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Separating/divorcing? Collaborative Law, Mediation and Beyond…

If you are going through a separation or divorce, you need to know this before you go on to settle parenting, financial or property issues:

Imagine a lawyer fed up with the family court system as far back as 1990.

That is when a fellow by the name of Stu Webb in Minnesota sent a letter around to the the judges and fellow lawyers advising he would no longer go to court.

Webb indicated he would only help people resolve their family dispute in direct meetings between the parties with their lawyers. He was so insistent that family matters be resolved out of court that he also advised that if in meeting with the parties and their lawyers the matter couldn’t be resolved, those lawyers would be disqualified from going to court on the parties’ behalf. He felt people wouldn’t want to have to start all over with new lawyers and the added expense. His thinking was that the disqualification agreement would create the conditions to keep people working within that group to arrive at a settlement between themselves.

A fellow colleague, Mark Baer has commented that the other benefit of Collaborative Practice is that the disqualification agreement mitigates the inherent conflict of interest in traditional litigation (going to court).

In traditional litigation, a lawyer’s income is directly related to the degree of conflict between the parties. The greater the conflict, the more intense and long lasting the litigation. This drives up legal fees and lawyers’ income. Your fight is their bread and butter.

However, in Collaborative Practice, a lawyer’s incentive is to help parties reach a settlement as peacefully and expeditiously as possible. The revenue model and income of the Collaborative lawyer rests on seeing more satisfied clients the result of reasonable settlements. So lawyers trained and practicing Collaborative Law gain their income over many clients versus those who only practice litigation (going to court) who see less clients – each spending more… much more.

That concept spawned a movement and today thousands of lawyers/attorneys worldwide have been trained in what has become known as Collaborative Law or Collaborative Practice.

The training and practice of this approach to settlement has evolved to include mental health professionals, parenting experts, separation/divorce coaches and financial divorce professionals. Indeed there are even business evaluators and real estate agents who have also come on board to help separated couples more reasonably resolve disputes that would have otherwise fallen to the courts.

It has long been determined that those agreement reached between people themselves are longer lasting and better followed than Court orders that are imposed. It is also the case that money spent on supportive services such as divorce coaches and financial professionals, while creating more expense, is still less than the cost of litigation and particularly in view of the fact that those litigated outcomes may not be followed anyways.

Despite this tremendously advanced settlement process, it still remains that lawyers are not necessary for all settlement discussions.

To mitigate costs further, many people opt to meet with a mediator first. So instead of paying two lawyers throughout the entire settlement process, the parties share the expense of single mediator. Once a settlement agreement has been reached through mediation, the parties then take their agreement to Collaboratively trained lawyers for “Independent Legal advice” (ILA) in order to have their mediated agreement converted into a legally binding contract.

The benefit of seeking out Collaboratively trained lawyers for the ILA process is that they are generally less inclined to provoke conflict to then undo a reasonable agreement in their own interest of turning the party into a litigation client.

The most recent movement in family law is towards peacemaking. Peacemaking is a concept promoted extensively by Forrest (Woody) Mosten, a lawyer in California.

In peacemaking, we see helpers demonstrating even greater creativity in terms of their settlement processes. Those lawyers, mediators, mental health professionals and financial professionals that don the peacemaking hat have had multiple training in Collaborative Practice, mediation and conflict resolution as well as family systems theory and child development – to name only a few ares of their cross training. As such these professionals bring a broader array of strategies to not only help separating or divorcing couples reach agreements but often improve the quality of their post-separation/divorce relationship.

In the event the separating couple has children, this is a remarkable benefit to the children of the couple. It has long been established that parental conflict presents the greatest risk factor to the development and mental health of children. To the degree to which separated parents can care for their children more peacefully, their children are better served.

When you go to a lawyer who has not been trained in Collaborative Practice or mediation, rarely will you be told about their benefits. Firstly, that lawyer who has not been trained in those processes cannot represent them as well as those persons who have been trained. Further though, it is not in that lawyer’s interest to lose you as a client to those with additional training. That is why you need to know this.

In the unfortunate event that your relationship has broken down, seek help from persons whose training is as inclusive as possible versus exclusive. If you go to a lawyer whose only training is exclusively in going to court, you will get litigation – you will likely be court involved and conflict will escalate. If you go to a lawyer or mediator or mental health professional whose training includes Collaborative Practice, mediation and peacemaking, you will be in the hands of a person who can bring a broader array of strategies to help mitigate conflict, facilitate a settlement and help you better get on with life.

