Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why playing is good for kids….and adults!

Why playing is good for kids….and adults!

I came across this article from ( and realized how important play is for all of us, in a world where we all need time for our own self-care to help our own sanity:

The science behind play
The evolutionary importance of play can be demonstrated in the brains and behaviors of rats and primates, said Dr. Sergio Pellis, neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.
In his experiments, he denied rats the opportunity to engage in play by fighting and wrestling.
Those rats developed deficiencies in their brains' pre-frontal cortex. This is the area responsible for executive functions, such as making judgment calls and emotional regulation.
"If you're an adult male rat put in another cage of a rat you don't know, the resident rat will see you as an intruder and beat you up," Pellis said.
If you're a normal rat, you'll find any place to hide — a platform, perhaps — and stay there, he said.
"If you're a play-deficient rat, you'll get beaten up and shortly thereafter move again and attract even more attention," he said. "You're not figuring out the appropriate thing to do in this situation."
Similar research with monkeys led to the same results, said Pellis, co-author of "The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience."
While this type of experiment cannot be replicated in juvenile humans for ethical reasons, social science studies have shown kids who engage in more play end up with higher social skills a few years down the line, Pellis said, predicting more research in the next decade on adult human brains at play.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Views From Our Changing Seasons

My last blog post told the story of our trip to the Grizzly Ridge Yurt in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah. Back when the ground was buried deeply in white, the trees were bare, and the scenery was often obstructed by falling snow or dense cloud cover. Now only one season away from that same beautiful scene, I want to share the photos and a few stories from our spring and summer excursions and the first few weeks of fall.
Almost every mountain range in the western US was full of snow through April and May, many well into June. While this certainly makes for nice photos, it also makes for muddy, wet shoes on a hike. 

Speaking of wet shoes, running rivers after a historic winter season will leave you soaked head to toe, often with 50ᵒ F water. Many of our trails had dried out by the time July rolled around, though we were able to still find a patch here and there at the highest elevations. Another benefit to the summer season is dry rock and warm belays.

I am slightly biased about winter being the best season, but after the warm months of summer provide never-ending light and jacket-free recreation I find it difficult to yield to the changing of the leaves. Fortunately fall brings gorgeous sunsets, long shadows and a color palette too exquisite to comprehend.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Digital Addiction Recovery Treatment

Staying online longer than intended?  
 Neglecting school or work responsibilities?   
Spending more time with online friends than with real world friends?   
Arguing with others about computer/phone/video game use?  
 Feeling guilty about the amount of time spent online?   
Unsuccessfully trying to cut back on online use?   
Lying about online activity?   
Feeling anxious or irritable when online time is cut short?   
Neglecting sleep, diet, and exercise to spend time online?  
 These are all common signs of a rapidly growing problems in modern society.  A problem that is especially prevalent among adolescents.  This problem of course is digital addiction.
We at Logan River Academy (LRA) know that digital media use is part of daily life for teenagers or young adults in the real world.  From laptops at school, to cell phones in your pocket, to video games with friends after school, the digital world is inescapable.  However, much like many other things in life, moderation is the key.
Through our DART program (Digital Addiction Recovery Treatment) we can help students struggling with this problem learn to live their lives with digital media, instead of letting digital media continue to run their lives.
The DART program is built largely around the Restore Recovery™ model of Dr. Kimberly Young.  Dr. Young is the founder of the Center for Internet Addiction & Recovery and is one of the pioneers for assessment and treatment of internet addiction disorders.  Dr. Young defines internet addiction as:
“any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.”
Here at LRA, we use the term Digital Addiction to include any use of online-based technology that negatively interferes with and impacts a student’s life.  This can include:
       video gaming
       social media
       entertainment or streaming services
       texting and messaging
       online shopping/auctions
Our approach at LRA utilizes a harm-reduction model that strives to provide digitally addicted adolescents with the support and resources they need to bring balance back to their digital lives.  The approach focuses on 4 critical areas of digital addiction treatment: assessment, evaluation, goal setting, and education and action.  We have found this approach to be very successful in helping adolescents gain a better handle on this ever-present issue in today’s society and return their lives to a healthy, more functional place. Through this comprehensive approach, we can address the root causes of digital addiction. We help our students develop strategies to control their lives day-to-day, and implement actions that will keep electronic compulsions and propensities from controlling their lives. 

(435) 755-8400

Monday, July 3, 2017

Is your teen manipulating you?

The other day my teenage daughter casually asked me out of the blue if I had any errands that I needed her to run for me.  Seeing how she doesn't have her own car and would need to use my car, and also given the fact that she rarely offers this wonderful service, I found it a little strange and out of the ordinary for her.  When I told her that I didn't have any errands for her to run, she hemmed and hawed a bit and then eventually dropped the subject.

A short time later she came back to me and asked if she could use my car to go do something with her friends.  It was at that point that I realized how she was earlier trying to manipulate me into using my car for her own interests.  While this isn't the biggest or most disappointing thing in the world for her to try and pull over on me, it did frustrate me a little and got me thinking about how frequently teens try to manipulate parents. Sometimes this manipulation is for fairly innocent things (like using a car), while at other times it can be for things of a more serious and possibly detrimental nature.

