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Piper Walsh, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
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Therapy for Children, Adolescents, Adults in South Orange County

Body Image Issues in Teens: Four Ways to Tackle & Treat

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Adolescence can be a challenging life stage for both young people and their families. Body image issues in teens is a common topic in adolescent and family counseling.

Teenagers go through a number of changes that have a significant impact on how they perceive their bodies. Furthermore, social pressure to look a certain way can be stressful if your child looks different from the ideal person they want to be. And in today’s world of idealized media images of perfection, it can be difficult for a young person to cultivate self-love and acceptance.

With all of these unrealistic messages, it’s no wonder that more and more adolescents are having problems with how they see their bodies.

Body Image and Related Mental Health Concerns

Is your teen preoccupied with perceived flaws in their appearance, even if they are minor or nonexistent in reality? Are they concerned that others will perceive their flaws as abnormal, even if they do not? Do they always think and talk about their real or imagined imperfections? Are their eating habits impaired?

Body dissatisfaction is closely linked to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and eating disorders (EDs). Studies show that having a negative body image is the most direct cause of developing an eating disorder. Poor body image is a significant risk factor for obsessive preoccupation with one’s body and restrictive dieting, leading to severe eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

In addition, body image issues in teens are closely related to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Adolescent counseling can be a safe place for your teenager to identify and challenge their negative thoughts, address related mental health concerns, improve confidence, and develop a healthier self-image.

Additionally, there are the following four ways to tackle body image issues in teens:

1.    Set Social Media Boundaries

Talk to your teenager about social media and the editing tools people use when posting pictures to make them look more beautiful. Encourage them to unfollow people who make them feel uncomfortable. Help your child understand how certain content is perfected on social media and teach them to evaluate media critically.

2.    Model Self-Love and Self-Acceptance

Always act as a positive role model for your child. For example, emphasize the importance of focusing on oneself as a complete individual and never making negative comments about your body in front of them. Focus on all the positive things your body can do: be active daily, choose healthy foods for yourself and your family, and keep a healthy weight.

3.    Encourage Individuality

Teach your child to love and appreciate their bodies, no matter their shape or size. Encourage them to resist the pressure to look the same as their friends or celebrities, and help them understand that they are beautiful even if they don’t fit the currently popular ideals.

4.    Foster Positive Lifestyle Choices

Teach your child that taking good care of their body can make them feel better. Promote self-care and encourage your teen to eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get regular sleep.

Body Image Issues in Teens: How Can Adolescent Counseling Help?

A qualified counselor can help you and your adolescent understand where body image issues from teens come from and how they affect your child’s life, build resilience, and grow self-esteem.

Adolescent counseling can assist teenagers in challenging and changing their distorted thoughts and beliefs about their appearance. Additionally, therapy can assist in identifying and addressing any underlying issues that may be contributing to harmful behaviors. It can help them develop strategies to reduce these behaviors and adopt healthier coping mechanisms.

Preventing Parental Burnout: 4 Positive Parenting Strategies

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Being a parent is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. However, we all know that raising children has its challenges. Parental burnout is something many parents face today.

As parents, we are expected to provide our children with the best care, guidance, and support. We are supposed to meet their needs and make endless choices for their education, health, development, and well-being.

However, making multiple daily decisions, some crucial to our child’s well-being, depletes our mental resources, often resulting in parental burnout. And the fact that we have to balance work and life, deal with day-to-day stress, and manage our mental health adds to the problem.

What is Parental Burnout and How to Recognize It?

Burnout is a long-lasting state of exhaustion that leaves you feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally worn out. Parental burnout can make you feel drained most of the time, lower your motivation and productivity, hurt your relationships, and cause various health issues. You may struggle with anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and self-doubt, and have escape ideation about leaving parenting.

As a result, it is critical to identify and manage burnout symptoms as soon as possible.

How to Deal with Parental Burnout

Here are four positive parenting strategies to avoid burnout and promote happier and healthier parenting.

1.    Establish Routines and Boundaries

Setting routines and boundaries is an essential part of parenting, as it gives both parents and children a sense of structure and predictability, helping children feel safe and preventing behavioral challenges.

So, make a timetable for daily activities, household chores, and family time. Maintaining a healthy balance between work, school, and family life is crucial since it ensures everyone’s needs are addressed.

2.    Have Realistic Expectations

Both society and ourselves have high goals for ourselves and our children, causing stress and burnout. Most of us struggle to combine work and life and set high expectations and unreasonable ambitions for ourselves.

Set reasonable goals for yourself and your children, knowing that improvement and success take time.

3.    Practice Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is considered the healthiest parenting style. It means setting clear and reasonable rules and natural consequences, explaining, and emphasizing positive reinforcement. At the same time, authoritative parenting is nurturing, flexible, and supportive. Encourage your children to freely express their beliefs, thoughts, and emotions while reasoning, explaining, and discussing rules when directing their behavior.

Focus on fostering open communication with your children, offering choices, and teaching them problem-solving skills, as this helps children develop independence and self-discipline while at the same time promoting positive family relationships.

4.    Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. So, prioritize your personal needs and schedule time for hobbies and relaxation. Self-care, whether through meditation, walking, or simply spending time alone, enables you to feel energized and focused. Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish; it is necessary to give your children the best possible care.