These are not guarantees, but about you getting the best shot at the kind of outcome you, your family and children deserve. Even if in the end, you are the 1.5% of persons who obtain a Court order the result of a trial, you will still be better served by working with people whose objective is to limit conflict. These approaches typically cause people to appear more reasonable in the eyes of the court.

Now you know.

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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. I have been trained in Collaborative Practice, mediation and peacemaking. I attend additional training regularly and provide training to others. 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.

The Therapy Experience in the Midst of Separation/Divorce – What should therapists know?

Therapists only see clients as a result of distress, typically the outcome of challenging life events. Not uncommonly, those challenging life events may create the conditions for or may be caused by separation and divorce.

The separation/divorce may come before, during or after therapeutic work is initiated.

The therapeutic work may be individual, couple, family or child directed.

There may be any modality of therapy and for any presenting problem.

Working in the context of separation/divorce poses unique issues for the therapist to consider.  However many therapists do not know what they do not know.

Many therapists do not realize the uniqueness of separation/divorce as an intervening variable on their practice. As such they may inadvertently contribute to an escalation of issues and may then put themselves at risk of professional malpractice.

I receive calls and emails from therapists seeking support and guidance in view of a client’s separation/divorce intersecting with their provision of therapeutic service.

Often the therapist has questions about the legal implications of their work and their role within the client’s separation/divorce.

If you are a therapist who wonders about or has questions about their practice in the context of a client’s separation/divorce either at referral, during service delivery or even after termination of service, I would be interested in hearing from you.

What questions do you have?

What are you grappling with?

What are your concerns?

What information do you seek in order to feel safe in your practice?

What would help you better meet the needs of clients in this situation?

Myself along with a team of colleagues are interested in taking your questions to compose a book aimed at helping therapists better meet the needs of their clients while at the same time helping the therapist better manage practice risks.

Feel free to comment below, post a comment to my Facebook or Linked In posts or send me a direct email: gary@yoursocialworker.com

The aim is to elevate services offered to people whose lives are impacted upon by separation/divorce.

Just to add, if you are a client who is receiving or has received therapeutic services and who is or has gone through a separation/divorce, I would also appreciate hearing from you about your experience with your therapist and what you may have wished your therapist knew or could have done differently.

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.

 

 

 

 

Narcissistic Partner? How to manage or leave…

In my article, The Five Best Friends of the Abusive Man, I detail the strategies used by narcissists and sociopaths to manipulate their partners. That article received more comments than anything else I had written. I was castigated by some for attributing the abuse to men and I was praised by others for clearly detailing the offensive and off-putting behavior they were never quite able to label before.

I think those men who have been subject to similarly abusive women got the fact that men too can be abused by women. I also think that those in same sex relationships also realized that they may have a similarly abusive partner. In other words, the article struck a nerve and was instructive to those who live in these destructive relationships.

Once you come to understand you have been manipulated into a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath, the question becomes, how you manage or get out, should you choose to do so.

Key to managing or getting out is coming to terms with the fact that you will never have closure with these individuals. You will never have the satisfaction of them “getting it” realizing it is their issues driving the conflict. The reason is because they are ego-syntonic, meaning they view their attitudes, beliefs and behavior as reasonable to the circumstances they find themselves in.

Bear in mind that as a narcissist or sociopath, they view the world as revolving around themselves. If the world revolves around themselves and they do things consistent with that, even if hurting you, then in their minds they are acting reasonably. So while the narcissist or sociopath is ego-syntonic, it doesn’t mean that they will not get angry or retaliatory when they feel that you have thwarted or interfered with their interests. Feeling good about oneself does not mean they feel good about you, particularly if they view you as acting against their self-serving interests. If they had a motto, it might be, “I am good with myself, it is you who has the issue.”

Leaving a person who believes the world revolves around them is like a red cape to a bull. When the world revolves around them, your leaving triggers the fact that they are not the center of your universe. Forget closure as they are only incensed. In undermining their center of the universe belief by leaving, then the narcissist seeks to restore order by assassinating your value. If you have no value, then the wound you inflict on them by leaving is less.

