Welcome to the Counselor Corner Newsletter and Articles page! Here you can find interesting and important information for students and parents alike. The Newsletter (And Now a Word From the Counselor) will have information pertaining to the counseling office. The articles will be on a variety of topics and will be aimed at shedding light on important topics ranging from mental health to fun facts about schools. Enjoy!
And Now a Word From the Counselors...:
This year has been a very busy one! We have noticed a lot going on with our students that has lead to some stressful moments. However, we have also seen a lot of persistence from the students. This may have something to do with our new PRO classes, which is where our Castles are situated. The PRO class and the castles allow our students to learn important social and emotional skills. There is also the idea of building comradery with the other towers that each castle is aligned with. We have already had some great competitions between the castles, which continues to build the strength of the towers and the students in them. While this is a new program for us at Turner, we have seen a lot of instances of using our PRO wording; Persistence, Respect, Ownership. The Counseling Department is here to help with not only helping to create lesson plans for PRO, but to also be there when a subject may impact a student more than they thought it would. So far the students have done well with all the PRO lessons and we can see them using what they learn, making for a friendlier and more empathetic school!
Mindfulness Hacks for Busy Parents
In a stressful life, shortcuts can help us focus on being grateful and happy.
Erin Leyba LCSW, Ph.D.
Posted Feb 25, 2018
Mindfulness means staying awake to the present moment and remaining consciously aware of the things that are most important to us, despite whatever stressors come our way. Research suggests mindfulness has vast benefits, such as an ability to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve cognition, and decrease distractions. Other research suggests that mindfulness can improve relationships with ourselves and others. Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce parents’ stress and increase/improve their social interactions with their children.
In the stressful chaos of modern life, how can we use mindfulness to keep the most important stuff – to be grateful, to be present, and to be happy – at the forefront of our attention? Here are a few shortcuts for busy parents.
Gratitude is related to improved optimism and resilience, and has the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait. While we may understand that feeling and expressing thanks is incredibly good for us, it’s hard to remember to do it.
Here are some creative strategies or cues to remember to focus on gratitude:
In the morning, ask yourself, “Where will my joy come from today?”
Many parents struggle with boredom, chore monotony, to-do lists, or overwhelm that keeps them more in a survival / going-through-the-motions mode and less in a state of mindful presence. Research suggests that people spend about 46% of their time thinking about something other than what they’re actually doing. How can we stay present when we’re cleaning up an art-project-turned-tornado or loading the dishwasher for the third time in a day? Here are three focal points to stay awake to the present moment:
How to Find the Best Therapist for You
Seven tips on finding the best fit for you.
Tracey Cleantis, LMFT
Posted Feb 16, 2011
The first time I went to therapy, my parents chose a psychotherapist quickly (an easier decision than which mechanic to use). The way they found this nutter-butter-can-of-cashews: My first pediatrician didn't know what to do for my all-night, every night nightmares, and so he sent me to a therapist. He thought she was good because of her seemingly impressive pedigree. And let me let them tell you as they told everyone who asked: "She did therapy on the Prime Minister from Israel." Even at age 10, I found this bit of information troubling and logistically dubious, as we lived in a beachside suburb in Los Angeles and the Prime Minister from Israel lived in Israel.
Here are a few examples of her wacky behavior:
1. She ate cottage cheese with her mouth open during our sessions. I feel sure that her mouth full of curds gave me more nightmares.
2. She read her mail during our sessions. While I get that my 10-year-old chatter was not very stimulating, she was getting paid to listen to me and not to read what the latest edition of Readers Digest said about how to declutter your desk. Good God, do I wish I was making this stuff up.
3. I have since learned that she asked patients for rides to the airport. She never asked me for a ride, but I was only 10 and I didn't even own a bike.
I thought, as a public service of sorts, and because I am a therapist and I write about being in therapy, it might be a good thing if I shared some thoughts about picking a therapist—should you ever find yourself in need of one—as they can be harder to find than a good mechanic.
