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Kathy Marshack News

How to Pick a Therapist for Your Child

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Most parents would love to create an ideal world for their child to live in. But the reality is that more and more children are in need of mental health care. There are many reasons why a child might need therapy – divorce, abuse, loss of a loved one, learning disabilities, bullying just to name a few.

When a parent recognizes that their child needs help, the parent has two options. Sweep it under the rug like it doesn't exist or take action. The correct choice is option two. Many parents choose option one and live in denial which will only lead to more problems in the future. Because these issues will reappear – often later in life when it’s not only more difficult to address but more damage has been done. If your child needs help you may need to relinquish control and accept some professional help!

If you do decide to seek professional help for your child, then the next step is to find the right therapist for your child. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making that choice:

- Gather information. Take note of why you feel like your child needs help. What are his/her symptoms? How long have these symptoms been in existence? When gathering this information, talk to your child's teachers, school counselor, pediatrician, and any other caregiver who can give you insight into what is going on in your child's life. The more you know, the more you will be able to communicate to the professional you choose.

- Ask for referrals. The pediatrician, school counselor, or any other close friend/confidant might be able to point you in a good direction.

- Research licenses and credentials. Once you have list of therapists, research them. Make sure they are licensed to practice! I cannot stress that enough. There are people who call themselves child therapists without the proper credentials. So, do your homework before making an appointment.

- Approach and experience. Before sending your child off to therapy, find out the style and approach of the therapist. How long have they been working with children? What type of methodology do they use? What type of treatments do they offer? What do they specialize in? What is their availability? What can be expected relationship between parent and therapist?

- Insurance, price, & fees. Check with your insurance to see what options they provide for child therapy. When making an appointment with the therapist ask about prices, fees, payments plans, and cancellation policy.

- Communicate. It is very important for the parent to be involved with the therapist and the treatments. So work to build a good rapport and be available to assist them in any way necessary. Also, communicate with your child. Do they feel comfortable with the therapist? If you sense that the relationship is not working, then don't be afraid to make a change.

Taking care of your child's emotional needs are just as important as taking care of their physical needs. You are not a failure of parent if you enlist the help of a mental health care professional. It is actually a sign of true love and concern for the welfare of your child.

If you live in Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon and are looking for a therapist to work with your child visit Therapy FAQ.

How to Build Self-Esteem in a Child with ADHD

Friday, May 06, 2011


ADHD often goes hand in hand with low self-esteem and depression. These negative emotions can start at a very young age. It may stem from feeling different from their peers, the inability to get the same results as others, and/or receiving extra criticism. As parents, it’s important to instill confidence in your ADHD child early on. Taking this extra effort is well worth your time and energy. If not, there can be serious consequences in the future.

Here are a few tips to help build the self-esteem in a child with ADHD:

·Positive reinforcement. In the past, I spoke about the benefits of positive reinforcement when it comes to autistic children, but the same principles apply to children with ADHD. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. Look for the good behavior and the good qualities that they are exhibiting and be quick to commend them. When giving commendation, be specific. Explain what they did that you liked and why you liked it. The goal is to help them to make the connection that their good behavior equals positive reinforcement.

·Encourage their strengths. What is your child good at? Are they artistic? Musical? Athletic? Take note of what they excel at and encourage them to pursue those strengths. When they are feeling down about not excelling in an area, remind them that every person has strengths and weaknesses, and then remind them of their "special" skills or strengths. Get their teacher involved in this. They can exert a powerful influence for the good over your child.

·Use rewards. Rewards can be a tool that you can use to help your child build confidence. The reward does not need to be something grand, but it should be something that is meaningful to the child. Explain how they can earn the reward. Then make it "visual" by perhaps putting together a chart that tracks their progress and then posting it in their room or on the refrigerator. They will be able to see their progress. Plus it helps them to set goals and see that they can reach them.

·Do not compare them to others. A child is an individual and every individual is different. Comparing a child to another will simply guarantee that their confidence and self-esteem will drop. Avoid making careless comparisons. Instill in your child your love for them and tell them what makes them special to you.

·Therapy. Therapy can help a child feel better about themselves. A therapist can help a child to recognize that their disorder does not reflect who they really are. Over time the therapist can help children with ADHD identify and build on their strengths as well as help parents to learn how to do this more effectively.

Continue to encourage your child. Express your love for them. It may not always be easy to raise a child with ADHD, but by applying these few suggestions, your child will be more equipped to handle their future with confidence.

For more information, visit Parenting a Child with ADD/ADHD. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington to set up an appointment for Adult or Child ADHD counseling, contact my office.

Are You a Survivor of Survivors?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


How do you describe a person who has been traumatized by another person's trauma? I would describe them as a "survivor of survivors." Whether it is from PTSD, alcoholism, Asperger Syndrome, or something else, the actions of that person will affect their loved ones, sparking a cycle of re-traumatization. This type of cycle is vicious and harmful to say the least.

It's hard to explain why a person will feel traumatized by the behavior of another person, but those feelings are very real and should not be minimized. If those feelings are not addressed, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem will set in.

The key is to try and stop the cycle so no one else turns into a survivor of survivors. For the cycle to stop, both parties must seek professional help. There are a variety of effective therapies now available. In addition to therapy, joining a support group is an excellent way to gain comfort and strength from those in a similar situation.

If you have a family member with Asperger Syndrome and live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I invite you to join Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. On March 19, 2011, we will be discussing "Are You a Survivor of Survivors?" and exploring this topic in detail.

If your loved one is suffering from another type of trauma or disorder, please contact my office for more information. Do not delay in stopping the cycle!

High Risk of Substance Abuse for Children with ADHD

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Twenty seven long-term studies show a connection between ADHD and substance abuse. Research shows that someone with ADHD is two to three times more likely to suffer from some type of substance abuse than someone without the disorder. Gender and ethnicity did not change the results. (For more on this study, read ADHD Linked to Higher Risk of Substance Abuse.)

This type of research should move parents to pay close attention to the development of their children. If you suspect that your child may have the disorder, it is vital that you take appropriate action and schedule an evaluation. A diagnosis can be made by gathering information from a variety of sources. In the case of a child this is done through a detailed, structured interview with the parents. Behavior rating scales are filled out by parents and teachers to provide information on types and severity of ADD or ADHD symptoms, as well as types and severity of other emotional or behavior problems.

Once a diagnosis has been made, then appropriate treatment can be administered. Therapy is highly recommended for childhood ADHD. In individual counseling, a therapist can help the child learn to feel better about themselves. They do this by helping them recognize that having a disability does not reflect who they are as a person. Over time the therapist can help people with ADD identify and build on their strengths, cope with daily problems, and learn to control their attention and aggression. Taking these proactive steps are vital and will hopefully protect your child from taking the path of substance abuse.

For more information, visit Parenting a Child with ADD.

Stress-Free Travel Tips with your ADD Child

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Many families travel during the holiday season. Traveling with a child is a challenge, but traveling with a child with ADD/ADHD takes it to an entirely different level. The good news is that as a parent, you can prepare yourself and your child for the journey. Here are a few helpful tips to make your travel experience a smooth one:

1. Prepare in advance. Spontaneity and ADHD do not go hand in hand. Structure always works best. So, prepare your child for the trip in advance. Explain to them what they will experience on the trip, what the schedule/routine will be like etc. This way you will not throw them any unexpected curb balls.

2. Include them in the planning. Ask your child what they would like to do on the trip. Do they have any particular interests? Can you include their interests in the itinerary?

3. Stick to a schedule. Try your best to stick to a similar eating and sleeping schedule that your child is comfortable with. I know it is hard to do that when on vacation, but the closer you stick to it, the easier it will be on your child and on you. It make require extra planning on your part. For instance, bring snacks along so if you can't get a meal in at the regular time, you have something that your child can eat. If you know you will have a late night, try to squeeze in time to rest.

4. Set the rules. Explain to your child what the rules are before you leave! This way they will understand what is expected of them and it will be easier for them to follow. Establish consequences if the rules are not followed. On the flip side, if they follow the rules, be sure to commend or reward them. Positive reinforcement works brilliantly!

With a little forethought and planning, you and your child may actually enjoy the journey! For on information, visit Parenting a Child with ADD.

If you are planning a trip with an autistic family member click here for travel tips.

Depression is Common with Adult ADHD

Sunday, August 29, 2010


If you have been diagnosed with Adult ADHD, studies show you are more likely to also suffer from depression than adults without ADHD. Depression could be rooted in a variety of different factors, but sometimes it’s because you are frustrated by living with ADHD. Someone may slip into depression because they have just recently been diagnosed or maybe they are tired of being perceived as lazy, flighty, or unsuccessful. Regardless of the reasons, depression can hit very hard.

It is important if you have Adult ADHD that you get proper therapy with or without symptoms of depression. Psychotherapy is especially helpful for people with ADHD who also deal with depression and anxiety. It can also help adults deal with the frustration and anger they feel because their ADHD was never addressed in childhood. In addition, psychotherapists can help improve social skills and the ability to deal with ADHD-unfriendly situations. A specific type of psychotherapy is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which has proven to be highly beneficial.

