5 Tips For An Amazing Summer With Your Family

1. Eat Outside– I am so nostalgic for picnic tables and grilling. Growing up on the East Coast, my family relished being outside when we could. Meals outside bring us closer to each other and to mother nature. Eating outside is a whole new way to enjoy your meal. Make it easier by enlisting everyone’s help and get yourself a good tray to hall stuff out.

2. Play Games– Instead of hunkering down for the night in front of the tv to wind down or keeping them fired up as they run outside looking like a chain saw running out of gas, bust out some games that are fun, not over stimulating, and fit into the amount of time you had in mind. You can even make a little bet. Today I am making everyone’s beds due to the loss of UNO in last night’s match. My kids are loving it! It teaches them good sportsmanship when I can keep it positive despite the loss and through modeling behaviors.

3. Get Enough Sleep– I know summer is here and the days are longer and energy levels are higher but it is still crucial for your children to get enough sleep. Not only is it important for their developing brains, it is extremely important for having a good next day. When kids aren’t well rested, the next day can be a disaster. Or what looks like a good day can widdle down to meltdown zone by the afternoon. And then what happens to you when your children are being grouches? Yep, better to get them to bed at a decent hour.

4. Be Active– Get you and your children outside. Swim, jump, bike, hike, explore. Be mindful of how much both you and them can handle time and distance wise. If you aren’t in the greatest of shape, push you edge a bit. If you are in great shape, be mindful not to push the kids’ edge too far.

5. Spoil them with love, not stuff– The weather can make us feel good. So good we may think we have more money than we actually do and/or so good we feel like spoiling our children because it’s summer. And while all “spoiling” isn’t a bad thing, I encourage you to be mindful of your spending for not only your finances sake but for the emotional sake. Giving kids everything they want just because they want it and because you can could create a host of other behaviors like acting spoiled, ungrateful, demanding, expecting, and overall brattiness. Instead of giving stuff, spending your love, time, knowledge, and energy with them is just money in the bank for their minds and spirits.

Wishing you all a very joyful and satisfying summer. Remember, we only get them for so long. Be patient and compassionate with yourself when you are struggling. Our feelings are ever changing. Enjoy the ride!

Out of Control: The Psychology of Chickens and People

IMG_1453This is Crosby A. Tinkleton.  He is one of 6 chickens gallivanting around my yard.  Crosby is a rooster and a bully.

I would like to tell the other chickens to steer clear of Crosby.  To not let him do the things he does. To make Crosby go away when they want to eat in a particular spot or make him crow loud on a different part of the property.

The thing is, the other chickens can only control themselves.  They cannot control Crosby.  And I cannot control any of those chickens.

The same is true with people.  We can only control ourselves.  We can try and make others do what we want.  We can put in effort with manipulation or force.  Ultimately though, the only control we really have is over ourselves.

That can be a tough pill to swallow.  Whether our significant others, children, friends, family, our children’s friends/classmates, or their parents.  We may want our children to do exactly what we want.  We may want kids at school to treat them better or let them into a certain group.  We may want people to change.  Our spouse to be a particular way.  But we cannot control any of them.

The good news is if we only have ourselves to control then we can take some pressure off in having to make everyone into the person we want them to be.  We can open ourselves up to a sort of loving kindness about who they are and who we are.  We can also decide how we want to be in relation to them.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say their is a parent who feels their child is being left out.  Left out at school, left out socially.  You can try and control the other children. Encourage them to them to include your child.  You could call the other parents and let them know your feelings and request they speak with their own child.  You could talk with the teacher about your concerns.  You can put in all your efforts until you’re exhausted.  The fact is though, you cannot make anyone do anything else.  It will be up to the children, their parents, and their teacher to decide if/what they are going to do help.

No matter what happens in that scenario, what we are left with is the question, “How do I want to be in relation to my child and this circumstance?”  Do I give a forum for them to voice their feelings without judgement?  Do I hold them close on my lap?  Do I offer to take my child and a friend they want to have to the movies Saturday?  Do I point out their strengths and validate how being an individual is awesome?  Do I play catch and show my love through my actions?

