Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Adventurous Review of 2015

It is a difficult job to try and objectively compare one year of adventure to another because each of our adventures are unique and each year we explore new areas and try to build new skills. We enthusiastically added outdoor rock climbing to our repertoire this year and it definitely elevated the quality and variety of many of our trips. And with several generous snow storms already blanketing our mountains we are on track to head out of 2015 with some big shoes to fill for next year.

The 2014/2015 ski season was one for the record books, just not the record books we generally want to associate with. While it is hard to complain about skiing and snowboarding in general, much of the western United States received record low snowfall and we definitely felt that here in Utah. We pushed on however and rode as much as we could while mixing in yurt trips, snowbiking adventures and snowcave building instruction.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Guide to Giving Consequences That Teach

I am always looking for information on how to better parent, both for my personal life and professionally.  I recently had an article shared with me and it is a short but effective reminder.  Enjoy!

The link is:

There is a disturbing new parenting trend for "creative consequences." Surely you've heard of the dad who shot his daughter's laptop, or the "Ohio Mom" who posted an X on her daughter’s face and shamed her on Facebook, or most recently the step-mom who made her daughter wear embarrassing clothing to school so that she would be bullied. 

What is truly shocking is the number of people supporting public humiliation by parents as a punishment or discipline tactic! 

But is shaming children really the way to go? Is it effective?

Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW has spent the last 12 years researching shame, guilt, and vulnerability. She states:
"Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows."

and very importantly
 “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

Giving consequences with the intention of shaming, hurting, or humiliating your child is damaging.  Sure, they may "work," but at what cost?

The purposes of consequences, however, should not be to make us famous or earn us a pat on the back from other parents, but to teach the child in a constructive way.

Shame and humiliation create fear, and research indicates that the brain operates differently under fear. Under this threat, the brain reacts with increased blood flow to the survival centers of the brain and decreased blood flow to the higher thought centers. When the brain goes into this "survival mode," it becomes less capable of planning, receiving information, classifying data, and problem solving.

Becky Bailey wrote this in her book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline:
"Children under threat make choices that are biologically driven. Over time, this approach creates impulsive children who resist change and lack the ability to solve problems constructively."

1. Give consequences with the intention of teaching, not the intention of punishing or making the child feel bad.  Intention is important because the intention you have in your mind will influence the language and tone you use when you deliver the consequence. Be sure to be empathetic when delivering the consequence. Empathy calms the brain, removes the threat, and allows a person to take responsibility for this own behavior.

2. Let natural consequences happen where appropriate. Often we try to either rescue our child from the natural consequences of their actions OR we compound it by adding additional punishments on top of it. Let's say your child left her toy in the driveway and it got ran over. Rescuing would be buying her a new toy immediately. Adding additional punishment would be grounding her for leaving it outside. The natural consequence, however, is simply that now her toy is broken. If she wants to replace it, she can earn the money to do so by doing extra chores.

3. Imposed consequences should be related to the offense. If your child hits his brother, then taking away his iPad for a period of time doesn't teach what he should do when he hurts his brother. A related (or logical) consequence would be to have him problem solve a way to repair the relationship with his brother (write him a note, make him a card, etc) and to talk about ways of handling his frustration or anger so that he has tools besides hitting (deep breaths, walking away, clapping, hitting a pillow).

4. Problem-solving is a great way to teach children how to be accountable and responsible. The more involved they are in the process, the more they learn. Most times, problem-solving is the best way to go. Teach your child the process of righting wrongs and repairing rifts in relationships. These skills will serve your child all of his life.

5. Don't bring it up. After the consequence has been given or the problem has been solved, it's over. Don't rehash the incident, but get on with a pleasant day.

6. Connect. Make sure your child knows it was her behavior you didn't approve of, not HER. Find ways to reconnect. This models for your child what you were just teaching; how to repair relationships.

For more on consequences, visit What's the Deal With Consequences.

Ultimately, our goal is to raise responsible children. Teaching through natural or logical consequences or problem solving isn't going to get you any media coverage, but it will get you a responsible child who doesn't resent you for years to come.

Sean Maynard, CMHC

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Gratitude at the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us once more, and thankfully so. As my family and I went in to Salt Lake City last weekend to look at the beautiful holiday lights that are a yearly tradition on Temple Square (headquarters of the LDS/Mormon Church), we passed by a homeless man who had positioned himself on a corner not too far away from the happy crowd in the hopes of gleaming charity from others better off than he. He was older and the grizzled look on the craggy face he owned told a story of having endured many hard years with much of that being on the streets. As I stopped briefly to gladly give this man what little money I had on me and wish him a Merry Christmas, it hit me like a reindeer kick in the side of the head: that I need to be much more appreciative of what I do have in my life, instead of thinking about what I could use receiving as a present from someone else. In other words, I simply need to be much more grateful for what I do have.