In addition to your psychotherapy treatments, you can also try meditation, exercise, or a hobby when you are feeling depressed. Remember that both ADHD and depression are treatable. Visit my website for more information about Adult ADHD and Depression.

Help Your Special Needs Child Prepare for the New School Year

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Summer is flying by and before you know it you’re kids will be back to school. For parents who have children with special needs such ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) it can be stressful preparing your child for the new school year. I have put together a few tips to help make the transition from summer to school a little easier for you and your child.

Be Positive
It is only natural for your child to feel apprehensive about the new school year. You can help ease their worries by speaking positively about what they are going to experience this year. Get them excited about that they are going to learn. Recall to their minds the thing they enjoyed from previous years.

Get into a Routine
Even though school hasn't started yet, it’s a good idea to start getting into a good routine that will ease them into their school schedule. Set a wake up time and bedtime for your child. This may need to be done gradually for them to adjust. Also start with a few academic games/projects to refresh their memories and get them to prepared for what to expect when school starts. Consistency is key for both ADD and ASD.

Get Prepared
Include your child when you are getting prepared for the school year. Take them with you when you do their school shopping and let them pick out things that they like. Help them put together their backpacks, discuss lunch and snack options, and help them lay out their clothes for school the night before. Make the preparation a joint effort.

One other thing I really recommend doing – once you find out who your child's teacher will be – is to put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

For additional back to school and safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics - Back To School Tips. My website also has information about Parenting a Child with ADD.

Tips to Survive the Summer with Your ADHD Child

Thursday, July 22, 2010


If you have a child with ADHD, you will most likely hear the words "bored" or "nothing to do" all summer long. It can be a real challenge to keep an ADHD child entertained – especially when they are out of school for the summer. Their boredom can lead to frustration which in turn can cause them to act out. Instead of having a fun, enjoyable summer, you are at each other's throats.

Here are some tips to help you and your child survive the summer:

1. Stick to a schedule. Structure and ADHD work well together. A schedule will help your child know what to expect for the week/month which will help them feel secure. Post a schedule for chores, daily activities, and events for your child. Even schedule "free time".

2. Use the community. Your community will have plenty of resources available for you. Day camps, rec centers, county fairs, and festivals are great places to take your children. It gets them out of the house and can offer some wonderful stimulation.

3. Set a bedtime. All children need proper rest, but especially a child with ADHD. Not getting enough rest will only aggravate their symptoms.

4. Pick tasks that will stimulate creativity. Puzzles, crafts, and drawing/painting are great projects that will help your child to be creative and help build their self worth.

For more information on this topic, I recommend ADDitute Magazine's - Summer Activities for ADHD Kids, Preteens. Also visit my website for information about Parenting a Child with ADD/ADHD.

Don't Let ADD Clutter Your Life

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Clutter and ADD go hand in hand. It can be real a challenge for someone with ADD to keep life organized. Hiding behind a cluttered room or desk is a survival skill to help cloak symptoms of ADD. ADDitude.com had a great article, ADHD and Organization: Clear Clutter from Your Workspace. It listed 10 tips to help someone with ADD organize their office. Click here to read the article.

I think the same principles work for kids with ADD and their bedrooms. These tips may give parents a head start to help their children get organized which could help them into their adult life.

One thing that I highly recommend is to de-clutter in short intervals. With ADD comes the tendency to become overwhelmed very quickly. By taking a few minutes a day and only focusing on one task a day, the job of organizing won’t appear to be insurmountable – to you or your child. Over time, you will be clutter free.

Visit my website for more information on Adults with ADD and Parenting a Child with ADD.

New Study Finds Pesticides Linked to ADD

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Researchers at the University of Montreal recently found a link between ADD/ADHD and organophosphate pesticides. Organophosphate pesticides can be found on food with high levels of pesticides. Organophosphate poisoning can be detected by analyzing urine samples.

1139 children were tested for organophosphate and 94% came back with levels found in their urine. Out of the 1,139 children, 119 had previously been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Having higher levels of organophosphate may increase chances of ADD.

Dr. Maryse F. Bouchard from Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Montreal commented on the study by stating, "It is very well established that organophosphates disrupt brain neurochemical activity. In particular, organophosphates disrupt the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter also implicated in ADHD. In addition, certain organophosphates affect growth factors, several neurotransmitter systems, and second messenger systems. These changes in brain activity could well result in ADHD-like symptoms."

She also concluded, "This is the first study to link exposure to pesticides at levels common in the general population with adverse health effects. These findings should be replicated before strong conclusion can be made." To read more about this study, I recommend reading the article, Organophosphate Pesticides Linked to ADHD.

Learn more about ADD/ADHD, including practical tips on my website.


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