Lisa Savage - Page 6 of 7 - Own Your Power & Soar
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Quick tips for effective parenting

happy family2

Show up for your children—this means you have to be present for them. Parenting is an active job. You have to be involved in the process of raising your children. They can’t successfully raise themselves.

Patience—Children will constantly test your patience. If you’re short of it, you will be miserable and so will they. That’s not to say that you won’t have a breaking point, but be committed to being patient. Remember children are not little adults. They’re learning as they grow.

Be consistent—your parenting style should always be predictable to your child. It shouldn’t matter if you’re having a good or bad day, your children should be able to count on your being consistent. This teaches children to trust, decreases their stress and increases their attachment to you.

Say no! Don’t feel guilty when you say no. Remember, it is ultimately good for your child and increases their sense of security. Children who are permitted to do what they like and who are over-indulged don’t feel safe. Setting limits and boundaries help children to feel safe.

Acceptance—your child might not be who you expected him or her to be. That’s okay. Accept your child anyway. Happy and emotionally stable children come from families where they felt accepted. Children who feel judged or misunderstood, become angry, resentful and destructive.

Affirmation—tell your child what you like about him or her. That will help to shape who they become as adults. Sincerely pointing out the positives in your child will go a long way. Most children want to please their parents. If you praise their positive behaviors, you’ll get more positive behaviors and less negative behaviors.

Forgiveness—don’t hold grudges with your child. Forgive them when they do wrong. It’s the right thing to do. Make sure they are learning life’s lessons, but teaching them forgiveness by practicing it yourself, is a good thing to do. Forgive yourself too. Making mistakes is part of the parenting process. No one gets it right all the time. Forgive yourself for being less than perfect.

Flexibility—what works for one child might not work for another child. Be open and flexible in how you relate to your children. Being rigid, will push your children away and cause them to be angry.
Fun—there’s plenty of time for seriousness. Children need to have fun. Parents need to have fun. Plan regular activities for fun. If your children are old enough, put them in charge of planning for a fun time. They will love that. Parents, getting breaks from your children will revive you. Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself to do things that don’t involve your children. Everyone benefits from this.


What I’ve been up to!

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been quiet lately! However, it’s not because I’ve been idle. I’m working on many new ventures and am excited as things progress nicely.
I’m excited to announce my very first webinar. It’s targeted to parents who want to learn proven strategies to help reduce negative behaviors in their child. Click this link Parent Child Interaction Share with family and friends who have young children displaying behavior problems. It’s totally free. Parents can join our online communitySOW We welcome new members so join us or send other women our way.

I’m not finished! Over the years, I’ve worked successfully to help people conquer disordered relationships with food. As an emotional eater, I’m quite familiar with the dynamic of this eating problem. I’ve formed an online support community that will also offer one on one and group interactions. Click here to check us out and refer others:
Mind Over Food

In a previous post, I discussed our efforts to reduce bullying by building healthy self-esteem in children. We’ve started and it’s been awesome. Last month one of our therapists conducted a group session with 13 high schoolers-shout out to William Penn High School in New Castle, De. The kids were amazing and loved it!
You can check us out and refer parents to THE YOU’RE COOL2 PROJECT.

We’re changing lives and extending our reach.


Helping children during the holiday season

As the holiday season quickly approaches, many mental health professionals become acutely aware of the impact of poverty on clients. Regardless of your philosophical perspective on consumerism and indulgence, it’s difficult to not be impacted by the plight of others, especially this time of the year. Children are particularly vulnerable to feeling a sense of longing, sadness and isolation as they hear their peers talk about their Christmas lists and desires. For children whose parents are unemployed, absent or simply can’t afford to buy things, it is a very difficult time. Recently, a young girl confessed to me that it was hard to come to school during the

