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Kathy Marshack News

Parents – Are Your Financially Dependent Adult Children Draining You?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Financially helping your adult children get established on their own may seem harmless, yet there’s danger in giving them money without skills to use it wisely.As a parent, you want the best for your children. So when they’re trying to get established on their own, giving them money seems so simple, so harmless. But what if it goes on year after year? When and where do you draw the line?

If you’re providing financial assistance for your adult children, it may get to the point that you feel like you’re not helping them any longer, that you’re actually hindering their progress toward standing on their own two feet. It’s important to consider these things, since ongoing financial help is a growing trend that will have long-term consequences for your child’s well-being and happiness. Well-meaning help can become an ongoing handout that destroys your joy and your child’s initiative and self-confidence.

A recent New York Times article reports on a survey of more than 2,000 young adults from 2007 to 2013. The findings show that today almost half of them receive financial assistance from their parents. Although two-thirds of high school students go to college, only half end up graduating. And they’re taking longer to get it done.

There are many factors involved such as the high price in rent in urban area, the cost of college tuition, the low payoff for the types of jobs they acquire. Whatever the reason, how long is “long enough”? When is it no longer a kindness? When should parents “cut the apron strings”?

When you provide financial assistance, it’s vital to require that your child learns financial and emotional self-management skills. Help them understand what credit really is, how to balance a checkbook, why it’s important to budget and live within one’s means, and that instant gratification or impulse buying doesn’t result in happiness. This can be started at an early age. Otherwise, they can lose whatever motivation and discipline they may have had. You may unwittingly be sending the message that ‘you’re not capable or competent’.

At times, financially dependent adult children may also have mental health issues including anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Anything that feeds the sense of powerlessness will worsen these problems.

It’s never too late to instill financial independence in your adult children. It may, however, involve a series of painful conversations and decisions. Taking control of the situation may feel less daunting when a trained mental health professional guides you through the process. It is possible to help your adult child to become independent of your financial purse strings, without alienating him or her. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, so we can get your family back on track.

Read more on my website: Am I a Good Parent?

Drinking Safely During the Holidays

Monday, December 19, 2016


Woman declining a glass of wineIt’s the most wonderful time of the year – spending time with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and invitations to a lot of parties. With all this merriment, often comes more drinking. Even for people who generally drink in moderation, holiday celebrations can really impact their alcohol consumption and quickly lead to overindulgence.
 
What is it about the holidays that lend themselves to an increase in drinking? There is a festive feeling in the air at this time of year. It seems there are endless occasions for celebrations, from end-of-the-year office parties, to the reunion of long-lost friends and family.
 
The flip side of that, though, is the extra stress brought on by the holiday season. Family dinners do not always equate to relaxing, enjoyable evenings. Memories of those who are no longer with us can bring sadness. The sheer cost of the holidays can also make it tempting to escape in a glass of spiked eggnog!
 
Whether you’re celebrating, or trying to de-stress, it may be tempting to overindulge or even use the holidays as excuse for binge-drinking. It may seem like a good idea to help you cope with difficult family members or an uncomfortable office party, but the reality is over-drinking can have a detrimental physical effects and lead to behaviors you often regret later.
 
So how can you enjoy drinking during the holiday season wisely? Here are a few suggestions:
 
Have a plan. How much alcohol are you comfortable drinking? A martini? Two glasses of wine? Decide ahead of time how much you will drink, and stick to your decision. Don’t let others push you to drink more than you know you should.
 
This is especially important for recovering alcoholics. Go in to any gathering with two or three responses prepared for when you are inevitably offered a drink. You don’t have to tell anyone that you have struggled with addiction. A firm, “No, thank you. I’m fine,” can suffice.
 
Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. This helps space out the drinks you’ve already decided you can have. Instead of drinking two glasses of wine before dinner is even served, sip on some water or sparkling cider in-between glasses.
 
This is also a great way to avoid being offered a drink. If people see you with a glass already in your hand, they will be much less inclined to try to push something on you. Having something bubbly and delicious also helps you avoid feeling deprived.
 
