Advocacy

Mental Health: 12 Things Adopted/Foster Children Wish You Knew


Do you have an adopted or foster child? If not, have you considered fostering a child or adopting a child? What is stopping you? What inspired you to do it? Whatever the case, adopting and fostering a child is one of the most difficult, intimidating, and humbling experiences for many families. It's quite admirable. Adopting or fostering a child (or teenager) will take a great deal of support from your "village," knowledge about attachment and trauma, and patience. Sadly, for many adoptive and foster parents, the idea of adopting or fostering a child often outweighs the potential downsides and challenges. Many families find themselves helplessly searching for help when their adopted or foster child begins to show signs of mental illness, attachment trauma, or behavioral problems. One of my previous families described it like this:
"I went to Uganda and adopted MiMa and she was the sweetest child I had ever seen. Once back in the U.S., she began to scratch me, bite me, hit and kick me, I didn't know what to do. Not only did we not bond, but she was developing behaviors I had never seen before. It was awful!"
Does this sound familiar? This article will explore the challenges often faced by adoptive/foster families and discuss 12 things that adoptive and foster children/teens with mental or behavioral health challenges  wish their parents knew.
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Communication

Attachment Re-visited: 7 Red Flag Signs of Poor Boundaries

How do you protect yourself in this world? How do you ensure that the things you care for are protected on a daily basis? One way we protect ourself is by having strict boundaries. Boundaries are extremely important for human beings to maintain. Without boundaries, you are likely to be taken advantage of, manipulated, abused, or "blinded" by the shallow, self-centered people we encounter in our daily lives. As a child, I was often reminded by my parents to maintain appropriate boundaries at all times. I quickly learned that boundaries were a great shield of protection in a world that rarely respects or employs appropriate boundaries. For many of us, we learn in high school and as adults how very important boundaries are to our survival. Sadly, individuals who have traumatic histories or poor emotional attachment often become victims to people who violate boundaries because of their own emotional neediness. Sometimes it is very difficult for these individuals to identify when they need to apply strict boundaries. This article will continue our discussion on poor emotional attachment which often results in poor boundaries. We will also look at 7 major signals that our boundaries need to be adjusted.
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Communication

Understanding The Avoidant Personality: 6 Ways to Cope

Have you ever had a relationship with someone who appeared loving and interested in the relationship, only to later pull away when things got too "involved?" Did you raise a child who would hug you and show you unconditional love one moment, and the next totally detach from you as if you were a stranger? What about your own mother or father. Did they love you in a strange way, often equating "separateness" or "independence" with love or strength? If this sounds familiar, then perhaps this article is for you. About
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Child & Adolescent Mental Health

Emotional Attachment: 5 Unhealthy Relational Patterns


What were your thoughts when you read this article title? You might believe that attachment has nothing to do with mental health but it most certainly does. In fact, some people believe that topics about attachment only have something to do with newborn babies or toddlers. But the reality is that attachment is a natural phenomenon that occurs in every human relationship and begins during the first few years of life. Some people believe that attachment begins as early as in the womb between baby and mother. Our early life relationships often set the stage for how we will function within future relationships and will affect the boundaries we employ in each relationship. Research has suggested that healthy boundaries often include the ability to attach and detach when appropriate, foresee relational dangers, and employ appropriate boundaries. Unhealthy (or poor) attachment includes the inability to be independent when necessary, high levels of fear and anxiety when separated from a relationship, and very poor boundaries. This article will discuss how poor attachment correlates to unhealthy relationships in the long-run. This article will also highlight 5 unhealthy boundaries, often found in individuals with personality disorders or trauma histories, that we all should be aware of.

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Self-Care & Life

7 Ways to Avoid Re-Traumatizing A Trauma Victim


Trauma is a complex phenomenon. Many of us have probably experienced an event that we struggle to not only forget, but emotionally cope with. If I were to ask you if you have ever experienced a traumatic event what would you say? Was it severe, moderate, or mild? Was it long-term or short-term? Were you able to easily get over it? Whatever the case may be, a traumatic experience must be an event that we find difficult to cope with overtime. Sadly, many people who tend to lack knowledge about trauma fail to recognize that anything a trauma victim comes in contact with can re-traumatize them. For example, I previously had a client who witnessed his mother slit her throat and commit suicide. Prior to this suicide, the mother had been playing hiding-go-seek outside with all 4 of her children. This child struggled with understanding why his mother would walk away during hiding-go-seek and kill herself. Now, at the age 10, he watches movies with his father that often include crime scenes, murder, and suicide which tends to trigger memories of his mother's suicide. He is unable to sleep at night, relax, or put the past behind him. Yet, his father is unaware of the reality that he  is possibly re-traumatizing his own son with these movies. This article will discuss 7 things we, who are close to trauma victims, should be mindful not to do. I will also give suggestions on what we should do instead.
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Child & Adolescent Mental Health

Your First Therapy Session: 9 Important Questions To Ask

Photo Credit: "Unsplash"

A first therapy session can be very intimidating for both therapist and client. But first sessions seem to be more  intimidating to clients because they are unfamiliar with the process, do not know what to expect, aren't sure if they will like the therapist or office, are anxious about the conversation, and are sometimes fearful of the therapist "psychoanalyzing" them.  That first therapy session could also be the very...
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Advocacy

11 Bad Habits Some Therapists Believe Are Acceptable in Therapy


Did you or someone you know have a good or bad experience in therapy? As much as I love my field and working with families, I have to admit that there are often few good therapists who wholeheartedly engage in therapy with clients. There are really good therapists, mediocre therapists, and some really bad therapists in this world. It takes time to find the right therapist. Many people would agree that most therapists fill voids that most of us have such as a void of a parental relationship, sibling relationship, grandparent, or good friend. For most of my child and adolescent clients, I often end up fitting into the role of mother, aunt, or mentor. For many of you, a therapist may fill similar voids or other voids such as loneliness, grief, low self-esteem, or self-identity. But sadly, for some clients, there are therapists who also seem to play the role of jail warden (being very strict and unreasonable), police officer (often pointing out negative behaviors in an authoritarian and intimidating fashion), or Judge (leading counseling sessions in a confrontational manner). Therapists like this often lack etiquette, professionalism, appropriate boundaries, and even compassion. This article will discuss and review some of the things that some therapists think are appropriate to say (or think about) clients.
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Advocacy

8 Symptoms That May Require A Mental Health Evaluation


Last week I wrote about 8 Symptoms that should not always be labeled a mental illness. Life is life. We are all going to experience the worst of it and the best of it. We should not be so quick to label ourselves "disordered" until we evaluate every aspect of what could be happening to us. Clinicians and mental health professionals should also be careful not to quickly pathologize every client that comes through their doors. But sadly, there are way too many people in the world, including some mental health professionals, who either downplay or exaggerate mental health symptoms. There is often no in-between. Although we all would like to maintain the idea that most people are mentally healthy and well adjusted, we cannot ignore the fact that there are millions of people (children, adolescents, adults) who are struggling with mental health symptoms every single day of their lives. They are struggling with mild, moderate, and severe symptoms that seem to make their future grim. This article will discuss symptoms that should never be ignored or downplayed and possibly be evaluated by a mental health professional.
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