Managing or leaving will require your coming to terms with the fact you were likely seduced or charmed into the relationship in the first place. This can undermine your confidence in yourself and cause you to really question who you are and what you are worth. Truth is, narcissists and sociopaths are experts at seduction and charm. Your only contribution may at best have been being at the wrong place at the wrong time and at worst, perhaps have been emotionally needy yourself such that you were more easily manipulated. Either way, no one deserves the crazy making emotional and psychological abuse that is endemic in these relationships.

Once you see this person as truly personality disordered and that you are not deserving of their abuse, regardless of how you came to the relationship, then you are in a position to either manage and stay, or leave. Just understand though that the likelihood of changing your narcissistic or sociopath partner is slim to none.

Managing or leaving will require strategic thinking on your part. Strategic thinking will require you to find a way of not triggering your partner’s center of the universe mentality while still meeting your own needs. This will also require you to manage your emotions and behavior, so that neither is used by your partner to hold you hostage or as a weapon in a dispute over children or property.

The key is to remember your goal. Whether to manage or leave do not seek closure and do not think your partner will ever admit fault, except as a manipulation on their part to keep you hooked in. Managing or leaving as peacefully as possible will mean finding a way to help you maintain your partner’s ego as intact as possible. While this may sound distasteful and even contrary to how you feel about the situation, managing or leaving is not about how you feel, it is about finding a way to mitigate your abuse and achieving your goals in view of a narcissistic or sociopath partner.

Counseling in these circumstances requires a counselor with considerable expertise who can help you come to understand your situation and help you develop coping strategies appropriate to your circumstance. But most of all, while one does have to understand the narcissistic or sociopath personality, one must learn to mange oneself in the crazy making situation. That can be the greatest challenge and your counselor may help you most with that.

(Download and print this article.)

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.

Summertime Between Separated Parents

This summer countless children are going to go back and forth between separated parents. Each will offer a different experience for their child. Jointly, they also create an experience for the child.

Composed in 1934, Gershwin’s “Summertime” is sung as a lullaby. There is a haunting quality to the melody as well as a longing for the child to grow up well, now at least being safe and secure with both parents by the infant’s side.

Given the child’s experience of the parents jointly, will that child “spread their wings and take to the sky?”

Let this song be a reminder this summer of the goal of parenting. We seek to have our kids rise up singing. Let your child’s experience of the parents jointly create that outcome.

“Summertime”

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

To help your child wake up singing, consider these 6 tips:

  1. Each parent brings a different experience to the child. Allow that child the experience assuming not out rightly abusive or neglectful. Care can be provided by family, extended kin, friends or through summer camps. Each parent decides on the experience they will provide. The child learns from each experience.
  2. For extended vacations, facilitate some electronic connection. While some may perceive this as being for the child, very often it is to allay the parent’s longing for the child well away. Be kind and respectful of a parent’s need for contact, not just the child’s.
  3. Recognize that in some families, a parent’s own parents or other kin may live a great distance away. Without a reasonable period of time, summer visits can be awkward and too short for the child to make a significant connection. It is important for the parent to connect with their parents and feel supported as it is important for the child to make connections to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
  4. Rarely is there the perfect summer plan. Not uncommon there may be little time between away trips. Children may have just returned from one side of the country to be taken to the other side of the country. Of course they may be cranky, tired and jet lagged. However, they will adjust. This is their adventure. They can either remember the adventure or the parental dispute over its organization. A memory of the adventure will serve them better in the long run over the dispute organizing it.
  5. Exploration and activities help children develop and mature. Along with those opportunities may come accidents. An accident can occur on either parent’s watch. If this should occur, concentrate on the well being of the child over assigning blame. In the event of an injury, notify the other parent as soon as possible. Delay creates mistrust and suspicion. If informed of an injury, thank the other parent for the information and for managing as best they did under whatever the circumstances may be.
  6. Summertime for some parents can be stressful because of ongoing work obligations. This doesn’t mean that a parent cannot still enjoy exclusive time with a child. In intact families parents really don’t dote over every minute of a child’s day thinking each has to be the best minute. There is nothing wrong with time that isn’t structured with special activities. That time allows the child the opportunity to dream, play, explore, imagine and find solitude while developing skills for greater independence.

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

Have a great summer.

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.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

Four Keys to Better Behaved Kids

What many parents do not realize these days is that social, economic and technological pressures have created a disconnect in families and as such we are seeing more squirrely (anxious) looking kids.

It is as if they are flailing around not knowing what to do and thus get caught up in inappropriate behavior and given our disconnect, we the parents have limited influence to restore connection or behavior.

