Category Archives: Adolescent Mental Health

Mindfulness for Teens and Why it’s Important for Mental Health: Part 2

Posted June 27, 2019

In Part One of our discussion regarding the value of mindfulness for teens, we discussed exactly what mindfulness is, how it can benefit teens, and how to help your teen improve their ability to be mindful. Now, in Part Two of our series on mindfulness, we’ll be diving deeper into the science of mindfulness, why more experts are recommending mindfulness exercises as an alternative to traditional treatments, and a variety of suggested mindfulness exercises to help your teen. [Read Part One]

Mindfulness: What Science Says

Most people that have incorporated mindfulness exercises into their daily routines will tell you of the positive difference they’ve made in their everyday lives – but what does science have to say about the efficacy of mindfulness?

Continue reading

Mindfulness for Teens and Why it’s Important for Mental Health: Part 1

Posted May 31, 2019

Every day, teenagers are experiencing a multitude of emotional and mental struggles, particularly as they navigate an increasingly complex world influenced by factors such as social media, academic pressures, family dynamics, and more. Adding to the weight of these constant pressures is the still-in-progress development of your teen’s ability to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and balance responsibilities.

In the face of this array of unique challenges, the ability to practice mindfulness is one of the most impactful and valuable skills any teen or young adult can develop.

Continue reading

8 TIPS to Help Clients Do Homework

Posted June 6, 2018

Dr. Lane P.: Hi, I’m Dr. Lane Pederson. One of the most common questions I get from participants in my seminars is, How do I get clients to do homework? In this short video, I’m going to share with you eight tips that I find to be very effective. Continue reading

Emotions, Thoughts, and Situations That Trigger Addictive Behavior

Posted November 9, 2017

It can be challenging to identify and manage what triggers addictive behaviors. Understanding what sets off these behaviors and knowing which strategies and solutions for change are effective are essential in one’s recovery.

Enjoy this free handout on Emotions, Thoughts, and Situations That Trigger Addictive Behavior taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s book The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual.


5 Things to Think About When Working With Integrated Dual Disorder Clients

Posted October 19, 2017
  1. A basic truth of behavioral health interventions is that no two clients are alike.
    It is important to remember this as we do our work and it is especially vital to keep in mind with the complication of two significant behavioral disorders. How a client’s chemical health and mental health issues interact, impact daily functioning, affect willingness and even abilities to participate in therapy, is a very individual thing.
  2. Another basic truth is that for all clients, ‘perception is reality.’
    This is important in IDD treatment since mental health symptoms and chemical use (and the effects of long-term use) have real consequences for how a client might perceive their world.
  3. A harsh truth of therapy is that change is difficult, time consuming, and at times, difficult to notice.
    For IDD clients, there can be a significantly higher degree of difficulty paired with a lower level of skills. This can make the process even harder, longer, and more difficult to experience a sense of success.
  4. Acceptance and support are key additive factors to success in therapy.
    IDD clients tend to have heavily damaged, if not absent, systems of support and acceptance.
    There is a drive from payers to identify the primary diagnosis as the target for treatment.
  5. IDD clients have two significant primary diagnoses in all cases, and the majority have significant issues across what used to be the five axis’ of diagnosis. We have to attend to all significant issues.
    ~Steven Girardeau, PsyD, LP, Director of Clinical Services at MHS

10 Days to a 10-Minute Meditation Practice

Posted March 23, 2017

Pain 1Developing a Meditation Practice Can Seem Impossible…Until You Discover How Doable It Can Be! Taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s new second edition of The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, these free handouts explain a step-wise and doable method for bringing a brief meditation practice to your and your clients’ lives. Start today!

Click HERE to view the handouts.

Mindfulness Exercises

Posted March 16, 2017

DBT Manual 2Mindfulness is one of the pillars of DBT and has become increasingly important across contemporary therapies. Yet many therapists are at a loss for examples to suggest and use with their clients. Taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s new second edition of The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, enjoy this free handout you can use with any client looking for mindfulness exercises…and remember, mindfulness is not what you’re doing, but how you are attending to what you’re doing!

VIEW HANDOUT HERE

Myths About Mindfulness

Posted May 5, 2016

By: Dr. Lane Pederson

Many people, therapists included, have misconceptions about what mindfulness is and what it is not. Sometimes these misconceptions get in the way of engaging in mindfulness practice. Below are some of the most common myths about mindfulness.

• Mindfulness is Buddhist (or some other philosophy or religion)
While a large variety of philosophies and religions promote mindfulness practices, mindfulness is best thought of as a human activity that is owned by no group or person. Mindfulness belongs to us all, and furthermore, mindfulness and its benefits are supported by robust research that clearly shows its psychological, emotional, physical, and performance-based benefits.

• Mindfulness is all new-age-y, wavy-gravy or (insert your judgment here)
For some reason, mindfulness seems to conjure images of people in flowing robes, sitting in serene settings, existing in some unreal world disconnected from your or my reality (admittedly, many photos showing people practicing mindfulness promote those stereotypes). The facts are that mindfulness is for everyone, and that people across all races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, occupations, and socio-economic statuses practice mindfulness.

• Mindfulness is a fad or trend
Mindfulness has been around since the dawn of consciousness, making the Beatles or Rolling Stones look like fads by comparison. Not much stands that test of time. When the end of the world comes, only cockroaches and Keith Richards, practicing mindfulness, will remain. Enough said.

