My guest today is Kirsten Goffena who is a LPC (licensed professional counselor), RPT (registered play therapist), NCC (national certified counselor) and level 2 EMDR practitioner. She is the owner of Pathfinders Counseling LLC and located in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Kirsten offers various types of experiential therapy, such as play therapy, sand play, animal assisted, and works systemically. Systemically means she works with children and parents or the whole family. She has a newsletter in which she does “Life Hacks”. Today we are talking about how play therapy and animal assisted therapy, not only works with younger children, but with teenagers and families. Also how these two types of experiential modalities can help decrease anxiety and improve relationships.
In experiential therapy you are involving the whole being, which is a more holistic approach. “You are not just using your cognitive abilities or your mind, but using the body as well, sometimes called somatic, or the use of dance and movement.”
“Play therapy with young children works well because they don’t have the language. They can use the toys to express themselves. For children 12 and up I use play in different ways. I use art, music, sometimes we go out in nature and take the dog for a walk, which can help teens relax, and begin to trust the therapist.” Luna is Kirsten’s therapy dog and her presence helps everyone feel more relaxed and calm. Research shows animal assisted therapy can reduce anxiety.
Experiential therapy works well with teenagers.
Kirsten explained how play therapy can reduce anxiety with teenagers. “Anxiety is the number one issue I see these days. Trying to fit in, be the way society wants you to be, and pressures put onto them. They get to use their language in play therapy. Often parents will bring their children in and ask me to fix their child. The child then thinks there is something wrong with them. The experiential therapy I use can help them get to know themselves and hopefully get to where they value and love themselves. And where they can get to a place where they express themselves authentically in the world vs pretend to be somebody they are not, which is the underlying issue of anxiety or pressures.”
How does this process work with the parents? “I want to bring the parents into the process. Children are functioning within multiple systems and the most important system is the family system. I may see the child one week and the parents the next week or do a joint (family) session. Depends on the comfort of the parents and the issue. Children can show their parents what they are learning in session. Children want to be seen and heard.” Kirsten states that “having their voice heard by their parents, in my presence, can be very empowering for the children and the family.”
Parents often feel vulnerable or have shame come up about their child struggling and Kirsten works with giving support to the parents. Kirsten began this career when her children were teenagers and observed parents being shamed. “Aren’t we all in this together? It is already difficult being a parent…All parents I work with are honestly doing the best they can and love their children unconditionally.” Part of our role is helping support parents in addressing their fears or old family beliefs. Kirsten also emphasized the importance of parents taking good care of themselves. She is treating the whole family, not just the child. “It’s permission to take care of themselves (i.e. parents). (Parents)Your self-care is role modeling to your children and that is huge…it helps the whole family, calming the nervous system of whole family.”
For more information about Kirsten and her work please visit http://pathfinderscounselingllc.com/
You can sign up for her newsletter called “Life Hacks” on her website.
Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown
The Defining Decade by Meg Jay (For young adult women in their 20’s)
Emotional Intelligence by Goldman
Daniel Siegel books
Play by Stewart Brown (Discusses why play is so important)
Today I am going to discuss why anxiety doesn’t equal bad or something is wrong with you and five ways to help manage or cope with it.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar? I have to get an A in all my classes, otherwise I won’t get into college. I can’t tell mom and dad because it might make them sad or angry? I don’t know why Jane didn’t talk to me during class. She was texting me before school. Sure I can do that for you, no problem, but you are already feeling overwhelmed.
As school comes to a close for the year it is not uncommon for anxiety levels to rise. It can happen again at the end of summer for the beginning of the next school yr. If your daughter is a senior and graduating this year she may feel more nervous and anxious about the next chapter in her life. Which is normal.
Anxiety related mental health disorders are higher in female than males.
The DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition) has a chapter on Anxiety disorders: Separation Anxiety (for younger children), selective mutism, specific phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, substance/medication-induced anxiety, anxiety disorder due to another medical condition, or other. The DSM V has a separate chapter on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Trauma-and Stressor-related disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnostic Criteria includes (per DSM V):
-Excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities
-The individual finds it difficult to control the worry
-The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past six months):
-Restless or feeling keyed up or on edge.
-Being easily fatigued
-Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
-The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
-The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition
-The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder
Five coping skills or tools to reduce anxiety
For more information about mindfulness practice please go to http://launchingyourdaughter.com and sign up for my newsletter.
On todays episode we are discussing how Laura Reagan's certification as a certified Daring WayTM facilitator not only assists in creating deeper connections in her groups, but how it helped her be a better clinician and can be used in individual therapy. The Daring WayTM certification program is based on a shame resiliency model created by Brene Brown. It is about identifying how shame shows up in your life, building resiliency to it and how to show up authentically in your relationships.