National statistics show that suicide rates climb by as much as 40% during the holiday season. While I don’t wish to dwell on the negative at this time of year, I feel it’s very easy to let depression set in, especially for parents of students at Logan River Academy who may be having a hard time dealing with their child’s placement at a residential treatment facility in general, and more so for those few whose child may not be able to return home at the present time to visit. In times when I need inspiration and uplifting, there’s been a powerful speech that I go back to time and again which really resonates with me, and it’s my hope that it might do the same for you this time of season despite it’s unconventionality as it relates to the holidays.

Coach Jim Valvano (“Jimmy V”) was the head coach for the North Carolina State men’s basketball team. For those of you familiar, he’s the coach shown in highlights running around the basketball court looking for someone to hug after his team won the national championship in 1983. Or perhaps the phrase “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up” will ring a bell. Ten years after winning the national championship, he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and passed away in April of 1993, less than two months after giving a famous speech at the inaugural ESPY awards where he received the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. His tombstone reads: “Take time everyday to laugh, to think, to cry.”

It’s my hope that during this holiday season, whatever your circumstances may be, that you might find inspiration in the words of this man who was grateful for every moment of his life in the face of a terminal diagnosis that would shortly end his life.

Brandon Bailey, ACMHC

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dinner Table Discussions

One of my favorite holidays is right around the corner…. Thanksgiving.  I enjoy Thanksgiving for a number of reasons: food, family, football, reflecting on the things that I am thankful for in my life, etc., but perhaps the thing I enjoy most about Thanksgiving is the experience of sitting around the table talking and laughing with loved ones.  The thought of that opportunity coming up next week reminded me of the many enjoyable conversations I had around the dinner table as a child, as well as the many enjoyable conversations I have had with my own children around the dinner table.

Research studies have shown how important it is to sit down at the dinner table for meals with our children because of the consistency and opportunities that are provided to relate to and connect with our children.  One of the challenges that I have faced in doing this as a parent is sometimes not knowing what to actually talk about with my kids outside of the standard “how was school” type of questions!  I found the following article helpful in that it reminded me that we can try to be creative in the conversations that we have with our children.  Some things they might not be real interested in, but there will also be those moments when a topic or question really catches their attention and we end up having a great conversation with them.  Good luck!

Mont Criddle, LMFT

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Learning to Get Back Up

I recently had a parent lamenting the fact that their son was “struggling to do what he needed to do.”  As we explored this fact it became clear that the parents had spent much of their son’s life doing for him what he probably should have had some experience doing for himself.  We spent some time discussing this and how parents’ desire to help in some ways hindered their son’s progress, specifically his independence.  It reminded me of a story I shared with them.  Below is that story.  It is good to think about as we walk the difficult path of having a struggling teenager.

“Bringing a giraffe into the world is a tall order. A baby giraffe falls 10 feet from its mother's womb and usually lands on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and tucks its legs under its body. From this position it considers the world for the first time and shakes off the last vestiges of the birthing fluid from its eyes and ears. Then the mother giraffe rudely introduces its offspring to the reality of life.

In his book, A View from the Zoo, Gary Richmond describes how a newborn giraffe learns its first lesson.

The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over her calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she does the most unreasonable thing. She swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it is sent sprawling head over heels.

When it doesn't get up, the violent process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.

Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up. In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs all enjoy young giraffes, and they'd get it too, if the mother didn't teach her calf to get up quickly and get with it.”

Krys Oyler, LCSW

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bullying & Working to Prevent and Stop It

Bullying is a common term that we hear now, and as common as the term is, Bullying is also that common.  There are many forms of bullying that we see in our society that negatively affect individuals, groups, etc. 

I remember watching the karate kid when I was a kid.  There were great lessons in this movie and very vivid examples of bullying.  Daniel had to learn how to handle a bully in a proper way.  At some points in the movie he chose tactics of getting even, which only escalated the abuse, making things for him worse.  Ultimately Mr. Miyagi enters Daniel into a contest where he can “battle the bully” in an appropriate way.  Because this other option was available and used, Daniel gained the respect of the bully and the dynamics of the relationship changed.

So one might ask what is classified as Bullying?  Bullying is any repeated aggressive behavior that can be physical, verbal, or relational.  All of these types of bullying are emotional for the victim of the situation.  Boys frequently bully using physical threats and actions, while girls are more likely to engage in verbal or relationship bullying.  Both types have similar effects on an individual.
Since bullying is often a learned behavior that comes from the experiences that an individual has at home or even outside of the home, it can become a negative pattern that an individual develops.  Research shows numerous ways that individuals learn aggressive behavior, including seeing a parent or siblings examples, peer examples, playing violent video games, watching certain TV programs, observing conflict between others, etc.  These things numb our senses to how our actions affect others.  It becomes easier to bully others and not feel any remorse for one’s actions. 

In society it has even become acceptable to verbally abuse another person.  I was walking through a Costco one day and observed an interaction between two men.  One man was much older and had his little granddaughter by his side.  He was pushing a large cart with a piece of furniture on it.  As he pushed this cart up to the front of the store to check out, another man walked in front of the cart and got his foot ran over by one of the wheels.  Immediately this man began to yell and swear at the grandfather and threaten to beat him up.  What a pathetic scene this was to watch as a grown man was unable to control his reaction to this accident (especially since he was at fault) and become aggressive with an older man with his granddaughter in the middle of a store.

