Tag Archive for: books

How Resilience Helps Us Bounce Back from Parenting Stress

How Resilience Helps Us Bounce Back from Parenting Stress

Becoming a parent is a life-altering experience, filled with highs and lows and everything in between. The wonderful memories created with your children are endless, such as bedtime snuggles, dance recitals, home runs, and so much shared love. On the other hand, there are the challenges such as sleepless nights, toddler meltdowns, financial strain, frequent guilt, and a lack of free time.

The duality of parenthood is what makes it both a beautiful and highly stressful experience. When my twin daughters were born, I had an image of the father I wanted to be and I tried so hard to be that for them. Unfortunately, I was unprepared for the hurt and self-judgement I experienced when that didn’t come as easily as I thought it should. This left me feeling angry, stressed, guilty, and exhausted.

For many parents, the ups and downs of the many stages of parenthood and their unique joys and jostles leaves parents struggling with chronic stress. This stress can leave them at risk of increased depression, anger, anxiety, mood disturbances, suicidal ideation, and decreased feelings of confidence and hope. In the face of stress, it can be easy to forget about your own needs, but this is vital to being able to care for those who count on us. Building resilience is about dedicating time to yourself so you can recharge and become the best parent you can be.

Resilience helps us to shift our perspective on the world and our problems so we can bounce back from stress. Carole Pemberton defines it as our “capacity to remain flexible in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors when faced by life disruption, or extended periods of pressure, so that we emerge from difficulty stronger, wiser, and more able”.

As parents, we try to meet the needs of our children the best we can, and building our resilience allows us to do this in a way that includes us in the process. Dr. Dan Tomasulo says there are three components to building resilience: (1) gratitude, (2) acts of kindness, and (3) meditation. When we incorporate these into our lives it can allow us to embrace a perspective that sees past the stress and find hope, joy, and happiness.

Many people have heard about gratitude journals; however, I often hear clients talk about being frustrated with them. They take time each night and write down a list of things they are grateful for, and while this is a great start, many people can struggle to see benefits. Learning to be truly grateful can be a very effective way for parents to build resilience, but it needs to go beyond the act of listing things in a journal.

To be truly grateful means creating a sense of thankfulness, appreciation, and wonder for life. When we think about our struggles, we go into great detail about the pain, the loss, or the guilt. The hurt becomes tangible. We need to treat our gratitude with the same intensity and purpose as we do our hurt.

A very popular and proven exercise that I have found helpful with parents is creating a gratitude letter. The task is simple; select someone that you feel grateful for (e.g., your partner; a parent; a friend) and write them a letter of appreciation. You can even go as far as delivering the letter or reading it aloud to them. Here is a video showing how it can be done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg.

Engaging in acts of kindness is another way for parents to build resilience through the social connection that it can create. Has the person in front of you at the drive thru ever bought your coffee? It can create such a sense of surprise, joy, and thankfulness. You will probably feel inspired to do something nice for someone else that day, thus creating more connection and happiness for everyone involved. Here is a video showing it in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4ALRY5LyBM.

The last core component of resiliency is meditation. The type of meditation I often find the most helpful for stressed parents is mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being present and “in the moment”. It’s about being 100% there and engaged in your experience, and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is not about pretending that everything is okay or about dismissing challenges; it is about focusing nonjudgmentally on the moment so you can be present in your own life. Mindfulness-based interventions have been used successfully in helping treat issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Here is one mindfulness meditation that parents can try: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation

When parents take the time to build their resilience, it helps them to see past the daily stress of parenthood and be more present for those they love. Through gratitude, acts of kindness, and meditation/mindfulness, parents can work towards becoming the parent they always hoped to be.

References:

Benson, P., & Karlof, K. (2009). Anger, stress proliferation, and depressed mood among parents of children with ASD: A longitudinal replication. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(2), 350-362. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-008-0632-0

Helgeson, V., Becker, D., Escobar, O., & Siminerio, L. (2012). Families with children with diabetes: implications of parent stress for parent and child health. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37(4), 467-478. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jrs110

Mikolajczak, M., Brianda, M., Avalosse, H., & Roskam, I. (2018). Consequences of parental burnout: Its specific effect on child neglect and violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 80, 134-145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.03.025

Pemberton, C. (2015). Resilience: A Practical Guide for Coaches. New York, NY: Open University Press

Tomasulo, D. (2020). Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Blog Post by: Cody MacSorley, MSW RSW, Clinical Counsellor

Caught You Doing Something Great!

