Who Needs Trauma Informed Care and How Does it Help?

Experiencing a “traumatic event” is something many people have to cope with — and there is a range of situations that can be labelled as “traumatic events.” Trauma is often described as being both a physiological and a psychological wound. When we perceive a threat to our lives or experience a threatening situation, or witness serious harm occurring to another person, our response is one of being traumatized.

When we experience trauma, it can feel like being hit by a bulldozer – and the effects can be felt for months and years. A Trauma Informed Care approach helps to build an awareness of your feelings and reactions and to aid recovery through interacting with others.

What is Trauma Informed Care?

If you’ve experienced trauma and you’re looking for counseling to help your recovery, it’s important to find a counselor who understands the need to have compassion and empathy. Trauma Informed Care gives you the opportunity to work with an experienced counselor who can help you to navigate your way through the trauma journey.

Rather than being a goal to be achieved, Trauma Informed Care is much more of a way of thinking and living. At its heart is the premise that there may have been multiple experiences in life that have caused some level of trauma. What’s more, each different experience of trauma takes a toll and has a negative impact on your ability to feel safe.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2018) highlights a variety of key approaches to overcoming trauma as part of a Trauma Informed Care approach. These include recognizing the widespread impact of trauma, identifying the symptoms caused by trauma, and continuing to learn more about trauma so as to incorporate new knowledge into practice (SAMHSA, 2018).

Who Benefits from Trauma Informed Care?

There are numerous benefits of trauma informed care. By far the greatest benefit, though, having someone partner with you in the journey towards recovery and growth. Another important benefit is the feeling of being understood and listened to. Trauma Informed Care begins to bring light back into your world when it’s been overshadowed by trauma.

The Kaiser Permanete study of Adverse Childhood Experiences (also referred to as ACEs) has shown that 1 in 4 people have experienced some kind of traumatic event. These definitions of trauma are broader than are commonly imagined – so while sudden events like combat violence or serious car accidents are readily recognized as causes of trauma, you can experience trauma without recognizing it as trauma.

Some of the most commonly overlooked types of trauma are those that happen in early childhood when it’s more difficult to recognize the way that trauma has impacted you. Additionally, each individual is impacted in different ways by their experiences and this is something that Trauma Informed Care recognizes.

Trauma Informed Care, therefore, isn’t only beneficial for people who have experienced the more obvious kinds of trauma. Rather, it can help anyone – because one of the biggest challenges when seeking out counseling is finding someone that you feel will understand your issues more deeply than just the surface level. The focus on empathy in trauma informed care is a huge benefit.

When you’ve experienced trauma, you may feel isolated and alone because of the sense of others not understanding what you’re going through. Trauma distorts the way that we think, so it’s important to find a mental health professional who can help you to identify your distorted thinking. A compassionate counselor who is committed to listening to you is vital.

Compassion is at the center of Trauma Informed Care – both toward others and toward the scars that trauma leaves behind. A trauma informed care approach, then, conveys an important message when you’re hurting: “I see your pain, I understand how you’re struggling, and I will walk with you and guide you to grow in strength to overcome the past and build a sense of hope.”

When you have hope, you have the power that comes from knowing that you’re going to get through the most difficult times and emerge stronger. Trauma Informed Care has the benefit of restoring your thinking patterns and helping you to recognize that you are not defined by the trauma that you have experienced.

What Impact Does Trauma Informed Care Have?

With trauma at its core, the biggest impact that Trauma Informed Care has is in revealing distorted thought patterns. With distorted thought patterns come feelings of fear, anger, shame, and guilt. Together these are considered to be the “four horsemen” of trauma.

Left unchecked, these feelings can be destructive, keeping you trapped in your trauma. When you are able to identify and name them, you start to take control and reduce the power that they have over you. Once you become aware of how the feelings are controlling your life, you’re able to start on the journey toward recovery.

Psychology Today (2017) has highlighted that when you’ve experienced trauma, the emotions you feel are not necessary the ones that you expect to feel. A trauma informed care approach helps you to recognize this and offers the opportunity to experience hope and healing as you are helped by your counselor’s empathy and sensitivity toward you.

When you’ve experienced trauma, ordinary medical care can feel very impersonal. It’s more difficult to discuss the impact that trauma is having on your life with a primary care physician. Even when you mention things like feeling down, having difficulty sleeping and feeling disconnected from yourself and others, the solutions offered are often limited to a prescription to help you sleep. But when you do sleep, you may experience nightmares or feel groggy making it feel like your attempts to recover are in vain.

By encouraging you to build a connection and communicate with your counsellor and your loved ones, Trauma Informed Care takes a different approach to fighting the battle for recovery from trauma. It offers the space you need to share the burden of what you’re carrying. Living with trauma can feel like carrying a heavy weight around your neck, and each day you’re faced with a need to put on a mask that pretends that you’re fine – when really, you’re anything but.

Trauma Informed Care helps to build a greater level of resilience by treating the whole person. Understanding past trauma and the way that you respond to and handle trauma is an important part of the process. Trauma Informed Care respects where you are on the journey toward recovery and meets you where you are – removing the need for you to pretend that you’re doing better than you are. This is essential for healing.

When you are a trauma survivor, you may feel like your life is overshadowed by oppressive feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. You may be plagued by worries about the future and fears of reminders of the past. It’s important to realize that no matter what you have experienced, there is always hope in Jesus Christ. He offers the opportunity to rest and find peace within His grace.

A Christian View of Trauma Informed Care

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron. – Psalm 107:13-16

At the root of Trauma Informed Care is the desire to answer Jesus’ call to care for the brokenhearted. Going through traumatic experiences can be compared to the “valley of the shadow of death” from Psalm 23.

It’s important to recognize that when we are in the midst of, or recovering from trauma, God sees us, and is heartbroken for us. The Bible tells us that God sees every single tear that we shed, whether physical tears from our eyes or figurative tears from the heart. God is always present in your life.

Are you familiar with the poem “Footprints in the Sand”? In it, the poet Mary Fishback Powers describes a dream about walking across a sandy beach with God. The poem shows how we often feel, in the lowest, saddest and most desperate times in our lives, it can feel like there is only one set of footprints in the sand as if God has left us.

In the poem, the poet cries out to God in desperation, asking where He was during those awful times. God’s response is both simple and profound: “It was in those moments that I was carrying you.” God promises never to leave nor forsake us – and He never breaks that promise.

In Trauma Informed Care, all Christians are called to shine the light of God’s hope onto those who are broken.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies are new every morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”Lamentations 3:21-24

When you’ve experienced trauma, it’s common to feel that it would be impossible for anyone to be able to understand the depths of the pain that you have experienced (and continue to feel). You may feel that everyone (including God) has abandoned you. While these feelings are real, they are not true.

God reaches out to us in the moments when we are feeling the most desperate. In Isaiah 41:10, he says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

God loves to restore joy to the brokenhearted. The Bible tells us in many places that God has a huge amount of love and care for people who feel that the weight of the world is crushing them. In fact, there are 65 places in the Bible that show God’s view on trauma and His faithfulness to those who have experienced it.

Because God has so much compassion for us, when we rest in his love, we can receive a spirit of hope and peace. Trauma Informed Care builds on this, by not only seeing you as a whole person but also seeing (and helping you to see) how God sees you through His eyes.

You only have to look at the story of the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus (in the Gospel of John) to see that Jesus too experienced trauma and heartache. We see this in Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus’ death – he wept. This is just a demonstration of the depth of compassion that God has for those in pain. God is always near to those who feel brokenhearted. Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

Christian counseling recognizes God’s presence in the midst of the Trauma Informed Care journey. The Lord is, according to the Bible, the Great Counselor. He longs to free us from the weight of the trials that we experience in life. Therefore, in Christian Trauma Informed Care, God joins in restoring the broken and both counselors and counselees stand on God’s promises for the restoration of hope.

Let Hope Arise

Getting the support you need to overcome the impact of trauma on your life is a hugely powerful and loving choice. When you begin to seek help, you are acknowledging that the trauma of the past does not have to define you for the rest of your life. In itself, trauma can leave you feeling powerless and hopeless but starting the journey to recovery is taking back some of that power.

When you reach out for counseling with someone who is trained and certified in treating trauma, you are acknowledging that there can be hope for the future and it starts today. Exploring Trauma Informed Care is a first step towards experiencing power and love.

Trauma-focused counselors seek to demonstrate to you that they see you, they hear you, and they can walk every step of the journey alongside you. They aim to empower you to tackle the challenges that will arise as you recover and regain the understanding that God loves every part of you – including the broken parts that you are ashamed of.

Reach out to one of our specialist trauma counselors and book an evaluation to see how you can let hope arise within you once more. Our counselors are ready to help you to break free from the burden on trauma and enable you to see that you are worth the investment. The recovery process may be long and at times difficult, but the effort is worth it to equip you to face battles in the future.

References:

Colson, Denice. (2016). Implementing trauma-informed care in Christian Counseling. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/DeniceColson/implementing-traumainformed-care-in-christian-counseling

Psychology Today. (2017). Trauma informed care and why it matters. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-day-slavery/201707/trauma-informed-care-and-why-it-matters

SAMHSA (2018). Trauma-Informed Approach and Trauma-Specific Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/trauma-interventions

Photos:
“Beautiful Lady”, Courtesy of it’s me neosiam, Pexels.com; CC0 License; “Fog,” courtesy of Etienne Desclides, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 License; “Woman Praying”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

How to Reach Your Leadership Development Goals

If you’re a leader or a manager in your company, you might be discouraged by this statistic: 50% of managers eventually fail in their position. How can you avoid becoming part of this statistic?

