Play Therapy: What is it, and How Will it Help My Child?

 

When adults come to therapy, they can adequately express themselves

using their words and having discussions with their therapist; however, when children come to therapy this may not be the case. Many children do not have the words to express what there are experiencing at home, at school, with friends, etc. Further, children may not be aware of what they are feeling because they do not yet understand what different emotions feel like. Therefore, they would need an outlet which allows them to talk without using words, and without being restricted by a lack of cognitive development. Play therapy helps eliminate these barriers that children face when they come to therapy.

Play therapy allows children to express themselves with the use of toys and actions. It occurs in a safe and caring environment where the child is allowed to play freely with minimal limitations (e.g. safety precautions). Sometimes a therapist may prompt the child’s play during a session; however, most therapists allow children to play with the toys they want, how they want. Play therapy should not make a child feel that they are in therapy or that they are being analyzed. Sessions can last anywhere from 30-50 minutes, depending on the child. A play therapy session can include just the child, the child and their parents, or the entire family, depending on the situation that brings the child in for therapy.

One question to consider when seeking a play therapist for your child is, “Does my child feel comfortable with the therapist?” Because the child will need to express himself/herself through play, it is important for your child to feel safe and comfortable with the therapist. If your child does not feel safe, then play therapy will not be effective.

For parents, this random play may appear to be pointless, because it is “something that children can do at home.” But, when play is done in a therapeutic setting, it will allow the child to process through their experiences and then begin to heal. One explanation for this is that children unconsciously (or consciously) act out whatever they are experiencing in their life, and when a therapist is present, they can reflect back to the child things that they notice (e.g. it seems like the doll doesn’t have any friends to play with, that’s lonely). This reflection helps give the child words to express their experiences, as well as helping the child feel understood and validated.

Play therapy allows adults access to a child’s world. Using toys and actions the therapist can communicate with the child wherever the child is at in their cognitive development. Further, it allows the therapist to help facilitate the healing process by understanding the child and responding back in the way the child needs. Children need to feel validated and heard as much as adults do; play therapy is one way to do this. Children deserve to have a life where they are not burdened by life’s problems, and play therapy is one way to help unburden your child.

Written by – Lexi Lee, MS, LAMFT

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Hope for the Holidays by Alyssa Baker

Do you have hope during the holidays?

MP900309139A young couple is snuggled up by the fireplace as they watch their children open presents, smile, and laugh. There is snow falling, sweaters, Christmas pajamas, hot chocolate, candy canes, cookies, hugs, kisses, and even tears from such loving gifts and sentiments. This is the image that we see everywhere around the holiday season.

Although we are inundated with this vision of the holidays, I have never really experienced it. Is this actually the typical family? When we expect to celebrate the holidays in this way, are we all being set up for disappointment?

What if we spent this holiday season free of expectations? What if we were truly present with our friends, family members, and even ourselves? What better way to spend this time of year than being centered and at peace with who we are?

The holidays can be especially difficult when families experience divorce, loss of a loved one, or financial stress. Even positive changes can disrupt our vision of the “perfect” holiday season. Adult children may not be able to make it home, whether due to professional obligations or the forming of new traditions with their own family. No matter the circumstances, it is important to increase flexibility and embrace the following core values, especially at this time of year.

Gratitude
Research has repeatedly shown how gratitude combats symptoms of depression and loneliness. Gratitude can be expressed with your loved ones or even with strangers. If you are feeling lonely, with a hole in your heart this holiday season, sharing your presence and gifts with those in need will fill even the emptiest of spaces. Tipping your waiter a little extra, writing a thank-you note to your mail carrier, or even making a sweet treat for your co-workers can be small ways of expressing gratitude.

Peace
Stress is a killer around the holidays. Where is the “peace” in running from store to store and traveling to six different holiday dinners? Find peace this season by spending time in your spiritual life. Find time to relax and unwind by taking a bubble bath, enjoying a hot drink, and cozying up with a good book or movie. The gift of peace is the best gift we can give ourselves, our families, and our friends this holiday season.

