Category Archives: Psychologists

The Pros and Cons of Starting a Private Therapy Practice at Home


It may seem very convenient to start serving clients from the comfort of one’s home. This is a very interesting choice and may not be suitable for all of those looking to build a successful private therapy practice. Before going down this route, it may be important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of seeing clients from one’s home.

Advantages of Working from Home

A number of business professionals like the convenience of working from the same location in which they live. This can reduce commuting time and make it easier to serve more clients, potentially increase a business owner’s profits. Working from one location can reduce costs associated with maintaining both an owned office location and a private residence. It may be useful for those who are starting out in their practice to reduce their potential overhead by offering sessions from their home.

When it comes time to pay the IRS, there may be benefits to itemizing expenses and using deductions to reduce tax burden on a home business. Rent, mortgage deductions and utility costs may be reduced as a specific percentage may be applied toward business purposes. Those that require a single treatment room and work alone may find they do not need to incur the additional expenses associated with separate premises for a practice.  

In addition, it may make it easier to spend quality time at home with family. The time spent in commuting to an office can be used toward connecting with family and friends, as well as self-care. This is an important consideration for those who need to balance their home and work commitments, as well as to take care of one’s own needs.

Disadvantages of Having a Private Practice at Home

Many practitioners prefer working from a location that is not their home. They like the level of privacy with this option and the ability to keep work and family life separate. Many may find it difficult to separate their personal life from their work life and may get interrupted by friends and family during regular business hours. This may be viewed as unprofessional by clients and by fellow colleagues.

Working from home may make it easy to overwork. Individuals may spend more time tending to work commitments when they can take a few steps and be in their office. Working from a separate location creates a mental break between the practice and the home. Therapists have more pressure to work within the business hours listed with separate work and home locations.

Working from home can be socially and professionally isolating. Working within a larger practice makes it easier to connect with those in one’s field and may lead to additional referrals. Those that choose to operate their private practice from home may want to make a conscious effort to attend conferences and network with those in or connected with one’s area of expertise.

How to Successfully Work from Home

Toys scattered in a waiting area, smells of home cooking and interruptions from teens will not be helpful in attracting and maintaining a full caseload. In order to be viewed as a professional in the field, take steps to maintain a separate work space, waiting area and office area. Sometimes renovations might be needed in order to make clear separation of living and working spaces. Family and friends should know the behavior expected from them during business hours and what types of interruptions, if any, are permitted at such times. From answering machine messages to the general setup in an area, those working from home have to take additional steps to maintain the appearance of professionalism and connect with colleagues, staying abreast of the latest changes in their field.

Before looking to work from home, check into the zoning regulations on a property and whether or not in-person visits are permitted. Those who rent may have additional restrictions when it comes to using a residential property for business purposes.

Anthony Gilbert is the owner of The RealFX Group. Anthony specializes in real estate, real estate marketing, and home business startup strategy.

There’s a Therapy That’s Right For You


We have all experienced that relief of freely venting to a trusted friend, feeling listened to with total acceptance, with your experiences fully acknowledged and validated. Navigating the ups and downs of life is not an easy thing, and there are life circumstances that test us in many different ways. Sometimes we may need guidance from a trained professional to provide us with understanding and acceptance, and allow us to develop new skills that can help us navigate these ups and downs more easily.

Many people are hesitant to consider therapy, as there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues. It may seem easier to try and take on your challenges alone or perhaps you are hesitant to reach out for help because you think your problems aren’t “big” enough. But every experience is valid, no matter how big or small, and if you think that having another person to assist you in managing your challenges might be beneficial, therapy may be something to consider to help ease some of your stress. A therapist can provide you with that same feeling that is brought on when you talk to a close friend, but they also have the skills to provide you with ways to overcome your challenges.

There are many different therapy modalities to consider and each of them offers a different style of addressing your experiences and helping you develop new skills to meet those challenges.

