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Kathy Marshack News

How to Pick a Therapist for Your Child

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Most parents would love to create an ideal world for their child to live in. But the reality is that more and more children are in need of mental health care. There are many reasons why a child might need therapy – divorce, abuse, loss of a loved one, learning disabilities, bullying just to name a few.

When a parent recognizes that their child needs help, the parent has two options. Sweep it under the rug like it doesn't exist or take action. The correct choice is option two. Many parents choose option one and live in denial which will only lead to more problems in the future. Because these issues will reappear – often later in life when it’s not only more difficult to address but more damage has been done. If your child needs help you may need to relinquish control and accept some professional help!

If you do decide to seek professional help for your child, then the next step is to find the right therapist for your child. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making that choice:

- Gather information. Take note of why you feel like your child needs help. What are his/her symptoms? How long have these symptoms been in existence? When gathering this information, talk to your child's teachers, school counselor, pediatrician, and any other caregiver who can give you insight into what is going on in your child's life. The more you know, the more you will be able to communicate to the professional you choose.

- Ask for referrals. The pediatrician, school counselor, or any other close friend/confidant might be able to point you in a good direction.

- Research licenses and credentials. Once you have list of therapists, research them. Make sure they are licensed to practice! I cannot stress that enough. There are people who call themselves child therapists without the proper credentials. So, do your homework before making an appointment.

- Approach and experience. Before sending your child off to therapy, find out the style and approach of the therapist. How long have they been working with children? What type of methodology do they use? What type of treatments do they offer? What do they specialize in? What is their availability? What can be expected relationship between parent and therapist?

- Insurance, price, & fees. Check with your insurance to see what options they provide for child therapy. When making an appointment with the therapist ask about prices, fees, payments plans, and cancellation policy.

- Communicate. It is very important for the parent to be involved with the therapist and the treatments. So work to build a good rapport and be available to assist them in any way necessary. Also, communicate with your child. Do they feel comfortable with the therapist? If you sense that the relationship is not working, then don't be afraid to make a change.

Taking care of your child's emotional needs are just as important as taking care of their physical needs. You are not a failure of parent if you enlist the help of a mental health care professional. It is actually a sign of true love and concern for the welfare of your child.

If you live in Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon and are looking for a therapist to work with your child visit Therapy FAQ.

In a “Blended" Family? How to Make It Work Despite the Obstacles

Friday, July 29, 2011


High divorce rates and remarriage in American has created many "blended families." Blended families refer to those in a household composed of parents and children who are not related by blood. The results of blending families creates stepparents and stepchildren. If you have ever been part of a blended family, you know the unique stress it can create. Since so many households are not the "typical" anymore, we need to redefine the family and begin educating ourselves as to how to rear healthy children in whatever family constellation they live. It’s not the family that’s important, but family life that exerts the most important influence on the development of your children.

What can you do to help ensure a healthy blended family environment?

1. Teach your children that there is enough love to go around to all family members, biological or blended.

2. Show respect for the care your child has for your ex-spouse. Don’t be threatened by your child’s stepmother. Don’t make your children have to choose between you. Work together so that the significant adults in your child’s life can expand and enhance his or her learning.

3. Look at your blended family as an opportunity to develop tolerance and flexibility. Be creative about the ways that you include extended family member into your family life.

4. Teach your child to appreciate that happy family life is created by caring, committed people of all ages and connections.

5. Educate yourself by reading and attending classes on parenting. Be humble and accept the fact that you may need some help.

6. If you encounter a situation that is beyond your understanding, seek the expertise of a family therapist. Sometimes personal problems or relationship problems interfere with productive family life. It is important to recognize these problems, to seek professional help and to restore family life to a healthy, happy balance.

By taking the responsibility seriously, you can have a successful blended family. For more information, visit Parenting Effectively - Happy Blended Families. If you would like assistance from a family therapist, contact my office to set up an appointment.

Are You a Manipulator in Your Family?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Would it surprise you to know that con artists and manipulators are not that different? The only real difference is that a manipulator has created an illusion that they are different, that they would never stoop to the level of a con artist, or that they would never willfully take advantage of a person that way. In my work as a Family Business Consultant, I have seen firsthand that being an manipulator in a family and family business can be devastating both emotionally and financially. It is important to ask yourself if you exhibit manipulative qualities before it gets out of hand.