Joy
When is the last time you felt truly joyful? Maybe it has been a while. Even if your year did not turn out the way you wanted, you still deserve the time and space to feel joy. Experiencing joy has to be very intentional. You may not be much of a social butterfly, but if you are looking for joy this season and having trouble finding it, gather the courage to call an old friend or attend a holiday party at work.

My wish for you this holiday season:
May your gingerbread cookies be a little deformed.
May your Christmas carols be out of tune.
May you have a “snow day” (or “ice day”) that prevents you from working.
May your old memories chip away into new ones.
May your child throw a tantrum (if you don’t throw one first) that makes you quit shopping.
May your traditional holiday movie be a funny one.
May you take a vacation to somewhere warmer…even if it’s hiding under the covers.

May you find gratitude, peace, and joy in these moments and more.

About the Author: Alyssa Baker is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. Along with practicing at the South Shore Center for Couples and Families, she works as a Behavioral Specialist as a part of an Integrative Medicine fellowship with UTMB Family Medicine in Galveston. Alyssa has experience working with individuals, couples, families, and groups with a variety of stressors; including, mood disorders, chronic medical conditions, substance abuse, and relational struggles.

The Five C’s to Obtain Financing

With a growing, stronger economy, many small-business owners are looking for loans to expand their operations. An owner may need working capital to support the company’s growth, want to consolidate debts into one loan on more favorable terms, or purchase additional real estate and equipment. Regardless of why a small-business owner is looking for financing, lenders usually apply the same rules to assess the financial wherewithal of the business.

Financial institutions assess the quality of the potential loan by testing the “Five C’s” of credit. The “C’s” are: character, capacity, capital, conditions and collateral. As a business owner, here are the five areas to consider as you prepare to obtain financing and assess how you’re doing. Each is important.

Character typically shows a small-business owner’s willingness to repay the loan. Lenders collect three years of financial statements to see trends and behaviors that borrowers display. Typically, three years is a long enough period of time for a small business to encounter a hiccup, a difficulty, or other hard times. By looking at the borrower’s behavior during a difficulty, the lender will learn how the borrower reacted when he had his back up against the wall. Did he continue to pay the obligations? Did he short-sell his property or close a company or line of business? These can be indicators of the borrower’s character.

Capacity…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Make Family Meals a Routine Success

 

Backpacks, sharpened pencils, and carpools. Check, check, check.

The new school year is underway, and in a few more weeks most families will be settled into their new normal routine for the school year.

Are regular family meals part of your routine?

Consistent family meals are just as important to your student’s academic and social success as homework and study sessions. Research is replete with the developmental benefits including better performance in school, fewer risky behaviors, and fewer eating disorders among kids who share meals with their families.

When kids and adults are engaged in food preparation and sit down to eat together, everyone eats more fruits, more dark orange and leafy green vegetables, more whole grains, more calcium-rich foods, and fewer sugar sweetened beverages and fast convenience foods.

Children and adolescents are actively growing and essentially building their body a little bit every day. What raw ingredients are provided for building materials?

Food nourishes more than our cells and body systems. It also transmits a sense of identity and culture. Food gives us an opportunity for connection.

Researcher and best-selling author Brené Brown, PhD, often states that humans are hard-wired for connection. Each of us requires genuine authentic connections with others to give meaning to our lives. Food gives us a common ground to nurture those connections. Eating with others improves our well-being nutritionally and psychologically.

To have successful family meals, consider the following suggestions:

Plan ahead

People who plan meals ahead of time eat better, weigh less, and have fewer incidences of chronic disease. When we sacrifice time to think deliberately about our food, we make better choices.