The answer is not in better punishment, scolding or shaming.

The answer is in managing our guilt for lack of availability; taking responsibility for those things we allow to disconnect us from our kids; and then restoring our connection.

There are four key strategies that can help:

  1. Time over stuff: As for our guilt, no longer can we assuage it by giving our children stuff. Giving stuff suggests to kids that stuff is more important than relationships and we the parent we only be valued for the stuff we provide. No stuff, no value. Of course kids who are constantly given stuff don’t otherwise listen to parents. Rather than stuff, give 10 minutes of special attention to engage in a quick activity or admire something of the child.
  2. Disconnect to reconnect: As much as parents complain about their kid’s use of tablets, smart phones and social media, truth is, so too do parents preoccupy themselves with such things, even when purportedly talking or being with their kids. Turn the devices off – at least certain times of the day such as at meals and at bedtime. Be truly present and undistracted when with your child. That you turn off your device (actually off, not on vibrate) is a huge signal to your child that they are of value to you over and above anything else. Then you are in a position to truly reconnect.
  3. Reconnect through normal activities: Have time together as a family, typically through shared mealtime. Shared mealtime can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Statistically, the more shared mealtime together, the better children’s behavior and the more likely you can transfer your values and morals to your kids directly as opposed to their picking up whatever by surfing the Internet. In addition to dinner together, consider a board game, throwing a ball, riding your bikes or even enjoying a movie together. Anything… just make sure to turn off your own device during your time with your child. Let them remember you and not the interruptions.
  4. Parent with intention: Not all expectations are a discussion. Just like in school when the teacher says, take out your books, this is a demand, not a question. So too parents need to act with reasonable authority and a tone of voice that demonstrates not anger, hostility or fear, but a clarity that what is being sought is actually required. If time for bed…it is time for bed and not a negotiation. Don’t ask… tell. “It’s time for bed”… Kiss on head…”Go”. In view of back-talk, repeat calmly yet firmly: “It’s time for bed”… Kiss on head…”Go”. Even if it takes 20 repetitions (each time like the first) continue until your child goes. The child doesn’t wear you down or trigger anger. The child learns you remain friendly, yet firm.

It is remarkable how in some situations kids behavior can be turned around quickly.

Our connection serves to settle them down. As we bring calm energy, love, attention and meaningful expectations our kids feel safe and cared for.

Safe and cared for. Safe and cared for. Safe and cared for.

Try it for a week. See what happens.

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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Linked In
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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.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

Tracking Trust in the Era of Smart Phones

Smart phones have ushered in a new era of contact. In addition to the email of old, there are multiple texting platforms, not to mention an array of visual mediums to convey information.

Most smart phones these days also have built in GPS thus enabling one to navigate as well as be tracked.

Built into many commonly used programs is a tracking feature so that companies can determine your habits and then offer products and services to meet your needs and interests as you move through your day.

Beyond one’s communication and commercial application of the smart phone, tracking personal surveillance is a little discussed capability.

During a recent discussion I had with a group of women, one woman commented that she follows her partner regularly through the GPS on his phone. After some discussion, she then advised it was for emergency reasons. It left me wondering about the practice. A search of the Internet reveals there are multiple applications available for tracking one’s partner and that apparently many do. By why and is it right?

It turns out the answer is, it depends.

In my posting to my Facebook page exploring the issue, the comments suggest that absent any concerns, it is an invasion of privacy and that people should otherwise trust their partner. Being spied on for no good reason in and of itself may be the very issue that torpedoes an otherwise good relationship.

However, other comments point to the value of knowing each others whereabouts for emergency purposes, planning and personal safety.

When concerned about a partner’s dalliances tracking may provide evidence one way or the other about the integrity of the relationship. However, tracking itself does nothing to address or repair concerns.

If you find yourself not trusting your partner, the issue may reside with your partner or alternately, the trust issue may be yours to carry. Depending on upbringing, some folks inherently have issues of trust.

If ones parents’ relationship was marked by issues of infidelity, be it emotional, sexual or even financial, it can be a set up for the adult child to then have concerns born of the childhood experience. This is clearly not an outcome of the current partner’s behavior. In such circumstance though, that lack of trust can carry into the present relationship with disastrous consequences.

No one ever wants to be accused of behavior or thought capable of engaging in untoward behavior. That lack of trust originating in ones own mind the result of prior untoward experience, when projected as an issue on the partner is cancerous for relationships. It creates unwarranted tensions, hostilities and conflict.

