Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is Sexting?

Q: I heard on the news that teens are heavily involved in sexting. What does that mean?

A: The term sexting is defined by Wikipedia as, “the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones.” According to a recent survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of all teens have sent or posted nude pictures or videos of themselves. If that statistic isn’t alarming enough, 1 out of 3 teens have received such pictures on their cell phone. There are a number of legal, emotional and sexual implications related to sexting.

The legal ramifications in some cases across the U.S. have been high. A number of teens have been charged with child pornography due to the inappropriate material found on their phones. It is possible they could face prosecution for obscenity. In October a teenage boy in Texas spent the night in juvenile detention after his coach found nude pictures on his phone sent to him by a classmate. Most recently, three Pennsylvania adolescent males were charged with child pornography for having inappropriate pictures on their cell phones of three younger girls. Many adolescents do not understand the long-term consequences of sexting. It is important to educate teens on this matter. Even if you believe your child will not be involved in this behavior, knowledge of the ramifications could allow your teen to prevent a peer from making a costly mistake. Make sure your teen realizes the high cost of possibly being a registered sex offender before they are even an adult.

Emotionally, teens often do not understand the implications for hitting send on a text with a nude or semi-nude picture. It seems that they are sending the picture to one individual boyfriend or girlfriend. However, the trend seems to be that the couple breaks up and the picture may be forwarded to others and can easily end up on Facebook or MySpace available for anyone to view. The pictures end up in countless places the individual never intended nor thought possible. The ridicule from friends including name calling can be devastating and the teen may lose his/her reputation and relationships close to him/her.

Certainly the sexual concerns are great for adolescents. Teenage girls report that pressure from a guy causes them to send the picture. Once the picture is sent and numerous teen boys in her high school see the picture she may be viewed as an object or as someone who is available as a sexual partner. It is vital that the church and parents educate their children on healthy sexuality. Often this topic is difficult to talk about, but the more that healthy discussions occur, the greater potential there is for healthy relationships. It is best to have these conversations prior to adolescence, as teenagers are many times genuinely embarrassed to have these candid conversation with their parents. The idea of a one-time “birds and the bees” conversation is probably obsolete (and it may not have been a very good idea, even in the “good old days”). Parents of teens may benefit from reading excerpts from “Soul Virgins” by Doug Rosenau and Michael Todd Wilson, which can be a healthy approach to sexuality for the teens and single years.

One of the primary responsibilities of the parent of a teenager is to keep their child safe and to protect them from those who do not have their best interest at heart. Therefore, if you discover that your child has been using their cell phone inappropriately, it is a great opportunity to correct your child through the use of natural and logical consequences. A cellular phone is a privilege. Most current parents did not have cell phones when they were teenagers, and we all lived to tell about it. Your teenager will suffer no significant long-term negative consequences for having their cell phone privileges revoked. If your teenager misuses their cell phone, that is a great opportunity to have a conversation with them about the importance of not abusing or misusing privileges and it is an opportunity for them to learn that if they misuse a privilege they may lose that privilege. If the offense is small (too many text messages in a billing cycle), the privilege may be revoked for a few weeks (or until they pay you for the extra expense of the text overage). If the offense is greater (sexting or cyber-bullying), then the revocation may be for a much longer time (several weeks, months, or even permanent revocation).

If you believe your teen is sexting and would like some help in knowing how to deal with this, email us or give us a call: pathways@abchome.org or 1-866-991-6864. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

For a recent story about the consequences of sexting click here: Cell Phone Picture Ruins Girl's Life

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.


If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What is Theraplay?


Q. I heard that Pathways Professional Counseling is holding a conference next week on Theraplay. What is Theraplay and what is it used for?

A. You are correct. Pathways is holding a conference next week for all its counselors and some social workers on the treatment approach called Theraplay. Theraplay is very different than the standard approach to counseling with children. According to the Theraplay Institute, "Theraplay is an engaging, playful, relationship-focused treatment method that is interactive, physical, personal, and fun. Its principles are based on attachment theory and its model is the healthy, attuned interaction between parents and their children." Counselors use Theraplay to enhance attachment, engagement, self-esteem, and trust in others.

