How to Support the Healing of Your Child

I am apart of a powerful women’s entrepreneurial group where we read a book and have a discussion about the impact the book had us. Our first book is Iyanla Vanzant’s Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What Your’re Going Through. This book is an autobiography where Iyanla explores her past trauma and the generational pathology of her family. One of the questions posed by one of the group members was “which adult from Iyanla’s childhood we thought was in the best position to protect her and make everything alright.” My response to the question was  “The adults in her life were not in a position to make everything right as they had never dealt with their issues and trauma. I run across so many families who want us (therapists) to “fix” children when the real issue is the parents. And when I say the real issue is the parents, I mean they have never dealt with their issues and that effects the way in which they parent continuing the passing down of generational issues.” Her response to me was “I see! Wow. Heal the parents which would enable them to support the healing of the child.” I thought, “Exactly! Somebody gets it!”

The first step to caregivers helping their children through issues that require therapy is to first deal with their own issues. One of the statements I make to the parents of the children I treat is “In order for me to help your child, you have to be a part of the treatment. That means there may be times when you have to meet with me alone where we may have to address things from your past that are impacting your relationship with your child. I cannot help your child without also helping you.” Many caregivers do not realize how their past issues have seeped into their current relationships and coping. Ignorance is not bliss! Ignoring what has occurred in your past is the breeding ground for pathology.

Caregivers for the benefit of the children you are raising, please face the issues from your past. Therapy is not for “crazy people” as it has been stigmatized in the past. Therapy is for everyone who is willing to face their past and want to change.

Man and woman holding hands at a table

Close up on a man and a woman holding hands at a wooden table

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How Will You Choose to Deal with Opposing Views?

This past week has been interesting to say the least. Emotions continue to be high as one president exits and another one enters. I found myself having to unfriend someone I have known since I was an undergraduate in college because of the personal attacks he made against others whom I am friends with during a conversation on Facebook. Here is the status that I posted after I unfriended him: “Please understand that I post about things that I care about and are my views. I love to spark debate as long as it is done properly. That is the point of some of my posts. I will not tolerate disrespect. Personal attacks is not the way to change someone’s view on an issue. Don’t quote the Bible if you don’t live by it. You will be blocked!” I am an advocate for having conversations about difficult subjects with people of different view points. That is how change happens whether it is someone adjusting to my view, or me to theirs. But we as a society have to learn how to have conversations without resorting to personal attacks.

I have also been dealing with an issue with a family where the teenager has dug her heels in and is refusing to see reason because she does not want to be seen as weak in the eyes of her peers even though her safety is in jeopardy. Today it hit me that what we have witnessed over the past couple of days is a great testimony. There was an expectation that the inauguration attendance would be record breaking, but instead people showed their voice by not showing up. Now I know there is discrepancy about how many people were there, but pictures truly are worth a thousand words. The very next day women across the United States gathered and marched for women rights. So many so they have not been able to collect the numbers yet. The statement of silence the day before and peaceful protest the next day spoke volumes! And how fitting that this all occurred the week we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday!

Our challenge today is teaching youth that they can show more strength by using wisdom to deal with conflict. Many of the past conflicts I have dealt with have been shut down and resolved using silence, peaceful protest, kindness, love, and a smile. So I challenge us all to use wisdom in how we approach things and find a different way of responding to those who have views that are in conflict with out own.

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Completion

So it has been a long time since I have blogged. Things have been crazy since the last time I wrote. Let’s see I was in a car accident while training for a half marathon. Then I got a promotion at work that turned into full time way earlier than expected. So I would say the last part of 2016 was a time of transition for me. But now we are in 2017 and I am at a place in my life where I have to learn to not just focus on just seeing clients and making it through the day, but I have to learn to maintain all aspects of my personal life at the same time. Which includes being more consistent with blogging. So here goes!

My first blog of 2017 is about what I am already learning for 2017 and not about my goals for 2017. My word for this year is “Completion.” God gave me this word because there are several things that I have allowed to be carried over into 2017 that should have stayed in 2016. For reasons of fear, procrastination, and just being busy I allowed these things to enter into a new year which is unacceptable. I can continue to make excuses or I can do something about it. I am choosing to correct my mistakes. Also, there are new opportunities that I will encounter in 2017 that must be completed in 2017. As I refuse to continue to make the same mistakes.