Remind yourself why you plan to drink in moderation (or not at all!). Have you made bad choices in the past when you over-drink? Do you feel sick, tired, and weak the next day? Remember why it is important to you to make this choice.
 
Keep alcohol in its proper place. Instead of viewing the party as an opportunity to drink, look at it as a wonderful time to socialize and enjoy good conversation. Then if you choose to have a drink, it's just an addition to a lovely evening not the focal point.
 
Surround yourself with supportive loved ones. For those that deal with addiction, it is vital to get support from close friends and family. While they may not understand exactly what you are going through, they want the best for you and will help in any way they can. If you start to feel your willpower waning, reach out to them. If you make it through a tempting situation successfully, share it with them!
 
If one of your family members struggles with addiction, it is very important that you help them as much as they will accept. The function of the family unit is to nurture and protect its members. Family members tend to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize, or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping peace. No one wants to rock the boat, especially around the holidays. Of course, you can’t force anyone to do anything. But offer to help. Do not enable them, or ignore their addiction. And if they turn around and get their life back on track, celebrate with them and support them in their ongoing efforts!
 
If you feel that you need help dealing with addiction personally, or in your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I can help! Please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Alcohol Consumption – Do the Cons Finally Far Outweigh the Pros?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Red wine in moderation is heart healthy, but alcohol causes holes in your brain as well as a host of other health problems, so is it really worth it?We’ve all heard the reports that drinking red wine daily is heart healthy. But what is it doing to our brains?

Recently Dr. Daniel Amen published an article about debunking the myth that alcohol is a health food. His SPECT Imaging shows the holes and gaps that appear in the brains of even moderate drinkers. He also quotes a 2008 study from the Archives of Neurology, which found that “people who drink just one to seven drinks per week have smaller brains than nondrinkers, and those who have two or more drinks a day have even more brain shrinkage.”

In 2015, the journal Lancet published a research review that found that alcohol use does decrease the risk of heart attacks. That’s good news. The bad news is that they also found that it increased the risk of cancer and physical injuries. Dr Amen goes on to list other negative affects that alcohol has on the brain and body. It:

  • Increases the risk of fatty liver disease,
  • Contributes to peripheral neuropathies (pain and tingling in hands, legs, and feet),
  • Damages neurons, especially those in the cerebellum.
  • Interferes with vitamin b1 absorption, leading to serious cognitive problems.
  • Decreases firing in the prefrontal cortex.
  • Disrupts sleep.
  • Predisposes you to sugar abuse.
  • Stimulates appetite and is associated with continued eating after feeling full.
  • Increases the production of insulin in the pancreas leading to low blood sugar levels and impaired decision making skills.

I appreciate his warnings, because it makes us stop and reassess our own actions and choices. Are they healthy choices? If not, is there an underlying reason for choosing ongoing self-destructive behavior like alcohol abuse?

Personally, I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, especially when entertaining my friends. If we are consistently nurturing and caring for our health, any damage done from drinking a glass of wine or having a beer can quickly be repaired.

However, people who abuse alcohol usually also neglect their nutritional and sleep requirements. Plus they participate in risky behavior. If you find that this article alerts you to a problem, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can get you onto the road to recovery.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.

Are New Year’s Resolutions Too Superficial?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Every year you resolve to lose weight, quit drinking, or spend more time with family, yet the resolve fades, so why are New Year’s Resolutions so hard to keep? Every year you may resolve, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to quit drinking so much”, or “I want to spend more time with my family.” Yet as January fades away so does your resolve. Why is it that we can’t accomplish what we want? Because all too often we apply a band-aid when surgery is needed. We end up trying to fix the symptom or signal without addressing the real problem.

When problem solving the first question to ask yourself is, "Is this thing I’m observing the signal or the problem?" Recognizing and interpreting the signals is quite a complex process, but you can improve your skills.

However, there are two common mistakes people make when trying to solve a problem or create real change in their lives…

1. Ignoring signals until they grow into serious problems. For example, I often hear that people too busy to attend to themselves or their personal relationships. Too busy doing what? Working? You need to ask yourself why are you working so hard? Is that your goal? Most people want a close-knit family who enjoys being together. But if you’re too busy managing the nuts and bolts of a business or career and have no time to enjoy and communicate with your family, aren't you overriding one of the reasons why you working in the first place?