1. Client-Centered Therapy

Client centered therapy is a humanistic approach which focuses on the individual. Carl Rogers developed it in the 1950s and he identified 3 core elements that were necessary for the success of the therapy:

– Unconditional Positive Regard

The therapist openly listens to you, without any kind of judgment, and will accept your experience as just that-your experience. This element of the therapy is important, as it allows you to feel comfortable being vulnerable, without fear of being judged or ridiculed.

– Genuineness

The therapist provides genuine, authentic responses to your experiences, which enhances the therapeutic relationship. You are able to trust that your therapist is being honest in how they respond to you, using their education and knowledge base to influence their response.

– Empathy

This is a critical component of this therapeutic approach. Your therapist will do their best to try to understand where you are coming from, to put themselves in your shoes, and understand how you are experiencing your current situation.

The goal of the therapy depends on what you wish to achieve, but ultimately focuses on your personal growth and development. What this means depends entirely on your current situation, and how you define personal growth.

2. Existential Therapy

This approach focuses on increasing self-awareness. Through this sense of strengthened awareness, you are able to understand that you are a free agent in making your decisions and you are responsible for the direction you take your life. It is also concerned with how a person finds meaning out of life. Because of this sense of responsibility and the understanding that we must create our own meaning, anxiety may be the natural response to these realizations, and the existential therapist will help to address this anxiety.

3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This approach is more focused on structured sessions and often includes homework assignments for completion outside of the therapy sessions. As the approach is focused on meeting goals, these goals are set out within the first couple of sessions, and thus the progression of therapy is very transparent. The therapist may ask you to attend to your automatic thoughts that occur throughout the day in order for you to begin to become more aware of certain thought patterns. Within the session, the therapist will work with you to address these automatic thoughts and whether they are actually supported by your reality. This practice allows you to gain greater awareness of your maladaptive thinking patterns and eventually adapt these to become more in line with reality, which may improve your functioning in day-to-day life.

4. Psychodynamic Therapy

This kind of therapy approach derives from Freudian psychoanalysis. There is an emphasis on unconscious motivations, as well as an individual’s early life experiences, which both influence current problems. Defense mechanisms often operate in the individual to defend against anxiety they may experience. Through therapy, theses defense mechanisms are explored. A key concept of psychodynamic therapy is transference. Transference is the idea that the client unconsciously transfers feelings from an early relationship, typically a parent, onto the therapist. This transference is explored by the therapist, and the reactions that emerge in the sessions often provide useful information about the client.

These different therapy modalities are just a few of many different kinds of therapy that are used to help people deal with issues they may be experiencing. The approach you choose may depend entirely on what it is you need to address and what your goals are. Whatever it is you are struggling with there is someone that can help you, so you don’t have to go through it alone.

By: Talia Main

Talia is pursuing a degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She hopes to continue her education in psychology following graduation. She is passionate about ending the stigma surrounding mental health through her writing and education.

Merging Pathways – Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton Locations

“Speaking with a mental health professional is no longer associated to one experiencing a crisis. Having a therapist is now a part of a healthy lifestyle” – KMA client

In thinking about the differences between the population, age groups, and many different concerns that I see at our Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton locations, I realized how similar we all are in terms of our human behavior. We are all striving to be happy, content, and peaceful with our work and the many relationships in our life. Where we differ is in the path we take towards feeling better about ourselves. Some choose to find their path on their own and some choose to seek professional help.

As an intake therapist, I am fortunate enough to have spoken to many people of different cultures, age groups, and populations. The one thing I find that the people at both our Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton locations have in common is that all of them are seeking to speak with a professional in order to maintain a fulfilled life, regardless of their presenting concern.

Let us take a look at the statistics below with regards to the gender and age groups at our Liberty Village vs. Yonge & Eglinton locations.


Both locations have a higher percentage of females, but as you can see, the male population is not far behind. Clients of both genders are willing to connect with mental health professionals to help them grow in their personal and professional life.

 

The Yonge & Eglinton location is becoming a residential area with growing families and so I witness more couple clients compared to the Liberty Village location.

 

In terms of the population and age groups, statistics show that both Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton have a higher percentage of people between the ages of 20-25 years.