Caught You Doing Something Great!

It is probably safe to say that most parents would like to increase their children’s positive behaviour.

Sometimes as parents there can feel like an overwhelming amount of things to work on with our children. Whether that be manners, prosocial skills, academic skills, independent skills, or just that overall pressure and desire to raise decent human beings.

Given the lofty task at hand, it can feel necessary to program ourselves to notice and address these concerns. Before we know it, it might feel as if alarm bells are constantly going off on all the behaviours that need addressing.

There is no doubt that addressing these things are important and part of our parental duties, and in the midst of all the correcting and teaching, I offer a suggestion. If you want to increase positive behaviours in your children, start noticing what is going well.  If your behaviour radar seems set to detect just the negative behaviours, try flipping the switch, even just a bit to start detecting the things already going well! Notice the positive behaviours already happening and acknowledge them, praise them, and high five about them. It won’t solve all your problems, but it may start to shift things and the increased confidence and positivity may be the building blocks for the next skills.

Research shows that giving attention to behaviours, whether those are positive or negative behaviours will increase the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again. Catching and acknowledging those positive behaviours really does make a difference!

Lots could be said about the art of praise but being specific and genuine is a great place to start.

So today as you go about all the things that come along with parenting, try and catch your kids doing well, and let them know! Who knows, you may be surprised to find there are more great things happening than you thought!

Blog Post by: Janelle Janzen BSW RSW, Clinical Counsellor

Surviving Cancer: A Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellness Balancing Act

Surviving Cancer: A Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellness Balancing Act

As a cancer survivor, I am among those that can recall with clarity the moment they heard the words, “you have cancer”. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most stressful and difficult times for an individual.  Everyone copes with their cancer diagnosis differently and it is a completely individualized process.

This time can be very overwhelming as you shift into a new space of trying to make sense of what this means for you and can bring increased stress, worry, fear and anxiety.

The good news is that for many people, they can and do move into the phase of remission. What isn’t talked about as often is how to take care of yourself and your mental health when you shift from the role of cancer patient to cancer survivor.

Here are some tips that I feel can help you though this time.

  1. It’s okay if you need some time and space to process things. Do things that you enjoy and that bring you peace, calmness and grounding to prioritize wellness for your physical AND mental health Give yourself permission to rest.
  2. There is no set time frame for how long it takes to process your diagnosis and survivorship. You will find a lot of “firsts” in this space in your life combined with some grief and relief, among a variety of other parallel feelings. It’s okay that all of those feelings live in one space.
  3. Survivor’s guilt can be a part of surviving cancer. You may think about others with cancer who had a different journey and feel guilty or wonder why you survived. This can be a normal part of surviving this diagnosis when others have not. We will take a minute here to remember those people and send our care and sympathy to individuals and families who have lost loved ones.
  4. Health anxiety may be something you experience. You may feel worried about your health and more attuned to your physical health baseline and subtle changes related to health. This is normal and it makes sense for what you have experienced. Give yourself some kindness as you take this all in.
  5. It’s just as important to attune to your mental wellness in this time too. There are tons of resources available for you. Books are a good place to start. One of the books that helped me feel seen and understood is “The Human Side of Cancer” by Jimmie Holland and Sheldon Lewis.
  6. Create a support system around you. Friends, family, counsellors and healthcare providers can be a key part of your overall wellness balancing act.
  7. Find a support group with other cancer survivors in your community. It is really important to have a space to talk about your experiences with others who understand what you have been through. The cancer journey can be lonely but there are groups out there to help with similar experiences.
  8. Seek some counselling or support with mental wellness from a professional. Having a space to talk openly, process and connect is a huge part of the holistic healing process in the cancer journey.
  9. Think about marking your remission date with a special gesture that nurtures your cancer survivor journey. This can be big or small. It’s up to you.

This year marks my fourth year in remission as a cancer survivor. I understand the journey that a cancer diagnosis can make in your life but I have also experienced strength present itself in ways I didn’t know I was capable of.

In conclusion, just know that this strength is inside you too. If you need someone to talk or help you pull that strength out, we are here waiting for you at Wildflowers Therapy.

Take care.

Written by Nancy Masuda BSW RSW, Clinical Counsellor

Reference:

Holland, J. C., & Lewis, S. (2001). The human side of cancer: Living with hope, coping with uncertainty. HarperCollins Publishers.

New Year, New You?

New Year, New You?

