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Examining Therapy

Therapy is a funny thing.

Although the history of psychotherapy can be traced earlier, it was Sigmund Freud’s “talking cure” that created the template for today’s psychotherapy.

That template is built on assumptions such as the standard 50 minute session and letting people “free associate”. In Freud’s time, the person actually laid down on a couch with the psychotherapist sitting in a chair just behind and out of the person’s field of vision. If the therapist said anything it was to reflect back some of what was heard or to offer an interpretation. In the context of Freudian therapy, the therapist was the expert.

Years later, Carl Rogers developed what he came to call in the latter part of his career as “person-centered therapy”. This moved the therapist from behind the couch to a face to face position with the person served. As a former minister, for Rogers, having a connection with the person was important to his style of practice. Without going into the underlying theory, important in his approach was seeing the person as expert rather than the therapist. The therapist was there to provide unconditional positive regard (UPR), empathy and to reflect back positively what was heard from the client. In this context, the therapeutic relationship was seen as pivotal for facilitating wellness.

There have been many other remarkable and notable therapists before and since. However, common to virtually all psycho-therapeutic approaches is the 50-minute hour, empathy and letting the client take the lead.

The thinking or theory held by many psychotherapists given the history of psychotherapy, is that if they create a “safe place”, typically thought of as free from judgment where the person is allowed to speak freely, the person will come to trust the therapist and then after however many session it takes, reveal either directly or indirectly events that have shaped their lives, but they were either out of touch with or felt shameful about.

It is in finally revealing those past events that provides relief. The other thinking is that “timing” is involved. The traditional therapist believes that past issues can or should only be revealed when the client is ready.

Here’s the thing…

People seeking help for emotional or interpersonal distress typically haven’t read or are familiar with the history of psychotherapy. As such, it is only through attendance over time do they learn to be a client. However, depending on the time and the discomfort of the issues, many people drop out of therapy not having attained the relief or resolution sought. To add, if the service is private pay, the persons served can develop an even greater sense of dissatisfaction, not having obtained a desired result for time or money spent. This leads to treatment failure and an experience that leaves the person reluctant to try therapy again.

I have never taken to a traditional view of psychotherapy. From sitting in my original counseling class in undergrad psychology with a remarkable woman who trained with Carl Rogers, to present, I have always held the view, that while the therapist is not the expert on the life of the client, the therapist can hold expertise and knowledge to be used directly in the service of the client. As such, it not only behooves the therapist to be knowledgeable on therapeutic approaches, but also social science research, understanding those issues that give rise to emotional, cognitive and behavioral issues as well as those conditions that promote healing and wellness.

From this perspective and approach, the therapist is very active in the therapeutic process, asking direct questions regarding one’s background and life experiences. “Safety” in this context is derived from the therapist’s comfort in and non-judgmental listening to the content brought forth by the client’s disclosure of material from direct questions.

By asking direct questions and with a good knowledge of social science research as well as biological factors underlying behavior and issues related to mental health or illness, the therapist can more forthrightly uncover those issues that may relate to current matters of distress.

Whereas many therapists, including myself rely upon the genogram (pictorial representation of one’s family history or family tree) , the more traditional therapist build their genogram over time, based on content delivered session after session. In my approach, I seek to build the genogram within the extended first meeting, that first meeting scheduled for 3 hours.

By creating a more elaborate genogram in one sitting, within the first session and with knowledge of social science research, the therapist is then able to sooner provide connections between life events and current circumstances rather than relying on the passage of time and for the person to eventually come to their own deconstruction-reconstruction of factors contributory to their issues. It also helps the therapist rule in or out issues that may be historical and/or biological and thus lends itself to more efficient treatment.

Guidance, information and treatment recommendations may flow from the single encounter, sufficient to meeting the person’s needs.

If necessary, a follow-up meeting is set to support the use of strategies or increased knowledge or information provided to the person. Follow-up meetings may also serve for examining hypotheses that may have also been generated at the meeting and then tested between appointments.