This year I am not going to publicly reveal my goals list, but as I go throughout the year I will share different things that are on my list and my personal journey to completing them. I will still be an advocate about issues that are important to me. And share the life lessons that I learn along the way. I look forward to the journey of 2017 and my continued growth. I hope each of you join me on this journey of completion!

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Dance as therapy!

There were two videos this past week that went viral. One was a six years-old girl who was invited to perform at the Zumba conference This young lady had amazing moves, but more remarkable is she has a bone marrow disease. She uses dance as a way to deal with living with this disease. The other was a video of a woman who used dance to deal with labor pains prior to giving birth to her second child. So today, I decided to do a blog on Dance Therapy.

The American Dance Therapy Association defines Dance Therapy as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.” Dance Therapy is used with people of all ages and in all populations to help individuals with developmental, medical, social, physical and psychological impairments. I can remember volunteering for the Special Olympics Prom for DeKalb County in Georgia. One year the prom fell on the same night as the prom of the school I worked at. We had regular education students who chose to volunteer at the Special Education prom over attending the school prom. Dance served as an equalizer between the special education students and the regular education students. For those hours they were one and shared a love of music and dance.

Recent articles have shown that Dance Therapy has successfully been used with clients who have dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, eating disorders, autism, and with people in prisons. There are only a select number of universities in the United States that offer degrees in Dance Therapy, but there are alternative ways in which therapist’s can become certified to use Dance Therapy. You click the link above and go to the American Dance Therapy Association’s website to locate a dance therapist in your area.

I hope more people find dance as a coping skill to use to get through whatever they may be going through.

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Fibromyalgia

So since making the lifestyle change to live healthier, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. One of those people is a workout friend Cassandra. Now she was always smiling in Zumba class and brought so much fun. Unfortunately, she has not been able to go to Zumba class for months now because she lives with fibromyalgia. On May 10th, she had one request, that we wear purple in honor of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I honored her by wearing purple, That day I just happened to be going to court for a case and had another co-worker going also who had on purple. People asked if we coordinated and it gave me the opportunity to tell them why I was wearing purple. When I stated that I was wearing if in honor of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day they looked at me stunned because they did not know what fibromyagia is. So I decided to write a blog on it.

May 10 National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

The National Institute of Arthritis & Musculosketetal and Skin Disease defines fibromyalgia as “a common & chronic disease characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms.” Other symptoms include cognitive problems, sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling of the extremities, restless leg syndrome, temperature sensitivity, and sensitivity to light and sound. It is estimated that 5 million Americans 18 years old and older have fibromyalgia, with 80-90% being women. The causes of this disorder is unknown, diagnosis requires ruling out other disorders, and it is difficult to treat. Research has found that stress exacerbates this disorder and it takes a team of healthcare professionals to treat it. Current research focuses on understanding the pain and improving symptoms of survivors who live with this disorder daily.

I am proud of my friend, Cassandra, and the grace she shows in living with this chronic disorder. She continues to smile and encourage others everyday. Her spirit is a testament to those of us who live without chronic medical conditions. Cassandra thank you for giving me this opportunity to bring awareness to fibromyalgia and for being a inspiration to me.

Bleachers

So one of the things that occurred during the mission trip in Jamaica is we have a banquet and dance at the end of the week to promote positive interactions between the opposite sexes. Every year there are issues that come up on both sides that we address in the gender specific sessions. This year I taught the male sessions. During one of the sessions, I asked the gentlemen how was it going getting a date for the dance. Boy did the hands go up! The first question I got was “Why do the girls not want to talk to bleachers?” Now the previous day some of the counselors had approached me and informed me that there were several males who were bleaching their skin. They discussed how they believe that the youth were trying to be like the Jamaican music artist Vybz Kartel who openly has admitted that he has bleached his skin. So I knew what they were talking about, but I was thrown off by the boys direct questioning. The young man went on to say that it is like the girls think they are going to turn into an alien or something. I explained that anytime you are doing something that is outside of what is considered normal in society, you have to be ready to explain and defend your decision. I explained that they have to be comfortable in their decision and feel comfortable talking about it. I was hoping that they would talk about their choice, but no such luck.

