and unfairly treated. It could be true that because of how much shame and guilt the other person is feeling, they might not ever have the courage to come to us, acknowledge what they have done and apologize.   They have hurt us once in the past, yet by allowing this resentment to build, I am afraid that it means we are giving them the license to continue hurting us.   It is unfortunate that this is a situation where it doesn't seem to be fair, the ones who have wounded us continue to live their lives while we are still sitting in the wounds. I can understand how frustrated and angry that feels, I would be feeling the same way given in this situation.   Meanwhile I am also thinking about our future, your future and what is best for your interest. On that note if you would like, I would like to propose forgiveness. Not to agree / accept the person's wrong doing or letting them go from being hold accountable, rather this forgiveness is all about setting ourselves free from continue being hurt / controlled by this person's action / inaction.   As you have been practicing kindness, I am sure you have noticed that we have much control over how we want to feel and we can make choices to promote kindness within ourselves, regardless of how others treat us or what life brings us.   “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality.  Yet, it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~ Wayne Dyer   Here are some thoughts that I have when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps some benefits when we practice letting go of resentments and allow forgiveness to bring peace and healing back into our heart:   1. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves   “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou   Your mind might try to convince you that forgiveness is “letting someone off the hook,” and that you are in fact doing those who mistreated you a favor by forgiving them, but the truth of the matter is that you are doing yourself a favor.   Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You’re not doing this for them, you’re doing it for yourself, to set yourself free from the feelings of hurt, anger and helplessness that kept both of you attached for so long, and to be at peace.   2. Forgiveness is an act of strength   “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute if the strong.” ~ Gandhi    Contrary to what you have been led to believe, forgiveness is an act of strength. You don’t forgive because you are weak, but because you are strong enough to realize that only by letting go of resentments you will be happy and at peace.   3. Forgiveness is a sign of self-love   “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.    Love yourself enough to let go of all the toxicity from your life and free yourself from all the anger, bitterness and resentments.  If you’re mad, be mad. Don’t hide and suppress your feelings. Let it all out, but once you’re done with being mad, allow forgiveness to enter your heart. Let go and love!    4. When you forgive, you find peace   “If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah   Peace of mind is what you find the moment you let go of any grudges and any resentments you might be holding on to. The moment you say to yourself: “It is time to let go, it is time to forgive”, that will be the moment you will find peace.    5. If you forgive, you will be forgiven   “In this world, you are given as you give. And you are forgiven as you forgive. While you go your way through each lovely day, you create your future as you live.” ~ Peace Pilgrim   In life, we get what we give, and we reap what we sow. And since we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes, the more we forgive others for the past, present and future mistakes, the more others will forgive us when we will make mistakes. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. That also means forgiving ourselves. The more we practice forgiveness, we will find ourselves having more grace and compassion for others, and for ourselves, which would result in peace, comfort and calmness.   I hope this is helpful. Again I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to navigate these waters, especially when some of these pain and acts are ongoing. I just want to acknowledge your courage in seeking to learn about forgiveness.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to learn your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 05/24/2021