Bullying is prevalent in schools, work environments, at the store, and throughout society.  Bullying greatly affects the victim, who at times may even choose the extreme option to end their life.  They may get to the point that they feel as if there is no way out, there is no end to the bullying, and the only safe place is not being alive.  This has become more common and easily seen as we watch the current events in the world.

It is essential to work with our youth by first being great examples for them.  If we can learn to have good self control and teach this to our youth, we will already be a step in the right direction.  As our society becomes more violent with what is portrayed on TV, video games, etc., we as parents, examples, and leaders of our youth should work to better guide them to be involved in the things that are healthy for their developing brains.  It is our job to initiate this process.  Individuals, groups, and societies have lost respect and continue to spiral away from this key element in how we treat ourselves and others.

Remember that our words are very powerful and that the old saying of “Sticks and Stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me” couldn’t be more untrue.  This is reflected in the following poem.

It starts with us…what are we willing to do?

Jeffrey Openshaw LMFT

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy People

One common feature amongst us as human beings is the desire to be happy. Many search for happiness in all sorts of ways. Psychology researchers have attempted to figure out what really makes people happy.

Some researchers believe that sources of happiness are 50% genetic, 40% within our power to change, and 10% affected by life circumstances. Sometimes we work with students who blame the environment for their unhappiness despite a life long pattern of previous unhappiness. Most of our students come to the realization that Logan River Academy does not make them unhappy. Typically we see a gradual shift in personal ownership as our students figure out how to be genuinely happy.

One of our theories at Logan River Academy is that happiness is connected to living a principles based lifestyle. We use this model as our major theory of change. We focus on: Honesty, Respect, Accountability, Fairness, and Caring. We believe that as our students internalize these principles and live them more fully, they are much more likely to be happier people.

Happiness also has much to do with perspective. I attended a workshop many years ago where the instructor taught us a basic formula: E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome). Events are often not under out control. How we respond to events in our lives directly affects what kinds of outcomes we are getting, including our happiness level. We are convinced that challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more neutral or positive thoughts can bring wonderful results with one’s level of happiness. This is a skill that takes practice and awareness. Our perspective can be the single most influential determinant of our level of happiness.

Another key element to happiness in our opinion is when one lives in accordance with his/her defined value system. If this is not happening, we see unbalance, lack of life symmetry, and inner conflict. Identifying one’s value system and living according is key!

Lastly, we believe being able to find humor in day to day life is essential for happiness. Learning to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes helps. Otherwise, we may constantly feel insecure or under the spotlight. It’s important to slow down, pause, and laugh each day.

Matt Erickson, LCSW, Clinical Director

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Often times, many of the students we work with at Logan River Academy come to us with lofty goals and ideals which they want to aim to accomplish. Even we, as adults, continue to set our sights on things we want to obtain in life whether it’s accomplishments (getting a job promotion, graduating college, losing weight) or more physically tangible objects (buying that new boat or car you’ve had your eye on for a while). It’s a natural tendency to set goals for ourselves. Some people will even go so far as to make a “goal board” where they post pictures or sayings that pertain to the goal or item they want to achieve or obtain. The underlying problem is that often these goals end up falling by the wayside and not becoming the reality that we so eagerly strive for.

With our students at Logan River Academy, we as therapists challenge each of them to set behavioral goals that they can work towards and achieve so that they can return home and be met with success in all aspects of life. But as with so many goals, these can easily become yesterday’s fleeing thoughts as we either become caught up in other activities or feel overwhelmed by the stress of the actual work involved in achieving these goals.

We encourage each of our students to set S.M.A.R.T. Goals whether here at Logan River Academy or in other areas of life in order to help them be met with success. Each letter of the acronym S.M.A.R.T. acts as a guide to use in making any goal more practical and achievable. And, yes, even as adults, we can continue to use each of these skills as outlined below in order to outline a more plausible plan for ourselves to follow.

Specific – What exactly will I do? It’s important to almost adapt the attitude of an investigative reporter and answer these questions about your goal: Who is involved with the goal? What exactly do I want to accomplish? Where will it be done? Which requirements do I have that will help me achieve this? The more specific you can be in outlining your goal, the more realistic is will appear to be.

Measurable – Measurement is often used to gauge whether we’ve travelled an appropriate distance or have more of an item than when we started. Its how we tell if a difference is apparent and it is the same with regards to goals. Is my goal measurable?  How much, how many, or how will I know if my goal is accomplished? Can it be measured to estimate success? Good!

Achievable – It’s important to ask if there’s anything that can stop me from accomplishing my goal, including myself. Is the goal out of your reach or below your standard of performance? If so, it might be advisable to go back to the beginning and reevaluate the steps needed to achieve your goal.

Relevant – What about your goal makes it important to you? Is it a worthwhile goal? Does it meet your needs? Is it consistent with other goals you have or have had? One question I always ask my clients that most literature ignores but I feel is paramount is “Is it consistent with who you are as a person?” If I’m a person of pretty high caliber and moral fiber then it’s probably not consistent with who I am if I set a goal to start embezzling money.  