Only you can control what it is you decide to do.  If we can do it with patience and love, even better.

Those 5 other chickens in the yard are what appears to be patient with Mr. Tinkleton. I am sure somewhere there is a whole chicken psychology I am unaware of.  All I know is I cannot control those chickens.


The only thing I can control is myself.  I let go of expectations of how I want others to be.

Thank You To Veterans and Their Families

I wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to our Veterans and their families on this special day. I am grateful for your service and dedication.


I have had the opportunity to witness the most tender side another human being has to offer.  Where they get touched so deeply in their heart, a look of humility tends to their face, and an acknowledgement occurs.  This is a place where healing happens.

It is in these moments the work is happening.  And I believe it works because of the relationship WE have created together.  Without the relationship, we can never get to this place.  The recipe is building a relationship, building trust, and then time.

Therapy takes time.  This place within us is not to be rushed to.  We need to trust whoever we take to this place will be able to sit in this feeling with us.  To see what is really there. To see a piece of who we really are.  To be gentle with us.

We can quantify certain aspects of the human condition and come up with scientific based approaches for certain symptoms.  I am convinced though that the human spirit is unquantifiable and is more than science could ever show us.

I am grateful daily for the work I do and for those who allow me to enter into those dark caverns of their heart and mind and explore together.  


5 Tips for High School Teen Success

    1. Show up to class….everyday.  I know class can be boring and you have better things to teen girl in white tank top and jeans standing in front of oceando with your time.  But falling behind can lead to a never ending tunnel of doom.  Many concepts build on one another, so if you miss one thing, it may be hard to catch up.  Plus you can become an eye sore in the eyes of your teacher, who would be better to have as an ally than an enemy. 
    1. Get some sleep.  Transitioning back to school is tough, especially if you are someone who was going to bed in the morning and waking up in the late afternoon.  Being exhausted at school can make it feel extra dreadful.  Aim for at least 7-8 hours, if not more, of sleep.
    1. Eat during the day.  I know there was a time in junior high when it felt uncool to eat but it’s high school now and your brain needs fuel.  Try and eat something small yet substantial every 2-3 hours.  Almonds, granola bar, yogurt, etc.  It will not only help your ability to sustain attention but can also keep your mood more positive. 
    1. Schedule yourself.  You can get overbooked with activities and things you want to do.  Make sure you have enough time to do not only the things you love but also the things you needs to.  You will feel accomplished when you got it all done and no one is on your back about it.
  1. Ask for help.  From friends, parents, teachers, friend’s parents, school counselor, family members, etc.  We all need support around academic, social, and interpersonal feelings and events that arise.  Use your support network to get relief, guidance, understanding, and clarity around whatever is ailing you.

Girls’ Support Group Taking Off!!!

The teen girls’ support group is taking off!  First group starts on September 24 at 1:30PM. If interested, please contact me to set up a consultation session to learn more about the group, to get a feel for who I am, and for me to learn more about the possible group member.

Parents are often concerned what to do if their teen doesn’t want to commit to the group,  I always encourage all new participants to give group 3-4 tries and then make a decision. This gives the teen time to get a better understanding for the group.

Looking forward to September!!


New Girls’ Support Groups Starting This Fall

Welcome teens and junior high age girls to two new support groups starting Fall 2015 for those on an independent/home study track.  Please head to my group page for further details.

I have been facilitating groups for over 15 years, and I am beyond excited to help inspire, motivate, teach, and offer unconditional acceptance for girls in our community.  Please call call at 707-478-4351 or email for more info.

Looking forward with gratitude!

The Valuable Link Between Therapy with Adults, Teens, and Children

Working with children and teens greatly enhances my work with adults as I understand more about how our early attachments and experiences shape the person we become later in adult life.  I am reminded daily of how important the life process we have as children and teenagers creates the adult us.  While it isn’t the end all be all, it certainly is a factor in creating who we become.