 

 

As an intake therapist, I am very proud to see that people are willing to talk about their feelings, insecurities, anxiety, depression, and challenges in their relationships. People are motivated to speak with a mental health professional to develop some strategies to maintain an emotionally healthy life style.

Hats off to all of you for trying to be the best version of yourself! It takes courage to talk about your feelings and thoughts and prioritize self-care.

Even though Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton are two different locations, I still choose to call them Merging Pathways because the challenges I see people face are all similar in nature with varying intensities and lengths of time.

Check out this article for more information about KMA Therapy: http://www.datingadvice.com/for-women/kimberly-moffit-associates-offers-constructive-relationship-counseling-in-toronto

By: Zainab Adil Gandhi

Zainab has completed her Masters in Psychological Counselling, specializing in Marriage and Family therapies. She is a member in good standing with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

Zainab has had 6 years of experience in counselling with Adults, Couples, Parents & Children. She understands that for clients to speak to a complete stranger about their concerns is very challenging. Therefore, her approach to counselling and therapy is client centered. She works with empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard to make sure that the client is extremely comfortable and in a very happy space. It is important to her to establish a good rapport to be able to bring about a healthy change in her clients. She believes in the ‘Human Potential’ that each client brings with him/her. Zainab chooses to be a facilitator in the process, where she guides the clients with her education and experience.  Once she has made the client comfortable in the session, she then moves ahead to use a Cognitive, Behavioral or an Emotional orientation, depending on what the client is willing to receive at that point in time.

Zainab has experience working with issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, bullying, parenting challenges, marital concerns, divorce, building healthy communication, relationships, balancing work and life, and dealing with a death of a loved one. She loves to use a variety of visual aids with her clients, which will help them understand their concerns more effectively. Her ultimate goal is to make sure the clients can be independent and cope with their problems efficiently.

 

A Way to Mind Your Mental Health When It’s Hard to Feel Grateful…..

downloadThere are times in life when being grateful just doesn’t seem to fit well. When times are particularly tough, when someone lets you down, when the deal doesn’t go to plan, when your heart is breaking. How can people be expected to feel grateful when terrible disappointments and hurts come into their life path?

Some people are more optimistic than others, without really having to try that hard. And it’s true that we cannot always fully choose how we feel. On days a person may feel down, they can continue to feel down no matter how much they try not to feel it. And part of that is life, because life is sometimes tough.

Can gratitude fit in on these down days or difficult times? Is it not a lot to expect from a person who is dealing with loss or pain to feel grateful? Research says that it is not feeling grateful that makes a difference to a person’s well-being, it is the effort that people make towards trying to be grateful. Making a conscious effort to cultivate an attitude of gratitude across the board is the thing that matters most when it comes to building up resilience to stress. This does not mean feeling grateful for every single thing that happens or every situation a person finds themself in. Rather it is about adopting a position that is in alignment with gratitude. Choosing the idea of gratitude and trying throughout the day to stand close to it. People can choose to see gratitude as something to add to their daily diet, even if it is gratitude for waking to another day, gratitude for the experience of having been loved. There is nothing in that sort of attitude that denies or in any way tries to  diminish the experience  of difficult emotion.

Often with loss and hurt, the pain can be really intense and even felt very physically. But there is a way to think about loss that allows space for that attitude of gratitude. To think of the pain of the loss as bearing witness to the love that was felt or shared is a way to bear holding it. As Tennyson once said it was ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ and there can be gratitude for having experienced the love that caused the pain, even if a person feels very let down or hurt. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude helps people cope with crisis situations. It builds resilience and while we cannot always choose how we feel, we can make a choice about attitude.

Adopting an attitude of gratitude rather than trying to feel grateful is a mini-habit that enhances mental health. And it’s those small, daily, mini habits that matter most when it comes to mental health.

By: Anne McCormack

Anne

Tips on how to Boost your Self-esteem!