As a parent, always being able to recognize and be aware of manipulation can be challenging.  Even more challenging at times, is knowing what to do about it and how to handle it when it does occur.  The following is an article that I stumbled across awhile back with some helpful tips and pointers for dealing with manipulation from our children.  I hope you find it helpful!

Is your teen manipulating you?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What’s my role as a Parent with my child in Treatment?

What’s my role as a Parent with my child in Treatment?

Having a child in residential treatment, no matter if you are living across the country or in the same town is very difficult for everyone that is involved.  The focus in a treatment center is mainly on the child that is in treatment and it seems that the parents often feel left out or lost at times.  I know that parents usually want to be as involved as possible with their child and their treatment.  This can be very difficult depending on the individual’s and the family’s past and current circumstances.            
Feelings of worry, loneliness, depression, anxiety, etc. can often creep in and affect you as a parent when your child is away from home.  These are pretty common and normal feelings that individuals have.  With a child that has struggled for some time, there is a myriad of emotions that can be felt.

Because a parent’s core emotion for their child is normally unconditional love, we want only the best for our children.  At times we have to reach outside ourselves and get professional help from those that are trained and have experience working with the issues that children and families face.  There is nothing wrong with getting outside help for children that have struggled in one way or another and do not have a solid foundation.  As a parent with a child at Logan River Academy, remember that we are working with you to help you, your child and your family create the most successful opportunities possible moving forward.

I’d like to share an experience that I have had with a parent of one of my students, (we’ll call the student Tyler).  Tyler had been here at Logan River Academy working on himself for several months.  He was getting ready to do his first home visit.  This was a great opportunity to see how everything would go outside the environment that we have here at Logan River Academy.  I got together with Tyler and his parents and we set up some boundaries and rules, as well as some fun things that they wanted to do as a family.  Tyler went home for the weekend and came back from his home visit thrilled.  He expressed how well the visit had gone and that it was a problem free experience.  My response was not what he had expected when I said, “Dang it, I was hoping for at least one problem to happen!”  As we talked I went on to explain that I was really happy that he had such a great visit, but at the same time, when there are problems or issues that happen, we get to see what he has learned put into practice and if he was able to problem solve with his parents.
As this comic suggests, if we implement the same solution over and over that doesn’t work, and are not willing to make any change, we end up with the same results, (there is not some magical result that will happen).                           
 As Tyler’s mom is learning, sometimes things don’t have to be perfect or go exactly as she wants them to.  One important part of your child’s treatment is looking at yourself as a parent and seeing what types of adjustments or changes you are able to make as well.
As Tyler and I talked with his parents and we did family therapy that week, Tyler’s mom suggested that because she was so worried about everything going perfect that she tiptoed around every possible problem so that there was no arguing or fighting.  She felt that she had messed up the whole visit.  I let both Tyler and his mom know that the visit went great, they did a wonderful job, and that we don’t expect things to go perfect.  I expressed to Tyler’s mom and dad that it is okay to have problems.   We want to be able to learn to handle problems differently from how they were handled before.  I continued to explain that our ultimate goal is to help Tyler be able to be back in his home environment, be able to have problems and situations happen, be able to problem solve with his parents or whoever is involved, see what skills Tyler can put into action, and create balance in the lives of the individuals and family system as a whole.

Balance is extremely important and as parents, finding a balance between you and your child is crucial.  As your child grows, knowing how to create new boundaries with your child and letting them be involved in their own decisions and consequences is difficult.  It is fairly common to give our kids more restrictions and boundaries as they grow older.  This restricts freedoms and commonly causes them to rebel or be oppositional, which then back-fires this more restricted process that we are trying to implement.  Once the child is an adult he or she will be on their own without any parental restrictions, but with societal restrictions.  It is key for them to learn how to make decisions, problem solve, etc.  Teaching children the skills that they will need to succeed is vital so that as they get older they have fewer restrictions and more privileges to help them understand how to succeed in life when they are on their own.
So back to the initial question, what’s my role as a parent with a child in Treatment??  Here are some ideas or suggestions for while your child is in treatment as well as after they return home.
1 - Support your child.                                                                                                                    
2 - Give them opportunities to build trust.
3 – Work on communicating effectively.                       
4 - Take a course or get advice from a professional counselor that works with families.
5 - Work on yourself and the barriers that you face when working with your child.
6 -Be open to making changes or adjustments to parenting styles.
7 - Don’t be too hard on yourself or blame yourself, but make self adjustments where they are needed.
8 - Set up limits and boundaries.  Be positive but firm with them.
9 - Evaluate if you are an enabler and stop enabling.
10 - Recognize that there are going to be disagreements and problems.
11 - Don’t expect perfection all of the time.
12 - Make sure you know how to problem solve appropriately depending on the age and maturity of your child.
13 - Allow your child to have part in the discussion and they will be more likely to follow through, set your child up for success.

Jeffrey Openshaw LMFT