10 Ways to Support a Love One With a Mental Illness

Posted: February 16, 2018 16:23

10 Ways to Support a Loved One With a Mental Illness


Accepting a mental healthdiagnosis can be very difficult. Having a mental illness

Socrates' Link to Depression Relief

Posted: February 15, 2018 13:50
Topics: depression, Socrates

shutterstock_208339804-cropped.jpgGreek Philosopher, Socrates taught his students to ask questions to find their own solutions rather than handing them the answer. In an article recently published in Behavior Research and Therapy (Braun, Strunk, Sasso, & Cooper, 2015), the authors suggest that the more therapists used Socratic questioning with their patients, the more relief patients felt from their depressive symptoms.  You might ask, “What? The more questions that my therapist asks me, the less depressed I will feel?”  This is exactly what Justin Braun, co-author and doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University suggests.  Braun states that Socratic questioning has been a core component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which emphasizes the important role of thinking in how people feel and what they do.

 Therapists using the Socratic approach ask a series of guided questions to help their patients reconsider negative thoughts. For example, a patient may tell his therapist that he feels like a total failure and life isn’t worth living because his marriage ended in divorce. The therapist may ask questions to challenge this belief: Is everyone who experiences divorce a failure? Can you think of anyone for whom this is not true? Is there any evidence that you have succeeded and thus have not been a “total failure?”

The authors of this study indicate that by using Socratic questioning, greater symptom reductions immediately following the session are predicted. We think these questions enable clients to reconsider their negative thoughts, which ultimately helps them feel better.”
Braun, J.D., Strunk, D.R., Sasso, K.E., & Cooper, A.A. (July, 2015). Therapist use of Socratic questioning predicts session-to-session symptom change in cognitive therapy for depression. Behavior Research and Therapy, 70, 32-37.

The Family Psychologist gets new digs!

Posted: February 15, 2018 13:50

The Family Psychologist officially opened their new office on August 2, 2016!  We celebrated with an open house on August 4 by hosting an open house for psychiatrists, therapists, and behavioral health technicians working in the community as a way to see old friends and to meet new ones.  It was a warm evening in South Florida and we spent it outside under a tent listening to the wonderful steel drum sound of Ed Stephen from Steel Band Culture.  Our neighbors also stopped by to officially welcome us to the neighborhood.

Guests were invited to participate in a scavenger hunt throughout the office to learn more about Dr. Lehman and the practice.   As a show of support for the opening of the new office, each guest was asked to select a colorful, foot shaped paper cut-out to sign and post on a wall featuring our tag line “the steps to your best life.”  We all enjoyed Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets, sweet iced tea and lemonade, Spoto’s Barbecue Chicken Salad and Publix fruit and veggies.

We had such fun and we love our new office so much, that on August 11, we hosted another open house specifically for judges, attorneys, mediators, and paralegals involved in Family and Divorce Law.  We had an evening of jazz provided by Fernando Diez of the Miami Sound Machine.  Fernando’s music set such a beautiful tone for the evening, one guest suggested that we regularly provide clients the opportunity to lay down on our couches, close their eyes and just listen to Fernando magically play saxophone and flute!?

image1 (6).JPG Most guests voted that the Mediation Room was their favorite room in the office because of the table. A popular talk show host respectfully referred to his round conversation table as “an idea with legs” and that is exactly how we feel about our table.  It is as beautiful, functional, and versatile as the ideas that spring from the discussions held there.

Thank you to all of our friends and family that attended this special event. Who knows, this could be the First Annual Open House with lots more to come!??