2. Mistaking signals for the problem. When a person is angry or aggressive, we tend to listen, but when a person is quiet or passive, we tend to ignore them. Actually, those behaviors are signals of something. Discovering the meaning of the signals takes digger deeper.

The bottom line is that all human behavior is meaningful. But the meaning may come disguised as signals that look like problems themselves. For example, alcoholism is a signal of a pervasive illness. Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, may be a sign of overwork, too much stress, a lack of parental guidance, or even confusion in the work place. If you try to solve the problem of alcoholism by reducing the person's stress at work, the alcoholic may just have more time to drink. Likewise, if you recommend alcohol treatment for the person who is abusing alcohol, they may stop drinking but find other self-destructive methods to cope with problems at work.

Many New Year’s resolutions are superficial but the underlying problems most likely require deeper probing. So if there’s something about your life that isn’t working don’t just settle with a quickly forgotten resolution. Instead dig in, assess, diagnose and search out the meaning. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to figure out what the signals are telling you. I’ll help you tap into all the strengths at your disposal to create workable solutions.

Two Ways to Become More Resilient

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


how to bounce back after a setback with resiliency and a can-do attitudeWhen negative life events arise, how do you handle them? Whether they’re severe job setbacks, health issues, or relationship problems, do you get stuck in negative self-pity or rise above the situation by resiliently moving forward? Why is it that some people seem to become stronger through adversity while others tend to develop psychological disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse or depression?

Psychology Today recently discussed a study led by Heather Rusch of the National Institute of Nursing Research at Bethesda, Maryland, which discloses two factors that characterize resilient people. Knowing what they are and how to acquire them will give you skills so you can be more resilient too. What are they?

Factor #1 Mastery

Feeling like you have control and influence over your circumstances promotes better physical and mental health, which in turn helps you become more resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.

When you daily spend time on things you do well, this reinforces your sense of mastery. It trains your brain in the “can-do attitude”. Psychotherapy also promotes greater mastery by helping people move through negative thoughts and memories rather than getting stuck in saying, “I can’t”.

Factor #2 Social Support

When you build strong, supportive social ties you’ll be less likely to develop psychological disorders and more likely to resiliently recover from traumas. Daily seek out positive friends, family, or coworkers who encourage you to openly talk about your feelings.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back or recover quickly from difficulties. If you’re in optimal mental and physical health, your resiliency will be stronger than if you’re in weakened or compromised health. Many people find that consulting with a trained therapist helps them to improve their capacity for resilience. If you feel this is the right option for you and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind & Body Health and Therapy FAQ.

10 Surprising Signs You May Need To See a Therapist

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


signs you may need therapy“I don’t need a therapist. I’m not crazy!” Have you ever hear someone say that? I’ve heard it many times. Often from people who are, for the most part, mentally sound and on the surface appear happy. But after conversing with them, I find that many of them want their lives to be better in one area or another. That’s a natural desire.

Did you realize that we turn to our friends and loved ones for therapy daily? Think about the last time you were really worried…didn’t you feel so much better after talking with a trusted friend? Or when you suffered a severe loss, like the death of a loved one. Didn’t their loving embraces, shared tears, and gentle words soothe you?

The difference between that kind of care and professional therapy is that psychologists and mental health professionals:

  • Can be more objective, since they see all sides of the story.
  • Have the freedom to tell you the truth, since they’re not worried about hurting your feelings.
  • Have greater experience, since they deal with issues like yours every day.
  • Have more insight, since they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Have professional training to help you make permanent change.

If there is a difference between what you would like your life to be and how your life actually is, then why not fix it so you can enjoy happiness and contentment right now?