Theraplay activities are very simple with the therapist in charge. "The simplicity allows the full impact of the process to be felt by the child. Theraplay activities aim at creating a feeling of closeness between the child and parent, which is attained through activities in which the child experiences the adult as creating the structure (the rules, etc.) and also nurturing the child. The goal of therapy is that the child be more at ease with adults and other children, have less of a need to stay in charge, and be more spontaneously able to experience and express her feelings." (Theraplay Institute).

Oftentimes, children who have experienced trauma such as abuse, neglect, medical issues, seeing traumatic material, etc., will have a difficult time regulating their emotions and behaviors. Theraplay is designed to help them relearn how to regulate themselves and their emotions. It is essentially work the child needs in order to get back on track in their developmental process. Therefore, Theraplay is geared toward a child's emotional level, not their chronological age.

Theraplay is used with a wide variety of issues. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Reactive Attachment Disorder can all benefit from Theraplay. It is also used to work with children with developmental delays and Autism. Some children without a diagnosis can also benefit from the interactions of Theraplay, including children who are acting out, angry, non-compliant, withdrawn, depressed, and those with attachment insecurities.

If you believe your child could benefit from Theraplay or if you would like to know more about Theraplay, email us or give us a call: pathways@abchome.org or 1-866-991-6864. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

For another article for parents on Theraplay by Janet Mullen, LCSW click here.


If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Growing your Marriage through Infertility - Part 2

(From last week) Q. I saw your article a few weeks ago about infertility. My spouse and I have been struggling with 'childlessness' for a while and it is taking a toll on our marriage. Can you offer some guidance on keeping our marriage strong through infertility?

A. It sounds like you can also use some helpful tips on what exactly you both can do to strengthen your marriage. Melanie Howard, Pathways Professional Counselor in Hoover, Tuscaloosa, and Columbiana, explains there are many ways couples can strength their marriage during this difficult time.

  • Pray, worship and study the Bible together.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between you and your spouse.
  • Set a time limit on how much you talk about infertility during a single conversation. You don’t want to exhaust each other’s ability to listen.
  • Plan special dates where you agree not to discuss infertility. Focus on each other.
  • Recognize that neither of you is able to provide 100 percent of the emotional support the other person needs. Consider joining an infertility support group or talking with a compassionate friend.
  • Before beginning treatment, discuss the moral and ethical issues that can arise. Prayerfully seek to make informed, scriptural decisions about which treatments you would or would not consider.
  • Before beginning treatment, seek to reach agreement about how to finance treatments, whether or not you will go into debt, and how much debt you will accrue.
  • Discuss taking a break from treatment. Use this time to renew your commitment to your marriage. · Take a vacation together to reconnect and enjoy your relationship.
  • Have intercourse during the “infertile” part of your cycle and enjoy relating with one another without the “agenda” of trying to conceive.
  • Agree together on when it’s time to stop treatment.
  • Seek professional counseling if infertility is causing significant problems in your relationship.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the emotions of this journey, our counselors are here to help. Contact us at 1-866-991-6864 or pathways@abchome.org.

To see the first part of this article, click here.


If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Growing your Marriage through Infertility - Part 1

Q. I saw your article a few weeks ago about infertility. My spouse and I have been struggling with 'childlessness' for a while and it is taking a toll on our marriage. Can you offer some guidance on keeping our marriage strong through infertility?

A.
Infertility is devastating for couples who long for a child. Melanie Howard, Pathways Professional Counselor in Hoover, Tuscaloosa and Columbiana, wrote an article about this very subject for LifePrints magazine

Protecting Your Marriage Through Infertility
By Melanie Howard, Pathways Professional Counselor

Zach and Liz were exhausted. Thousands of dollars and endless months spent trying to have a child were taking their toll. Although they had a great network of friends and family supporting them, the isolation of being the only “childless” couple was overwhelming at times.

