Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Where Have We Been?

Where Have We Been?

I have not had the opportunity to write a blog post since the beginning of the year when we were knee deep in fresh snow and making laps at Snowbasin. Since then we have been adventuring all over our cherished local mountains and waterways and hit the road for trips in Southern Utah and Northern Montana. An especially memorable trip was a four-day float trip via canoe on the Upper Missouri River in Montana where we faced start-to-finish cold temperatures, rainy weather, and driving wind. Despite the obstacles, our students excelled and learned valuable lessons in teamwork, endurance, positive attitudes and ingenuity. Our next river trip was quite different as the temperatures along Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River stayed above 100۫ F during each of the four days we floated and evenings offered little respite. Fortunately the water temperature was in the mid 50’s from increased water releases at Flaming Gorge that week and we spent just as much time in the river as we did on top of the boats to beat the heat.

Other trips had us snowshoeing into yurts locally and in Southern Idaho for extended stays during the snowy days we weren’t hitting the slopes.

Besides that? Rock climbing in City of Rocks, local hikes and mountain biking, canoe and standup paddleboarding on every river, reservoir and marsh in the valley, and always white water rafting on the Snake River in Wyoming. Yeah, it has been a good year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thinking Errors

Thinking Errors
Looking at how we think and making changes to be successful

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
Sometimes we see things as being black or white. Instead of recognizing shades of grey, we can be guilty of thinking in terms of things being all good for all bad.
2. Overgeneralizing
It’s easy to take one particular event and overgeneralize how it applies to other situations. If one thing in the week goes wrong, you may think that the whole week is bad.
3. Filtering Out the Positive
If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. Maybe we declare we had a bad day, despite the positive events that occurred or we look back at our performance and declare it was terrible because we made a single mistake. Filtering out the positive can prevent you from establishing a realistic outlook on a situation. Developing a balanced outlook requires you to notice both the positive and the negative.
4. Mind-Reading
Although deep down we understand that we don’t really know what other people are thinking, it doesn’t prevent us from occasionally assuming we know what must be going on in someone else’s mind. When we think things like, “He must have thought I was stupid,” we’re making inferences that aren’t necessarily based on reality.
5. Catastrophizing
Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. If you fall short on meeting your goals one week you may think, “I’m never going to achieve my goals,” even though there’s no evidence that the situation is nearly that dire. It is easy to fall into catastrophizing the situation when your thoughts are negative.

6. Emotional Reasoning
Our emotions aren’t always based on reality but, we often assume those feelings are rational.   It’s essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren’t always based on the facts.  We must create a balance between our emotional mind and our rational mind.  This is often referred to as a wise mind or balanced mind.
7. Labeling
Labeling involves putting a name to something or someone. Instead of thinking, “He made a mistake,” you might label him as the mistake, calling him “an idiot.” Often, these labels are based on isolated incidents and are not accurate.
8. Fortune-telling
Although none of us know what will happen in the future, we sometimes try to predict what will happen. We think things like, “I’m going to be embarrassed if I talk to him/her,” or “If I do my homework, it won’t be good enough anyway.” These types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies and are not correct.
9. Personalization
It’s often easy to personalize things. If someone doesn’t call back, you might think, “He doesn’t care about me,” or if a friend is upset, you might assume, “He is upset with me.”
10. Unreal Ideal – Shoulds/Oughts
Comparing ourselves with others can ruin our motivation and successfulness. Looking at someone who has achieved much success and thinking, “I should have been able to do that,” isn’t helpful, especially if that person had some lucky breaks or competitive advantages along the way.
 So what do we do???  Once you begin recognizing thinking errors, you can begin working on challenging those thoughts.  Look for exceptions to the rule and gather evidence that your thoughts aren’t 100% true. Then, you can begin replacing those thoughts with more realistic thoughts.

It is important to recognize if you have thinking errors and continually challenge them as you go throughout your life.  Thinking errors are common and if we are unable to recognize the ones that we have, they will hold us back in the areas that we are working to accomplish in our lives.

Jeff Openshaw LMFT

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Parenting Patterns

Kids are expected to work on themselves while in a program such as Logan River Academy. It is helpful to know that parents can assist in the overall process by working on better understanding themselves as well. Parents often fall in common patterns when their kids act out, but many of these patterns are not helpful in aiding the child in progressing and growing positively.

