Play Therapy Community Inspiration, Information, & Connection for Child Therapists Around the World | ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, School Counseling Behavior Therapy, Sandtray Therapy,

Play Therapy Community will present a fresh, insightful episode once a week, usually on Thursday mornings. On this podcast, we will cover topics such as play therapy techniques and resources, group therapy, maternal mental health, picky eaters, struggles in school, behavioral issues, grief and loss, and so much more. We’ll also delve into specific diagnosis such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disabilities, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc. Difficult topics, such as parenting through separation/divorce, depression, anxiety struggles, relationship struggles, and such will be explored as well. As the host of Play Therapy Community, I feel honored that you are joining us on this journey for knowledge to truly help our children in a way that honors their mind, body, and soul. My name is Jackie Flynn, and I’m a Licensed Psychotherapist, Registered Play Therapist, Education Specialist, Adolescent Life Coach and a Parent Educator.
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Play Therapy Community Inspiration, Information, & Connection for Child Therapists Around the World | ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, School Counseling Behavior Therapy, Sandtray Therapy,




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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 8, 2016

I love Sandtray Therapy!  In my early days as a therapist, while I was working towards licensure Tammi Van Hollander was very influential on growth as a, then, aspiring Play Therapist (to be).  She has a private practice in Ardmore, PA. Her passion and enthusiasm to helping people through Play Therapy is contagious.  Since then, I have had years of experience with Sandtray, but will never, ever forget how much she taught me.  I will always feel so very grateful to her and her work Sandtray work.  This episode has been a dream of mine for a while now.  We recorded it 2x due to technical errors, but finally got it out there.   Here are some notes from our conversation on Sandtray Therapy.

  • Sandtray Therapy it quietens the entire nervous system and it helps to turn off the thinking brain.
  • It can go much deeper than talk therapy.  For children, their language is play. 
  • Little toys called toys, called “miniatures” are placed in the sand to tell stories.  It surpasses the limitation of words, which is especially helpful when they have difficulty articulating some things.  Or, may not even be able to identify what is bothering them. 
  • Fences and bridges are often used with children that have chaos in their lives to bring order to their situation and help them to compartmentalize things that feel out of control and difficult to cope with.
  • We have a conscious and unconscious mind that is often in conflict.  When we place the miniatures in the sand, we can find a resolution to the conflict.
  • Sandtray Therapy can be done with any age group for individuals, couples and families.
  • Sandtray Therapy is based in neuroscience and understanding how the brain works.
  • Healing can occur on a deep level through Sandtray Therapy.
  • Family Sandtray therapy can be really helpful to establish respect, boundaries, and connection as well as help families heal from deep rooted issues.
  • Resources can be identified and inner strength can be brought out through Sandtray Therapy.
  • From session to session, the created scenes transition and start to take on a life on their own.  
  • Tammi writes down their story to help with the processing.
  • The possibilities are seemingly endless, as each person makes their experience unique to their needs and situations.
  • Sandtray Therapy can be especially helpful for helping people with trauma.
  • Resolving ongoing arguments and relationship issues can be resolved through sandtray work by providing a safe psychological distance that increases the probability of involvement on a deeper level than talk therapy.
  • Sandtray therapy can offer a freedom that is available through that increased dialogue.
  • It is such sensory experience that can create a full body experience.
  • It can be fun and engaging way.
  • Many different types of sands can be used – kinetic, dry, wet, and many more.
  • The sand can calm people down and quieten their nervous system.
  • Problem solving can be attained in the sandtray by helping individuals and families look at issues in a new way with resources that they hadn’t realized before.
  • Once a sandtray is created, the creator leaves it there without cleaning it up.  The clean-up is done after the person has left.
  • Some clients take pictures of their sandtray scenes for reflection purposes and gaining of new insights.
  • This type of therapy can be used with parenting support as well to strengthen the family system.
  • Sandtray therapy can be used with Couples as well.  It can be really powerful.


For Therapists – Join Play Therapy Community ™ with Jackie to learn more... Launching Soon!


Nov 21, 2016

Tiffanie Trudeau, LMHC, LPC, CSAT, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Commonwealth of Virginia and District of Columbia.  She earned a Dual Bachelor's of Art degree in Psychology and Criminology and a Master’s of Art degree in Mental Health Counseling.  She has advanced training in:  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Sexual Assault Response, Critical Incident Stress Management Debriefing (CISM) and Sexual Addiction Therapy.

In This Episode:  

 What is “sexting”:  Sexting refers to the sending and receiving of sexually charged material that may consist of words, images or both that are intended to sexually arouse and are sent via digital means.  


What puts the child / teen at risk for this behavior?  


Attention-seeking – separate oneself from peers

Self esteem boost – to feel attractive

Peer pressure – being directly or indirectly coerced 

Easy access and perceived privacy 

Modeling – celebrities in the media exposed for sexting have gained popularity

“Normal” – digital flirting, displays of affection


Where is this happening?  

When we, as adults, think of social media, Facebook may be the first thing to come to mind.  However, a 2013 study conducted by Forbes Magazine showed a 16% decrease in teen usage and engagement on FaceBook.  Presumably because of the increase in parental and extended family presence.  Young people are often using other social media platforms and messager apps such as:












What are the consequences? Legal? Social? Emotional? 


Shame – after the text/image is sent, it cannot be retrieved. Personalizing the “bad behavior” as being a “bad person”

Fear – who might see the text/image, what is their opinion of me, my text/image

Anxiety – if I text this, will he/she expect me to “do” what I said (becoming sexually active)

Low self-esteem/poor body image – comparisons with pornographic images or peers

Depression – in the aftermath of discovery if the text/image to shared with others


Rejection – “If I don’t send this text/picture to him/her, someone else will”

Ostracized – “Everybody else is doing this, if I don’t people will think I’m a prude”, “If I send this people will think I’m a ….”

Gossip – sending sexually charged images could suggest the presence of actual sexual activity, which may not be the case


The exchange of image-specific material intended to sexually arouse constitutes pornography, child pornography carrying the harshest of sentences 

Receiving, possessing and distributing child pornography can be considered a 3rd degree felony carrying sentences of up to 5 years imprisonment and up to $5,000 fine

Some states have laws specific to sexting that limit harsh penalty and/or separate sexting from child pornography



How can parents respond that will help the child heal, while preserving and / or increases feelings of self-worth?

Awareness - - ignorance is NOT bliss.  If your child or teen is over-protective of their phone, it may be because of photos they wish to hide or websites they do not want you to know they have visited

Be present and engaged. Children/teens want to connect and also fear rejection.  Being on your phone or preoccupied with occupational or domestic responsibilities can make parents/caregivers seem inaccessible

Listen and be prepared (emotionally and cognitively) for what might be shared.  If you ask about your child/teens online behavior, be mindful of your reactions/judgments (avoid  saying “what were you thinking”, “I can’t believe you did that”, “you weren’t raised that way”)

Compassion and empathy. The child and teen brain is still developing, and so is their ability to reason, predict future outcomes related to their behavior and manage impulses.  They are still learning. As parents and adults, our roles include reminding ourselves that they are not merely little adults.

How can parents educate and encourage their child / teen to make different/safer choices in the future? 

Open and regular communication regarding decision-making and safe online behavior (includes sexting and cyber-bullying). Once a message/image is sent it cannot be taken back and privacy cannot be guaranteed once the text/image is received by someone else

Process parental fears, beliefs and biases regarding sexual behavior to reduce reactivity 

Practice empathy and approach child/teen with friendly curiosity when risky online sexual behavior is discovered. Being mindful of the difference between punitive consequences and setting boundaries, personal responsibility and encouraging self-monitoring (consider if this text/photo was published in the yearbook, on FaceBook, sent to grandma)

For more information on Tiffanie Trudeau, visit or 



If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to join us on Facebook in our group Parenting in the Rain Community and like our page Parenting in the Rain Podcast, Hosted by Jackie Flynn


If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at

Nov 14, 2016

Episode 42, When a Child is Shamed


In This Episode:  

It’s important to understand what shame is and what isn’t

Shaming is when someone induces humiliation, embarrassment, and a feeling of guilt, regret, or deep sadness on another person.

Shaming is not motivating, although that is a common misconception.  Sometimes people think “if they feel really bad about what they did, then they won’t do it again.” But it doesn’t work like that.  It is in essence a trauma that can cause long term maladaptive behaviors.  Many people that struggle with addiction, relationship issues, and other tough life struggles often have shame in their past. 

My friend and podcasting colleague, Robert Cox has a really good podcast episode on this his podcast, Mindful Recovery.   GUILT AND SHAME RIDDING THE SOUL OF TOXICITY  The link

Making mistakes is actually a healthy part of child development.  Allowing your child to make and learn from mistakes while the price tags are small is a huge gift to your child.  Life experience is the best teacher.  It’s so much more effective than lectures, put downs, shaming, or “I told you so’s”.

Empathy, clear expectations and logical choices are much more effective in helping your child grow into a self-confident, responsible, ambitious individual that enjoys life. 

Ongoing culture of shame decreases the quality of life for the entire family.

The trauma of shaming can be substantial, but if it’s an ongoing form of discipline, it can be devastating and often unbearable.  

Shame undoubtedly damages the parent child relationship.  It simply can’t be unfelt.  I just recently watched THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.  I love that movie! My daughter is a  huge John Green fan.  She’s read all of his books.  In that movie, one of the actors says “PAIN DEMANDS TO BE FELT”.  This is so very true.

It can establish a dysfunctional cycle that can lead to generations of pain and dysfunction.  If you tempted to shame your child, check in with what may be going on for you.  Was this something that you experienced as a child?  Is part of your heart hurting or could you use some healing?  I’ve seen great healing occur through therapy as well as work with one’s inner child.  It’s important to realize that blame, whether on self or others, isn’t on the healthy road to healing.  But, rather a focus on “I need to put on my own oxygen mask...” is much healthier for everyone.

Shame can cut deep.  Each person is so unique, so everyone has a different experience.  What is common though is that it hurts in a way that words can’t accurately describe. 

I really feel like part of the soul withers with shaming.  For people of all ages, it erodes feeling of self-worth and self-esteem.   

Ultimately, shame establishes a dysfunctional perception of a healthy relationship.  When children grow up they often, but not always, use their formative childhood years as a blueprint of how life “should”be.  If that “should” is maladaptive, it can be a long, hard road for them filled with heartache and pain. 

I’ve noticed that causes people to put up emotional walls to keep themselves safe.  It is ultimately a type of emotional abuse, especially if it is ongoing.   It limits our children’s vulnerability, which limits their options in life with relationships, careers, dreams and so much more.

Shame manifests itself in the body.   Shame fragments itself in the body in messy, infiltrating way that can take years of work to heal from.

Engrains negative cognitions in the brain such as i am not worthy, i can’t do anything right, i’m a jerk, i’m defective,  i’m a bad person and such

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Really does have some merit.  Fixing the effects of shaming is much more difficult than preventing it.

The quote “HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE” is a quote worth considering in this discussion of shaming.  When someone is deeply hurt, they often hurt others from their pain.  Looking at it from a child’s perspective, shaming, whether they are the target or someone that they love and identify with is, they may be tempted to transfer that pain.  Sometimes that can look like depression, anxiety, bully type behavior, aggression and much more.  

For parents that default to shaming, give yourself permission to learn a new approach.  Maya Angelou says when people know better, they do better.  This is so true.

If you are prone to shaming, it’s important to reflect on what messages you were sent as a child.  Ask yourself, “is this helping or hurting my child?”.