 

5_things_your_should_know_about_self_esteemSelf-esteem is essential to our overall well-being and directly impacts the way we experience the world and the choices we make. Low self-esteem can be an incredibly painful inner experience and often causes isolation, withdrawal, and limited engagement. On the other hand, healthy self-esteem is directly related to stronger relationships with others, higher life satisfaction, and more goal-directed behavior. While low self-esteem may be rooted in our early experiences and circumstances, our thoughts also determine the way we interpret ourselves and the world around us. Read on to learn some valuable ways to start boosting self-esteem.

Acknowledge and Talk Back to Your Inner Critic

First, it’s important to become aware of your inner critic and the way that it speaks to you. We all have one. It’s that little (or sometimes loud) voice that is destructive, cruel, and rejecting. It drags us down when we’ve made mistakes or are confronted with things that we don’t like about ourselves. In order to improve self-esteem we need to tell this voice to “STOP!” and talk back to it with a more compassionate, understanding voice. Trying to refocus these thoughts into something more productive can help transform your critical voice into one that is far more constructive.

It’s also important to determine the purpose of that inner critic. Sometimes we rely on it for motivation or protection from potential hurt. For example, we can get tricked into thinking that our self-critical thinking is motivating us to achieve more and try harder or that when our critical voice tells us that people won’t like us, its protecting us from potential rejection. The problem here is that these are assumptions that aren’t grounded in reality and can be seriously damaging.

Watch Your Language!

Often, we use pejorative language that can destroy our self-esteem due to their negative connotations.  Telling ourselves that we are “ugly, fat, stupid, pathetic” and so forth is harmful. These words are subjective and arbitrary. They are also so immeasurable that we tend to define ourselves using the connotations that words hold. Instead, try to use words and descriptions that are accurate and factual. That way, the things we don’t like can be more readily challenged and, in some cases, worked on if it’s in our best interest. For example, saying something like “I’m stupid” can become more fact-based if changed to “I lack knowledge in a, b, and c, but I know a lot about x, y, z”.  Now, a strength is acknowledged and, if it seems important, the perceived weakness can be turned into a goal to learn more about a, b, c.

Self-imposed “shoulds” and “can’ts” are limiting and set us up for failure. Words like always, never, and perfect are also extremes. Try and be more open, realistic, and flexible with your language.

Practice Self-Acceptance and Celebrate Your Strengths

It’s important to acknowledge both our strengths and weaknesses. We don’t have to love every aspect of ourselves or our experiences, but we must learn to accept them. Make a list of your strengths and get into the habit of reminding yourself of them. This can be done with things like daily affirmations, reminder signs around the house, and actively remembering times when your strengths have been demonstrated.

Develop Compassion for Yourself

This means to understand, accept, and forgive yourself.  Somehow, compassion for others comes more readily to most of us. We must learn to treat ourselves like we treat our closest loved ones in order to improve self-esteem. A first step toward compassion is to begin to understand ourselves and the nature of our problems. We have to develop some sense of why we are the way we are. Next, we must learn to accept ourselves and remove the judgment we impose on ourselves. Finally, forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. A good way to engage with a compassionate self is to try and speak to yourself the same way you’d speak to your best friend if he or she was experiencing something similar.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s easy to get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others who appear to be more successful, accomplished, intelligent, and attractive than us. When we do this we disregard all of our own individual traits, successes, and positive qualities. We also usually do this under the illusion and false assumptions that others aren’t dealing with their own personal struggles, making us feel worse. The only person we should be comparing ourselves to is the person we were yesterday as we strive to improve each day.

Practice Self-Care

Get in the habit of doing things that are good and feel good for YOU. Participate in things that bring you joy and that make you laugh. Surround yourself with people who support you. Eat well. Exercise. Take good care of yourself – mind, body, and soul.

By: Catherine Kamel

counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapy

Talking to your kids about sex and sexuality

family_couchFor many parents it can often seem like a daunting task filled with awkward conversations and maybe a clumsy demonstration or two. Conversations about sexuality don’t have to be awkward at all! Engaging in healthy conversations about sexuality sets the stage for talking, without guilt or embarrassment, about body parts and their functions. Setting them up for success to feel positive about their own bodies and to make conscious, well informed decisions that protect their sexual health.