It is likely that many of us have set New Year’s Resolutions, or at least have thought about it. As is typical in January, our mindset shifts to thinking of a fresh start, goals, or changes we can make for the new year. Although some happily engage in setting a resolution, others may think of a resolution as exhibiting pressure, anticipating failure, or being met with resistance to change. Below are some alternatives to the traditional New Year’s Resolution.

  • Guide/Nudge Words — Acts as a mind-set or intention for the year. For example, “explore,” or “connect.”
  • Personal Mantra – Using one, two, or three values that are important to you and you want to focus on living by. Examples include happiness, generosity, and strength.
  • Vision Board – Used to visualize success and what you want or hope to achieve.

Looking for other ideas to help support you in the new year? Check out the article below:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/202301/6-unusual-alternatives-to-traditional-new-years-resolutions

 

Blog Post by Clinical Counsellor, Ashley Carlson

 

Self-Care During the Holiday Season

Self -Care During the Holiday Season

For many people the Holiday Season is a time characterized by feelings of joy, love, peace, and happiness. A time when many excitedly look forward to the opportunity to be with their closest family, friends, and loved ones to reminisce about the year gone by. What about those who find themselves feeling less than “holly-jolly” though.  While the Holiday Season can be the most “wonderful time of the year” for many, for some it’s the polar opposite, with the season bringing about an exacerbation of difficult feelings including worry, stress, isolation, and depression. The truth is not everyone looks forward to the holidays as much as the Hallmark Channel might have you believe.

A recent study carried out by the Canadian Mental Health Association (2022), found that approximately 52% of Canadians report having greater feelings of depression, anxiousness, and isolation during the holidays compared to any other time of year. Knowing this, the question now is, how can you protect yourself and your mental health this Holiday Season?

When it comes to the Holidays, often our high expectations to top last year’s festivities, combined with the overwhelmingly higher emotional labour, and not to mention physical labour, that goes into making said festivities a reality such as cleaning house, decorating, shopping, gifting wrapping, budgeting, cooking, organizing, hosting and so on, it’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves feeling down and out before Christmas Eve rolls around.

The pressure to create the “perfect holiday” and the fear of missing out or being excluded from seasonal traditions can quickly leave you feeling empty at a time when you’re expected to feel full (i.e., full of love, full of joy, full of thanks, full of food etc.). This is why it’s important to set yourself up with reasonable expectations and to remember the following:

  • Cast aside the Grinchy judgments of others – you are not forced to celebrate the holidays, let alone in the way popular media suggests you do.
  • If you’re feeling trapped or restrained by tradition, then make a change! For some this might mean saying “no” and turning down invitations to social gatherings, and for others this might mean setting boundaries such as agreeing to go out for dinner but not staying for dessert.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holiday hustle, then delegate and ask those around you for help. It’s not your job alone to make the holidays.
  • Give yourself a break and do something special for yourself – this could be cooking yourself your favourite food, going out to a movie of your choice, or even just taking a little time to sit quietly and read. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you’re doing it for yourself.
  • Remember that even if you accept an invitation but find yourself feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated while you’re out, it’s okay to take a little time – find a quiet space to take a little time to chill, call a friend to decompress, or take a short walk.
  • If you’re not having a good time, you are allowed to leave – regardless of what social convention might dictate, you do not have to stay if you don’t want to. Organize your own transportation so you have the option to stay as long or as little as you want.
  • Do what you love and make the holidays work for you – think about the things that you love and enjoy about the holidays and what things you dislike or even hate. Now do the things you actually enjoy! Don’t let tradition, yours or someone else’s, dictate how you celebrate.
  • Remember to stay on budget – build yourself a budgeting template to help keep track of your spending so you don’t break the bank.
  • Stay mindful of over-indulging – while it might feel good in the moment or help you alleviate some holiday stress, remember that your actions have consequences as future you might not be as happy about past you indulging.
  • While gifts are nice, know that you don’t need to buy people things to show them you care – acts of kindness such as lending a helping hand in the kitchen, offering to run errands for a friend, or just spending quality time with a loved are worth more than anything money can buy.
  • Validate what you’re feeling and know that it’s okay to not be okay.