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Discipline & Technology

Posted: February 15, 2018 13:50
Topics: technology, discipline

Discipline & Technology
Recently, while I was driving to work, I noticed that I was feeling very melancholy. I wondered why and then I remembered that the previous evening had been somewhat tough. I took my 16-year-old daughter’s iPhone 5 away from her. She knew it was coming based on the consequences of a contract she had signed related to her failing grades. End of semester grades were posted last evening and when the time came she handed over her phone without argument.  But why was I feeling glum when I had done the right thing as a parent?
Part of the reason, I realized, had more to do with me than with her.  I’m not blaming my parents. I did that years ago and am over that now. I’m just taking my own teenage experience with discipline into account to explain my reaction to conflict and discipline.  My parents were “old school” and my father was in the military.  It follows that their style of discipline was harsh and based on high expectations for children’s behavior. For me as a teenager, conflict was about a lot of yelling and crying, being grounded and then feeling very sorry for myself.  This in turn resulted in a blow to my already fragile self-esteem.
You may ask why is this important? Parents need internal control before enforcing a consequence with their child.  One method of having internal control is to take a minute to reflect on how you react to conflict based on experience and emotion attached to the experience.  In my personal experience, I never want to enforce a consequence when I am angry because my old memories and emotions surrounding them may make me fearful, angrier or both.
If you feel that anger is starting to take hold, take a time out by telling your child that you need a little break and that you will talk with them when you are feeling a bit more logical. Your child then learns that his parent actually gets angry yet manages their emotions in a healthy and respectful way.
Part of the reason had to do with her and not me. One of a teenager’s favorite tactics is either deflection or guilt-tripping the parent. Deflection may sound like, “well, it really wasn’t my fault,” or “I don’t learn anything in this class,” or “the teacher doesn’t really teach.”   Guilt-tripping may also sound like “all my other grades are good; doesn’t that count?” or “you didn’t do this with my brother/sister.” This is a teenager’s attempt to regain their precious phone and get what they want, not necessarily what they need. Hence, the parent may feel guilt for not giving their child what they want and even try to convince themselves that it is what the teenager needs because the teenager tells them that they have to have it because it is their social life, etc.
Tonight, just before sitting down to write this blog, I came across an article by John Cowan (http://www.theparentingplace.com/technology/is-your-child-ready-for-a-cell-phone/). What timing! In the first paragraph, Mr. Cowan states, “ Good discipline that leads to internal discipline, coupled with ongoing good relationships, are the real keys, not banning cell phones.” His topic is whether cell phones, particularly in the hands of a child, destroy families.  While that is not my topic here, his comment resonated with me.
After all, isn’t internal discipline the ultimate goal we, as parents, are striving to achieve in our children? In order for our children to ultimately grow into healthy, democratic (not the political term), and productive individuals, they must have values, virtues, and many skills. One of these skills is internal locus of control. So how do parents teach this? How do parents instill internal locus of control in their children? Authoritarian parents instill internal locus of control by providing and following-through with logical and natural consequences for their child’s undesired behavior.
In his article, Mr. Cowan suggests, and I agree with the following guidelines pertaining to cell phone use:

  • Set limits around cell phone use.
  • Even if your child buys the phone and pays their own phone bill (John and I both think they should when they are old enough to earn money), a child’s use of their phone is still subject to your house rules (e.g. reasonable rules might include phones off at mealtimes, phones off after 9 PM).
  • Cell phones (and internet use) are a privilege, not a right. Privileges come from trust and trust comes from transparency. Transparency comes from parents reserving the right to review their child’s contacts, and both incoming and outgoing texts, posts, & pictures.
Beware! Following the above guidelines will not make you popular with your children and not even with some of the parents. You may not be well-liked but you will be well-loved in the sense that your children will know that you care about them and love them.
Now, here comes the hard part. Children tend to model what their parents do and model less what they hear. This means that you, as the parent, need to turn your phone off at mealtime and show your children that your relationship with them is more important than your virtual relationships. Mr. Cowan suggests showing your child that you have “e-free” moments in your busy life by turning off your phone when you go for a coffee, a walk, or to a sporting event with them.” I couldn’t agree more.
Yeah, I know. You are most likely thinking, “no way.” Parenting is not easy and neither is “walking the walk” by modeling the behavior we expect from our children. But pat yourself on the back. You are doing a good job! You’ve read this blog, haven’t you?
Dr. Lee Ann Lehman, The Family Psychologist, 3/30/2016



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