Timely – It’s extremely important to set a time limit for ourselves and our goals. When do you want to complete your goal? It does little good to set a goal of losing 30 lbs without a completion date to shoot for, right? “Oh… it’ll come off whenever I get to it”. Establishing a time limit establishes a sense of urgency and prompts better time management.

If you can ask your self if your goal meets these requirements and answer “Yes”, you’re well on your way to success. We encourage parents of our students to help engage them in continuing to set SMART goals once they return home and move to the next phase of their lives.

Brandon Bailey, ACMHC

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Speed of Change

One of my favorite times as a therapist working at LRA is parent visits. While parents have been talking weekly with their teens, it’s not nearly the same as finally getting to see them in person.  After the hugs and the tears, we settle into sessions to catch up and review plans for the family’s time together.  Invariably, conversation quickly comes around to appearance: “you look so much older”, “you’re taller than me now”, “you cut your hair”.  As parents absorb the teen sitting in front of them, they do often look quite different…students lose weight, start shaving, get taller.  They take better care of themselves; a shower, more tasteful make up, combed hair, less acne, clean clothes.  And predictably, the student is a little embarrassed, wishing away the attention being poured onto them.

At the end of visits, parents often share seeing a different kind of change: “he held the door for me”, “he asked what movie I wanted to watch”, “she went into the other aisle and I didn’t worry that she might be gone”, “he said thank you…a lot”.  These changes are the ones that are meaningful, they come with maturity and respect for others.  But students have such a hard time recognizing these changes in themselves.  They live the change in tiny bits, day by day.  This meaningful change doesn’t even always progress steadily forward.  The old adage “one step forward, two steps back” has truth to it; sometimes students need to do things very wrong to realize how to do them right.

In the life of a teenager, the idea of change is a peculiar topic.  Everybody’s telling them they need to do it, they should do it, they are doing it…but they are the ones that have the hardest time seeing it.  I spend time with my students talking about what change means: what to watch out for, how to measure it, and what other people will see when change is taking place.  Our students have a range of capacities when it comes to self-evaluation, perspective taking, and insight.  While they rarely admit it, most of them depend on people around them to be their mirror; to observe and reflect what they can’t see in themselves.  The day by day incremental change that our students undergo is easy for them to forget.  Sometimes, it’s only when their parents arrive that their growth and change becomes obvious.

Sarah Hazelton, LCSW 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

National Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week which aims to provide education and support for those struggling with mental illness. There is a societal stigma against mental illness and therapeutic intervention. I’m not sure how self-care was ever misconstrued to signify weakness, but it has been. Some of the most courageous people I’ve met in my life are those that I have talked to about their struggles with mental illness. The stigma is harmful and can be devastating to the millions of people who live with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. The conversation surrounding mental illness needs to change in order to help the public understand that just like those with physical illnesses, those with mental illness may need help with their symptoms to prevent their condition from becoming worse. Click here to watch a video that I came across of people speaking out against the stigmas.

KJ Green, CSW

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More on EMDR

EMDR is the leading model of therapy to address and resolve trauma and trauma related mental health conditions.  Our research has shown that the majority of our students have had some form of traumatic event in their lives.  At times, when the trauma is severe enough, a person might have symptoms of PTSD.  Many other times, there are not symptoms of PTSD but an increase in anxiety and depression along with a decrease in self-esteem.  Many times trauma will be stored in unhealthy ways in the brain and we begin to form negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and/or the situation.

EMDR helps to reprocess the traumatic or disturbing event and store the memory in a healthy way.  It also helps to change the negative self-belief and erroneous thought patterns on the path to healing.  

Some areas that EMDR can help are, but not limited to:

  • Dealing with a traumatic event
  • Sexual assault or molestation
  • Loss of loved one
  • Adoption
  • Issues from being bullied
  • Self-worth issues
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Painful memories

To learn more about EMDR visit

Testimonials from our Clients:

-      "Three months of EMDR at Maple Rise was more effective in my treatment than the previous two years of various other types of therapy."

-      " It is hard working through traumatic memories while doing EMDR, but it is such a relief to not feel so anxious all the time and to feel like I am past that stuff."

-       " EMDR has helped me resolve issues that I didn’t even realize were issues and I fell so much better about myself and life in general now."

      Sean Maynard, CMHC

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Know Everything. Or Maybe Not.

As a parent, I occasionally get caught in the trap of thinking I ‘know everything.'  Much to my disappointment, I don’t know everything.  I wish I did!  It sure would make things easier in raising my children.  The unfortunate reality is that none of us know everything as parents.  The following article is a useful tool to help us assess whether we are getting caught in the trap of being “know-it-all” parents, along with some simple suggestions for helping us get out of the trap. Click the link below to view the article:

Are You a Know-It-All Parent?

Mont Criddle, LMFT

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Climb On!

The Adventure Learning Program at Logan River Academy has made a huge addition to its repertoire.

We are now offering our students the very unique and rewarding experience of rock climbing in the most natural environment, the great outdoors. Over the past years we have happily used a quality rock climbing gym in our area that has recently gone out of business, leaving a huge void in experience and growth opportunities for our students. 