Here are five suggestions to help parents de-stress and raise kids to become sex positive adults:

1. Think about your early experiences with sexuality

Take some time to really dig deep into your memory banks as you attempt to remember how and when you first learned about sexuality. Reflect upon those early conversations about it. Were they positive, negative or did they fall into a gray area? Would you change anything about the ways in which you learned about sexuality?

It’s important to tap into these early experiences as they play an integral role into how you feel about sex and your own sexuality throughout your life. Your feelings and experiences may then be passed onto your children in a variety of manifestations whether they are presented as fears, insecurities, shame or positive views of sexuality.

The key here is to own your feelings by acknowledging and owning them whether they are good or bad. Knowing the “how” and “why” behind your views of sexuality can then be used as invaluable tools when the time comes to take your own child on the journey towards understanding sexuality in all its forms.

2. Use the correct language for body parts

One of the most important things you can do for your children and their understanding of sexuality is to refer to body parts by anatomically correct names. Making an effort to do so from birth will serve as reinforcement for your child as it will be considered normal and they will follow your lead.

The use of the proper names of body parts fosters a positive body image and self-confidence.

3. Keep things casual

Feel free to forgo the urge to tackle one big discussion about sexuality at once. Instead, find ways to approach the subject during normal conversations and activities while avoiding scare tactics. Make it a point to keep things fun while you’re at it, too. It’s totally acceptable and encouraged to get a little silly with things if it helps.

Try to look for teachable moments when attempting to relay information in an inviting way. Doing so will teach your child that sexuality is a positive part of life all while providing them with age appropriate information. Finding opportunities to discuss sexuality with your child will be relatively easy. Do not shy away from using TV shows, music videos and overheard conversations when looking for an excellent starting point when you want the time to come to discuss sexuality.

Definitely encourage your child to come to you with any questions they may have and keep the conversations going.

4. Keep it age appropriate

A large part of sex positive parenting lies within your ability to discuss sexuality with your children from an age appropriate perspective. However, we must first jump the hurdle of the common misconception that “sex education” should be relegated to the annals of reproduction, sexually transmitted infections and contraception. When we abandon and de-stigmatize the standard views of what sexual education “has” to be, we then can openly communicate with children about sexuality in a more honest and informative manner.

Opening this dialogue encourages you to inform your child in an age appropriate manner about a wealth of topics that are crucial to developing a healthy sex positive attitude. The list of topics that are vital to furthering sexuality education includes: love, pleasure, empathy, consent, sexual assertiveness, diversity and preferences, self-image, gender stereotypes, respect for all, boundaries, healthy relationships, intimacy, safety and trust.

5. Lastly, remember it takes a village.

If you’re ever at a loss, talk to your friends, family members, family physician, teachers, community agencies, or your local clinical sexologist for support.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

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Sex After Pregnancy and Baby

GTY_baby_166272556_jt_131103_16x9_608“Not now, honey, I’m tired” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a new parent. You’re exhausted, sleep deprived and have a world of new responsibilities. You barely recognize your body in the mirror, let alone want someone else to see you naked. Sex may be the furthest thing from your mind. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It’s normal to lose your libido after having a baby. There are ways to put the desire back into your relationship and balance family life with sex life. Here are my top three tips to finding (and keeping!) that balance in your relationship:

ONE: Be Realistic

Accept that you are both going to be over extended and less likely to be jumping each others bones. Being a parent is tiring. That’s just a fact of life. Your whole perspective and focus also changes when you become a mom. Yet, it’s still important to nurture your relationship with your partner(s). Just because you are now a mom doesn’t mean you stop being part of a couple. Try to focus less on the lack of wild sex and more on what you can do that feels comfortable. Even simple things like more eye contact, heartfelt compliments, and a long hug can go a long way in fostering that connection and intimacy as a couple instead of just parents. Everyone likes to be told they look nice – especially after having their body changed after pregnancy!