Is it covered by sun life insurance through my work

Hello Shelley,   Thank you for reaching out on this platform to seek guidance.  First of all, I do want to thank you for taking the first big step in seeking out for some assistance and support during this difficult time.  I am sorry to hear about the circumstances of the loss of your nephew, this has to be a difficult episode, especially when it is compounded by other complicated matters - hard to deal with and I am sure it is taking its toll on you. Unfortuanately, I am not able to answer your question directly if Better Help accepts your personal insurance coverage for therapy services because each case is unique when using Better Help but here is what you can do: To contact Better Help Platform simply click on this link below to ask your specific question directly to them: BetterHelp.com  They will send you a confirmation email and respond back with your answer fairly quickly.  I hope that helps.   I would like to offer you some reassurance and perhaps some good tips on using this site to your best advantage so you receive an efficient service.  From the onset of services with Better Help Services you can choose your therapist based on preference, for example, gender, age, race, member testimonials and information about the clinicians experience level - that in itself makes it a unique way to try to get the best match for you and what you need.  This is a major advantage and can determine a successful outcome for you. Using this online platform is proving to be a most efficient way to get the help you need quickly and be matched with the most appropriate therapist given your specific needs.  You can get your first live session (video, phone chat or live messaging options) arranged very quickly according to yours and yor assigned therapist schedule.  Even while you are waiting for your first live session to happen you can message back and forth with your assigned therapist so you speed the process up immensly for yourself.  This online platform allows you to receive help in the form of worksheets which are very informative and useful which are chosen as they relate to your specific needs.  You will also have the opportunity to ask your assigned therapist about sending you worksheets ahead of and inbetween sessions for the duration of your contract.  Again, a very effective option if you are looking to have services for a brief period due to your financial needs. From a therapists' and a clients' perspective the online therapy on such platforms as these is reported to be a very effective way to get to the work phase because most often the clients are relaxed because it is provided in your own setting and location - a huge barrier for many is actually getting time to get to an office appointment.  So, it is most financially cost effective in the longrun. Better Help also offers you the opportunity to sign up for Groupinars - these are basically group sessions with other members giving you the opportunity to share experiences and ask questions, learn more about specific issues.  The Groupinars are run by experienced therapists and posted on the site.  These Groupinars are included in your membership.  Topics vary from from topic to topic, week to week so you can chose which you sign up for according to your availability, need and interest. When you consider your choice of therapist have a good look at the profile of the therapists and I would strongly suggest you find a counsellor who is well versed and experienced in grief therapy priniciples and practices as well as someone who is experience in trauma therapy techniques.  The interventions of grief counselling combined with a trauma focus are effiecient and in my experience can for so many people been hugely effective with positve outcomes in a short period of time. I hope I have been able to offer you an answer to your question as well as offer some helpful tips and advice on how to get the most 'bang for your buck' from this service.  I wish you well and I hope you receive a favorable answer regarding your question about your insurance coverage from Better Help!   Kind Regards, Gaynor (LCSW)
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 05/22/2021

Why behavior charts are bad?

A behavior or reward chart that has become popular and used by not only parents but teachers and daycare providers as well.  A behavior chart is a visual aid to assist, teach and reinforce appropriate, positive, and healthy behavior for children.  Children are rewarded for making appropriate and healthy decisions or for making progress in learning a new skill.  Behavior charts can also be used as a form of punishment for breaking rules or not completing something, however, the more common use of behavior charts is to reward behavior.  Behavior charts are typically used for school-aged children. Behavior charts can work well with children or students who are well-behaved and do well with socializing with others.  However, behavior charts can also have a negative impact on children and students as well and can be viewed as bad, ineffective, or traumatizing.  If a child or student already has a history of trauma, behavior charts can reinforce the trauma or make it worse. Behavior charts can shame a child or a student and embarrass them in front of others.  This can be either in a classroom in front of other students or in front of other family members.  Long term this could traumatize a child.  Behavior charts can also impact a child’s self-esteem, the way they view themselves, and what they think of themselves. Behavior charts can also teach a child or student how to act externally but they do not teach empathy or internal change.  The change that is reinforced to the child or student is external.  Shaming a child or student into behaving appropriately is typically not helpful, it can increase stress and embarrassment, causing that child to possibly isolate and then engage in other unhealthy or inappropriate behaviors. Behavior charts do not teach a child or student why behavior is inappropriate or unhealthy.  It does not teach empathy, the impact of a child’s behavior on others, or explain which behavior should be engaged in instead. Lastly, children and students do not always value or see the importance of behavior charts.  Each child is unique and their own person so a behavior chart which can be a one approach fits all does not work.
(LISW-CP, LCSW-C, LCSW)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Why family traditions are important?

Family traditions are as unique and special to each family as the family itself. These experiences that are passed down are things we may take for granted, but they create a sense of cohesion and connection and communicate important values within families. Traditions also create a sense of belonging and identity for families and their members. Think back to the last family gathering that you attended. The chances are that some aspect of what you imagined involved a tradition or memory of a tradition that your family shares. While some traditions may seem insignificant or silly, they create positive feelings and serve as a means of cross-generational connection and communicating values, history, and culture within the family. Our sense of belonging within our families often comes from traditions that we share with them. Traditions are created and handed from generation to generation because of the special meaning to important events and their means to create bonds with family members. The sense of belonging and who we are often coming from our families and is communicated via these traditions. Safety, comfort, and security come from familiarity and predictability – both things that family traditions foster. Memories that last a lifetime, a strong sense of belonging, family values, cross-generational bonding, and a sense of safety and security are vital benefits of family traditions. When we start our own branches of the family tree through a commitment to romantic partners, or building families, we have a unique opportunity to pass on a tradition that gives these things to our partners and future generations. We also can create our own family traditions that will communicate what is important to us. We also have the ability to include our family members in building new traditions that are inclusive of and enjoyed by everyone. Traditions need not be pricey, formal, or saved for major holidays. Daily traditions like sharing gratitude at dinner or playing a card game before bed are great ways to incorporate tradition daily. Bringing the family together with shared activities fostering shared values and building healthy and resourceful behaviors is vital for connection and overall well-being.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Why family is important in our life?