If you have a trust issue with your partner. It can be like an itch that needs scratching. In lieu of tracking, consider communication. Discuss your issues and concerns. Take responsibility for your issues. Advise when you have gained knowledge of unreasonable behavior.

Rather than the cat and mouse game consider addressing your concerns forthrightly.

Your partner, if guilty, may at first seek to deflect and avoid but this is actually normal in the context of truly getting caught. However, continue to address your concern and evidence where actually available. Maintain your composure and certainly seek couple counseling whether a transgression is actual or perceived in order to determine your next steps and to find ways to address the trust.

If the issue is a function of your own prior experience undermining your trust in others, then couple counseling can help both persons understand and find coping strategies. Once no longer feeling blamed for projected concerns, the partner, through understanding can support the person coming to terms with the impact of early experiences on their life.

If indeed a transgression did occur, then the couple can explore any personal or interpersonal issues that could have given rise to the transgression and determine the respective interests in continuing the relationship. Either way, remain a couple or separate, counseling can be very helpful to support the outcome and help people cope and develop strategies to facilitate their direction.

In the end, better relationships are based on trust as well as transparency.

When I am out and about, I often make contact with my wife so she has some sense of my whereabouts and when I will be returning home. We see this as a courtesy. Realizing she can now just as easily know my whereabouts through the smart phone’s tracking features, I may just turn this on myself so she can more easily know my whereabouts and determine my time of arrival when driving home.

Have the discussion with your partner. How does your trust track?

If not tracking well, consider counseling to get back on track.

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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Linked In
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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.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

The Accidental Addict

No, trauma isn’t lurking under every addict.

While many clinicians and social science researchers point to trauma as an underlying cause or risk factor for addictions, there are still a good many persons whose lives are not marked by horrible experiences yet who do succumb to drugs.

Particularly in adolescence, experimentation, seeking individuation or separation from one’s parents, at times boredom and at other times just getting caught up with the moment leads teens to imbibe.

The issue though is that drugs do make people feel good. At times, real good. So good in fact that without thinking, people, particularly teens are then enticed to repeat the experience. To add, because of the very addictive nature of some of today’s drugs, a single use can set the stage for actual addiction.

In repeating the experience and with naivety, some teens do come to find themselves imbibing regularly. With repetition, drug use then becomes habitual and depending on the drug, an addiction.

If there is trauma associated with teen drug use in this context, the trauma is finding oneself having habituated to drug use and seeking to manage the secret from their parents.

Given the conflict that may arise when drug use is discovered, how it is managed by the parents can then increase the risk of associated trauma, particularly if the parents resort to very authoritarian or even draconian strategies to manage their upset with their teen’s drug use.

As social workers we have always advised parents to talk with their teens about drugs.

That talk needs to be more than about the inherent dangers of any particular drug, but also the context in which drug use may occur.

We need to talk to our kids and discuss strategies for resisting enticement, particularly if they find themselves in a group of peers where imbibing is the norm and where drugs are being shared in the moment. We need to provide our teens with strategies to resist temptation and exit situations while saving face. In other words, we need to offer excuses to help extricate themselves from challenging to coercive situations.

Strategies we can share with our teens include letting them blame us the parent:

  • Teens can tell their peers we would kill them if detected;
  • That they have an appointment with us;
  • That they have to be up early the following day for an activity; etc.

Sure these are lies, but they are safety lies that enable the teen to more easily exit a situation they would seek to avoid. These are life saving lies appreciating that at times the truth may not be accepted. These are the times we let our teen stand on our shoulders to be bigger than the situation they encounter.

If you have detected drug use, it is then important to maintain your composure as the parent. Often more powerful that any consequence or loss of privilege is a sit-down with your teen.  Therein you discuss your concern for their well-being and upset for their choice. The trick in this is to leave the teen thinking about their behavior and choices, not yours.

Bad things do happen to good people. While it is true that trauma lurks under many an addict, it is not this way in all cases. One can become an accidental addict. The goal is to mitigate such an outcome from happening.

A heartfelt talk; discussion as to how to extricate oneself from temptation or the influence of others; and ways to chat with your teen even after the fact can help mitigate or lower the risk of inadvertent drug problems.

No one wants their son or daughter to become an accidental addict.

Chat now.

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.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.