Fleurish Counseling Services -- New Orleans Metairie

Fleurish Counseling Services -- New Orleans Metairie

Post-election Results Trigger Trauma for Women, Minorities and Subgroups

by Wendy Romero on 11/14/16

In the wake of the most contentious presidential election that I can remember, a lot of people have strong feelings.  If your candidate won, I imagine there are some feelings of elation and hope for change.  If your candidate lost, however, there could be some very real feelings of depression, hopelessness, fear, anxiety or anger.  I am reading reports of this, along with women, minorities, and other subgroups feeling marginalized, or worse yet, experiencing acts of sexism, xenophobia and homophobia.  We are a country that is deeply divided, with very different hopes and dreams for our country, and that can be scary.

In particular, I am concerned about surviors of rape and sexual abuse being triggered right now.  I have heard several accounts first hand, and want to reach out to you.  If you feel old feelings bubbling up, and need a space to talk or to process, I want you to know that therapy can be a safe place to do so.  I understand that these kinds of events can ignite feelings and traumas that have been buried for a long time.  I encourage you, at the very least, to talk to others who may be experiencing similar feelings, and if you need to, to reach out for professional help.  You are not alone.

As always, all people and all families, be they traditional or non-traditional, are welcomed as clients at my practice.

Wendy Romero, MSW, LCSW is a counselor/therapist practicing in the New Orleans metropolitan area.  She sees adults, children and families in her Old Jefferson office.

How to Think Like a Counselor or Therapist - Part I

by Wendy Romero on 09/26/16

feelings therapy counseling New Orleans Metairie

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the problems in the world, not only in the New Orleans area, but everywhere.  Like many of you, I have been bombarded by news stories and tragedies which bring up sadness, anger, and other negative feelings.  There have been multiple terrorist attacks, violence and hatred against people who are unlike our own selves.

I have been struck by how much of the world's problems are caused by an inability to deal with our own feelings and I see this manifesting in many dysfunctional ways.  I see this through the eyes of a counselor, but I want to share some of that insight with you.  I have been wondering...what if more people knew what therapists knew?  What if more people knew what people in therapy have learned?  Maybe the world would be a different, and better, place.

As I sit with my own emotions regarding these news stories (and everyday events too), I have been reflecting on the fact that I know how to process my feelings in a constructive way, and I have been feeling grateful for how lucky I am.  A series of knowledgeable teachers and mentors taught me how to do that, and it will be ongoing, for at least as long as I choose to be a counselor.  Most people do not have that information.  I wish they did, and so I am thinking, maybe I can help spread the word.

There are many things that therapists and counselors are taught in graduate school, in internships, in supervision, in continuing education, and in consultation, that make doing what we do possible.  Because, if we cannot manage our own feelings, and our own lives, how can we help you with yours?  So, it's twofold -- we have to know how to help you with your own issues, while staying on top of our own.  We have learned, in addition to all of the clinical stuff, the art of self care, and we know, that in order to maintain our own mental health, we have to take care of ourselves, first and foremost.  We teach clients to do this, and we do it too.

I think I'll start with that topic first, and go on from there.  My goal is to do a series of blog posts to teach non-therapists a few things about how to live a healthier, happier and less stressful life.  I hope you can incorporate some of this into your own lives, and be a model for your children, and the next generation.  I hope it will help you to begin to live a life that is conscious of how feelings impact our thoughts and behaviors, either positively or negatively.  I hope you can take some of the tools I provide and use them productively to change your lives, and the lives of those around you.

Stay tuned for my post on self-care, coming soon.  I also plan to do posts on communication, anxiety, depression, setting healthy boundaries...and whatever else comes up along the way.  I hope you will join me on this path.  Each of us must do our part, and that begins with ourselves.

Wendy Romero, MSW, LCSW is a counselor/therapist practicing in the New Orleans metropolitan area.  She sees adults, children and families in her Old Jefferson office.

How to Manage Homework Battles

by Wendy Romero on 11/07/15

As a counselor who works with many children and families in the New Orleans and Metairie area, I know how homework battles affect the entire family and can create a negative and stressful mood for everyone.  I have experienced it myself, with my own child, when he went through a phase of "homework sucks more than anything else in this world."  The good news is that, while you cannot make your child do their homework, or do it with a positive attitude, you can change the dynamic by changing your role in it.  If you want something to change, you have to make a change.  Don't expect your child to be the one to do that.  There is no magic pill to make this all better, but there are ways you can interact with your child that de-escalates the battle rather than fuels it.  And, I think their not wanting to come home, after doing school work all day, to do even more school work, is justified.  They are tired and they need down time and play time.  Some acknowledgement that you get that goes a long way.