A more effective way is to use empathy to connect with your child. I love the ACT Limit Setting model  (Acknowledge the Feeling, Communicate the Alternative, and  Target the Alternative) that is described in Child Parent Relationship Therapy.  If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to check out episode 22


There’s so many better ways to discipline than shaming.  I love LOVE and Logic, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, a 10 Session Model, and 123 Magic are some much better options.  I have all of these linked in the show notes. 

If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to join us on Facebook in our group Parenting in the Rain Community and like our page Parenting in the Rain Podcast, Hosted by Jackie Flynn


If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Below Are Some Sites, Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love

My Parent Coaching Program -


Labyrinths 20% off for calming, focus and connectedness.

Nov 7, 2016

Episode 41, When a Parent Feels Judged


In This Episode:  

What does it mean with someone feels “judged”? 

When you feel something in your heart that your mind knows isn’t true.  It can wreak havoc on family relationships.

One thing that I remember from a pre-marital training called Pre-Cana was the emphasis of not sharing personal disagreements and issues with friends and family members.  When personal conflicts occur and get resolved within the couple relationship, but close members of the inner circle are made privy to one side of the issue, long after the issue is over, the knowledge of that deep, personal feelings of their often skewed (because they only heard one side of the argument) perception lingers.  And, the relationships suffer as a result.  It can’t be unheard, unfelt or undone.

Feeling judged isn’t something that everyone deals with though.  Some people are more impacted by their caring what people think of them.  It has a lot to do with how we are wired, our own life experiences and the things that we feel to be true about ourselves.  When it can have a big impact is when someone feels judged, whether perceived or real, by multiple people.  It can feel painful, especially if the parent is already conscious of a need for improvement in that area anyway.

It’s important to distinguish between reality and perception.  Sometimes it can feel like others are judging us simply because we are judging ourselves.   Or if we have been judged or called out on a certain issue before, when it comes up again an emotional response could be triggered.

It’s really helpful to see it for what it is. If it’s really painful, do a check in with yourself to determine if you need some healing in that area.  If big emotions come from a situation of feeling judged, it’s almost certain that the feelings link to another situation.  If that situation hasn’t been fully processed and healed from yet, you may be more at risk for feeling judged.  When people feel judged, sometimes they close up to risk their vulnerability and that is when maladaptive behaviors start to form and relationships start to suffer.

Putting it into perspective can make a difference.  Looking at the source and thinking through the facts can be incredibly helpful with putting it in to a healthy perspective.


I love Brené Brown’s books.  In her works, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong and The Gift of Imperfection she speaks a great deal about vulnerability. Vulnerability is  feeling free to be authentic, daring to follow your dreams, being true to yourself and your values at the risk of being judged.  When we can be vunerable, we can be more creative, we can parent better, we can love more fully, and a gazillion other things that aren’t possible if we live in that space of fear of judgement.

So, why do people judge?  Quite simply, I believe it’s a character defect to go around judging everyone else.   I’m certainly not saying that I’ve never done it.  I’ve gotten so much better over the years and with my years of training and experience in this field.  It is common unfortunately, but it can be “fixed”.  When you stop judging others, you ultimately end up feeling good about yourself.  Way back in the early days of this podcast, I had an episode on about “How to Nurture Kind Kids” with Carol McCloud the author of Have You Filled a Bucket Today book.  The link is in the show notes  one of the big messages in this book is that when we are kind to others, we ultimately make ourselves happy in the process.

In this world, there’s no such things as a “perfect parent”.  We make mistakes, it gets messy sometimes, and it is a work in progress.  Give yourself permission to be real, to be human.  In this space of authenticity, you can model that genuine you to life and problem solving.  While it’s not always pretty, it can help you raise a confident child that feels free to be their authentic self.  Free to love and live without having guards up.  If you haven’t done so yet, listen to my episode 29 “How Taking Advice From Other Parents Can Be Like Wearing Their Skinny Jeans” on this topic. The link is in the shownotes

In a couple of other episodes, I mentioned the quote “HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE”.  I think for this topic of when parents feel judged, it’s helpful to look at who’s doing the judging.  In Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she mentions one of Teddy Roosevelts quote “in the area” from a speech that he gave that still holds true today.  It’s an excerpt from his speech "Citizenship In A Republic" that he                                           delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910.

Here it is: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

So if the person that’s doing the judging isn’t “in the arena” then their judgment, aka “opinion” doesn’t really count.  They don’t get to take up valuable real estate in my brain.  But if they are someone in the arena, worthy of me caring about their opinion, then I take it with a filter.  I keep what is helpful and filter out what is not.  This was a profound lesson in my life.  If you haven’t read her books or watched her Ted Talks yet, I highly recommend that you do as soon as possible.  Her concepts can help you get through tough times, as well as raise your resiliency levels to other people’s judgment.

If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to join us on Facebook in our group Parenting in the Rain Community and like our page Parenting in the Rain Podcast, Hosted by Jackie Flynn

If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at

Below Are Some Sites, Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love

My Parent Coaching Program -


Labyrinths 20% off for calming, focus and connectedness.

Oct 31, 2016

Episode 40, A Parent’s Guide to Having a Productive & Helpful Meeting at School


In This Episode:  

Many different types of meetings occur in the school setting.  For parents, the most common are parent / teacher conferences, IEP meetings, 504 meetings, meetings to address a specific concern and/ or gather information, and so on. ..


Each school has its own culture and each district and/or school has certain protocol, policies, and procedures that they follow.  Usually, these are readily available either on the website, the student handbook, calendar or request from the school.  

Regardless of the type of meeting that you are attending and where you are attending it at, having a few basic elements in place can make a huge difference between a productive and helpful meeting to one that is not.  

As a disclaimer, I worked as a teacher and a school counselor for years in a wonderful charter school so I am giving you my opinion from my limited view point.  Just like with any information, take what you need of this information and leave the rest.  You may not agree with what I’m saying and that is okay.  My intent is to provide some tips that may help you.  

Sometimes meetings at school can involve some information and decisions that are heavy by nature.  This can lead to a wide array of emotional responses. 

Here’s some tips that I believe can help meetings at your child’s school be more successful:


BE ON TIME – this starts the meeting off with respect to the importance of everyone’s time, as well as afford you and the school the time allotted to focus on how to best help your child.  Tardiness or last minute reschedules can really set a tone from the start.  With this said, sometimes things happen.  If you are late or need to reschedule, always apologize and try your best to not let it happen again.  

ERR ON THE SIDE OF KINDNESS and RESPECT – You can’t go wrong with kindness and respect, even if you don’t feel like it is reciprocated.   The old adage “You can get more bees with honey than vinegar” applies here.

CONSIDER YOURSELF AS PART OF THE “TEAM” -  Viewing yourself as part of the team that is working together to help your child can create a different energy around the entire situation.  Remember, the others on the team are people too that are in the field of helping children.  

BRAINSTORM A LIST OF THINGS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO COVER - This will help you to prepare for the meeting and increase the chances that you get your questions answered and concerns addressed.  In some cases, it’s helpful to send this to the person that coordinates the meetings, such as the school counselor or the assistant, to give them time to prepare.  Be sure the email is written in an information seeking way that conveys kindness and respect.  It may be helpful to write it out a few days before you send it to allow yourself time to edit the content to get it just like you want it.  

SOMETIMES PARENTS BRING A PERSON TO THE MEETING AS PART OF THE TEAM – I’ve been in meetings with the child’s therapist, a friend of the family, a family advocate, and a handful of people that offered some other type of support in the child’s life.  For this to happen, it is always best to let the school know beforehand.  A letter of authorization that allows the school to discuss private matters about your child in front of the guest that you bring to the meeting will most likely be required.

ALWAYS STAY PROFESSIONAL – If you feel yourself getting upset, it may be helpful to excuse yourself to the restroom to engage in some calming practices before you return.  Communicating while we are emotionally flooded can cause relationship ruptures that are difficult to repair.  Remember, always err on the side of kindness and respect.  It is everyone’s best interest to establish and maintain a good relationship. 

FOLLOW-UP COMMUNICATION AFTER THE MEETING – It may be appropriate to send a thank you email to all of the participants that include a list of the key points that you took away from the meeting.  This will help you to remember and have a list of important things that came up, as well as send a message to the school that you are involved and care about the situation at hand.

KEEP THE FOCUS ON YOUR CHILD – It may be tempting to get off track, especially if you feel emotionally charged about a certain issue.  Keeping your focus on your child helps keep the meeting moving in the right direction, as well as supports productivity. 

EDUCATE YOURSELF – It can be really helpful to learn about the process, whether it be IEP, 504, EP or another area.  If you get an invitation for the meeting, look for a paper that accompies it that explains your rights and options as a parent.  Beware of some of the information on the internet though, as there are some sites that depict school meetings as somewhat of a battle ground, and that is seldom the case, at least in my experience.  

AVOID TRASH TALKING ANYONE IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILD – Sometimes, meetings are held as a response to a parent complaint.  It is not helpful at all to say hurtful, degrading things about your child’s teacher in front of your child – even if you feel they are true.  You can still convey that you are addressing a situation, but be sure it is done in a respectful manner.  Remember, your child will need to go to class again, so it’s in their best interest for you to handle your concerns directly with the school, not in front of or through your child.

KNOW WHO IS AT THE MEETING – It may be appropriate to ask who will be at the meeting.  Often, introductions will occur at the beginning of the meeting to let you know who’s on the team.  If you don’t recognize someone, it can be helpful to ask for a round of introductions.  Some meetings are small with just the parent and the teacher, while other meetings can get quite large with several professionals i at the table such as a teacher, speech language pathologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, resource teacher, exceptional education teacher, administration, advocate, school psychologist, staffing specialist, behavior analyst, and other such professionals depending on the needs of your child.

If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to check out episode Melissa’s Mantras.  It’s with a lady that I really admire, that is an integral part of school meetings, both in a professional and personal capacity.  In that episode, she really offers some helpful advice. 



If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Oct 24, 2016

Episode 39, Understanding the Aftermath of Trash Talk


In This Episode:  

Let’s begin this episode with a clear understanding of what I mean when I mention “trash talk”.  

My definition of “trash talk” is when someone intentionally attempts to degrade someone by speaking poorly of them a manner that involves defamation, malintent, and  purposeful degradation of another.  This is also known as poor mouthing, vilifying (this is a stronger version of trash talking) and bad mouthing.  

Things can slip out of our mouths in a blink of an eye.  When it is truly trash talking is when it’s done by more than one comment.  I’ve heard it used in the world of sports and politics and I think it also applies in the world of parenting.  

In my experience, trash talking is most present in situations of divorce, but it can also be present in family members’ relationships, friendships gone poorly, other relationships with members of an organization or company, with teachers or administration at school – it can be present in so many places.  It’s unhealthy and can cause lots of devastation.   The bottom line is that it isn’t healthy for the person doing the trash talking, as well as their target, those watching (especially if it’s our children that are learning how to treat others in this world), and for our communities and ultimately our world as a whole.  It’s just not respectful.  There are healthier ways to convey dissatisfaction with another’s person’s action.  

When a person uses trash talking as their default, it says a lot about them and their character.  The quote “HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE” can apply here as well.  Because people that aim to hurt people, really aren’t’ in a healthy space themselves.  It’s a sign that they are in need of social skills, communication skills, or perhaps just healing from their own wounds if this type of behavior was done to them and they feel entitled to do it to others.