You might start by setting goals for success, so you don’t end up losing your job or getting burned out and quitting.

If you look at the New York Times bestseller list, you’ll see an entire section of books about business and professional success. Books by successful people are often favorites because we want to find out how to replicate their success in our professional lives.

But, maybe there’s an alternative. Perhaps we can learn more from failure than success.

When you read a book by someone like Bill Gates, you’re reading a very rare story about someone who made it to the top, but we can learn valuable lessons from leaders who failed. When a senior executive flounders, an organization can lose millions of dollars, and both the individual and the organization experience impact to morale.

Principles for Achieving Leadership Development Goals

So, what are some of the fundamental principles for achieving leadership development goals—ideas we can see in success stories and failures? Let’s discuss three of them.

1. Good Relationship Skills

Leadership isn’t about a single-minded drive to the top. Instead, it involves successfully managing your relationships with superiors, colleagues, and staff. Being a good leader also includes strategic networking, effective conflict resolution, and consideration of other people’s needs.

As believers in Christ, we can see that he was the ultimate servant leader and set the example for us. We should strive to be servant leaders, even in our secular careers. Although we should want our organizations to succeed, people always come first. Strong relationships and caring actions can make a lifelong difference, whether or not you experience dazzling financial success.

2. Self-Awareness

Robert Hogan and Rodney Warrenfeltz are organizational scientists who studied factors that influence self-concept. Self-concept is defined as “an idea of the self-constructed from the beliefs one holds about oneself and the responses of others.” How you see yourself can really impact the way you do your job and lead others.

Here are the three influencing factors Hogan and Warrenfeltz identified:

  • Healthy self-esteem. Self-esteem is related to resilience; when you have inner confidence, you’re more likely to learn from failure than remain in defeat. This is partly why people with healthy self-esteem can bounce back when faced with setbacks. They also tend to exude positive energy and are not easily irritated.
  • A positive attitude towards authority. These individuals are compliant, easily managed, and have excellent social skills.
  • Self-discipline. A self-disciplined person can control his or her impulses and appetites, focus on the task at hand, and go along with accepted procedures.

As you consider these factors, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses, and how you can improve to be a better leader and asset to your organization.

Sometimes leaders don’t consider that the way they act on a personal level within their company needs to be congruent with the way the organization presents itself to the public. Both internal and external values should be aligned for your organization to be trustworthy, and to keep you as a leader in sync with your company’s identity and goals.

3. Humble Confidence

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

There are several characteristics in a leader that increase the likelihood that they will end up failing. Many of these characteristics can be strengths if they are balanced and not extreme, while others are inherently unhealthy.

Here are some examples:

  • Excessive self-confidence, self-esteem, or boldness
  • Habitual risk-taking
  • Being exploitative
  • Wanting to be the center of attention
  • Acting out in strange or unusual ways

Yi Zhang and N. Anand Chandrasekar research organizations in Asia surveyed leaders and found that when asked to rate characteristics that they would need to lead others effectively, these individuals said that every single trait should be strong.

However, the researchers found that it’s not helpful to try to be too strong in every area as a leader; that perspective is correlated with leadership failure. They concluded that leaders who have less of a particular strength can actually be more effective in the long run.

Sometimes, leadership abilities that seem to be assets in the short term end up becoming liabilities in the long run. For example, having high self-confidence and overestimating your skills can make you seem brave, confident, and charismatic in the beginning.

But, eventually, others might see that you are entitled and have trouble acknowledging your mistakes. There are traps inherent in a prideful attitude. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

5 Practical Steps to Achieve your Leadership Development Goals

1. Learn Your Strengths and Weaknesses

What areas of leadership strength and weakness are you aware of in yourself? Once you’ve made a list, talk it over with your colleagues, supervisor, and/or customers. This kind of feedback is known as 360 feedback. It allows you to identify and eliminate weaknesses that are personal blind spots in your work habits and performance.

How do you address your weaknesses?

Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Make a concrete plan for how to solve the weak areas daily.
  • Keep a record or journal of your progress.
  • Check in for more 360 feedback in three months.

Asking for possible negative feedback is never enjoyable, and you’ll probably feel vulnerable, but it can help your team connect with you on a more human level and improve your relationships.

When an organization has strong ties, this fosters a climate of empathy and forgiveness of mistakes. This type of atmosphere improves morale, provides a sense of safety, and can lead to personal and organizational growth.

360 feedback is not without its dangers or limitations. Sometimes organizations already have a built-in negative group-think despite your job performance, and there’s not much you can do to overcome it by inviting personal feedback. Sometimes requesting feedback may lead to workers ganging up on you, hurting your chance at a promotion. If the climate at your work does not allow for objective feedback, asking for it won’t accelerate your growth.

If you’re not sure whether 360 feedback would be helpful in your situation, make sure you provide a confidential avenue to receive requested feedback, and that is not used during performance reviews. It should also be constructive, focused on solutions, and a regular part of office culture rather than an unusual, one-time event.

2. Consider the Company Culture

How do you adopt the culture of your organization while being yourself? This doesn’t mean that you just allow the company to influence you; it says you reflect on your part in the culture and how you can be an authentic and cooperative influence in your company.

Take a moral inventory of your workplace behavior. Does it reflect your values as a Christian? Do you act in ways that do not line up with your faith or corporate values and procedures?

As you think about this topic, discuss it with your close peers. Can you work together to improve? As a leader, make sure you regularly communicate values with your team, and how those values align with your organization’s standards. You might meet periodically with other departments, or invite performance evaluations from superiors.

3. Meet with a Christian Coach

Sometimes leaders are motivated by personal gain, rather than a good work ethic and a desire for success. What are some wrong motives/behaviors in leadership?

  • Exploiting others
  • Wielding power
  • Desiring personal recognition
  • Wanting to get ahead at all costs

These motivators might be subtle in the beginning, and then start to grow out of control. If you realize that your motives are sinful, it’s time to step back and evaluate where you are and how you can get to a healthier place.

If you’ve discerned that you need to have healthier motives, consider working with a Christian coach who can hold you accountable and help you reach positive leadership goals.

4. Take Charge of Stress

Stress is the enemy of success. Maybe you have an image in your mind of a successful CEO burning the midnight oil and being a workaholic. But the truth is, this will just lead to burnout.

Sometimes stress is linked with feeling competitive and individualistic. Instead of that mentality, focus on collaboration. Work not only as a team but expand to include other departments if your job allows.

When work is inevitably stressful at times, try to see the big picture and implement healthy coping mechanisms, possibly with the help of your Christian leadership coach.

All the good ideas don’t have to come from you. Cultivating gratitude and humility goes a long way towards stress reduction. Does your company have stress management resources? Again, Christian counseling can not only help you meet your leadership goals but help you manage stress and stay emotionally healthy.

5. Share Authority and Equip your Team

Organizational psychologists Chappelow and Leslie offer valuable suggestions on how to equip your team for success:

  • Use your to-do list to create individualized job responsibilities for members of your team.
  • Rotate those responsibilities as often as you can, based on individual skill levels. This means that each team member will learn new skills and have the opportunity to overcome challenges.
  • Set team goals and monitor them on an ongoing basis. Do your personal leadership goals align with those of your department and the organization as a whole?
  • Use rewards to boost morale. These can be both tangible, such as pay raises and bonuses, or intangible, such as praise and recognition.

As you focus on your personal leadership development and organizational health and achievement, you will find yourself accomplishing goals and moving towards success.

Photos:
“Lifeguard Training”, Courtesy of Margarida CSilva, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Humility”, Courtesy of Matthew Henry, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Masai Mara,” courtesy of Pawan Sharma, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Teamwork,” courtesy of rawpixel.com, unsplash.com, CC0 License

When to Be Concerned about Child Behavior Problems

When should you be concerned about child behavior problems in your home?

We all have our moments of “cringe-worthy” behaviors. We say things we later regret or lie to get out of awkward situations. When we consider how difficult it is to control our own behaviors, just think of what a child goes through – with a brain that is still developing, and lacking the maturity and experience to understand all the consequences of negative behaviors.

Even children who are usually well behaved may encounter a situation where they are so overcome by emotion that they “lose it” and engage in inappropriate behaviors. This is especially true of very young children whose emotions are still in the early stages of development.

Nevertheless, there are negative behaviors that should not be ignored in children, or they may become ingrained, interfering with the child’s relationships and daily life. Taking quick action to nip these problems in the bud will avoid them developing into serious issues that require professional intervention.

No matter what behavior issues you are going through with your child, take confidence! Your child can learn to control his or her emotions and behavior. As a child’s brain is still developing, the child has a surprising ability to learn new concepts and develop appropriate behaviors, under the guidance of parents and other caregivers.

In their book, No Drama Discipline (2014), authors Siegel and Bryson recommend that we “chase the why” when considering a child’s behavior problems. Rather than jumping to conclusions as to why a child is misbehaving, instead engage in some detective work and find the true answer.

Let’s take a look at ten child behavior problems that are common in children, yet absolutely cannot be ignored. These behaviors require swift intervention to bring them in check before they escalate. By exploring the reasons why your child may be engaging in these unwanted actions, you can devise an action plan of how to deal with them.

Child Behavior Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

1. Telling Lies

We all know it’s wrong to tell a lie, but we all do it from time to time. No matter what age, lying is a significant problem when it becomes habitual – so ingrained that the person’s word cannot be trusted. Some children become repetitive liars, which can make it difficult for parents to know when to believe the child. This could even put the child in harm’s way.