Common Patterns Parents Assume:
u  Rescuing: doing whatever possible to remove the child's discomfort in order to make the child happy.
u  Yelling: using blame, guilt, or threats in order to get the child to listen.
u  Withdrawing: resorting to silence and isolating from your child or the conflict.
u  Finding distractions: always looking for something else to focus on, keeping busy and planning future events.
u  Stoicism: removing yourself emotionally form any conflict and responding in a detached, unaffected way.
u  Workaholism: seeking out reasons to avoid home in order to stay at work, where you feel more at ease and in control (or working out of the home, while avoiding family interactions).
u  Lecturing: focus is to solve or explain the problem – telling the child what he or she ought to do and what should be taking place.
u  Addictions: indulging in something that provides an escape: gambling, alcohol abuse, excessive internet and computer use, etc.
u  Worrying: consistently assuming the worst-case scenario, endless feelings of unrest, and anticipating a catastrophe.

Parents Can Break Their Patterns:

1) Self-knowledge: Since we all have blind spots, parents may not be aware of any or all of the patterns they may fall into. It is much easier to identify other peoples’ patterns than our own. Seeing ourselves more clearly or accurately comes through asking a trusted friend or family member.
2) Self-attunement:  A parents' reactiveness to their child's moods and emotions. Well-attuned parents detect what their children are feeling and reflect those emotions back in their facial expressions, voices, and other behavior.
3) Accountability: Parents be willing to own their own pattern in order to break it. Many kids seem to focus more on their parents’ behavior above their own. The reverse also holds true.
4) Responding in a New Way: One effective way is Reframing.
** Remember the goal is to disrupt an existing negative pattern**

Reframing is a way of attuning, seeing, validating, and empowering your child to meet their own needs.  It’s a way of communicating the problem in a new way, by shifting the responsibility for the problem back onto the child.” - Krissy Pozatek (Author of “The Parallel Process.”)

7 Steps for Reframing:
1)      Listen closely to your child and attune to the underlying emotion.

2)      Remember – the underlying emotion and tone is more important than the content.  The content may be the child arguing over social media use, wanting to come home early, or get some new clothes.  Getting locked exclusively into the content can lead to missing the real issue.

3)      Reflect and mirror the underlying emotion back to your child.

4)      Validate your child.

5)      Keep yourself out of the problem, since parents sharing their opinions and thoughts can often lead to power struggles and can lead to the child feeling disempowered.

6)      Place the responsibility of problem-solving back onto the child.  (How do you want to proceed?  What helps when you feel this way?  How will you cope with this?

7)      If you have already attuned to your child and they continue to push the content, then it is time to set a boundary.

**Does not often escalate to this stage if the previous stages were applied

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Potemkin Villages

During the late 1700’s in Russia, Empress Catherine II journeyed along the Dnieper River on her way to Crimea. As she traveled through it is believed that one Grigory Potemkin would erect fake and portable settlements along the banks of the river so as to impress the Empress as she would pass by. Supposedly this method worked and caused the Empress to believe that these villages were in much better shape than they actually were.

I find this story to be fascinating and find parallels to our society and to us as human beings. How often do we attempt to disguise our true intentions or pretend to be different than we really are? How often do we try to impress others by boasting, how we dress, or what car we drive? I think we all can relate with the concept of creating Potemkin Villages in our own lives.

I have a theory that the more congruent and authentic our lives are, the happier we will be. I like to study happiness. I like to ask happy people why they are happy. I find the subject fascinating. I find that one trait of most happy people I have met is they tend to be congruent individuals. What you see is what you get. They are the same person behind closed doors as they are in public. They do not try to deceive or present as they are not in order to get any perceived gain.

I believe that congruent and authentic people are confident people. They feel no need to artificially impress anyone. They are confident that their true self is adequate and acceptable. They are confident that they will achieve and succeed based on their true, authentic selves.

I have now had the privilege of doing therapy sessions with adolescents for nearly 20 years. Over that span, I have come across many personalities. I have found that adolescents who continually stretch the truth or sell out in order to get perceived acceptance, are generally pretty unhappy kids. My hope is that as adult role models, we can show our young people the benefits of being genuine and authentic. Young people are perceptive and notice how we act in public versus how we act in private. My hope is that we can strive to make our public and private self match fairly closely. I think most of us share in the goal to have positive relationships and be happy. This is truly one way to make this happen!

Matt Erickson, LCSW, Clinical Director

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Importance of Healthy Boundaries

One of the things we focus on with the adolescents at Logan River is developing healthy boundaries with others. Many of them struggle with saying “no” to negative influences and peer pressure and with maintaining positive friendships. Having healthy boundaries is important in any relationship, whether that is between a parent and child, friends, or coworkers. Setting a boundary means communicating to another person what is good for you and what is not good for you. This can be hard as it requires being assertive and expressing your needs.