1.  It's not your job to make your child do their homework, or even to do well in school.  You can offer support and guidance, and create an atmosphere where the probabilities are better, but the moment it seems as if you want to exert control, your child is likely to rebel.  Kids actually have very little control in their lives, so when they see this as an opportunity, they will likely take it.  So, guide your child if they need it, but don't try to control them.  The more you try to exert control, they more they will rebel, so ratcheting it up will only make it worse.

2.  Many kids are capable of actually doing their homework on their own.  If they are (be honest about this), then let them do it.  Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.  While you may be thinking you are being helpful, the message that is being sent is, "I don't believe that you are capable."  When kids don't believe they are capable, this impacts their lives in a big way.  When they believe that they are competent individuals, their motivation and self-esteem will increase.

3.  Disengage in power struggles.  If your child refuses to do his/her homework or has an overly negative attitude, walk away.  You can acknowledge their feelings by saying, "I can see that you are very frustrated right now.  That's not a good state to do homework in.  I am taking a break now but will be happy to help you if you choose to calm down."  Don't get sucked into negativity.  You're the adult and have to model for them good behavior, so don't participate in bad behavior, and don't condone it.

4.  Homework comes first.  Do not allow screen time or weekend activities to take place until it's done.  Again, it's not your job to make your child do his/her homework.  They can choose not to, but they also choose to forgo the things they really want to do by making that choice.  You can set up a structure and expectations -- like, homework is done in a public place, homework is done after having a snack, etc. in order to facilitate it getting done, but there may be times when a kid makes a bad choice.  Seriously, no screen time, even if it means taking gadgets away until responsibilities are done.

5.  Let your child deal with natural consequences.  If they don't do their homework, their grades will probably fall.  Sometimes they need to experience that on their own, and to see how that feels, before they decide to make some changes.  It’s better for your child to learn from those consequences at a young age, even if he/she fails a grade or has to go to summer school than for him/her to learn at age 25 by losing a job.

6.  Don't lecture.  Lectures don't work and only serve to further disengage your child from you.  If you can't say it in 10 words or less, don't say it.  When people talk too much, or try to tell others what to do, they get tuned out.

Motivation comes from ownership.  If you allow your child to make some choices (good or bad), they will get to experience how that feels.  Your telling your child how it will feel is not a good substitute.  So, they get to own their disappointment, but their success as well.  And when you don't allow your child to fail, or rescue them from every situation, you prevent them from developing the tools and coping skills they need to succeed further down the line.  When you involve yourself too much in their successes and failures, they also don't get to take pride in themselves when they do well.  After all, if you've done most of the project for them, it is really not theirs...and they know that.  I'll never forget how I felt when I was a child at an Easter egg hunt, looking for the golden egg.  My mother saw it (not me), and pointed it out to me.  She thought she was helping me, but the only thing I felt was disappointment that I didn't get the chance to find it myself.  And I felt like a big fraud too.  I got a prize for something I didn't really do and that felt awful.

When I went through the "homework sucks more than anything else in this world" phase with my then 8 year old, I made some changes in our approach.  At that point, he was able to tell me what his homework was, instead of me having to figure it out.  So, I trusted him to do that.  Every once in a while he forgot something, but having to deal with that wasn't the end of the world.  The message I was sending him is that I trusted him to mostly get it right.  And when he messed up, I wasn't overly upset.  I also decided to let him control how he did his homework.  For instance, I had initiated a method for how he should study his spelling words -- by writing them, and rewriting them several times when he didn't know them.  He told me that didn't work for him, so instead of trying to make him do it my way, I said, "OK, tell me your idea."  His idea was to write down exactly what he missed in the practice test.  He even devised certain symbols and notations that only he was aware of.  At first, I thought that was a bit crazy, but our brains function differently, and that really worked for him.  So, basically, I sent him the message that he knew best how his own brain worked and allowed him the opportunity to devise his own plan.  I gave him ownership and trust, and I walked away when his attitude was bad.  It worked.  Now only if my husband would take this advice, he would have better success also.  For whatever reason, he refuses to change his approach, and so his approach continues to cause power struggles.

I know that not all situations are the same, and that kids can be motivated by different things.  As a parent, you know your child best, so figure out what motivates them.  You might find that it's confidence in them, allowing them some control and modeling good behavior for them.  Resist the urge to tell yourself that this won't work for your child, or to make excuses.  Everyone benefits from having good self esteem, feeling believed in and learning how to make good choices.  If you truly make some positive changes, it can only get better.  And while it may seem counter-intuitive that by letting go of control, you actually gain it.  I know, I know, but that's how it works.

Wendy Romero, MSW, LCSW is a counselor/therapist practicing in the New Orleans metropolitan area.  She sees adults, children and families in her Old Jefferson office.

Managing Weather-related Feelings

by Wendy Romero on 10/25/15

As a counselor, I am not immune to stress or anxiety.  I think that is a common misconception about therapists.  No, we have feelings too, sometimes strong ones, just like everyone else, but we have taken a sort of unofficial oath to make dealing with them and managing them a priority.