Where I’ve seen the most damage with this is in families of divorce and separation.   It can leave children with wounds that are difficult to heal.  Feelings of betrayal and confusion for the kids are not uncommon and can be very painful.  I read a book, Divorce Poison, by William Morrow, a while back that really talked about these types of situation.  Often children identify as ½ of one parent and ½ of another. When one of their parents is trash talked by the other, or by a family member, it hurts.  It can feel like a personal attack.  It can feel like “if my mom/dad is _____, then I must be”.  This is painful for anyone, especially children because it can strike them in such an intimate part of their life.  Just think, “What message am I sending my child when I speak like this?”.  They don’t benefit from thinking or knowing how defective their other parent is, or whoever the trash-talk is targeted at.  

If you have been the victim of trash – talk, you may know the feelings of betrayal, anger, and helplessness that this can bring.  So, how do you respond when someone’s trash talking you?  Do you just let it happen? Do you “fight” back?  Do you let it bother you?  Well, unfortunately there’s no cookie cutter response.  It depends... don’t you love that answer?  There is always benefit to choosing kindness and respect, with wisdom, even when people are not reciprocating it to you.  Taking the opportunity to return the trash talking behavior just puts you at their level.  And, if your kids are watching it really normalizes this type of behavior and teaches them that trash talking is acceptable.  So always run it through the respect, wisdom, and kindness filter.  It is helpful though to discuss with your child, and in some cases document what’s happening, if it gets to out of hand.  Know when to seek professional assistance though, whether it is a therapist to help you heal from it and what led to that point and / or an attorney if it involves parent alienation.  Putting positive energy into the situation can be so very helpful.  Seeking support from a therapist can help you heal from this and help you with some coping and calming skills.  

It’s important to mention that this podcast is not therapy, nor is it a substitute for therapy.  It is also not legal advice.  It is merely information meant for self –care and educational purposes only.  

I view trash-talking as a betrayal.  It can feel like a betrayal.  Actually, it is a betrayal.  Betrayals leave us with our guard up, to guard against letting it happen again.  Some people refer to this as “jaded” or “burned”.  I offer a type of therapy at my private practice called Gottman Method Couples Therapy that helps people heal relationships, even relationships that have endured betrayals.  I help people heal from betrayals that involve infidelity, finances, trash talking and more.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.  “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure” definitely applies here.  The healing process involves regaining TRUST.  

Carl Jung spoke to this I believe when he said “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”


If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Oct 17, 2016

In This Episode:  

Click Here for the Free Download: DISTRESS SCALE for Before / After Calming Techniques

Today’s episode is all about what it is like when a parent struggles with anxiety, as well as some options to heal from and some coping skills to get through the trying times.  

My work has been greatly influenced by my work in EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and reading books like The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel Van der Kolk and Peter Levine’s Healing Trauma.  

I think it’s important to begin with a discussion of what anxiety is and what it is not.  Mental Health clinicians use a book to clinically diagnose Anxiety Disorder called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  At the time of this recording, we are using the 5th edition.  Anxiety disorders can come in different forms. In this episode we’re going to look at symptoms and coping skills rather than a diagnosis. Anxiety can come in many different forms – Separation Anxiety Disorder (I see this most often with children and some teens) , Selective Mutism, Specific Phobia , Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia (fear of places or situations), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (what I see most commonly in my work) ,Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder, Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition and more.

Anxiety, like the range of emotions that we experience, are all part of the human experience.  Give yourself permission to be human.  It’s important not to judge them good or bad, rather look at the level of functionality that it has in your life.  I listened to an episode of Marie TV with Marie Forleo, with Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, where she talked about the function of Fear.  Fear is ultimately at the foundation of anxiety.  She had a great description of how it’s like fear is riding with her in the car – she puts it in the back seat, not in the front seat, not allowing it to control the radio or adjust the mirrors or grab the steering wheel.  Ultimately, a certain amount of anxiety keeps us alive, keeps us from getting into situations that can hurt us.  

Doctors Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk describe anxiety as the smoke alarm in the brain.  It goes off when there’s danger.  When people have an unhealthy level of anxiety, perhaps one of the Anxiety disorders, its like to smoke alarm goes off on super sensitive mode.  There’s a part of our brain called the Amygdala that serves as the smoke alarm.  Our brains are brilliantly wired for our life experience.  So much goes on in our brain to try to allow us to have the best lives ever.  Lots of brain research has surfaced in the last 10 years, but more and more is coming out each day.  All of the coping skills that I’m going to suggest may help you brain function at more optimal level during times of distress.  Please know that these things are not like a light switch, but rather a dimmer, that can help one calm down slowly.  If these things don’t seem to help, seeking out professional assistance from a mental health professional may help you get to the root of these fears on a deeper level.  As a clinician, I’ve seen amazing progress with EMDR, EFT, Art Therapy, Play Therapy, and a body based therapy called Somatic Experiencing.  These types of therapy surpass the limitation of words by incorporating the entire brain and body in the healing process.  It can happen so quickly sometimes, it leaves me questioning if it’s really healed.  Has the person really moved past and escaped from the grips of the Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, or whatever it is they are dealing with, or is it hopeful thinking?  After years of working in this field and seeing long lasting change, I am certain that these types of therapy help- help people get their quality of life back.  And, for parents it allows them to be fully engaged with their children and spouse if they are married.  It can be truly remarkable!  I think everyone can use therapy at one time or another in their lives, especially if they have a difficult situation in their past and/or their present, as well as their perceived future. 

 In this episode we’ll going to cover what that diagnosis means, but we won’t confine ourselves to that, because anxiety can be felt to the level of meeting that clinical diagnostic criteria, but it can also be felt without.  It can leave us, as parents feeling unable to cope with stressful situations, feeling trapped and overwhelmed.  

Also, if you haven’t done so yet, be sure to check out Episode 33, When a Parent Struggles with Depression.

A Reminder: this podcast is not therapy, nor is it a substitute for therapy.  It’s meant for informational and educational purposes only.  If you need therapeutic support, look around in your area for a mental health provider that can meet your needs.  

For parents, it’s especially important to heal and move past Anxiety.  Children need a parent or caregiver to fully participate in life with them -to create healthy foundations of attachment and security.  Anxiety can impede on that process.   Even in uterio, the mother’s emotional state can have a big impact on the child’s development.  In my EMDR training years ago, I learned that we have emotional memories from as far back as 6 months in the womb.  Our children not only use us as a model of how to act, they also take on our responses to situations in a deeper way, in an unconscious way.  Some of the types of therapies that I’ll bring up in a bit can help people heal from that.  But, I do believe the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here.  If you are a parent experiencing painful and life limiting anxiety, getting help for yourself can benefit you and your children, your children’s children, and so on and so on.  Not only is there no trophy for self-sacrificing and taking the hard road through this, there’s also a chance of having it affect people for generations to come.  

Okay, so I know how tempting it can be to search on the web for your symptoms and do somewhat of a self-diagnosis.  I’ve done that before with medical stuff.  I was convinced that I had Hypothyroidism, but once I got to the doctor and had bloodwork done, it turned out that I was just low on iron and Vitamin D.  As a clinician, I’ve experience people coming in convinced that they have a specific disorder as well.  Sometimes they are on the right track, but many times they are not.  That’s why we are going to cover awareness and coping skills today.  For this reason, I’m not going to read verbatim, the diagnostic criteria.  We are going to discuss it in a more practical sense, but if feel like you’re experiencing this on a deep level, then you may want to see a mental health and/or a medical professional.  I’ve seen anxiety treated well with therapy, and sometimes through medication as an adjunct to therapy.  I’m not a doctor, so I don’t offer education or advice on medication.  However, your physician can be a great source of information.  I often accompany my clients to psychiatric appointments or doctor’s appointments as part of a team approach.  It can be incredibly helpful.  If several professionals are helping the same person, it just makes since to collaborate as a team.  It can be powerful.  This is common especially with my clients with an eating disorder.  Upon authorization from the client or their guardian, we can really discuss the treatment approach and support each other in ways that make a huge difference.  

Anxiety can feel overwhelming; often leave us feeling out of control.  Some things that people with anxiety experience are some or all of the following:  exhaustion, even more tired than usual, focus and concentration issues, grumpiness and irritability, body soreness, sleep disturbance of then leaving one having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, restlessness, or sleep that leaves someone still tired upon waking.

Anxiety has some body symptoms too.  I love Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk’s work and Dr. Peter Levine’s work.  They really point out how the body experiences deep emotional experiences and can often hold it there.  I’ve seen anxiety show itself as gastrointestinal issues such as constipation or diarrhea, sweating, nausea, feeling faint and much more.  Each person is unique and has their own experience.  But, the big take away is that it isn’t just confined to thoughts in the mind.  It can make it hard to function, especially if you are a parent with tons of responsibilities and expectations.  It can also take a toll on relationships at home, work, social life, and more... It can strain our child parent relationship and marital relationships for sure. 

This episode wouldn’t be complete without a mention of trauma.  Trauma can come to us in different sizes – Big T Trauma for those really startling situations and little t trauma for the smaller situations that still impact us.  A big T may be from emotional and/or physical abuse, violence, war time experience – really intense situations.  A little t may be someone laughing at you during a class presentation in 4th grade, gossip, and such...  Since people experience stuff in such a different way, a big T trauma for one person, may be a little t trauma for someone else.  And, visa versa.  These traumas cause our smoke alarm to go off in our brain, sending the signal to release cortisol in our brain to keep us safe.  If serve enough the alarm system becomes sensitive and releases those chemicals without as much threat when we are triggered.  And, that can look like Anxiety, when our brain and body tries to keep us safe, even when there’s no real danger.  It can be difficult to parent with Anxiety, leaving us on edge, not being able to fully engage in the present moment with our children.  Or, keeping us from participating in certain social situations, staying home to take care of something that you exhibit symptoms of obsessiveness and compulsiveness over, or even the fear of going into a panic attack while doing something.  Sometimes people go into a state of panic over the fear of going into a state of panic.

Years ago, I read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens by Richard Carlson to my middle school class. In that book he used the metaphor of a snow globe.  I think it’s such a great metaphor of how our brain works when inundated with feelings and thoughts.  The coping and calming skills that we’ll cover helps those settle like the snowflakes in the globe.

Another important point that I need to mention here is the importance of naming the emotions that come up in certain situations.  Dr. Seigel has a phrase, “If you can name it, you can tame it”.  By naming our emotions, it allows our brain’s to process them in a more efficient way.  

Before we cover calming and coping skills, it’s really important to mention the impact of nutrition and sleep.  With good nutrition and sleep our brain functions at its best.  This can’t be overstated.  Nutrition and sleep make a big difference!

So, let’s cover a list of the things that help those symptoms of anxiety subside. I always like to start of with rating the level of anxiety.  In EMDR and EFT we call it a SUD, Subjective Unit of Distress.   From 0 to 10, how distressed do you feel?  (these are described more in detail in episode 38 of Parenting in the Rain

  • 4 seconds inhale – hold for 2 seconds – 4 seconds exhale
  • Monitoring Your Self Talk 
  • Bunny Sniffs
  • Circle Breathing
  • Progressive Muscular Relaxation
  • Thought Stopping and Changing
  • Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique)
  • Writing
  • Labyrinth
  • Double Mirror Doodle
  • Body Scan & Pendulating
  • Walking and/or Jogging


If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety and it is limiting your life, as well as your ability to parent or function in the family in a healthy way, you may want to consider seeking out a professional mental health counselor.  I have seen huge changes in my clients that led them to a better quality of life their entire family.  

See the following for a list of books and products that I love and recommend.  I have used and read all of them, which is the only reason that I would recommend them to you, as I take my recommendations seriously 



If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Below Are Some Sites, Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love

My Parent Coaching Program -


Labyrinths 20% off for calming, focus and connectedness.

