A Letter For Your Isolated and Hard to Reach Teen – By Andrea Wachter, LMFT and Steve Legallet, LMFT

        As family therapists, we are seeing more and more young people who are suffering from various degrees of depression, anxiety, addictions and social isolation as they try to mask all of the emotions and negative consequences associated with theses self-defeating behaviors. We also see many concerned and baffled parents who struggle with trying to find ways to help their wounded and isolated kids. If you have a son or daughter who is suffering, addicted, depressed, anxious, isolated, angry and/or shut down, here are some words that you might consider writing or saying to open the door to a new avenue of communication: Dear Son or Daughter, We see that you are struggling and suffering. We imagine that there are many thoughts and feelings underneath your anger including confusion, fear, hopelessness, and pain. We understand that you are going through a very difficult time in your life, and that… Continue reading

    Enabling versus Helping – By Jackie Stein

    Am I enabling or helping and what is the difference? This is a question I have been asked by clients many times. It is also a question I have asked myself. We can all think of fact patterns that we would consider enabling. However, sometimes the answer is not so clear. Sometimes the answer is, “it depends.” On what does it depend? Usually on a wider set of facts than the specific action we might take. Your daughter is sleeping off a busy party night. If you want to wake her in the morning before school so she makes the choice to go or not to go, is that enabling or helping? What if you go so far as to drive her to school so she won’t be late? Is that enabling her or helping her? What if she has her own apartment and you call her every morning to… Continue reading

    Working on Ourselves and Our Relationships in the New Year – By Jackie Stein

      As we begin 2018, many of us seek to engage in new and healthy behaviors.  We plan to eat better and sleep better.  We plan to give up cigarettes or video games.  We also say we want to repair our relationships with our family members who are suffering from substance use disorders (SUDs). We know how to eat better and sleep better – we give up foods that are unhealthy and we drink lots of water.  We stop drinking caffeine in the evening and turn off our electronics at least an hour before bedtime.  We have tools for giving up cigarettes, unhealthy eating and video games, including medications and 12 step programs. Similarly, there are tools to aid and support us as we try to develop a healthy program for living with our loved ones.  That program involves tools and programs to both help our loved ones and repair… Continue reading

    Myths and Misperceptions About Boundaries – Vicki Tidwell Palmer

    If you grew up in a family where one or more family members repeatedly violated boundaries and wasn’t held accountable for their bad behavior, you may believe there are certain people with whom you don’t have a right to establish boundaries. This is simply not true. Often, people think about boundaries as attempts to keep others at arm’s length, or as punishment carried out by rigid, uptight, selfish, or frightened people. As such, boundaries are often thought of as harsh, cold, and uncaring. Because boundaries set limits, they can also be thought of as controlling, repressive, or restrictive of personal freedom. Healthy boundaries are none of these. One of the biggest misconceptions about boundaries is that they allow us to tell another person what he or she can or cannot do. In a parent-child relationship, that may actually be the case. However, in adult-adult relationships, we don’t have a right… Continue reading

    Preparing our Relationships for the Holidays – Jackie Stein, BALM Family Recovery Life Coach

        The Norman Rockwell version of the family holiday party exudes warmth, peace and connection. In a family with a loved one in early recovery, the mere idea of a family gathering can cause enormous stress. Before our loved one entered recovery, their method for dealing with this stress likely involved drinking or drugging. While intoxicated they could deal with the insanity surrounding preparation for and engaging in holiday parties. For those who are now in the early stages of recovery, especially in the first year, attending these functions will likely involve a great of fear, regarding how they can manage these festivities and stay clean and sober, while still enjoying the family time together. Several ideas come to mind. First, both the person in recovery and the family need to have a plan for how they will handle the holidays for themselves and for the family as a… Continue reading