To investigate your manipulative qualities, ask yourself a few questions...and be HONEST!

1. Are you in sales? 2. Does your business require that you use persuasion, diplomacy, and charm? 3. Have you ever lied? 4. Have you ever taken advantage of another's ignorance or naiveté? 5. Have you kept something you didn't pay for? 6. Have you ever cried in order to get your way? 7. Have you ever intimidated your opponent into capitulating? 8. Have you ever hurt someone else? 9. When you have hurt someone else, did you say, "I didn't mean to do it." 10. Have you kept a secret to avoid conflict? 11. Have you ever "dropped names"? 12.Have you ever changed the subject when the topic was too close for comfort? 13. Just once, was money your only concern?

The tools of persuasion, diplomacy and charm can be used ethically or unethically. They are like a hammer and screwdriver. The hammer and screwdriver can be used to build a house or to break into someone's home. The choice is up to the individual using the tools. Likewise, persuasion, diplomacy and charm can be used to swindle or to negotiate a mutually rewarding settlement.

If you truly want to end the con game within your family firm, you need to take a look at your own manipulative nature. Being conscious of your own manipulations, even the ones that you didn't mean to do, allows you to be ethical. With consciousness comes choice. Choosing to be ethical in your communications and dealings with others requires that you take the time to understand others and to be understood fully.

Another way to investigate your own manipulative nature is to ask others how they feel. In a family this is a perfectly legitimate question. Because you may be hot on an idea and have charmingly persuaded everyone else to cooperative with you, does not mean they all agree with you. Check it out. If you have bullied the others into submission, or charmed them into acquiescing, but deep down inside they do not agree, what kind of agreement do you really have? How much support are you really going to get in the long run? Do you really have your family's trust or are they just afraid of you?

If your goal is to make a lot of money or to have a lot of power, and you don't care how you do it, then there is no point in your reading this. But if you truly want to prosper as a family as well as a family in business, then it requires time to clean up the covert confidence games that are played at home and at work with the ones you love.

For more information on this topic, read my article - Recognizing Manipulation Can Save The Family Business

Why PTSD Sufferers Should Seek Help

Monday, July 25, 2011


Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can affect anyone. It can strike after someone experiences any type of traumatic or serious event. Natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, or accidental disasters, such as car accidents, airplane crashes, fires, collapses of a building, or deliberately caused disasters, such as rape, assault, kidnapping, torture or combat are all events that could cause PTSD. Though the trauma may have occurred months or years ago, the survivor continues to have problems because they keep re-experiencing the traumatic event, or avoid stimuli associated with the event.

If you are a survivor of a trauma experiencing one or more of these symptoms you may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tendency to react under stress with survival tactics
  • Psychic or emotional numbing
  • Emotional constriction
  • Loss of interest in work and activities
  • Survivor guilt
  • Hyper-alertness
  • Fantasies of retaliation
  • Avoidance of activities that arouse memories of traumas
  • Suicidal feelings and thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Fantasies of destruction
  • Cynicism and distrust of government and authority
  • Alienation
  • Concern with humanistic values overlaid by hedonism
  • Negative self-image
  • Memory impairment
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Hyper-sensitivity to justice
  • Problems with intimate relationships
  • Difficulty with authority figures
  • Emotional distance from children, spouse and others
  • Self-deceiving and self-punishing patterns of behavior, such as an inability to talk about war experiences, fear of losing others, and a tendency to fits of rage.

If you are experiencing PTSD, it is vital that you seek professional help immediately. Divorce, depression, physical illness, alcohol and drug abuse are often the tragic result of undetected or untreated PSTD. PTSD is very responsive to a variety of psychotherapies. In individual therapy, the survivor can learn a new perspective on the past. With the gentle support of an experienced psychotherapist, you will find new and healthier ways to put old memories to rest. In couples therapy, you and your spouse will learn to help each other through the stressful periods. And group therapy with other survivors gives you an opportunity to learn from, and help other, who’ve “been there.” If you or someone you love is experiencing PTSD, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


How Managing Daily Stress Can Help You Avoid a Panic Attack

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Do you suffer from a panic disorder? If so, you are not alone. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, about one adult in twenty suffers from agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a panic disorder in its most severe form. Symptoms of panic disorders include difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing or choking, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, shaking, shuddering, sweating, dizziness, insomnia, and increased sensitivity to sounds and light.

