School looks a lot different this year not only for families in Raleigh, but for families across the nation. In March, U.S. schools were not prepared for an overnight shift to virtual learning. Now, months later, virtual learning is still looking like the best option for many many families amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
However you are feeling about back-to-school plans this fall, there are ways you can move forward in positivity and strengthen relationships with your children this school year. Here are a few tips from Foundations Family Therapy’s Founder Jamie Criswell who has been homeschooling long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Focus on Quantity over Quality
The age-old debate about which is more beneficial, time or quality, is never more at play then when you suddenly find yourself struggling with both. How do I possibly give my child well planned out instructional time, fun time, family time etc. while also working, taking care of their younger siblings, cleaning the house and learning how to help with online learning?
We believe that “done is better than perfect”, which also translates to quantity (the amount of time) is better than quality (the perfect way to spend time) in this case. That could mean spending 10 minutes doing something your child/teen enjoys with them. Maybe build in a quick break between online learning for a walk, or turn up the music for a quick dance session.
Perhaps a 10-minute play session with Barbies or legos is just what your child needs. A simple block of just 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day can go a long way in letting your child know you care and enjoy spending time with them.
Have Lots of Grace
This whole online learning space and being home more hours than away is still new (even if you’ve now been doing it since March). You and your child are likely still coming to terms with things not being back to “normal” like we all hoped they would be by now.
Your child could be grieving the loss of what they thought school would look like this year. Lack of sports and other activities can also be disappointing.
Understand that they are missing their friends and are likely frustrated that this fall will likely not bring a return of those social interactions in the way they hoped.
You may be dealing with frustration and fear over how you’re going to juggle working with online learning and childcare. We understand! Give yourself and your child some extra grace. Be quick to forgive and recognize that each of you may be more easily agitated, angry, or sad. Acknowledge these feelings for yourself and help your child acknowledge theirs. Let them
know that you’re trying your best too and that while it may not look the way either of you wanted, there are some good things that can come from it. Try to focus on those, maybe even listing a few positives from each day with your child.
Talk it out
One thing that is sure to happen is miscommunication. Practice using the speaker-listener technique with your child to make sure that you both are feeling heard. Use “I” statements, feeling words, and short statements to describe what you would like to say. The listener can then reflect back on what they heard to ensure clarity. It goes like this:
Speaker: “I am frustrated with this assignment and I need help with understanding it”
Listener: “I hear you saying that you are frustrated and you would like for me to help you?”
Speaker: “Yes, that is it”
Though it may seem like a simple exercise, we often don’t practice it and both parties end up feeling not heard. It probably looks something like this:
Speaker: “I can’t stand This, it makes no sense!”
Listener: “What do you want me to do, you have to do your work!”
Speaker: “I’m done!”
This scenario may sound familiar and often ends in frustration and anger for both parties, with each of you feeling unheard, helpless, and not supported.
Taking the time to practice speaking and listening can help a lot when things become difficult or emotions are running high. Helping each person feel heard and understood goes a long way in building and protecting your relationship with your child (this works with partners too!) and leaves everyone feeling more connected.
Above all this school year, go easy on yourself! Remember that we all are doing the best we can! Find a plan that works for you and your family. Create schedules and routines that can help keep you on track and don’t hesitate to reach out for support!
A big part of reaching out for support is making your emotional health a priority as we continue to face these challenging times. If you or someone you love is struggling with adjustments to the new normal, we have therapists in Fuquay Varina, Raleigh and North Carolina providing in-office and telehealth services to help you thrive.
When will the coronavirus threat pass?
When can I safely make plans with my friends again?
How will the economy turnaround?
At this point, it seems like we have more questions than answers. There are so many unknowns as we continue to move through these challenging times. Lockdowns and regulations are starting to take an emotional toll on families. But even during these uncertain times, there are plenty of ways your family can move forward in positivity and strength.
Communication is Key
Being part of a family unit is hard and COVID-19 has made that strain even harder for some families. We are all imperfect individuals coming together trying to connect, engage, and balance multiple personalities, goals, dreams, demands, and constant changes. What we crave is connection, support, love, calm, and acceptance.
Some families are adjusting to telework and may find it difficult to get their work done due to lack of childcare, confined spaces, technological issues. Other families are struggling with lack of social freedom (especially in teens). We all have unique struggles as a family.