Later that day, I went and talked to the girls to get their view on the issue. The response that I got from the girls was “why would we talk to someone with low self-esteem? If you are not comfortable with who you are and you are bleaching your skin, then you have low self-esteem. I don’t want to talk to them.” Bravo to the young ladies for having standards that they are not willing to compromise on. So, I go back to the boys and deliver the girls’ response and they are adamant that they do not have low self-esteem and they do not bleach their skin because of Vybz Kartel. And again they do not give their reasons leaving me to wonder.

This interaction got me to thinking about the deep rooted issues of skin color and how growing up we were taught that light-skin is better. I even asked the boys I work with in group if that was something happening mainstream here in America and they looked at me like I was crazy. Today, I caught up on shows on my DVR and finally watched “Light Girls” that debuted on the OWN Network in January. It was a follow up to the “Dark Girls” documentary that aired in 2011. Both of these documentaries do a good job of discussing growing up dark skinned versus light skinned in America. In was shocked that the “Light Girls” documentary included as a segment on skin bleaching. They discussed how this is a phenomenon that is bigger in other countries, but did not interview any celebrities that have admitted to bleaching their skin to get their view. I Googled skin bleaching and I was surprised by the products that popped up. There were also articles on the issue and even discussed celebrities that have admitted to or are being accused of skin bleaching. This is another layer of body image issues that our youth face today.

While skin bleaching is not mainstream in America, it is still an issue that needs to be discussed and added to the list of body image issues. We have to continue to have conversations not just about the beauty of body shapes, but also the hidden messages about skin color. I hope that this is not something that will become mainstream in America.

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#ALSIceBucketChallege

I am sure everyone has seen the #ALSIceBucketChallenge that has taken social media by storm. Well I was finally challenged after commenting that one of my friends cheated on his. LOL I wonder how many people actually understand and know about ALS. So as a part of my challenge, I am dedicating a post to ALS. 

ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The motor neurons die, which causes a person’s brain to no longer be able to communicate with the parts of their body to initiate movement. The progression of this disease can lead to person becoming totally paralyzed and eventually leads to death. There are three forms of ALS: 

  • Sporadic – the most common form of ALS in the United States – 90 to 95% of all cases.
  • Familial – occurring more than once in a family lineage (genetic dominant inheritance) accounts for a very small number of cases in the United States – 5 to 10% of all cases. There is a 50% chance that offspring will develop ALS in this form. 
  • Guamanian – an extremely high incidence of ALS was observed in Guam and the Trust Territories of the Pacific in the 1950’s.

ALS is diagnosed through a series of tests:

  • electrodiagnostic tests including electomyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV)
  • blood and urine studies including high resolution serum protein electrophoresis, thyroid and parathyroid hormone levels and 24-hour urine collection for heavy metals
  • spinal tap
  • x-rays, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • myelogram of cervical spine
  • muscle and/or nerve biopsy
  • thorough neurological examination

Symptoms of ALS include: 

  • muscle weakness in one or more of the following: hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech,
    swallowing or breathing
  • twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially those in the hands and feet
  • impairment of the use of the arms and legs
  • “thick speech” and difficulty in projecting the voice
  • in more advanced stages, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

Check out what living with ALS is like from this video. It starts off as a parody, but gets very serious after the ice bucket challenge. Click Living with ALS He is such a brave young man for doing this video and sharing it with the world!

Because ALS does not affect a large number of people (in the pharmaceutical world) and pharmaceutical companies are not able to make a lot of money (because it does not affect a large number of people), there is not a lot of funding for research. The ALS Association raises money to assist patients and to fund research for treatments and cures. Please visit ALS.org to make a donation. 

So now I present the video of my #IceBucketChallenge! In the video I challenge people to either donate to ALS.org, to donate to a charity of their choice, or to donate to my mother who is walking as a Survivor at the St. Petersburg #LightTheNight Walk to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Click here for the video: Dr Shan Walks ALS Ice Bucket Challenge