TWO: Channel Your Creativity

Sometimes, it really is the small things that make the biggest difference in our day-to-day lives.  Sure, you may want a weekend get away, but that’s not always feasible. Instead, try a ‘stay-cation’ by spending time relaxing in a bubble bath after baby has fallen asleep. You could even spice it up a bit by inviting your partner(s) to join you in the bath. You’re going to have limited time and energy as a new parent. Ask yourself “Do I want to spend my time picking up toys and making complicated dinners, or do I want to enjoy time with my partner(s) and order takeout?” The exhausted stage isn’t forever. Don’t put your energy in places you may regret, like vacuuming the house just because you are worried about what visitors may think! What do you think? You’re more important than a house guest.

THREE: Let’s Talk About Sex Baby

Communication is an important part of any relationship. The most effective way to get more of what you want is by talking about it with your partner(s). Open lines of communication about wants and needs in the bedroom are key to a happy relationship and healthy sex life. Think about it. You talk about money and parenting style, why not talk about sex? Just like anything else, if it’s not talked about, the problem will fester and become a bigger and bigger issue in the relationship. Don’t let your fear or talking about the subject inhibit you from building a stronger relationship. The bond is more than just physical. By talking through all aspects of your relationship with your partner(s) – from money, to parenting style, to sex – you only make the relationship stronger, not weaker. Talk it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Having a baby doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life. It just brings a whole new dimension to your family and relationship. Savor your relationship with your baby, but also savor your relationship with your partner(s). You deserve to have it all.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

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The Secret to Keeping the Spark Alive

Dollarphotoclub_76286710-e1423206683651One of the challenges of a long-term relationship is trusting that our partner can change.  After years of the same irritations and missed connections it’s easy to assume that there’s very little you can do to make your relationship fresh again. But the truth is that relationships, like people, are always changing and with a little effort we can make sure that those changes are for the better.

The secret to keeping the spark alive and your connection to each other strong are not only in the grand romantic gestures that happen occasionally, but the small daily moments of connection. The most important thing any couple can do to make those moments count is to be intentional.

Each day ask yourself what you can do to show affection and kindness toward your spouse – then do it. With a little intentional effort you can change your relationship for the better in just a few weeks. Let me be clear, a month of intentional effort is not going to fully resolve major issues or long-standing conflicts but it is possible to change your attitude and set your relationship on a new, happier course.

One way to stay motivated and put my theory of small changes to the test is to have regular relationship check-ins. Our satisfaction with our relationship can fluctuate through out the day just like our mood, so daily or hourly check-ins are not the best approach. When evaluating how your relationship is going and the impact of your new efforts be sure to take the long view. While you may be annoyed at the moment, how would you describe things overall? This broad perspective is just a helpful when things are rocky as it is when things seem to be going well. A weekly check-in can be helpful as long as you aren’t using it only as an opportunity to air your grievances. Make your check-in a balanced conversation about what is working really well and what areas you want to improve – not just what your partner can do but what you want to do for them.

How do we create more connection?
Often we think it is the big things that make or break a relationship but the truth is that it is the small daily things we do that matter the most. Here are three simple ways to improve connection and shift your perspective on your relationship:

1. Hug and kiss at least twice a day.  For a couple that is very affectionate this may seem simple but it’s the non-sexual touches that often get overlooked in a busy week. Physical intimacy can do wonders for keeping you connected and expressing love and appreciation that you may unintentionally forget to say out loud. It also releases oxytocin, often called the ‘bonding’ hormone, which can stimulate a natural sense of trust and connection. To truly reap the benefits, you must be intentional about these moments and take your time. A quick peck as you run out the door is not the same as a 3-5 second kiss or 20-second hug which has demonstrated benefits to your relationship.

2. Use technology to increase the playfulness. It easy to blame our phones and laptops for keeping us apart but these devices can also bring you together. A quick text hello or a flirty message at lunchtime keeps your partner on their toes – in a good way. These messages are easy to send and they can infuse your day with a little unexpected novelty, which is something we all long for. It can also set the stage for conversation and connection when you are finally back together again.