Oct 12, 2016

“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” Anonymous

This week’s episode is all about our experience with Hurricane Matthew in Florida.   I invited my daughter Angel on the show to share her experience with it all as well.

We discuss what it was like to prepare for it, leave our home, arrive at a nearby safe place, worry about friends and family, wonder if we would have a home to come home to, and our delight in the fact that damage was minimal and our community survived.  We also discuss what it was like to look at footage of the damage that Hurricane Matthew had in other places such as Haiti, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and more.  

During our evacuation, we stayed at a hotel that accepted pets.  It was quite the experience.  The people at the hotel were super kind.  We did witness a few people showing symptoms of stress and low tolerance, but overall people were overwhelmingly positive.   My husband was at work the entire time, so it was just me, Tommy and Angel, and Max our dog.  Our car was packed with stuff that we considered valuable.  

Unfortunately, right after we returned home, I checked my email and discovered that someone had made 2 fraudulent charges on my card for apple watches.  I received 2 “thank you for your purchase” emails!  Needless to say, this increased the stress level.  Damage was minimal with that as well.  It makes me think of that movie, Identity Thief with Melissa McCarthy.  That movie is so good.  It’s not rated for kids, but it is funny and parts of it seem educational as it can give a glimpse into the world of credit card fraud. 

We were so fortunate to see that we only had a fence panel blown over, but some of our friends weren’t so lucky.  Lots of people lost power through it all.  Luckily we didn’t, but my cousin Connie and her family did.  Florida Power and Light has been working tirelessly through it all.  Also, power trucks from all around has come to our community to help out.  I heard that they made a tent city while they worked in shifts.  It just makes my heart smile thinking about how people work together in a time of crisis.  When times are hard, sometimes it can bring out the best in people.

We are immensely grateful.  Now that it is over, we are getting back to normal.  I’ve been putting things back on the walls and bookshelves at my private practice and the kids return back to school today.  They’ve had 3 days off because of Hurricane Matthew.  

The Parenting Skill’s Summit!

“I am so excited to finally shout from the rooftops that you can now register for the upcoming summit:

The World's Best Parenting Summit!!

We have some amazingly dynamic parenting experts who will be giving more of the awesome support you need to be the most rocking parent you can be!

This time around the focus is on finding your tribe, rocking your parenting, and raising healthy kids! We'll be talking about so many amazing topics, including how to raise healthy boys, how to encourage your young athlete, how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life, move towards more authentic parenting, how to talk about sex with your child (for all ages), and so much more!

Check out the details here to register: to sign up and get ready for the summit - which launched October 10th!

Feel free to share and let each and every parent you know in on this amazing FREE event!!”


If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Below Are Some Sites, Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love

Labyrinths 20% off for calming, focus and connectedness.


Sep 24, 2016

Parenting can get really stressful at times, especially if you have difficult circumstances.  Kids are so very different in regards to their strengths and special needs.  And, some situations are definitely more difficult than others.  Some children really require a specialized set of skills, as well as an environment that helps them function.  For example, parents of kids with ADHD really benefit from having patience and parenting strategies that help their child focus and to minimize impulsive behaviors, as well as helping their child with organization skills.  While other parents of a child with early childhood trauma, need lots of understanding about how trauma works and how best to respond.  Difficult situations lend themselves to parenting disagreement, which can strain a marriage.  On today’s episode, we’re going to discuss the 4 predictors of divorce and how to not only prevent divorce by make your marriage more enjoyable, even when you have a perpetual problem like how to parent.  Unfortunately, some parents become gridlocked on this issue and sometimes lead to divorce. 

 I’m strongly influenced my level 3 training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy.  This is a type of therapy that is based on research from thousands of couples.  It the very best type of marriage therapy available, in my opinion.  So if you are considering couples therapy for your relationship, consider finding a therapist trained in Gottman Therapy.  Your time will be used more efficiently and your therapeutic treatment will be designed around your custom needs.  It starts with assessment, then the creation of a treatment plan, and interventions to address specific areas that are problematic.  It tends to be a bit more expensive than your traditional therapy approach, because the sessions are usually longer (I provide 90 minute sessions) and more in depth.  It is much cheaper than divorce though, and much less painful for everyone involved. 

Here are some important parts of Gottman Method Couples Therapy:

5 Positives to 1 Negative Ratio Keeps a Marriage Healthy

When a partner makes a “bid for connection” (attempting to connect with your partner in some way) there are 3 options:  Turn Toward / Turn Away  / Turn Against.  Turning Toward is ultimately what makes marriages flourish throughout the years.  On the other hand, Turning Away and Turning Against may lead to the bids slowing down or quitting altogether.  And, that looks like a marriage that feels like you’re living with a stranger or a roommate.  So accept the bids for connection, even if it’s your parther showing you a pic on their phone or a quick smile.  And, physically turn toward your partner.  This is true for parenting too.  It’s send the message of “I’m interested in you.” and “You are important to me.”  This is a biggie.


Gottman Research provides us with 4 predictors of divorce or an unhappy relationship and their antidotes, aka 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

  1. Criticism: This is really attacking one’s character, who they are and what they stand for.  It can start out sounding like a complaint, but quickly transform into a hurtful form of communication that can be difficult to heal from.  This can cut deep, especially if it’s done on a repeated basis.  The antidote for criticism is to complain without blaming your partner.  To be clear, complaining can be healthy, but not when it take s the form of criticism. Without complaining we put our self at risks for resentment about things that are unexpressed and bothering us.  It can cause us to get bitter and shift into “negative sentiment override” – when your negatives about your partner overpower the positives.  It may sound like, “You always scream at him during homework time.”  The antidote may sound like “I’m feeling frustrated about homework time.  Can we please discuss ways to help him focus?”


  1. Defensiveness:  This can be a way of a partner defending themselves against an attack that they believe is coming.  In an indirect way, it can be a form of blaming your partner.  The antidote for defensiveness is for you to take blame for part of the problem.  “It’s not my fault that she’s failing school, it’s your fault for not helping her with her homework.”  The antidote may sound like, “Well, part of this is on me. I could’ve helped her with her homework too.”


  1. Contempt:  This can start as a criticism, but it takes a deeper, more painful level with actions such as name calling and putting down your partner in a global way, attacking their overall personality or being.  It’s really like sending the message of “I’m superior to you” and it can take the form of mockery, cynicism, sarcasm and an overall degrading tone.  It can be really hurtful.    The antidote to contempt is really shifting into a culture or respect and appreciation for your partner.  This may sound like, “You are the worst parent ever.”  The antidote may sound like “This parenting stuff is hard.  I’m glad we have each other to handle this together as a team.”


  1. Stonewalling: Having no response to your partner’s actions, whether good or bad.  Shutting down and withdrawing from the interaction in an unresponsive way to send a message to your partner that I am not even taking in what you’re doing or saying.  It’s like speaking to a stone wall.  This can escalate emotions quickly and leave people feeling gridlocked because processing of the information halts and feelings of resentment can set in heavy.  The antidote to this is to self-soothe and really pay attention to your body and learn ways to calm it down to reduce the likelihood that it gets to the point of stonewalling.  The antidote to this is to take a 20 minute or more calming break and use self-soothing techniques such as deep belly breathing, counting and distraction.   Also, it’s helpful when partners express that they are flooded and need a break.  This can make a big difference.  We do this in therapy as well.  I have the couple where pulse meters to measure their physiological responses.  


If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Sep 19, 2016

In This Episode:  

The words “I Hate You” can cut deep, especially when they are from your child.


When emotions get heated all kinds of comments can surface.


Let’s begin with an understanding of how the brain works.


I love Dr. Seigal’s Handy Model of the Brain.  His simple explanation of how the brain functions can give us a better understanding of how an “I Hate You” can slip out.  The good news is, that there are things that you can do to help.   Knowledge is a big part of it.


When we get upset our Pre Frontal Cortex goes off line as Dr Siegel puts it.  That basically means that our decision making gets high-jacked by our emotions in our limbic system.  In other words, the child is really upset.  Well, that’s probably something that you new already, right?  


When children, really people in general are extremely upset and their pre-frontal cortex is offline, or as Dr. Siegel puts it “Flipped their Lid” then they say and do things that are purely based in raw emotion, not having been filtered through their “Is this a good idea” filter.  


They may say or do things that they don’t mean or is not in their best interest.  I’m a marriage counselor and can’t help but relate to how couples become “flooded” which is just another way of saying that they “flip their lids” and do and say things they often don’t mean and regret in many instances.


Okay, so here’s how to remedy this.  First, watch the short little video to Dr. Siegel’s handy model of the brain.  You can find it on you tube by just putting ‘handy model of the brain” and I’ll also have a link to it in the show notes.  


Then,  when your child is upset or angry always focus on a de-escalation goal.  Empathy is a biggie in helping kids calm down and preserving and strengthening your relationship through it all.  Reflect their feeling in a way that sounds and looks like you care.  “I can see you feel really angry at me right now.”  Have your body language match your words, so the child can get the message that you care.  


Also, be the thermostat, not the thermometer.  Don’t get hot as your child gets hot, cool it down as your child gets hot. In other words, don’t get upset with the child, speak in a calm, loving voice to set the emotional temperature in the room.  Remember, this isn’t a magic wand approach so I will take time, patience, and lots of love to remain calm, but it’s key.  The effort is so very worth it.  


Another biggie is to avoid teaching in these moments.  If your child’s thinking part of their brain is not functioning fully, then your words are not only being received, but they are likely to esculate the upset and remember the goal is deescuation.  The processing of what’s alright and what’s not alright does need to happen, but only after your child is in a calmer state.  This is an important piece too.  My work is highly influenced by my training and experience in Child Parent Relationship Therapy created by  Sue Bratton ,Garry Landreth, Theresa Kellam ,  and Sandra R. Blackard  .  I keep their manual within arms reach of me at my private practice.  It’s one of my favorite resources.  Over the years, I’ve learned many approaches and Child Parent Relationship Therapy is by far the very best.  If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to listen to the episode on Child Parent Relationship Therapy with Dr. Dalena Dillman Taylor from University of Central Florida.  Click Here to Listen to Episode 22 on Child Parent Relationship Therapy


To help your child calm down, you need to be in a calm state.  This is often much easier said than done in the early stages of this process.   It’s really helpful to learn and use calming techniques with your child when times are good.  During an angry episode, is not the time to learn calming skills.   I like deep belly breaths, bunny sniffs, butterfly hugs, double doodling with both hands, and there’s some higher level ones such as pendulating and visualization that can be really effective.


The most important thing is to not take it personally.  See it as an opportunity to help our child develop emotionally.  If it does strike a nerve in a big way, do a check in with yourself to assess whether or not it is touching on a sore spot, if it hits a nerve from past pains or hurtful situations of the past.  If yes, I may be beneficial to do some therapy work on a personal level.  Heal yourself, so that you don’t pass that pain on to your child.


Here’s a short clip of my daughter , Angel, doing a role play of what this may sound like.



If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Aug 27, 2016

Episode 34,  Labyrinths for Focus, Calmness, and Connection


In This Episode: 

  • I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Neal from Relax 4 Life.
  • I first learned about Neal after purchasing one of his labyrinths to use with my students. I was in search for a tool that was easy to use that helped kids calm down, focus, and regain collectedness enough to go back to class after feeling bothered by something.  Labyrinths are great for all of these things.
  • Now I use my double labyrinth with my clients in almost every session with almost everybody – adults and children.
  • I have also used my double labyrinth to help parents and children attune to each other.
  • More recently I have used it as part of couples counseling.
  • In our conversation, Neal talks about the many different kinds of labyrinths. He mentioned a bit about the history and concept of labyrinth as well.  I am planning a trip to go to a walking labyrinth. I’m super excited!
  • Neal mentions some research that looks at the helpfulness of using a labyrinth with children and adults with ADHD. Also, some people use it as part of meditation, prayer, or mindfulness.
  • I love to use mine in the sandtray to add the element of the sensory effect to the experience.
  • Visit to see the ones that I recommend.
Aug 22, 2016

Depression is an often misunderstood condition. 