As Liz and Zach talked about their next step, both wondered at the stress they felt, both individually and as a couple. Liz felt she was facing the loss of a dream, the fulfillment of a core part of who she was meant to be. Zach was grieving just as deeply, but didn’t know how to share his thoughts and feelings with his wife.

For many couples, the season in their marriage before the arrival of children is often a time when marital satisfaction is high. However, for a childless couple dealing with infertility treatments, the months or years of trying to have children can turn the season of new love into a difficult rollercoaster of grief, emotions and other stressors that place a great deal of strain on their marriage.

First, let me validate the strain you are experiencing in your marriage. This strain can be caused by a variety of factors:

· Men and women respond differently to infertility. In general, fertility and parenting are not usually as central to a man’s identity as they are to a woman’s. The loss many women feel with infertility would be comparable to the loss a man might feel if he became permanently unable to work. For some men, the biggest loss in the infertility is not the loss of a dreamed-about child, but the loss of the happy wife he once had.

· Men and women process information differently. In general, women process information globally and are better at multi-tasking. Men process information compartmentally and are better at focusing on one subject at a time. A wife’s grief may be triggered by walking past diapers in a store or seeing a baby or pregnant woman. Husbands often have an “infertility compartment” and their grief is expressed only when that compartment is open. She may mistakenly conclude that because he processes his grief differently, he isn’t hurting or doesn’t care as much as she does.

· Infertility treatments are frequently detrimental to sexual satisfaction. Infertility treatments can turn one of the most private aspects of a couple’s marriage into a science lab, causing a decrease in the frequency of intercourse and the couple’s level of satisfaction. This can turn intercourse into a chore and painful reminder of disappointment and failure.

· Infertility treatments are expensive. One intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle may cost as much as $2,500 for medications and the procedure. An in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle may cost more than $6,000 for medicine and $6,000-10,000 for the procedures. While insurance laws vary, most health insurance plans in Alabama do not cover assisted reproductive technologies and most prescription plans cover only 80 percent of the cost of infertility medications. Some insurance plans to do not cover infertility medications at all.

· Infertility treatments are time consuming. A woman who is undergoing a typical IUI cycle will usually make 6-8 trips to her reproductive endocrinologist’s office in a 28-day cycle. An IVF cycle involves even more visits. In general, the husband is only medically needed for one appointment per cycle. This can create great stress when balancing visits with work, travel and get-togethers, eliminating the spontaneity that many couples without children enjoy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the emotions of this journey, our counselors are here to help. Contact us at 1-866-991-6864 or pathways@abchome.org

Return next week to see our Part 2 article on what exactly you can do to strengthen your marriage through infertility.


If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What is Play Therapy?

Q: My child's school counselor suggested play therapy for my child who is anxious. I have to admit, it sounds strange. Can you tell me more about what play therapy is and how it works?

A. These questions are not uncommon for us as Play Therapists to hear. Oftentimes we are asked, "Does playing with a child really help them?" The answer to this question is absolutely!

Play therapy is designed to meet a child on their level. The basic assumption of play therapy is that play is a child's language and the toys are their words. Dr. Gary Landreth, the father of play therapy, says, "Children's feelings often are inaccessible at a verbal level. Developmentally they lack the cognitive, verbal facility to express what they feel, and emotionally they are not able to focus on the intensity of what they feel in a manner that can be expressed adequately in a verbal exchange."

Rod Marshall, Director, Pathways Professional Counseling/VP of ABCH, talks more about play therapy in the video below. Watch and listen as he explains more about how play therapy works.

For more information about play therapy or whether your child might benefit from play therapy, visit our website at: www.pathwaysprofessional.org or give us a call: 1-866-991-6864. We would love to talk to you further.

Also, look back next week for a follow up article on infertility and your marriage.


If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.