Lifestyle Change

How To Talk To Your Teen About Therapy

Let’s talk about teens and how to speak to them about therapy. Teens are more socialized to therapy than you might think. It’s in their music, on tv and if anything, they may just be struggling with how to talk to you about it. If talking to your teenager about therapy is uncomfortable, this blog is a great place to start.  

When bringing up the subject, the first thing is being honest with them and letting them know that you have noticed some changes with [be specific- like their mood and actions], that’s unlike them, and it seems to be impacting [insert aspect of their life].  

Take a moment to validate their struggles, be honest about what you may be struggling with when it comes to the issue, and how much you love and want the best for them. For example, you may say, “You’ve been spending more time in your room and seem quieter and down since starting this new school. I know change is hard for me, but how is it going for you?”. is everything ok with you?”. 

Sharing your emotions may not be easy, especially if you haven’t been encouraged to do so in your own life. If anything, keep in mind the goal of reaching and supporting your young person. Their wellbeing is a huge motivator to push past your own discomforts. 

How Parents Can Open The Door to Therapy 

Once you begin to hear and understand their perspective, you can always suggest therapy or counseling as one way for them to get unbiased support and help themselves. Explaining to them what therapy is- a space for someone else besides a parent to listen to them, without judgment, protecting their privacy, and maybe lend some skills and resources. 

I think as parents, it’s ok to admit, we don’t know everything, and we don’t know how to help.  Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

There is still a lot of stigma behind going to therapy and seeking help. Still, at the same time, people like Naomi Osaka or artists like Logic have normalized conversations about mental health, even though having those conversations may not be easy. You can open up about your own ideas about seeking help, including a cultural perspective and your genuine hopes for them. 

As teens are so impressionable and tend to look outside family networks for direction, it is critical for them to have someone to talk to. 

When should a parent call a therapist?

Signs or symptoms to look out for:

  • Overthinking/excessive worry
  • Anxiety 
  • Perfectionism around tasks including school work
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Low self-esteem or lack of confidence
  • Substance abuse/use
  • Thoughts of suicide or expressing wishing they weren’t here  

Overall your teen will have moody moments and natural changes that occur during this stage of development in their lives. However, if those issues are way out of character for them, persist past 2-3 weeks, or other unusual behaviors, it’s a good idea to follow up with a professional. 

What should you expect when you start therapy?

Once you reach out and contact a therapist (please be patient, as it can take some time to get a call back), they will schedule an initial session. The first session is designed to figure out what brings you to therapy, so the therapist can better understand the concerns and determine if they are the best qualified to support you. They will ask questions about the family structure and dynamics, how school is going, your early life development, how you usually cope with stressors, your strengths, and several other essential questions. It’s a comprehensive assessment often referred to as an intake.

The following sessions are used to create a plan to best support you with goals you both agree to work on. The therapist is there to help that person discover new ways to understand their experiences and try to better cope or navigate existing problems. 

Reach Out Together

Once you decide you are both ready to proceed, inform your teen about their options when it comes to therapy. We offer virtual online individual and group therapy for teens that is accessible and convenient for their

teen therapy
Group therapy can help spead up progress

schedule and in-person therapy. While we’ve found our teens connect better in person with their therapist, for some talking to a therapist online can be less intimidating or also just convenient to their schedule. 

Let your teen know their options, and explore different therapists and forms of therapy together. Then, make the appointment and encourage your teen to play an active role in their own wellness.

The following are a list of websites that can be useful in obtaining a therapist: 

http://www.psychologytoday.com

http://www.therapyforblackmen.com

https://latinxtherapy.com/find-a-therapist/

www.cliniciansofcolor.org 

You can learn more about our teen counseling services and contact us anytime for more information. We’re also happy to answer your child’s questions and provide personalized feedback about how we may help them address specific problems if needed.

 

Piece cowritten by Social Work Intern Kilcy Martinez and Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist, Coach & Mental Health Consultant

The Importance of Finding a Therapist Who Looks Like Me

When studying to become a therapist, they teach you that you must always be culturally competent, meaning aware of your personal beliefs and biases. We are asked to be knowledgeable about different cultures, have skills to manage our differences, and be mindful of our attitude towards other cultures. The real question is, is it possible to be culturally competent to all cultures?

 

The answer is no, which is why many people seeking therapy want a therapist who reflects their black and brown identities. A professional who can acknowledge unspoken expectations, and the rich tapestry of their culture, creating a safe space to know more.  