 I think lots of times, the term “depression” get’s thrown around.  In this episode I want to talk about what it is, what it is not, what helps, what doesn’t and how it can affect the realm of parenting.  

It’s so much more than just “being sad”.

There are many types of depression.

Having a baby, childbirth, can trigger a plethora of powerful emotions.  

It can be exciting, scary, heartwarming, and even depressing.   Postpartum depression is not uncommon and can leave people feeling guilty and shameful, which makes it even worse.  

Lots of love and support for the mom and the baby is vital during this time.  

Often the medical team will check in with the parent to see if depressive symptoms are present.  

The parent child relationship is so very important.  Especially important are the first 3 years of life. This is when attachment is formed.  Attachment is a biggie as it really lays a blueprint in a child’s brain for other relationships. Attachment is an entirely other episode, but I bring it up here to really emphasize the importance of seeking treatment if you are a parent and you are experiencing symptoms of depression.  It can affect your child’s development in a big way.  

Reaching out for support from a qualified mental health professional can make a big difference in your life and the lives of those that love you.  

It can allow your quality of life to improve and help you and your child or children to connect in a more meaningful way.  When children see their parents suffering, it can take a toll for sure.  

There are many different treatments for depression.  

As a mental health counselor, I help many people with depression through therapy.   It’s important to know that there are different types of therapy too.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Art Therapy, Mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Solution Focused therapy and much more. 

I prefer using the whole brain approach.  Also there are other things that are great adjuncts to therapy, such as yoga, exercise, journaling, etc... The important thing is that you take action – don’t let it eat up these valuable parenting years.  It’s tough and it’s hard to even get out of bed some days, and that’s where the support can come in.  

Some people seek medicine to address their depression.  I just read Bessel Van der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps the Score.  I love how he describes it in there.  Medicine should not be the first response, and when it is used, it should be used with caution and just to make the therapeutic experience more beneficial.  It can dull the emotions that are problematic, but therapy ultimately helps the person to heal from it.  Some people struggle lifelong with depression.  

It’s important to know that trying to convince someone of reasons why they should be happy is not helpful.  It can actually make it worse.  

It’s also important to mention that depressive symptoms during a time of grief and loss is considered a normative state, and is treated in a different way.  Therapy can still be very helpful in these situations.



If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Aug 4, 2016

In This Episode:  

Anxious feelings during back to school time are not uncommon especially in times of transition such as kindergarten, moving from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, and then eventually college. 

This time can be really stressful for kids and families.  It may look like crying, clinginess, lower tolerance levels that lead to tantrums sometimes, somatic symptoms such as tummy aches and headaches, and crankiness.  

Children may present as desperate and beg and plead to stay home.  Some will try to bargaining and negotiate.  Does this sound familiar?  


It is totally “normal” for all of us as human beings to have worries.  It’s the way that our brain is wired.  However, going to school isn’t optional.

 School is a “non-negotiable”. In fact, allowing your child to miss due to worries will often increase your child’s fear.  


The chance for successful experience and having them realize that they can surpass the fears doesn’t get a chance to occur.  It also limits children in many other ways.  

Obviously, they miss the academic portion of school and get behind. They don’t get the opportunity to succeed and master certain skills.  


This can be such a biggie!  If they get behind in the schoolwork, often school seems like even more undesirable to them.  It also has a social impact.  At school kids foster friendships, as well as develop and practice social skills.  


To set your child up for success, it’s super important to create a schedule and an environment where your child is getting plenty enough sleep, eating healthy meals and moving around physically. It just makes it easier when their body feels rested, nourished, and alive.  


Use empathy to let your child know that you care.  This makes a big difference.  It starts with reflecting the feeling.  It may sound like this, “You feel worried about 3rd grade, the thought of going back feels overwhelming”. 

Through this approach you are helping your child with emotional literacy, but more importantly sending the message of “I get you... I understand... I know it’s hard... and I care.”  If appropriate you can also tell a short snippet of a related story about yourself.  But, be careful not to “one up” your child as that’s not helpful.  This can go a long way.  

If we respond with “there’s nothing to be scared about.” Then kids think, “My mom/dad doesn’t understand.” This can leave them feeling frustrated, hopeless and even more scared.  And, this could make it even worse because they then lose the hope for support from their parents.  I know this can be hard, especially with irrational fears, but trust me on this one – taking the time to validate your child’s feelings is so very helpful.

It’s also really helpful to try to figure out the root of your child’s concerns.  This will help you develop a plan to cope.  It also models for your child how to think things through as well.  

When someone feels anxious, the alarm system in their brain is usually going off, so thinking is limited at best.  

It’s important to know that what you think is the problem, may not be the problem.  I see that in therapy frequently, when the child and the parent describe the issue as completely different.  

It’s helpful sometimes to reach out to teachers, school counselors, therapists and such for support.  They are in the business of helping kids, so they may have information that can make you and your child’s life much easier by helping you get through this problem.

Steer clear of Guilt or Shame when it comes to motivational efforts.  Guilt (I’m doing something bad) and Shame (I am a bad person) can leave your child feeling less than and incapable.  It not only will hinder them with this issue, but cause much greater issues in the long term.  

Pick out some things that your child may like about school and focus on those.  But, remember you don’t want to jump right to this, be sure to connect with your child and reflect their feelings first.  If you jump right into convincing mode, you’re likely going to be met with deaf ears. 

It’s important to mention the reality of how kids can smell anxiety in their parents a mile away.  They often take cues from their parents to see how confident, how trusting, how secure they should feel about a situation.  That’s why it’s so very important to be calm and collected yourself.  This takes some looking within.  It can be difficult though, so it’s more important than ever to engage in self soothing and reach out for support for yourself if necessary through a support group, trusted friend, yoga class, therapy, etc...  Plain and simple, your child looks to you as “this is how I should react to the world.”  

When you drop your child off at school, be supportive but calm and firm. A short and sweet kiss and a goodbye, “I love you.  I see that your scared, but I know you’ll be okay here.  We can see each other again after school.” helps.  Sometimes it may feel heartbreaking to see  your child cry and plead for you to stay, but if you continue to stand there and say goodbye over and over again, it just makes it harder on you, your child, and the classroom.  

I love those little Worry Eaters for the younger kids.  I found mine on Amazon.  There are also several books out there.  

For therapy options, I love using EMDR with kids and adults.  In my experience, I’ve noticed that gets to the root of it quicker by desensitizing and reprocessing.  Also, though stopping and therapeutic deep belly breaths can make a big difference.   

I’ve also had great experiences with essential oils.  DoTerra brand has a blend, Serenity, which is good.  I really like Eden Gardens brand though.  They are less costly and really good.  I use them is session with my clients for grounding and calming.  I love lavender, peppermint, bergamot, and lemon.



If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Jul 30, 2016

In This Episode:  

Today we’re talking about emotional abuse.  Through my work, I help clients heal from this and move past the wounds that it can leave.  It can be a trauma.   Unfortunately, emotional abuse can take a huge toll on one’s self-confidence and self-esteem levels.   Being in an emotionally abusive relationship can have people questioning their life choices and own self-worth.

Today’s show is focused on helping parents recognize the signs of this problematic area of emotional abuse and choose better, healthier ways of interacting with each other (whether together or separated) and their children.  

Now, let’s talk about what emotional abuse actually is... Emotional abuse is different from physical abuse which is really marked by explosive outbursts and physical harm. Emotional abuse can be more deceptive and subtle.  While it doesn’t leave physical marks, it can sure leave emotional scars that go deep.  In some cases, many people aren’t even aware that it is happening.  You can’t see it like a bruise or a cut, but you can feel it.  And, others around can feel it too.  It can really rock people’s world.  For parents, it can lead to divorce, separation, physical violence and much more.  For kids... it seems like they have the most difficult situation of all.  They can’t just divorce or leave.  They are stuck.  They may choose to cut off the relationship at first opportunity though.  But, often families in these situations, just notice that their quality of life is poor at best and they often feel the painful stings of the cut downs, humiliations, control, and such.  

It really involves a regular pattern of verbal attack, threatening, humiliation (social or within the family, or both), control, bullying, threats, inducing fear, and perpetual criticism. Also, more subtle tactics like intimidation, control attempts, humiliation, shaming and manipulation. They may accuse their target of being “overly sensitive” to avert the reality of their abusive remarks.  In these cases, respect, empathy and compassion are either low or non-existent.  Many times the abuser will share personal information in a chastening way in an attempt to degrade and demean their target.  Often there’s teasing, put downs and a disregard for their targets accomplishments, hopes and dreams.

The purpose of emotional abuse is to control and overpower the other person.  The abuser may not even realize that they are doing it. It most often is the result of their own painful experience from childhood wounds and insecurities that come with that.  Emotionally healthy people treat others with respect, kindness, and compassion.  Often, in emotionally abusive situations, the abuser may have been abused themselves leaving them with a feeling of “this is normal” or “this is acceptable”.  They may even feel like a victim themselves, giving them the illusion of justification for their actions.  In fact, they may deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted and accuse their target of being the cause of their behavior.

 For parents, they often look back on how they were raised and use that as a blueprint on how to raise their own children -“this is how I was raised and I turned out fine.”  When in reality they didn’t turn out fine or they wouldn’t be acting the way they do.  They may feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless themselves, so their instinct is to gain control over someone else that they can feel dominant over.   Therapy can help.  

It’s important to know that emotional abuse can occur in any relationship — between parent and child, in friendships, families, and marital relationships. 

This can happen slowly in relationships.  The long term effects can be huge.  In  kids, it can affect their life choices and put them more at risk for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and in some cases even post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.  It really taxes on the feelings of self worth, especially if they were verbally abused as a child.  Also, if a child witnesses emotional abuse of a parent, their perception of what a healthy relationship is and what it isn’t can be skewed from reality.    

Today, Laura Reagan is on the podcast to share a bit of her professional experience with helping people heal from emotional abuse.  Laura is a colluegue in the podcast world.  I love podcasts!  She’s the host of therapy chat podcast and she is also a licensed clinical social worker in Baltimore with a private psychotherapy practice.  I love learning from her.  She specializes in trauma.  In this episode, you’ll here her talk about her work.  She has a free e-book, Parenting after Trauma, for you as well.  



Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast on iTunes, if you haven’t already.   Also, join us in our FB Community at


Jul 22, 2016

Episode 30, Knowing the Difference Between a Tantrum and a Meltdown and How to Respond to Both


In This Episode:  


A tantrum and a meltdown are different.  It’s important to differentiate between the two as it helps guide a helpful response by the parent.  Knowing that tantrums are a result of the child trying to get something and meltdowns are a reaction to sensory overstimulation.

A tantrum is based in an attempt for the person (usually a child, but not always!) to get something they want.  

It is behavioral based and some suggest that impulsivity can play a key role in their occurrence.

A child may have a tantrum if he wants a toy at the story, but is told no.  The tantrum is in an effort (may be conscious or unconscious) to get the toy.  

It doesn’t need to be based in a desire to attain tangible things though.  A child can also feel intense emotions that lead to a tantrum over issues such as attention, activities, and such.

