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Parents and the Children Who Bully Them

  We’ve all seen it.  You’re at a restaurant, a store, or in a friend’s home.  A child asks their parent for something and is told “not right now, honey”.  And then: all hell breaks loose.  The once calm child is now screaming, crying, and yelling.  They call their parent names, make statements of hatred, and may even begin to hit the adult or throw things around the room.  The parent begins to beg and plead with their child, often resulting in the adult giving in to their child just to end the tantrum.  Crisis averted.  A parenting “win” is achieved.  Or is it? Forget for a moment that this example is about a child and their parent.  Instead, imagine we are speaking about two children at school.  When child #1 says “no” to child #2, this leads child #2 to begin calling them names, threatening them, and may even assault them.  At some point, child #1 may relent and give in to child #2 out of fear for their own safety. What would we call this?  It certainly can’t be categorized as a “win” for this friendship.  Now imagine the same scenario, this time between two adults who are involved in a romantic relationship.  We all recognize the inherent danger in such a relationship and recognize it as wrong. So why don’t we condem such behavior when it is displayed by one’s own child?  A bully by any other name is just that. The dynamic that is playing out is synonymous with how bullying is often defined.  According to Merriam-Webster, a bully is defined as “to cause (someone)...

Happiness is Easier Than You Think

Happiness is a funny thing.  We all want to be happy, but our ability to achieve it tends to vary from person-to-person.  Why is that?  Is it that some people have more positives in their lives to be happy about?  Are they just luckier than the rest? Studies about happiness find that positive thinking is the key to everything.  Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher at the University of North Carolina published a research study in 2008 that continues to be one of the most definitive studies on happiness and positive emotions.  The study highlights the impact that positive thinking has on an individual’s skills and ability to manage various situations.  Fredrickson noted that negative thoughts narrow one’s thinking, leading the person to limit their options in a given situation.  Conversely, positive thinking opens them up to a sense of possibility and provides additional options that they had not previously considered.  Fredrickson also refers to her “broaden and build” theory, which are the ways by which positive emotions broaden one’s sense of possibilities and opens the mind, which in turn allows the person to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of their life. While this information is useful, it does beg the question how someone who isn’t naturally a positive thinker might develop and adopt this type of mindset.  The answer is actually more simple than you might think – you just “refrain and reframe”.  What this means is, you first must attempt to stop yourself from making negative comments or having negative thoughts about yourself, situations, or others.  This may be difficult to do,...

I Don’t Wanna Take Advice From Fools: Therapeutic Tips from Your Favorite 90’s Music

In 1995, the band The Gin Blossoms released a song called “Til I Hear It From You”.  The song was a hit, and portrayed the struggle of one man who was told his relationship was over by people other than his partner.  Those people then proceeded to advised him how he should deal with the situation.  His response to this, is captured in the most popular lines from the song, “I don’t wanna take advice from fools/I just figure everything is cool/til I hear it from you”.  Why am I writing about “taking advice from fools”?  People often attend therapy with the hope of receiving some form of poignant and potentially earth-shattering advice from their therapist that will alter their destiny and help make all of their future decisions clearer.  This is one of the greatest misconceptions of what therapy is or should be.  Therapy is not about receiving advice to “fix” any difficulties someone is going through.  Therapy is many things, but moreover, it is the process by which someone works, hand-in-hand with their clinician, to develop a better understanding of their own feelings regarding a specific challenge.  This new understanding enables the individual to better cope with their feelings and actions.  It is a process of growth and adapting, not advice.  In school, therapists are not trained on what advice to give someone in a specific situation.  Advice, by definition, is someone’s subjective opinion.  The benefit of confiding in a therapist, rather than a friend or family member, is found in that counselor’s ability to be unbiased and objective – the complete opposite of what advice is....

How to Find the “Right” Therapist for You

Ok, you’ve finally made the decision to go see a therapist – that’s great!  Now, how do you find one?  Better yet, how do you find “the right one” for you? One of the issues that makes finding a therapist so difficult is that people often don’t even know where to look for them.  If you needed to see a medical doctor, you could just ask some trusted friends for their recommendations or even post to Facebook – and you could be confident that you would be given some good options.  But when someone needs a therapist, people tend to do the opposite – opting not to disclose this need to those closest to them.  While this is a trend that is rapidly changing thanks in large part to the shrinking stigma that surrounds therapy, it does make finding a therapist even more challenging. Luckily, there are a number of resources out there that can help you identify therapists that are local to you and that also meet any specific criteria you might be looking for.  Examples of sites like these are http://www.psychologytoday.com and http://www.networktherapy.com .  Both of these sites allow you to search by multiple criteria including the therapist’s location, specific specialties, gender, educational background, and especially what type of health insurance plans they accept – if any.  This can be very useful information for a potential patient to have when searching, as there tend to be many therapists to choose from – particularly in Massachusetts. Another resource that people often overlook is their insurance providers’ websites.  Each insurance company has a searchable directory of the clinicians who...