 

Trust is an important factor in mental health outcomes

 

Mistrust and the trouble finding a therapist
Mistrust and Misdiagnosis is Common For Marginalized Populations

Like it or not, the medical community is laced with disparities when it comes to race. Black people, for instance, are twice as likely to be hospitalized for care compared to white people and are often misdiagnosed. When working with a therapist who is not culturally competent, it leaves room for preconceived notions and conclusions that can have severe consequences on the emotional wellbeing of minority populations. This contributes to mistrust within the community and poor health outcomes in the long run.

 

Having a provider who deeply understands and can disarm those fears makes a significant difference for people of color seeking help. It’s no different than a woman seeking a female doctor for a specific issue because she feels more comfortable and better able to communicate her needs. We want to be careful not to generalize here, as even minority therapists need ongoing learning on the complexities of diversity, generational trauma, and systemic inequalities. However, even with that factor, diversity still matters. 

 

“My experience has shown that when you deal with culturally sensitive issues, you have no choice but to be as careful and as patient as possible. Every concern should be addressed properly. Otherwise, greater problems emerge at later times, when nothing can be done.”

 

—Mrs. Farzaneh Davari, UNFPA National Project Director, Iran

 

You may find the following reflections insightful, as shared in this piece by the Psychotherapy Networker regarding the experiences for people of color in the last year alone (but influenced by generations of disparities):

 

“We cannot accept people saying, ‘Get over it, it already happened, move on.’ I think this is a major problem—the lack of acknowledgment that we as a race have experienced trauma. We have to say it out loud, acknowledge it, and understand how this crime against humanity manifests. Only then can we truly address it, see it for what it is.”

 

 Zamantha Gobourne, LICSW

 Washington, DC

 

“I’ve begun telling students and beginning counselors to ‘lean in and look within’ at their own biases. Acknowledging personal biases and educating oneself about culture and ethnicities different from your own are ways to shift your thinking and become more open to differences. This can challenge and foster change.”

Shaketa Bruce, MS, LPC, NCC, CCH

 Atlanta, GA

 

“Understand that systemic racism contributes to Black people’s vulnerability to psychological, emotional, and social distress. It makes them hesitant to seek mental health services, especially from those who don’t look like them.”

Tytannie Harris, LCSW

 Chicago, IL

 

Here’s The Problem

 

According to the American Psychological Association, as of 2021 86% of therapists are White while only 4% are Black. 

 

There aren’t enough minority therapists to go around. 

 

Further complicating things, many insurance companies are unwilling to pay therapists their full fees- despite the caliber of work that goes into healing and the documentation to back it up. That means many shy away from certain plans leaving even fewer opportunities to receive care. 

 

Que the Pandemic 

 

Covid- 19 has placed a significant demand on an already strained system. Many individuals report a change in their mental health in the past year because of the following reasons:

 

. Death of a loved one

. Loss of employment/Income

. Quarantine (closures of schools, universities, jobs)

. Fear of being Infected 

. Returning to workplaces with no plan to address stress, anxiety, and burnout.

 

All of this and more directly contribute to increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as sleep issues and an increase in alcohol or substance use. 

 

Data has shown that in January of 2019, 11% of adults reported anxiety or depression symptoms, while in January of 2021 that percentage went up to 41%. Black and Hispanic minorities face a more considerable disparity compared to whites during the pandemic. They have been hit harder in deaths, infections rate, stress, depression, and anxiety.

 

As our stressors continue to rise, we have to explore opportunities to revolutionize access to mental health services. The goal should be to create more spaces where people can simply be all of their complex selves, and feel safe doing so. 

 

Here’s a list of resources that can be useful in obtaining a minority based or inclusive therapist: 

www.blacktherapistlist.com/Directory

https://www.psychologytoday.com/

https://www.therapyforlatinx.com/

www.cliniciansofcolor.org

https://borislhensonfoundation.org/

https://www.therapistsforblackgirls.com/

 

In Addition:

 

 If you are in the helping professions (Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapist, Creative Arts

 Therapists, CASAC’s, Nursing, etc.) or just curious- Join us for an indepth conversation, Sound the Alarm: The Crisis of Mental Health in Communities of Color  on 10.19.21 hosted virtually by Molloy College: https://bit.ly/3jDWonC

 

** As a consumer– Call your insurance provider and ask why they don’t have more therapists of color on their panel. 

 

*** Tell your employer your wellness matters and ask why they don’t offer more onsite wellness programs. 

 

Piece written by Kilcy Martinez, York College Graduate School of Social Work Intern and edited by Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist & Mental Health Consultant. 