With all of these additional stressors, communication is more essential than ever! It helps provide clarity, respect, and understanding during these challenging times. Sometimes we miscommunicate. Other times we forget to say important things. Help your spouse and family members by communicating what’s important to you. And, on the flip side, don’t forget to listen to what’s important to them.
Anger Is A Secondary Emotion
Oftentimes kids will show anger on the outside, but on the inside, there is usually a lot of fear or sadness. All of the COVID-19 transitions and adjustments can add to the anger and confusion kids experience. At Foundations Family Therapy, we can help angry kids manage their behaviors, express their feelings in a healthy way, and increase
their communication. Your child is struggling right now. Child counseling at our Fuquay Varina our Raleigh counseling office can help.
How To Bridge The Distance Gap
Now, some families are separated from loved ones like grandparents because of COVID-19 safety regulations. Humans are wired for connection and affection making self-isolation and loneliness rising concerns. The good news is there are ways you can connect, communicate, and nurture relationships from miles away.
Our Family Therapists help families learn to communicate better and reconnect from near or far. We treat the entire family as a unit to help each person feel heard and valued within the family system. Through family counseling, you can move through these difficult times and come out on the other side even stronger as a family.
Above all, it’s important to remember that our current state is temporary. The world has gotten through pandemics before and sooner or later this too will pass. Find the good in each day and use this time of ‘togetherness’ to cultivate healthy, stronger relationships with those you love. We’re here to help strengthen your family unit so you can move forward in positivity and love.
Governor Cooper just announced that Phase 2 begins at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22,2020, and remains in place until June 26, 2020, unless changed or canceled.
Phase 2 is all about the transition from “Stay At Home” to “Safer At Home”. But we know that transitions can be difficult for some people. We’ve all been asked to change and adapt in unprecedented ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It some ways, these changes have taken an emotional toll on people. In other ways, we’ve learned to practice gratitude and find joy in the little things that make life so great.
If you feel like the past few months have been an emotional roller coaster, you’re not alone! Studies show that the Coronavirus is causing a historic rise in mental health problems. New polls indicated Americans are feeling more anxious than ever- especially over concerns for the health and safety of those they love.
So how can we move forward during this period of transition in health and happiness?
Move At Your Own Pace
Remember, just because you can go out doesn’t mean you should. Don’t feel pressured to follow in line with what others are doing. Understand your risks, know how to stay safe, and find ways to keep living your life. What works for you and your family might be different from what your neighbor is doing.
Self-care during a period of transition is an essential part of your mental wellness. Personal self-care routines vary and there’s no right or wrong way to practice self-care. The bottom line is making yourself a priority! Whether that’s going to visit your favorite salon during its reopening or for a quick walk around your neighborhood, make your health and happiness a priority.
Above all, try to maintain a positive mindset. Remember, this won’t last forever. Find the beauty in your ‘new normal’ so you can focus on all that you have. This period of change, transition, and adaptation can help us all build a little more resilience in our lives.
We know that building resilience, adapting to change, and finding personal happiness in life isn’t always easy. Our team is here to walk with you through your struggles. Many of our providers are still offering teletherapy appointments that can help you adjust accordingly while staying safe at home. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today!
In a time where so much is unknown, take comfort in knowing our team at Foundations Family Therapy is here for you! Social distancing and limiting human contact are essential when it comes to flattening the curve and we’re stepping up to do our part.
Effective Wednesday, March 25th, we will be servicing our clients via online sessions only. Book Your Session Today
Online therapy offers secure, convenient, and easy to access care in a time when you need it most. Also, many major insurance companies have agreed to pay for Telehealth services the same as they would pay for in-office visits. This means your out of pocket cost should be the same for Telehealth services as it is for in-person office visits. They have agreed to continue this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our team at Foundation’s Family Therapy remains committed to doing everything that we can to provide you a safe and comfortable environment for wellness. We look forward to connecting with you and moving forward together in health and happiness.
Jamie Criswell MS, LMFT
The health and safety of our clients and therapists is our priority and utmost concern.
As we continue to see a spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States, and in our local communities, we are closely monitoring the recommendations of the CDC and our local and state health departments and are following all guidelines provided by these organizations.