Parents may often find this difficult to do with their children. It can feel uncomfortable to say “no” to something that your child asks for and oftentimes guilt follows. This can also be met with strong emotions from your child and may seem like you are damaging the relationship instead of caring for it. However, the interesting thing with having clear boundaries with your child is that oftentimes it will help your child feel safe in the relationship and it sets an example for them of how they can set boundaries and be assertive with others.

Setting boundaries takes practice and if that has not been something happening often between you and your child it can feel unnatural. It is important to remember though that establishing healthy boundaries with others is the key to successful and fulfilling relationships. The following video clips offer more insight and ideas for setting healthy boundaries with others.

Kristjana Green, CSW

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Depending on where you live, winter may be almost over (if it came in the first place).  If you live anywhere near me, you may have another couple of months to go.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can have impacts on people at various times through the fall and winter.  Here are a few tips from Psychology Today to help with SAD.  

Treatment for SAD
You may be able to treat mild symptoms of SAD yourself:
·    Bright sunlight—especially in the morning—and outdoor activity can help boost your mood. Going for a walk before work or during your lunch break may help alleviate some of the problem.
·    Find some enjoyable wintertime activities. Participating in outdoor activities like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing can reduce negative feelings about the winter months.
·    Bright light therapy is another effective option. A specially-designed light box can simulate sunshine and regulate your body's internal clock. Similar to a bright spring day, daily exposure to the bright light may be able to prevent the body from producing too much melatonin.

·    Cognitive behavior therapy and medication may also be effective in reducing symptoms. These therapies may be used in combination, or combined with bright light therapy.

See the full article from Psychology Today HERE

Sean Maynard, CMHC

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Seeking Genuine Happiness

Some of the most discouraging moments I’ve had as a parent have come as I’ve watched one of my children go through a stretch of life where they just seem genuinely unhappy.  I’ve often felt helpless in those situations to do much to improve their mood short of buying them a pony or giving them an unlimited supply of candy, which is not only unrealistic, but is also not going to change their long term sense of true happiness anyways!  Fortunately, there are some skills that we can teach our children that will actually affect their level of happiness.  Thousands upon thousands of studies have been done on happiness and what things contribute to a true sense of happiness in one’s life.  The following article contains information from one of these studies in which 12 behaviors/skills were identified that happy people do differently than unhappy people.  These are things that we can actually teach our children or ourselves if need be!  They are principles that when worked on and applied in our lives, will  lead to a truer sense of day-to-day happiness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Let It Snow!

Looking back at the blog post I wrote almost exactly one year ago I am intrigued by the vast difference in snow conditions we are enjoying now compared to this time last year. We have had an incredibly productive snow season the past couple months and conditions couldn’t be much better to be riding the slopes. 

Last year we had very little snow and took the opportunity to explore other winter recreation pursuits. This year it seems like we have a snow storm at least every two or three days! This has given many of us (well, the students, myself and a few other winter-loving team members) much to celebrate and an enthusiasm to ride our skis and snowboards as often as possible. 

It has been a fantastic year with many more students than usual learning to ride the slopes and several more progressing their skills they brought with them to Logan River Academy. We are crossing our fingers that February will bring with it many more powder days for us to enjoy.

Mike Bodrero, Adventure Learning Coordinator 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Basic Principle of RESPECT

Each individual is has their own experience in life.  As we go about our lives, it is key to connect with others and strive to do the best we can in order to achieve the goals that we have.  The decisions we make and the things that we do affect those around us.  When we work to build relationships the principle of respect comes into play.  As I have counseled individuals, couples, and families over the years, this principle of respect is commonly struggled with when things are going poorly in relationships.  It is often important to bring this to light and have the simple discussion of what respect is.  I like to talk about respect by sharing my experience of teaching Martial Arts to kids.  I have always found that basic principles such as respect can be incorporated and reinforced with the Martial Arts.  I remember teaching classes of children and simply putting the definition of respect as “treating others they way they want to be treated.”  As we look at individuals we recognize that they are all different and don’t like to be treated the same. 

People also don’t always want to be treated the way we would want to be treated.  Therefore, we would treat them the way that they would want to be treated.  This might take a little work to get to openly communicate and get to know another person in order to see what respect means to them.  I would often ask the students if they liked being treated good or bad.  Of course the answer was that they liked to be treated good.  I would tell them that most people are similar in that they want to be treated good also.  However there may be some small things that a person sees as respectful that are simple for another to say or do to fulfill this need.  We can also reinforce respect as an individual does those things that we like or that are good for us.  Again this goes back to basic communication and remembering that others can’t read our minds.  It is important for us to let others know what we do or don’t appreciate.