With this approach if a follow up meeting is set, it usually is some 4 or more weeks into the future. This allows feedback or guidance provided in the first meeting to percolate with the person and to provide time to practice, adjust, explore or implement any of the strategies provided. As in the first meeting, 3 hour chunks of time are always provided yet only the time used is actually billed to the person. With this approach, the meeting concludes more when it makes sense rather than arbitrarily having run out of time. This lowers concern for the person that they will run out of time before addressing issues and also lowers concern for losing momentum not having addressed issues of concern from one meeting to the next.

There is nothing to say this approach is better or worse than any other approach, but to say it is different. It isn’t helpful to all persons, but in my experience the persons I serve typically express satisfaction.

My bottom line in writing this blog is to bring to therapists’ attention that just as we seek to have people examine their lives, we too who provide therapeutic services, must examine our beliefs and approaches too. That is the nature of reflective practice.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

7 Questions to a Successful Peacemaking or Clinical Practice

Are you a Collaborative Lawyer, Mental Health Professional, Divorce Financial Specialist, Mediator or Clinician/Therapist/Counselor?

To have a successful practice, you must be able to answer these questions affirmatively:

  1. Is you practice really client centered?
  2. Do you know your client’s experience of your practice?
  3. Do you ever debrief with a client after meeting?
  4. Does your website really convey who you are and what you do in an easy to understand manner?
  5. Are you using social media and if so, are you engaging with your followers?
  6. Are you able to convey what you do in simple terms?
  7. From the moment of first contact, be it a website, social media or phone call, will the person seeking service see you as the go to person to meet their needs?

To have a successful practice, you not only must be able to answer those questions affirmatively, but you must also be able to identify those elements that contribute to your answers, otherwise, you are just guessing and hoping. Growing your practice by chance isn’t good enough in today’s world of choices. Growing your practice today must be a purposeful endeavor.

Today’s client has a world of options available to them. To serve them well, you must be clear about who you are, what you do and who you can do it for.

To have a successful practice you must not only invest in the skills associated with your profession, but also marketing and business development skills. While you may hire an outside consultant to facilitate your branding, marketing and even service processes, you still must be able to convey to your outside consultant who you are, what you are seeking to achieve, who your client is and how your client thinks. Your business is your baby and you can make it grow best.

Build, Brand, Market, Close: Building your successful peacemaking or counseling practice is a workshop designed to assist you in learning about and addressing concepts associated with practice business development.

The benefit in attending is to help you better conceptualize what you do, how you do it and how to convey it to others.

Interestingly enough, being able to identify and articulate who you are, what differentiates you from others and how you may be of service also helps you in your practice. Knowing who you are, what you do and how to convey it to others helps you focus yourself and your service making you more on point and confident in your work.

They say it takes 3 to 5 years to develop a successful business.

Regardless of when you started your practice, where do you want it to be in 3 to 5 years time?

Kick start your goal by learning and being purposeful and focused in how you build your practice.

Attend this workshop or invite me to provide this workshop for your association, practice group or organization.

Build, Brand, Market, Close: Building your successful peacemaking or counseling practice

My next workshop is offered as an exclusive small group experience taking place from my residence/retreat in Georgina (Keswisk) Ontario, ½ hour north of Newmarket, an hour north of mid-Toronto. It takes place Friday, November 10, 9:00 am.

Hope to see you there or hope to enjoy your invitation to present on behalf of your group, organization or association.

When you invest in yourself and your learning, even for practice business development, you are serving your client. Bottom line, the client experiences your attention to your business on their behalf. That’s attractive. It serves your client.

Be a stand out.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Is It Real or Really Just in Your Head?

Did you know that emotions like to anchor themselves in life events?

However, some emotions that while coinciding with a life event or experience, are actually independent of that experience or at least felt disproportionate to the experience. Hence, not all emotions are truly anchored in a life event or experience and in some cases, people may actually construct a version of a life event to try and make sense of an emotion. Emotions seek to have external justification.

