Author: <span>09-@Fi-35</span>

Woman curled up, sitting on floor depicting emotional stress.


Learning how to help your teen manage their emotions can become challenging for some parents. Dr. Alisa Crossfield, PhD. shares some tools to guide you on how to help your teen manage their emotions.

As children grow into adolescence, they are faced with a continually increasing number of intense emotional experiences. They face their own reactions to stress, fights, break-ups, family conflict, and so much more. As I explained in “How to React to Adolescent Emotions,” one of the most important things we can do for teens is respond to them with validation. Beyond helping to de-escalate the intensity of their emotions, we model validation, so they can learn to self-validate.

Unfortunately, our reaction to our teen’s emotional displays is only one small fraction of their experience. Given the number of emotionally-laden experiences a teen may have in a day, they need to develop tools to tolerate these emotions.

In my clinical practice, I see many teens who are struggling with two opposing ways of experiencing their own emotions. Some operate at the complete mercy of their emotions. They become so absorbed by their emotions that they are unable to continue with daily tasks such as going to class, completing homework, or participating in extra-curricular activities. While there are absolutely times when we need a mental-health break, stopping our lives cannot be the only way we approach emotional pain.

In contrast to those who stop life for their emotions, some teens try to stop their emotions to continue with life. These are the kids who “stuff their emotions down.” They eventually find that the container for all those emotions is overflowing and the feelings they ignored are coming back with greater intensity. They may develop problematic ways of “numbing” their feelings with substance use, self-injury, and other destructive behaviors.

Between these extreme forms of experiencing emotions lies a middle ground. We need to teach our teens ways to tolerate distress. They need periods of the day where they stop to experience and process emotionally difficult events and they need techniques to distract from their emotions when other activities require their attention. A balance of these approaches allows people to incorporate emotionally charged events into their day without the extremes of ignoring emotions or becoming overwhelmed by them.

There are several steps we can take to accomplish this balance.

1. Identify methods for processing emotions: In order to avoid emotions overwhelming the ability to carry out daily tasks, we need to make sure teens have “down-time” where they can address the events creating distress and the resulting emotions. At these times, emotions can be processed in a variety of ways. Encourage teens to identify adults and friends they believe are available for listening. Ideally, these are people who can listen without judgement and focus on validation (see “How to React to Adolescent Emotions”). While-problem-solving is helpful, the emphasis needs to be on recognizing the understandability of their emotional reactions.

Beyond talking about their experiences, encourage teens to try other forms of expression. Many benefit from journaling about all of their thoughts and feelings after a distressing experience. Many teens also express their thoughts in art projects, music, or dance. The primary goal is to validate themselves through expression. Often, the act of expression can also be a release.

2. Identify self-soothe techniques: When our children were babies, many of us heard about the need for them to learn to self-soothe. This need does not disappear after infancy! Yet, many teens are unaware of what soothes them. Alternatively, they rely too heavily on one technique leading to problems associated with over-use.

In my clinical work, I encourage people to identify ways to soothe all of their five senses (a skill set explained by Dialectical Behavior Therapy). In other words, what are soothing images, smells, tastes, sensations, and sounds. The more of our senses we address, the more able we are to soothe ourselves. These techniques can then be used during both periods when teens are expressing their emotions as well as periods when they need to carry on with their day in the presence of strong emotions. The intention is not to fix the problem. Rather these strategies are intended to allow us to manage intense emotions without doing anything that results in greater difficulties.

I typically encourage teens (and adults) to gather items they use for self-soothe so they are readily available. A teen might carry some of them in their backpack for easy access. Soothing images and sounds can be captured on the phones they hold so dear. I have had many a teen tell me they made it through their day by sucking on tootsie pops or playing with stress balls!

3. Identify methods for regulating physiological responses to distress: Our bodies’ nervous system is comprised of two systems working in opposite directions. The sympathetic nervous system increases arousal by activating our fight-or-flight response. In contrast, our parasympathetic system increases emotion regulation and decreases arousal. This phenomenon is at the root of Dialectical Behavior Therapy TIPP skills, which decrease emotional arousal by increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.