End Self Criticism and Learn To Like Yourself

You are amazing. You are more than enough. You are creative, talented, effective, and beautiful. Yet, so self critical.

The truth is, many of us often engage in a very critical inner dialogue flooded with “I can’t,” “should’s,” “what if’s,” or “I am not enough.” Words that play into catastrophic (imaginary) outcomes as it plays out in our minds (often in elaborate detail) and throws a wrench in our progress.

Have you ever wondered why you can be so self-critical and how to tackle the thought I am not enough?

Here’s to some deep soul searching today.

In rare cases, self-criticism can be helpful- it may give some valuable insight, but it’s rare. The problem with self-critical thoughts or that unchecked inner mean girl is it takes a direct hit at your confidence and sense of self. Unchecked, it increases your risk for stress or experiences like depression anxiety.

Don’t think your way out of how capable you are. Instead, remember that thoughts are not facts, and if you shift your thoughts, you can shift your experience.

Ten affirmations to replace critical conversations: 

I am capable of doing hard things.

I am focused and persistent.

I am safe.

I am in charge of my own happiness.

I am doing the best that I can.

I am capable of creating positive change.

I am the expert in the room.

I am dismantling systems that create inequity piece by piece.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am proud of myself and all that I have accomplished.

Which of these speaks to you? 

To embrace those I am’s and respond to them in meaningful ways instead of our fears, it becomes essential to explore the source of our negative thoughts. With awareness, you can gain the insights and skills to reframe self-critical thoughts, so they don’t continue as barriers as you execute your goals.

Let’s tackle I Am Not Enough

It’s one of the most common self-critical thoughts. It is often connected to early family stories, invalidating environments, traumas, or shame-based experiences that can emotionally paralyze us in real-time. For example, Mark (definitely not his name), grew up with a very old school strict father who wanted him to “man up,” a consistent message in his young life. When his eight-year-old self (the client) brought home 90’s, it would be met with, well why isn’t it a 100?

While it was never clearly stated, what is the underlying thought or belief you hear with this example?

It’s not enough.

As a developing being, if you repeatedly hear negative messages, it can quickly become internalized into this belief that no matter how hard I work, it is not enough. I have to work extra hard to be “enough” or be seen, acknowledged, or accepted. The most challenging part is that the achievement will never resolve “I am not enough.” It becomes complicated to feel or be satisfied. This dynamic around this idea of “enough,” or any self-critical thought, can consequently create space for things like anxiety, perfectionism, worry, overworking, and stress.

How do I change the I am not enough thoughts?

A significant step to change is awareness. It’s helpful to think about where the thoughts or ideas come from.

Ask yourself when does this happen to me, and begin to get curious about the experience.

Ask, why do I feel like I’m never enough? It is important here to also take a moment to acknowledge the feelings that accompany that experience. Often those same emotions you notice were never given space and were instead met with the message don’t cry, what’s wrong with you, or feelings are a sign of weakness.

Once you realize that thoughts based on your past may still be showing up to control your present, it gets easier to address them in real-time, like using the above affirmations. The key is finding the unhelpful thoughts or beliefs based on old ideas that no longer support your life and learning to reframe them. It becomes easier to like who you have become, accept you are enough, and embrace your success with new perspectives.

Reflection Point: Changing The I Am Not Enough Thoughts 

  1. Figure out the source. Spend some time unpacking your thoughts and feelings.
  2. To help your awareness – Try journaling, meditation, or other contemplative activities to find and release the things holding you back. You can give our self-love journal a try. The prompts help you to approach self-criticism from a place of self-compassion.
  3. Every time you have a negative or critical thought, replace it with a new thought that uplifts you and makes you feel good enough. Or repeat to yourself, I am good enough or another affirmation as mentioned above. The research suggests that affirmations can help you to perform better. Spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities can decrease stress, increase your confidence, and improve your chances of success.

 

 

A Licensed therapist and coach for high achieving women. It’s important to note when resolving complex thoughts is challenging, it is also helpful to enlist the support of a therapist or a coach.