This is the nature of mental illness – we try to make sense of our feelings in view of what is happening in our life, yet the feeling may be more internally or biologically determined than by an outside stimulus. The feeling may actually be quite independent of a life event or experience.

Hence we distinguish between endogenous and exogenous contributions to mental illness.

If endogenous, the depression, anxiety or other disturbances are more biologically determined even if one tries to make sense of the feeling by attributing it to an experience.

It is just that you don’t have to have experienced serious life events to have an endogenously determined mental illness. To add, there is a good likelihood that a close relative, (parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin) also has the same or similar mental illness.

If exogenous, then the issues are truly tied to external events, such as loss of a loved one, abuse, neglect, etc.

It may also be the case that both endogenous and exogenous issues are at play.

To further complicate matters, significant negative life experiences (trauma) or less serious but ongoing negative life events can alter the brain to then evoke biological changes to create a longer lasting endogenous mental illness.

This is so important to understand and determine as it affects treatment: Endogenous, exogenous, or both and to what degree?

It can mean the difference in the kind of medication that may be helpful and the duration for using medication. It can also mean the difference in terms of the type of counseling that will be most helpful.

That is why assessment before treatment is so important. We seek to understand and determine the appropriate diagnosis and the degree to which factors involved are biologically determined or the result of certain events or experiences – or both.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

10 Communication Strategies from One Counseling Session

Not all communication difficulties in relationships are due to attitude or bad will. Sometimes one of both partners may actually have some biologically determined issues.

Such was the case with regard to a couple I met with recently.

Apart from whatever else was going on, the one partner did have a significant bilateral hearing loss (both ears), as well as what sounded like an auditory processing problem. The person also advised that going back to elementary school, a comprehension problem was detected.

What some couples don’t realize is that those biologically determined issues on top of some family or emotional issues create the conditions for complex communication challenges. That is also why the counselor or treating clinician is best to have considerable training and experience in a number of related areas.

On the basis of meeting with the couple, I advised how the biologically determined issues were co-mingling with other family and emotional issues and we discussed strategies for therefore communicating more effectively. When I asked what this person will do differently on the basis of our discussion, the person came up with a great list:

  1. Be more involved mentally;
  2. Know when to step back and think;
  3. Admit to shortcomings;
  4. If taking a break to think things through, come back prepared to share what you thought;
  5. Read words of encouragement to learn them and then use them;
  6. Acknowledge what was heard;
  7. Ask someone to rephrase if something is not well understood;
  8. Ask to affirm my understanding;
  9. Recognize my own sensitivity versus just going to a defensive place.
  10. Write down what I want to remember to say.

I asked the person’s permission to share their strategies and permission was granted. The person said, my providing them on the blog would serve as their reminder to follow through with the strategies.

Maybe some of their strategies can be of service to you in your relationship.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

 

 

When Separated Parents Badmouth

Think about it. Separated parents sometimes say awful things about each other to the child.

However, your child looks up and sees himself as half of both parents.

If one parent badmouths the other to the child, then the child internalizes, “I am half bad.”

If the other parent reciprocates and causes the child to see the other parent as bad, then the child internalizes, “I am all bad.”

If your child comes to you and tells you how the other parent says you are awful, you have choices to make. You can rant and rave and rail about the shortcomings of the other parent, but if you do, you will likely reinforce the view of you perpetrated by the other parent. You will look scary and intimidating, proving to the child you are as described.

However, you can choose differently.

You can shrug your shoulders and tell your child, “Yup, other parent has lots to say about me, now let’s get dinner ready”.

Letting the child’s message roll off your back takes the weight out of it. Redirecting to whatever you were intending on doing moves you to a better place.

So often we think we have to defend ourselves against every attack. Sometimes the best defense is not getting sucked in and simply enjoy your time with your kids.

Which do you think your kids would prefer?