The first strategy is to Tip the temperature of your face with cold water or ice. The extreme version of this skill involves putting your face in a bowl of cold water for 30 to 60 seconds. More moderate approaches involve splashing cold water on your eyes and cheeks or placing a wrapped ice pack over your eyes and cheeks. Teen girls tend to like the last approach to preserve their make-up.

A second strategy is Intense aerobic activity for 20 minutes. This is particularly effective for anger and agitation as well as decreasing bursts of anxiety. It further acts to increase positive affect.

The third strategy is Paced breathing, wherein the goal is to slow down the pace of inhaling and exhaling. Ideally breathing is slowed to roughly five or six breath cycles per minute. In addition, it involves inhaling deeply from the abdomen at a slower rate than exhaling.

Finally, with Paired muscle relaxation, the intention is to pair muscle relaxation with breathing out. The strategy involves tensing muscle groups, noticing the sensation of tension while breathing in. One then releases the tension and notices the sensation of it gradually lessening while breathing out. By increasing awareness of physical tension, we also increase awareness of relaxation and decreased arousal.

Try these skills yourself in a moment of calm as they will help you parent an emotionally distraught teen. You can then share them with your teen. Encourage practice in a calm state so that skills can be used more easily in a distressed state.

4. Identify distraction strategies: While schedules may not allow for a long period of avoiding responsibilities, we can often use short periods of distraction time to “re-set” our focus from upsetting events. Help your teen identify distractions they can use to shift their focus. Particularly helpful are those that involve focusing thoughts on something else concrete such as writing down lyrics to a favorite song or doing a quick puzzle on an app. People are not able to think about two things simultaneously. Thus, guiding our thoughts to these focused activities will divert them from thinking about emotionally-triggering events.

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to help our teens weather the emotional storms they encounter. Yet there are approaches that can make those storms more tolerable and decrease the likelihood of emotions rendering teens unable to carry on. Many assume that these are strategies that we naturally develop, but often they need to be taught and practiced like any skill. Yet, unlike some skills they learn, these can benefit teens for a lifetime.

Olga has the tools to teach your teen or child how to identify ways to process their emotions . During this time, many adolescents are struggling with increased anxiety and depression. Reach out to Olga for a free 15 minute consultation.

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Emotional Regulation, by Leslee Gillette, LMHC

Leslee Gillette, LMHC, a Lotus Counseling psychotherapist, shares her blog on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Emotional Regulation:

Life is full of unpredictable ups and downs. Sometimes these experiences can be manageable but what happens if you feel out of control and unable to self-soothe, finding it difficult or impossible to return to your baseline. Emotion Regulation skills and other DBT skills can help you find your way back.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy was originally developed to treat Borderline Personality Disorder however; research is showing that DBT can be used to effectively treat a wide range of behavioral and emotional problems including depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD and substance abuse. Whether you are struggling with intense, negative emotions, difficulty in relationships or impulsive behavior, DBT skills can help you learn how to self-soothe, manage your emotions in an adaptive and effective way, and learn how to get your needs met in your relationships. I have found DBT skills easy to teach and easy to learn as long as you are willing to consider new ways of approaching situations. I can help you create a life worth living, which encompasses decreasing problematic behaviors, while simultaneously accepting yourself and life circumstances in the present moment.



Tips for Making the Most Out of Therapy- A Call to Clients and Therapists

The relationship between client and therapist can be as unique, nuanced, and rewarding as many other relationships in life. After all, the emotional work you set out to do together often becomes a bonding experience characterized by moments of both shared sadness and joy.

It can, however, be difficult at times for this relationship to find steady footing. Unlike other relationships, the client/therapist relationship is usually confined to a single room and a short, pre-determined slot of time. Based on experience being both sides of the coffee table, Lotus Counseling Center has jotted down some suggestions to help you find a foothold for this relationship. Following these tips in session can help both clients and therapists make the most out of their time together.

Be open to the process. Think of therapy as an exciting journey without a map and allow the path you traverse together unfold before you. While it’s great to have specific goals to work towards, you might miss out on some special moments if you over-plan your session. Try to avoid coming into the session with a strict agenda since, as a client, this could cause you to overlook important therapeutic moments. Similarly, an agenda could cause therapists to be deaf their client’s most pressing needs. Encourage the process of therapy to be as organic as possible.

