Caregivers

Overcoming Adoption Fear and Doubt

The main reasons for adoption are pretty clear to me now that we’ve adopted a baby. A man and a woman get to be parents. A child without parents receives parents. The birth mother knows that her child will be well cared for. To me, it’s clearly a win/win/win situation.

But some people just plain don’t want to adopt. These are some of the issues people voice:

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Caregivers

The Psychological Impact of Divorce on Adult Children

I recently viewed the 2013 comedy, "A.C.O.D," starring Adam Scott, Clark Duke, Richard Jenkins, and Catherine O’Hara. "A.C.O.D" showcases a serious storyline in a comedic light, while addressing the psychological impact divorce can have on adult children. While I can’t speak to such an experience firsthand, I was intrigued by the subject matter. Even though they’re no longer kids, adult children may still carry the weight of divorce and unresolved childhood issues on their shoulders.

Maybe such effects manifest in their romantic relationships. They may be wary of long-term commitment. Maybe they encounter heightened stress when they’re sifting through their parents’ leftover anger and resentment, still feeling as if they have to choose sides.

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Brain and Behavior

The Healing Power of Hugs

One day several years ago, I spontaneously hugged a patient of mine, Gretchen. It was during a moment in which her despair and distress were so intense that it seemed cruel on a human level not to reach out my arms to her, in the event that she might derive some relief or comfort from an embrace. She hugged me for dear life.

Months later, Gretchen reported to me that the hug had changed her. “The motherly embrace you gave me that day,” she said, “lifted the depression I have had all my life.”

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Caregivers

Separate and Unequal

You have just fallen off your bike. You hit a rock and were thrown over the handlebars onto your back. Ouch.

What do you do now? You go to the doctor. X-rays are taken. Nothing is broken. You get some medicine, you go home.

The next day at work, you are having some trouble with the pain. Your peers ask what’s wrong. You reply that you fell off your bike. They say that's too bad; hope you feel better. Move on. They don’t think too much of it.

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Bullying

Kill Them with Kindness

“Matt, you are too sensitive,” a family member said.

I chafed at the label. Sensitivity, within my immediate family, is disparaged as a sign of weakness. Stoicism, with the occasional angry outburst, reigns. Feelings? According to my family, Oprah and I should schedule couch time to discuss them.

In my world, feelings predominate. My mood and emotion vacillate based on a heart-warming compliment or stinging rebuke. When feeling well, I exude confidence and joy. When feeling down, I ruminate and question. Feelings -- and a willingness to experience raw, unfiltered emotion -- define me.
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Anger

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Us

The statistics are alarming. From 2009 to 2014, the number of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 hospitalized for intentionally cutting or poisoning themselves has more than doubled. This isn't the first time I'm reading about this. But it's certainly time to talk about it.

In my work with inherited family trauma, when I see a child who injures herself, I've learned to probe into the family history. The self-injurer could well be reliving aspects of a trauma she inherited from her parents or grandparents, though this is not always the case. Self-injurious behaviors can arise for other reasons as well.

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Caregivers

Showing Up

“Show up.” We have all heard that term before. What does it mean to “show up”? There are several answers to this question.

When you buy a ticket to a cultural or sporting event, have an educational or career deadline or presentation, medical appointment or procedure, you know the date and time that you must be there. If you are late, arrive on the wrong date or location, or miss it altogether, the experience of the event has passed and is impossible to recreate. There typically is a negative consequence and a lesson learned.

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Brain and Behavior

Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Welfare Community

Before becoming a psychotherapist, I had a career in animal welfare. I’ve worn both the boots and the sandals -- that’s jargon for working on the law enforcement side and the shelter side -- and I’ve seen my fair share of trauma.

Whether you’re a humane officer or a shelter volunteer, a vet tech or an animal rights activist, you have likely seen, heard about, or experienced things that most people can’t even begin to understand. Long-term exposure to abuse and neglect, euthanasia, and grief-stricken clients not only can affect your work productivity and satisfaction, but it can also wear on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you feel like you care so much that it hurts, you may be struggling with compassion fatigue.
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Anger

The Reason Children Misbehave

You and I are adults; we talk like adults, use deductive reasoning, think about consequences for our actions, and make informed decisions based on facts (most of the time). Adults aren't always wonderfully smart, though. We can, and often do, fall prey to the “little adult syndrome” when dealing with children, especially when they’re misbehaving.

Working with children day in and day out provides me a fantastic perspective and a look into who they really are. Sometimes they’re wonderful angels sent from heaven to remind us of the beauty in life. Sometimes they’re tiny emotional vampires just waiting for us to look away so they can pounce on our weak point. Most of the time they're somewhere in between.

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Caregivers

A Parent’s Unconditional Love

When you become a parent, the one thing you can always count on is the constancy of change and adaptation in your life. You learn as you go and follow what feels right to you. You soon see as your child grows into themselves that you are continuously exploring unknown territory. Like discovering a new frontier or remote solar system, you realize the lay of the land and it is specific to each child.

You bring your personal history and aptitudes (or inaptitude) with you when you parent. The interpersonal journey of caring for another human being reflects much more than simply caring for another. It requires great potential for personal and relationship growth. You learn volumes and keep on learning as a result of the experience of caregiving over time.
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Anger

How to De-Escalate Fights with Family Members

Ever find yourself on the receiving end of verbal attack? Many people have loved ones who lash out in verbally abusive ways. Some of these people refuse to listen to reason when angry. They take no accountability for their role in creating strife. They might insist that you are the cause of their abusive behavior and they would stop hurting you if only you would change. But relationships are always about two people. Each person interacts and affects the other.

For example, Moira, a 45-year-old wife and mother of three, was abused as a child. Moira was easily triggered into jealous rages. These rages could be set off by the smallest thing: perhaps her husband glanced inadvertently at another woman, or complimented a coworker. Or perhaps her teenage daughter talked back to Moira or expressed affection for a teacher, igniting Moira’s jealousy.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Husband’s Guide to Understanding Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Approximately 20 percent of all postpartum women experience a perinatal mood disorder such as postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety. These are medical conditions which can be successfully treated. Knowing the risk factors and understanding the signs and symptoms are important for a spouse in order to get his wife the appropriate care and help.

Any new mom can develop a perinatal mood disorder; however, there are some risk factors to be aware of:

Personal or family history of depression or anxiety
History of severe PMS or PMDD
Chronic pain or illness
Fertility treatments
Miscarriage
Traumatic or stressful pregnancy or birthing experience
Abrupt discontinuation of breastfeeding
Substance abuse

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