And of course it is essential to remember that it is important to give respect in order to be respected.  A lot of individuals that I have worked with think opposite and demand to be respected, even though they are not being respectful to others.  Over the years as I have built relationships with people in different settings, I have applied this principle of showing respect.  Without fail when both people involved want to enhance the relationship, this method works. 
Here are some guidelines that will increase respect for others.

I want to end this with a few great quotes about respect:


Jeffrey Openshaw, LMFT

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

'Twas I, but 'Tis Not I

With the New Year now in full swing, I find myself often talking with clients about resolutions and commitments they are making to themselves and others as they strive to change and make their lives better. 

As I work with them, and with myself, on making these improvements I find myself reminded of the following story.

It comes from a play by Shakespeare.  While I don’t typically read a lot of Shakespeare (frankly he is a bit over my head) I nevertheless have garnered many great quotes from his works.  One of my favorites comes from the play “As You Like It.”  In the play an older brother named Oliver “frequently contrived to kill” his younger brother but to no avail.  Despite his efforts to kill his younger brother, later in his own life in a desperate situation, Oliver was rescued by his younger brother despite his frequent efforts to bring about his demise.  Upon learning of his younger brother’s efforts to save his life, Oliver makes a dramatic change for good.  Later, Oliver is asked by an individual if he was the man who so frequently tried to kill his younger brother.  Oliver replied, “’Twas I, but ‘tis not I.  I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.” 

“’Twas I, but ‘tis not I” has helped me remember that simply because I have made mistakes in the past, I am not doomed to repeat these.  While I can’t change yesterday, I can choose to do well today. 

I hope for my clients, and for myself, that each of us can in our own way look back on our mistakes and say, ‘Twas I, but ‘tis not I.  

Krys Oyler, LCSW

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Lessons Learned from Watching 7-Year-Olds

Last year my then 7-year-old son played on a recreational basketball team. I was his coach. Our team was playing in the final game of the year. The game was a nail biter! Our team led throughout most of the game but had lost the lead late in the game. Our team was down by two points with 5 seconds to go. We designed a clever inbounds play to hopefully get a good look at the basket. The play was executed perfectly and one of our boys was fouled. He would get two foul shots with no time left on the clock. If he made them, the game would end in a tie (no overtime for these kids). As this youngster was preparing to take his first foul shot, the opposing parents started yelling, screaming, pounding on the bleachers, and waving their arms. Keep in mind, we are dealing with 7-year-olds here.

The youngster calmly dribbled twice and sank the first free throw. The fans “cheering” for the other team got even louder and more obnoxious. Despite their best efforts to make our player shrink under pressure, he knocked down the second free throw as well. I must admit this was a glorious moment for me and perhaps saved me from blowing a gasket with the opposing parents after the game was over.

This experience was an interesting one for me to have. I was so proud of the kids for hanging in there and succeeding despite some horrible parental behavior. Due to my profession, my mind drifted to wonder what home life might be like for the youngster who had parents going absolutely ballistic during this game.

Parenting is a wild ride. The ride has ups, downs, rights, lefts, and everything in between. Sometimes parenting seems very unfair. Some children seem very easy to raise while others can be so very difficult. One beauty of parenting is we get to learn each day and try to be better. We get to try to learn from miscues and improve the next day. Each day can be an opportunity to improve our parenting skills.

Dr. Meg Meeker reported some interesting research in her masterful book entitled, “Boys Should be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Boys.” The research tried to pin down what is the number one indicator of whether or not a youngster will have sex, use drugs, drink alcohol, etc. The researchers discovered that it’s not peer pressure like one would assume. Research shows that parents are the number one influence in a boy’s life. It is connectedness—a deep sense that a son fits in the family—he belongs, if you will, with mom and dad. He feels appreciated, loved, and affirmed for who he is as a young man.

The preceding paragraph is not meant to place blame on any parent who has a teenager who struggles with maladaptive behavior. The purpose of the paragraph is to remind us how crucial it is to connect in appropriate ways with our kids.

I would guess that the boisterous parents from my aforementioned story felt like they were connecting with their child by doing what they were doing. I don’t think they were. I think they were showing a very poor example of how adults should behave. As parents trying to do the best we can, I hope we can do all within our power to connect in the right ways with our boys and help them navigate this challenging experience of life.  

Matt Erickson, LCSW