What if Your Child is the Bully?

You get a phone call at work from your daughter’s school.  The Vice Principal would like to meet with you as soon as possible about a bullying incident involving your daughter.  Your heart sinks as you promise to be there as soon as you can.  You wonder if she is ok, worry about the long term ramifications she will face from being bullied, try to figure out what she is getting picked on for and think back over her whole life to see if there is something more you could have done to protect her.

It never crosses your mind that your daughter isn’t the one being bullied; she is the bully.

We as parents struggle to see anything but the best in our children and often it doesn’t seem possible that they could be the one hurting someone else. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie which means there are 2.1 million sets of parents out there who have a child who is a bully.  Parents are essential to the prevention and elimination of this kind of behavior and that includes all parents, not just those of the children who are the victims.  Parents of bullies may be the key to turning the tide against this pervasive crime being committed against and by our children everyday.

How Can You Tell if Your Child is a Bully?

The first thing parents need to do is come to terms with the fact that their child is engaging in behavior that is unhealthy for them and damaging to others.  An adolescent that is bullying others is not necessarily a “bad kid” and being the parent of a bully doesn’t automatically mean that you are a bad parent.  People engage in bullying behavior for a reason and the most important thing you can do to help your child is to uncover that reason.

If you are concerned that your child may be bullying others, there are some things you can look for.  Bullies lack empathy and struggle feeling or finding sympathy for others.  Bullies believe that aggression is a valuable tool for dealing with other people and often exhibit a belligerent attitude.  Bullies like to be the leader, the one in charge, and the one who makes and enforces the rules.  When they win, they like to lord it over those they beat and when they lose, it is everyone’s fault but their own.  They are impulsive and may exhibit bullying behavior toward siblings.   Bullying behavior includes any verbal, social, physical, or online action that is repetitive and intentionally harmful.

What Makes Children and Teens Bully Others?

The perception that every bully is a social outcast who is lashing out at others in an attempt to repair or elevate their own self-esteem is outdated.  While this does describe some bullies, it also contributes to the idea that popular, socially-adept adolescents with intact families aren’t bullies, which is not the case.  Teenagers bully others for a variety of reasons many of which start at home.  If your child is being bullied or has been bullied by someone at home, they may model that behavior and bully others.   Children who never learn or lack empathy may become bullies because they don’t take the feelings of the other person into account.  Whatever the reason, adolescents need to be taught that this behavior is never acceptable.

How Does Bullying Affect the Bully?

Being bullied can have devastating, life-long affects, but being the bully can also cause long term problems.  Children who bully others are more likely to struggle in school, to smoke, to drink, and to engage in criminal behavior into their adult years.  When children bully others and experience no repercussions, it reinforces the idea that this behavior is acceptable and that being mean-spirited, dismissive, and degrading to other people can be a source of power.  This is a dangerous lesson that underlines how important it is for parents to stand up, step in, and speak out.

How Can You Help Your Child?

Here are some things you can do to help your child see that bully behavior is not acceptable and encourage them to stop participating or engaging in things that are intentionally damaging to others.

  1. Treat the issue as seriously as it is.  It isn’t a phase or something they will grow out of.  You need to reinforce the idea that intentionally causing harm to others is never acceptable.
  2. Work with your child to uncover the reason for their behavior.  It may be helpful to seek the services and expertise of a medical practitioner, counselor, or therapist. This is also a great time to connect with your child’s teachers, school counselor, or other school resource to talk about any problems or difficulty in school.
  3. Model the behavior you want your child to emulate.  Be empathetic, show sympathy for others, don’t fly off the handle and lash out in anger.
  4. Help your child develop positive problem solving skills.
  5. Never allow bullying behavior to continue in your presence no matter who is doing the bullying.
  6. Talk to your child away from their peers; don’t bring up this or other sensitive topics in front of others.
  7. See the new documentary called Bully as a family and use it as a way to start and/or continue the conversation.

Cyberbullying – A Major Contributing Factor of Depression and Suicide in Teens and Young Adults

cyber bullying teen depression and suicide

In a previous blog post we looked at how peer pressure can have a negative impact on teenagers as well as its influence on their thinking, actions and decisions.

In this article we will look at cyberbullying, another form of negative peer pressure which has quickly emerged in the last few years as a major factor in instances of depression and suicide not only in teens but also in young adults.

The reach of social platforms is extensive.

Cyberbullying is a form of peer abuse which takes places in the virtual space. And because it can happen via chat, on forums, through blogs and websites, social sites, email, or phone messages, addressing the issue can be difficult for parents.

Cyberbullies Enjoy Virtual Anonymity

The bigger danger with cyberbullying is that unlike traditional bullying, where the aggressor’s identity is easy to establish, cyberbullies can hide behind the wall of anonymity and continue to attack the victim in a relentless manner.

They often use fake profiles, avatars, and a variety of screen names when attacking their targets. Targeting can happen through a text-war or abusive comments, name-calling, or victim shaming through pictures (often morphed), misinformation or deliberate spread of false information and rumors.