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

How Does Your Practice Grow?

I swung into private practice as a social worker back in 1990. I was confident in my skills as a social worker and thought that by telling a few potential referral sources about my availability, I would be busy in no time. I sent out some 75 cards to local family doctors and sat back.

I waited and waited.

In my first year of practice I did about $6,000 worth of business. Without the support of my wife we wouldn’t have survived.

I waited and waited.

In the second year of practice I did about $12,000 worth of business. Thank goodness my wife had her job.

My wife was working for an employer who didn’t treat their employees respectfully. I was filling my time as house-husband. Push was coming to shove. She was growing more distressed with her workplace. I was growing more perturbed for a lack of referrals.

I broke my silence and spoke to a few people about my lack of business. Several told me the same thing:

People only refer to people they have already met. People need to see that you don’t have 4 eyes and 6 ears. Given that people are sending you their clients, friends or family, they have to have confidence in your service as your service will be a reflection on them.

Wow, I was awakened.

I got out of my office in so many ways.

  • I volunteered on community groups;
  • I met directly with family doctors;
  • I provided workshops;
  • I courted the media – radio, print and television;
  • I found ways of differentiating what I do;
  • I found ways of making it known to others;
  • I closed the loop by letting my referral sources know how things were going.
  • I found the power of the Internet and hit the web with everything I had.

I realized that if I wanted a successful practice, it would take more than my social work skills. I needed to develop my marketing skills.

By my third year of practice my wife was able to leave her job. We haven’t looked back since.

Sine those days and increasingly over time, I have been sought out to help others develop their practice. I have long since held the view that I shouldn’t worry about my competition, but be a resource to anyone seeking my support. This too has helped develop my practice.

Now I am presenting more and more at provincial and international conferences, less about social work and more about helping others develop their practice.

If you work in a helping profession, if you are trying to help others get along better and resolve their differences and you want to grow your practice, I would be delighted to be of service.

This is becoming my next calling and business endeavor – helping other peacemaking professionals grow their practice.

You don’t have to wait years to learn as I did. You can learn now.

I love what I do and do what I love.

You should too.

Build, Brand, Market, Close: Building Your Successful Peacemaking or Counseling Practice  – November 10 2017

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

 

When Separated Parents Create a Minefield….

The call is from an exasperated therapist, educator, instructor, group leader or even coach. They feel caught in the middle between separated parents each placing a different demand or expectation upon them. The service provider may even feel overwhelmed and intimidated.

One or both parents may seek to be the sole contact person for the child. One or both may seek to restrict information shared with the other parent. One or both may seek to enlist you as a support in their dispute with the other parent. One or other parent may not be in agreement to have the children attend the service delivered. Parents may threaten to lodge a complaint against the service provider if their wishes are not followed.

These are typically regarded as high conflict separations/divorces.

In a high conflict parental separations, parents do not get along; are frequently involved in the family court system; may have had police or child protection agency involvement. There are often allegations of abuse and /or child maltreatment.

Providing service to parents in this context can be difficult.

Service providers may wonder:

  • Who is in charge of the child?
  • Who can legitimately make choices on the child’s behalf?
  • Who is at fault upon hearing contradictory stories from the parents about each other?
  • What are the legal obligations of the service provider to each parent?

These are actually complex questions, at times requiring complex answers. To provide service to children in the context of high conflict separated parents the service provider must be equipped to answer those questions address those issues and more.

As a service provider you need basic legal information, strategies to effectively communicate to parents and policies to guide your service particularly where there are multiple service providers on site.

To learn more about high conflict separated parents and how to differentiate them from low and medium conflict separated parents, please check out my web-page where you will also find information about my professional development and consultation services to better manage these situations.

By the way, if you are the service provider and feel this way, just imagine life for that child.

The child may benefit from your service. You learning to manage in this context is good for the child.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Include the EA for Better Student Support

I was chatting with the union rep for Educational Assistants (EAs) in a large school district.