holiday season. Her family has, ‘nothing’ and she was feeling a sense of dread with Christmas morning approaching. She was certain that when she wakes up, there will be no gifts and if lucky, they’ll have a decent dinner. In fact, she reported that she’d be lucky to wake up with her mom in a sober state. Her conversation flowed, without any prompting or interruption from me. She just needed a place to put her burdens. She did and with almost no expression of feelings. This story is about more than Christmas and the lack of gifts. I mean, not getting gifts isn’t the end of the world and that which doesn’t kill us, will make us stronger, right? Well yes it does and the best gift I can impart to this child is, the gift of resilience and perspective. I can encourage her to focus on the positive and tell her that this will make her stronger. Yet, the lump in my throat was growing larger as I heard her story. It grows because it’s the third such story I’ve heard in the past several hours. I feel a sense of helplessness which I’m certainly pales in comparison to the daily experiences of these children. I have to be mindful of falling into the helplessness pit or I will become ineffective as a therapist and an empowered being. sadgirl I take many deep breaths and stay with my feelings. Practicing mindfulness has helped me to avoid burn out and be a more effective healer. I especially need to remember my mindfulness practice during this season. Being mindful allows me to hear the stories and stay present with my clients who are expressing such despair. We can’t change that holidays happen and that poverty will always impact children. There are things we can do to help children cope with circumstances beyond their control. As mentioned above, we have to instill a sense of resiliency. There are many examples of people who grew up under difficult circumstances who later created success in their lives. Oprah Winfrey is a great example. I also think there’s some value in helping children to find positives in their circumstances. This can be difficult, but I think encouraging focus on the positive creates a sustainable way of thinking that will only benefit them as they get older. Every year, my practice ‘adopts’ a family for the holidays. The therapists are quite generous and giving to the family we choose. During the year, I pick up inexpensive toys, clothing, and I also find unused, nearly new items from my house and allow children to ‘shop’ for themselves or family members. . This is very popular because they enjoy giving as much as they do receiving. This is fun and fulfilling. It decreases my sense of helplessness and sadness from the stories I hear.


Launching The You’re Cool2 Project

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We’ve launched the You’re Cool2 Project. It’s a program that encourages parents to bully proof their children through the development of healthy self-esteem. Tomorrow, we will host a series of workshops at a local high school and encourage students to participate in this movement. We will help them to identify ways to feel good about themselves, and how to put positive traits into positive actions.
We will take the program to other local schools as well as create an online presence to reach more children and parents. Check us out at Feel free to invite families.

You’re Cool2 video


What to do when the help needs help.


I really enjoy being in private practice. I’ve appreciated the freedom and ability to be creative that comes with being self-employed. Having the ability to make more money is a huge positive and can be best achieved by growing your practice. However, don’t be deluded by the all of the positives. There are inherent difficulties that one must be aware of.
Over time my practice has grown, although there were times when I was reluctant to the increase in business and adding other professionals. I’m acutely aware that growth sometimes means, increased headaches, stress and uncomfortable issues to manage. But one of my greatest professional struggles is in learning how to manage mental health professionals with mental health challenges. Let’s face it, most of us go into this profession in an attempt to better understand, resolve, or be distracted by our own personal issues. Unfortunately, if we don’t have a good handle on our ‘stuff’, it comes spilling out and at times can be unsightly. I’m a huge believer that all, not some, but ALL mental health professionals should seek personal therapy or engage in some form of insight oriented awareness. If we truly believe in the process, we should be open to how we can personally benefit from it.
Often, in a group practice you’ll see an unresolved family of origin issue, surface among therapists. You’ll see therapists complain of feeling, left out, not being treated fairly, feeling like others are getting preferential treatment. It’s important that as a supervisor, to not diminish a person’s reality before assuming the roots originate from a childhood experience. What I’ve found eventually surfaces are, experiences the therapist felt growing up in the family or origin rather than being based in reality.
Therapists who have an unrealistic expectations and a strong sense of entitlement is another concern. These are the people who expect to receive, with little to no expectations of their own responsibility. I try to impress upon therapists who work in my practice, what their roles and responsibilities are before they join the practice. For example, when interviewing a prospective therapist, I stress the importance of them participating in increasing their referrals. I’ve encountered therapists who believe it is the practice owner’s sole responsibility for increasing referrals. I’ve also supervised fee for service therapists who believe they should be paid regardless of whether the practice has been reimbursed for services.