 

If despite your best efforts to get into the holiday spirit you still find yourself struggling with feelings of anxiousness, sadness, or if your negative feelings are getting in the way of your day to day life, reach out for mental health support:

Phone: 211 or Text: 211

  • If you’re in immediate danger or need urgent medical support, call 9-1-1

Resources:

Canadian Mental Health Association. (2022, December 5). Five ways to protect your mental health this holiday season. https://cmha.ca/news/five-ways-to-protect-your-mental-health-this-holiday/

Government of Canada. (n.d.). Mental health support: Get help. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/mental-health-services/mental-health-get-help.html?utm_campaign=hc-sc-mental-health-23-24&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=ggl&utm_content=ad-text-en&utm_term=mental%20health&adv=2324-471650&id_campaign=20569209009&id_source=153075713959&id_content=674818189115&gclid=Cj0KCQiA7OqrBhD9ARIsAK3UXh1Og5ZyVU14TPi-oQi1K3BU2KguRjbT15VY6cMCd5BgHww2V7ooAnEaAqEsEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

Blog Post by Provisional Psychologist, Casie Chang

 

Holding Two Truths

Holding Two Truths

The concept of dialectical thinking, or how opposites can co-exist, is a helpful way to think about many issues. Dialects are the philosophical basis of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). The idea here is that two seemingly conflicting ideas or concepts are true at the same time.  Some examples of dialectical thinking include:  I am doing my best and I can try harder, I am capable and I need support, I feel angry and I can be respectful, I disagree with you and I understand and respect you, I hate what you did and I still love you, I don’t want to do this and I am going to do it anyway, I want to change and I am afraid of change.

What often keeps people stuck is getting pulled into polarized thinking:  wrong vs. right, fair vs. unfair, easy vs. difficult. These dichotomous ways of thinking can be helpful and efficient in some areas of life but when applied to our inner experiences, or in relationships, their ridged adherence keeps us “spinning our wheels”. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gives us the tool of replacing the word “but” with “and” helping to move us forward out of the trap of polarized thinking. Whenever you use “but” see if you can change it to “and”. For example, “I would like to go to the party, but I am anxious” how about “I would like to go to the party and I am anxious”. ACT and DBT both provide skills to normalize and handle painful emotions so that your life becomes less about controlling internal experiences and more about living a rich life, full of meaning and with the whole range of human experiences.

This concept of two things being true can also be very helpful in parenting. Most parents struggle with wanting to help their children feel comfortable and happy and wanting them to be independent, responsible, and respectful. Using the idea of dialects teaches children how to hold two truths. If a child is experiencing an unpleasant emotion, we can help them name it “it seems like you are feeling sad/angry/worried right now, that makes sense. I would feel that way too if my brother took my candy/someone pushed me/I was going to a birthday party where I didn’t know a lot of people. After validating the feeling, we then can use the idea to two things being true- You feel sad your brother took your candy and you can’t hit him because that breaks our anger rules. What could you do instead? Using the word “but” is almost always invalidating. It’s sort of like saying its okay to feel that way but really it isn’t. – “You feel sad your brother took your candy, but you can’t hit him because that breaks our anger rules”. Although changing “but” to “and” is a subtle shift it makes a difference and starts to teach children that emotions and thoughts are not the problem, the problem is what we do when they show up. Parents can apply dialectical thinking to themselves to help gain balance:  I love you and I do not like what you did, I want to help you and for you to gain independence, this is difficult and I think you can do it, I want to have fun and have rules and boundaries. As a parent we can give ourselves permission to hold two truths: I can mess up and repair, I can regret things I have said and do better in the future.

So, you don’t have to choose a single truth, most issues are more complex than that. Imagine the difference this would make in our relationships and in politics! Instead of fighting on our side we could agree- this part is true and valid for you, and this is true and valid for me, how can we work together to find a workable compromise.

References

Kennedy, B. (2022). Good Inside: A guide to becoming the parent you want to be. New York, NY Harpers Collins Publishers.

Lineham, M (2015). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. New York, NY. The Guilford Press.

 

Blog Post by Registered Psychologist, Alison Campbell

 

Understanding Nonbinary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive

Understanding Nonbinary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive

Nonbinary Defined

Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time.

People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with nonbinary being one of the most common (sometimes spelled with a hyphen, as “non-binary”). Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, genderfluid, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing – but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female. If you’re not sure what a word means, you can usually just ask politely.

Why “Nonbinary”?

Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. The idea that there are only two genders is sometimes called a “gender binary,” because binary means “having two parts” (male and female). Therefore, “nonbinary” is one term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.

Basic Facts about Nonbinary People

Nonbinary people are nothing new. Non-binary people aren’t confused about their gender identity or following a new fad – nonbinary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies around the world.

Some, but not all, nonbinary people undergo medical procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity. While not all nonbinary people need medical care to live a fulfilling life, it’s critical and even lifesaving for many.