Family can be such a beautiful experience in life in so many ways.  Family dynamics have looked different throughout history and are continuing to change.  One component of being in such an important family is that they serve as a comforting companionship.  We all naturally experience highs and lows throughout our lives.  Having a family to commiserate and talk with about the highs in our life can feel really exciting.  Then, when the hard times come in life, having a family to help you through those low times can be really comforting.  A family can help you cope with the low times in a number of ways that others may not be able to do.  Your family knows you more than anyone else and will know what can really help you when you are down.  Having those people in your life that understand you really well and have seen you at your lowest of lows can be really comforting for future low moments.  On that same note, your family is typically willing to care for you when you can’t care for yourself.  For example, if you become sick and/or injured, family members are typically the first to step up to the plate to help care for you. Another important part of a family is that they are a healthy outlet in your life to share beautiful memories with.  Those beautiful moments become a history you share with your family that likely goes further back than anyone else in your life.  You can make beautiful memories with other people in your life, but memories made with your family are more likely to be throughout your lifetime.  On that same note, your family is there for you throughout your life, and in that way, they support certain life goals you have. Certain life goals can feel somewhat overwhelming and far-reaching, but having a family there to support you through those can make them more likely to happen.  Also, the family can sometimes jump in to help you reach certain life goals that are important to you.  For example, if you need financial assistance to get a degree you want, sometimes family can jump in and help out with that.  
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 05/14/2021

Why family is important?

Family values are something that, for many, holds high importance.  There are many reasons that family is important.  Although what makes family important can change from family system to family system.  For some, it is the emotional support that makes their family important to them. At the same time, others may have high family values due to cultural/religious reasons.  And then there are some logistical reasons that family is important.  Let us take a look at each of these: Emotional support: Family are the people that have been in your life since the very beginning (blood relation or not); they have watched you grow and understand the core of who you are as a person.  For that, these are the people that can sometimes provide you the best emotional support out there.  Sometimes family knows to want to say to help you feel better during difficult times.  They will help lift you when you feel down; they will try to protect you from being hurt, and they will fight for you when you feel you cannot fight for yourself.  Having this kind of emotional support is so important to have emotional wellness.  Cultural/religious reason: For some, it is part of their religion or their culture to stick by their family.  They are raised to understand that above all else, family comes first.  This type of mindset can provide a different type of comfort; you can take safety in knowing that no matter what type of hardship you face, you know that your family will always be there to care for you if you need it.  Vice versa, sometimes knowing that your family needs you for support can give you strength when you feel down or weak.  Logistical reason: At first reading, the word logistical may seem strange to consider; but in reality, having family has some logistical purpose behind it.  We as humans are a community-based organism; we thrive best when we work together as a family.  Even financially, you are more likely to be financially stable if you have a family working together to support one another versus one person working only to support themselves.  As noted above, the family does not necessarily always mean blood or marriage relation.  So whether your family is someone of kin or folks you have grown a bond with that goes deeper than a friendship, having this community is important to maintain. 
Answered on 05/11/2021

Why childhood is important?

Our childhood is important for many reasons. We all would not be who we are today if it weren’t for our childhood, good or bad. Childhood establishes the groundwork for lifelong education, conduct, and wellbeing. Any disruptions and chaos during our formative years can have lasting effects well into adulthood. The experiences we have in childhood influence our brain's capacity to understand and learn, how we socialize with others, and how we respond to day-to-day stressors and challenges. LEARNING Our ability to learn and comprehend is determined in our childhood. Our learning is supposed to start at home as soon as we are born. For those of us that had this experience, once we entered school, we had some confidence in ourselves that we could handle the next stage of our lessons. Those who did not have this experience usually felt inferior in the school environment and possibly did not have faith in the adults, the school, or themselves. Either childhood journey created the path that would influence how we learn and accept new information in the future. Research has shown that college graduates frequently had the former journey while criminals in the penal system had the latter. This example is not always the case, and there are always exceptions; however, this example illustrates how vital childhood learning is in determining success vs. challenges in adulthood. SOCIALIZATION During our childhood, we primarily see social interactions between family members and close family friends. These are the social examples we observe to show us how we are supposed to interact with people. If we see interactions full of hugs, affection, laughter, and love, we mimic that behavior in our interactions and expect reciprocity. However, if we see interactions full of violence, anger, yelling, and hate, we mimic and expect that behavior. We all have met people and wondered why they are so sweet or so mean, then we meet their family, and it all makes sense. Our childhood teaches how to treat people and how we should expect to be treated. Childhood can determine if a person will marry a loving or abusive person.  COPING Life is full of obstacles and challenges. Stress in our lives is the rule versus the exception. How we react and respond to these stressors and challenges will be determined by how we were taught to deal with them. In our childhood, we watch everything our parents and other adults in our lives do. We tend to do what they do instead of what they say, including developing coping skills. If we see that a parent can get through the hard times by drinking alcohol every night, we will probably use that same coping skill and become an alcoholic. If we see a parent reading the bible or going to church during a hard time, we are likely to make religion and faith a part of our daily lives. Childhood is important because it is the journey that leads to happy adult life.   
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 05/03/2021