There are innocuous issues that therapists bring to practice that are less difficult to manage, but can be frustrating, if not dealt with openly. This includes therapists with attention deficit disorder, chronic disorganization or those who over commit. I find that coaching these individuals is extremely effective and often, they’re open to guidance on how to manage themselves and their responsibilities.
Therapists with significant, untreated mental health disorders or substance abuse presents many challenges to a supervisor. I’ve seen therapists engage in dangerous, unethical, illegal behavior, that is often the result of untreated issues. Often, personality disorders will contribute to destructive behaviors and it must be dealt with swiftly by the supervisor. It might mean making a report to the licensing board and/or alerting the police. Recently, in Delaware, there was a pediatrician who had significant mental illness. Many medical and other professionals were aware of, or suspected his problems were severe and impacting his patients. Sadly, it was revealed that he had tortured and sexually abused many of his young patients. This is abhorrent and even more detestable is that, there were later admissions by other professionals who suspected the sexual abuse was going on. The lesson for all of us, is to speak up, meet head on and do not act as a complicit partner with someone who is not well. Your clinical and professional judgment must take precedence to any personal or professional alliances.
I strongly believe that as managers and supervisors, our role is not limited to clinical supervision. Often times, we have to provide professional counsel to fellow therapists that involves recommending them to seek professional help. It is not the most comfortable position to be in, but it comes with the job. We will also serve as ‘ad hoc’ professional coaches, guiding other therapists to being the best they can be. It is also important to make sure that as a supervisor, you are attending to your needs and managing your own issues. We’re not immune to having issues and should never be above professional reproof or help. Ultimately, we are better serving our clients by ensuring that those who are providing services are performing optimally.


Why we provide services in schools….

Last year there were 10 suicides among adolescents in Delaware.  There are only 328 licensed mental health professionals in this tiny state.  Few of us work with children.  The barriers and obstacles to getting mental health services are many.  This is unacceptable yet who speaks up for the most vulnerable of our society?


Announcing the– You’re Cool2 Project

On behalf of my practice, I’d like to announce the launch of the, “You’re Cool2 Project” (r). It is a program for children who may have been or are vulnerable to bullying. The objective is to help these children identify and embrace positive traits that make them unique. We hope to empower them to increase self-esteem and self-confidence by simply pointing out what makes them cool2!
We are rolling this program out at a local high school and then in elementary schools.   More details later!


Why not pay for mental health services?

Affordable Care aka Obama Care recently included a law that will increase access to mental health services and mandating that insurance cover care in the same way medical services are covered.  I’m hugely happy about this because, it will make seeing a therapist much easier for many.  It will mean that many people will be able to get services and lessen their suffering.   It will also serve, indirectly, as a way to decrease stigma that this society has about getting help for emotional or mental disorders.    This is great, right?  Well, yes but……

There will be many new health plans on the free market.  Many of these plans will have a high deductible and most certainly, a Co pay for services.  So while, theoretically, a person will have mental health coverage, the insurance will not pay until the deductible is satisfied.  For example, a plan might cover mental health services at 80/20 percent once an 1800.00 deductible has been met.  This means the person has to pay 1800.00 out of pocket first, until then, the insurance company isn’t paying anything.  .  The medical professional will submit bills to the insurance company, but you will pay for all services up front.  After your deductible has been paid, the insurance company will pay 80% of the fees and you will pay 20%.    Either way, unless you have medical assistance, you will be paying for services.

Is paying out-of-pocket for your mental health care a bad thing? Actually, it’s a good thing and I’m recommending it more often.  In fact, I advocate people paying for their mental health services completely and not using insurance.  Allow me to explain this ‘radical’ thinking.  From the perspective of a mental health professional, I can tell you that insurance, largely dictates how we work with you, how long, and even determine if it is medically necessary.  Also, increasingly, insurance companies are demanding that providers send them your records for ‘audits’.  That means at any time, I have to turn over ‘randomly’ selected records, send them through the mail to an ‘auditor’.  I don’t know what this person’s qualifications are and what they do with the records once received.  I assume they’re looking for, billing inconsistencies, validation that services were necessary and fraud.  Those are important things but, at what cost to the person seeking care?   Insurance companies are covered by HIPPA so the provider really has no choice but to comply and send the records.  I am becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and who has access to your private, confidential information.

