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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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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.

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.

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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.

Four Tips To Building Self Esteem In Children

Parents want their child to have good self-esteem. However, self-esteem doesn’t come naturally to children. It is something that must be fostered, developed, nurtured and grown. Following these four tips can help.

1.       Show them you value them

Let your children know you love them. This is done through praise and through direct expressions of love, hugs, and kisses. Children need to be told directly by their parents or caregiver that they are loved. Children need to be held, cuddled, and played with. Quality and quantity of time demonstrate valuing. Few things speak more to being valued, then just being there.

2.       Teach them and let them learn

Competency is the next ingredient to healthy self-esteem. As the child grows and begins exploring the house (often the kitchen cupboards) the child gains the opportunity to increase competency with access and control of larger objects over greater spaces. Again the response of the parent is crucial.  Some parents structure the child’s environment for maximum exploration while other parents localize their child’s area of living. Either way, making way for the child to play and explore safely, whatever the limits, is often referred to as “baby proofing”. The greater the control and mastery of skills a child develops the greater the sense of competency – the second ingredient to healthy self-esteem.

Parents can facilitate competency by providing safe areas for children to develop skills and by allowing their children to participate in household activities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, making beds, etc. The goal of these activities is for the child to develop a sense of control – not the perfectionist pursuit of the best made bed, etc. Participation should be fun, supportive or helpful.

3.       Participate in doing good deeds

The third thing parents can do to facilitate healthy self-esteem in their children is to direct and participate with their children in the doing of good deeds. Doing good deeds teaches children to be aware of the life of others beyond themselves. This enables the development of empathy and altruistic behaviour. What’s important is that children are encouraged or even positioned to be helpful to the extent of their ability. The little one may carry a plastic cup to the table, the middle one a plate and a spoon, while the big one can clear. Special little projects can be undertaken, visits can be made, and pennies can be put in the charity coin boxes at the check-out counter.

4.       Make the rules of life clear

The last thing parents can provide to facilitate self-esteem in their children is structure. Structure is a word that actually implies two separate concepts: routines and limits.  Routines provide structure over time and limits provide structure over behavior.

Another way to think of structure is like the rules of a game. How well could you play Monopoly, Hop Scotch, Tag, or Hide and Go Seek, if there weren’t rules? Rules include who goes next, under which circumstances, and when. The rules also include what happens when someone goes outside the normal bounds of play – miss a turn, pay a fine, etc.

Knowing the rules of the game of life is sometimes referred to as internalizing structure. This too is also a form of competency – when the child knows the how’s, what’s, when’s, and where’s, of life. Unfortunately this information doesn’t come automatically.       Children may pick some of the rules up incidentally as they go along, but this leaves much to chance. Parents can help their children internalize structure by commenting on daily routines, specifying appropriate behavior, providing feedback and by providing consequences for undesirable behavior.

These four ingredients, valuing, competency, good deeds, and structure form the basic building blocks for the development of self-esteem. And why develop self-esteem in children? Children with healthy self-esteem feel good about themselves, relate well to others, behave more appropriately and are more aware of the world around them.

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

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.

Move Towards Peace….

I don’t often talk about the prejudice and bigotry I have experienced, but in the wake of Charlottesville, I think it important to mention.

I remember as a child of maybe eight or ten, riding my bike home from Sunday school, being pushed off my bike, punched in the forehead and being called a dirty Jew. At the time, we lived in the Jewish part of Toronto and I was returning from Hebrew School. This was my introduction to prejudice and hatred because otherwise, I was sheltered having lived in a predominantly Jewish community.

I remember when we moved to Thornhill in 1967. Thornhill at the time was predominantly white Anglo Saxon Protestant. I entered middle school and was immediately taunted and bullied. Other kids rolled pennies down the school hall at me and called them “JTs” (Jew testers). Apparently only a Jew would be so cheap as to stoop to pick up pennies. I didn’t understand. I picked them up. What I thought was a game was to turn to a source of shame.

In high school, I was intimidated by a student with a knife. He called out to me, “Jew”. It was a flick-knife which exposed the blade with a series of wrist flicks. I quickly distracted him by commenting on how well he was able to maneuver the knife and expose the blade so easily. It really is a skill that requires practice and when the skill is achieved, it is intimidating to be on the receiving end of a demonstration. However, my quick compliment and interest in his skill was enough to distract and change his interests. I won with flattery essentially.