 

My Thoughts Nurture and Support My Success

If you have a tough inner critic or get caught in worry, stress, near debilitating anxiety, overwhelm or wrestle with your self-worth, then you know some of the symptoms of negative thinking first hand. Unfortunately, negative thinking can paralyze your best efforts. This piece will explore the topic of negative thinking and what you can do to change your thinking to promote a life and business that’s more fulfilling, joyful, and meaningful.

The next move you make in your life will be a reflection of what you think will happen. 

Most people don’t realize they are responding to fear (or others know they are clearly panicking) and catapulting themselves into worse-case scenarios. Scenarios that aren’t true but are pretty freaking believable like:

  • I’m not good enough to be here (ignoring your experience and degrees)
  • This isn’t going to work 
  • I failed, the business failed, I’m a failure
  • I can’t let people who depend on me see how I feel; they’ll never trust my ability to lead

“We spend all our time and money and energy trying to change our experience on the outside, not realizing that the whole thing is being projected from the inside out.”—Michael Neill, Author

If you don’t check your thinking style, it can have a strong and sometimes devastating impact on your relationships, health, business, and life.

 

The Link Between Thoughts, Feelings, And Behavior 

Your thoughts influence your mood and contribute to your actions. That makes our thoughts pretty darn powerful. Yet, like most people, you probably don’t spend a great deal of time reflecting on the way you think. After all, who thinks about such an automatic thing as thinking?

I do. 

 

My thoughts have a tremendous impact on my actions and my life, so I refuse to maintain a thought that takes me further from the life I have in mind. However, the reality is we live in a world of thought, with an average of 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts each day- mostly nonsense, with a dash of irrational thoughts. This makes the ability to reframe counterproductive thoughts an essential skill to overall wellbeing and positive outcomes. 

 

I often see this connection play out with clients who come in saying, “I don’t think I can take this business to the next level.” That assumption is a catalyst for feeling defeated, contributing to her second-guessing her years of skill and consequently avoiding the tasks she needs to grow her business. That shift in effort prevents her from really seeing the potential of her business and herself. So basically, if you think you are a failure and repeatedly engage in the same thought patterns and reactions, your behaviors align, and you are more likely to fail. 

Positive Thoughts Lead to Success

Most of us have heard that we are what we eat. In the same way, we are what we think. Thoughts are energy. They are vibrations. They are manifestations. They are statements about our world. Suppose you want a better life, a more prosperous, accessible, and successful life? In that case, it’s strongly connected to your ability to maintain a positive mindset. 

 

Do you have a problem with a part of your life? You have a problem with your mindset, and the real problem is your thoughts about that part of your life.

 

English philosopher James Allen wrote: “As a man thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”

The good news is that you can choose what thoughts you act on, so invest that mental energy carefully. I have several goals that are important to me. Before I choose a course of action, I ask myself what do I really think about this task and what actions will support my goals. I favor actions that nurture my goals. I avoid thoughts that lead to actions that make my goals less likely to happen. 

 

A positive thought approach allows me to embrace a more favorable perspectiveIt supports and uplifts me. With that in mind, I take responsibility for my thoughts and my future.

 

Do your thoughts support what you want? Let’s assess. 

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. Are my thoughts predominantly positive or negative? How could I increase the number of positive thoughts I think about daily?
  2. What are some of the labels I’ve placed on myself? (I’m not good enough, I’m a terrible leader, I don’t have sufficient skills, I’m not the expert in the room, I can’t be a mom and boss) How accurate are these ideas?
  3. What would happen if I focused on maintaining positive thoughts? How would my life change?
  4. What do I think I accomplish by thinking negatively?

 

 Your thoughts have the power to nurture and support the life you want. 

Save this article. 

Reread it often. 

Pay attention to the thoughts you give attention to. Remind yourself that your thoughts become your beliefs, and those beliefs shape your life and how you experience it.

You are what you think.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply help you get out of your head, stress less, and focus on your success. 

How Much Do You Know about School Anxiety?

As the beginning of the school year is upon us, we want to acknowledge what that means for the many families navigating the anxiety of the upcoming year. Most students have spent over a year learning remotely, disconnected from friends and their routine, and have been catapulted back into school, and not everyone is excited about that.

Many students (and even parents) are experiencing anxiety just thinking about this school year, but what is anxiety, and what does it look like?