How attachment theory affects child development?

What is attachment As defined by psychologist John Bowlby, attachment is “a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”  There are 4 types of attachment, with the first being the healthiest, which is secure attachment.  The others are anxious, avoidant, and then disorganized.  These attachments occur in utero and are either created or become needed during the critical period, which is the first three years of life. Importance of attachment Attachment is important because it sets a blueprint or emotional map with us throughout our lives.  If we develop secure attachment, we see the world as a safe place to meet our needs. This can lead to achieving other important stages of development positively. If we develop anxious, avoidant, or disorganized attachment, this can affect child development. Attachment is formed in the first three years of life by a caregiver responding to our needs and healthily meeting those needs.  For example, a baby cries because it is hungry, and a caregiver responds to that need by giving them a bottle or breastfeeding them.  The baby feels soothed with this response and can calm down and get its needs met. The flip side of that is the baby cries because it is hungry and no one responds to them, then they are not be soothed, and their needs are not met.  How does it affect child development? It has been researched and noted that failure to form secure attachment would have a negative impact on children throughout their lives.  When children do not feel safe, or their needs will not be met due to early life experiences, this causes the brain to be more activated and causes a stress response.  This can lead to many different behavioral issues that can play out throughout childhood into teen years and adulthood.  It can also lead to deficits in areas of social and emotional development.  The ability to self-regulated is another area that has anxious, avoidant, and disorganized attachment styles can cause needs.  If a child was not soothed like a baby or their needs were inconsistently met, they will not have the ability to self-regulate because they were never taught how to by their caregivers, and with their brain development being affected, it becomes increasingly harder to be able to self-regulate because they are consistently in flight/fight/freeze mode.
(M.Ed, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Can attachment style change in adulthood?

Hi, thank you for reaching out to us at BetterHelp with your question. My name is Stacey Shine, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and am hopeful that I can help provide an answer to your question. First, attachment styles are something that develops at a very young age. These are starting to form when you are basically in the womb as your parents are preparing for how they will parent and interact with you.  Typically, your parent's mother and father or caregiver can be greatly impacted by attachment styles to be somewhat of a generational cycle. As you develop and grow, your attachment can change with maturity and experiences. So, the question of can your attachment styles changes in adulthood...I believe this is a yes. For example, if you are married to someone who grew up with a completely different attachment style, they may provide you with the experience of something you were never exposed to growing up. If you had an attachment style that was not secure and your partner provides that security, it can mold into you having that secure attachment style as an adult. It can also impact your parenting and the type of attachment that you have with your child.  It is not uncommon for parents to either have the same attachment style as their parents or because of their feelings towards that, they go the polar opposite of it and try to develop new attachments. There is also the concept of reparenting self which is often used when someone does not have a secure attachment style in their upbringing. This concept is gaining popularity because there are so many people that lack secure attachment growing up. This concept is essentially parenting yourself or giving yourself the love and attachment that you may have desired or did not experience as a child. This also confirms that attachment styles can change as you grow and evolve. I hope this answer was helpful for you. If you feel like you need to dive deeper into attachment styles and what looks like in your past and go forward, do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we can match you with a counselor. Best of luck on your journey!
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Can marriage survive an illegitimate child?