A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shed light on panic disorders and its findings could help those who suffer from panic disorders. The study was performed by researchers at Brown University. They focused the study on how day-to-day stress affects a person with panic disorders. They concluded that panic attacks can actually stem from a gradual build up of stress not necessarily from one event. This new information can help those with these types of disorders to work on regularly managing their stress level. Dr. Martin Keller, the principal investigator, suggests keeping your guard up for at least three months after the stress subsides.

Panic disorders can be treated. There are a variety of therapies that are beneficial such as deep relaxation, systematic desensitization, and "flooding." It is important to seek help from a qualified and trained therapist to help reach the root cause of your disorder. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Conquering Fears and Phobias.

How to Manage Anger Effectively

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Anger is a natural human emotion. When dealt with correctly, anger can be constructive, even providing clarity to a difficult situation. Sadly, most anger is not used constructively, but rather destructively. Anger when uncontrolled can be a danger to yourself and others. Do you have a problem controlling your angry outbursts? If so, you may need practical help also known as anger management.

Here are some tips to help you control your anger:

Breathe Deeply. This is a simple and quick way to gain control over your emotions. Focus and take long, deep breaths. If breathing is not your forte, then try visualization or repeating a mantra.

Separate Yourself. It's okay to give yourself space when you become angry. Step away from the situation and get your emotions under control. Once you have calmed down, you will be in a better place to deal with whatever made you angry and to reflect on the cause of your anger. This will also help you manage your anger more effectively in the future.

Exercise. A regular routine of exercise is highly beneficial for dealing with regular stress, anger, or frustration. If you find yourself getting heating up, exercise is also helpful in relieving anger. Find an exercise that has a calming effect not a stimulating one.

Be Solution Oriented. Take responsibility for your actions and learn from them. Shaking off the blame will only enable you to continue a cycle of anger. Write down what you felt when you had an angry outburst. Include the situation, your emotions, and your response. This will help you to see what your triggers are. Once you have identified those things, come up with a way to deal with those specific instances in the future. Own it!

Anger management takes time and patience to master. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional to help you conquer your anger issues. They can tailor specific anger management techniques to your personal needs. Feel free to contact my office to set up an appointment.

How a Psychologist Can Help You Manage High Blood Pressure

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Blood pressure is the pressure at which blood is pumped around our body by the heart. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is considered to be a very serious health issue. It is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and medical crises such as heart attacks and strokes. It may even contribute to hardening of the arteries. It is estimated that 20% of Americans have some form of high blood pressure. It is further estimate that only half of these cases have been recognized, and less than half of those are treated.

Most cases of high blood pressure are called "essential hypertension," meaning there's no obvious medical cause or the hypertension. Emotional factors are known to play a role in most cases of essential hypertension. Blood pressure may rise dramatically during very stressful situations, but for it to remain high the stressful events must be continuing and unrelenting. Often a person with hypertension will be living or working in a situation where he is frequently very tense or angry, but does not have the option of leaving the situation or expressing his true feelings. After blood pressure remains high for some time it is thought that special receptors in the body that monitor blood pressure become adjusted to the high levels; the body may then lose its ability to lower the blood pressure to a safer level. Fortunately, it appears that the body can return to maintaining a lower blood pressure with proper treatment.

The most effective overall treatment for high blood pressure involves working with a mental health counselor on the emotional and stressful issues in your life; learning methods of stress management and biofeedback; and working with a physician to monitor blood pressure levels and oversee medication. Blood pressure medication can be a life-saving part of treatment for high blood pressure, but some may have unpleasant side effects, including tiredness and sexual difficulties. If blood pressure can be lowered under medical supervision with the assistance of counseling methods, then the person might require less medication. However, it is important to state that blood pressure must be controlled with medication until an alternative is found to lessen the need for the medication. Your family doctor would likely welcome the use of counseling to assist his or her efforts to help you control your blood pressure.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA area and would like counseling, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Managing High Blood Pressure and Managing Stress

Have You Ever Encountered a Psychopath?