Currently, we have no plans of closing our offices or canceling sessions. The local County Health Department is encouraging citizens to continue with daily life while taking precautions such as increased handwashing and staying home if you aren’t feeling well.
Social distancing has been encouraged to minimize the spread of the virus, however, because we are a small group, we do not have large events or crowds and we see our clients one-on-one, closing the practice does not seem warranted at this time. If the CDC or WHO provides different guidance at any time then we will make changes as needed.
Some precautions that are part of our normal operations to reduce the spread of any virus, and that we will continue to take include: daily cleaning of our therapy rooms and waiting rooms, availability of hand sanitizer throughout the practice, and encouraging clients to do telehealth from home if they are sick.
Some additional measures we are putting in place include:
While we’ve always cleaned throughout the day, we’ve now introduced increased awareness and commitment to actively cleaning throughout the day. In addition, we have a routine schedule for deep cleaning, wiping down surfaces and disinfecting common areas.
We use CDC-approved products for cleaning that have been recommended by the CDC as being effective against COVID-19.
Limiting Community Contact
Though we love our clients, therapists are now required to wash hands between sessions and refrain from common physical contact with clients (handshakes, hugs etc.)
We also are encouraging clients to come right at their appointment time if they would like to minimize contact with others in the waiting room.
Making Telehealth Services Available
We would also like to offer telehealth services to any client that feels uncomfortable meeting in the office or is deemed high-risk or someone in their family is at high risk of contracting the Coronavirus.
Please talk with your therapist about scheduling your sessions using telehealth until you feel comfortable coming back into the office for sessions.
Please remember that if you or anyone in your family has any symptoms of illness (fever, cough, vomiting) to stay home and do telehealth appointments (if you’re able to do so) until everyone has been symptom-free for 24 hours.
We understand that this virus is concerning and may cause increased anxiety for a lot of people.
We are here to help and want to ensure our clients that we will continue to meet with them in the best way possible while making sure that they receive the appropriate level of care.
We are closely monitoring the situation and adjusting to any new developments. We will communicate any changes through our website, email and social media channels.
Jamie Criswell, LMFT
Relationships are hard.
Family dynamics can be complicated. And when everyone in your family has their own personality, a unique set of personal values and wants to be independent? Well, life can get complicated sometimes.
When families enter therapy, they commit to moving forward in growth together. Your family therapist at Foundations Family Therapy will meet you and your family where you are.
We will get to know your family…
And look for patterns in how you communicate…
We’ll work to identify common conflicts and talk about the problems bringing you in.
So, if you and your family ready to start functioning as a unit again, here are a few ways our Family Counseling services can help.
One of the most critical skills in developing relationships is communication. Family therapy helps families in the development of spiritual, intellectual, and emotional roles of life. Challenges for families have changed with addiction issues being high across the country. Therapy can assist with teaching coping skills for family members and opening a dialogue for communication regarding serious matters of concern.
Communication within a family can sometimes be challenging. Family therapy is available for these situations to assist with the learning of better communication techniques while learning to resolve issues as well. Teaching strengths and weaknesses of a family it is crucial to keep an open mind to growth and the potential for positive change.
Lower Risk of Conflict
Lowering the risk of conflict within a family is a valuable skill. While conflict is never desirable, even one member under stress can wreak havoc within a family. Learning the skills to communicate with multiple generations improves family life, teaches about respect, problem-solving, and responsibilities within the family dynamic.
Family therapy has become a widespread need for families throughout the country and our Raleigh, NC community is no different. Families face many challenges that could include issues with addiction, multi-generation homes, divorce, teenage rebellion, and so much more.
Your Family Can Get to a Better Place
Through family therapy, you can increase your sense of connection and begin to enjoy one another again. Our therapists work with your family to improve communication, resolve long-standing conflict and teach conflict resolution skills.
Not only will you find ways forward around the sticky issues you are sick of rehashing but you’ll feel ready to face future conflict together as well. Your therapist helps you clarify your values as a family and then apply those as you problem solve major issues in your life.
You don’t have to stay stuck in the same old patterns. It is possible to enjoy one another and feel like you can have a conversation together. Family therapy can help. Contact our office today
So, what’s the deal with teen therapy?