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that include types of sexual violence that could be triggering. Marriage can survive just about anything if there is enough patience, communication, openness to growing, maturing, and forgiveness. When a child is born illegitimate, this means that the child was born out of wedlock, and both parents were not married to each other. In the modern age of fertility, by law, a child is also considered illegitimate until the parent who is not biologically theirs adopts the child. But what this question communicates most likely is a child conceived outside of an already existing marriage, as in someone who committed infidelity and became pregnant from their affair. It can also be sexually assaulted, and the victim became pregnant from the assault who chooses to keep the baby. After working with several couples, the child many times isn’t the issue, but mistrust is, so once the mistrust can be healed, the child many times is welcomed. In the case of assault, it has been a blessing out of trauma, but many times, people choose to terminate that unwanted pregnancy. When it’s not survivable Many people believe that unless the child is their child biologically, they really can’t take responsibility for that child financially or in any area for that matter. People will say they do not want children who are adopted, nor do they want children through fertility whereby the child is not theirs biologically. So, in an illegitimate child, many people’s marriages cannot survive because one or both people involved cannot handle it emotionally. Each case is really specific and unique, and it’s really hard to answer the question without knowing everyone involved. Family systems are made up in different ways, and that’s becoming more the norm; if people keep their minds open and do what is best for them, then the best choice is made for everybody involved. In terms of forgiveness and empathy, these two practices offer a lot of room for growth and maturity in encompassing illegitimate children into families as simply their children.
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Can marriage counseling records be subpoenaed?

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. It is tough for people to admit they are struggling and go to therapy. Many variables are preventing them from taking that step. In the event of a divorce, the fear of marriage counseling records being subpoenaed is a big one. In therapy, intimate secrets, fears, concerns, struggles, and more are revealed. The thought of anyone else knowing these things is terrifying.  Therapists also dread receiving subpoenas and want to avoid them at all costs. Therapists have a legal, ethical, and moral responsibility to keep the confidentiality of their clients, except for the client reporting future suicidal thoughts/behaviors, future homicidal thoughts/behaviors, and past/present/future abuse of a child under 18 years old or anyone over the age of 60 years old. If you have been experiencing any suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  When dealing with subpoenas, the enforceable ones pertain to child custody cases, which does not mean everything has to be disclosed to the courts and should involve one lawyer to protect the client and protect the therapist.  CHILD CUSTODY CASES The majority of divorce cases that require therapy records to be subpoenaed are child custody cases. The family court judge has to determine if the parents are fit to raise the child(ren), and therapy records can shed some light in that area. Judges want to know if the parenting behavior shows evidence of abuse, neglect, or any adverse behaviors toward the child(ren). This information can be obtained from the diagnosis, therapy notes, records of billing, and treatment plan progress. The only vital information is anything pertaining to the well-being of the child(ren). An attorney can fight the subpoena for therapy records in any other divorce cases dealing with alimony or separation of assets.  DISCLOSABLE RECORDS The substance of what can be disclosed in court is protected under the rules of evidence and HIPAA laws. If a therapist is subpoenaed, they are not required to turn over everything in the files. When subpoenaed, the therapist is also not required to acknowledge that they know or treat the person whose records are subpoenaed. The therapist has the right to determine the subpoena's validity, follow up with the client for authorization to release information, and consult an attorney. Therapists can sometimes be discretionary in what information they release by summarizing what they deem relevant versus releasing the entire file or testifying in person.  ATTORNEY PRESENT Whenever anyone is presented with a legal matter, it is vital to consult with an attorney. All parties involved should have their own legal representation. The purpose of the attorney is to protect their client’s interest. Even though the client and the therapist are technically on the same side, their legal interests are probably different. The attorneys will work to protect the rights of the client and therapist; they may provide alternatives to putting the records in a full review, and they may obtain a protection order to avoid the disclosure of information.
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Where does behavior come from?

                Thank you for your question reader, it’s a complex one! It sounds to me like you are asking the “nature vs nurture” question that scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. The basic question is, do we do what we do because we are born that way or because we learn how to do things a certain way based in our environment? One of the ways that researchers have tried to answer this question is by studying twins over a long period of time. Scientists have studied identical twins that have been raised by the same families as well as identical twins that were raised in separate environments to look at similarities and differences over time. Results of these studies have generally shown that twins are remarkably similar, even when raised in totally different environments without knowledge of one another. This suggests that genetics play a major role in developing behavior.                 We also know that social learning is a huge part of how we develop. From the time we are born, babies are learning from observing and modeling the behaviors of others. Simply put, our best understanding of where behavior comes from is that much of what comes naturally to us is inborn, or genetically predisposed. However, behavior can be strengthened or lessened based on what we learn from the people and situations around us. Natural development can also be impeded by things in our environments. For example, children who experience traumatic events may have more difficulty developing healthy relationship attachments than they would have without the traumatic experiences. Additionally, in order to learn new skills, we have to be exposed to people or situations that present the opportunity to teach something new. A child could have an inborn ability to learn many languages, but if adults around them speak only one language, they will learn only one.                 Some people think that because genetics play such a role in developing behavior, we have little control over what we do or how we respond to the world. However, people are very capable of change when we are motivated to develop healthier behaviors or break old patterns that are not working for us. It takes practice, new learning, and work, but we are very capable of changing what we are given to work with from birth. Working with mental health professionals can be an effective part of learning to change behaviors.
Answered on 04/26/2021