After the always-exciting gear acquisition period we have put plans in place for trips to local crags, high elevation sport routes in the Uintas, and world-class granite climbing at City of Rocks in remote southern Idaho

Stay tuned for trip reports and pictures from our adventures!

Mike Bodrero, Adventure Learning Coordinator

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Working as a Team With Your Child

This morning I came into work with the intent of changing some pictures and things in my office.  After completing the changes in my office, another therapist and I were talking.  He mentioned how he wanted to shift things around in his office as well so that it was more comfortable for him and created a more therapeutic environment. 
 I quickly offered my help and we worked together as he explained what he thought would be best.  I offered a couple of other suggestions as well, even though I knew that it is his office and that in the end he will have things placed as he wants them to be.  We discussed for a minute and he made his decisions as we put things in their place.  This task of moving and changing things around may have taken a chunk of the day, but because we teamed up and helped each other out, it was a quick, simple process.

The following story illustrates the need for each team member:

Aesop’s Fable - The Belly and the Members

One day it occurred to The Members (parts) of the Body that they were doing all of the work while the Belly got all of the food. They believed the Belly was lazy and unproductive.

It was decided that they would hold a meeting that evening to discuss how unfair this seemed. After what was a very long meeting that night it was voted on that The Members of the Body would go on strike until the Belly agreed to take its proper share of the work.

The unhappy body parts didn’t do anything for several days in an attempt to stop feeding the Belly. The Legs stopped walking, the Hands stopped moving and the Teeth stopped chewing.

As a result of this inactivity and the starving of the Belly, the Legs became more and more tired, the Hands could hardly move anymore and the Mouth became parched and very dry.

Eventually the entire Body collapsed and passed away as the Belly completely starved.

Being a team is sometimes very difficult.  Here are four keys to keep in mind while working together as a team while your child is going through this process of change and growth.

1.  Some members of the team’s contributions may seem less significant or of less value than others, especially as it compares to those that are more prominent members of the team.  However, always remember that each member of the team is still important, even if it is just a supportive role.

2.  Another moral of this story is the need for teams to refrain from evil speaking of each other, gossiping, jumping to conclusions, etc.  These negative things will inhibit the therapeutic process and are not beneficial at all.  One must trust in the team members and trust the process.

3.  Team member accountability is critical, but shouldn’t be personal or based on assumptions. Accountability is based on trust, which is built over time.

4.  Because everyone in the team plays an important role to the success of your child’s goals, the vision and goals must be cascaded up and down the organization so everyone is in alignment.

As we go through the therapeutic process with your child, it is essential to work as a team.  We have to put our minds together to follow through with the best ideas and path for your child.  Our team consists of those at Logan River, therapists, teachers, staff, etc., as well as parents, and of course your child has to be a part of the team too. 

When all of the team works effectively together things go more smoothly, just like on a clock or an engine as the gears properly catch and turn the other gears. 

When one member of the team tries to be in control and dictate what is to be done, the process becomes rocky and the rest of the team cannot effectively do their part.  Things fall apart.

If you are unsure as a parent what your role is or how you are a part of the team, make sure to discuss that with your child’s therapist.

Jeffrey Openshaw, LMFT

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stacking the Deck

I was working with a parent recently and as we were trying to reconcile the struggles her child was having she asked me a very pointed question, “Will he get better?”  I tend to be a very hopeful and optimistic individual so I quickly answered, “Yes, of course he will.”  As we continued our conversation the question remained on my mind and later in the conversation I felt the need to readdress it.  I told her that I was very confident that her son would change and do so for the better, but I also felt the need to acknowledge and accept the reality that part of her son’s change was up to him.  It was a piece she and I could not control. 

While this caused some anxiety for the parent, as we worked through the issue it actually became a liberating thought for her.  She began to relieve herself of the responsibility of “changing” her son, and instead focus on changing herself and providing the best environment possible for her son in the hopes that it would promote positive change.  We used the analogy of a card game.  We compared this parent’s experience of sending her son to therapy and treatment to stacking a deck in his favor.  She was providing him the best opportunity possible to “win” the card game, but we both acknowledged that it was still up to her son to “play the cards.”  This is the piece that lay outside her control. 

Over the years I have seen many individuals change their lives as a result of parents “stacking the deck” by providing a safe and structured environment for growth.  But I’ve also come to realize that I must accept that students here are going to play the wrong cards on occasion and they may even play the wrong cards for a time when they leave the safe environment provided by parents.  But the cards have been provided, and at some point most do figure out how to play the right way and find ways to win.

Krys Oyler, LCSW

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: What Every Parent Needs to Know about Sexting

**WARNING: This post contains some vulgar content**

You've probably read the horror stories about sexting that are popping up all over the news, but what exactly is sexting? Is it something I should worry about as a parent? Who's actually sexting? Is it really a problem? Don't worry; we'll help you learn everything you need to know about sexting slang. Recent studies claim that as much as 39% of teens and 59% of young adults have sexted at least once. 