But if you think that exhaustion is taking a toll on your health and well-being, you should talk to a mental health professional. Parenting doesn’t have to be isolating or stressful. Help is available. Parenting counseling can help you figure out what makes you stressed, deal with your feelings, change negative thinking patterns, and come up with ways to make parenting less stressful

5 Strategies to Cope with Your OCD

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts and urges (obsessions) that cause anxiety and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) a person performs to ease that anxiety. If you struggle with obsessions and compulsions, counseling can be a safe place to learn how to cope with OCD and regain your life.

How to Cope with OCD

You can also learn and develop methods to help you manage your obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here are five different ways to deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here are five strategies to cope with OCD.

1.    Learn about your OCD

The first step in learning how to manage OCD is getting informed about your condition. This can help you understand which type you have (contamination, harm, hoarding, checking, etc.). OCD is a heterogeneous condition with a wide range of symptoms. Knowing the subtype you fall into can help you get the proper treatment.

Many people quickly become consumed by self-blame, guilt, and shame for having OCD. Learning about OCD can help relieve the weight of guilt and shame by helping you understand that you have a medical illness and that you don’t need to feel bad about yourself for that.

2.    Prioritize Self-Care

Taking good care of yourself is essential to learning how to cope with OCD, as self-care strategies can help reduce stress and improve your well-being. Self-care may be defined as everything you do regularly that enables you to maintain your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Therefore, it is vital to make sure that you:

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Stick to a nutritious diet
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Engage in activities that bring joy and help you feel good about yourself

3.    Practice Mindfulness

During a mindfulness exercise, you practice paying attention to the here and now without judgment. Mindfulness can help you manage OCD by increasing self-awareness and teaching you to observe your thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed. This way, mindfulness helps reduce anxiety.

4.    Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is a great way to boost mood, reduce stress, and ease anxiety because it helps the brain release chemicals (called endorphins) that can make you feel better. Exercise can also help reduce your OCD symptoms by providing a distraction from obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions.

5.    Try Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

If you struggle to manage your symptoms and go about your daily life, OCD counseling could help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for OCD that can help you identify your triggers, recognize your negative thought patterns and behaviors, and then replace them with positive ones.

Most of the time, OCD symptoms get better when exposure response prevention (ERP) and other cognitive-behavioral therapies are used with medication.

ERP includes voluntary, repeated exposure to the source of your anxiety until you learn to tolerate distress caused by your obsession without resourcing to compulsive behaviors.

ERP has proven to be the most successful treatment for OCD. However, it is essential to work with a therapist to determine the best OCD treatment for your unique needs so you can learn how to cope with OCD and live the life you deserve.

Most Common Mental Illnesses in Adolescence: How Adolescent Counseling Can Help

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Mental illnesses in adolescence are among the leading causes of disability in this age group, according to the World Health Organization.

Mental health is essential to a child’s general health and well-being. WHO defines good mental health as a condition of well-being that enables you to: be aware of your talents, manage stress, maintain healthy relationships, and be productive.

Put another way, having good mental health is critical to personal and professional success and having happy and healthy relationships.

How Prevalent Are Mental Health Disorders in Children and Adolescents?

Research shows that anxiety, mood disorders, behavior disorders, and attention disorders are among the most common mental health challenges in children and teenagers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around 6 million children in the United States, aged 3 to 17, have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), while 5.8 million have anxiety.

Depression affects around 2.7 million children and adolescents in the United States, whereas behavior issues affect approximately 5.5 million children and adolescents. Some of these conditions may occur together.

Anxiety and Depression in Adolescence

The Child Mind Institute estimates that by the time they reach the age of 18, nearly one in every three teenagers will have developed an anxiety problem.

Similarly, the National Institutes of Health reports that anxiety disorders in children and adolescents are on the rise, with nearly one in three teenagers feeling anxiety between the ages of 13 and 18.

4-5 percent of teenagers around the world have clinical depression every year, according to studies. Depression rates typically increase in early adolescence, and girls are more likely to be affected than boys.

With care and treatment that is well-informed and empathetic, children and teens may be able to deal with mental health problems and be better able to handle stress in their everyday lives.

Counseling for teens can be just what they need to get back on track and thrive again.

The Importance of Addressing Mental Illnesses in Adolescents

Parents, guardians, and teachers must be able to spot the signs of mental illness in adolescents and get them the help they need, like adolescent counseling.

Having an outside perspective and a safe place to talk about their worries, fears, and feelings can be beneficial. So, adolescent counseling and family therapy can be essential parts of helping your child cope with mental health issues.

Through counseling, teens can learn more about their problems and how to deal with them. A counselor can also help your child find resources like support groups and other programs to help them deal with their mental health problems and improve.

Counselors can also help your child learn new ways to deal with stress, such as getting enough exercise, setting boundaries on social media, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.

Counseling for teens can also help guide parents in the right direction. Parents can learn better ways to talk to and understand their teenager’s feelings and create a more supportive environment for their child to grow into a healthy adult.

Overall, adolescent counseling can be a very effective way to help them deal with their mental health needs and get through these challenging times. In addition, it can help teens grow and learn the skills they need to understand and deal with their problems, which will make their lives better in the long run.