Month: October 2014

Are You An Enabler? Wilderness Therapy Breaks the Co-Dependency Cycle

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Signs of Co-Dependent Parenting

For many parents, the thought of having their adult child move out seems like an all too distant future. What many parents suspect, but don’t know how to fix, is that they may be contributing to their young adult’s failure to launch. It’s a blurry line between looking after the well being of one’s child and enabling them to continue down a destructive path. When helping turns to hurting, it’s time to take a step back, seek help, and create a plan to implement change. Change can come in many forms from recognizing there is an issue, to enrolling your child in a wilderness therapy program. Regardless of what measure is taken, how and when to draw the line?

Where To Draw The Line: The Child’s Abilities

There’s a fine line to draw between helping your adult child through a temporary struggle, and preventing them from becoming a responsible and functioning adult. The difference between helping and enabling is simple: you help someone when you do something for them that they cannot do on their own; you enable someone when you do something for them that they can and should do on their own, but choose not to.

Often enablers recognize the error of their ways, but for whatever reason, can’t bring themselves to stop. Many parents continue to provide for their adult children as if they were still young dependents, perhaps out of a sense of guilt or fear. However this often leads to feelings of resentment and anger over the long-term.

Look For These Signs Of Co-Dependence

It’s time to draw the line when the young adult:

  • Has a victim mentality. It’s just not their fault that they can’t get on track—everybody and everything just keeps getting in their way.
  • Never admits to being wrong. If it does appear that they may be wrong, they avoid conversation and refuse to acknowledge it.
  • Manipulates the situation. They prey upon feelings of guilt, blame, or shame in subtle ways to get what they want.
  • Refuses to relinquish control. Often persuades or manipulates others with love or affection.
  • Experiences mood swings. Yelling and screaming are often involved in getting what they want, and then once they do their attitude shifts drastically.
  • Acts overly emotional. Especially, when it comes to simple things, like cleaning up or getting a job.
  • Fails to listen respectfully. Many parents describe this as “talking to a brick wall.”
Stop Enabling: Steps Parents Can Take

Once a parent recognizes that they have enabled their child to be co-dependent, there are proactive measures they can take to change the family dynamic:

Find support groups. Connecting with people who share the same struggles helps. This could be a community meeting group like Families Anonymous or an Al-Anon Family Group. Or, it could be something like a chat room or online group.

Let go. Many parents are co-dependent themselves and they enable their children because they are afraid of letting them go. But at a certain age, this fear does more harm than good for the young adult. Parents need to accept their responsibility in the unhealthy co-dependent relationship and take the necessary steps to correct their behavior.

Establish healthy boundaries. Many parents conflate demonstrating love with giving in to a young adult’s every whim. To help rather than hinder the young person, parents should only give them what they need, at the right time, and in the right amount. For example, sometimes it may be helpful to lend a bit of money in a pinch, but constantly funding a young adult’s groceries or phone bills does not help them towards independent adulthood.

Wilderness therapy breaks the co-dependency cycle.

Wilderness therapy offers parent and child time apart to regroup, catch their breath, and re-evaluate family dynamics. Getting stuck in the cycle of an unhealthy relationship often needs drastic measures for real change to take hold. A wilderness therapy program provides the initial intervention, an opportunity to create and implement a plan for change, and provides parents with the support structures they need to continue on a positive path long after the treatment program is over.

Re-establishing a healthy parent/child relationship takes recognition, time and effort. It’s easy to slip back into old habits. First, parents need to recognize the signs of a co-dependent relationship, and admit to themselves if their enabling has hindered their child’s progress. Once the parents have taken responsibility for their actions and have implemented the right support structures, they can avoid enabling behaviors and establish new, healthy boundaries that set their child up for successfully independence.

Wilderness therapy can help break the co-dependency cycle and assist in better behavior in children through positive programs and building self confidence. To learn more, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

How to Cure Depression in Teens

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Spot the Signs of Depression and Isolation

Depression can be hard to spot, especially in teens or young adults who are already known to be moody, hostile, or reckless. All young adults are going to exhibit some of the symptoms some of the time—that’s just part of the growing pains of transitioning into an adult. But, when these signs remain persistent and begin to impact daily functioning, it is time to intervene and address the issue. There is no easy or fast cure for depression in teens, however being aware and knowing what to look for is the first step for parents to take.

The First Step: Know What To Look For

Depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. For teens and young adults, it can manifest in a variety of negative ways, such a self-harm, sexual behavior, or drug and alcohol use. But it’s not always manifested by “acting out,” young adults can also become withdrawn and isolated when suffering from depression. Detecting depression is difficult, especially when teens already tend to push parents away, but if they exhibit multiple warning signs, it’s crucial that a parent or loved one steps in.