• Mindfulness takes a lot of time
While some advocates of mindfulness stress 45 minutes (or more) of meditation or other mindfulness practice daily, the fact is that you can achieve benefits from taking just a few minutes (or even moments in some cases) to re-center yourself mindfully in the moment. When you consider how much time we all spend distracted by problems, taking a few minutes to breathe or otherwise practice mindfulness is a great tradeoff.

• People who practice mindfulness are always mindful (and effective)
A mindfulness student once saw his teacher eating while watching TV. Angry at the apparent hypocrisy of doing more than one thing at a time, the student challenged his teacher. “You always teach one-mindfulness, lecturing ’when you walk, walk, when you pray, pray, and when you eat, eat,’ and now I see you both eating and watching TV!” The teacher calmly replied, “When you eat and watch TV, eat and watch TV!” Mindfulness does not create perfection, and practitioners will likely experience the benefits but will certainly not always be in the moment. Further, seeking to be ever-mindful means you are clinging to a goal and as such not in the moment.

• Mindfulness is done only during meditation or other mindfulness practice
This myth is one of the biggest, and it is analogous to saying people only move their bodies when they exercise. Think of meditation and other mindfulness practice as exercise for the brain, building the skills needed to collect and focus your attention and then guide your behavior. Just as physical fitness is about developing a healthy body, meditation and other mindfulness practices are about building healthy mental processes so you can be mindful in the moments of everyday life.

• Mindfulness is only about pleasure, peace, and relaxation
While mindfulness can be pleasurable and promote peace and relaxation, mindfulness is also about relating to experiences that can be aversive, uncomfortable, and even painful. Think about how often we try to escape these types of experiences only to make them worse! Perhaps paradoxically, using mindfulness to accept and relate to what is painful can transform it; mindfulness is fundamentally acceptance-based and non-judgmental, which releases the helping of suffering we often dump on pain.

• Mindfulness can turn off problems, or otherwise make them go away
Mindfulness is not about turning anything on or off. Rather, it is about deciding what to focus on and when. What mindfulness can do is offer a way to focus away from your problems when you choose, getting a break, and to focus on your problems when you choose with a different approach that might transform your relationship to them, as mentioned above.

• People with attention-deficit, racing thoughts, intrusive thinking, or other problems cannot practice mindfulness
Even though mindfulness does not turn off or make problems go away, it is a set of skills you can practice to eventually minimize the impacts of these problems on your life. For example, if your problem was racing thoughts, you would simply notice when they distract you (gently and non-judgmentally), and then turn your mind to the chosen focus of your attention. If your problem is attention deficits, then practicing the skill of (re)focusing your attention (i.e., mindfulness) is perfect for you!

• Children, people with cognitive disabilities, or (insert another category of people) cannot do mindfulness
Watch young children eat, play with their toys, and explore. They are engrossed, and there. This is mindfulness. People of most developmental and cognitive levels have the ability to focus their attention and connect to the present moment, and can have that ability fostered. To this end, having a parent, friend, or loved one practice mindful engagement with them will gently pull along their mindfulness skills, even if they cannot explain mindfulness conceptually. For those without abstract thought, we simply make explanations of mindfulness more concrete. Smell the flowers, and blow out the candles.

• You are unable to do mindfulness
See above, and also remember that you already practice mindfulness sometimes, with some things, in some places. Where and with doing what do you find yourself totally connected and inhabiting the moment? Maybe it is when you play an instrument or sport, or when you are doing a hobby, or into the flow of your work. Maybe it’s when you are in your garden, cooking, or connecting spiritually. Use existing times of mindfulness to branch out and develop your skills, remembering that mindfulness is like any other skill-set: You get out of it what you put into it. Practice your practice, and the rewards will come with time.

5 Tips for Effective Parenting

Posted December 14, 2015

EAP 15Pat Harvey, ACSW, LCSW-C , the co-author of Parenting a Teen Who Has Intense Emotions, was kind enough to write and share parenting tips for our blog.  Read more about her book here. Thanks Pat for sharing your expertise!

1. Parent wisely by:
-Slowing down, calming down, and managing your own emotions before responding or making decisions so you can think more clearly
-Remembering both your short and long term goals and responding in ways that will help you achieve them
-Not judging, assuming or labeling; describe what you see without making any evaluation or assumptions about intent
-Remembering that your child – and you – are doing the best you can in this moment even while you may be working on developing more effective behaviors

2. Parent dialectically by:
-Recognizing that different perspectives can have validity and trying to listen and synthesize them
-Not reacting with extreme or rigid responses
-Finding a balance between being too strict or too lenient, fostering dependency or giving too much freedom too quickly, having and maintaining limits and giving privileges, being firm and being gentle, providing structure and also being flexible

3. Validate, validate, validate
-Listen when your child talks, take him/her seriously and acknowledge what he/she is saying to you
-Respond to the affect beneath the words and understand what your child is trying to express
-Do not deny his/her reality or feelings, accept them before providing any feedback

4. Reinforce, recognize and acknowledge when your child is behaving in healthy and positive ways
-Remember that behaviors can be changed; new behaviors can be taught and learned to replace problematic behaviors
-Pay more attention to healthy behaviors and less attention to unhealthy behaviors; using your attention strategically can help your child develop more adaptive behaviors
-Remember that reinforcement is more effective than punishment and teaches your child HOW TO behave

5. Take care of yourself
-Be kind to yourself
-You can only help someone else if you are also doing things that you enjoy and that bring you pleasure and a sense of accomplishment

Check out Early Adolescent DBT Programming at MHS.  EAP provides comprehensive therapy and skills to help young adolescents ages 12 to 14 who experience significant emotional difficulties as well as behavioral challenges.