Try these time-saving tips:

  • Make a list of all the entrees your family enjoys eating and keep it in a visible place. When you’re stumped about what to plan, consult your list instead of re-inventing the wheel.
  • Chop vegetables in advance on slow nights so they’re ready to cook or have plated for dinner another night.
  • Take out meat to thaw the night before so something is ready to cook when it’s time for dinner.
  • Try-slow cooker meals you can begin in the morning and enjoy later.
  • Double or triple an entree when you cook so you can have leftovers or freeze a whole batch to eat later in the month.
  • Prepare as much of dinner as you can while you’re cooking breakfast or lunch so you have less kitchen clean-up at the end of the day.

Ditch perfectionism…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

The 3 Simple Rules of Building Wealth

 

Legend has it, Albert Einstein was once asked what the greatest

Working men creating global business growth

invention of all time was. His answer? Compound interest. I am often asked when and how an individual can start investing.  Those who follow these three simple rules will have the potential to improve their lives significantly.

Rule #1: For compound interest to be truly powerful, it must have the benefit of time. The more time, the better. Think of it like a snowball rolling down a hill. It starts out small and then gets bigger and bigger the longer it rolls.

For example, compare two investors who each put away $2,000 a year and earn 10% annually. The first investor starts at age 19 and puts away $2,000 per year for eight consecutive years and then holds it there. The second investor waits eight years and then invests $2,000 per year for the next 38 years. At the end of the 38 years, the first investor’s account will have grown to $941,054. The second investor’s account will be only $800,896. Because of the power of compound interest, the first investor avoids 38 years of payments and invests $60,000 less, but ends up with $140,158 more.

Small increases in rates of return make enormous differences over time. Everyone knows that a higher rate of return is better than a lower one. What most people don’t realize is that the benefit is exponential. A 15 percent rate of return is not merely three times more than a 5 percent rate of return. It can actually be anywhere from seven to seventy times more, depending on how long you invest. Start investing now.

Rule #2: You have to save money—and saving requires discipline…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Roots of Knowledge: Documentary Film Series

The phrase “Where history comes to life!” has been used to describe everything from museums to battlefield re-enactments, from stage shows to the big screen, and almost everything historical in-between. Now, this oft-used phrase will introduce a highly anticipated documentary film series, focused on the Roots of Knowledge project. In our last issue of Utah Valley Health & Wellness, we shared an article introducing this wonderful art project, which, through a stained-glass art wall display, will tell the history of the world through the advancements of man’s learning and knowledge. As we stated in that article, the stained-glass art wall will be unveiled on the campus of Utah Valley University in November of 2016. In addition to the physical display at UVU, a full eight-hour documentary series will be produced with the goal of bringing to life the stories and events depicted throughout the art-glass wall.

Making this historical piece of art come to life is the job of Utah-based filmmaker Lee Groberg and his team at Groberg Films. Groberg’s experience with historical documentaries is extensive, as he has produced and directed several historical based films, dating back to as early as 1992. When I asked Lee about his approach to taking thousands of years of history, as depicted in the art-glass wall display, and squeezing it into a four-part documentary series, each part being two hours in length, he concluded that this project will be one of his greatest professional challenges. Then again, he admits to having said that same thing before each of his previous historical films.

While discussing the filmmaker’s approach, Lee went on to say that, “We simply turn the clock back by a few thousand years; then, with research, we tackle the topic so that [the film] is believable. These sorts of projects are exciting to consider because of the challenges—with historians, art direction, props, wardrobe and talent—it is factual movie making at its best.”…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

What You Might Be Missing

 

Funny girl in eyeglasses with eye chart behind

At least once or twice a month, I see patients well into their thirties, and even forties, who inform me that they have never had an eye examination. They claim that their vision has always been very good, and that they have had no need for a comprehensive examination. They are also very surprised to walk out of our office a week or two later with their new glasses—and can’t believe what they have been missing! Many wonder, How long have I been struggling to see? Could I have performed better as a child in school, and even sports?