Warning signs of depression include:

  • Anger or irritability (especially in young men)
  • Withdrawn or isolated
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Hostile, grumpy, or easily loses temper
  • Loss of energy
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Reckless behavior
  • Unexplained aches and pains: headaches, sore backs, achy joints
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Talk of suicide
A Parent’s Love Is Not Enough

Despite best efforts, a parent or loved one’s support is often not enough. Reaching out for professional help is the first step in helping a teen or young adult overcome depression.

If a parent recognizes depression or isolation in their child, most of the time hearing it from them won’t work to affect any change. They need to hear it from an outside perspective, like a peer or therapy instructor, because no matter how much a parent loves them, hearing it from them alone is not going to be enough for the message to sink in.

What To Do: Get Third-Party Help

There are often broken or unhealthy family relationship dynamics at play. A young adult’s depression can create an unbalanced structure within the home—especially when it manifests as anger and hostility. In attempting to communicate, tensions usually run high and tempers often reach the boiling point. Over time, this could create a vicious parent-child cycle that needs intervention. An external influence can help to restructure these relationships and provide communication tools that can be used going forward.

Getting better also requires understanding the underlying cause. In these circumstances, parents and children rarely have a clear perspective on the situation, which makes pinpointing the underlying cause next to impossible. Furthermore, the cause of their depression may not be something a teen or young adult wants to share with their parents. A therapist can work to identify and address the underlying issues that cause depression and can help to develop the management and coping skills needed to overcome them.

Sometimes overcoming depression requires being completely removed from the destructive environment. A treatment program, like wilderness therapy, provides an opportunity to break the cycle of depression and make drastic lifestyle changes. In nature, and with the support of peers and instructors, young adults are able to open up about their issues and begin to understand where their hostility and anger stem from. And nature is an environment where transformative change can really take hold. Depression may always be a struggle for certain young adults, but with tools and lifestyle changes that wilderness therapy brings, it can be managed in a healthy way.

With teens and young adults, recognizing the symptoms of depression is the first key step to recovery. If parents and family members are aware of the signs and vigilant, they can immediately seek the outside help of trained professionals, and consider various treatment options. Recovering from depression isn’t easy: for the young adult or for their family, but early detection can help one the challenges of suffering in isolation.

Take any talk of suicide seriously. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 and provides free assistance and support. Reach it by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For more information and suggestions and how to cure depression in teens, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

Troubling Behavior: When to Consider Troubled Youth Programs

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Five Signs Your Teen May Be Headed Down the Wrong Path and That Its Time to Consider Programs for Troubled Youth

Parenting a teen is no easy task. Neither is being a teen. Teenagers experience mood swings, engage in rebellious behavior and test the boundaries of authority. This is normal. It may be difficult to determine what constitutes normal behavior for a developing teen and when the line has been crossed and troubled youth programs should be a high consideration. Helping a troubled teen get back on the right path requires first identifying him or her as being in need of help. The following is a list of red flag behaviors to help determine whether your teen may be in need of treatment.

Peer influence. It’s natural for teens to withdraw from their parents and associate more with their friends as they develop a sense of self and gain independence. Red flags include a sudden change in the peer group your child is part of, especially when this new group promotes negative behavior. Likewise, when a teen suddenly becomes isolated and withdrawn from his or her regular long-term group of friends, this may be cause for concern.

Drug and alcohol experimentation. Most teens will try cigarettes and alcohol, and many will try marijuana. Open discussions about this topic will help to establish boundaries, consequences and help a teen to make better choices. Habitual drug or alcohol use is a definite red flag, especially when it impacts school, social or family life.

Mood swings. As teens endure hormonal and developmental changes, they will experience mood swings, accompanied by irritability and heightened emotions. Red flags include severe changes in personality, persistent sadness, anxiety, sleep troubles, and problems in school. Take any talk of suicide seriously.

Rebellious behavior. Teens will inevitably test boundaries and defy authority. When a teen begins to avoid consequences, lies, or fails to comply with reasonable rules, they may be in need of help. Red flags also include cutting school, fighting, run-ins with the law, and engaging in violent behavior.

Appearance change. As teens begin to develop a sense of personal identity they will experiment with different appearances, fashions and trends—some more extreme than others. Minor or gradual fluctuations in weight are normal. If a change in appearance happens somewhat suddenly (such as all of a sudden dressing in sexually provocative clothing), and is accompanied by negative changes in behavior, it may be a red flag. Extreme changes in weight or evidence of self-harm are indicators of a troubled teen.

Seek help if you identify red flag behaviors in your teen.

Seek the advice of a counselor, therapist, doctor, or other mental health professional to determine an appropriate course of treatment. Your teen may be experiencing any number of issues, and it is important not to think of your teen as the problem; rather, understand that his or her troubled behavior is a result of a more significant underlying issue.

There are many things a parent can do, even if your teen is not troubled. Despite their apparent disdain for their parents, teenagers do require love and acceptance. Be there for your teen, keep your anger in check, find common ground, listen without judgment, and expect rejection.

Remain supportive while your teen struggles with developing into a young adult. In the end your relationship will be better for it, and your teen will one day thank you.

To learn more about troubled youth programs, and additional signs to look for when it comes to rebellious behavior, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.

The “Selfie”: When Should Programs for Troubled Young Adults or Wilderness Therapy be Considered?

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Why the Selfie May be More Dangerous Than You Think

The term “selfie addict” may seem a bit far-fetched, but mental health professionals are quickly beginning to realize that there is in fact some truth to it. Becoming increasingly popular among children and teens, for some, taking pictures of oneself has been shown to have serious negative impacts. For teens that already suffer from mental disorders related to self-image, excessive selfie taking can worsen these already serious conditions. The behavior resulting from obsessive selfie taking can impact a teen's life negatively, and when this is the case and daily life has been impacted, treatment options including programs for troubled young adults such as wilderness therapy should be considered.

There is a link between “selfie addiction” and body image related disorders.

‘Selfie’, the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2013, is a photo that one has taken of oneself, usually with a smartphone or webcam, which is then shared on social media.

The selfie satisfies the desire to feel noticed, appreciated, recognized and socially accepted. A person may begin to judge his or her self-worth based on how many ‘likes’ their image receives on social media. This can become addictive. Selfies are also a narcissist’s best friend, and teens can become obsessed with capturing that “perfect” image.

For teens and young adults already battling body image issues and mental disorders, the selfie can actually become a very dangerous thing. Using the selfie to fill an intimacy gap or to boost self-esteem many indicate a much deeper emotional problem. For instance, for someone suffering from body dysmorphic disorder—the obsessive anxiety over one’s appearance—selfie taking can become fuel for the fire, driving one’s fixation over his or her perceived flaws and imperfections.

When a teen’s selfie taking begins to impact his or her life to the point of missing school, avoiding social interactions and generally interfering with daily functioning, it is time to seek treatment.

Cognitive behavior therapy works as a treatment for the disorders linked to “selfie addiction.”

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a model utilized in wilderness therapy, helps a patient recognize the underlying issues that surround a particular behavioral disorder, and then helps patients to modify their thought patterns to manage their behavior better. CBT works to treat the root cause of a disorder by helping an individual to understand what prompts the negative behavior. Helping individuals to identify destructive patterns is the first step in providing them with the tools to overcome those patterns.

For excessive selfie takers, CBT can help to identify the underlying issues that fuel the compulsion to take self-images. For a person suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, excessive selfie taking is motivated by intense thoughts related to negative body image. CBT works to treat the behavior—the selfie addiction—by addressing those underlying negative thoughts in an introspective way. A patient is provided with the tools to manage the thoughts that control their behavior, and ultimately to modify that behavior for the better.

Parents need to take an active role in monitoring their child’s online presence.

Like them or not, selfies aren’t going anywhere. They are a part of the way we engage in social media and a main fixture in our online culture. As with almost anything, a healthy balance is key. Parents need to monitor their child’s social media profiles and be aware of the activities that they are engaging in online.

When children and teens begin to overstep the healthy limits of selfie taking, it is time for parents to intervene—before it gets out of control and develops into a more severe condition. Obsessive selfie takers require treatment. When daily life has been impacted and treatment is desired, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980 to learn more about our programs for troubled young adults through wilderness therapy.

Listen Up: Why You Should Care What Music Your Child Is Listening To

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Parents are often unaware of the type of music and music videos to which their children are exposed, particularly with the ease of downloading, use of headphones, and the accessibility to media content. This content has also become increasingly more explicit. As a result, these types of lyrics and imagery have the potential to negatively impact a youth’s behavior and emotional state.

Parents must take an active role in monitoring and managing the music that their teen is listening to.

It is difficult to regulate the music, lyrics and imagery that children and teens are exposed to. The accessibility to explicit content is unprecedented. The exposure to lyrics and images promoting violence, sexual objectification, and glamorizing substance use, can significantly impact the behaviors and attitudes of adolescents by promoting unhealthy stereotypes and endorsing negative behavior. As a parent and role model, there are many steps that you can take to help lessen the negative influence that certain music and video imagery can have on their child.

What a parent can do:

Be aware. Understand the role that music plays in your children’s life and identify their preferences as potential indicators of their state of mind and emotional struggles. Are they listening to angry, violent music because that is how they are feeling? Are the sad melancholy songs a sign that they are in emotional pain? The music that your child listens to can say something about their internal state, and by recognizing this you may be better able to reach out.

Supervise activity. Monitor the type of music they listen to and what they are purchasing. If unsure, investigate the lyrics of songs by typing them into a music lyric database online to make sure that they are suitable. It is possible to restrict access to web content and online purchases that are not age appropriate.

Become media literate. This is the ability to access, analyze, and evaluate media content. Understand what media platforms your teen is using and learn how to engage with them. Become informed on the ways in which certain applications restrict content. Parents need to respect their child’s autonomy with relation to using social media, while at the same time protecting them from harmful influences.

Have a conversation. Don’t just say, “No, you can’t listen that that.” Discuss the issue with your child or teen. A teen is always going to try to listen to or watch whatever they want, but if they understand why certain lyrics or imagery are not appropriate they will be equipped to make better choices for themselves. A discussion may also help to clarify why your teen chooses a certain type of music.

Know the guidelines. Be aware of the music industry’s Parental Advisory Label Program, which warns consumers of explicit content. When in doubt, look for the label. Know what to look for, and what the guidelines for determining explicit content are.

As a parent it is necessary to find balance between giving your child the independence to make their own choices regarding what they listen to, and safeguarding them from harmful influences. First, step out of the dark. Know what your child listens to and discuss the effects that certain imagery and lyrics can have on them and on society. It doesn’t have to be a process of strict regulation and restriction. After all, the ultimate goal is for your child or teen to make the right choices on his or her own, it just takes a little parental guidance along the way.

The Warning Signs of Cyber-Bullying & How Wilderness Therapy Can Help

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The Warning Signs: How to Prevent Cyber-Bullying

One of the most serious issues facing adolescents today is cyber-bullying. Some parents may see bullying as a normal part of growing up, but what they do not realize is that with the access to technology and the lack of regulation online bullies face, teenagers have the ability to inflict greater harm than ever on their peers. When parents wonder how to prevent cyber-bullying, we have provided a list below warning signs, and suggested prevention methods including wilderness therapy programs.

What is cyber-bullying?

Cyber-bullying is when a child or teen is tormented, harassed, threatened, embarrassed, humiliated, and otherwise targeted by another child or teen online, through digital media, or with mobile phones. Cyber-bullying is often motivated by revenge, anger or frustration. It can also be done for entertainment, out of a sense of boredom, or as an attempt to show off or increase social standing. One thing that all incidents of cyber-bullying have in common is that they are intended to cause harm.

Cyber-bullying has serious mental and physical consequences. It has been linked to low self-esteem, family and school problems, violence, delinquent behaviour, mental health issues, and suicide. It also has the potential to lead to cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking, which are criminal offenses.

Forms that cyber-bullying can take:

  • Emails
  • Text messaging or instant messaging
  • Chat rooms and bulletin boards
  • Blogs, websites, and social media accounts
  • Interactive gaming
  • Online polling
  • Sending pornography and junk email
  • Sending malicious code
  • Online impersonation
  • Stealing passwords

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the ways in which a person can cyber-bully someone. A person may distribute inappropriate photos of a person via a mass email; they may create a website or blog to mock the individual; they may torment a person in the comments section of a social media account; they may impersonate an individual online; they may communicate with threatening language over online gaming platforms. Nearly every way of using technology to communicate can be used to destroy a person’s reputation, and teens are imaginative.

Parents need to be aware of the signs that their child may be involved in cyber-bullying.

Red flags that your child may be a cyber-bully:

  • Secretive about online activities
  • Quickly switches screens or closes programs
  • Uses the computer throughout the night
  • Gets angry if they are not allowed to use computer
  • Laughs excessively at the computer
  • Uses multiple online accounts or accounts that are not them

Red flags that your child may be a victim of cyber-bullying:

  • Suddenly stops using the computer
  • Appears nervous or anxious when receiving an email, instant message or text message
  • Avoids school or social activities
  • Seems angry or depressed (particularly after computer use)
  • Secretive about online activities
  • Withdraws from family and friends

What can parents do?

Parents must take an active role in monitoring their child’s online behavior. Take note of any significant changes in conduct and talk with your teen about the seriousness of cyber-bullying.

If you suspect your child may be bullying a peer, address the issue head on and establish consequences. If you think your child may be a victim, do not remain silent, and do not consider their online harassment a part of growing up. Above all, provide unconditional love and support—this could be the most difficult thing your teen has faced in his or her life.

Wilderness therapy can help to address issues related to cyber-bullying.

Wilderness therapy distances the participant from the reaches of social media. It offers a chance for internal reflection and emphasizes personal growth. It focuses on the feelings and emotions that underlie behavior and works to correct negative thought patterns and create healthy habits.

For bullies and victims alike, wilderness therapy is an opportunity to develop the coping skills and management tools needed to navigate the pressures of adolescence and to help young people to make better choices by taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.

To learn about how to prevent cyber-bullying, utilizing wilderness therapy programs, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness today at (800)794-0980 for information regarding our programs.