1. Ask friends and family
Ask friends who are in therapy if they like their therapist. If they do, find out what it is they like about them and ask your friends to ask their therapists for referral lists. I have never gotten a good referral that way, but I have given out some good referrals because friends have asked me if my therapist knew anyone for them.
If none of your friends are in therapy or if they tell you that they don't like their therapist and how they keep going just because they don't want to hurt the therapist's feelings, it's best to get a referral elsewhere. I have gotten most of my referrals by calling institutes (Jungian, Psychodynamic, Psychoanalytic) for therapists in my area. That said, you don't want a therapist who is convenient—you want a therapist who is good. Good and convenient do not often go hand in hand. I could have a therapist that is only five minutes from my house, but I believe Igor is worth the hour drive. And, I find the drive home to be an important time to process my feelings.
Many institutes have a service in which a clinic director will do an intake and determine what therapist in the community might be a good fit for you. That is a wonderful way to find a therapist if you don't have a referral source.
2. Shop online
While I have never found a therapist online, I do have an ad on Therapist Finder. And I do think (in the online age) it is likely to find a therapist on Psychology Today's Therapy Directory. When therapist shopping I would look for therapists who are not selling themselves but rather those telling you about their work and their philosophy of working with patients.
3. A picture tells a story
Take a look at therapists' pictures on Psychology Today's Therapist Directory. Red lights for me: Therapists who use glamour shots or whose portraits seem in any way seductive. I would also steer clear of therapists who use a photo of themselves partaking in a favorite hobby or recreational activity. If you have any doubt about a therapist based on photos, I would listen to your intuition. See if you can find someone who you could easily sit across from. I am not saying your therapist needs to look like a supermodel; you just want to look at the therapist without feeling any concern or apprehension. I would heed any intuition.
When choosing a therapist, almost all people have an instinctive idea on gender they would prefer to work with. For me, my default therapist choice is always male which, in fact, comes out of my relationship with my parents. I don't think there is a right or wrong when it comes to choosing which gender you prefer to work with. However, I think it can be clinically valuable to notice which gender you absolutely wouldn't want to work with. I would make note of that and let my therapist know about my strong feelings of "no way" when considering a certain gender for a therapist.
5. Theoretical orientation
This one is really tricky. There are many theoretical orientations and I certainly cannot explain them all in one single post. Here is what I can say in a huge and gross oversimplification:
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6. Call them
When you find a therapist to call, then call. It sounds easier than it is; I have had the numbers of therapists in my possession for weeks before I dared to call. Once on the phone, I had questions handy:
If you don't have insurance and can't afford the fees: see an intern at a clinic. The great thing about working with interns is that you get two therapists for the price of one. You get the intern therapist you are working with and the supervisor who is supervising. Training institutes usually have interns on staff that are available at very low rates.
For years, I saw a Jungian analyst for the embarrassingly low fee of $25 a session. He saw me at that low rate because I couldn't afford more and because he was doing pro-bono work for the institute as a way of giving back.
Notice how you feel on the phone with the therapist. Nervous was how I usually felt on that first call. I rarely have had an immediate "yes" feeling when I talked to a therapist on the phone. I usually felt a little weird and awkward. You may feel differently. Just notice how you feel on the phone and after you have made the appointment. Also, if you are doing psychodynamic therapy, you might want to write down any dreams you have had once you have made the appointment.
On your first appointment, notice how you feel when you are in the room with your new therapist. Do you feel heard when you speak? Notice how you feel in that person's presence. Notice everything. You might not decide on the first session if the therapist is for you. It may take some time to determine if you have picked the right therapist. If you decide that it isn't a good match, then you don't need to go back. It is best to tell the therapist what it is you're looking for and why she isn't the best fit for you. The therapist might have some ideas for a referral that would work for you. And sometimes that desire to not go back is motivated by some more unconscious anxieties about being in therapy. Best to discuss those, too.
Also notice if there are any red flags, any ethical, boundary issues, or cottage cheese eating that starts to arise. If there are, it might be time to pick another therapist.