What therapy is best for schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects how people interpret reality. Hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking impact behavior and impair functionality. Schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment, and although it can be serious and disabling, for many people early diagnosis and adequate treatment are keys to improving quality of life. Symptoms of schizophrenia include: Delusions, which are beliefs that aren’t rooted in reality. This may be a belief that others are harassing you, that you are famous, that someone is in love with you, or that you have psychic ability. Disorganized thinking and speech, which is when speech may not make sense. Words may sound similar or have no relationship whatsoever and be linked and used. Hallucinations occur when someone sees or hears things that aren’t really there and may actually happen with any of the five senses. The person with schizophrenia may react to the hallucinations as though they are real. Abnormal motor behavior may include strange posture, lack of response to the instruction, inappropriate movement, or seemingly nonsensical movements and agitation. Negative symptoms, which is a term that describes the lack of ability to function. Lack of hygiene, flat affect or lack of emotion, lack of facial expression, and loss of interest in social and other activities. Diagnosis involves a physical examination and the use of tests and screenings to rule out underlying medical conditions that may result in similar symptoms or the use of substances that may result in similar symptoms. A psychiatric evaluation will be completed. The criteria of schizophrenia will be cross-checked with presenting symptoms. Schizophrenia is typically treated with medication used to control symptoms and with therapy. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antianxiety medication are often used in combinations, specific to each person and their unique presentation of symptoms. Therapy used typically includes family therapy that provides education and support to the family of the patient and works to help improve family dynamics to support the health of the person. Social skills training is a form of therapy that aims to help support social interactions and improve communication. Individual therapy is used to help the person with schizophrenia recognize and challenge abnormal thought patterns, cope with stress, and learn early signs of potential problems to support the management of the illness. Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is frequently used as a framework in individual therapy. If you are experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or have a loved one experiencing symptoms, reach out to your medical doctor, psychiatrist, or licensed mental health professional.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 04/23/2021

Why family time is important?

Family time has always been critical to maintaining family cohesiveness. Spending quality time together allows parents and children to get to know each other and learn from one another. In-person interaction is a requirement for pure family bonding; in a world where cell phones and social media have taken the majority of family members' attention and reduced family time significantly, many families are not reaping family time benefits. Quality time impacts the family relationship and dynamics, but it also impacts the family member’s mental health. Family time benefits the parents, the children, and the community.  BENEFITS Self-Confidence– Belonging is a significant factor in building self-confidence. The best and most influential group to belong to is the family unit. Parents teach specific skills to the children to build self-confidence, and the parents improve their self-confidence by teaching their children and seeing their achievements.  Communication– We all need someone to talk to during the good times and especially the bad times. Family is where communication lines are open, and there is an active ear ready to listen. Also, communication skills are taught in the family, which improves communication with others outside the family.  Support– Additionally, during the good and bad times, affection and reassurance are needed. As humans, there is a need for affection for happiness and security. Family members show support and comfort through hugs and praise. Support is given to children by parents and vice versa. Support in the family causes a positive effect in all areas of their lives.  Memories– Memories can keep things around and alive forever. Thousands of memories are created from family time that teaches life lessons and reminders of the family's love and support.  Mental Health– Strong family support and interaction significantly lessens the incidence of mental illnesses and offers increased assistance when there is a mental illness.  In short, family time ought to be an exciting and pleasurable way to be healthy and happy parents and children. All family members should know they “matter” and will be loved unconditionally. This type of family love is reflected in life choices and behaviors. Making time to connect with family is an investment that produces positive outcomes. Ideas for family time include dinner time, movie night, cooking time, games night, camping, family talk time, attending an event, and so much more. 
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 04/20/2021

What to do when family members hurt you?