Why does a child lie? A child may lie in order to avoid a feared or disliked activity. Children struggling with self-worth might tell stories in hopes of being admired by others. A child might lie to avoid being punished. When a child has failed at doing something, they might actually say that they were able to do it, in order to feel more self-confident.

Children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may be impulsive liars, where their mouth engages before their brain, according to Carol Brady, Ph.D., (ADDitude Magazine).

2. Stealing

When parents teach their children boundaries between what is theirs and what belongs to others, most children quickly learn that taking something that doesn’t belong to them is unacceptable. Unfortunately, some children develop a habit of stealing, for multiple reasons.

Perhaps they enjoy the thrill of swiftly taking something without being noticed and the adrenaline release. They might be attempting to gain control over a situation – such as when they perceive a disparity between what they have and what others have. Stealing may be a way of getting something parents don’t allow – such as candy.

3. Bullying, Harming Others, Self-Harming, and Property Destruction

No one wants to be the parent of the neighborhood bully. Rather than facing the fact that their child is hurting other people or purposefully breaking things, some parents simply ignore this violent behavior. Parents need to immediately address why their child is violent or destructive.

Violent or destructive behavior often results from deep-seated anger. The child may be receiving abuse from another child or adult. The child might be jealous if the parents’ attention is diverted to a new baby or to their career, and feel that negative attention is better than no attention.

Self-harming (hitting, scratching, or cutting themselves) is alarming behavior. Children may talk about hurting themselves or even committing suicide. Never ignore such talk or behaviors. It often indicates depression or other serious emotional issues. Immediately seek professional help if your child has suicidal ideations, is self-harming, or is violent toward others.

4. Temper Tantrums

Almost every small child has temper tantrums. Their brains are still growing rapidly, and they are learning how to regulate their emotions. When they encounter a stressful situation, such as getting tired and bored in the supermarket or getting over-stimulated, it might result in a “meltdown.”

Children who have sensitive natures – who experience strong emotions and take longer to recover from anger or sadness – are more prone to temper tantrums, even at an age when most of their peers have become relatively adept at emotional regulation.

When your child is having a meltdown, give the opportunity to regain control in as calm an environment as possible. Maintain your own composure, speak in a soft and matter-of-fact tone and try to remove the child from an over-stimulating environment. Don’t goad overwrought emotions further by reacting in exasperation.

If tantrums are occurring frequently, or it takes a long time for the child to regain control, or if the child is causing harm to self or others, or destroying property, then counseling is recommended. If you feel helpless and worn down by all the meltdowns, you will benefit by having someone come alongside to support and guide you in helping your child regulate emotions.

5. Belligerence and Defiance

If your child is usually cheerful and compliant, then abruptly begins to question your directives, or refuse to obey, this defiant attitude may be a way of asserting himself or testing boundaries. Your child may be disrespectful to you or other authority figures. Many times this behavior is picked up from peers or even TV shows.

You may be noticing your child has become combative and quarrelsome with his or her siblings, with friends, or even you. This may be a sign that the child is suffering from anxiety or depression, or may be feeling out of control.

6. Ignoring Others

If a child is habitually ignoring authority figures, it may be a display of defiance. If the child is ignoring even non-authority figures, it could be due to a hearing disorder, or the child could be going through internal struggles, withdrawing inwardly, and simply less aware of what is going on around him.

It could also be a sign of ADHD. With ADHD, children have trouble filtering the other sounds around them, in order to concentrate on what one person is saying. They also tend to get lost in a “dream world” and not focused on the matter at hand. If you’re seeing a lot of ignoring behaviors, you probably need professional help to determine if there’s a physical or emotional reason behind it.

7. Refusing To Go to School

If you child frequently complains of headaches or stomach aches on school days, has meltdowns right before the school bus shows up, or simply takes hours getting out of bed and ready for school, these are all signs that the child is resisting going to school. Now it’s time for you to play detective and figure out what’s going on.

Perhaps someone is bullying your child at school, or the teacher is unpleasant. Your child may be bored by lack of challenge, or suffering anxiety because of difficulty learning the material. Your child may simply not want to leave you or your secure home environment. The child may feel nervous about tests. If a child is depressed, they often lose interest in activities they once loved.

8. Laziness

When a child seems unusually unmotivated to do schoolwork or engage in sports or other activities, there’s probably something going on under the surface. Fatigue and lack of enthusiasm or interest in activities a person once enjoyed are signs of depression. If the child has a high level of anxiety about something stressful, this may have an immobilizing effect.

9. Smoking, Drinking, or Using Drugs

Children begin to experiment with cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, or smoking marijuana around the age of thirteen. But children much younger than this engage in substance use, especially if it is readily available at home or from a friend or relative. Obviously, this behavior demands immediate attention before addictions develop or other serious issues ensue.

Once again, it’s important to explore the reason why a child is using cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. Is it peer pressure? Is the child copying the behaviors of the adults in his or her life? Is the child trying to cope with overwhelming emotions?

10. Premature Sexualized Behavior

All very small children explore their body. However, if preschool or elementary children are demonstrating overt sexual behavior or language, this is reason for concern.

Parents need to determine if the child has been exposed to pornography, or has observed teens or adults in sexual situations, or has even been the victim of sexual abuse. Consulting with a professional can help you discover what is going on with the child, and what to do about it.

What Should Be Done About These Child Behavior Problems?

Most negative behaviors are indicators of deeper, less obvious problems. Before you can help your child with the unwanted behavior, you first have to determine why the child is doing it. Finding the root cause is the key to effectively eliminating the problem.

This requires calmly investigating what the underlying issue is. Is it an immature and unregulated emotional system? Are there changes in the family that may be causing stress? Are there any problems at school – with learning the material or with peers or teachers? Is there any chance that the child is being bullied or exposed to inappropriate things or harmed by someone?

Often, child behavior problems are a way of coping with emotions or challenges the child can’t control. For instance, the child may feel jealous and neglected when parents bring a new baby home that demands a lot of attention. The child might act out with tantrums or defiance or even hurting others.

Just as adults cope with disappointments or hurts with unwise behavior – such as binge eating or drinking too much – children also choose incorrect ways to cope. Children don’t clearly understand the consequences, and their brains and emotions are still developing, thus they are more prone than adults to engage in problematic coping.

Understanding why children display unwanted behaviors does not mean we permit the behaviors to continue. But knowing the “why” behind the behavior helps us to determine issues that should be dealt with, and enables us to guide the child toward emotional control and equip the child with skills to overcome negative behavior.

A therapist trained in child development – especially development of the brain and emotions – can offer invaluable guidance and support. A counselor can help you determine issues underlying the problem behaviors, and suggest a plan of action.

When Should I Seek Help?

You don’t need to be in a crisis situation to seek counsel from a professional therapist on child behavior issues. In fact, the earlier you seek help, the better so that the problem behaviors don’t become worse.

However, there are several circumstances when you should immediately seek professional help:

  • if your child is harming self or others or destroying property,
  • if the problem behavior is very frequent or is escalating,
  • if the behavior is interfering with daily life – with school, family life, or friends,
  • if you suspect the child has been abused – physically, sexually, or emotionally, or
  • if you are exhausted and feel hopeless and don’t know where to turn.

We’re here to come alongside you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to get started in the right direction for your child.

Photos:
“Problem Child”, Courtesy of Patrice Audet, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Egg Stealer”, Courtesy of Andrew Poynton, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Pouting,” courtesy of martakoton, pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Smoke with Me”, Courtesy of Smoke & Vibe, Unsplash.com; CC0 License

How the Enneagram Personality Test Can Encourage Personal Development

Personality tests can mesmerize you with the possibility of understanding yourself – or someone else – better than you do now.

The Enneagram has been used for hundreds of years and remains one of the most popular personality typing systems. In ancient times this system was shrouded in secrecy, but today anyone can have access to it.

One version of the Enneagram is often used in spiritual formation programs. It consists of an exploration of personality types through the grid of Christian growth. It is sometimes implemented in the Christian counseling setting and has proved to be a valuable tool for self-understanding in the clinical context.

The word personality relates to the word for mask in Latin. As children, our personality develops as we learn to interact with our world, as we connect with others, and as we try to avoid pain.

As we get older, our behavior becomes so habitual that we think it defines us. We might think the personality is who we really are, but our identity actually resides under the mask. Unlike the way we present ourselves to the world, our true identity is revealed when we let our guard down.

When we work through the Enneagram personality test, we can start to figure out the patterns to our personality type and the perspective we have on life. This way, we can connect with our inner self.

If you’re familiar with the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, you’ll know that system specifies 16 types of personalities. By contrast, the Enneagram describes 9 types, each of which can be compared to a characteristic of God himself, since we are created in His image.

The book, The Road Back to You, was written by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile to be a Christian primer on the Enneagram. The authors share how this system can help us get to know ourselves better:

“What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others. As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history.

We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually, we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

Waking Up to Who You Really Are

How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?Proverbs 6:9

The famous theologian John Calvin said, “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”

To really get to know ourselves in the context of the world around us, we have to understand:

  • The perspective we have on the world,
  • What experiences and influences have shaped our perspective,
  • And how our worldview is different from others’.

When a child is born, their identity remains brand-new and untarnished. As that child grows and develops, her experience in her family of origin will strongly influence her perspective on life and the world around her.

As that child grows older, the first step in understanding herself happens when she realizes other people have different perspectives than hers, mostly based on their own family environment.