I learned that overall, EA’s will be returning to school next week to work with difficult and at times very violent students with no preparation or knowledge as to the needs of those students or plans with regard to managing behavior.

However, educators and other school personnel are meeting this week to plan.

Apparently in some of the more forward thinking schools, the EAs have been invited to attend those planning meetings, and while their colleagues are paid to attend, these EAs are not paid. These EAs will be there out of their goodwill and concern for the students they serve.

In putting themselves out, in accepting to attend these meetings to prepare better for the students they serve, these EAs are doing students and their parents a favour, but there will be a cost. The cost is to the well being of the EA who take themselves away from their loved ones and family for no tangible compensation.

Further, as group they are experiencing a dramatic rise in assaults, workplace injuries and stress. They are seeing a dramatic rise in post-traumatic stress disorder, the result of violent altercations. This not only affects the EA and not only the students they serve, but each and every other student at school who are exposed to violence in their classroom.

If you want safe schools, it is important to support the EA.

  • It is important that they attend meetings concerning the children they are to serve be it before school planning or each and every Individualized Educational Plan meeting.
  • It is important that there be critical incident debriefing after involvement in serious acts of violence.
  • It is important that the Principal as chief administrator create a climate of professional inclusion.

School is starting. Let’s get off to a good start. Let’s remember who people count on to make it safe and let’s make it safe for them too.

Support the Educational Assistant.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Overcoming Video Game Addiction

The culmination of a boy come teen who hasn’t been held accountable, has marginally attended school, is not social and spends his time on the computer is a young adult who occupies his time in his room playing video games. This is the trajectory of many young men who off-track from early on, were never sufficiently nudged to get on track.

Once so off course, the teen or young adult has learned that he can simply escalate to cause the parent to acquiesce and he can then continue leading his sheltered and sequestered existence. The parent in this situation frequently threatens severe consequences, alternately tries to bargain for compliance to more reasonable behavior, tries cajoling and guilt and then hopes the child will attend counseling. The parent then calls a counselor hoping to set an appointment on behalf of their son.

By the time the parent calls for help with a teen or young adult in this predicament, a nudge is rarely sufficient to set a proper course and it isn’t the boy who needs to attend counseling… It’s the parents. Both of them.

If the lad attends counseling, most often what occurs is the lad seeking to bamboozle the counselor. This lad may seek to throw the parents under the bus, or otherwise manipulate the counselor to limit change in favor of maintaining his status quo. Parents are hopeful if the child goes to counseling, but in effect, the process is akin to arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Attending counseling looks good, but has limited if any effect on this sinking ship.

If change is to occur, it is the parents who must manage the change process and it starts with them turning off access to the Internet.

As this will surely be met with resistance by their son, the parents must be supported and prepared for an escalation of challenging behavior.

The challenging behavior is often swift and extreme. It typically begins with hardcore bargaining and when the bargaining doesn’t restore the Internet access, behavior can include threats of, or actual violence; destruction of property; drug use; threats of suicide or actual suicidal behavior; running away/leaving home.

Parents are advised to never physically intervene with their son. If violent, parents should exit the home and call 911 immediately. If a parent gets involved physically, they run the risk of being charged with assault themselves. Similarly, if their son so much as intimates suicidal thoughts or engages in any suicidal behavior, they should take him to the nearest hospital emergency room for assessment. If the lad refuses to go, then the parents should call 911 for an emergency response. If drugs are found in the home, they should be disposed of. If they re-emerge, the parents should call police.

With years of building to this predicament, there is rarely an easy way to finesse the off-track teen or young adult into work or school. They are frightened and their social and academic skills are limited or at least remarkably rusty. They live in a sustaining and sheltered cocoon and they are addicted to the video games with other like-minded persons whose group behavior reinforces each one’s individual behavior.

