What Parents of Young Teens Need to Know About Crushes

As a mom to an adult daughter, I am no stranger to the phenomena of having a crush. Oh, I can remember the whole experience…. the ups, the downs, the laughter, and the tears.

As the parent of a young teen, it’s important that we know how to deal with a crush when it happens because it’s a normal part of adolescence.  Love…. there’s nothing like it.

Teenage crushes are a normal experience during adolescence. There are generally two kinds of crushes – identity crushes and romantic crushes. In both cases, the teen is captivated by a person and wants their attention. These feelings can be very powerful for a teenager, and it’s important for parents to understand this as they go through this experience.

Crushes can, though, cause problems with your teen. They might become so fixated on their crush that it can affect their schoolwork. They might forgo their friends to spend time with their crush and some teens will drop out of after school activities to focus their energy on their first love. While these are matters of concern, a parent must be more concerned that their teen, or the crush, does not develop an obsessive love. When teens begin to act in irresponsible ways, it may be time for some intervention.  Here’s how to help and support a teen experiencing a crush.

  1. Open the lines of communication. Seek to understand what your child likes about the other person. What draws them to them. What things do they like to do together?  Encourage your child to invite their crush over to hang out with your family.
  2. Establish dating rules for your teen. Dating rules might sound old-fashioned, but there is a good reason for them as the protect our children and the person they are dating. For example, our rule at our house was that our teens could not be at home without an adult present. Nor were they allowed to go into their bedroom alone.  While your teen will probably complain about these rules, “You don’t trust me,” your response should be simple and to the point. “it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I understand temptation. It’s a powerful emotion. And it’s better to not put yourself in the path of temptation. That protects everybody.”
  3. Encourage group dates. Group dates can be a lot of fun, as well as a safe environment for interaction.
  4. Establish clear boundaries when it comes to texting and online communication. Once you post a picture or text online it is there forever. Even if you use snapchat. Educate your child on the importance of their online reputation for their future college or career hunt and how important it is to protect that reputation. What happens if you send a photo or a message to your love in trust but the that person shares the message. or their phone gets stolen by their bratty little brother and he shares your messages to the world. Better to be safe than sorry by not sending any texts, images or messages that you wouldn’t want the world to see.

There are many more rules than parents can establish when it comes to crushes.  Work with your teen to set some boundaries that are appropriate for them and your family. Keep the lines of communication open.  Crushes can be the best of times or the worst of times, but for sure they will be a growing experience for your child and your family.

Doorways is Moving!

We are movingWe are excited to announce that we are moving to a new, bigger space effective October 1st, 2017!

Our new location is in Central Phoenix south of Camelback, north of Indian School, on the east side of the street.  We are across from Xavier High School.

Our new address will be

4747 N. 7th St., Suite 450

Phoenix, Arizona 85014

We will keep you posted!


Behavioral Health Technician/Behavioral Health Paraprofessional (BHT/BHPP)

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25 year olds and their families.

Providers at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

Doorways, LLC is looking for a part-time (8-10 hours per week) Behavioral Health Technician/Behavioral Health Paraprofessional (BHT/BHPP) to be a part of our growing team.

The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • Associate’s degree and two years of relevant experience in a behavioral health setting; OR a bachelor’s degree (related or non-related to the behavioral health care field) plus one year of relevant experience in behavioral health. An equivalent combination of education and experience directly related to behavioral health totaling four years is acceptable.
  • Must be eligible and/or have a valid Fingerprint Clearance Card through the Arizona Department of Public Safety
  • Minimum of one-year experience working with 13-25 year olds in an outpatient or inpatient treatment setting
  • Desire to work in a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment
  • Basic knowledge of computers and Microsoft Office.
  • Ability to perform duties with a minimum of supervision.
  • Enthusiastic and positive personality!

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected]

How Does Social Media Affect Your Teen’s Self-Image?

In the years before the internet, a teen’s self-image was influenced primarily by peers at school. Teens and young adults often looked to each other for the current acceptable body image. With today’s technology and particularly social media, many teenagers and young adults are more influenced by the online feedback of their peers than ever.

In past years, teens would see images of models in a magazine or on TV. Now, with the internet, teens can spend endless amounts of time searching online for images of models or celebrities. With social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat relying heavily on visual images, many teens are now comparing themselves to other teens online and opening themselves up to criticism, sometimes even leading to bullying.

Recently, researchers at Flinders University found that specific social media activities, such as viewing and uploading photos and seeking negative feedback via status updates, were identified as particularly problematic. A small number of studies also addressed underlying processes and found that appearance-based social comparison mediated the relationship between social media use and body image and eating concerns.

If a teen already has body image issues, social media can often exasperate their issues. Something as simple as posting a picture on social media which does not get the positive feedback they were striving for, can lead to further distortion of their self-image and sometimes depression.