As an adult, we had a neighbor at the cottage who continually let his dog void on our property. I would have to shout over the hedge to have the neighbor come clean his dog’s mess. He would do so at his leisure. The occasion that broke the camel’s back, so to say, was when the neighbor said he would do it after the weekend while driving away. I took the dog’s wast in a plastic bag and placed it, in the bag, by his front steps. He couldn’t miss it upon his return but it would not cause any problem apart from him having to pick up the bag to place in his garbage. When the neighbor returned home after the weekend, he shouted over the hedge to ask if I placed the waste on his property. I advised that I did. He shouted over the fence, ” Stay off my property. I always knew you were a dirty Jew.” It seems he may have been most upset that I would have come onto his property, than by leaving his dog’s waste. That was in 2011. In 2012 we moved from our family cottage of 56 years to another cottage a few streets over where the neighbors were decent people.

Those are four of my experiences with hate and prejudice that stick most in my mind, having been exposed to many others. None of these experiences had anything to do with me as an individual, but rather as the member of an identified minority, even though still white skinned. I can’t even imagine what life may be like for those whose skin color is not white or who have audible accents in addition to other skin colors.

Black Lives Matter.

Of those who may take exception to Black Lives Matter, most are white. Their comeback is, all lives matter.

Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone really disagrees that all lives matter.

However, one need understand the context of this movement. Firstly, it is not to imply that black lives matter MOST, just that they matter too. All this infers is that persons of color should have access to all the rights and privileges as white people; that they should be able to move safely in any community and have access to the same resources. By the way, you can also say that LGBTQ Lives Matter; that Jewish Lives Matter; that Muslim Lives Matter and that Native American Lives Matter – for all the same reasons as Black Lives Matter. The lives of minorities matter.

If you really want to overcome prejudice, you must examine your own upbringing and values and what you have subtly internalized about people and societal hierarchy, usually beyond your awareness.

As a Jew born post WW2, I do recall having to come to terms with my own prejudice against Germans, Muslims and Palestinians. Culturally, it is embedded not to trust  people who represent these groups. I have long since extended myself to people of different origin, faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation and culture. I continue to learn.

We overcome our prejudices with a healthy dose of curiosity and interest in others who appear different from ourselves. We get to know people for people. We rebuild an image of other cultures and minority groups by acquainting ourselves with people from those groups, one at a time.

From this perspective, we learn that all people need and want access to resources to survive and thrive. We learn that all persons take interest in their family and community; We learn that all people are inherently drawn to peace, except where they suffered emotionally and socially fracturing experiences.

We do not beat prejudice and hate by meeting it with prejudice and hate.

We beat prejudice and hate with kindness and openness wherever possbile.

While first we must be safe and unequivocal that prejudice and hate are unacceptable, we must then bridge divides. We must expose ourselves and others to our differences. We must invite people to learn about our ways and be curious about their ways. We built relationships.

If for starters, you want to develop a better appreciation of Black Lives Matter, consider the following two minute message about “the talk” developed by Proctor and Gamble.

Consider the “talk” you give to your kids. What does it mean to have “the talk” in your family? This message from Proctor and Gamble gives insight into the meaning of “the talk” from the perspective of black lives. This talk is anything but the talk most parents think of giving with regard to the birds and the bees…

After watching the message, ask yourself if you have ever had to suffer or have ever been physically threatened from a race, faith, culture or sexual orientation perspective. Ask yourself if you can see inequality. Ask yourself if you can speak up and hold out your hand in support of those who might otherwise be oppressed. Ask others of their experience with prejudice, bigotry and hate. Ask yourself how you will use your voice.

 

Today I used my voice. Where is yours?

Move towards peace.

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.

Some of My Life’s Lessons…

Here is some of what I have learned with 35 years of practice, working with people of all faiths, colour, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation and age:

  • There are good and bad people everywhere;

  • Most people are good;

  • We typically all want loving relationships;

  • We typically all want for our families to be well;

  • We typically all want healthy children who grow into responsible adults;

  • We are typically concerned/worried when we are threatened;

  • Lack of resources can pit people against each other;

  • It is important to learn to share;

  • Virtually all faiths when practiced well demonstrate concern, love and compassion for others;

  • Children with angry hateful or abusive parents are at risk of growing up with all sorts of social problems including perpetuating their parents’ attitudes;

  • Hate and anger does not provide a remedy to hate and anger;

  • While accountability is reasonable, punishment as a means to bring about accountability typically only brings resentment which fuels negative behaviors;

  • Even when told by a loved one, what to do, at times it is just necessary to hear it from someone else;

  • There is no discounting good manners, even in a loving relationship. Good manners always matter;

  • Racism, bigotry, prejudice must be called out for what it s, lest it flourishes;

  • Violence cannot be tolerated, lest it flourishes;

  • It is reasonable to distance oneself from harmful people and relationships;

  • Children are far more influenced by what goes on at home that most parents realize;

  • Love does not conquer all;

  • We live with actual behavior, not one’s intentions;

  • Behavior is best when it matches good intentions;

  • It is necessary to speak out against violence and hate;

  • It is necessary to show love and compassion, to all and especially to our partners and children.