Maybe you are familiar with child- focused therapy, family therapy, or individual therapy but what does teen therapy look like and why can it be so valuable?
Teenagers can sometimes confuse parents and parents can sometimes confuse teenagers. Let’s look at what can be most helpful in focusing on this crucial life stage.
Guidance and support in a safe space.
Let’s face it. Teenagers in 2019 have many competing factors for their attention: peers, parents, social media, school, etc. It can make it difficult to determine who to listen to with all those voices, much less find your own voice. Having a dedicated non-judgmental safe space to unpack and explore struggles can be so beneficial for teens.
Therapists can be trusted mentors to help bridge the gap between parents and teens to increase communication and increase cohesiveness in the family. Therapists respect confidentiality meaning that other than safety concerns, teenagers can express freely which creates the opportunity for personal growth and exploration.
Sorting out the ‘perfect storm.’
The combination of teenage hormones with the onset of mood disorders like depression can create a ‘perfect storm’ for both teens and parents. Therapists can assist with teasing apart the red flags from the ‘typical’ teen behavior and create a focused plan to address symptoms. Parents may notice that their teens are trying to cope with anxiety, managing school academics and pressures, perfectionism, substance use, and low self-esteem or struggles with body image.
If a teen experiences a traumatic event or the loss of a loved one, this adds an additional layer of feelings and thoughts to sort through. Teens are also navigating relationships and friendships on top of determining their own sense of values, priorities, and the ‘who am I?’ question. Having an ally during this time can help with processing and preparing for the next stages of growth and discovery.
Build tools for a lifetime
Learning helpful skills during the teenage years can further accelerate personal development into adulthood. Some examples are learning healthy boundary setting like ways to say no to too many demands and recognizing when to take a break. If teens can apply strategies to reduce depression and anxiety, they will be able to use them again in their adult life as well.
How powerful would it be if teenagers are self-aware to the point of noticing mood changes in themselves and recognizing when they may need support into adulthood? Being able to recognize symptoms of depression or anxiety returning can be so powerful in awareness of early treatment and overall functioning. This awareness can, in turn, impact the stigma of mental health as more people will be mindful and communicative about how they are feeling.
Let’s be a generation that equips our teens with emotional intelligence that serves them well now and into the future.
Want to learn more? Check out the book, ‘How to Talk so Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens will Talk’ for great insight into communication with teenagers.
Wondering if therapy may be beneficial to your teen? Connect with us at FFT and let us partner with your family to find out. 😊
Adolescence is a beautiful yet challenging time of change.
As a result, if you think about all of the social and academic pressures topped with hormonal shifts, it’s no wonder why it can be difficult for teens to adjust!
The good news is that if they seem emotionally unstable, irritable or moody, it’s likely this is all part of normal behavior.
School and Change
As we enter this transitional time of the year with new beginnings at school, it’s important to have a care plan in place to help things go smoothly. Careful organization and planning can help eliminate uncertainty and let your teen know she has a support system in place.
Start by establishing communication. It’s essential to keep communication channels open in order to build a positive relationship with your teen. Even if you don’t always agree, you want them to know that you are interested and that you care.
Another important part of healthy communication is teaching them about mindfulness. It’s easy to get lost in all of the fears, anxieties and “what ifs” that surround the teenage years. Help them learn ways to stay focused and stay present.
Teen Depression and Anxiety are on the rise.
Most importantly, in the rise of teenage depression and anxiety, it’s important to talk about personal safety. Have an open and mature conversation about all of the new issues and challenges your teen might face. Be sure to include topics like sex, drugs, and alcohol use. Talk about all of the new freedoms, responsibilities, and expectations associated with the teenage years and make sure they feel safe.
All parents want to give their teens the tools they need to not only survive but thrive. Family therapy can help with complicated issues and conversations. This is why our team of compassionate therapists- many parents themselves- are here to help your family grow together through adolescence and beyond.
You know the signs…
Rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, and racing thoughts… are all signs of anxiety.
When anxious feelings arise, it’s time to reconnect.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health symptoms, and, for those who suffer, you are truly not alone in your feelings. Some of the most typical treatments for anxiety involve ways to be present in your environment by engaging with your surroundings. This includes using your five senses, deep breathing, and grounding techniques.