It usually involves yelling, crying, kicking and screaming, which may look a lot like a meltdown to the untrained eye.

The child usually can control a tantrum, but may have limitations due to emotional flooding.

Tantrums are apt to stop when gets what he / she either gets what he / she wants or if he /she realizes that the tantrum is ineffective unlikely to produce the desired effect.

Characteristics of a Meltdown

A meltdown is a reaction to feeling overwhelmed, usually due to sensory overload (too much sensory information at once to process).

It looks a lot like a tantrum, with the exception of some body signals such as holding ears, not stopping for communication, etc.

The commotion of a supermarket may trigger a sensory meltdown.

The brain goes into overload and fight, flight or freeze response seems to set in.

For some, it can be a response to having a lot of things going on internally at one time, such as stress, worry, etc.

It’s important to mention that a tantrum lead to a meltdown due to the intensity.

Be sure to check out episode 23 on Sensory Processing Disorder to learn more.

A child will often stop a tantrum if she attains what she wants such as a candy bar, toy, activity, attention, etc. Or if she’s rewarded for using a more desirable behavior such as using her words to ask, being kind or whatever fits the situation.  It’s important to resist the urge to give the child what she wants as reinforcement, as it will cause more and more tantrums in the future.  It’s a great teachable opportunity to teach your child that outbursts aren’t the way to get things she wants in life.  These lessons will serve her well through the years.

Now a meltdown is different.  A meltdown isn’t likely to stop when a child gets what she wants. In fact, it may just be a matter of changing the sensory input that the child is receiving.  This happens a lot with kids with Sensory processing disorder.  Once the child leaves the overstimulating environment, she may start to feel calmer.

So how can you handle tantrums and meltdowns differently?

For tantrums, it’s important to recognize acknowledge what your child wants without giving in as reinforcement. Make it clear that you understand what she’s after. “I realize that you’d like a candy bar.  Now isn’t a time that we eat candy though.  You can have an apple or another snack when we get in the car though.” Then help her see there’s a more appropriate behavior that will work. “When you choose to speak calmly and respectfully, you may share with me what you choose.”

To de-escalate a meltdown, help your child find a safe, quiet place to calm. “We’re going to go out to the car now.  It’s quiet there and I can turn on the air conditioning so that we are both cool and comfortable.” Resist the urge to lecture or talk too much though, as that can be over stimulating in and of itself though.

It’s super helpful to identify and name the emotion that your child is feeling.  It builds their emotional literacy and also helps them to have language to express something that is happening in the body, as well as helping their brain to self-regulate the intensity of the emotion.

It’s important to know the difference between tantrums and meltdowns, as your response is a key factor in getting through it and attaining calm again.

Happy parenting!!  

Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast on iTunes, if you haven’t already.   Also, join us in our FB Community at

Jul 14, 2016

In This Episode:  

I’m reflecting on all the times I have made a mistake as a parent. Whew! This realization cans me quite humbling.

Now, to be completely honest, I could not possibly remember each time that I have made a parenting mistake. Or any mistake for that matter. As I have probably made about a gazillion mistakes in my lifetime, and certainly many of them during last 13-ish years as a parent.  But, I’m totally okay with that since I have learned from them.

Lessons learned by experience are LONG LASTING and VALUABLE.

One biggie that I’ve learned is, it is okay to not be the “PERFECT” parent. Really, is there such a thing anyway?

Mention of this reminds me of Brene Brown’s (I LOVE her work!) beautiful book, “The Gift of Imperfection”.  Her message is a life changer for so many, myself included. All of her books and talks are incredible.

Being the “best” parent that YOU can be is what truly matters.

At the time of this writing, I have not yet met a “perfect” parent. I don’t expect that I ever will either. It’s just not a realistic expectation. What is a realistic expectation however, is that we do what works best for us, while honoring the uniqueness and individuality in our own selves and our own family.

Being the absolute “best” parent that you can be is SO MUCH more rewarding, attainable and worthwhile.

I have met many AMAZING parents over the years though.

With these parents, I’ve noticed that they all incorporate…

  • LOVE

… into their own parenting styles in their own, unique ways.

Also, these parents all seem to give themselves, and the ones that they love, permission to make mistakes.

Brilliant, right?

It’s important to mention that the topic of parenting sometimes lends itself to strong opinions.

Getting past the point of letting other people’s opinions drive our decisions can feel so EMPOWERING.  It allows us to relax and actually be able to enjoy our kiddos and the experiences that life has to offer.  This effort is totally worth it. Freeing our hearts and opening our minds enables us to access a beautiful space that holds the SELF-LOVEACCEPTANCE, and HAPPINESS that we crave.

As a therapist specializing in Child Parent Relationship Therapy, I teach parents to “Focus on the Donut, Not the Hole”.

I interpret this to mean, focus your energy on the good stuff, not on what’s going wrong. Sure, we need to address things that go wrong, but it’s not helpful to fall into the perpetual pit of doom that focusing on weaknesses can bring.  Things get so much tougher when we dwell on the negative.  I have seen such healing, growth and improvements in people’s life with this one realization. This is not my idea however, as it is part of the therapeutic protocol outlined in CPRT Package: Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual: A 10-Session Filial Therapy Model for Training Parents, by Bratton S., Landreth, G, Kellam, T., and Blackard, S.

Their “FOCUS ON THE DONUT, NOT THE HOLE” concept is only part of this incredibly effective type of relationship based therapy. The other tenents of their book and manual are brilliant as well!

If you are searching for:

  • deeper relationships with your children
  • more effective ways to nurture good character
  • simple methods to foster self esteem and courage to take chances

…this type of therapy is recommended. Good stuff!

In regard to tough situations that life can offer, I invite you to “Focus on the Donut” on a personal level as well.

Noticing what you are doing “right” can make tough situations much easier by fostering feelings of adequacyselfworth, and capability.

Give yourself permission to be human and make mistakes, with the INTENTION of learning from them and ultimately doing better the next time is good stuff.

The word “intention” means to do something on purpose. Parenting “on purpose” can leave us feeling empowered and in control.

Maya Angelou’s brilliant words “when we know better, we do better” apply here, for sure. So, education is key to making informed decisions on purpose.

I love, Love, LOVE learning from experts in the field on topics such as neuroscience, child development, behavioral strategies and interventions, etc.… Through this I attain much greater amounts of insight and accurate information.

I remember when my first child was born, I was quickly realized that other, often well-meaning parents can express strong opinions based on the big issues. Whoa… This caught me off guard a bit. It took me a while to realize that I had a choice in those types of situations.  When I finally realized that, I felt like I could breathe again and enjoy being a parent.

The fact of the matter is, we can choose to perceive these types of comments as judgmental, mini aggressions. (This choice can be emotionally draining for sure!)

Or, we can CHOOSE to take away the information that I can use and leave the rest.

It is our CHOICE. It is nice to have a choice, right?

I think we have all experienced it at one time or another–The dreaded “No, you should _____________ instead. You’re doing it wrong.”


Sometimes, words from others can sometimes sound judgmental and sting, leaving us feeling paralyzed, inadequate, and unable to function at our personal best.

Issues such as:

  • To breast-feed or not…
  • To stay at home with my child more to be a parent working outside of the home…
  • To use a pacifier or not..
  • To soothe my child to sleep or not…
  • Date nights or not…
  • Medicate or not..
  • Private, homeschool, or public school…
  • etc…

… can keep parents up at night, wondering “Am I doing the right thing?”.


For the most part, people mean well… giving their words of advice that they believe to be helpful can be an act of kindness for sure.   Many times their advice is just what we need. But, sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes, advice from others can leave us feeling torn and confused. Especially, when it isn’t aligned with OUR VALUES, STYLE, and DESIRES for our families.

The key to gaining helpful parent knowledge in these situations is to take what information applies and leave the rest.

I’m a huge fan of gathering as much information as possible. Making informed decisions is a biggie for me. I continuously gather information from books, blogs, podcast, conferences, and more… As these sources can be just what I need.

I take what I need and leave the rest.

To be clear, I certainly have my ideas on what works and what doesn’t for MY family. Who doesn’t, right? I am super aware though that they are just that… MY ideas.

In my work as a Registered Play Therapist, Educator, and a Parent Coach, I have learned the immense value of truly listening to parents for the purpose of accurately identifying what is working and what is not, as well as accurately identifying what is at the root of the concerns. This approach enables me to provide information that they can wrap around THEIR VALUES, and build on from then on.

Good stuff!

Information is SO valuable. In my personal and professional life, I steer clear of the “You shoulds…” every chance that I get.

Recently, I heard the saying “Don’t Should’ve on Yourself!”. It made me chuckle and raise my eyebrow, as it is such a valuable reminder of how “should’s” can certainly be the thief of our parenting joy.

It is important to know, that a “one size fits all” parenting style simply does not exist.

It’s like trying to FIT INTO SOMEONE ELSE’S SKINNY JEANS!  Sometimes they just don’t fit… With enough effort, we may be able to get them on and button them up, but sometimes they just don’t fit.  And,  they can leave us feeling uncomfortable, leaving us unable to relax and enjoy life…enough said!

What works for me, may not work for you… and, what works for you may not work for your best friend’s cousin…

“Intentionality” is the vital. Plain and simple.

Being clear on YOUR:

  • Values
  • Limitations
  • Expectations

…is absolutely essential.

A lack of clarity in these areas can leave you feeling exhausted…like you are running around in circles, expending your precious energy on what OTHERS think you should do, and sometimes swimming in a tumultuous river of PARENT GUILT.

Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast on iTunes, if you haven’t already.   Also, join us in our FB Community at


We are on this journey together.

In the meantime, breathe easy, give yourself permission to be human – to be imperfect, and love with your whole heart. And remember, squeezing into someone else’s skinny jeans isn’t always the best idea.  =)

Happy Parenting!


Jul 8, 2016


In This Episode:  

We’ll hear Stephanie Sanders explain the realm of Speech and Language services for children in the school setting.  She mentions that the group setting is most common with her work.

She also tells us that it differs from the home setting, where she would work with the child one on one.  

She created a curriculum that she developed over the course of 4 years while working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

She was initially inspired by her younger brother and her students.

She tells us about some of the common struggles that kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders experience and how she addresses it with the students that she works with.

She emphasizes the importance of communication with parents while working with children.

She discusses the struggles that some of the kids that have with non-literal language, picking up social cues and such.

She usually works with kids in groups of 5 or less.  The group setting allows for social issues to come up.

Stephanie wrote a book to present a curriculum to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The FILTER Approach:  Social Communication Skills for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The acronym “FILTER” breaks down as the following: F - Facial clues, I – Inappropriate, L – Listen, T – Target, E - End and Start Conversations, and R - Repair

She has witnessed students putting the concepts into action, both in the therapy room and in real time.

She has a PRE & POST mini assessment (a 10 question questionnaire) to assess their level of retention.

In her work, she has seen children retain the information and put it into action.

The FILTER Approach is a user friendly curriculum that professionals and kids can really connect with and benefit from.

When the children get positive feedback it can support self-esteem growth and foster positive feelings of self-worth.

She emphasize the importance of identifying the needs and implementing the curriculum at an early age in a developmentally appropriate manner.

The FILTER Approach incorporates some social scenes to give the kids insight from an experience level.

Stephanie creates an emotionally safe and trusting environment for the children to open up about their social awkwardness and struggles.  

Stephanie is very clear and transparent with the children to let them know that she communicates with parents.


Collaboration with parents, teachers, therapists, school counselors and other people helping the child is ideal.