Sexting is defined as the act of sending sexually explicit messages or images between cell phones. It's the modern equivalent of what we older people used to call phone sex. Sexting is a combination of the words "sex" and "texting" and originated in the early 2000's as people became equipped with camera phones. Unlike phone sex however, sexting leaves very little to the imagination.

Sexting is a natural progression among couples. It can be fun and playful - but it can also have consequences for teens. If you suspect your teen is sexting, you should talk to them about the dangers of sending out pictures.

In most states, teens caught with "sexting pictures" on their phones can actually be charged with possession of child porn - even if they themselves are under 18, and sometimes even if the images are of themselves.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: Internet Slang Every Parent Should Know

Do you know what your kids are up to online? Of course you do! You’ve blocked all the porn sites, set up filters, and even have a monitoring program to let you know if your kids are talking about sex, or porn, or meeting up with “uncle bob” from the chat room. You’re a smart parent, but you'd be shocked if you knew what your kids were really talking about online. 

There’s a new trend popular among teenage chatters, and your filters won’t pick up any of it. It’s called l33tspeak, netspeak or just plain internet slang (leet speak from the word elite). You know what I’m talking about. Acronyms like lol, wtf, bbiab, and nm. Today's kids are also lazy, and use single letter words: U replaces you, R replaces are, o replaces oh, m replaces am etc… 

Less popular, but still widely used (especially in games) is true l33tspeak, which involves using numbers instead of letters. 4 replaces A, 3 replaces E, 7 replaces T, 1 replaces L, and $ replaces S. These are just a few examples, some of it is worse like /\/ and /\/\ , or 13 instead of B. 

Today’s kids are taking their creativity to the internet, and it’s affecting the way they speak. Kids (just like computer programmers) don't like to type a lot, so they try to shorten their keystrokes whenever possible. It's not only affecting the way they speak, it's starting to affect the way they write. So bad in fact, that school teachers have even reported seeing “lol” (laughing out loud) turn up on hand-written papers. (How would you pronounce that?) 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Imperfect Happy Families

Look around! Our society is consumed with image. From what we drive, to what we wear, to what we do, to what neighborhood we live in, etc. Many in society seem to care more about what others think of them than anything else. With this embedded deeply in our culture, we see some effects in some parenting trends.

Many of today’s high achieving parents grew up in a household where achievement was expected. Nothing other than complete success could be accepted or tolerated. This generational theme can go from one generation to the next. There are benefits to this pattern including professional success, learning, growth and potential financial earnings. However, we have seen some of the negative effects over the years as well.

I would like to address achievement versus happiness. If our main goal is achievement with our parenting, children can develop internal scripts related to perfectionism. Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem can also result as children receive the message that they cannot measure up to older siblings’ level of advancement or parental expectations.

Some children hear that if they do not attend the college their brother/sister attended than they are “less than.” Others may internalize that they are a disappointment to the family “if they don’t”….

Over the years I have worked with a lot of children. Many times these children have initially been in special private schools for the gifted or other high demand academic settings. As this process produced negative results, parents took a step back to see what their child really needed. Sometimes these children were initially placed in private schools for high achievers more for the parents’ internal well being than what was right for the child. As parents, we sometimes place our own issues on our children and do things more to satisfy our own needs rather than really what is best for our child.

One suggestion I would like to give is to make a shift and to focus on internal attributes and values—such as being kind, hardworking, and accountable. These qualities are attainable and will serve a child across their life span. Having the highest GPA, being the very best athlete, or being the most accomplished pianist can be very stressful and anxiety producing endeavors. Being a kind, hardworking, and accountable person will usually produce excellent results.

Another suggestion is to take a step back and examine how you are living your life. What are the motives behind what you do? Are you happy with how you live your life? Are your unresolved childhood issues pushing you down a life path that does not provide you happiness? Your example of how you live your life will be the most influential parenting you will ever do. Parenting is often caught, not taught.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize unconditional love for children who often behave in unlovable ways. I am sometimes amazed how well the families I work with love and accept their children despite the years of struggle gone by. These parents are some of my true heroes.

One final word; please know that I believe in getting things done and achieving. If one of our children does a poor job cleaning the toilet we have him go back and fix the problem. Learning to do a good job in life is an invaluable life skill. However, when accomplishment is taken to the extreme, bad effects may soon follow. Sometimes a heavy dose of lightening up is essential!

The goal is to have a happy family. I believe that happy families are a result of many factors. I have touched on one of them in this blog post. My hope is that we can all be a part of an Imperfect Happy Family.

Matt Erickson, LCSW

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

EMDR: A Resource for Trauma Victims

When I first heard about EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, I thought that it sounded interesting but I was unsure if it could really be helpful to trauma victims. From the things I heard from other therapists, I thought that EMDR sounded a little too good to be true and I didn't understand how waving my fingers in front of someone's eyes would help them process through anything.  However, as I have been trained in EMDR and have used it in my practice, I have seen some very positive and promising results. EMDR is a psychotherapy approach that has been seen to help individuals who have experienced trauma.  It is a therapy that is geared towards addressing disturbing life experiences that have not been processed and that in turn contribute to clinical problems. The idea is that memory networks are the basis of mental health and if a memory has gone unprocessed and is dysfunctionally stored at the time of the event, an individual can be triggered repeatedly throughout life until the memory is reprocessed.  A memory can go unprocessed if an individual is experiencing high levels of emotion at the time of a disturbing event. Any life experience that has a lasting negative impact can be considered trauma in this regard (like the time someone swapped the gummy worms on my ice cream for real worms).