Being hurt by family members is especially painful because of cultural beliefs we hold about how a family should be there for us unconditionally. A long-shared history with family members may give them an endless supply of ammunition to tease you about, and what starts as lighthearted teasing can become hurtful quickly. Because we’re interdependent on our family members, this can add a layer of hurt. We’re emotionally invested in one another and sometimes need things from our families, which makes hurtful behaviors they may commit even more painful. Some acts may be hurtful, and others may amount to abusive behavior. Abusive behaviors within families may be: These are behaviors like dominating, insults, destructive criticism, arguing, lying, efforts to control family members. Neglectful behaviors may look like ignoring or not paying attention to one another, withholding affection with the attention of harming or ‘punishing’ someone within the family. Physical harm and sexual abuse fall within this category. Acknowledging your feelings about the situation with your family member is important and can help you determine what action may be best to take. When there are cases of family hurt, sometimes the family may disregard your feelings or interpretation of the issues, which makes acknowledging what happened and how you feel about it to yourself especially important. Setting boundaries is another helpful practice, and it isn’t always a matter of simply deciding what you want or will tolerate and communicating that. Boundaries involve identification, action, and constant reinforcement. To identify boundaries, try thinking about what commentary or actions cause you the most upset. These are places you may need some boundaries. Boundary action also means owning your response to upsetting situations and learning behaviors helpful to boundary reinforcement. Each situation is different, and each family is different. For this reason, visiting with an unbiased third party is a good way to sort your emotions and thoughts about ongoing family difficulties and create a clear plan for coping with the pain involved and how to handle future situations. Friends and family may love you and care about you, but they often have a stake in what choices you make, meaning they may be affected. Talking with a therapist can help you learn assertive communication skills, identify and set healthy boundaries, and support yourself through difficult family situations.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 04/20/2021

What to do when family lets you down?

Thank you for your question, reader. This question is a bit broad, so I hope that I can respond in a way that provides some targeted help. All of us will be let down by our families in some way or another over the course of long relationships. We have complex and varied needs, and family dynamics have complications that don’t often allow everyone in the family’s needs to be met at once. So, what can we do about this? My best guidance is to strive for open communication with members of your family as often as possible. It is important that when someone, or the group, acts in a way that disappoints you or is hurtful, you tell them about what you are feeling. If we develop a pattern of holding back when disappointed or trying to ignore what we are feeling to appease others or avoid conflict, we rob ourselves of the chance that our problems will be resolved. One of the healthiest things we can do in families is normalized the fact that conflicts will come up and learn how to compromise and communicate effectively. I recommend trying this approach as step one when family lets you down. Sometimes, the conflict resolution and communication method isn’t working in your family, and a hurtful pattern continues. Let’s talk about what to do if you are still feeling let down by your family, even after talking about what you are feeling. It is normal to feel hurt or disappointed, and you can help yourself with those feelings by using other healthy outlets for emotions. Some other ways to manage your feelings could be talking to other trusted people in your life, journaling, going for a walk, listening to your favorite music, hugging your pet, or breathing deeply. It is ok to acknowledge that your family let you down, and that hurts. A longer-term resolution to feel let down by your family is to examine your boundaries and your roles within your family. You might benefit from practicing to set new boundaries regarding how you act in response to family expectations and requests. I recommend doing some reading about personal boundaries or working with a mental health professional on setting healthy boundaries for yourself.
Answered on 04/20/2021

What to do when family leaves you out?

The family is supposed to be your safe place. You expect unconditional love and acceptance from your family. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Sometimes you are treated like you are not part of the family. There are situations where you are excluded from family events, and it hurts. You may question if these mishaps are unintentional, but the exclusion feels just as bad either way. You can’t just continue feeling bad forever; you need to recognize your feelings, talk to your family, focus on your worth, and spend time with others who value you.  RECOGNIZE YOUR FEELINGS Your hurt feelings are real and legitimate. You are probably feeling a mix of emotions, such as sadness, anger, and even confusion. Feel free to sit with those feelings and express them freely. Once you have released all the pain and sorrow, then you can look at moving forward. Holding in your feelings can be toxic; it can affect your self-esteem, cause you to lash out at the wrong people, and even make you physically sick. In experiencing your feelings, make sure you take care of yourself and soothe those emotional wounds.   TALK TO YOUR FAMILY As already stated, these exclusions could be unintentional. You never know what is going on with others unless you ask them. You can’t hold your family accountable if you never give them the chance to explain their behavior or a chance to make it up to you. You can talk to individual family members or speak with them as a whole, whichever way makes you most comfortable. It would help if you did not go into it casting blame but simply expressing how you have been feeling and your concerns. Use a lot of “I” statements. You want to be honest and open about what you have been feeling and experiencing and then allow them to respond. FOCUS ON YOUR WORTH Regardless of how your family responds to your feelings and concerns of being excluded, you have to know you are worth their love and support, whether they show it or not. You can use positive self-talk to remind yourself of all the wonderful things about yourself. Do something that you enjoy to make yourself feel good. You should realize that if they don’t want to be a part of your life, it is their loss, and you have not lost much at all. Look around at all the other people in your life that love and include you. Just because they are not blood relations does not mean they are not your family. Love yourself and allow those that love you to continue.  SPEND TIME WITH OTHERS Your family is those people that love and support you, so whoever those people are, that is where you should spend your time and energy. This is also the perfect opportunity for you to meet new people and expand your horizons. You hold power over your life, so do what is best for you.  
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 04/20/2021

What to do when a family is toxic?