She talks about the metaphor of the filter and how she describes how it applies to this concept.

She also teaches kids how their brain works to give them a deeper understanding of how the concept applies in terms of brain function.

She tells students how using a filter can help them with relationships, with a job, and many other areas of their lives.

Stephanie stresses the importance to listening to the kids without jumping right in to teach them or fix the problem.  This can be really helpful for kids, especially kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The information presented in this curriculum helps children not only at this time in their lives, but it helps lifelong.

Stephanie provides some AMAZING tips for parents and for professionals helping kids out.  

It’s so important to consider the perspective of the child.  You can read more about this in her blog post for ASHA (A link to her blog post is not available at this time. Expected date of availability is anticipated for the early August timeframe.)

Stephanie gets silly sometimes with parents and kids in her work.  She has an awesome Donald Duck and Scooby Doo voice.

Stephanie really prayed throughout the 4 years of creating the curriculum for my students to connect with the concepts that she presented and just before submitting The FILTER Approach to Plural Publishing that it might benefit any students/clients exposed to the curriculum.

She continues to pray for the previously mentioned individuals and for any therapists, counselors, teachers, or parents choosing to implement this curriculum with their students/clients.

You can read the full show notes at

Jun 30, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 27, How to Heal and Move on After Divorce

Are you a parent worried about your child through your divorce? Here’s a link to my s Free Parent Class 

In This Episode:  

It’s important to identify the emotional pain by naming the feelings.

Dr. Siegel says “When we can name it, we can tame it!”.  This is so true. 

Common feelings are feelings of betrayal, fear, guilt, hope, anger, regret, etc...  Recognizing and accepting the feelings that surface, release their grip on you. 

Also, it is important to recognize your belief systems that have been put into place through it all.  Some painful ones that I hear in my practice is “I am unlovable.” “I should’ve done something earlier.” “I am a bad person.” and such.  If those are coming up for you, therapy may be the best option to help you heal. 

When we experience trauma, our brain functions differently.  It can change so many things in our lives.  Divorce is no different.  If left unprocessed in a healthy way, one my feel anxiety when connecting with new people such as dating.  Perhaps feeling clingy, untrusting, or even standoffish and unable to accept the other’s compliments.  

For parents, unprocessed trauma could reduce their capacity to be fully present with their kiddos and cause them to feel “numb” to things that they previously enjoyed.  It could cause them to be irritable or to have a shorter fuse with their kiddos.  And, for many it just feels like they are stuck, destined to feel that way forever.  Trauma distorts time.

It’s important to seek support not only to help you grieve the loss of the dreams you had when you got married, but also to help you reprocess the trauma, so that you don’t repeat the same situation with someone new as you delve into a new relationship.  

Some people grieve, then find someone new, while others find someone new then feel those feelings.  Now, I’ll bet you can imagine which one has the best results.  That’s why it’s recommended for people that are newly divorced not to dive right into a new relationship.  The excitement of a new relationship can disguise the pain for a while.  But, after the newness wears off, then it can surface. It can leave people with new relationship challenges.  

Also, jumping in too soon after divorce can complicate the adjustment process for the children too.  Some people have a big worry of not being able to financially support themselves without someone else, so getting in a relationship right out of divorce is part of their freedom plan. Unfortunately, relationships that exists as a financial stability piece can dissolve and be more destructive than ever.  So it’s super important to heal first, and then move on after you are in a healthier spot, emotionally and financially.  


After your divorce, be sure to take time to decompress.  Engage in an activity that makes you feel good, other than dating or partying.  Something that ignites your feeling of self again: volunteering, exercise, connecting with friends, painting... Only you know what does this.  Movement can do amazing things for your emotional state.  

Identify and connect with your support system.  Friends, family, therapist, etc.  the reason why this helps is because we are wired as social beings.  This means, we have an innate need to feel heard, cared about, ... in the heart and mind of someone else.  <3

After divorce, this can be especially important since relationship ruptured can leave one feeling unheard, unloved, uncared about.  

Since our bodies are a system, when a trauma happens such as with some divorces, it can affect our sleep patterns, tolerance levels, digestive system, emotional regulation (some people experience depressive and anxiety symptoms).  With therapy, people can organize it all in your brain, heal the hurts and position themselves with a much healthier capacity to adjust and enjoy your new start, which can then help your kiddos ultimately to move on.  

Just like the flight attendant says to put on your own oxygen mask before you do your child’s, be sure to oxygenate yourself during this time so that you can be there for your kiddos.  

With friends and family, notice the amount of time that you engage in “Divorce” talk.  If it’s too much, pull back and seek out a therapist for individual or group support.  Let your previous relationship be your teacher. 

What “ruts” do you want to get out of? What would you like for the future? What are some deal breakers with future relationships?  

Some relationships end as a result, or at least partially because of emotional abuse.  This is tough for some to grasp since there aren’t any physical marks, but there are certainly emotional scars.  This involves a regular pattern of verbal assault, such as threatening, bullying, constant criticism, or more subtle approaches such as intimidation, shaming, humiliation, control, manipulation, etc... 

Emotional abuse is used to control and suppress the other person.  


A lot of time it can result out of childhood wounds and insecurities that the abuser experienced and didn’t heal from in their own life.  This reminds me of the quote “HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE”.  Along the way, healthy coping mechanisms weren’t put into place.  This could leave them with a hunger for control and power as a result of their unprocessed anger, hurt, fear and feelings of powerlessness, those more vulnerable feelings.  That’s one of the reasons why you should heal yourself through this, so that you can be healthy enough to parent in a healthy way for your kiddos. 

Allow yourself to grieve if you are feeling the pain of divorce.  Allow yourself to feel the feelings in a supported, safe way.   One thing that can be incredibly helpful is to write and / or create some type of artwork.  

The power of expression is amazing. I use expressive art therapy in my work in almost every session with my clients, regardless of age.  

Journaling can be really helpful.  Research tells us that it cannot only help at the moment with regulating the body’s physiological response such as blood pressure, heart rate, and it can help people sleep more sound, but it can also help in the long term with huge physical and emotional benefits.  For this, you can just by a journal (it doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive) and just write what comes to mind, thereby releasing it from your mind body and soul.

It is also helpful to write a letter to yourself from someone that you love and that cares about you, such as a family member or a trusted friend. This one was shared with me from a dear friend that went through a divorce herself.   It can be so very healing.  It’s cathartic and can help people heal enough to move on in a healthy way.  

From a neuroscience perspective, the power of telling our story through a narrative can organize it in our brain, in the hippocampus, where it would otherwise be left fragmented and unprocessed.  This can lead to chaos, whereas the narrative can heal.  

Remember that there is an “after” this time.  So, intentionally focus on creating a better future for you and your kiddos.  Remember, you and your kiddos can still be a happy family even after all of this.  So play with them, show your interest in your children, and connect with them in a way that lets them know that you care about them and that they are important to you.  Remember, their belief system is forming during this time too.  

Also, allow your child to grieve and process through this divorce in a healthy way.  It can be tough for kids if some things aren’t in place.  

I have an online course on this, Parenting through Divorce: 7 Key Strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Healthy Before, During And After Divorce.  It’s one of my Parent With Intention courses.  If you want check that out, just visit   I have almost 50 brief videos in the course that incorporates much of what I share with the parents that I work with in my private practice and as a parent coach as a Divorce Recovery Specialist


Jun 23, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 26

A Child is Like a Butterfly

Are you a parent worried about your child through your divorce? Here’s a link to my s Free Parent Class 

In This Episode:  

Just like a butterfly needs the struggle of emerging from the chrysalis to get it’s blood to it’s wings then ultimately fly, so does a child.  

Giving children the gift of responsibilities sends them the message “I believe in you!”.  “I believe you are capable.” “You can difficult things.” “You are an important member of this family.” 

Responsibilities and chores really equip our children with the confidence, grit and work ethic to go out into the world and dare to follow, and work for, dreams.  

When kids have responsibilities, it nurtures their sense of self-worth which relates to self-esteem.  

Some parents don’t require their kids to do chores for a variety of reasons.  They may feel guilty about a touch circumstance such as divorce, health condition, or some other hardship.  This is often done with good intention, but it actually limits the child even more.  

If you want to set your child up for success, give your child a meaningful chore around the house; ones that they do, just because they are an important member of the family.  

It’s important to make the chores meaningful, achievable and worthwhile.  Also, be sure to notice that the child did the chore or took care of the responsibility.  Be careful to not be overly critical of the child’s work, as that could leave him feeling defeated and undervalued.   Create an environment that fosters a love for participation and follow-through.

Resist the urge to pay your child with allowance for all of their chores, not all certainly, but have some chores be just a part of their life duties.  

This will help them get the blood to their wings and ultimately fly independently.


(Some of the Links Below are Affiliate Links)


Jun 20, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 25

Divorce and Sports

Are you a parent worried about your child through your divorce? Here’s a link to my s Free Parent Class 

In This Episode:  

Brian Brunkow is a San Diego-based lawyer, Glazier Head Coach Academy speaker, and the author of Zero Offseason – a guidebook on divorce & sports parenting.  

With a background in family law and coaching youth football, Brian’s focus is helping coaches and parents collaborate on the “ABC’s of Divorce & Effective Sports Parenting.”  

When time and money is so commonly used as a weapon in divorce situations, the “ABC’s” : Aligning Goals, Following the Best Interests Standard & Controlling Controllables.  They help encourage the adults to stay focused on helping kids develop life skills thru positive youth sports lessons.

Brian has a substantial background in coaching.  

It’s important to keep the kids on the field and involved in sports to give them the life skills that can come through sports. 

Sports can reduce the high school dropout rate with adolescents.

When parents are passive aggressive with time and money, the child is the one that misses out and is ultimately hurt.

Brian tells us about the Baldwin vs. Basinger story, how high conflict divorce can result in the child missing out on valuable time over custody battles.

He shares some statistics about divorce.  

He also shares insight of how divorce can impact kids.  T

here are some program success studies that illustrate the importance of working together as parents for the children’s sake. 

Brian is the author of a book, “Zero Offseason”.

Good behavior will not change the behavior of the other parent.  But, it will give you a piece of mind.

He tells us about the “ABC’s” : Aligning Goals, Following the Best Interests Standard & Controlling Controllables

He talks to us about aligning goals.  He tells us a story of divorced soccer parents and how their situation affected the child.

Simple rules, but complex...“The kids gotta play, let the coaches coach, and the parents need to support.” Being the support system as a parent is so important.

Sports help kids with socialization skills, as well as conflict management skills that will help keep them out of trouble in life. 

Youth sports teach kids discipline, mental toughness and grit.

Communication between parents is very important. 

Using stories is a great way help parents work things out, so that the child doesn’t lose years of opportunity for sports growth.

He talks to us about “Bleacher” Parents and references Jennifer Capriati and her experience through the divorce in her family.  As a tennis player, she was an incredible athlete and top performer in the world.  By the time she was 17 though, she retired from tennis.  She didn’t have the support system at home. 

Some parents equate their ability as a parent with the child’s performance in the sport.

The parents need to be smart about how they approach the calendar.  A throughout calendar can prevent some conflicts from occurring.  

“ Best Interests” standard is all about the child, not the parents or the coaches.

Brian recommends having a Co-Parenting Mission Statement to have on the refrigerator at both homes. You can get a copy of it at   The child may think, “Mom and Dad don’t get along, but they both have my back.”

Impact – Safety is considered a “non-negotiable.  Parents must communicate.  For example, parents need to work together and communicate if their child gets a concussion.  This is HUGELY important.