Also, when using insurance a therapist is bound by the number of times you can be seen, the type of therapy you receive and what you can be seen for.   There are lots of restrictions that the average consumer is not aware of.  Often times, I have to inform clients of the restrictions, which can be frustrating for everyone.

What if you can’t afford to pay for your mental health services?   I’d like to argue that you probably can afford to pay out-of-pocket.  I think we must consider what is important.  Untreated mental health problems don’t go away by themselves, in most instances, they get worse.  Depression and anxiety alone will end up costing you, time away from family, work and enjoying life.  Both of these conditions can lead to other medical problems.

Lastly, do a calculation of where you spend your money.  How much do you spend on recreational activities?  How much on clothing/shoes/vacations?  You’ll soon see that you can absolutely afford to pay for mental health services without going broke.  Yes, you might have to sacrifice some things but when you need a change, the sacrifice is worth it.  Most mental health professional are willing to negotiate their rates.  You have to ask.  People often have unrealistic ideas of what it cost to see a therapist.  They come expecting to pay hundreds per session.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never know if it is affordable.   Your mental health is worth it.  You deserve it and so does your family.    You will only be frustrated trying to get insurance companies to pay for a service that has the potential to positively impact your life.




Children and Mindfulness—A gift for Life


Teaching and practicing mindfulness with your child can be an extraordinary experience for bonding and providing your child with a gift that will have long-lasting effects.

Mindfulness is the practice of “intentional attention”, to internal and external experiences without judgment.  It’s a journey inward, an opportunity to experience the fullness of the moment and a chance to slow down mental and physical processes. The goal is to focus on the immediacy of the moment to increase awareness of automatic thoughts, emotions and reactions in order to respond appropriately to any situation.  It enables people to make better choices and decrease emotional reactivity. Children who have difficulty with regulating their emotions and behaviors can practice mindfulness.

In her book, The mindfulness prescription for adult ADHD, Lidia Zylowska, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, has done groundbreaking research on the use of mindfulness in the treatment of ADHD for adults.  More empirical research is needed to prove the efficacy of mindfulness with ADHD and children, but is clear from the small studies conducted, there are compelling reasons to practice mindfulness with your child who has ADHD/ADD.

Dr. Zylowska, conducted this study, which demonstrates positive effects of mindfulness for ADHD with adolescents and adults, although clearly identifying the need for more research.   Mindfulness Meditation Training in Adults


Teaching mindfulness to children can be done in a number of ways. It is important to take into consideration the age and stage of development of your child and be creative.  Here are a couple of suggestions; you can modify any of them based on your child.

·         Walking is an easy and fun way to be mindful.  Start by counting every fourth step and do this for a few minutes of walking. Next, take notice of what the surface under foot feels like–the hardness, the softness, the smoothness. During your mindful walk, encourage your child to walk slowly and to notice, the sky, the smells you encounter, how the wind feels when it hits parts of the body, the color of the grass and so forth.

·         Use a mindful bell—ring a bell and ask your child to listen to the sound until she can’t hear it any more.  This slows down mental and physical processes, increases concentration and attention. With daily practice, it will also induce the relaxation effect.

·         Take some time and relax with your child on the sofa.  Tell her that together you’re going on a vacation to nowhere; that together you will go to a place that is peaceful and only the two of you know about. If your child is into it, get her to go first, describing where this place is.  Encourage her to describe the sounds, the smells and other sensations that are particular to this place.  She might describe an island, with clear purple skies, red water and orange turtles.  The more descript, the more the positive effect.  Chime in with the descriptions if your child is struggling.     At the end of the trip, try to get your child to describe what she’s feeling in her body.  Try to get her to notice any sensations without any judgment.  For example, what do her arms, legs feel like? What does her breathing feel like?

·         The body scan—have your child recline in a relaxed position.  Guide him to focus on parts of his body.  Start with the head, asking him to just notice what his head feels like, then work down to his neck, shoulders, back, and so forth.

 Mindfulness is best taught through practice.  It is a wonderful way to connect with your child and to have your child to become more self-aware and the benefits are immeasurable.  Remember to focus on the practice and not being perfect.

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