EMDR is a multi-stage approach but perhaps the most important aspect to understand is why therapists use bilateral stimulation during the process. Bilateral stimulation is stimuli that occurs in a left-right rhythmic pattern and it can be auditory, visual or tactile. Essentially, during the session, the therapist will ask the client to bring up a memory that is difficult or traumatic. While the client is thinking back on this memory, the therapist will stimulate each side of the client's brain. This can be done through eye movements by the client following the therapist's fingers back and forth or by tapping the client's knees left-right. This may sound strange or uncomfortable but the finding is that by stimulating both sides of the brain while a troubling image is brought up, processing occurs. Think about when you are sleeping- in REM sleep your eyes move back and forth and your brain is processing through the previous day, all the while memories are being stored. It has been found that replicating this process through EMDR, memories that have become stuck may be reprocessed and individuals can become desensitized to the memories that once triggered them. The thing that I have found to be most interesting during my experience with EMDR is how intricate the memory network is. One memory could be tied to another that is seemingly unrelated. For example, during the processing a client could start by thinking about a memory of being bullied at school and after the bilateral stimulation a memory may come up of falling off his or her bike or not wanting to eat grandmother's homemade marmalade. Essentially the brain and all the memory networks are so complex and interconnected in patterns that we cannot always logically understand. This is why EMDR may have the ability to target some negative thoughts or troubling memories that a client may not be able to identify through straight talk therapy. As I mentioned above, I have seen positive outcomes from utilizing EMDR and as a therapist I am glad to have it as a resource to help victims of trauma.

KJ Green, CSW

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Home Base

 As my 2 ½ year old daughter and I watched Star Wars again the other night, it occurred to me that in almost every epic science fiction, fantasy, or comic book film, all of the heroes have one thing in common. Sure, The Flash and Deadpool have cool costumes, Thor and Luke Skywalker have unique weapons, Superman and The Sentry have unparalleled strength, and Darth Vader and Batman have tragic origin stories. But as I watched the X-Wings in Star Wars depart to destroy the Death Star from the planet of Yavin IV for the 237th time in my life, it really struck me hard that all heroes have one particular thing in common: A magnificent home base from which they depart, and, perhaps more importantly, which they return to and seek refuge in when their amazing adventures are complete.

Whether it’s The Avengers leaving Avengers Mansion, Batman riding forth from the Batcave, the rebels in Star Wars launching from Yavin IV, or Thor journeying from Asgard to Earth, each hero sets out on the adventure of overcoming their own various trials, and eventually they return to the home base from which they departed, tired and exhausted from their journey but also wiser and more skilled than when they began. No matter what walk of life or part of the world they come from, every student at Logan River has the same thing in common in that they, too, come from fantastic home bases. Although the student bears the greatest burden, similar to Frodo carrying the One Ring in The Lord of The Rings books and movies, parents metaphorically serve as their daughter or son’s own Fellowship of the Ring and walk side by side with them, providing support along their path of discovery and furnishing them with the home base to return to at the end of their grand adventure of discovery.

Logan River Academy stresses the importance of our students abiding by what we call the 5 Principles For Effective Living, which are Honesty, Respect, Accountability, Fairness, and Caring. Novelist George Moore once said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it”. Though the student during their time at Logan River Academy is able to search out and ascertain what they need, it’s of the utmost importance that they are able to return to their home base to find these same principles being practiced on a daily basis. Despite any chaos or discord the student may have caused in the home in the past, their home still functions to them much in the same manner that Superman retreats to his Fortress of Solitude and takes time to heal while reflecting on lessons learned and ways to process and utilize the information in order to bet met with success in his next trial and in life.

Brandon Bailey, ACMHC

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Adventure Learning Trip Report - Stillwater Canyon Canoe Trip

Stillwater Canyon runs 52 miles down the Green River, through the heart of Canyonlands National Park, and separates the three distinct districts within the park; Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze districts. Completely “still,” Stillwater Canyon features flat water from the put-in at Mineral Bottoms at the terminus of Labyrinth Canyon to the confluence of the Green River and Colorado River at Spanish Bottoms, the beginning of notorious Cataract Canyon. Redrock walls, towers, buttes and mesas rise prominently along the corridor and hide ancient ruins, rock art and other historic features.

More often than not our seasoned adventure guides have completed a trip prior to pushing off from shore with our students. This trip was special though because we were all in the same figurative boat; we were all, students and staff, laying eyes on this majestic landscape together for the first time. While extensive research was done to familiarize and prepare for the trip, there is always a different feel to a trip when you’re not totally sure what is around the next corner; it provides a great opportunity for learning together, increased camaraderie, and adventure.