That’s the short list.

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

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.

Separated Parents in Dispute: Eight Questions Before Running to Court….

Let’s say to are heading to trial to settle your differences. You each have lawyers at the cost of between $3,000 to $5,000 per day of trial. (This doesn’t include pre-trial preparation.) The trial is set for 5 days. That means you both have to budget at least $15,000 – $25,000 or cumulatively, $30,000 to $50,000. This of course will be on top of some $5,000 to $10,000 each spent ramping up to trial.
 
Now, let’s say that the judge is getting over a cold; had a bad day, lost their dog; recently broke up with their partner, etc.
 
Now let’s say that throughout the trial, both parents did their best to undermine the perspective as well as the character of the other.
 
Now let’s say at the end of trial, you win!
 
Ask yourself these questions:
 
  1. Have you thought about the fact that your judge was born human?
  2. Have you thought about the fact that your conflict is your lawyer’s income?
  3. How will the other parent feel about your win?
  4. How will the other parent feel about the co-parenting relationship where you have won and they were trashed in the process?
  5. What will the ongoing parenting relationship be like?
  6. What is the likelihood that even with a court order, the other parent will follow through meaningfully as ordered?
  7. What is the likelihood that the other parent’s resentment may show up in poor behavior either to yourself and to you through the child?
  8. How long before you think the other parent will try to undo the court order by seeking a retrial or by waiting while gathering more evidence to return to court?
 
When you think about winning, you must also think about the consequences of winning.
 
Very often parents have a unrealistic view that winning resolves matters. This just isn’t necessarily true. More to the point, winning may make matters worse.
 
For all the above, the cost of a trial, financially, emotionally and in terms of ongoing and escalated conflict, going to court may be a poor decision.
 
A joint budget of $30,000 to $50,000 goes a long way towards mediation or collaborative law where the processes don’t rely on the parties trashing each other to win at the expense of the other. To add, rarely are there these kind of expenses unless going to trial. These and other peacemaking approaches to settling disputes are available where in the end, people are left feeling intact. Because the agreement is achieved jointly, you both have buy in and thus both are more likely to follow through and maintain whatever agreement is achieved.
 
My dad used to impress upon me, “You can win the battle yet lose the war”. You can win at court and still lose in the long run.
 
In the end seek an outcome that can foresee a life-long relationship with your kids where they can grow up less affected by the parental conflict able to take on life’s responsibilities. Seek an outcome where your kids can feel good about themselves because they recognize they are part of both parents.
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Do that and then you may have happy kids.
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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

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.

Protection for Mental Health Professionals

From time to time I receive emails from mental health professionals seeking to protect themselves in the context of their work with difficult clients or clients in difficult situations.

Consistent in the mix of issues is someone who threatens or may threaten the service provider or has posted spurious complaints on rating websites.

At times the service provider is also unsure as to their reporting obligations.

My guidance is consistent:

  1. If there is a minor child who has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed, mental health service providers are typically mandated to report to a child protection agency. The child or the parent does not have a choice in this matter. This is typically a matter of statute (law) which is binding on the service provider.
  2. Occasionally, the service provider is uncertain if the concern reaches the threshold required for mandated reporting and/or expresses concern that reporting may bring the risk of greater harm to the child. In such situations, I suggest that the service provider phone the child protection agency for a “non-disclosing consultation”. I advise that the service provider speak with an intake person and describe the situation without providing names. The intake person can advise of the position of the child protection agency with regard to the information provided. If intervention is required, a plan can be discussed to mitigate risk to the child. Please be prepared as you may be required to make that report formal.
  3. If the person who has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed is no longer a minor child, then there typically is no reporting obligation to a child protection agency. However the mental health service provider may wonder if there is an obligation to report to police. This is a trickery issue. I suggest that the service provider obtain a consultation from their own regulatory body and a ‘non-disclosing consultation” from the police. Much will also depend on whether or not the service provider or agency has a policy in place in the event of such situations. The client can be referred to a shelter or other place of safety.
  4. As for complaints posted to rating or complaint websites, very often there is little the service provider can do. However, it is advisable to not reply or respond to the web-based complaint as that may engage the person who posted the comments and incite additional posts.
  5. As with all clients, it is good clinical practice to document your work. The greater the concern for personal risk, the greater the need is for detailed documentation. Many mental health professionals now audio record and some video record all their client sessions and interactions. This may provide the only tangible evidence of the service provider’s actions in the event a client seeks to make a claim against the service provider of untoward treatment.
  6. Malpractice insurance is also a must. Given mental health service providers work with persons whose reality testing, attitudes or behavior may be suspect, mental health service providers are at risk of complaints to their licensing bodies. Defending oneself against a claim can be expensive and would be paid for by the malpractice insurance.

Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. If you are in a challenging situation do seek input from your regulatory body and/or police or a child protection agency and/or a lawyer who practices defense work even if a claim has not yet been made against you. You can also seek a consultation from a respected colleague.

Our work is valuable to the general public and our work carries risk. It is important for mental health professionals to be aware of laws governing their practice and to have access to resources for consultation.

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.

Dads, I’m on Your Side. Here’s how…

In my counseling practice, I frequently hear the men in young families tell me that they work hard all day and that when they come home, they should be able to relax. Meanwhile, their partner is stressed out and instead of pitching in, they explain to their partner how to be more efficient.

It can be a challenge getting through to the dad that mom is working 24/7 even if not engaged in a task in the moment.

Even if mom appears to get a break, she has to be primed and always ready for action be it a poopy diaper, a hand reaching for the stove, a food bowl about to be toppled or a dog’s ear about to be pulled. Think of this like being a firefighter. You may not have had a run that day yet you must always be ready for action. You are on no matter what.

To add, mom’s often can’t even go to the bathroom in private. There may be some little one seeking to hang on or inspect what’s going on.

If your division of labor is that one earns money and the other takes care of the kids, please don’t think for a moment that taking care of the kids is the easy part. That parent, most often mom, may make it look easy, but it’s not.

She doesn’t need executive orders or lessons in efficiency. She needs you to pitch by chaining diapers, grocery shopping, making meals, listening to her frustrations and being told you love her.

It may not be what you saw growing up, but I can assure you, while it won’t fix all issues or stresses, it will make life far more bearable and pleasurable for you both. You will also have kids who grow to appreciate seeing their parents as a loving mutually supportive team.

And guys, please don’t even think of dissing me and telling me I am not fair and that mom’s have issues too. I won’t be disagreeing with that, but please also know, that if you are not engaged as a parent and don’t support to your partner and use blame or deflection to minimize or dismiss or equivocate what I am saying, there won’t be enough water in any hose to put out the fire you will have started with your partner.

We must always take responsibility for ourselves and our role in a relationship and as dads. It should never be a stand-off where the good behavior of one is held at bay waiting for the good behavior of the other.

Go out of your way, be the stand up dad, not for her praise but for your being more than a breadwinner and raising your profile as an amazing dad and role model to your kids.

Be the guy she wants to adore. Go first and keep going. 

Need help with this? See me.

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.

When You are Feeling Out of Sorts

People tend to take their own experience and then believe that others feel the same. For instance, if you grow up in a home where a parent drinks excessively, you may have thought at least while growing up, that all parents drink similarly.

To add, if you hang out with people whose experience is similar to your own, it reinforces the view that those experiences are the norm. Indeed, we do tend to hang out with people similar to us as the familiar is usually our comfort zone. One’s comfort zone though only has to do with what if familiar. One’s comfort zone doesn’t actually mean that what one is experiencing is healthy – just familiar.

That comfort zone and shared experience may be about one’s faith or hobby or activity or habit or behavior.

For instance if your parent(s) and extended kin all drank excessively, you may have come to believe that everyone drinks that way. Or, if you experience a series of abusive parents and stepparents, you may come to believe that abuse is likely to be a function of all relationships. If you are a member of a faith group and socialize primarily within that faith group, you may come to believe that most persons share your faith too.

Really, it isn’t until one steps outside of one’s comfort zone and exposes themselves to other experiences or views or new ways of getting along that one can truly evaluate their own experience and what they though was the norm.

Counseling is about gaining perspective on ones experiences, putting them in a larger context and discovering how your norm may not have been the norm of the larger group or community.

This is particularly helpful when one feels out of sorts with either oneself or others. Gaining insight into your experience and being able to put it into a larger context – a larger understanding – is freeing. It helps people make more informed decisions about how they want to live their life.

New perspectives lead to new behaviors.

Counseling can help you with that.

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.