The school years are a very important time in every child’s life. All parents want to see their children do well in school, and most parents do all they can to provide them with the best educational opportunities. However, too often, one important learning tool may be overlooked—a child’s vision.

It has been estimated that as much as 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

How I Got My Head Back in the Game

 

It was December of 2010. I was sitting on a training table inside Lucas Oil Stadium

in Indianapolis, making a phone call to my wife. She had given birth to our first child a few days earlier, and I was calling to reassure her that everything was alright. It was one of the last games of the season, and our second meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The only thing I recall about the incident was getting ready to catch the ball, and then being face down in the turf with the Colts’ training staff around me. It was an all too familiar scene to the first concussion I had received, just a month and a half before, in Philadelphia. While sitting on that training table, it was pretty clear that I wouldn’t be finishing out the remainder of the 2010-11 season with the Colts.

During the next week I would go through the NFL’s concussion protocol, getting a standard MRI, seeing an independent neurologist, and eventually being told to just “take it easy” during the off-season. One common trait almost all professional athletes share is our desire to identify any weaknesses we may have, and make sure those weaknesses become strengths.

Naturally, my first priority during the off-season was getting my concussions dealt with and decreasing the possible long-term effects. Just resting and hoping it didn’t happen again didn’t sit well with me. For every other injury I had experienced throughout my career, I was told precisely what areas were affected by the injury, and was given an active rehabilitation protocol. This allowed me to strengthen the area affected in order to eliminate any overcompensation or chance of re-injury. It didn’t make sense to me why I wouldn’t take the same approach with the injuries my brain sustained…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Photography by Mark A. Philbrick, Copyright BYU Photo 2007, All Rights Reserved

Senior Fitness: Adding Life to Your Years

 

What if I told you there is something you can do for just thirty minutes

a day that will significantly improve your happiness and well-being, and add years to your life? Would you do it? Well, that “thing” is… you guessed it: exercise. Although exercise and physical activity are among the best things you can do for your health, some older adults are reluctant to exercise. Perhaps they are afraid that exercise will be too hard, or that physical activity will harm them. But studies show that “taking it easy” is much more risky. Lack of physical activity can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

Exercise has been proven to help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It improves health in the frail or those with diseases that accompany aging. It helps us with our daily tasks of carrying groceries, climbing stairs, and reduces our dependency on others. For some, exercise alone is enough to improve mood and relieve depression. It can restore flexibility, accelerate recovery from an injury, and give us the energy to walk farther and dance longer.

For the most part, when older people lose their ability to function independently, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally Published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Benefits of Strength Training

 

Tell me if this sounds familiar… You wake up, spend a long day at work, run several necessary errands, and end up coming home hungry and exhausted. You know you should go to the gym, but the thought of even putting your gym shoes on seems overwhelming, let alone working out. So why do it?

What is your why? Increase strength? Weight loss? Improve overall health? Knowing your why is what helps you dig deep, and push through those hard days. Regardless of your goal, strength training will benefit you, and I’m going to show you how.

First, let’s clear up a big misconception. One of the biggest complaints I hear in regards to lifting weights comes from female clients who think they will resemble The Incredible Hulk after picking up a weight. That could not be farther from reality. Unfortunately, many male-readers are probably nodding their heads in affirmation to the hours spent in the gym trying to put on size. It takes a lot of time and work to build muscle, and it certainly doesn’t happen by accident.

Here’s how you can modify your strength training, no matter what your goals are.

The key is knowing how to adjust your lifts to accommodate your goals. I like to break it down like this:

Goal: How many? How much?
Endurance 15-20 40-60%
Hypertrophy (bulk) 8-12 50-75%
Strength 1-5 80%

How many: This is how many repetitions should be done in a single set

How much: This is the percentage of your 1RM you should be lifting. (RM meaning repetition maximum, the maximum amount of weight you can lift in a single maximum effort)…(read the rest of the story)

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Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness