Taking Care of the Caregiver
As the author of this blog post (Nancy) I’ve been a caregiver now for three years straight! This is a job that I never thought I’d be doing. I’ve always seemed to take care of others, but not to this extent. I take care of my boyfriend who needs 24/7 care after having a stroke. If i’m not careful, caring for someone else doesn’t leave me much time to take care of myself…but that took me a while to realize! Being a caregiver has so many responsibilities for the other person such as distributing meds, confirming the meds have been taken, preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, laundry, chauffeur tasks, scheduling and appearances, social gatherings being a roommate, and grooming. These are just a few of the responsibilities.
What can YOU start incorporating into your life that makes you happy while also caring for someone else?
Here are some of the things that come to mind…
- If your person can be alone for short periods of time, go grocery shopping! Sometimes it’s a good way to relax and listen to the overhead music. It will give you a chance to catch your breath while still accomplishing a task you need to fulfill.
- Started an area of indoor plants to nourish the air in the home. Certain plants clean the air in the home. These include ferns, snake plant, fiddle-leaf fig, peace Lilly, spider plant, and English ivy, to name a few.
- Start an herb garden in the kitchen. I use these herbs for cooking and have them under a grow light. Basil seems to sprout easily, yet I enjoy oregano, thyme, and mint also.
- Oh! If you have space, an outdoor garden in the backyard is a nice moment of respite!
- When you clean the house put the music on and dance a little jig while cleaning! This can be really uplifting!
- Take small breaks for yourself, especially if you are starting to feel overwhelmed or anxious. A small break, doing some breathing exercises, and just BEING are very helpful.
- If the weather is nice I always make an effort to go out on the deck and enjoy nature. Take the person you care for out there with you and they can enjoy it also.
- Call a family member or a friend to talk once a day. Reaching out to others outside the home is a great way to build connections with others and avoid isolation
- Utilize and take advantage of helpers, respite care, and family members who offer to help.
Benefits of Group Therapy
Many families wrestle back and forth between group therapy and individual therapy. Group therapy can be a valuable form of treatment for many individuals, and there are several reasons why you may want to consider it over individual therapy.
Group therapy can provide a sense of accountability and motivation. In a group setting, group members are accountable to others and can motivate each other to make progress. Group therapy requires active participation and accountability, which in return allows being part of a group can help motivate individuals to work on their issues and make changes in their lives. This community of group members provide encouragement and support to one another.
One of the key benefits of counseling groups for children is that they can help children to develop important social skills. Through group activities and discussions, children can learn how to communicate effectively with others, how to express their thoughts and feelings, and how to work as part of a team. This can be particularly beneficial for children who may struggle with social interactions, such as those with autism or other developmental disorders. Groups can be a powerful way to practice new skills and behaviors. In group therapy, group members can practice communication, problem-solving, and social skills in a safe and supportive environment.
Children may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings in a group setting, rather than in individual counseling sessions. Counseling groups provide children a safe environment to share their feelings and experiences with their peers. Groups provide an opportunity for social support and connection. When you’re going through a tough time, it can be incredibly helpful to know that you’re not alone. Group therapy allows group members to connect with others who are dealing with similar issues, learn from their experiences and gain a sense of belonging. This can help children to feel less alone and more understood, which can be especially important for children who may be struggling with difficult issues such as bullying, trauma, or grief. Counseling groups for children is an opportunity for the needed peer support many kids are missing. Children who are struggling with similar issues can connect with one another and share their experiences, which can be very helpful in reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Group members can learn from each other and gain new insights into their own situations.
Another important benefit of counseling groups for children is that they can help children to learn how to cope with difficult emotions. Children may experience a wide range of emotions, such as sadness, anger, and fear, and these emotions can be difficult to manage. Through group therapy, children can learn how to recognize and express their feelings in a healthy way, and they can also learn coping strategies that can help them to manage their emotions more effectively. Counseling groups for children can also be an effective way to address a wide range of issues, including anxiety, depression, anger management, bullying, and family problems. Group therapy can help children develop healthy coping mechanisms, learn new problem-solving skills, and gain a better understanding of their emotions. Groups allow you to gain multiple perspectives. In individual therapy, you only have the therapist’s perspective on your issues. In a group therapy setting, you have the opportunity to hear different perspectives from other group members, which can be very enlightening and can help you gain a better understanding of yourself and your problems and new ways of handling problems or perspectives of different experiences. The group dynamic can allow individuals to see their problems from different angles and gain new insights into their issues. Additionally, group members can learn from one another and gain new strategies for coping with their problems.
Finally, counseling groups for children can be cost-effective, as they typically involve fewer sessions than individual counseling. Group therapy sessions usually involve several people, which means that the cost of therapy can be shared among the group members. This can make therapy more affordable for those who may not be able to afford individual therapy sessions.
For many people, group therapy can provide a valuable form of support and can be an effective way to address a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues. It’s important to note that group therapy may not be suitable for everyone and that some people may prefer individual therapy. But, group therapy can be a valuable option to consider, and it’s worth discussing with a therapist to determine if it’s a good fit for you. It’s possible that a combination of group and individual therapy could be the best option for you. Overall, counseling groups can be an effective way to support children’s emotional and social development. They can offer the benefits of peer support, provide a safe and supportive environment, be effective in addressing a wide range of issues, and be more cost-effective than individual counseling.
Diversity in our playroom
Diversity is important in a playroom because it helps to create a safe and inclusive environment for all children. It allows children to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the materials and activities provided, and to learn about and appreciate the experiences of others. We recommend diversity in your home environment but also wanted to highlight that we provide diversity in our playrooms as well.
As play therapists, there are several ways to create diversity in our playrooms and practices:
- Include a variety of toys and materials that represent different cultures, races, and abilities. This can include dolls and action figures of different skin tones and abilities, books and games that feature characters from diverse backgrounds, and art supplies that allow children to express themselves in different ways. Representation is important; children should feel seen, validated, and delighted.
- Create a safe and inclusive environment by displaying posters, paintings, or artwork that show families of different races and abilities, and signs that display messages of acceptance and inclusivity.
- Encourage children to share their own experiences and perspectives by asking open-ended questions and actively listening to their responses. This will help to build a sense of understanding and empathy among the children in the playroom.
- Encourage children to embrace their individuality by promoting self-expression and creativity. This can be achieved by providing a variety of materials and activities that allow children to express themselves in different ways, such as through art, writing, or dramatic play.
- Engage in ongoing education and self-reflection to deepen our own understanding of diversity and inclusion, and model an open and accepting attitude for the children in our care.
- Partner with families and caregivers to make sure that their child’s cultural background is represented in the playroom and that the child feels safe, seen, and heard.
- Use multicultural books, stories, and songs with different cultures and traditions in mind.
- Incorporate games and activities that celebrate diversity
- Our groups are open to all clients. Our groups allow us to create opportunities for children to interact with peers from different backgrounds and abilities.
Creating a diverse and inclusive playroom is essential for play therapists, as it allows children to feel seen, heard, and validated. A diverse playroom can also foster empathy and understanding among children, and promote positive social and emotional development. Play therapists can use a variety of strategies, such as incorporating diverse toys and materials, creating a safe and inclusive environment, encouraging children to share their own experiences, and engaging in ongoing education, to create a diverse and inclusive playroom that promotes acceptance, empathy, and understanding among children.
Winter Month Pampering
Wintertime gets a bad rap! Wintertime can sometimes seem like it goes on forever! We get stuck inside and stuck in ruts of comfort that are not always good for us. Winter can be a tough time for many of us. The shorter days, colder temperatures, and lack of sunshine can make it hard to stay motivated and positive. However, there are ways to pamper yourself and make the most of the winter months. Even though this is a time when there doesn’t seem to be much going on, when you are in your home, you can find many ways to enjoy this time of year! It can be a cozy time of the year, a time to start healthy habits, make plans for the future, and just enjoy being! As the winter months approach and the temperatures drop, it’s important to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. One way to do this is by indulging in some self-pampering. Here are a few ideas to help you get started feeling cozy and cheer you up!
- Fix a hot cup of your favorite beverage, grab your blanket, and sit by a crackling fire. Instead of reaching for a can of soda or a cup of coffee, try making yourself a hot cocoa, tea, or chai latte. These warm drinks can help soothe the body and mind, and provide a comforting and cozy feeling to de-stress
- Take a warm bath. Fill your tub with warm water and add in some Epsom salts or essential oils for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Light some candles and put on some soothing music to create a spa-like atmosphere
- Light some twinkling lights in a dark room and meditate;
- Grab your journal and jot down all that you are grateful for
- Add cozy colors to your rooms by adding pillows, tablecloths, or bright bedspreads
- Add throw rugs in areas where your bare feet hit the ground to avoid that chill
- Wear your slippers or fuzzy footies to keep your feet warm
- Add a pot on the stove of potpourri in steaming water and let the smells engulf the rooms
- Find a good book and a special reading spot. Cozy up with a good book and a warm blanket. Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, there are plenty of great books out there to choose from.
- Bake your favorite cake or bread and enjoy the aroma
- Spend some time making your favorite soup and enjoy it throughout the week
- Have a binge-watching night of the show you love
- Give yourself a manicure or pedicure. Treat yourself to a new nail polish color or try a new design. Not only will your nails look great, but the process of painting your nails can be therapeutic and relaxing
- Try a new skincare routine, because cold weather can be harsh on our skin, so it’s important to take extra care of it during the winter months. Experiment with different moisturizers, masks, and serums to find what works best for your skin.
- Take a walk. Yes, we know, it’s cold outside, but getting some fresh air and exercise is still important. Bundle up and take a walk around your neighborhood. The fresh air will do you good, and the exercise will help to boost your mood.
I’m Codependant…Now What?
Co-dependency is a term that is often used to describe a type of relationship in which one person is emotionally and mentally dependent on another person. This type of relationship is often characterized by codependent individuals who are unable to function normally without the other person. A dysfunctional relationship pattern in which an individual is psychologically dependent on (or controlled by) a person who has a pathological addiction, e.g., alcohol, gambling)-codependent.
Co-dependency can develop in a variety of different types of relationships, including romantic relationships, friendships, and even parent-child relationships. In a romantic relationship, for example, one partner may become dependent on the other for emotional support, validation, and a sense of self-worth. This partner may also feel a sense of responsibility for the other person’s happiness and well-being, and may go to great lengths to keep the relationship together.
Co-dependency can also develop in friendships, where one person may become reliant on the other for emotional support and validation and may feel a sense of responsibility for the other person’s happiness. In a parent-child relationship, a parent may become emotionally dependent on their child, and may feel a sense of responsibility for their child’s happiness and well-being.
Co-dependency can have negative effects on both parties involved. The codependent person may feel a sense of helplessness and insecurity and may have difficulty making decisions and standing up for themselves. They may also become emotionally and mentally exhausted from constantly trying to please the other person.
On the other hand, the person on whom the codependent person is dependent may feel smothered and constrained by the codependent person’s constant need for attention and validation. They may also feel a sense of responsibility for the codependent person’s well-being, which can be emotionally draining.
- Putting other’s needs above your own;
- Saying Yes when you want to say No;
- Having muddy boundaries;
- Do you feel trapped in your relationship;
- Do you avoid saying what you are thinking in order to avoid arguments?
- The first step in breaking the habit of being codependent is to recognize the signs of codependency in your own behavior. Some common signs include feeling responsible for the other person’s happiness, having difficulty making decisions, and feeling helpless without the other person
- You have to take care of yourself before you take care of others’ needs. It’s important to practice self-care, taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
- You respond rather than react to others. Don’t immediately respond but give yourself time to think through what someone is asking of you.
- Be patient with yourself and try to give yourself mercy, not being as hard on yourself if you slip up.
- Keep your boundaries clear and think about how you want to be in the future. Learn to set healthy boundaries, for example, learning to say “no” when necessary and not allowing others to take advantage of you.
- Focus on developing a sense of self-worth: One of the main reasons for codependency is a lack of self-worth. Focus on developing a sense of self-worth and self-love, so you are not dependent on others for validation. This includes, not letting others bully or treat you badly. Recognize when a relationship is not healthy and do something about it. Work on it with that person or walk away.
- Therapy or counseling can be very helpful in breaking the habit of being codependent. A therapist or counselor can help you understand the root of your codependency and provide you with tools and strategies to break the habit. Or joining a support group can be a great way to connect with others who are also trying to break the habit. A group can be a safe space to talk about your feelings and the challenges you encounter.
Bad Day Pick Me Ups
Everyone has bad days from time to time. It’s normal to feel down, stressed, or overwhelmed. Sometimes days start out great, then just make a turn for the worst. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. On other days, no matter what you do, unlucky things keep piling up. When we’re having a bad day, it can be hard to shake off the negative feelings and see the bright side of things. However, there are things you can do to help improve your mood and make the most of a bad day. Here are a few things that might help pick you up on a bad day:
- Deep Breathing Stop what you are doing. Sit back, relax, and inhale slowly to the count of seven. Exhale slowly to the count of seven. Repeat multiple times until you feel better. Go back to what you were doing, this will help alleviate the negative emotions that you are feeling. Taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and be present in the moment can be extremely helpful.
- Connect with others Reach out to friends or family members and talk about what’s going on.
- Fresh Air Go outside for some fresh air. Take a walk around the block or the office building if you only have a few minutes. This should help you feel better;
- Perspective taking Create a Gratitude list. This list can consist of anything in your life that you are thankful for. It doesn’t need to be anything big, just anything that you are grateful or thankful for;
- Let go of some of your thoughts Grab your journal and write down what you are feeling in that moment. Be as blunt as you’d like, your journal is for your eyes only;
- STOP Take a break
- Sense of humor Acknowledge your bad day, then laugh about it!