We took three full days to float all 52 miles and landed at our final camp two miles above the rapids of Cataract for our jet-boat pickup. Because this area of Utah is so remote there are no roads that access the confluence, the only way back to civilization is a 67 mile jet-boat ride back up the Colorado River to Moab. Unfortunately we did not have good luck spotting any of the elusive wildlife besides a quick glance at a River Otter and several Great Blue Herons. The top risk of a river trip through Canyonlands is wind. There are dozens of stories of lost gear, scattered boats, stranded people and miserable times because of the wind that can howl up and down the canyon. Our first night on the river brought with it strong winds and slight rain around midnight, but after that small scare we had nothing but sunshine and mid-90’s. Our best defense against the relentless sun was a swim in the mighty river as we floated along around three miles per hour. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the trip despite the early wakeup calls and long days in the sun with the promise of another beautiful landscape around the next bend.  

Mike Bodrero, Adventure Learning Coordinator

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

“I’m Sorry” is Worth a Million Words

Last week, I was cleaning some equipment that I had rented for my recent rafting trip.  The equipment details are not important but let it be said that when in the desert you cannot simply “do your business” wherever you like… you must pack it out, which is where the equipment comes in.   After unloading too-much-gear, I discovered that I was missing something.   A small, 1 x 2” piece of clear plastic had been inadvertently left out of my rental, and I really needed this piece.  Like REALLY.  A phone call confirmed that the rental department found the piece I needed, and I reloaded everything and drove over there.  Now the employees were polite and all, and handed me the piece with a smile.  But as I walked out of the shop I realized that neither of them had offered an apology.  Not while I was on the phone, not when they handed me the piece of plastic that stood in the way of me getting my security deposit back, not at all.

It bothered me.
It really bothered me.
And then, it made me really, really angry.

In the midst of my fuming and cleaning, muttering to myself about entitled immature college kids, I did start to wonder why on earth I was so mad.  I mean really, it wasn’t that big of a deal.  It was an innocent oversight and surely not even their fault.  But for some reason, those seven letters and some grammatically appropriate punctuation felt like a lifeline to sanity that I was denied.  I was hot, I was tired, I was literally and figuratively having a crappy day.

What did I think that apology would do?  Surely for becoming so ticked off about not getting it, there must be some type of magical powers involved.  As I reflected on this throughout the evening I shared the admittedly ridiculous story with friends.  “That’s totally insane!”  they said, “those employees should have been groveling at your feet with apologies!”  And everyone agreed that my afternoon was unpleasant and they were so glad that they weren’t in my shoes.

I felt SOOOOOOO much better!

I felt like they understood me!  Like they felt my frustration, sweat, and (almost) tears.  Like I wasn’t overreacting or being a crybaby, and in fact had handled myself with some semblance of grace.  I felt validated.

Ohhhh.  That’s the thing.

Why did those seven letters carry so much weight for me?  Because they offered me validation!  Understanding and empathy for how I was feeling and what I was experiencing.  They would’ve let me know that even though it wasn’t their fault, those employees felt badly about what I was going through.  It seems so simple to say “I’m sorry”.  And in fact, we probably throw those words around too often.  “I’m sorry I borrowed your headphones without asking”; “I’m sorry my paperwork’s late again”; “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off when you were talking ”.  But how often in addition to admittance of wrongdoing does “I’m sorry” mean more?  Two words that don’t just say “yeah, I shouldn’t have done that”, but also “I know I made things harder for you, and I wish I could undo it”, and even “I feel badly that you are feeling badly”.  Seven little letters and some grammatically appropriate punctuation can say so, so much.

Sarah Hazelton, LCSW

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Life on the River

A few blog posts back I admitted that my strong reliance on February and March snow storms finally betrayed me and left much of the western U.S. with the worst snowfall accumulations on record. Two months later, Utah is currently on pace to have the third wettest May on record. Between relentless rainfall and absurd snow accumulations at high elevations we have seen our rivers and reservoirs swell to almost-normal rates. So what’s up with this weird weather? I wish I could tell you, but what I do know is that it has ensured our late-spring and summer plans on the water are still intact.

The first item on the river-agenda is a six-week fly fishing course that will take a handful of our students and give them the opportunity to learn the art, the difficult art, of river fly fishing. With several rivers draining out of the nearby mountains we will be able to fish different waters with different characteristics each and every week. This course starts at the beginning with personalized instruction on gear, casting and knot techniques, safe river wading procedures and hopefully, and unfortunately, not guaranteed, the joy of landing a fish on a crystal-clear river on a dry fly. It is seriously hard to top that.

Right in middle of all this fishing is our five day canoe trip down Stillwater Canyon on the Green River. Stillwater Canyon runs 52 miles through the heart of Canyonlands National Park and ends at the confluence of the Green River and Colorado River at Spanish Bottoms. River trips are hard to put into words if you’ve never done it, but I can honestly say it tops landing a fish on a crystal-clear river on a dry fly.

The month of July is full of white water rafting on the famous Snake River outside Jackson, Wyoming. With multiple trips running each week and all of our students being invited to participate this is one of the most fun months of our year. Hey-O river!

Mike Bodrero, Adventure Learning Coordinator