Most transgender people are not nonbinary. While some transgender people are nonbinary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female and should be treated like any other man or woman.

Being nonbinary is not the same thing as being intersex. Intersex people have anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female. Most intersex people identify as either men or women, though some may be nonbinary. Non-binary people are usually not intersex: they’re usually born with bodies that may fit typical definitions of male and female, but their innate gender identity is something other than male or female.

How to Be Respectful and Supportive of Nonbinary People

It isn’t as hard as you might think to be supportive and respectful of nonbinary people, even if you have just started to learn about them.

You don’t have to understand what it means for someone to be nonbinary to respect them. Some people haven’t heard a lot about nonbinary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that’s okay. Identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect.

Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a nonbinary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don’t ask someone what their old name was.

Try not to make any assumptions about people’s gender. You can’t tell if someone is nonbinary simply by looking at them, just like how you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by how they look. A nonbinary person might appear feminine, masculine, or genderless, or show a mix of gendered characteristics – and their appearance doesn’t determine their pronouns.

If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different nonbinary people may use different pronouns. Many nonbinary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.

Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It’s important for nonbinary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school, and in public spaces.

Understand that, for many nonbinary people, navigating gendered spaces – like bathrooms – can be challenging. For many nonbinary people, using either the women’s or the men’s restroom might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Nonbinary people should be able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in. You can help support nonbinary people by accepting their judgment about where they feel most comfortable when dealing with spaces that are based on binary gender distinctions.

Talk to nonbinary people to learn more about who they are. There’s no one way to be nonbinary. The best way to understand what it’s like to be nonbinary is to talk with nonbinary people and listen to their stories.

Source: National Centre for Transgender Equality (2023)

 

Blog Post by Registered Psychologist, Kerri Hill

 

Lacking Motivation? Try a TOMATO!

Lacking Motivation? Try a TOMATO!

Picture this: You’re staring at a to-do list, a work task, or a school assignment, and you begin to feel like time is slipping through your fingers as you struggle to find the motivation to get started. The problem is that you can’t pull motivation out of thin air – it fuels itself, and it needs to start somewhere.

Motivation consists of these steps:

  • Desire or Goal: Motivation starts when you have something you want to achieve. It could be improving your grades, changing your diet, or learning a new skill.
  • Expectation of Reward: When you set a goal, you usually expect some sort of benefit from achieving it. If you want to earn better grades, the reward could be a sense of accomplishment, a scholarship, or praise from parents and teachers.
  • Taking Action: To reach that desired reward, you need to act. You need to do something to bring you closer to your goal, whether that means studying for exams or hitting the gym on a regular schedule.
  • Achieving Success: As you act, you make progress towards your goal. Witnessing that progress gives you a sense of accomplishment, which acts as a reward in itself, and further reinforces your motivation. This feeling propels you to keep going and move closer to your initial goal. This step boosts your motivation, and encourages you to set new goals, expect new rewards, take new actions, and achieve new successes.

So how do tomatoes fit into this motivational equation?

In the late 1980s, an Italian college student, Francesco Cirillo, came up with a highly effective time management technique involving his kitchen timer which was shaped as a pomodoro (“tomato” in English). He started by setting the timer for two minutes and focusing on the task at hand for the whole time, until the timer went off. He then rewarded himself with a short break. He called each period of focus time “a Pomodoro” and thus, The Pomodoro® Technique was born (Cirillo Consulting, 2011).

Cirillo then experimented with different time intervals for each “tomato” and determined that the most productive times for himself was: 25 minutes of focused work time followed by a 2–5-minute break. After completing 4 tomatoes, a longer break of about 15-30 minutes may be warranted.

This technique acts as a trusty sidekick for your motivation and productivity. By breaking your work into manageable intervals, you avoid feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. Instead, you’re fueled by a sense of accomplishment every time you complete a “tomato.” These regular breaks help to prevent burnout and keep your mind fresh.

In a world filled with distractions, The Pomodoro® Technique offers a playful yet effective way to regain control over your time and supercharge your productivity. Whether you’re a student juggling assignments, a professional drowning in a sea of emails, or a busy adult trying to conquer housework, consider trying a few tomatoes. You might just harvest a bounty of accomplishments!

Reference:

Cirillo Consulting. (2011). The Pomodoro® Technique. The Pomodoro Technique. https://francescocirillo.com/products/the-pomodoro-technique

 

Blog Post by Registered Social Worker and Clinical Counsellor, Alicia Totten

 

What Does an Initial Speech Session Look Like?

What Does an Initial Speech Session Look Like?

