Tag Archives: Support

Family Communication is the Key

I’d like to write today about my first meeting with families, and how communication plays a vital role. The process generally goes something like this: After discussing the reason they have sought out help, we discuss how the family currently functions. We talk about the parents’ relationship with their children and with one another. We talk about how the kids relate to their siblings and how they relate to their parents. I then ask the parents something along the lines of “Tell me a little bit about your relationship with *Johnny*.” Some parents are confused by this question.  Most parents answer with something like “Things go well when *Johnny* is in a good mood, but when he is in a bad mood, we all have to watch out.” There can be further details about the relationship and sometimes they will highlight all the fun activities that they enjoy doing with their child. All of this information is very helpful as I begin to understand the family’s struggles. What it does not always address is how communication is happening within the family.

I find that the families I work with frequently neither possess nor know how to acquire ways to communicate effectively with one another. Many of the families describe that they feel manipulated by the communication with their children. This pattern is one of the most difficult changes we ask families to make. We look to break the cycles of years of built-up patterns of communications.

There are lots of ways to work on changing these patterns. Finding the method that works for you and your family is key. Over the past weekend, I had the good fortune of attending the One Change Group’s Real Change workshop. This two day workshop focused on changing communication patterns as well as teaching additional communication and parenting skills. The two day workshop was filled with a mixture of moms, dads, children, single parents, families, and professionals. We shared our stories and asked lots of questions all in the hope of changing our patterns of communication.

In order to change the patterns, the pain of the way things are going has to be greater than the fear of changing. As with everything in life, changing communication patterns is difficult work and takes practice. We have to be forgiving of ourselves that we will get it right one hundred percent of the time. We also have to become aware of our patterns as a means to break them.

To change these patterns there are some simple changes that can make a huge impact on communication.

  1. Check yourself – During conversations that are highly emotional everyone involved needs to try and be aware of their emotional state.  When we get highly emotional our brain shuts down and we can not be rational.  So it is OK in those moments to take a timeout.  The key to effectively using a timeout is to schedule a time when everyone is going to come back together in the next twenty-four hours to finish discussing the topic.
  2. You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak – What you and your child have to say is equally as important. Make sure that you listen and repeat back what you hear your child saying, and ask them to do the same before having them respond to the topic of the conversation.
  3. Share the love – we hear the negative far louder than the positive. In fact, for every negative comment we hear it takes forty positive ones to cancel it out. It is easy to point out all the things that others are not doing, but keep in mind that we all need positive reinforcement. This is true for ourselves and others.  We need to continually give ourselves positive reinforcement as well.

Start with changing these pieces of your communication at home and you will see the ripple effect. These skills can be used in every aspect of your life, work, home, school, friendships and beyond. My suggestion is to try one skill for thirty days and see how it goes. If you are looking for more information about parenting skills and increasing the communication in your home, Prepare To Bloom may be able to help. Check us out at or call us at (925) 526-5685.


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Transitions to Adulthood

I would like to remind parents about the risks of transition times. Increasingly, parents are seeing that the transition to young adulthood is not a smooth one. When I speak about transitions with parents I am often referring to transitions between activities such as going from English to Math class, from school to home, or from sports practice to homework times. But there are bigger transitions, life transitions, that demand special attention. I discuss with my clients that the struggle through high risk times such as the transition from middle to high school, having the parents go through a divorce, surviving a death in the family, or moving from the turbulent teen years to young adulthood need to be approached carefully.

The families I am working with are reporting that their children are not prepared to head into adulthood.  This is further supported by The Network on Transitions to Adulthood.  According to their reports, “Significant cultural, economic, and demographic changes have occurred in the span of a few generations, and these changes are challenging youths’ psychological and social development. Some are adapting well, but many others are floundering as they prepare to leave home, finish school, find jobs, and start families.”

As our society is becoming more technologically advanced, our daily living skills seem to be falling behind. There are real challenges that this generation of young adults must deal with. However, the skill set needed to successfully launch is severely lacking in many areas.

Many families struggle with what is the best route for their child. There are a wide range of programs all across the country that are designed just to support these needs.  These programs vary greatly in what they offer; from highly structured programs and curricula to support around building vital independent living skills. If you are looking for programs, therapists, and support for a young adult in your life who is struggling, Prepare To Bloom, LLC may be able to help.  You can learn more by calling us at (650)888-4575 or checking out our website at


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How to Choose a Therapist

A therapist is a person trained in the use of psychological methods for helping patients overcome psychological problems. Therapists specialize in areas such as addiction, depression, autism, eating disorders, and many others. I frequently get contacted by people who don’t require a consultant, but they do need a therapist. In those situations I’m able to connect them with local therapists. When I refer a family to a therapist, they often ask me how to choose the “right” one.  While there is no easy answer to this, there are some areas I suggest families consider when interviewing a new therapist.

  • As they say in real estate, “location, location, location.”  The majority of families I work with are extremely busy, so try to make the location convenient.  If your therapist is in a convenient location, that will not be an excuse not to go.
  • Comfort is key.  This is someone who you will be sharing sensitive information with, so you want to be sure that you are comfortable talking with them.  There are lots of factors that can go into this, some that I recommend thinking about are gender, age, and connection when you speak with them.  While your therapist is not the same as a friend it is important that you can feel relaxed and open to the process of therapy.
  • The alphabet soup of degrees. MSW, LCSW, MFT, MFTI, MFCC, LPC, PH.D., PSY.D. these are some of the degrees you see when you look to find a therapist.  In my opinion, the particular degree does not matter as much as your connection with the person.  It is far more important that the therapist has experience in the area you are seeking support.  They may even mention having a specialty in particular areas.
  • Trust your gut.  Once you make contact with a potential therapist ask as many questions as you need in order to see if they are a good fit.  One factor may be are they truly listening to you during the phone call.  Is the therapist asking questions of you as well so they can make sure they can meet your needs.  The fit must happen both ways.
  • Make sure you are clear on the fees prior to scheduling the first therapy appointment.  Some therapists may be covered by your insurance, but it is your responsibility to double-check this to be true for your specific plan.  Do your homework prior to the appointment so that there are no surprises afterwards.

It is typically a good idea to get recommendations for therapists from those you know and trust such as friends, family or other professionals that you work with.  With that being said, no one can make this type of decision for you as it is a very personal one and requires putting in the time to research and make sure that the person is a good fit for you and/or your family.

Whether you’re looking for a therapist or would like more information about therapeutic and educational consulting, Prepare To Bloom, LLC can help. Please give us a call at 650-888-4575 or visit for more information.

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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Families, Mental Health


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