More on Anxiety 

Anxiety is a feeling of worries, fear, and/or nervousness about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. By technical definition, school anxiety in our children can look like separation anxiety, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety.

What you and your child may experience daily:

  • Separation Anxiety- or children basically being afraid of being away from their parents. This makes sense after being home with you for most of the past year. The idea of leaving parents or the safety of their home can become distressing for students. This can express itself as difficulty waking up in the morning, crying to enter the school building, and in some cases refusing to attend class or school altogether.
  • Social anxiety is an intense fear or worry in social situations or just thinking about being in a social context. Your child may express concerns about fitting in or feeling embarrassed amongst their peers and describe feeling self-conscious in social situations. It can show up as a reluctance or refusal to go to school, dropping extracurricular activities, being more withdrawn at home, or children visibly distressed at the end of the day or going out of their way to not be seen.
  • Generalized anxiety is when they anticipate the future with every possible negative outcome, usually characterized by many “what if” this or that happens questions or scenarios. With this type of anxiety, young people are just worried about everything- be it getting good grades, if they’ll get into college, if they will get covid by stepping outside, etc. Usually, these worries have no discernible cause.

Supporting and Encouraging Your Anxious Child

The most important thing you can do is pay attention to any significant changes in your child as parents and educators. Are they struggling to pay attention in class, not socializing with other classmates, avoiding eye contact, or trying hard to avoid school or different social situations? You can even look for physical symptoms (because distress often shows up physically): Nausea, headaches, trouble sleeping, or changes in their appetite. The article “How to Help When Your Child Is Anxious About Going Back to School” suggests a few ways in which parents and teachers can help with children experiencing anxiety. The most important one is recognizing the signs of anxiety. Once you do, we suggest the following:

  1. Talk to your child or students about why they are anxious, along with discussing any possible scenarios that cause them to be worried. Helping them prepare for upcoming stressors and interjecting realistic outcomes can be helpful. The key is to approach with support and never brush off a child’s fear, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, because it is a significant issue for the child.

 

  1. Don’t judge or criticize what your child or teen is experiencing. The intense anxiety and unhelpful thoughts of those dealing with anxiety may seem ridiculous to someone who has never experienced it, but it still is a real experience. That said, take time to educate yourself on your child’s experience. As parents, we don’t always have all the answers.

 

  1. Be careful not to reinforce avoidant behavior. We want your child to learn to navigate their fears, but they may need more coping tools to do so, instead of staying away from school or social situations or being forced into it with a do what I sayor else approach. We want them to learn that some anxiety is ok. If you keep trying to protect them from that, you’ll reinforce their lack of confidence in handling stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.

 

  1. Notice your own anxious reactions. Anxiety sometimes runs in families as well. Notice how it shows up around your children or other aspects of your life. Either way, your goal is to model healthy coping skills for your child. If you are struggling with anxiety yourself, it might even mean seeking professional support for yourself as well.
Download the FREE Depression and Anxiety Checklist

5. Try creative ways to get their worries off their minds. One activity that can be done is journaling. Having them write down whenever they are feeling anxious. Then have them rewrite that story with a more helpful ending or practice leaving the worry behind in the journal.

 

  1. Remember to celebrate progress (and even yours in holding back and letting them fail and/or thrive on their own). No matter how small it may seem, encouragement equals continued positive action.

If you are all out of ideas, and things are escalating, it’s ok to ask for help. Globally, social anxiety disorder is the third most prominent mental health issue- that means you or your child are not alone in your experience- so no shame in talking about it.

Start with your school counselor for ideas on supporting your child, maybe their primary care doctor, or reach out and contact a licensed therapist for an assessment and plan of action. Anxiety can be addressed with skills and support, both from a professional and the entire family system.

 

Article written by Kilcy Martinez, Social Work Intern at York College, and Amanda Fludd, Executive Director at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. Our goal is to support your wellbeing and strive to do that in many ways including therapy, group experiences and corporate wellness events.

 

How To Talk To Your Teen About Therapy

Let’s talk about teens and how to speak to them about therapy. Teens are more socialized to therapy than you might think. …

The Importance of Finding a Therapist Who Looks Like Me

When studying to become a therapist, they teach you that you must always be culturally competent, meaning aware of your personal …

End Self Criticism and Learn To Like Yourself

You are amazing. You are more than enough. You are creative, talented, effective, and beautiful. Yet, so self critical. The …