Unfortunately, this strategy for effecting change does include risk of violence, suicidal thought and even suicidal behavior. Parents must enter this process with both eyes open and be willing to see it through to its conclusion, otherwise the child only learns the next level to escalate for his parents to capitulate.

It is only when the lad realizes that the parents are sincere in maintaining their expectations (no Internet, attend school or gain employment) will the lad be amenable to change. Once amenable to change, then other services may be directed to the support of the lad. Those services may include academic or vocational assessment, academic support if returning to school, job skill development, job search support, counseling and medication.

Throughout, parents need access to support and guidance. The parents in enacting the plan also may need coaching to maintain a caring and calm disposition throughout the change process and despite whatever behavior their son may throw at them. In the end, we want the child to concentrate on his own behavior and not how parents deliver their messages.

Assertive, caring, calm and supportive behavior throughout, with contingency plans in place is how the parent can help their son overcome video game addiction.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Not All Counseling is the Same….

The process of counseling with many counselors requires the client to tell their story while the counselor listens. The counselor will selectively reflect back what was heard and consciously or unconsciously shift their position, affirm with head nods or say things like “hmmm” or “oh”. Some counselors will also ask questions designed to help the client reflect on parts of their story.

As the process unfolds, the client continues to tell their story, punctuating certain events that they see as important from their perspective.

It is as if those events are placed above their head like stars in the night. Each point of light stands for a particular experience. As the stories unfold, the client then connects the dots or stars to create their views and impressions of those events. The connected dots create constellations and each constellation has its own impact and meaning to the client. While the experiences depicted by the client can themselves be distressing, very often it is also the associated meaning that the client then assigns to those stories or constellation of events that contributes to greater distress.

For instance a client tells stories of abuse and then in connecting the dots and bringing their meaning to the constellation of events the client internalizes poor self worth. That poor self worth then contributes to a series of decisions that inadvertently contribute to more abusive experiences – a viscous cycle.

The benefit of meeting with the counselor is that by putting one’s experiences up like stars in the night and then examining the resultant constellations, the client may come to draw new or different lines between their various experiences for new constellations to emerge from which the client draws a new or improved or more functional meaning through which then behavior change can occur and the viscous cycle can be broken.

While a good and useful process, this can be lengthy, requiring multiple one-hour sessions. As the process unfolds and until new constellations are developed, old patterns of behavior continue which may result in further distress even though in counseling.

My approach is different.

Rather than multiple one hour sessions where the client essentially unfolds their story, parts of which may be relevant to change and parts of which may be irrelevant, I begin the counseling process with a three-hour meeting.

In that meeting I ask many questions. Essentially I conduct an extensive individual and family history taking procedure, trans-generational in nature and probing for issues related to mental health, physical health, addictions, violence/abuse, quality of relationships, developmental histories, personality styles, etc. I am looking for or assessing issues that may be either contributory or intervening variables to the presenting problem.

On the basis of the information gathered, I then provide feedback with regard to my view of the constellations I see which often stand in contrast to those seen by the client but are consistent with what they are likely to see at the completion of the traditional approach to counseling.

Given my approach, I also teach and coach clients with regard to new or different strategies for managing situations to better achieve the outcomes they seek.

The result of this approach is that people usually leave the first meeting feeling they have received something new, have a better understanding of their issues and their role with regard to those issues and strategies to effect change.

While not helpful to everyone and no approach is helpful to everyone, clients are generally appreciative for the straightforwardness and direct guidance they receive.

When you go to counseling, it is so important to ask about the counselor’s approach. While they reasonably will not be able to tell you how long your counseling will take, they should be able to tell you on average how long their counseling takes others to achieve the results they seek.

In going to counseling it is helpful to know what you are getting into before getting into it. That is why I always have a brief telephone conversation first where clients can ask questions of me and my approach and I can ask questions of them about their needs and expectations. If there is a reasonable match, we set an appointment.

Counseling is not a one-size fits all service. Know what you are signing up for. Make it an informed decision.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

Facebook
Linked In
Twitter

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.