I am a native Louisianian and have lived in New Orleans for twenty years now.  I have lived through my share of hurricanes and weather events.  For the past several days, I have heard people around me talking about the latest hurricane, Patricia, (which just hit Mexico).  It is difficult to hear, or even to engage in conversation about it.  Anytime I see those radar images of monster hurricanes, my heart skips a beat, literally.  I have flashbacks to that storm of 2005, called Katrina.  I realized yesterday that I have been avoiding turning the television on, so I decided, this morning, to confront my anxiety about the whole thing, and turn it on.  While I think it is healthy to moderate media onslaughts of negative or disturbing news events, I realized it was more than that.  It was pure avoidance, and it was actually unhealthy to deny its reality.

I braced myself to what I felt I was sure to see, radar images of swirling winds, video footage of destruction, news people standing in the midst of it, with their raincoats on, battling the elements.  Instead I learned that the storm had dissipated rather quickly, that there have been no fatalities so far, and that the damage was minimal.  One reporter cited the fact that the buildings being mostly concrete was a factor.  Wow, how smart is that?  The video footage was not of destroyed homes, but of street flooding.  I felt relief for all of those people who only have minor clean up to deal with, instead of loss of lives and the rebuilding of entire cities.

As I sit here, writing this, listening to the rain and the wind outside (remnants of Patricia), it does bring up anxiety.  I think I will always feel that.  I have some strong feelings about hurricanes, which sometimes I avoid and sometimes I confront.  Today, I confronted those feelings, felt them and am sitting here trying to breathe them away.  I am trying to take the advice I give to my clients about feelings and disturbing thoughts.  I am reminding myself that in order to lessen the feelings, I have to first really feel them, uncomfortable as they are.  Then, I have to actively let them go.  Part of writing this post is to force myself to be in moment.  Now, I will practice some self-care, have another cup of coffee, and change the channel.

Wendy Romero, MSW, LCSW is a counselor/therapist practicing in the New Orleans metropolitan area.  She sees adults, children and families in her Old Jefferson office.

How to Disable In-App Purchases

by Wendy Romero on 05/04/15

I do a lot of parenting work with clients.  I try to practice what I preach, and even though I am a therapist, it doesn't mean my own parenting is foolproof.  I make mistakes too, and sometimes have to live and learn.

This past weekend, as I was preparing for my son's 9th birthday party, I allowed him to play on the iPad.  Because I was busy, I allowed him to play on it longer than his usual allotted time.  I think most parents are guilty of that from time to time.  He was sitting on the living room sofa, in plain view (of which I am definitely an advocate).  In my opinion, kids' bedrooms should be technology free zones, for safety reasons and also to keep it a restful, peaceful place.  Anyway, during this time, in plain view, my son charged $3800 worth of in-app purchases to our debit card!!!  I didn't even know this was possible, but shame on me for not knowing it.  I didn't realize that, with the push of a button, a charge could be made to our bank account.  I wrongly assumed that credit or debit card numbers had to be entered.  Imagine my surprise, when the morning after the birthday party, I logged into the bank account to pay some bills...and found it very, very overdrawn.  At first, I thought I had been hacked.  It was a great disappointment to learn that my son, in fact, had made those charges.

There are a few issues here -- the $3800 in charges (obviously), but also the fact that I trusted my son, and probably shouldn't have.  The good news (I hope) is that Apple has told us the charges will be reversed, although it could take up to 10 days.  The bad news is that the trust has been compromised with my son and I must figure out how to impart appropriate consequences, whether we recover the money or not.  He suggested he open a lemonade stand to earn some cash, and I think that's a good idea.  If the charges are reversed, it can be donated to charity.  It's going to be a very big lemonade stand.

In the midst of panicking over the charges, I reached out to some friends.  One of them spoke to her techie husband, who explained how to disable in-app purchases on the iPad.  I thought I'd share it with you here, so that you can implement this on your own iPads.  Go to Settings, then General, then Restrictions.  Turn off the button labeled In-App Purchases.  And voila!  When your kid tries to buy something, they will be given a message that in-app purchases are not allowed.  Trust me, I tried it out.  Also, put a password on the gadget, one that your child cannot guess.  You can log in for them before they have access.  This not only keeps your computer safe, but doesn't allow them screen time without your knowledge.  Another friend recommended tying the account to a card with a very small limit, like an iTunes card (instead of your credit or debit card).  All very good suggestions that I hope will prevent this from ever happening again.

I realized a couple of things this weekend:  1) I need to learn the ins and outs of the iPad and every game I allow my kid to play -- even if I don't want to (and I don't) 2) I can't trust him to always do the right thing in the face of temptation.  Good kids sometimes do bad things, and they don't always know the magnitude of what they are doing.

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