Many people encounter difficult times with family members and in relationships. When those problems persist or involve abuse, some people use the word “toxic” to describe the situation. Some signs that you may be in a situation that needs to be addressed: Criticism that involves cruelty. The family knows us our entire lives, and this means that they often have a long list of things to confront us with when approaching us. Criticism that involves insulting you over every past mistake can hurt and indicate a lack of empathy on their part. Fighting, yelling, and insults are the norm. If you find yourself ducking for cover or hiding from particular family members to avoid the potential for this type of behavior, you may be in a toxic situation. The emphasis is often on the words that family members use and the volume at which they’re spoken, but silence can be just as hurtful. If family members refuse to talk to you or shut you out of the family loop without telling you what is wrong, this is a form of manipulation. Research shows that silent treatment can even cause physical pain. Your personal information gets shared around the family without your input. If you find that what you share gets bandied around the family for gossip, there may be toxic habits in play. Sometimes people share gossip and details about others’ lives as a means of bonding, without much thought about the confidence they’re breaking. People take sides in families with toxic habits. If an argument occurs and a family member makes the immediate move to communicate their side, gathering support may be a toxic habit. Cutting family totally out of your life may not be an option you’re ready to consider for any number of reasons. While you have zero control over other people’s behavior, you can manage yours: Just because someone “hands” you a statement doesn’t mean you have to pick it up and engage with it. Imagine yourself stepping over it like garbage on the ground. Carefully choose what you share and who you share it with. Keep conversations light, breezy, and focused on the other person. Knowing you’re intentionally keeping things at the surface and focused elsewhere can alleviate the pressure we can feel to understand these family members. Make yourself less interesting by sharing less. Avoid getting involved in the other person’s drama by avoiding comments about other family members or situations that the other person may try to draw you into. Avoid trying to mitigate other’s feelings and “fixing” other people’s issues. Dealing with troubling family dynamics can take a lot of mental and emotional energy. Working with a therapist can be very helpful in discovering communication patterns that may be harming or helping the situation.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 04/20/2021

what to do when family ignores you?

Many people are taught at a very young age that “family is everything” and “family first.” But what if that same family is filled with dysfunction or mixed messages based on their behaviors? As people grow from helpless infancy all the way up to an independent adult, somewhere in the middle, family members either continue to bond and grow together, or they may begin to experience enough stress that creates rifts between members. Sometimes the experiences of loss, divorce, differing views on lifestyle, politics, financial dependency, or many forms of abuse can lead to family members ignoring each other. Sometimes the reason is not that large, like a disagreement or disinterest in each other. Finding ways to manage this stress as a family can be such a strength and support for so many, is key to healing this pain and finding alternative self and other support systems. Ignoring vs. estrangement As children grow into adults, it is natural and even healthy for them not to be the center of attention or considered in every family decision. Sometimes “ignoring” might actually be a reshaping of relationships. Other times it is ignoring and can lead to estrangement if the ignoring goes on a long time. If ignoring is actually what is going on, the person feeling ignored can be assertive and ask if they did something or if everything is ok. More times than not, ignoring can be misperceived as people invested in their own lives. In counseling, it is encouraged to take responsibility for some of that continual connection. Clients are empowered to write cards, send encouraging texts, or call to see how someone is doing in their family. Still, this all might fall on deaf ears and if that is the case, learning to modulate those hurt feelings is important. Healing and accepting People grow to have expectations about one another, especially in family circles. This is based on past behaviors, but it can also be a desire of the receiver to want more than someone can give. Learning to accept where another person is can be a beginning step of the healing process of the pain that comes with being ignored. Putting forth energy towards self-interests, goals, and other relationships also catalyzes healing the wounds that ignoring family members can create. Sometimes, this also allows some space and ability not to take it personally, and when (and if) a family or its members reach out, you can feel empowered to decide if reaching back is the right choice for you.
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 04/20/2021