Don't judge the session. Clients shouldn't leave weighing what they did or did not receive from a singular session, and therapists shouldn't be left thinking about whether they were effective enough. The value of therapy is cumulative and growth can present itself in unexpected moments inside or outside of therapy, in the here-and-now of a session or some time down the road. Trust that you are making headway in this process one way or another.

Reflect together on your relationship. Sitting in a room discussing sensitive subjects with another person for any length of time is an intimate experience and you will inevitably have feelings and reactions about your therapist or client. Both parties can benefit from talking about how you experience the other person in-session. Clients shouldn’t shy away from addressing any problems or doubts about the therapist since it’s your money and your time. Similarly, therapists shouldn’t underestimate the value of some well-timed self-disclosure. Seeing oneself reflected in the eyes of another is an opportunity for vast personal growth. It also allows you to clear up any lingering misunderstandings and can be a great exercise of trust and bonding.

On par with this advice, the therapists at Lotus Counseling Center strive to create a compassionate, engaging, and client-centered therapy environment. If you’re thinking about starting therapy, please take a look our customer reviews and call us to find out more!

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time to think about how we can work together to combat bullying, harassment and cruelty online and off. If someone you love may be being bullied or be a bully, Lotus Counseling Center can help. Please call us for more information at 305-915-5748.

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This Emotional Life: Developing Emotional Intelligence through Awareness

This Emotional Life: Developing Emotional Intelligence through Awareness

“How does that make you feel?” All cliché’s about mental health aside, asking yourself this question from time to time can yield meaningful insights into your emotional world. These insights allow you to better navigate the varied terrain, the dips and peaks, of your life experiences. Learning how to explore and comprehend the nuances of your rich emotional world can be downright therapeutic.

For example, have you ever felt happy and sad at the same time? Do you know what sets you off, makes you feel angry, and causes you to lash out? Can you tell the difference between feeling insecure, anxious, and excited? Being able to identify, label, and understand what you are feeling, when you feel it, and why helps you to harness your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence begins with the ability to classify your own emotions and those of others. This process involves tracking your emotions, applying them to tasks and problem solving, as well as managing and regulating them.

Therapy can provide you with the tools to develop and build your emotional intelligence. Working with one of Lotus Counseling Center’s compassionate, competent therapists can encourage you to foster awareness of your emotional processes and, in turn, to sense what emotions drive your thoughts and behaviors. Awareness created in therapy can enable you to:

· Enjoy and make the most out of good times characterized positive emotions

· Cope with difficult circumstances and emotions

· Predict and avoid problematic behavioral reactions

· Empathize with and be sensitive to the emotional needs of others

In addition to cultivating awareness, therapy with Lotus Counseling Center can also aid you in confronting pervasive emotional states such as depressed or manic moods. Make an appointment with one of our therapists today to take on an active role in your emotional life by learning how to exercise your emotional intelligence!

Premarital and Couples Counseling for LGBTQ Clients

Who do we counsel?

Lotus Counseling Center offers an array of services for a vastly diverse group of clientele, including relationship counseling for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and couples. Our team of highly skilled, competently trained mental health counselors, marriage therapists, and psychologists are exceptionally adept at treating many members from the LGBTQ community. Our practice has collective experience in conducting therapy with couples of various sexual orientations and gender identifications. As a Lotus Counseling Center client, you can rest assured that our mental health professionals will conduct identity affirmative therapy that is sensitive to your unique relationship needs.


How is therapy useful?

With the recent Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of same sex marriage, more LGBTQ couples may find themselves headed towards committed partnerships. Before embarking on this momentous life change, why not take the time to solidify your relationship through counseling? Counseling for LGBTQ individuals and couples at Lotus Counseling Center can benefit your partnership by addressing concerns that are unique to your relationship as well as those particular issues that are unique to the LGBTQ community. Some of the areas we can help you and your partner work on together may include:

• Reproduction, adoption, and parenting
• Sexual satisfaction
• Gender role expectations
• Inclusion in the LGBTQ community
• Acceptance by family and society
• Communication and intimacy
• Monogamy and polyamory
• Financial pressures
• Minority stress factors

If you do the work necessary to strengthen your relationship now, your partnership can reap many positive, long-lasting results throughout the future! Call Lotus Counseling today to learn more about the identity-affirmative mental health services we offer LGBTQ couples and how our supportive counseling approach can improve your partnership by enabling you to deftly navigate relationship challenges.