3. Say thank-you. It’s so easy to overlook all the little ways your partner makes your life better each day. The cup of coffee they make in the morning, making sure the trash went out, or an encouraging phone call before a big meeting or project can all be forgotten in the blink of an eye. Yet when someone makes us mad or lets us down, we humans are quick to point out what’s wrong. Saying thank you for the good stuff doesn’t just make your partner feel good, it helps you keep perspective. If you look for something to appreciate each day, you will find countless reasons for loving your partner. That reminder will keep you both happier in the long run.

By: Esther Boykin

Esther Headshopt

Adolescent Brains and Mental Fitness

150302071349_1_900x600Everything that a person experiences; thoughts, sounds, sights or feelings, it all requires underlying neural activity in the brain. Neural activity means activity in the brain between the neurons that are there. The more the neurons fire together and join up, the more patterns begin to develop and take shape. These patterns then become the ‘norm’ for the brain, in terms of what that brain routinely does.

Brains and the reality of the world created within a person’s brain takes its form from whatever perspective the brain routinely rests upon. If a young person wakes in the morning and rests upon an idea such as ‘I am alive and so glad I have this day to live,’  or an idea such as ‘I like myself and know I am a good person,’ then this will impact the structure or pattern that that particular young person’s brain develops. Because young people are at such a crucial stage of development, it is important for young people to know how their patterns are becoming set, the more their minds rest upon ideas. And what their brain routinely rests upon can only become a choice for the young person if that young person knows that this choice is theirs to make. Otherwise, young people can become a slave to the brain and as a muscle; it can become weak and more out of their control. They then become more likely to need external feedback in order to feel good as the brain inside their own head is not necessarily working in their favor. Young people can train their brains to work in ways that make them resilient and strong. This will help them to better protect their own mental health but in order to do this successfully; they need to be encouraged to think about what ideas they are routinely allowing their brains to rest upon.

So much growth and change happens during adolescence. It is a prime time to gain awareness of how to train the brain so that mental fitness becomes something the young person feels is within their control, just as taking steps towards physical fitness is within their control also. Young people need to approach the brain as they would any other muscle in the body. They cannot control the muscle completely but they can certainly work to make it strong. Step one in making the brain strong is to become conscious of how experiences are being interpreted. If they make a good choice about how to interpret events, a choice that allows them to see their developing self in a positive way, then their internal strength of mind will increase. Minding mental health matters and young people need to be developing skills to mind their mental health.

 By: Anne McCormack

Anne

Young People and Social Media Use – How Parent’s can support them Mind to their Mental Health

socialmediatree-540x440For young people today, social media is an integral part of their world. Parents accept this to be the reality but because parents of today have only ever experienced social media as an adult, it can be difficult for parents to know how best to support their child to mind their mental health while online. Parents can find it hard to relate to what it is to experience social media use as a young person, as they never had the chance to experience social media during their adolescent years. Supervising their child’s interactions online may work at the start for parents but eventually, young people will seek greater independence from parents and that is normal for them to do. Therefore, it is good to think in terms of equipping young people with tools and strategies to mind themselves mentally as well as physically online. There will be times when parent’s are not there by their side so it is good to see the value of preparing young minds for what they may encounter going forward.

One tool or strategy that works well for young people is having knowledge about how their mind is working. For young people about to start into adolescence, the task they are beginning to face in their mind is the task known as identity formation. That means that young people are beginning to look outside of their own small world of family and close friends more. They are beginning, on an unconscious level, to ask themselves who they are in the world and what their place within the world is. Because this task is faced in the unconscious part of their mind, it is therefore not within young people’s awareness. Because of his task, young people can become very fixated on feedback from others online as a way to garner information about what others think of them and therefore, what they are like as a person in the world. This can be a difficult process in many ways for young people as social media is a very narrow filter through which to work out your worth. If young people are given information about their stage of mind development and if this task that they are facing in their mind is explained to them, they at least have the knowledge in their conscious mind and have awareness. They will have awareness about the fact that they are trying to work out their identity. They also will have the knowledge that other people their age are busy working out identities too and that gives them a context within which to understand the behaviour of their peers. Knowing themselves on the inside is a vital tool when it comes to young people minding their mental health. Giving them information about their own mind is one step parents can take; mental health matters so much.

By: Anne McCormack

Anne