But, you might say, “I’m not that bad off.” On the contrary, your body may be telling you that’s not strictly true. Whenever we sense a lack in our lives, we’re likely to react with the following responses:

  • Dramatic mood shifts
  • Constant fatigue
  • A drastic change in eating habits
  • Persistent guilt feelings
  • Insomnia
  • Recurring, irrational sense of panic
  • Persistent, overwhelming feeling of doom
  • Constant headaches, rashes, or backaches
  • Relationship problems
  • Excessive drinking or drug abuse

Do they sound familiar? Would your close family members or friends recognize any of these symptoms in you? Why not ask them? You might be surprised at their observations. Life is too precious to waste time on feeling less than your best.

When your emotional problems occupy your thoughts several hours a day, you should consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional will help you explore and assess your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Is it time to make some changes?

Learn more on my website: When to Seek Help and Therapy FAQs.

What To Do When Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is Ripping the Family Business Apart

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


alcoholism and drug abusing ripping the family apartAlcoholism and other drug abuse is an epidemic in our country. It’s so wide spread that our schools have developed substance abuse prevention programs to educate our youth. The courts are less tolerant of alcohol related traffic infractions. And who hasn’t heard of the rehab centers the movie stars and politicians check themselves in and out of?

Substance abuse lowers production, increases accidents, lowers quality work, and contributes to the loss of skilled employees. To combat this, employers have established employee assistance programs and redesigned insurance benefits to create treatment options for employees. These programs treat the addict AND the family, because the strength of the family determines the addict's success in treatment.

Employers want to rehabilitate and return a healthy employee to the job. Yet among family firms, drug addiction and alcohol abuse are frequently overlooked. Many people who work in family firms, yet are not family members, talk about the "secret" at work. The secret that everyone knows – that there’s a family member who is abusing drugs or alcohol. Yet no one does anything about it. The family member is protected not only by the family, but by a general conspiracy among employees.

While the function of the family is to nurture and protect its members and usually takes precedence over the welfare of the business or other non-family related employees, this isn’t helping the alcoholic or the drug addict.

To overlook, condone, deny, rationalize or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping the family system in tact is a misguided sympathy. Allowing addictions to go untreated is no way to take care of either the business or the family. By ignoring the problem the addict accepts this as tacit approval of their behavior. This causes the potential threat to the integrity of the family and business to grow. Alcoholism and other addictions leads to the breakdown of the family, just what a family firm wants to avoid.

How can the addict get help, while being reassured that he or she has the backing of the family and business? There are a variety of resources available. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to discover the right treatment for you or your loved one. With the support of the two most important systems in one's life, the addict has increased potential to succeed in treatment. They have a loving family and they have a job to come back to.

Read more on my website: Alcoholism Recovery and How Friends Can Help.

Your Child Struggling with Uncontrolled Temper or Aggressive Behavior?

Monday, May 18, 2015


child struggling with uncontrolled temper or aggressive behaviorRecently I watched a video by Dr. Daniel Amen M.D. where he discusses how, after researching 100,000 brain scans, he’s discovered that actual brain damage is contributing to emotional problems such as anger issues and even brutal killings. Judges and defense attorneys often consult with Dr. Amen in order to understanding criminal behavior. While he does not in any way condone what these criminals have done, he’s made some fascinating discoveries by studying their brains.

For example, after looking at Kip Kinkle’s brain in 1998, (you may remember he shot 25 at his school, killing two plus his parents in Springfield, OR) he found that sometime in the past this person had suffered either deprivation of oxygen or some type of infection that made his the worst 15-year-old brain scan that Dr. Amen had ever seen.

What can we learn about rehabilitating people who have aggressive behavior and are violent? By taking their entire history and imaging the brain, we can discover the biological, psychological, and social reasons why they’re acting the way they do.

When we see homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, ADHD and suicide, we should seriously look at the health of the brain for answers. The good news is we can prevent these brain injuries from escalating into hurtful behavior, either towards themselves or towards others. They can be rehabilitated if it’s caught early enough!

Is your son or daughter troubled with anxiety, depression, anger, or destructive behavior? Please do not ignore these symptoms or dismiss them as typical teen moods. Seek help immediately to determine if there’s a physical or psychological cause. That way the problem can be resolved now, so he or she can live a happy and productive life. Brain health can be restored. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to find out how.

Watch Dr. Amen's video for the very emotional success story of how he helped a young man go from a troubled youth to an American hero.



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