Copyright Tracey Cleantis 2011
Health risks are scaring some teen vapers into considering quitting
The challenge: Money and other resources are geared more to helping smokers, not vapers
JOHN DALEY, COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO
NOV 8, 2019 — 6:45 AM EST
It all started at the mall when a friend offered Beth a puff from a Juul e-cigarette. At the time, the Denver, Colo.-area student was in middle school.
“It was kind of peer pressure,” the now 15-year-old recalls. “I started inhaling it,” she says. “I suddenly was, like, wow, I really think that I need this — even though I don’t.” (The teen has asked that her last name not be used because she has not yet told her parents that she vapes.)
Soon, Beth had a Juul of her own. She was vaping half a pod of e-liquid a day. That much provides the nicotine equal to half a pack of conventional cigarettes. The girl used other brands, too — a Suorin, a Smok Novo and a modified device, which gives users custom vaping options.
“When you wake up in the morning, you’re just like, ‘Oh, I need to hit my thing. Where is it?’” Beth says. “’You can’t really get it off your mind unless you distract yourself.’”
Eventually, the teen tried to quit so that her mom wouldn’t find out. But it’s been hard, she says. Her school doesn’t have the resources to help her.
Of 37 states surveyed in 2017, Colorado had the highest rate of teen vaping. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. This U.S. health agency is based in Atlanta, Ga. One in four of the Colorado students who were surveyed said they currently use an electronic vapor product — double the national average. Beth guesses that half of her classmates vape regularly. Her school does offer some tobacco-prevention education. Still, she says, teens could use a lot more support to help them to quit.
It may not seem obvious, but e-cigarettes are considered a “tobacco product.” That’s because most e-cigs vaporize a liquid that contains nicotine, a natural drug. That nicotine, an addictive stimulant, comes from tobacco leaves.
Beth says she managed to stop vaping a few weeks ago. She was motivated by news stories of young people falling ill. When one of her own friends got sick, that was a turning point.
On Nov. 7, the CDC reported it was investigating 2,051 lung injuries associated with vaping across 49 states (all but Alaska), including 39 deaths. One day later, CDC announced it had data that seem to confirm a suspicion about what may underlie many of the severe lung injuries seen this year in U.S. vapers. It found vitamin E acetate in fluid from the lungs of all 29 patients from which it had received samples.
Vitamin E acetate is widely used as a dietary supplement. It also is used as a diluting and thickening ingredient in some vaping products that contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes a “high.” Most of the tested patients reported they had vaped liquids containing THC. Although vitamin E acetate is considered safe when used in skin creams or as a dietary supplement, research indicates that it could be harmful when inhaled.
An early online description of the test data on the vitamin E acetate appears in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“We are in a better place than we were two weeks ago, in terms of having [this] one very strong culprit,” said Anne Schuchat during a Nov. 8 news briefing. She’s CDC’s principal deputy director, based in Atlanta. Still, she added, no one yet knows precisely how this substance might harm the lungs. What’s more, she said it’s possible that this substance may not be acting alone in causing the lung injuries.
Beth says that before learning of the lung injuries and other vaping risks, “I didn’t really take it super seriously.” But then, she says, “I was like, oh, what are the chances that that’s going to happen to me? And then my friend actually almost had his lung collapse.” She says he was coughing up blood and mucus. “I just couldn’t do it anymore,” Beth decided. “It’s not worth it.”
Little money to help teens stop vaping A new government survey shows more than one in four U.S. high school students have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. Among middle-school students, the rate was 10.5 percent. People who work to keep the public healthy say that funding for anti-tobacco efforts is inadequate.
States receive yearly payments from tobacco companies as part of a 1998 lawsuit settlement. But those states are not following CDC guidance on setting aside large chunks of that money to help tobacco users or to prevent others from starting. States can spend that money on whatever they want.
Cigarette taxes have been one traditional source of funding for anti-smoking programs. But with fewer people smoking cigarettes, that source of money has been shrinking. Colorado’s health department says cigarette sales in its state have declined by 41 percent (two-fifths) since 1990. And in more than half of U.S. states, including Colorado, vapes aren’t taxed — at least not yet.