In a recent report entitled Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image, by Common Sense Media, among the teens active on social networks, 35 percent reported having worried about people tagging them in unattractive photos; 27 percent reported feeling stressed out about how they look when they post pictures; and 22 percent reported feeling bad about themselves when nobody comments on or “likes” the photos they post.

So, what can parents do to help their children navigate the criticism on social media?

Discuss the photos they are posting: Ask your teen if they are posting photos for feedback only. Discuss why they are looking for approval from others, and if they are upset at any comments that are appearing on their postings.

Help them develop a healthy self-image: Families also play an important part of body image. Be sure to not criticize other people’s looks around your children, including your own.

Share with them your own stories: Remember that awful turtleneck you wore to school and the kids all made fun of you? Let your kids know they are not alone in the awkwardness we all experienced at their age.

Talk about the unrealistic images the media showcases: With today’s photoshop capabilities, most anyone can look “perfect.” Share with your teen the unattainability of most of the images they are seeing.

If you have a teen that struggles with self-image or eating disorders, there is help.  Check out our resource page, or contact one of our confidential, caring teen counselors.  We always offer a free consultation to those who need help.  Just give us a call at 602-997-2880 today.

How to Be a Dad

Type in “how to be a dad” into Google and you will see more than 61 million results! With today’s technology, many fathers are turning to the web to find guidance, advice, or sharing their own struggles with parenthood.

How to be a Dad

Today’s fathers are different than previous generations. One of those key differences is that today’s fathers are much more involved in parenting than previous generations. Additionally, they have a more open relationship with their children and are more likely to seek advice from multiple sources.

One of the most popular YouTube channels is “How to Dad”. After a quick Facebook video showing one of his buddies how to hold a baby quickly went viral, the creator, Jordan Watson, started the channel. “How to Dad” has grown to an audience of nearly 2 million viewers. Jordan is now trying his hand at a more traditional route of reaching out to dads and is writing a book about “how to dad” as well.

There are also organizations that can be found online that support fathers such as the nonprofit “Organization for Dads” that is dedicated to encouraging and supporting fathers, children, and families through a variety of workshops, lectures, activities, and events.

Along with the struggles of being a parent comes the humor. Sometimes reading a playful blog will help a new parent see they are not alone in the craziness that is being a new father. A popular blog is “HowToBeADad” which introduces their website with “If you were looking for a website telling you how to be a dad… You didn’t find it. We aren’t experts in “dadology.” We aren’t even sure such a thing exists. We’re just here to tell you that being a parent sometimes means experiencing things without an authority, letting love and humor get you through.”

Some of the more helpful websites include:


If cracking a book is more your style, here is some suggested reading:

  • Dad Time: Savoring the God-Given Moments of Fatherhood, by Max Lucado
  • 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, Jay Payleitner
  • Dads and Sons, James Dobson
  • Grace Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel
  • The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman

Whether it’s surfing the web, watching videos, or reading a guide book, today’s fathers are ready to invest their time into becoming a great dad, which benefits us all.

While websites and blogs can be helpful, some children might need more hands-on guidance.

If you are a dad in the Phoenix area and have a have a middle schooler or high schooler that is struggling with issues such as social anxiety, ADD/ADHD, not having friends, or anger issues, there is help.  Check out our resource page, or contact one of our confidential, caring teen counselors.  We always offer a free consultation to dads (and moms) who need help with a troubled teen.  Just give us a call at 602-997-2880 today.

Is Exercise Good for Your Mental Health?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, there are a tremendous amount of benefits to exercising for adolescents including maintaining a healthy weight and the prevention of certain diseases later in life. Additionally, exercise provides better academic performance and the creation of a lifetime of healthy habits.

In addition to physical health benefits, adolescents who exercise also experience benefits to their mental health. Exercise can lead to lower rates of depression. These lower rates can be attributed to the fact that adolescents who exercise have a higher self-esteem which is linked to lower levels of depression. It is noted that this can be especially important for adolescent girls who tend to experience more depression than adolescent boys.


A recent publication by the Harvard Medical School evaluates a study that supports the idea that exercise is good for adolescent mental health. Particularly for those already receiving formal treatment. What they found was that for those adolescents the addition of exercise leads to a moderate improvement in their depression.


Based on the results, while exercise can help a depressed adolescent, it is not necessarily a substitute for more formal treatment. We should also note that this is referring to a healthy amount of exercise. During its Risky Business campaign, Mental Health America has discussed exercise extremes.


These extremes include those that don’t exercise enough and those that exercise too much. Let’s explore this as it relates to adolescents so parents can be aware of a healthy amount of exercise for their teens since we know that can positivity impact their mental health.


A person that does not exercise enough has an increased risk for certain physical health issues, but it can also contribute to depression and anxiety.


On the other extreme is someone who compulsively exercises. A compulsive exerciser or one that is addicted to exercising will miss out on obligations. If they do miss a workout, it can lead to feelings of guilt and/or sadness. Additionally, they may continue to exercise despite an injury or illness.