Since we are all sinners, all family relationships involve some level of brokenness and pain. Some people experience this brokenness much earlier or more intensely than others do, but it is there at some level for everyone.

So how do we cope with the inevitable pain of living in a fallen world? Each of us develops our own ways of responding. Eventually, our responses become habitual and so deeply ingrained we think they define us.

However, our response to a broken world doesn’t fully describe our core self, but our provisional self. We might manage just fine with these patterns of relating, but eventually, we start to uncover the ways in which our coping mechanisms are failing us, usually in our late twenties or even later. At that point, we can start the journey of discovering our true self underneath our ingrained patterns of relating to the world.

“Your True Self is who you objectively are from the beginning, in the mind and heart of God, “the face you had before you were born,” as the Zen masters say. It is your substantial self, your absolute identity, which can never be gained nor lost by any technique, group affiliation, morality, or formula whatsoever.

The surrendering of our false self, which we have usually taken for our absolute identity, yet is merely a relative identity, is the necessary suffering needed to find “the pearl of great price” that is always hidden inside this lovely but passing shell” (Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr).

Discovering Your Enneagram Type

So what are these nine types we’ve spoken about? The types are grouped into three triads, also known as “instinctual centers.”

The first triad is called the gut/instinctual triad, containing types 1, 8, and 9. The core emotion is anger.

The second triad is called the heart/feelings triad, containing types 2, 3, and 4. The core emotion is shame.

The third triad is the head/thinking triad, containing types 5, 6, and 7. The core emotion is fear.

How do you figure out where you fit into these types? There are several methods you can use, and you can find them online, although not all are of equal quality.

No matter what your test results are, they can’t offer a definitive analysis. They’re just a starting point for discovering and exploring your type.

Figuring out your type can actually be somewhat difficult because it can involve getting to know yourself at a deeper level and unveiling personal truths that may cause discomfort. Have you heard the quote, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations” (author unknown)? The same can be true for figuring out your Enneagram type.

Talking to a therapist who uses the Enneagram in a clinical setting can help you uncover your type and use this tool for self-understanding to make improvements in your emotional health.

The Nine Types: What Are They?

The following list describes each one of the types and how that particular characteristic can be a reflection of the image of God in us. No type is inferior to another, and none of them are inherently bad.

  • Type 1, the Perfectionist, reflects God’s goodness and rightness.
  • Type 2, the Helper, reflects God’s love and nurture.
  • Type 3, the Achiever, reflects God’s hope and radiance.
  • Type 4, the Romantic, reflects God’s creativity and depth.
  • Type 5, the Observer, reflects God’s wisdom and truth.
  • Type 6, the Loyalist, reflects God’s faithfulness and courage.
  • Type 7, the Enthusiast, reflects God’s joy and abundance.
  • Type 8, the Challenger, reflects God’s power and protection.
  • Type 9, the Peacemaker, reflects God’s peace and oneness.

What Happens After I Know My Type?

When you’ve nailed down which type you fit into, that’s just the beginning. Knowledge alone can fascinate, but it won’t necessarily lead to change. The more you learn about your type, the more you can observe yourself and how you act in accordance with it.

Thomas Merton wrote: “Sooner or later we must distinguish between what we are not and what we are. We must accept the fact that we are not what we would like to be. We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap and showy garment that it is. We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty, but also in its great and very simple dignity: created to be the child of God, and capable of loving with something of God’s own sincerity and his unselfishness.”

We’ve identified a core emotion for each type, and along the same lines, each type has a different focus of attention:

  • Type 1: What’s wrong? What needs to be improved?
  • Type 2: How can I meet other people’s needs in order to get their approval?
  • Type 3: Which tasks can I accomplish to receive praise and recognition?
  • Type 4: What’s missing?
  • Type 5: How can I detach and remain an observer so I can protect my personal boundaries and privacy?
  • Type 6: What can go wrong? What is the worst-case scenario?
  • Type 7: What is fun and stimulating?
  • Type 8: How can I take control to protect myself and those around me from vulnerability?
  • Type 9: How I can meet the wants and needs of others in order to keep the piece?

Knowing Yourself

How can we apply the Enneagram personality test into our lives as we live out our Christian faith? As we abide in Christ, we grow to be more like him. We can’t change on our own. The Enneagram provides a lens through which to view the process of transformation.

Quiet becomes a key component of this process – a quiet heart, a quiet spirit, a quiet path toward God. Each one of the three triads provides one version of quiet that can help on the path of transformation:

Stillness: For the gut/instinctual triad

In The Sacred Enneagram, Christopher Heuertz writes, “Stillness interrupts the addictions of gut people and prompts a reevaluation of their drive.” Stillness requires intention; it’s the opposite of frenetic busyness.

If you are in the gut/instinctual triad, and you stop all your activity and get still, you can reflect on the ways you connect your identity and worth to everything you’re busy doing. You might find that you tend to be overly controlling of your circumstances. Stillness can open your eyes to self-discovery and lead to transformation.

Solitude: For the heart/feeling triad

Heuertz writes, “Solitude teaches us how to be present – present to God, to ourselves, and to others with no strings attached.”

If you are in the heart/feeling triad, you may struggle with over-dependence on other people, whether connecting to them or comparing yourself to them. You need solitude because, with your emphasis on relationships, you may struggle to break free of unhealthy patterns when you are around other people. Solitude can unlock the door that keeps you trapped.

Silence: For the head/thinking triad

What are your true desires? What do you fear? What do you sense God is saying to you? If you are in the head/thinking triad, you probably have a busy mind full of active thought, and quieting your inner voice can help you connect with God’s voice and understand your true self.

Again from Heuertz: “The Enneagram shines a light on what obstructs our essence from emerging and opens our path to God. The quiet practices discussed above allow God to begin moving us back towards our true identity.”

The Enneagram helps with self-discovery, but it also helps us understand each other. We can develop compassion as we realize how differently others perceive the world. We can learn to be better listeners as we hear others’ perspectives without judgment.

The simple act of listening improves relationships immensely. How do other people think and respond? How do they live in their minds differently than we do in ours? The beauty of the Enneagram is that it allows us to walk in someone else’s shoes and realize the inherent value in other perspectives.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

The Enneagram in Daily Life

At the end of the day, you can choose from a variety of personality tests, but hopefully, you can see the unique approach and worth of the Enneagram. It doesn’t just help you put a label on yourself or other people; it offers a way forward to finding your true, authentic self as you were created to be in the image of God.

When you have support on this journey, you’ll probably make even more progress towards positive change. Growth takes time and self-awareness, but as you continue learning more about yourself and others, you can deliberately change unhealthy patterns and realize your own internal biases and your unique perspective on life.

Most importantly, you can grow in compassion for yourself and other people. For example, the Enneagram personality test can be used in couples therapy to help spouses understand each other better and grow in mutual sympathy and love.

You might feel unsettled the first time you observe yourself acting out some of your type’s negative patterns. If you’re committed to growth, you’ll have to work on those patterns and face the truth about yourself.

But the freedom of self-discovery lies in the potential for transformation. We can get to know the root of our thoughts, emotions, and behavior, and we can start to let go of unhealthy habits so our true identity can flourish.

Now What?

As you demonstrate humility and willingness to change, God can transform you far beyond what you could imagine. Please reach out to one of our Christian counselors if you would like help taking the first steps of self-understanding through the Enneagram.

Recommended resources:

  • The Road Back to You, Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile – A good primer for beginners.
  • The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz – A spiritual perspective on discovering your true identity as a Christian.
  • The Typology podcast with Ian Cron – A series devoted to exploring the nine Enneagram types.
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr – Rohr is one of the most well-known voices in Enneagram circles, and in this book, he writes about the path of transformation for believers.
Photos:
“Reflecting Enneagram”, Courtesy of Rob Fitzel, www.fitzel.ca, Used by Permission; “On the Lion”, Courtesy of Jeremy Renke, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “The Road Ahead”, Courtesy of Vlad Bagacian, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Passage”, Courtesy of Hasan Almasi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Treatment for Anxiety: No Medication Needed

In this age of social media, more and more people, including popular entertainers, are posting their struggles with anxiety.

Though not life-threatening, anxiety is a real, debilitating condition as the sufferer deals with excessive worry and troubling physical effects like difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, a racing heart, cold sweats, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Medication for these symptoms does exist. However, reliance on such is never a good thing as there are possible side effects, including addiction. Rather than turning to chemicals, it is best to deal with treatment for anxiety through other healthier methods.

Treatment for Anxiety: Options for You

The following are some great ways to reduce anxiety symptoms without the need for medication. A sufferer ought to consider a combination of these practices for best results.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a very effective way to deal with anxiety issues. When one has anxiety problems, the sufferer is overthinking what is happening at the moment or what may happen in the near, or even far, future.

In CBT, the professional counselor helps the sufferer reframe how they think and how they understand their behavior. In this way, negative thought patterns may hopefully be reduced to something more rational and realistic, preventing these unnecessary mental worries and physical responses to worry.

As part of CBT, the therapist may introduce breathing techniques to help the sufferer relax more. This helps reduce negative physiological symptoms like tightness in the muscles, a rapid heart rate, and difficulty breathing.

2. Self-Care

Similar to treatment for other forms of illnesses, physical or mental, it is important that overall well-being is considered. This means that mentally, physically and spiritually the anxiety sufferer must be conscious of finding ways to take care of themselves.

Physically, this means a proper diet, exercise and stretching; and enough rest. If the body is well, it will be able to respond to the physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g. racing heart, shortness of breath, muscle tension and aches) better than if it were weak.