- Get Moving Exercise can help boost endorphins and improve your mood.
- Listen to music Music can have a powerful effect on our emotions, so put on some of your favorite songs and let yourself feel the music.
Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions come up, and try not to be too hard on yourself. These suggestions are just a starting point and you might find that other things work better for you. It’s important to find what works best for you in order to lift your mood. Remember to be patient with yourself, and know that things will get better.
Getting the Most Out of Safe and Sound Protocol
Here are some tips for getting the most out of the Safe and Sound Protocol:
Follow the protocol as prescribed: SSP is a structured protocol that involves listening to specially selected music for a certain amount of time each day. SSP is typically administered by a trained practitioner who will guide you through the process. It is important to follow the recommended protocol to ensure that you are getting the full benefit of the therapy. This can help ensure that you are receiving the protocol in a safe and effective manner. Staying engaged and fully participating in SSP process can help you get the most out of the protocol.
Practice relaxation techniques: SSP involves listening to music with headphones, so it is important to find a comfortable, relaxed position and make sure you are in a quiet environment. You may also find it helpful to practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques during the therapy. Listening to the music in a mindful and present-focused way can help listeners stay grounded and focused during the protocol. It can be helpful to practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or focusing on your senses, to get the most out of the protocol.
Set aside dedicated time: SSP requires a time commitment. It is important to set aside dedicated time for the listening protocol and make it a priority in your schedule. To get the most out of the protocol, it is important to be consistent in your listening habits and to follow the recommended schedule.
Be patient: SSP is a process that takes time to work. It is important to be patient and give the protocol time to work. You may not notice changes right away, but the benefits of SSP may accumulate over time. It is important to remember that SSP is a long-term process and the benefits may not be immediately apparent. It can take time to see improvements, so it is important to be patient and continue to follow the recommended protocol.
Talk to your SSP practitioner: If you are participating in SSP with the support of a therapist, make sure to communicate with them about your progress and any concerns you may have. Your therapist can provide additional support and guidance as needed. They can help you make any necessary adjustments to the protocol to better meet your needs.
Engage in self-care: SSP can be more effective when paired with other self-care practices, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in physical activity. SSP is known to be emotionally and cognitively demanding, so it is important to take care of yourself during the protocol process. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and engage in activities that help you relax and recharge.
Remember, the benefits of SSP will vary from person to person, and it may take some time to see progress. SSP is just one tool that can be used to help individuals regulate their nervous system and improve their overall well-being. It is always a good idea to discuss any potential therapy options with a healthcare provider to determine if it is appropriate for you.It is also important to note that SSP should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of treatment for your needs. SSP is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may not be appropriate for everyone.
Benefits of Fostercare Group Therapy
Foster care group therapy can be beneficial for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma and may be struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result. Group therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for these youth to process their experiences, share their thoughts and feelings, and learn coping strategies to manage their emotions and behaviors. Foster care group therapy can provide a number of benefits for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma or instability in their lives.
Some potential benefits of foster care group therapy include:
Improved social skills: Group therapy can help foster care youth learn how to interact with others, express themselves effectively, and build healthy relationships. Groups can provide an opportunity for foster children to practice and develop social skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
Increased self-awareness: Group therapy allows youth to reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can help them gain a better understanding of themselves and their motivations. Groups can provide an opportunity for foster children to process and work through their experiences, which can help to promote healing and growth.
Enhanced coping skills: Group therapy provides an opportunity for youth to learn and practice coping strategies to manage their emotions and behaviors, and to develop healthy ways of dealing with stress and challenges. Groups can provide foster children with tools and strategies for coping with stress and managing their emotions, which can be particularly important for children who have experienced trauma.
Supportive environment: Group therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for youth to share their experiences, express their emotions, and receive support and encouragement from their peers and the therapist. This concept of support, that group can provide a sense of belonging for foster children, who may have experienced feelings of isolation or disconnection due to their experiences in foster care.
Greater self-esteem: Group therapy can help foster care youth develop a sense of belonging and acceptance, which can improve their self-esteem and confidence. Groups can provide an opportunity for foster children to explore and develop their sense of identity, which can be especially important for adolescents who are navigating the process of identity development.
Overall, foster care group therapy can be a valuable resource for foster children, helping them to build resilience, coping skills, and a sense of connection with others.
Benefits of Safe and Sound Protocol
Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a form of treatment developed by Dr. Stephen Porges that is designed to address issues regulation of the nervous system as well as help individuals with trauma and stress-related disorders. It is a form of auditory intervention that uses music to help regulate the nervous system and improve social engagement, communication, and well-being. Some of the potential benefits of SSP may include:
Improved social engagement and communication
SSP may help individuals with social difficulties, such as those on the autism spectrum, to better understand and respond to social cues and to communicate more effectively with others. The SSP can help individuals with social anxiety and other social communication challenges to feel more at ease and connected with others.
Enhanced regulation of the nervous system
SSP may help individuals to regulate their nervous system, which may lead to improved emotional regulation and better overall functioning. The SSP can help regulate the nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety by promoting a sense of calm and relaxation. By increasing feelings of safety, SSP helps individuals feel more grounded and secure in their environment.
Reduced stress and anxiety
SSP may help individuals to cope with stress and anxiety by teaching them strategies to regulate their nervous system and improve their ability to cope with challenging situations. SSP helps individuals develop a larger capacity for emotional regulation which can help them better manage stress and negative emotions.
SSP may help individuals to improve their sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
Enhanced learning and performance
SSP may improve an individual’s ability to learn and perform tasks by enhancing their ability to regulate their nervous system and to attend to tasks. Furthermore, with some clients, SSP may help individuals improve their memory and attention, which can lead to better performance at work or school.
The SSP can help individuals with communication challenges to better express themselves and understand others.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of SSP may vary from person to person and may depend on the individual’s specific goals and needs. Furthermore, more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of this treatment approach. It is important to note that the SSP is not a substitute for medical treatment and should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It is also important to work with a trained and qualified provider when using the SSP, and it is always a good idea to discuss any potential SSP listening with a trained SSP provider to determine if it is appropriate for you.
Building Mindfulness Through Games
Building Mindfulness Through Games
Children begin to explore the world and problem solving through play. Caregivers and adults can use play in a purposeful way to help children learn and practice skills that will help them throughout life. First, let’s consider the game I Spy. This game helps to build observational awareness and as adults, we use observational awareness every day: driving our cars, in the grocery store, or walking on an icy sidewalk. We are always looking around aware of what is in our immediate surroundings. This skill keeps us and others safe. However, let us take this a step further. I Spy also helps practice mindfulness and can be a great tool to self-regulate, build cognitive flexibility, and inspire imagination.
How Does Playing I Spy build Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, at its very basic form, is focused awareness. I spy requires each player to focus in on the smallest or largest details of their immediate surroundings. This is one very small part of mindfulness called mindful seeing. This can also help us to stay calm and regulated during times of high stress by refocusing our brains and bodies to
remain present on the here and now.
How to Engage Your Child
Caregivers can introduce this game at any time. To familiarize the child with the game you can begin using it at home during playtime or low-stress events such as waiting in line. This will allow time for the child to learn the game in a more secure low stressful setting. With younger children, you can focus on colors and increase difficulty depending on your child’s ability. Don’t make it too hard or too easy or the child can easily lose focus. Once the child is familiar with the game it can be easily played during times of higher stress such as going to the doctor or the dentist. Most of us know or have played I Spy as a child. With no accessories or game pieces, it can be played anywhere! This game can be played with multiple children at once and with the varying ways to describe objects it is a great game that can be modified to be used with children and adults of any age.
A quick recap of the game:
- Use colors, shapes, textures, or any other descriptive adjective to point something out in your environment.
- Guess using Yes or No questions to find out the answer.
- Is it big?
- Is it small?
- Is it the red flower?
I Spy Emotions
Taking I Spy to the Next Level, I Spy can be modified in so many ways. Each modification has a slightly different goal. One additional way to play I Spy is with emotions. I Spy Emotions helps children and parents express and identify emotions and how emotions influence bodily sensations, thoughts, and actions. For example, a child may say “I Spy something that makes me feel happy” (the child is looking at a picture of a cookie). Once the object is identified caregivers can begin to explore further by asking open questions such as: What does happiness make your body feel like? When you feel happy what are some other things you think about? Can you show me how that cookie makes you feel? If some emotions are harder such as fear or anger caregivers can ask open questions to identify what the child needs to feel safe. For example, the child is scared when they see a picture of a bee. The caregiver could ask “What can I do to help you feel safe?” “What are things you do to stay safe from bees on the playground at school?”. When the roles are reversed caregivers can model healthy skills to the child by sharing their own ways of staying safe or coping with stressful emotions.
Play and imagination are so important through all stages of life but for our children play is essential in developing lifelong skills. Children are always playing with a purpose now you can too.
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