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Family Life

Stuck in a Rut During Midlife Parenthood? 7 Tips

It's very common for parents to feel bored, stuck or stagnant when the kids are getting older and it feels like many of the exciting milestones have passed and now you are sitting in the same house, with the same partner, not planning to have more kids and nothing new on the horizon.  It’s as if many of us know what we want to do with ourselves until midlife and then it somehow the path becomes less clear and defined.  We are both the protagonist and the author of our own life story, so make it good!  Here are some tips for how to get out of a rut and create the life you want:   Grieve the losses of the times that have passed. Honor any feelings of sadness or grief, rather than trying to fill the void with things like shopping, food and alcohol.  These feelings are a normal part of life transitions and are something I have seen often in my practice.  Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, through loss their can be metamorphosis and rebirth.  When you process the feelings through activities like journaling, art and counseling, you can move through them and be clear and open for the next phase of life.   Give yourself a reboot. Reboot your mind, body and spirit for renewed energy and perspective by starting a meditation practice (apps like Calm and Headspace are great), participate in therapy,  or a mindfulness or yoga class or retreat.  Get in touch with your inner, deeper self and with your needs.  Consider doing these things together with your partner or at least share with your partner about your process of self-discovery. 


Career

How to Sell a Private Practice or Counseling Center

My counseling practice was my baby. From the time I founded Urban Balance in 2004 to when I sold it to Refresh Mental Health in 2017, it grew to over 100 therapists working from nine locations in two states. Selling my practice was a very big decision. It was a thoughtful process; one that required much research and consultation. I’d like to share with you all that I learned about how to sell a counseling/mental health private practice (solo or group) and the key components to consider. It’s important to have an exit strategy even if you don’t plan on selling, why? It takes time (sometimes years) to prepare your practice to sell. It’s never too early to become informed about your choices. Sometimes the unexpected happens and it’s best to be prepared rather than to make a “fire sale” out of urgency. Why do people sell their practices? To reduce liability and responsibility To cash out and lower/eliminate risk To be freed to pursue other opportunities Relocation Retirement or to have more work/life balance How can I find out the value of my practice?


Family Life

Sexual Assault Awareness Month #SAAM: Tips to Embrace Your Voice

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an initiative to raise public awareness about sexual violence and provide education on prevention.  According to the National Sexual Assault Resource Center, nearly 1 out of 5 women and 1 out of 67 men in the U.S. have experienced rape or attempted rape sometime in their lives (Smith et al., 2017.) At my Chicago-based practice, we sadly see how many people are impacted by sexual assault in the form of rape, sexual abuse, harassment and nonconsensual sexual acts.  Survivors often deal with issues related to trauma, self-esteem, empowerment, depression, anxiety and substance abuse as a form of self-medication of symptoms. Sexual violence a very serious and wide-spread problem. As members of our communities, we each have a personal responsibility to develop greater understanding so we can be part of trauma and violence prevention. With momentum from the #MeToo campaign and many sexual harassment cases being exposed, we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve understanding, prevent violence and change our culture today. This year, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is celebrating its 17th anniversary with the theme, “Embrace Your Voice. ”  Here's what you can do to help: Know that words matter. Chances are, you know people who have been sexually assaulted who have not shared their experiences with you.  So if you comment that somebody claiming sexual assault in the media is doing it just for attention, you might be conveying to them that you wouldn’t believe them if they shared their experiences with you.  When you stand up for survivors of sexual violence, you send a powerful message that you believe and support them.    Stop victim-blaming. If you hear comments like, “Well, her skirt was so short...”, say something like, “It doesn't matter what she was wearing. Sexual assault is never okay. The victim is never to blame.”  Comment if you see stereotyping or inaccurate portrayals in the media. TV shows and movies sometimes romanticize, eroticize or make light of sexual assault, which is never okay.  Recently, I watched a comedy where a group of women fondling an unconscious man. I said, “Whoah---That’s sexual assault! That is NOT funny.” We must find our voices and speak these options so that producers in the media realize this inaccurate portrayal isn't to be tolerated. Say something if you hear inappropriate jokes/comments. If you hear an inappropriate comment such as somebody teasing somebody else that they would need to use a "ruffie" to get lucky, say something like, “I don’t think it is funny to joke about rape.” These jokes contribute to a culture where sexual violence is not taken as seriously as it should. Take victims seriously and believe them. Never question their perceptions or minimize their experiences. Unfortunately, there is often shame, secrecy and stigma in being assaulted. Be kind and compassionate and believe them. Help them receive professional support by contacting Rape Victim Advocates. Encourage reporting.  Reporting is critical to stop the cycle of violence. Coach survivors through any fears of retaliation and empower them to report. Encourage going to the authorities. Offer to make a call together to get help through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE . For more information, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and check out their important fact sheet on sexual violence and suggestions for embracing your voice. To be part of the solution, share articles and information about sexual assault prevention, such as my article about consensual sex, with #SAAM.


Family Life

How to Encourage Critical Thinking in Kids

In an age when most kids are glued to their phones and their primary mode of communication is Snapchat, it's a concern for many parents as far as to how to help their kids develop critical thinking. In a recent radio interview with WGN’s Vic Vaughn, we explored how to help kids become better able to objectively evaluate situations and form opinions that reflect empathy, compassion and cultural sensitivity. My responses to the following interview questions are based on being on my experiences practicing as a psychotherapist for over 20 years, as well as being the parent of two teenage girls.


Psychology

Consensual Sex is an Ongoing Dialogue, Not Simply a Yes

The #MeToo movement and the Aziz Ansari story have inspired much needed discussion about the boundaries involved in consensual sex. In today’s hookup culture, often sexual partners barely know each other, so they don't have a longstanding, trusting rapport at the foundation of their relationship. They lack a deeper understanding of each other’s emotional, physical and sexual comfort levels and limits. This puts them at risk for having sexual encounters that may have started out as consensual, but then became uncomfortable,...


Family Life

How to Promote Healthy Emotional-Social Development of iGen Teens


In her popular article, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?, Jean M. Twenge refers to the “iGen”---those born between 1995 and 2012 that have been shaped by smartphones and social media. She says that while this generation might be physically safer than adolescents have ever been (because they’re “more comfortable online than out partying”), they are “on the brink of a mental health crisis.“ She adds that the research says, “The more time teens spend...


Psychology

#metoo: How to Respond to Sexual Trauma



Many of you have probably seen friends post "#metoo" on Twitter, Facebook and social media.  In the wake of recent allegations of multiple sexual harassment and sexual assault per Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano suggested people  utilize the #MeToo campaign (founded by Tarana Burke) for victims of sexual assault to break their silence and share their stories.

As a therapist who is passionate about the destigmatization of mental health issues,...


General

How to Cope After Acts of Mass Violence

After acts of mass violence, including the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, we may be left without words and with diminished hope. We might ask ourselves, “Why is this occurring? What is happening to the world? What does this mean for our future?”

It's difficult for our minds and hearts to process our thoughts and feelings about horrific acts of violence that happen throughout our world. As a psychotherapist who has been practicing for more...