So, what does that really look like here in the City of Oaks? Use these local resources and businesses to calm your anxiety.
NC Museum of Art: Whether you are a lover of art or not, this museum truly has something for everyone. On a humid, Raleigh day, you can mosey around the portraits, statues, and expressive artwork at your leisure. Spend time focusing on the colors, textures, and design of each piece. Reflect on your emotional state when looking at the artwork. What is the artist portraying and how do you feel looking at it? If it’s a cooler Raleigh day, spend time strolling in the outdoor art park. Check out the massive Gyre rings and the spacious amphitheater. On your walk, stop and listen. What do you hear? Be mindful of nature all around you. This outdoor park is connected to the Capital Area Greenway System which has trails all over the Triangle so chances are, there is one near you.
JC Raulston Arboretum: This local arboretum has 10 beautiful acres to explore of botanical gardens. Take some deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth and chances are, you will smell something floral near you. As you walk, focus on the weight of your foot pressing down on the ground beneath you and feel connected, centered with the earth. What can you touch around you? A soft petal, a prickly pinecone, or the weight and feel of your camera in your hand capturing the scenery. It can feel refreshing to wander through the gardens but if you’d like more direction, check out the tours and workshops provided there to socialize with others or learn something new.
Cameron Village Regional Library: Although there are many wonderful local libraries around the Triangle, this one located in the Cameron Village Shopping Center, stands out. Explore the shelves of different genres, peruse the artwork, and say hello to the massive knight sculpture greeting you on the 2nd floor. As you meander through this open, two-story space, feel the sun’s rays shining through the large windows and see if you smell a new book calling your name. Pick up a book, feel the texture of the pages, and be reminded of the way it feels to get lost in a good story. This library as well as others in the area offer a wealth of knowledge in not only books but artistic programs for adults as well as storytimes for the youngsters.
Cinemark Raleigh Grande: Sometimes it can be beneficial to take a break from everyday life and immerse yourself in someone’s else’s story. What better way than the movies? Choose where you want to sit online before you come for optimal space and comfort. Stretch out in a cushy recliner with your feet up and enjoy the ultimate surround sound experience. Grab some yummy food to really engage your senses and take time to savor each bite, each flavor. Try to really slow it down and be present with your meal as well as with the show in front of you. Sometimes simply gaining a new perspective can shift your own.
Give one of these ideas a try the next time you’re struggling with anxious thoughts or feelings, and see if engaging your 5 senses at some great Raleigh attractions helps you to feel grounded and calm.
You may also find that anxiety therapy is helpful in reducing your anxious thoughts. We’re here to help, and we want you to move from surviving to thriving in all areas of your life.
Too busy for date night?
It might be time to rethink your priorities! Couples who commit to spending time together build greater levels of intimacy and trust, better communication, and higher marital satisfaction in general.
The good news is you don’t have to go on an expensive trip to even leave Raleigh. Here are 5 creative date-night ideas that will help you reconnect.
Videri Chocolate Factory
Did you know there’s a Chocolate Factory in Raleigh that’s free to visit? Make a day date to take a self-guided tour through the factory during their chocolate-making hours (M-F from 10am -3pm). Sit down for some conversation at the chocolate counter and enjoy a hot or frozen hot chocolate from the coffee bar.
Sarah P Duke Gardens
Book a trolley tour and ride along the winding paths of the beautiful gardens. Take in all of nature’s beauty in a romantic setting where you can let the stress melt away while you can reconnect and learn more about the rich history of a local treasure. Don’t forget to take a selfie to hang on your fridge to remember the day!
If you’re looking for romance For a more romantic setting, stroll down Lafayette Village and take in all this village-style shopping mall has to offer. Have a leisurely lunch and hit up some of the great local shops.
You can’t go wrong with the classic date night of dinner and a movie! The Rialto is the perfect place to check out indie movies in a vintage-style theater. Kick back with some popcorn and enjoy the theater.
FRESH. Local Icecream
Who doesn’t love icecream? FRESH ice cream is the perfect treat any time of day. They produce ice cream right here in their store for you to enjoy. Even if you can’t carve out time for a long dinner date, try carving out 15 minutes to enjoy a cone together.
Whatever you decide for your next date, approach your couples time as an opportunity to connect no matter how briefly.