“It is daunting,” says Alison Reidmohr. She is a tobacco-communications specialist for Colorado’s Department of Health and Public Environment in Denver. “We’ve got more problems than we’ve seen before and fewer resources [money] with which to deal with them.”
Some 27,000 Colorado high schoolers report vaping more than 10 days a month, Reidmohr says. “More people are using more nicotine products. Our young people are facing an epidemic of vaping. We’re not funded to deal with vaping products.”
Colorado spends nearly $24 million a year on tobacco prevention. Still, a recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids finds that this is less than half of what the CDC recommends, and one-fifth of what the tobacco industry spends on marketing in the state.
“Really, we have almost nothing in terms of treatment for these kids,” says Christian Thurstone. He’s a physician who runs drug-abuse prevention programs for teens in Denver. Teens have gotten addicted to nicotine so fast, he says, that it’s uncharted territory.
There are websites, hotlines, therapists and coaches to help kids manage nicotine cravings. However, those efforts were all designed to manage cigarettes, Thurstone says. He has turned up no studies aimed at helping adolescents quit vaping.
“We need some research, fast,” he says.
A spokesman for the popular Juul brand says no young person or non-nicotine user should ever try Juul. But he didn’t say how minors who’ve started to use the product might quit.
Most teens just need to decide they’re not going to use anymore, says Gregory Conley. This New Jersey attorney also serves as president of the American Vaping Association, which is based in Stamford, Conn. “It’s only a small sliver that may actually need some assistance to get off the products,” he says.
Colorado’s health department disputes that. It estimates that one in 10 of the state’s high schoolers vape nicotine more than 10 days a month.
Coaching is available to some who want it In July, National Jewish Health in Denver launched a program aimed at helping teens give up nicotine, vaping and other tobacco products. In a large open office, coaches answer calls. “Thank you for calling My Life My Quit,” one says. “Congratulations on making the decision to quit.” The program — which uses a traditional help line, chats and live coaching — has seen a sharp surge in sign-ups in the past month.
My Life My Quit serves Colorado. It also is available in 11 other states — Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming. Thomas Ylioja leads the Health Initiatives program at National Jewish Health. Data show that a little more than one in eight U.S. high school seniors vape daily, he says.
Teens are “telling us they can feel their lungs burning when they’re using these products,” Ylioja says. “They’re telling us that they can’t exercise the same way they used to before. They’re telling us that they can’t give up these products just on their own, that they need help.”
The program has lately added coaching by text, he says. After all, he says, that’s how many teens like to communicate.
In his office, Ylioja reads from a printout of text conversations between teens and coaches. “I’m 16 years old,” one student writes. “I’m super addicted to vaping. I can’t seem to quit when I don’t have it. That’s all I think about.”
“‘My family is worried and all the stories about people getting sick,'” said another text. “‘I don’t know if it’s really bad to vape . . . They could be rare occasions, but I’m worried about it.'”
Nichole Lopez is one of the program’s coaches. Teens often think they’re invincible, she says. But news of young people getting sick is suddenly making the dangers seem real. “It’s freaking them out,” she says. “I had somebody say, ‘I just don’t want to die, so I need to quit.'”
The Truth Initiative is a nonprofit public-health group aimed at helping young people quit smoking. Lately, it has expanded its resources to include a program focused on e-cigarettes. Its free text-messaging program is “tailored by age group.” It offers teens and young adults appropriate recommendations about quitting. It also offers resources for parents looking to help children who are vaping and may want to quit.
Don Daniels directs the tobacco-education program at Chatfield High in Littleton, Colo. He says that he’s begun sensing what he thinks could be a dramatic change in teen attitudes about e-cigs.
Reports of people being “truly sick and dying from these devices is enough for young people to make a decision that’s going to benefit their health,” Daniels says. “They’re savvy. This is a smart generation and they’re thoughtful,” he adds. “They have the ability to make good choices.”
Chatfield senior Mia Norrid is a swimmer who doesn’t vape. But her mom posted a story about vaping-linked illnesses on Facebook and tagged her daughter as a nudge to speak up.
“I think she tagged me,” the teen says, “so I could let my friends know about it, because a lot of my friends do it.”