You have been referred to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and have your initial appointment coming up or maybe you are debating booking an initial appointment. This blog is to provide information as to what an initial session with a speech-language pathologist at Wildflowers looks like!

  1. Interview
  • Upon entering the room, you will typically see a few different games and toys. Your child will be given a toy or game to get comfortable in the room and keep busy while the SLP asks some interview questions. The questions will vary based on the area of concern. The SLP will also ask follow-up questions based on the intake form that is completed before the session. The interviews’ purpose is to gain information that will be helpful in creating goals for your child near the end of the initial appointment.
  1. Play
  • The SLP will initiate play with your child to gain unstructured information. As it looks like the SLP is just playing with your child, they are gaining very important information. The SLP is paying attention to how your child produces sounds, what words they are using, if they use gestures, how or if they use words to interact with others, what sentence types they are using, how they play with toys, etc. This information allows the SLP to see the areas of concern in an unstructured way which helps them decide what areas they need to assess further. This is also to build rapport with your child as a good relationship will be key in how your child responds to intervention.
  1. Screening
  • Depending on the area of concern, this will look different. The SLP will introduce a screening measure to identify if your child has difficulty with a certain skill or not. From that information, the SLP will decide if further assessment needs to be done in that area. For example, if your child has difficulty producing a sound, the SLP will identify that sound during an unstructured task (play), identify it during a speech screening, then assess further to determine what position the sound is in error (initial, medial, and/or final) and at what level (words, phrases, sentences, conversation). All this information is used to create goals and sets a clear starting point for following sessions.
  1. Creating goals
  • The SLP will collect all the information gained through different measures during the initial session and state the appropriate goals for your child. The SLP will also ask what is important to you to be worked on so the goal making process is collaborative and meaningful.
  1. Homework
  • This is not as scary as it sounds! The SLP will provide strategies or information for you to implement at home to help prepare your child to work on their goals in future sessions. There will always be “homework” sent home after each session, so you know how to practice the skill at home and in other environments.

At the end of the initial session, the SLP will write down some background information, unstructured observations, screening observations, and recommendations on a note for you to take home. The SLP will review all the information collected with you. The goal is that you leave with a better understanding of the skills your child is having difficulty with, clear goals that will be targeted in follow up sessions, and ways to start working on the skill at home and in other environments.

Please keep in mind that other SLP’s at other clinics may do things differently and the initial session may look different depending on your child’s age!

 

Blog Post by Registered Speech-Language Pathologist, Kristen Lipp

 

Anxiety and the Fight-Flight-Freeze Response

Anxiety and the Fight-Flight-Freeze Response

The fight-flight-freeze response is our body’s way of reacting to threats or dangers, whether they are real (i.e. life or death situations) or perceived (i.e. an upcoming test, job interview, etc). Our body’s three main ways of responding to possible threats are to “fight” through the situation, “flight” by avoiding, or “freeze” by shutting down.

How our body and mind respond to fight-flight-freeze:

When our amygdala (the part of our brain responds to a threat) detects fear or stress, our body’s sympathetic (involuntary) nervous system becomes activated which can cause our body to respond in the following ways:

  • increased heart rate – mind racing (thinking errors)
  • muscle tension – shaking/sweating/chills
  • shallow/rapid breathing – faintness or lightheadedness
  • pupils dilate – bladder issues

During this response, our mind can engage in thinking errors (assuming the worst, all-or-nothing thinking, blaming, personalizing, etc) and we can be impulsive.

Ways to regulate and cope with our fight-flight-freeze response:

  • ground yourself using your 5 senses
  • practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation
  • improve your sleep hygiene/routine
  • eat a healthy/well balanced diet
  • engage in regular exercise
  • avoid/reduce drug and alcohol consumption
  • understand your triggers and how your body responds
  • challenge your thinking errors and work on reframing with positive thoughts
  • practice activities like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga
  • establish boundaries and reduce emotional vulnerability
  • practice exposure therapy
  • talk to your doctor about medication

When your fight-flight-freeze response is frequently activated, it leaves us feeling tired, exhausted, and unable to live in the present moment. By helping to understand your fight-flight-freeze response, you will be better able to regulate and cope so that you can be more present and engaged in life. It’s important to remember that not all anxious feelings are bad. A healthy amount of anxiety can help motivate us to succeed and accomplish tasks.

For more information about Anxiety and the Fight-Flight-Freeze Response visit: Anxiety Canada’s Website

 

Blog Post by Registered Social Worker, Justin Beahm