Mental self-care is also important because if the mind is weak (e.g. low self-esteem, morbid thoughts) then the easier it will be to panic more due to anxious thoughts. Breathing exercises, journaling, and mindfulness of your current state (inner emotions and outer stimuli) can help you relax and get to know yourself in a more positive and informative light.

Spiritual self-care, which many today seem to ignore, is very essential as a weak spiritual connection to God makes one very susceptible to all kinds of problems, especially worries about the future. Regular prayer time, reading of Scripture, meaningful Church attendance, and fellowship with other caring believers will do wonders for the spiritual health so that negative, anxious thoughts will not easily bring one down.

3. Massage

Though it might not resolve the underlying issues behind a sufferer’s anxiety, massage therapy is still very helpful for relaxing the body and reducing tension. Muscle tension can be quite painful and bothersome so a good massage may provide temporary, yet needed, physical relief.

4. Yoga

Many therapists recommend yoga to strengthen the body and modulate the stress response. The various breathing exercises and yoga poses also help improve mental clarity which is why yoga is very popular today.

Now while yoga is very helpful for those suffering from anxiety, as a Christian, one must remember to only incorporate the principles of relaxation and mindfulness and not any non-Christian spiritual practices or beliefs. Compromising one’s spiritual beliefs should never be an option.

5. Acupuncture

An alternative form of medicine from the Far East is acupuncture. Here, through the guided hands of an expert, needles are inserted into the body to relieve pain and cure ailments. Though not all medical doctors believe in its effects, many more claim that it does work to reduce anxiety symptoms.

Summary

While medication for anxiety may be necessary in severe circumstances, it is generally still best to avoid ingesting too many chemicals. As there are many other options available to minimize anxiety symptoms, a sufferer ought to try them first to avoid future, medicine-related problems.

If you or a friend are struggling with anxiety and would like to know more, particularly about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, then you should seek the help of a professional Christian counselor to help you find the best treatment plan for you.

Photos:
“Anxious”, Courtesy of LoganArt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Therapist Office”, Courtesy of Cater Yang, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Church”, Courtesy of Neonbrand, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Yoga”, Courtesy of Matthew Kane, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Behavior Problems in Children: What to Do

While behavior problems in children are common, attitudes towards them are varied. Christian Counselors are often contacted by parents who are concerned by their children’s behavior.

Examples of common behavior problems in children include: talking back, lying, fighting, hitting, kicking, being disrespectful, and so on.

It can be exhausting to deal with behavior problems in children. Parents often feel angry and confused about their child’s behavior. It can be terrifying when you don’t understand what’s happening with your child, don’t know how to help, but feel totally responsible for making things better for them.

For example, how do you handle the situation when your child is having a meltdown? Or when they are sobbing inconsolably? Perhaps your child seems to react to the slightest thing and become aggressive, and you have no idea what to do in that situation. Children who don’t listen or refuse to comply with rules are equally difficult to deal with.

Counselors who deal with children with behavior problems and their parents consider the most important word associated with behavior problems in children is interpretation. This is because behavior is regarded as 90% about the way it’s interpreted.

Interpretation covers:

  • Why we think a behavior is happening
  • The level of control we think the child has over the behavior
  • How we think the child feels

Thinking and assuming are part of interpretation, and interpretation is not the same as understanding. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to engage in therapy with a Christian counselor. Therapy opens the door to move from assuming to understanding why your child is behaving in ways that you consider to be problematic. It also helps to decide whether the behavior is actually ‘normal’ or not.

A Christian counselor with experience in therapy with children and their parents has created a list of behaviors that parents regard as problems and the root feelings that are causing – or contributing to – the behavior.

Feelings Associated with Behaviors

Behavior Feelings Questions to Ask
Hoarding food;

Lying;

Stealing

Fear;

Shame;

A need to hide

Who or what is causing the fear?

What are they ashamed of other people knowing? What is causing their need to hide, or for what reason do they feel not good enough?

Talking back; hitting; kicking Anger What is causing the anger?
Sexualized Behavior Confusion Have they seen or experienced sexual behavior first hand?
Self-harm or putting themselves at risk Sadness What loss have they been enduring? Have they experienced harm or trauma?

For parents struggling to deal with their child’s difficulties, the principle question that needs to be considered is What is my child’s need that’s being unmet? When we talk about unmet needs, however, it’s important to remember that these are deep, emotional needs, not issues regarding toys or other material things.

Parents need to understand the issues that their child is wrestling with, and why they’re struggling. It may be that your child has something that they long to talk to someone about, but they don’t know how to express it. Similarly, children who are exposed to traumatic situations suffer confusion and it may be that their behavior is their way of trying to sort through the confusion – probably unsuccessfully.

The primary questions that bring parents to Christian family counselors are, “Why is my child behaving like this?” and “can you make it stop?” While these questions are important, in counseling it is beneficial to reframe the questions. Reframing is a way to take the concern and uncover the root issues and needs. The reframed question is often much more complex than the questions that bring parents to family counselors.

Most frequently, the root concern is more likely to be “Am I a bad parent since I can’t get my child to behave right?” It’s not uncommon for parents to see their child’s behavior as a reflection of their ability to raise children well. For family counselors, the next stage of therapy is to normalize the behaviors parents are seeing as problems and help to reduce the child’s need to display those problem behaviors.

Functional Behavioral Analysis

An important technique in helping parents and their children is Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA). This is a method that is based on the idea that While every behavior has a cause, not all behaviors are interpreted in the same way. For example, a parent might approach a counselor and complain that their child is disrespectful because they couldn’t sit still throughout a movie. In the parent’s eyes, the child’s behavior was an intentional attempt to disrupt the enjoyment of the movie for the rest of the family.

Another example could be a parent who, in a therapy session with their child, remarks that the child doesn’t care and isn’t listening, on the basis of the fact that the child is sitting playing silently in the sandbox. In both situations, the parents are viewing their child’s behavior as disrespectful and wanting help to ‘correct’ this. However, FBA questions the evidence that the parent is basing their interpretation of the child’s behavior.

Here’s a reproduction of an FBA chart that visualizes a means of talking about these examples:

Behavior (bx) Possible Functions of the bx: Analysis
Child won’t stop moving While the movie is on A: Intentional disruption

OR

B: Moving to deal with anxiety or because of ADHD

My child is disruptive

OR

My child is anxious

Child playing in the sandbox during therapy session about their behavior. Child neither talking nor making eye-contact A: Child playing in the sandbox because they don’t care

OR

B: Child playing in the sand as a calming or coping mechanism, to deal with shyness or anxiety

My child is disrespectful

OR

My child is ashamed

It’s clear when looking at this Functional Behavioral Analysis chart that it’s possible to come to entirely different conclusions about the behavior when you consider the function of the behavior. It’s not always as clear cut as parents assume it to be, meaning that problem behaviors are not always problems but rather dysfunctional coping mechanisms.

Look deeper into the roots of the behavior and you might find, for example, that these two hypothetical children had both experienced a significant loss in the past year, such as the death of a family member or being abandoned by one parent. They might come from families with a history of trauma, where security wasn’t a certainty.

Children who are responsive to correction or who are compliant are children who have experienced an adequate level of empathy, warmth, and care that leads to feelings of security and trust in their caregiver.

When these things are less than adequate, or entirely absent, there is no such security and trust, and “problem” behaviors are a child’s way of dealing with their uncomfortable feelings. They don’t feel able to turn to their caregiver for comfort and regulation.

Issues to Consider

Therefore, when it comes to the question of “why is my child behaving like this?” there are issues that need to be considered before labeling a behavior as problematic:

1. Family of origin

Many children who end up in family therapy come from homes that are broken or dysfunctional. Often, they live with one parent, While the other parent has died, is in jail, has become an addict, or is otherwise absent. Children need caregivers who are available to meet their needs on a consistent basis, and in many cases, this is lacking.

2. Frequency of Play

How frequently does the child have the opportunity to play, and with whom? Children benefit considerably from play, particularly when their parent(s) get down on the floor with them and build with Legos and other toys. Similarly, children need the opportunity to play with other children and don’t do well when they’re forced to assume an adult role in the home.

Play is vital for a child’s development, particularly psychologically. Many parents see play as optional, but actually, it’s a necessity. Play helps children to develop self-esteem, creativity, self-awareness, self-regulation, patience, distress tolerance, and much more. Children with behavior problems often don’t have opportunities to play or have never had a parent play with them.

3. Control

What do they have control over? This is a massive determining factor in child behavior. Adults have control over a lot of things – such as where you go, what you do, what you eat, and so on – but children have much less control. Children are told what they have to do, where they have to go, what and how much to eat, what to wear – the list is endless.

In children whose problem behavior relates to bodily functions, it is sometimes the case that the child feels they have so little control in their life that they develop problem behaviors with their bodily functions because that’s one thing they do have control over.

In therapy, parents are taught the HALT technique before they assume that their child’s behavior is a problem. Is the child Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Think about your own behavior when you are affected by these feelings.

We excuse our own behavior due to tiredness but are less willing to attribute a child’s behavior in the same way. It’s really important to see whether HALT is causing unwanted behavior rather than jumping to the conclusion that the child is simply unpleasant.

4. Caregivers

What do the caregivers believe they know about parenting? As harsh as it sounds, parents can often have misconceptions about best practices in parenting, and this can impact on how they interpret their child’s behavior.

Questions to ask parents of children with behavior problems include their understanding of attachment styles, their parenting styles, the way a child’s brain functions when they’re having a tantrum, and how to discuss behavior with their child.

There are two really great resources that parents can use to build their knowledge and understanding:

  • The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel – which is available as a book, workbook, and video – helps parents to understand how to handle their child’s behavior.
  • Helping the Non-Compliant Child by Robert McMahon – which helps parents bring consistency into their relationship with their child and build the child’s self-awareness.

5. Environment

What is the child’s environment? A difficult issue to raise in therapy is the impact of socioeconomic status on stress levels within the family unit. Other environmental considerations might include families dealing with addiction, and families with a large number of children where kids have to compete for attention.

6. Family Relationships

What is the child’s relationship with family members like? An example of the impact of broken family relationships might be the parent who comes to therapy with a child who is depressed, anxious and is acting out at school, but who later reveals that the father has recently moved out. Young boys need a dad, and young girls need a mom. Problems often emerge when one parent is absent.

Siblings can also contribute to difficult behavior. Older siblings who bully or tease their younger siblings can cause the younger child to resort to bad behavior.

The question of whether a child’s behavior is normal is not easily answered. The best answer that a counselor can give is probably not the one that parents want to hear: it depends. There are a lot of factors that can influence behavior, so there’s no simple yes or no answer to the question of what is and isn’t normal.

If you want to help your child with their behavior, it’s necessary for you to have an open mind in order to explore the root causes and be willing to engage in education on family dynamics. Christian counselors can really help with gaining a full understanding of your child’s behavior and give you resources to help handle it.

Photos:
“Bali Girl”, Courtesy of Nuno Alberto, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Unsupervised”, Courtesy of Mike Fox, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ahhh,” courtesy of Jelleke VanOoteghem, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Comfort”, Courtesy of Jordan Whitt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Eight Anger Management Tips for Men from Scripture

While many may say that we are much more civilized than the olden days when conflicts were settled by duals to the death, anger is still an issue that plagues many men worldwide. Road rage, bar room brawls, fights in the gym, domestic violence, and a verbal tirade in the workplace are just some examples of anger unchecked.

Though both men and women may suffer from anger issues, seeing such rage from men is often quite scary as they are often the ones inflicting much physical damage. This may then cause a domino effect of anger as other men may retaliate as well, leaving devastation in their wake, possibly hurting whoever is in their way.

Thankfully, Scripture contains much wisdom in helping people today deal with their daily struggles, including managing one’s anger.

Anger Management Tips from Scripture

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23

In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul discusses the fruit of the spirit. If every man could fill himself with this fruit, then managing anger would not be a problem. So for those struggling with anger, it would be good to focus on and ask for such spiritual fruit.

Love

In Galatians, the love that is spoken of is a love for every person which stems from God’s loving presence in a person’s life. Such love means one should be concerned and compassionate towards others, and not indifferent or prejudiced. To have such love in one’s life means that you truly care about the people around you as they are a brother or sister in Christ.

Anger, however, comes from a place of pride and selfishness. Regular, uncontrollable anger against others means that one’s feelings are more important than those around. Only by becoming more loving can a man gain the wisdom and patience to deal with life’s frustrations.

Joy

While many may seek happiness, it is joy that allows one to see the positives in life despite the changing circumstances. But true spiritual joy can only occur when a person is focused on God, trusting in Him as our loving Father, provider, and protector.

In order to control one’s anger, a person needs to choose joy, knowing that our life is blessed as a child of God. When this is done, a man’s mental energy is diverted towards what is positive and not the negative things causing such anger.

Peace

Out of all of the fruits of the spirit, peace is the most antithetical to anger. When one has peace, it means that despite the circumstances, anger is not present. Such peace, however, only comes from God.

Left to ourselves, anger, frustration, and disappointment are the usual responses to situations that do not go our way. But with God’s help, this can be overcome. So rather than praying to not be angry, pray instead for peace in the heart and mind.

Patience

Anger usually does not exist alone. It is often the result of another emotion such as sadness, embarrassment, disgust, or frustration which arises from a particular event in a person’s life. Patience is the spiritual fruit that allows one to prevent such primary emotions from igniting anger. So when a man has patience, he is able to first address and control the initial emotion so that anger is not required to defend his hurt ego.

Patience, however, requires much practice and prayer to perfect. This starts with first contemplating on the areas in one’s life where more control is needed (e.g. budget discussions with the wife, dealing with misbehaving kids, disappointment with employees). Also, a man should be willing to humble himself when patience runs out and continuously pray for more.

Kindness

One way to remove internal anger is to fill life with positives. By focusing on acts of kindness, a man can feel better about himself and the people around them. Thus, in times of disappointment or frustration, it is hoped that the positives within will overpower the negatives stemming from the situation, preventing anger.

Contrary to what the media usually presents, kindness does require grand gestures towards others. Small, daily acts of kindness, such as a smile or a helping hand, can already change a person’s outlook towards life. But when dealing with difficult people or tough situations, it helps to ask God for the strength to be kind. Kindness is a spiritual fruit that blesses both the giver and the receiver.

Goodness

For many men, their anger stems from not achieving their desired goals in life. Thus, when they fail to impress or succeed, they become angry – first at themselves, and then at others.

The way to counteract this is to focus on the good things in every aspect of his life. Though our life on earth can never be perfect, there is still much good to be thankful for. Goodness also means purposely living a good life so that there is no need for shame, guilt, or regret. While it may be difficult at times to always be or do “good,” with Christ’s help, it is possible.

Faithfulness

One fruit that everyone needs today is faithfulness. Sadly, because of all the options presented and because of the various bad examples by people around us, it is difficult now for people to stay committed, which is often a cause of much anger or situations leading to anger. This faithfulness, however, is not just about romantic relationships (though particularly in marriage it is very important!); it is about following through on all commitments a person may give to others or to God.

In Matthew 5:37, Jesus advised, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” Thus, whether the situation is about work, investments, friendship, love, or service to God; a man needs to fulfill his obligations to prevent untoward incidents that may lead to anger.

Gentleness

One definition or idea of gentleness is power under control. Men who are always angry allow their power to run wild, hurting others, verbally or physically. With gentleness, a man willingly holds back to make things safer for others.

Similar to patience, this requires much practice; but it can be done. When approaching possibly heated conversations or dealing with particularly testy people, for example, gentleness should always be at the front of one’s mind. If so, it will be easier to maintain composure and avoid anger.

Self-control

Self-control is the final fruit. With self-control, a man will be able to manage his response to antagonistic situations. However, to truly have self-control, the other spiritual fruits need to be present and the divine help of the Holy Spirit must be there as well. Without them, trying to manage one’s anger will be very, very difficult indeed.

Prayer and practice of self-control together with the other spiritual fruits are necessary for this fruit to be achieved.

Making Use of the Fruits

In order to use these spiritual fruits to control anger, a man has to first look within to determine the underlying cause. Is it bitterness? Pain? Sadness? Is this triggered because of certain people or certain situations?

Once the cause or causes have been pinpointed, he may then check which spiritual fruits can help manage the situation. Are more patience and love required? Are faithfulness and gentleness the best solutions?

When those have been identified, prayer must begin in earnestness to ask God for the spiritual fruits to combat the causes and the anger response. The process will take time so a man needs to be patient with himself if he cannot change immediately.

Know that God is always listening and that the Holy Spirit is beginning to work on that change within. Simply asking for that change through prayer is a sign that the process has begun.

Further Help Through Christian Counseling

In some cases, anger has severely damaged a man’s family and social life so much that the situation seems hopeless. In such scenarios, Christian counseling can help that man get his life back on track, especially when unearthing the true causes behind the anger.

Your Christian counselor can also help in reconnecting the person with God through prayer and the reading of Scripture as it may have been years since such activities have been done.

Anger should never be in control of a man’s life. If you or a friend believes that anger management is a big concern, then seek help soon.

Photos:
“Angry Enough to Kill”, Courtesy of WenPHotos, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Free”, Courtesy of Zac Durant, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Seeking Human Kindness”, Courtesy of Matt Collamer, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Studying,” courtesy of Patrick Denker, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)

How Therapeutic Activities for Children Can Enhance Your Home Life

Though taking care of a child is a real blessing indeed; sometimes things can become difficult. Such difficulties, however, are not necessarily results of bad behavior. A child, who is still growing and adjusting to life, may encounter troubling experiences, minor or major, that they do not know how to react to, affecting them deeply.

As stewards of the child, parents or other guardians are naturally concerned. But though they may desire to get to the root of the problem so that a solution can be found, the child might not be able to properly express their feelings or might not wish to do so. Rather than becoming frustrated and angry at the child for not saying what they feel, parents or guardians should try other ways to get the child to open up and share what is bothering them, such as the following suggested therapeutic activities for children.

Therapeutic Activities for Children to Open Up

While these methods are generally used at home, they may also be done in school or other social settings as deemed appropriate.

Expressing Themselves through Drawing

Not everyone, including mature adults, is able to easily express how they feel. Sometimes the words are just not there, which can be particularly true for very young children. But just because there are seemingly no words to describe what is happening inside, it does not mean that there are no visual representations in the mind.

Through drawing, a child may be able to show what may be troubling them through pictures, shapes, lines, and colors. This can then give parents or guardians a clue as to what may be going on.

For this to work, however, it helps to have a variety of materials available for the child to work with such as crayons, markers, colored pencils or pens, chalk, water colors, or paint. Paper is the usual choice for a working canvas; but it can also be done on a whiteboard, chalkboard, the sidewalk, or the walls of the house (if such is okay!). Kids love to have choices so allowing them to choose what to use can make the process easier and more inviting.