Parenting can be very vulnerable because we want to show up as if we have all the answers. If you can allow yourself to be vulnerable and to be imperfect, it is a great role model to your children. Laura discussed in her own community how external pressures have increased on adolescents regarding academic achievements, being in sports, being the best in the sport and having high achievements. Being able to role model that you are not perfect, don’t need to be perfect and it is ok to do your best, but not be perfect, creates deeper connections with your children and your partner.
Today teens are trying to look good for pictures and will repeatedly take a photo until they get it right. The expectation is that you better look good, your teeth need to be white, you need to shave off that weight, and you see same smile on every picture vs seeing the true emotion of the person. It is normal to feel awkward or unsure of yourself at this age. Our society has an expectation that girls need to look like models or look a certain way. The message is you matter if a you look a certain way. It is not a conscious process with the girls. This is harmful if your belief is how you look on the outside defines your worth. As an adult woman if you heard messages from your mom about her being concerned about her looks or her weight, it can get internalized and becomes your adult inner critic. You have to live your life as yourself vs expectations of the world or your family.
The Daring WayTM is a psychoeducation model. This model was designed to be done with groups because it is about creating deeper connections. Group work can be powerful because you can relate to others, feel seen and heard and supported. If a person has unresolved trauma they may need individual work first, then as they feel more confident, do the group work.”
Laura currently does adult group work with this model. The biggest barrier is adults hear her work, but hope that therapy will be fast. When you haven’t been someone who has given yourself permission to go inward and have been falling into perfectionist behavior or people pleasing, giving yourself that much attention and focus might be foreign to you. The person may show up thinking it is a quick fix, but Laura does deeper inner work so the person can be transformed and do group work.
Some of the benefits of this type of work is giving yourself permission for self-care, doing inner work and role modeling to children that it is ok to invest in yourself and for you to show up authentically in your relationships. You can have deep meaningful connections when you do this inner work. When there is a change in the system the whole system changes. This model works well for both women and men. You can gain a deeper connection to self, discover your inner wants/needs and can communicate that with your partner and children. It can also help children feel seen and heard and that they are enough.
Laura uses this parts of this model in working with teens. She takes it from good/bad, failure/success, to you were brave and showed up in front of people, and the outcome doesn’t matter. Our constructs are made up. Life is are you learning, are you growing, and living a life that is fulfilling and meaningful vs achievement.
The certification process helped her identify barriers she used to have as clinician and after training it allowed her to be herself, be authentic and vulnerable, not where her clients are taking care of her, but her being more transparent with them.
Laura recommends mindfulness-getting grounded and being in present moment and self-compassion practice. What I learned in Daring WayTM training, you are separate from others when you are judging them thus you're judging yourself. When you judge yourself it gets in the way of self compassion. When you have more self acceptance of yourself, you will have more compassion and acceptance of others. Self compassion is key to connectedness.
Laura’s information: www.laurareaganlcswc.com and Therapy Chat podcast (on iTunes, Stitcher and Googleplay)
For more information on Brene Brown’s book please visit my resource page on http://launchingyourdaughter.com
Family meetings are important because they give your teen daughter an opportunity to participate in decision making and to learn the democratic process. Purpose of the meetings are: to make plans and decisions, solve problems, plan for family activities and provide support and encouragement. They are an opportunity for each person to be heard, have a chance to discuss and change decisions they maybe struggling with and can help settle conflicts. Eight steps in making the meetings productive: 1. Create specific day and time for weekly meetings, 2. Rotate a chairperson and note taker, 3. Establish and stay within time limits, 4. Everyone has a chance to offer ideas and suggestions, 5. Everyone is encouraged to bring up issues, 6. Come with solutions vs complaints only, 7. Opportunities to divide up household chores, and 8. Plan for family activities. Leadership skills taught in family meetings are assertive communication, reflective listening, brainstorming, creating structure,summarizing, getting commitments, providing feedback, direct interactions and encouragement.
In Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Our Adolescent Girls, Dr. Mary Pipher shares how our American culture is impacting our adolescent girls. Dr. Pipher gives various vignettes from teen girls who struggle with body image, to social pressure, to depression, anxiety and more. She explores what it looks like from the inside of an adolescents girl’s world and asks some thought provoking questions. Dr. Pipher has a chapter for mothers, fathers, family systems and divorce. She talks about some questions she would ask her adolescent girls to journal about in hopes of them discovering more about themselves vs splitting off from their authentic self. Even though this book was written in 1990, it is still relevant in what adolescent girls struggle with today.
Welcome to Launching Your Daughter podcast. In this episode Nicole Burgess Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the host of Launching Your Daughter podcast introduces herself and talks about what to expect on the podcast. The podcast will discuss topics such as anxiety, depression, preparing for college, managing time and money, relationship issues, parenting, communication skills, mindfulness, and alternative psychotherapy approaches. There will be interviews with psychotherapists and other professionals, with the focus on empowering parents and their teen daughters.