Patterns from childhood emerge in adulthood whether we like it or not.  For example, let’s say you grew up in a home where you were not free to express emotions.  Where nobody ever talked about what they felt and negative emotions were taboo.  Now let’s imagine one carrying that pattern into an adult relationship.  See how that could become a problem?

In the above example, I can help children and teens learn to express themselves and families learn to allow for it.  The adult who comes to therapy can learn how to break this cycle and develop a trusting relationship with the therapist and try on this new way of being.  The teen can work to break this pattern why it is still early and not entirely solidified.  All with the intention that what happens in the therapy room emanates out into other relationships and creates a better way of relating and a better overall quality of life.

Our young selves lives inside each of us.  Some people are good at keeping it hidden while others display these parts of themselves on their sleeves.  Many shut off from the younger parts for both conscious and unconscious reasoning.  Irregardless, the young in us exists, and we can often be in touch with it if we listen closely.  Sometimes this younger self is where healing needs to happen in order to move forward in our lives.

Giving attention to the younger parts of ourselves can help us get unstuck and move on to feeling better about who we are and our lives.  Therapy with children, teens, and adults can be an invaluable resource to getting there.


I listen to what is inside of me that is asking to be healed.

Becoming A Better Parent

By Joris Louwes

Whether parenting a teen, junior high, elementary school, or preschool age child there are some parenting strategies that spread across the age continuum. It is even a great technique to use with other adults.  For all creative purposes, we will call it “naming the feeling.”

How this technique works is by really listening to what the individual is having to say and then naming the feeling for them.  “It sounds like you are really angry right now.”  When we label the feeling, people begin to feel understood and often lessen in intensity.

Feeling understood is huge when it comes to de escalating a conflict.  It disarms individuals and can soften them.  It can make people feel you are really understanding them.

When we come back at someone who is expressing themselves with judgements, yelling, and accusatory statements, it can make things worse.  The result: heat rising, more conflict, and/or withdrawing follows.

Naming the feeling doesn’t mean we have to agree with the individual or take their side.  It simply says, “I really hear what you are saying.”  Sometimes that’s all someone is wanting from you.  They want you to hear what they have to say.  Period.

One challenge in using this technique is our own triggers being set off.  Like my cat meowing right now while I am trying to think about writing this article.  It is triggering me.  I want to yell at him right now for sounding so loud and demanding, but instead, I will name his feeling right now.  “It sounds like you are really hungry right now.”  Off to his food dish he goes and the meowing ceases.  Who knew it even worked for pets?!

Triggers are switches inside of us getting turned on when something around us happens.  Like when your kid says, “We never do anything fun.”  You find your eyes get big (you know you are being triggered) as you recount the previous 24 hours where you made homemade waffles, took the ferry into the city, played at Pier 39 all day, and had Amici’s pizza on the way home.  Yes, no fun at all.  At this point you may want to yell and take back all the past and future fun because you just got TRIGGERED.  But if you were using the naming the feeling technique you might say, “It sounds like you are really bored right now.”

In the effort of conscious parenting (another topic for another day), I strongly encourage you to give this technique a try.  And when you do, I want you to watch what happens.  Does your child make eye contact with you and nod his head like you are understanding them.  Do they say, “Yes!” and rattle on more with their story.  See if naming the feeling is all you have to do to help them work through the situation.  Try it with your spouse, co-workers, mother’s group friends, other family members, the list is endless.


I can handle what comes my way with understanding.

Is the Grass Always Greener?

We all see life from different vantage points.  Sometimes the grass seems greener.  That’s a big part of my job.  To see life from my patients’ point of view and also to point out other ways of looking and thinking about the world.  Exploring what is in the grass, if the grass is green, and if the grass really exists.

This American Life presents a story telling another view of what high school and going to college looks like for some teens.  Follow the link to 550: Three Miles.