Role-Playing

Another effective method for young children is role-playing. Sometimes the child knows how they feel, but they are afraid to say it. Role-playing allows them to act out their inner emotions and thoughts from the “safety” of pretending to be someone else.

Aside from revealing what is disturbing them, role-playing is also a good way to teach a child how to deal with certain situations in school (e.g. bullying at school, peer pressure, overcoming anxiety in class) or their immediate community (e.g. asking for help, dealing with strangers).

For this to be effective and fun for the child, the parent or guardian must act along as well. It helps to try to vary one’s voice and actions so that the situation seems more realistic. When processing the results, however, the parent or guardian must be very discerning as sometimes not everything mentioned during the play-acting may be true. But still, it is a good method to get a child to open up.

Journaling

For children who prefer to write, it may help for them to pour out their thoughts in a journal. Journaling allows them to really think deeper about their thoughts and experiences, especially since they can read them later on, allowing them to reflect even more.

What they write does not have to be organized; it can just be a series of rants or praises about something in particular. Even if they are still “unsure” about how they feel, the process of journaling may allow their unclear and hidden emotions to be revealed later on as one thought may lead to another.

The challenge here is for parents or guardians to get the child to try, since they may feel like they are doing additional homework. But if they can be encouraged to give it a try, even if their first attempt only results in a few phrases written down, they might eventually see how helpful journaling can be. Privacy is another issue, especially for older children. In such cases, a heart to heart talk about the need for a trusted adult to know what is going on may be needed.

Therapeutic Activities to for Children to Relax

Meditation

Meditation is being used by many adults to relax, especially after a stressful day at work. The same can also be done by children, after first explaining the purpose behind it as they may wonder why.

The following are some simple meditation steps to follow:

  • In a quiet place, ask the child to slowly breathe deeply. Closing the eyes is preferred, so they can focus on their breathing, but it is not required.
  • After some moments, tell them to think of a happy place for them to be in.
  • Then tell them to imagine that they are there, relaxing or having fun. They should think about the details of the place, such as what they see, hear, or smell.
  • Once “relaxed,” suggest that they are now thinking about their emotions while sitting in this place. If they wish, they may even think about their “worries.”
  • Tell them to keep breathing slowly as they think of these emotions.
  • Inform them that when they are ready to open their eyes they can do so.
  • Then ask them about their meditation experience.

The goal is for them to be calmer inside and hopefully more willing to share what is bothering them.

Prayer

Prayer is another important way to get the child to relax and open up as they commune with God. Even though they might not fully understand their faith yet, it is still good for parents or guardians to get them to become more dependent on God, even at a young age, as this will help them even more in the future.

Initially, the child may need some help in how to pray so the parent or guardian can first model a prayer where God’s almighty power is acknowledged; thanksgiving is declared, and then prayer requests are made. After some sessions, the child can then be asked to pray, out loud or silently. The objective here is for the child to become more relaxed as they begin to depend on and trust in God.

Self-Care

Similar to adults, children need exercise, enough rest, a healthy diet, and leisure time to be strong enough to deal with the challenges in life. As their protectors and guides, parents or guardians need to ensure that the child knows the importance of taking care of themself.

As they are still young, they will not be able to balance such things on their own. It helps to establish a routine for them to study, play, and rest. Parents or guardians may also need to reiterate the importance of eating well as many children prefer junk food nowadays. The proper use of gadgets is another vital lesson to prevent gadget addiction.

Seeking Christian Counseling for Children

Despite all the above-mentioned therapeutic activities, some children may still have difficulty coping with whatever is bothering them. In such instances, it is best to seek a Christian counselor to discover the underlying issues and give them the help they need.

In Christian counseling, the latest counseling methods will be used to get the child to open up. But most importantly, the child will be connected to God through prayer and meditation on Scripture so that they may experience God’s healing power. If needed, other family members may also undergo Christian family counseling to improve the family’s relationship with one another and with God.

If you or a friend has a child that may need professional therapeutic activities for children, seek Christian counseling soon. Help your child live the life they are meant to have by connecting them to God.

Photos:
“Smart”, Courtesy of Frank McKenna, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Child of Light,” courtesy of Matheus Bertelli, pexels.com, CC0 License; “Sidewalk Chalk”, Courtesy of Tina Floersch, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dear Jesus,” courtesy of David Beale, unsplash.com, CC0 License

How to Find the Best Family Counselor for Your Needs

There are a number of considerations you need to make when you are looking for a family counselor that is a perfect fit for your family. The options can seem overwhelming, and it is important to know what you’re looking for so as to have the greatest chance of healing family issues.

One common reason why people are reluctant to seek out a family therapist is that they’re not sure what to look for in a counselor. Unfortunately, another common reason comes down to bad experiences in the past with counselors, which causes anxiety about having a repeat experience.

This article will equip you to make the right decision regarding a family counselor that meets the needs of you and your family. We’ll look at different types of family counselors so that you can make an informed choice, go over the qualities that make a therapist a good fit for your family and look at some of the costs of family therapy.

When Should I Start Looking for a Family Counselor?

A lot of people make the mistake of waiting until there is a crisis before they seek help. Usually, by this point, a number of failed attempts to resolve problems will have been made, and a considerable amount of psychological damage will be been done.

It’s important for you to know that you don’t have to be in crisis in order to approach a family therapist. In fact, it is better to seek out therapy while the issues are still in the early stages because getting help means that you’ll be able to learn skills to handle all the issues that come with family life.

Family counseling has been shown to help in reducing the severity of family problems, and even removing the problems entirely. Central to the success of family therapy is a counselor that meets the needs of all the family members so that every member is able to express themselves honestly during therapy sessions. To find the right family counselor you have to understand your family’s needs.

What are You Looking for in Family Counseling?

People enter family counseling for a variety of reasons and it is vital to understand why you are seeking help. It may be because you are struggling with parenting issues, having communication difficulties with your spouse, or want to support your child through the process of therapy. Some family therapists can address all of these issues, but many will have specialties in different areas, so are more suited to providing specific kinds of therapy.

Couples Therapy

Many people see couples’ therapy as something which married couples engage in when their relationship has already broken down. It’s seen as a last resort to save the marriage. However, couples’ therapy is not only for couples who have reached this level of breakdown.

Rather, couples’ therapy can help people in relationships whether married, engaged or just dating. One benefit of couples’ therapy is that it increases the level of positive functioning in the relationship. Some people only require a few sessions in which they explore effective communication, conflict management, and handling abusive behavior.

Behavior Intervention

This type of therapy is perfect for families with children who are struggling with relationships with peers or adults in the community, at school or having difficulties at home. Behavior intervention includes both children and adults in the family.

In this type of family therapy, children are able to learn about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Methods such as rewards, praise and consequences can be utilized. Parents are taught the importance of boundaries, and how to build appropriate reward systems, as well as other important techniques.

Family counselors will often ask parents to describe what happens before, during and after the child’s problem behavior, and use this information to find solutions that will modify the behavior of both the child and the adults in these three areas.

Parents need to be part of behavior intervention sessions as they can learn skills from the therapist that can be later implemented at home.

Parent Coaching

Parent coaching differs from behavior intervention in that this type of family therapy in that this type focuses on the parents’ behavior. Children may be involved in the sessions, but do not have to be present for parent coaching to take place.

Coaching is a means of developing the skills that parents need to be able to support their child’s emotional, physical and social health. Parenting skills such as effective discipline, boundaries, and communication can be hugely beneficial.

Difficulties Between Parent and Child

Relationship difficulties between parents and children can have a severe impact on family dynamics. Family therapy can be effective in dealing with issues such as disrespect and fights and arguments. Children with mental health issues or who are going through puberty may also be helped by family counselors so that more positive relationships can be forged.

There’s no doubt that raising children can be challenging, and because children are individuals, parenting techniques that worked with older siblings may not work with other children.

This can be particularly frustrating and make relationships between parent and child fraught with stress. Family therapy can offer a means of rebuilding difficult relationships and finding the right skills to deal with issues that arise.

Navigating Systems Involvement (CPS, Police, Schools)

People in crisis often struggle in various different areas of their lives, and this may include education, legal and child protective services. Having the involvement of these systems can cause confusion and raise even more difficulties. You may feel that these outside organizations are taking over and pushing you around.

If you are having trouble dealing with the involvement of outside systems, and feel that you are not being listened to, it can be helpful to consider accessing therapy from a clinical social worker. These specially trained social workers have the skills necessary to navigate systems, provide advocacy, and give you the kind of therapeutic support that you and your family need.

What is Important in a Family Counselor?

The most crucial thing to consider when looking for a family therapist is that they are someone with whom you feel comfortable. Every therapist is different in some way or another, and sometimes a therapist’s manner or approach just won’t fit well with you.

For example, some therapists have a kind of “tough love” approach, which might not work for you, but a therapist who has a gentler approach may be a better fit for you – or vice versa.

Knowing the type of personality or manner in a therapist that would best fit your family is equally important as finding someone with the right kind of specialized skills for your difficulties. It is helpful to read a therapist’s website and articles or blogs they have written, as these will give you clues to the therapist’s personality and approach to therapy.

When you make an appointment with a family counselor, it is a good idea to ask questions about their working methods and their practice. This, too, is an effective way of seeing whether the therapist will be a good fit.

If you have doubts about whether you and your family will be comfortable with the counselor, then remember that there are other therapists who will be a better fit. It may take a little time, but you will find the right therapist for you.