Friday, May 27, 2011


Have you ever been "had"? Perhaps without being aware of it, you encountered a psychopath. A psychopath is a person who lacks conscious and/or empathy. They commit actions without feeling any guilt or remorse – even if it hurts other people.

Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, shared his insight on psychopaths while interviewed on NPR. Even though he is not a psychologist, he has been able to nail psychopaths. Why is this of interest? According to Robert Hare, the inventor of the psychopath checklist, you are very likely to find a psychopath climbing the corporate ladder. These are people that you come in contact with on a regular basis.

I encourage all of you to tune into Jon Ronson's interview and learn more about the behavior of psychopaths. If you’re able to identify psychopaths, you can take precautions to protect yourself from their ruthless behavior.

Click here for more information about the broadcast.

Attention Busy Women: Are You Addicted to Stress?

Monday, May 16, 2011


The idea of being addicted to stress may sound ridiculous, but it's true. Many Americans, specifically women, are in fact addicted to stress. The American Psychological Association says that more than half of women say they are stressed out. That is an increase of 25% in just 4 years! Stress is a very normal emotion, but it is not normal or healthy to be addicted to stress.

Why are so many women addicted to stress? For one thing, stress may equate a sense of success. They may feel like they have to work just as hard and as long as everyone else to stay ahead of the game. "Everyone else who is successful is stressed." Without realizing it, they have become victim to negative peer pressure.

Once the stress starts this vicious cycle, it is hard to stop. Stress can stimulate the production of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. That surge of hormones becomes addictive and in order to get that feeling, you need stress.

What are the consequences of stress? Stress can affect your emotional state. Depression, anxiety disorders are usually accompanied with acute stress. There are also many physical consequences such as tension headaches, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, and also an increased risk of heart problems, stroke, and susceptibility to infections.

If you think that you have become addicted to stress, seek help. Like any other type of addiction, you can overcome it. For specific tips, visit Managing Stress on my website. Do not hesitate to take the proper steps to start leading a healthier and happier life.

How to Build Self-Esteem in a Child with ADHD

Friday, May 06, 2011


ADHD often goes hand in hand with low self-esteem and depression. These negative emotions can start at a very young age. It may stem from feeling different from their peers, the inability to get the same results as others, and/or receiving extra criticism. As parents, it’s important to instill confidence in your ADHD child early on. Taking this extra effort is well worth your time and energy. If not, there can be serious consequences in the future.

Here are a few tips to help build the self-esteem in a child with ADHD:

·Positive reinforcement. In the past, I spoke about the benefits of positive reinforcement when it comes to autistic children, but the same principles apply to children with ADHD. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. Look for the good behavior and the good qualities that they are exhibiting and be quick to commend them. When giving commendation, be specific. Explain what they did that you liked and why you liked it. The goal is to help them to make the connection that their good behavior equals positive reinforcement.

·Encourage their strengths. What is your child good at? Are they artistic? Musical? Athletic? Take note of what they excel at and encourage them to pursue those strengths. When they are feeling down about not excelling in an area, remind them that every person has strengths and weaknesses, and then remind them of their "special" skills or strengths. Get their teacher involved in this. They can exert a powerful influence for the good over your child.

·Use rewards. Rewards can be a tool that you can use to help your child build confidence. The reward does not need to be something grand, but it should be something that is meaningful to the child. Explain how they can earn the reward. Then make it "visual" by perhaps putting together a chart that tracks their progress and then posting it in their room or on the refrigerator. They will be able to see their progress. Plus it helps them to set goals and see that they can reach them.

·Do not compare them to others. A child is an individual and every individual is different. Comparing a child to another will simply guarantee that their confidence and self-esteem will drop. Avoid making careless comparisons. Instill in your child your love for them and tell them what makes them special to you.

·Therapy. Therapy can help a child feel better about themselves. A therapist can help a child to recognize that their disorder does not reflect who they really are. Over time the therapist can help children with ADHD identify and build on their strengths as well as help parents to learn how to do this more effectively.

Continue to encourage your child. Express your love for them. It may not always be easy to raise a child with ADHD, but by applying these few suggestions, your child will be more equipped to handle their future with confidence.

For more information, visit Parenting a Child with ADD/ADHD. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington to set up an appointment for Adult or Child ADHD counseling, contact my office.


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