It’s important for parents to remember that they can’t control bad behavior of the other parent, so it is best to focus energy on what you can control.

Process-based goals keep things focused on the child.

On field & off field, parents need to support their child.

Brian recommends playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” game with little kids as a way to teach them how to control the controllables.  This is where you want your energy to be because this is where you can have an impact.  It helps teach kids the importance of teaching them to focus on what’s in front of them. 

Brian is working on a program, a legal workshop for employees “aligning goals”, “best interests”, and “controlling the controllables”.  


Jun 9, 2016


In This Episode:  

Robert Cox specializes in the treatment of Trauma and Autism Spectrum Disorder and uses mindfulness extensively in his practice.  He lectures nationally on autism and works as a consultant for children’s psychiatric hospitals in the development of Autism treatment programs.  Recently, he has become the lead consultant for the creation of a special needs school for autism in Cameroon, Africa.  He also provides consultation service for parents.  His expertise is valued all around the world.

Mindfulness is really paying attention to one specific thing.  It is about being quiet long enough to create a space between the limbic region and the forebrain.

Taste can be used in mindfulness activities. This works great with kids that may not be able to understand some of the more complex tasks.  It’s important to involve all of the senses.  It’s really about teaching them to pay attention to one thing at time.

Mindfulness with kids with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder can help with focus, calm and clarity.

Robert uses mindfulness in his practice with almost all of his clients with trauma, addictions, social isolation/bullying, Autism, ADHD, and much more.  It can have a powerful impact!

Mindfulness can really have a great effect with students in the school system.

“Pain is a guaranteed part of life, but suffering doesn’t have to be.” Robert Cox

Mindfulness can help parents regulate themselves so they aren’t bouncing off of their child’s emotional state.

Robert uses Gummies, Oranges, M&Ms and such to teach help kids experience mindfulness.  It’s important to find something that is really attractive to the child so it really holds their attention.

It’s important to practice mindfulness with your kids, because they will respond to it when they need it instinctively.   It will become a learned behavior and become a functional tool.

We know from research that it “rewires” the brain, thickens the part of the brain that enables better access to greater processing abilities.

Mindfulness can help people with Reactive Attachment Disorder, RAD, because it retrains the brain.

Oxytocin is referred to as the “Hug Drug” in reference to social relations.  It helps people connect and feel love and strengthens relationships.

It’s important for parents to practice mindfulness themselves.  Teach your kids to pay attention with all of their senses.  When kids see their parents using mindfulness they are more likely to use it themselves.

The biggest challenge that people usually come up is when people try to stop the thoughts.  But, the trick is to just let the thoughts release through the breath without forcing the thoughts to stop.

Robert tells us about a technique called “Becoming the Observer” that can help people avoid the suffering.

Jun 2, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 23

Practical Understanding of Sensory Processing Disorder

In This Episode:  

  • Lindsey Biel, MA, OTR/L, a pediatric occupational therapist in private practice, lives in New York City.
  • She describes an Occupational Therapist as a person that works with people in many areas to optimize the function of daily life skills.
  • Sensory Processing is how we transform bits of information that we get through our senses into meaningful messages in the world around us and what to do with them.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder is when there are differences in how a person’s wiring works, as well as the person is experience the world in a different way. They may experience out of proportion reactions to everyday sensory experiences.
  • Sensory challenges are seen more often in people with the following: Autism Spectrum Disorder, children born and adopted internationally from orphanages, premature babies (especially the youngest and the smallest), Down syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, ADHD, exposure to drugs and alcohol in utero, mood disorders and many others.
  • Connect the dots between behaviors and the underlying sensory issues.
  • Lindsey uses the phrase “Sensory Smarts” to describe tools and strategies to help people overcome sensory challenges.
  • When working one on one with a person, Lindsey always starts with an assessment.
  • For many people, getting a lot of deep pressure can provide the sensory input that can help them feel where their  body is on the planet.
  • Parents and therapists try to determine “how much do I push them to build tolerance and how much do I protect?”.   It’s best to do both.
  • Sometimes sounds such as the vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, cafeteria can be overwhelming to people with auditory challenges.
  • Ultimately, parents are the expert on their children.
  • Parents and teachers are an important part of empowering kids to overcome some of their sensory issues.
  • Lindsey talks about a “Sensory Diet” as a carefully and personally designed activity plan to help people feel good on a physical level and have their sensory needs met.  It helps attain balance of “not too wired, not too tired”.
  • The deep pressure work can be very helpful “organizing” kids.
  • “Toe walking” can be a result of impaired body awareness, neurological body awareness, or sensory hypersensitivity in the foot.  Interventions help by teaching them to get more comfortable with their feet and sensory input to desensitize.   If left untreated mobility issues and orthotics issues could occur.  It’s recommended to see if toe walking is a sign of something going on neurologically.
  • Lindsey provides some practical strategies to help with changing the environment – light, sound, and feelings of postural safety, oral stimulation, visuals and more...
  • School based Occupational Therapists are limited to educational related support.   Occupational therapists working outside the schools in agencies, private practice, and homes can provide a wide array of services.
  • There are online resources for parents that can be really helpful to find support.  Links to Lindsey’s facebook communities and her website are below.



Lindsey Describes Sensory Processing Disorder in a Video

Article on Supporting Sensory Processing Issues written by Lindsey Biel

May 26, 2016

Dalena Dillman Taylor, PhD, LPC, RPT, is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida, past president of the North Texas Association for Play Therapy (2013–2014), and the play therapy certificate coordinator at UCF. Dr. Dillman Taylor graduated from the University of North Texas with doctorate of philosophy in counseling, with a specialty in play therapy in 2013. Dr. Dillman Taylor is a trained Adlerian play therapist and focuses her research on the effectiveness of Adlerian play therapy with children and adolescents who demonstrate disruptive behaviors or academic difficulties in the classroom and at home.

In This Episode:  

  • Child Parent Relationship Therapy, also known as CPRT, was developed as an adaptation of the Gurney’s Filial Model.
  • Garry Landreth adapted this model to be delivered in 10 weeks.
  • This type of therapy teaches parents Child Centered Play Therapy skills in an experiential way.
  • It strengthens the relationship between children and their parents and/or caregivers.
  • This program helps parents step back and look at the child’ holistically while remaining focused on the relationship.
  • CPRT sessions are designed for groups, so that parents can connect and realize that they are not alone while learning from each other.  The group sessions are usually 2 hours per week, and after the 3rd week each parent and child (usually only one child at a time) have a special play session at home for 30 minutes to practice the skills.
  • Each group session is designed intentionally to help them feel successful and proud of what they are learning, so only one main skill is focused on.
  • The child centered play therapy skills are different from regular play time.  They focus on allowing the child to lead in the play without teaching or disciplining, but rather deeply connecting on a meaningful way that can boost children’s self-confidence, self-esteem, feelings of self-efficacy, and so much more.
  • The “Be With” attitudes are an important component of CPRT.  I’M HERE, I HEAR YOU, I CARE, and I UNDERSTAND.”  This is not to be confused with always agreeing with the child or being permissive, but rather embraces a strong element of presence without judgement – positive or negative.
  • Dr. Dillman Taylor mentions Dr. Dan Siegel’s brain research with children.  His work is so valuable when understanding what helps kids self-regulate their behavior and emotions.
  • Dr. Dillman Taylor mentions Dr. Risë VanFleet as a great resource of how this approach can be adapted to work with individuals and couples.
  • The CPRT manual is set up in a way that is convenient and packed full of knowledge and extras such as appointment cards, door hangers, assessments and much more.
  • It’s important for parents to communicate to the child that the special CPRT playtime is important and valued.
  • This type of therapy incorporates role play so that parents really get good practice with the use of some of the skills before they use it with their children.
  • Dr. Dillman Taylor’s favorite rules of thumbs from the CPRT model are the following: (These are directly from the CPRT Manual)

Be a thermostat, not a thermometer! Learn to RESPOND (reflect) rather than REACT. The child’s feelings are not your feelings and needn’t escalate with him/her.”

What’s most important may not be what you do, but what you do after what you did! We are certain to make mistakes, but we can recover. It is how we handle our mistakes that make the difference. “  

  • Knowing how the brain works as it relates to behavior is so helpful.  Dr. Dan Siegel has a wonderful “handy” model of the brain that can support this understanding with adults and children.
  • Dr. Dillman Taylor has  a CPRT Training coming up in JUNE 8-10th.  It is a great training!  If you are a therapist living in or near Orlando, or if you are traveling from afar, this training is so worth your time.  It is one of the most valuable trainings that I have ever had the pleasure of attending.  I highly recommend it.   Click Here to Register



Mindfulness, Brain Hand Model by Dr. Dan Siegel’s Video

CPRT Training in June 2016 with Dr. Taylor

Center for Play Therapy in Denton Texas

May 19, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 21

How to Make Divorce Easier for Kids with Child Therapist, Jackie Flynn

Sign-up for Jackie’s Free Class “How to Create an Emotionally Safe Environment for Your Child through Divorce” at

In This Episode:  


Don’t Expect Your Child to Pick a “Side”

Do not expect your child to choose sides before, during, or after the divorce. Respect your child’s right and need to love, honor and respect the other parent.

Be Present with Your Child

Make the precious time that you get with your child quality time. Resist the urge to ask questions about time with the other parent. Also, take this time to truly connect with your child, as this can be a painful adjustment and strong parent child relationships are more important than ever.

Speak Respectfully About the Other Parent

Avoid "talking trash" about the other parent, whether directly or within earshot while talking to others. This can leave your child feeling angry, confused, and guilty. Instead, speak respectfully about the other parent to your child and make efforts to have a civilized and considerate relationship as much as possible.

Reassuring Your Child that Kids Can’t Cause or “fix” a Divorce

Sometimes children feel like they are the cause of the divorce. Whether they heard their name in a heated argument or just feel responsible for family issues. Letting your child know that a divorce is not something that children can cause, prevent or fix.

Show Empathy and Compassion for Your Child’s Feelings

Allow your child to express their emotions in a safe accepting way.

Reflections from you such as “you feel sad ...” or “that really hurt you when...” is much more helpful in terms of a healthy adjustment, as well as development of emotional regulation skills.


Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

May 12, 2016

Parenting in the Rain, Episode 20

Melissa’s Mantras: for Nurturing Responsibility, Independence, and Confidence in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

In This Episode:  

Melissa Braun, Ed.S is a loving parent, an educator, a school staffing specialist and a person passionate about advocating for kids.  Melissa shares her 5 mantras below.  


  • Have a Growth Mindset.


Melissa points out the power of the word “yet”.  She points out that we need to focus on what they can do and what supports and services they need to be successful.


  • Be the Advocate (all) Our Children Need You to Be.


Melissa emphasizes that we need to advocate for what we want our child to become.  This helps them to become a self-advocate as they grow and develop as well.


  • Embrace Healthy Conflict and Difficult Conversations.


With so many people on teams for children with special needs, there is likely going to be disagreements and conflicts along the way. Expect conflict and know that conflict is because people care about your child’s success and may have different viewpoints on help.  Don’t avoid conflict, but keep talking and keep listening.  Melissa asks herself “What did their heart mean?” when she hears things from others in the team that sometimes feels upsetting.


  • Do not Handicap your Child’s Life by Making it Easy.


Let your children do what they can do for themselves. Empower them to be as independent as possible. This may require more time and support, but allowing your child the opportunities to make mistakes and gain skills helps support self-efficacy.


  • Be Kind to Yourself.


Be gentle on yourself.  Don’t expect perfection.  Recognize your humanness.  “Some days are more successful than others.”


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