It is helpful to take into consideration the type of practice the counselor has. Some are based on religion, others focus primarily on children or adults. These considerations are important because they are factors that impact the way the therapist is used to working.

Faith-based practices can help by bringing faith into sessions, as part of the healing process, and this is not for everyone. Other practices that cater mainly for adults may not have skills in play therapy or involving children in sessions. Likewise, practices who work primarily with children may not have all the tools needed to work with adult aspects of family therapy, such as adult children.

Other Things to Consider

In addition to issues regarding the type of therapy and the therapist, you should consider the costs involved in family therapy. Family therapy can be expensive, but when you put it into perspective and consider the costs of other failed attempts at healing, it may not seem so expensive.

Therapy is a little like preventative medicine. Investing in therapy now can save a lot of expense and pain in the future. Therapy can also be made more affordable with a little knowledge.

Some therapists will bill insurance directly, classed as in-network providers. This means that they will take payment from you and bill your insurance on your behalf.

However, a lot of therapists will not take insurance directly, because there are high costs involved in their kind of business. They operate as “out of network providers”. This means that they will bill you for the session fee and give you a receipt. This receipt can be given to your insurance provider, and you will get back a percentage of the fee paid.

It is a good idea to ask your insurance provider how much they will reimburse you, and what limitations there are on what they will pay for. It is unwise to assume that your insurance will pay for your therapy and then find yourself in debt because your insurance won’t pay out.

An alternative to paying for therapy as part of insurance (if you don’t want to use your insurance or don’t have insurance) is to pay for therapy “out of pocket”, which is paying the therapist their fee each session. Rates can range between $150 and $200 a session. Fees do vary considerably, so it is vital that you ask your therapist their fee before deciding about therapy.

Many families will pay up to 25% of their combined income on therapy. This may seem like a lot, but don’t forget that therapy is preventative, and can substantially increase functionality in families.

Some therapists offer what is known as a sliding scale for people who may struggle to pay for therapy due to limited income. The therapist changes their rate according to the client’s income. Not all therapists offer this, and the amounts charged can vary considerably. Often their sliding scale will be based on things such as their business operating costs, and the size of their practice in addition to client income.

If you feel that you cannot pay for therapy or that private practice isn’t for you, then there are some non-profit agencies that will accept state insurance if you have it. Other practices may offer discounted therapy from trainee therapists who are not yet fully licensed.

Where Can I Find a Therapist Near Me?

Once you know the type and style of therapist that your family needs, you can start looking in your local area for a therapist that meets your requirements. If you want to find “in-network providers”, your insurance provider may be able to give you a list of therapists who bill directly to them.

If you’re looking for providers who accept state insurance, look for a non-profit in the area who may be able to help.

Photos:
“Family”, Courtesy of Laurel Harvey, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Engagement”, Courtesy of Duy Truong, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Resting”, Courtesy of Ardanea, Morguefile.com, CC 2.0 License; “One big, happy family,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 License

Effective Anger Management Strategies for Adults

Though anger is a useful emotion to have at times, it becomes a big liability when it runs rampant every time things don’t go your way. When uncontrolled, relationships are damaged, your reputation is tarnished, and peace of mind is lost.

In this article, we look at some sound techniques for managing anger so that your life and your walk with Christ will not be damaged because of anger.

Helpful Anger Management Tools

Recognize the Anger Warning Signs

Similar to many other mental and physical disorders, it is important to recognize if you are about to lose control. If this can be done, then the anger management tools can be made use of. It helps to pay attention to what triggers your uncontrollable anger – what scenarios, who are usually involved, and how were you feeling at the time. Once this is known, you can already prepare yourself before entering similar situations.

It is also essential to know the warning signs that you are about to have a meltdown. Physically, you may experience increased heart rate, heavy breathing, jaw clenching or teeth grinding, clenching of fists, shaking, headache, stomach ache, or the reddening of the face.

Mentally and emotionally, you may have feelings of violence (e.g. hitting, throwing, or breaking things); you may be obsessing over the problem, or your mind may go blank. There may also be specific actions that occur before you fully lose control such as constant pacing, hurling of insults or curses, or screaming or yelling.

Take a Time-out

A time-out is a very effective way of preventing anger from escalating to rage. As soon as the anger indicators occur, it is best to step away and cool down before regrettable things take place.

While taking that time-out, it can help to do some of the following:

  • Take a shower – Many say that the physical experience of a shower can cool down the mind and senses, allowing a person to think better.
  • Take a walk – A change of scenery can give you a better perspective on what is happening. And as a form of exercise, restless energy is released and the mind calms down.
  • Listen to music – Instrumental music or, better yet, Christ-centered music can help you focus more on Christ to help you make the right decisions.
  • Pray and then think – As you wait for your anger to subside, you should first pray to God for wisdom and assistance for the issue at hand. Then start thinking of possible solutions to the problem. Once you have a few ideas in mind, consider the manner of how you will present them. Though you may have been hurt by the latest confrontation, returning to the discussion with hurtful words will just escalate the situation and probably cause you to become angry once more.

Let Off Some Steam

For some people, a walk is not enough to release all the negative energy. In such a case, it is best to go for something very physical such as lifting weights, cycling, running, or playing a sport. Doing yard work is another way to release steam and help out with the chores.

Distract Yourself

If you are not into strenuous exercise, it also helps to distract yourself with something fun, calming, or helpful. Watch a funny movie, work on a project at home, read a book, paint, cook, or help out a friend with something they need to be done at home.

Use Some Tried-and-Tested Relaxation Techniques

Many Christian anger management counselors recommend the following to regain control:

  • Deep breathing

A standard exercise is to breathe in slowly through the nose for five seconds, exhale through the mouth for seven seconds, and then repeat until calm.

  • Progressive relaxation

In this technique, different parts of the body are slowly and systematically tensed and released. By focusing your thoughts on the process of controlling your body, the mind becomes calmer as it imagines the tension leaving your system.

  • Yoga or stretching

Yoga has become a very popular way of releasing daily stress and it works well for anger management. If yoga is not your thing, then there are also other stretching exercises that can achieve similar relaxation results.

  • Imagery & thought-stopping

As uncontrollable anger stems from the mind, it helps to be able to control your thinking. In imagery, you choose to stop angry thoughts by thinking of pre-chosen, positive ones until you calm down (pre-chosen so you do not find yourself scrambling to think of something). This may be a Bible verse that always helps to center you or it could be a happy scene or image that inspires you (view of the mountains, oceans, or children smiling).

  • Journaling

Choosing to pour out your feelings onto paper is another helpful method. Aside from allowing the angry thoughts to flow from your mind onto something else, it is also a way for you to later analyze what keeps bothering you.

Digging Deeper for the Cause

While it is important to be able to put the flames of anger out with the abovementioned methods, it is of greater importance to discover what is causing all of this rage.

Conduct a Moral Inventory of Yourself

Though awkward at first, it is necessary to discover the true causes of your anger dilemma. You should reflect on your life and list down people that you have wronged. If possible, do try to make amends so that those areas in your life can have closure. Sometimes rage stems from anger with oneself over past mistakes with others, feelings of guilt, or unworthiness.

Next, make a list of the people who have hurt you. Then pray and seek to forgive them in your heart. Dealing with them Biblically may give you the peace of mind you have always been looking for.

Take Better Care of Yourself

In many instances, this rage comes from personal anger directed at yourself as you may not feel as “beautiful” as others. Though we are all created differently, always remember that as people created in God’s image, we are all beautiful. But to help us feel beautiful and healthy, it is necessary to take care of ourselves by eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising, doing things we love, connecting to others, and strengthening our relationship with God.

Be Yourself

Pretending to be somebody else can also cause much self-anger. Sometimes a person may be too passive, always following what others want them to do or conforming to what others wish them to be. There comes a time, however, when a person has to make a stand and assert themselves in the right way. Pray for the strength and wisdom to do so and then exercise it when you feel you are being coerced into something you do not wish.

Know God and Live According to God’s Standard

Life on earth will always be challenging. This is why everybody needs God’s help, especially those who cannot control their anger. But this cannot occur unless you purposely seek to know Him through prayer and meditation on Scripture.

The more you seek Him, the more you will discover that He has never forsaken you and that He has been moving in your life to bring you to this particular moment where you are finally ready to have a lasting relationship with Him.

Part of this relationship is living according to God’s standard. The more that you do wrong in your life, the more you will experience inner turmoil which may also be a cause of your uncontrollable anger. God’s standards are very high, but don’t let that daunt you. As you walk daily with Christ, God will give you the grace and strength you need through the Holy Spirit so that little by little you will find yourself transforming into someone better.

Seeking Help through Christian Counseling

Despite the various methods to control anger, some people have difficulty doing this on their own. If professional help is needed, seek assistance from a professional Christian anger management counselor.

In Christian counseling, the above mentioned anger management techniques will be discussed and the counselor will help you implement them properly. Moreover, sound counseling methods will be used to help you determine the true root of your anger so that solutions may be found.

But most importantly, the Christian counselor can help you connect to God so that you can view anger from God’s perspective. It is through a strong relationship with Him that you will be able to truly control yourself as challenges come your way.

In this fallen world, there are many temptations to inappropriate anger. If you or a friend is having difficulty controlling your anger response, seek help soon.

Photos:
“Punching Fist”, Courtesyof PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Overlook”, Courtesy of Mc7000, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Relaxation,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 Public Domain License: “A Calm Faith”, Courtesy of Garon Piceli, Pexels.com; CC0 License