Maintaining respectful, relationships with co-workers is key to business success, but work demands compress stress and strain onto these relationships. Use your business savvy by investing in therapy as a tool to mend your working relationships and to ensure the well being of your business. By enlisting the help of our esteemed, competent therapists at Lotus Counseling Center, you can learn skills through therapy that would benefit your business such as:

  • Clarification of business direction and goals
  • Improved stress-coping strategies
  • Effective interpersonal communication
  • Negotiation of financial responsibilities
  • Increased flexibility

A recent article in The NY Times highlights this trend. Follow this link to learn more about how therapy can benefit your working relationships, and then call Lotus Counseling Center to get started on the gold-paved path towards progress and prosperity!

What’s Your Relationship Attachment Style?

Relationship attachment style, refers to how you relate to others, particularly to people you are in an intimate relationship with such as a partner, sibling, parent or close friend. We learn attachment as young children through the dynamics of our relationships with primary caregivers. Under the best circumstances, attachment teaches us how to manage and balance our competing needs for autonomy and dependence.
Learning about your relationship attachment style as an adult is useful because attachment influences your emotions and reactions to many life events including loss, abandonment, betrayal, intimacy, friendship, coupling, parenting, and separation. Ultimately, relationship attachment styles learned at a young age wield hefty influence over the health of adult relationships.To find out more about your attachment style, you can click here to complete the quiz.

Secure Attachment: Individuals who utilize a Secure Attachment style most likely had caregivers who provided them with a secure base as they were growing up. Caregivers encouraged them to explore the world while representing a safe place to return to where children could have their needs met such as being fed, cleaned, and given affection and support. As adults, these individuals are able to achieve stable and fulfilling relationships with others based on their ability to successfully balance autonomy with maintaining connection and closeness. They are generally comfortable with intimacy, communicate their feelings, and have little trouble asking for or providing support.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: Those who have learned an Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment style likely had inconsistent caregiving as children. Caregivers may have sometimes provided their child with a sense of warmth, love, and security but failed to do so at other times. Children who grow up with this dynamic never feel that the world is a safe place to navigate alone and tend to cling to others in adult relationships. Fear of abandonment and the possibility that they are unlovable are pervasive concerns for Anxious-Preoccupied individuals and they may invest a substantial amount of their time and energy into keeping their partner close by trying to limit her or his autonomy. Any indication of their partner’s independence from the relationship may be perceived as rejection, thus confirming the Anxious-Preoccupied person’s worst fears about their own potential to be loved and cared for. These individuals may seek out co-dependent or dependent relationships.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: As with Anxious-Preoccupied individuals, Fearful-Avoidant individuals have learned attachment strategies in reaction to inconsistent caregiving. Fearful-Avoidant people, however, learn to both crave closeness and fear it. Also known as Insecure-Ambivalent attachment, this style is characterized by conflicted views and anxiety surrounding connection with others. On one hand, these individuals very deeply desire to have a secure, intimate relationship but they have also learned through years of recapitulating dynamics that depending on others can leave them feeling hurt and disappointed. Fearful-Avoidant individuals have not learned any organized strategy for maintaining intimate relationships and may try to bottle up their emotions, even positive ones, to avoid intimacy. They may be prone to changeable moods or explosive bouts of emotional caused by their ambivalence about wanting to express their feelings but also avoiding closeness. The relationships of Fearful-Avoidant individuals are often tumultuous, dramatic ones characterized by exaggerated highs and lows.

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: This attachment style is often the result of caregiving characterized by abuse or neglect. Early life experiences may have taught the Dismissive-Avoidant person that total autonomy is the “safest” way to navigate the world because dependence on others is dangerous. As adults, these individuals tend to emotionally distance themselves in relationships and look inward for all of their needs. In relationships they are able to willfully close themselves off and detach quickly from others. They may also choose to socially isolate and avoid situations wherein they would need to depend on others.