If your teen is not getting enough exercise, here are some ways to encourage them to begin an exercise program.


  • First, speak with your family doctor and make sure there are no special considerations to consider before beginning an exercise regimen.


  • Begin at a slow pace and gradually work up to more difficult activities.


  • Get someone like a friend or relative to join so that they can motivate and hold one another accountable.


If you have a teen that is a compulsive exerciser you can help them take control and get into a healthier workout regimen.


  • Change up workout routine to include less strenuous workouts or take days off from working out altogether.


  • Discuss healthy body types.


  • Make sure your teen is getting adequate nutrition from the food they are eating.


  • Don’t allow negative self-talk. For example, putting down their body type or thinking they are lazy.


  • Encourage a discussion about healthy exercise habits and ask your teen if they are struggling with what that is.


If your teen is struggling with either compulsive exercising or depression, know when to seek the help of a mental health professional.


Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families specializing in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.


Teen Eating Disorder Specialist Joins Doorways

Dr. Brad Zehring Teen Psychiatrist Phoenix, AZ,Dr. Brad Zehring, Psychiatrist and Eating Disorder Specialist, is joining the team of providers at Doorways, a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on adolescents, young adults and their families.

Therapists at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide and more.

Dr. Zehring is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) and is passionate about helping families who have loved ones with eating disorders.  He attended medical school at Midwestern University – Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. 

During residency, Dr. Zehring was recognized by the University of Arizona College of Medicine with the House Officer of the Year Award in Psychiatry for 2013-2014 academic year for his enthusiasm, professionalism, and passion in teaching medical students.

Dr. Zehring is accepting new patients.  To find out more contact Doorways at 602-997-2880.

A Counselor’s Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

by Jan Hamilton

Jan Hamilton, Founder, Doorways Teen Counseling and Psychiatric Services Phoenix Arizona

Jan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP-BC Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

There’s a new program on Netflix that has caused quite an uproar in the media, and in our office.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series about Hannah, a middle school girl who takes her own life.

Two weeks after her tragic death, a classmate named Clay finds a mysterious box on his porch. Inside the box are recordings made by Hannah — on whom Clay had a crush — in which she explains the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide. If Clay decides to listen to the recordings, he will find out if and how he made the list.

This intricate and heart-wrenching tale is told through Clay and Hannah’s dual narratives.

I spoke to one of our counselors, Sarah VanHolland, LPC, about this series. She is the Clinical lead therapist for our DBT Skills Intensive Outpatient Program and this show has been the topic of conversation many times in that IOP group. Here’s what Sarah said:

“The concerning aspects of the series are its glorification of suicide and its promotion of the message ‘wait until I’m gone, then they’ll be sorry’. 

The show reduces its main character to little more than what happens to her. There is no real mention of depression, genetics, her lack of coping skills, her access to support systems, or biochemistry. 

At times, the show seems to perpetuate a cycle of feeling shame and blaming others. While these issues are harmful and spread misinformation, the series does offer insights into the experiences of adolescents today. 

The show highlights the alarming rate of sexual harassment and assault, mass and instant dissemination of rumors via social media and smart phones, and the overall social climate present in many high school campuses today. 

The show is painfully accurate in its depiction of how secrets are harmful to everyone, how one person’s brokenness causes more brokenness, and that everyone is experiencing their own pain and sadness.”

My concern of course, is that students would try to follow Hannah’s example because the series, though tragic, still “romanticizes” the action of suicide and the idea of leaving a message for the survivors to teach them a lesson.

We hope that parents will talk to their teens about this program and the messages it sends. If your son or daughter are hinting about suicide in any way, you need to take it seriously. Reach out to an experienced professional to get help.

Because doing nothing is not an option.

Now Hiring: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatrist

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families.

Doorways provides a supportive, family-focused environment, flexible schedule, competitive salary and benefits, and a fun place to work!

Providers at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certification with current unrestricted license from the Arizona State Board of Nursing or Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathic Medicine with current unrestricted license from the Arizona State Board of Medical Examiners,
  • Current DEA License, NPI Number,
  • Three or more years’ experience in the delivery of mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults,
  • Current CPR & First Aid Certifications
  • Empaneled with at least one major insurance carrier in Arizona preferred.
  • Able to support a faith-based, holistic, integrated model of treatment
  • Energetic and passionate regarding working with the adolescent and young adult population
  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills and the desire to grow with a rapidly expanding practice
  • Team player willing to work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in treatment planning and provision of care 

Responsibilities will include:

  • Psychiatric evaluations and medication management of patients
  • Prescribe, direct, and administer psychotherapeutic treatments and/or medications to treat mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders.
  • Collaborate with our team of professionals for best care practices in the treatment of adolescents, young adults and their families.

If this position is of interest to you, let’s talk! Please contact Jan Hamilton, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, at Doorways LLC. [email protected]