You may identify with one or more of these attachment styles. While attachment style learned at a young age tends to carry into adulthood, styles are also characterized by flexibility and adaptation across relationships and over time. Gaining insight into your own attachment style is an important first step to improving your relationships because this enables you to identify what you need to change in order to maintain more stable and fulfilling relationships. Individuals can work towards developing a secure attachment style by challenging themselves to use better strategies in relationships, remaining self-aware, and by seeking out relationships with individuals capable of secure attachment.

Tips for Managing Challenging Behaviors in Young Children

Providing care for a young child is undoubtedly an enriching, rewarding experience but it can also be exhausting and stressful, especially if you have a young child who is difficult to manage. All children have their challenging moments and every parent feels overwhelmed or hopeless at times. Reading the needs of a young person and worrying about how your parenting techniques will impact your child’s coping abilities in the future are weighty responsibilities. Luckily, there are some specific techniques to manage challenging behaviors that both improve behaviors in the present and can become building blocks for healthy behavior as your child grows and develops.

Tantrums: Children often have tantrums when they are unable to express themselves or ask for what they want. As long as the behavior does not pose risk of harm to themself or others, allow your child to have the tantrum in a safe, isolated space. Console and soothe your child when they have calmed down. If your child is able, it can also be helpful to encourage them to identify and talk about their emotions when they appear upset, frustrated, sad, or angry.

Attention-Seeking: Acting out by not listening, whining, or clinging to caregivers are ways that young children have learned to get attention from adults, even if this behavior results in negative attention such as scolding or punishment. Encourage your child to seek positive rather than negative attention by providing them with opportunities to receive praise and affection such as setting the table at mealtime.

Defiance: When children refuse to follow instructions, provide options rather than commands. For example, say calmly to the child, “You can either sit over here or play in your room” rather than “Don’t run around the house.”

Poor Play Skills: If children are aggressive with others or possessive over toys, parents can help improve their play skills by making them accountable for their actions. For instance, when your child resorts to hitting a playmate, explain that they made their friend sad and suggest they get a tissue or a toy for the other child. Reiterate rules about what “nice touches” and “nice words” are and be firm with your child that aggression will not be tolerated.

Difficulty with Transitions: Some children have trouble moving from one activity to the next. During transitions, children may be vulnerable to having meltdowns or enacting other challenging behaviors. Be sure to warn children about the transition multiple times beforehand and walk them through the process. You can say something like, “Now we are playing with our toys, but in 5 minutes we will clean up and then sit down for dinner.” It is also beneficial to include the child in the transition by assigning relevant tasks to ease along the transition.

Unsafe Behavior: Young children may attempt to explore their environment in ways that are dangerous such as climbing on furniture, locking doors, or playing with hazardous objects. Go over safety rules often and explain why certain behaviors are unsafe while emphasizing that you do not want them to get hurt because you love and care about them.

As important as it is to respond purposefully to challenging behavior, it is equally vital to take the time to care for yourself and manage your stress. If you are frequently in a state of heightened reactivity, your children will be able to perceive your stress and it can have a negative impact on their behavior and development. In order to do the best job possible at raising the children in your care it is imperative that you do your best to stay healthy, happy, and well-rested.

Recovering From Depression & Anxiety Trauma

Do you experience panic attacks, moments of severe anxiety, or feel unsafe in new environments?
Do you have trouble trusting others? Are you a survivor of violence or sexual abuse? Do you have reoccurring nightmares or replay a frightening event repeatedly in your head?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may be affected by trauma. Trauma is the mark that is left on us after we encounter a particularly stressful life event, but we don’t have to remain branded by trauma forever.

The therapists at Lotus Counseling Center are adept at reducing distress caused by trauma. Working with Lotus’ highly trained clinicians in our warm, supportive environment can help you overcome the difficulties you face from trauma by:

  • Reducing depression and anxiety associated with trauma
  • Building resiliency and coping strategies
  • Integrating the traumatic event into your life history
  • Gaining insight into your trauma-related behaviors and thoughts
  • Understanding how your trauma affects those around you
  • Forming a sturdy network of support
  • Learning how to develop trust and feel safe
  • Moving on and finding fulfillment in life again

Contact Lotus Counseling Center today to start the process of gaining your life back from the grips of trauma.


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