Dangers of Cyberbullying on Young Lives

The reason why cyberbullying is so dangerous is because of the negative impact it can have on the lives of teens and young adults. It not only affects their social relationships, but it can lead to self-esteem issues, or in extreme cases even lead to a self-harming behavior well into adulthood.

It is vital to note that cyberbullying is not limited to teenagers. College students, and young adults, face cyberbullying either at the college level or even in their workplace.

Social penetration is pervasive and any kind of content, or online activity which has a resonating value among a group, will get amplified.

The effects of such actions or activity on a teenager or young adult can be crippling. Here are some of the challenges and dangers of cyberbullying:

  • Tracking online bullying is difficult for both parents, guardians, and teachers since the bullying happens over platforms and through mediums they may not be privy to.
  • Cyberbullying can lead to increased levels of depression and anxiety among teens.
  • It could also lead to the teen harboring suicidal tendencies.
  • Just as in the case with traditional bullying, cyberbullying can impact school life and academics.
  • The feeling of vulnerability and the shaming that the victims of cyberbullying must endure can continue well into their adulthood since in most cases, the information stays online even if the immediate harmful content is deleted.
  • The victim could develop a fear of any online threats becoming a reality which could lead them withdrawing away from family and friends. It can shatter their confidence in this world which correlates with a lessoning of their quality of life.
  • Since most teens and young adults spend a lot of time online, they might feel helpless and get trapped into a state of constant victimhood thinking they can’t escape cyberbullying.

Preventing Cyberbullying – The Role of Parents and Guardians

Open communication is the most important aspect of preventing cyberbullying whether it happens at school or in the workplace from impacting the life of teens and young adults, respectively.

Talk to your children when they are of school-age and tell them why cyberbullying is not acceptable in any form. It is a reality to anyone interacting in the virtual world and it is best to learn about early on.

However, students and young professionals can do a lot to prevent cyberbullying from happening in the first place. Simple preventive steps include:

  • Never share passwords and exchange personal information online.
  • Don’t share pictures with strangers or people you are not very familiar with.
  • Talk to a parent or teacher/guardian about being a victim of cyberbullying.
  • Be clear that they will not be punished (blocking their internet access) if they come to you about being bullied or targeted online – it is important that your child knows you will not judge them.
  • If your child is in college and you suspect, they are a victim of this form of bullying, try to talk to them about it and how they need to ignore it or report it someone in authority. Print it out – document it.
  • Don’t respond to cyberbullies in any way – well not without the aid of someone in authority.
  • Don’t do anything with the aim of extracting revenge on cyberbullies – then you may become the person you dislike.
  • Show or instruct your child on how they can block or delete unwanted messages.
  • Any time they see messages or posts which are harmful, or which target them, tell them to take screenshots as proof.
  • Inform them that help can be sought from social media helplines, moderators, or service providers by reporting any instances of cyberbullying and finding ways of identifying or blocking cyberbullies from acting in this manner.

Social Media is Everywhere

Bullying and abuse can happen in many different forms. However, the ubiquitous nature of social media and kind of anonymity it offers to users, makes cyberbullying a very dangerous form of abuse.

Tackling the issue requires a consolidated social, political, and legal approach. Until that happens, it is the job of parents and guardians to keep children safe and protected from the dangers of cyberbullying.

How Doorways Can Help Victims of Abuse

Teens and young adults today face trials and challenges which make them extremely vulnerable to mental and physical disorders. At Doorways, our aim is to help young lives overcome some of these difficulties and to help them live strong and healthy lives.

We have specific programs which focus on teen and young adult mental health treatment. Some of the programs include individual and family counseling for teens and young adults between the ages of 13-25.

If your child or someone close to you is depressed, anxious, or if you suspect they are harboring suicidal tendencies, please connect with us at Doorways. We can help in identifying the underlying cause for the condition and provide professional counseling and help. You can also give us a call at 602-997-2880.

How to Help Your Teen Overcome Low Self-Esteem and Body Image Issues

how to help your teen overcome low self-esteem and body image issues

Self-esteem and body image issues can be a very difficult part of adolescence and young adulthood. Each generation has its own idea of “perfection” perpetuated through media, peer pressure, and societal prejudices, all have which take strong roots in our thinking.

Any kind of negative imaging in the formative years can lead to teens picking up a distorted view of what constitutes the “right” body image and self-concept.

Understanding Self-Esteem and Body Image

Body image is how one perceives oneself physically. Self-esteem on the other hand takes on a more holistic view of how one values and respects oneself as a person. Body image and self-esteem are closely linked in the sense that they have a spill-over effect on each other.

A positive body image allows you to appreciate your individual qualities and strengths both on the inside and the outside.

When you feel good inside and out, it has a positive influence on other areas of your life – you feel good about your life, the people in it, the work you do, and your accomplishments. Each of these in turn drive you towards a more positive future.

This is what a positive self-esteem constitutes – a qualitative and a quantitative appreciation of oneself.

In this context, consider the following statistics:

According to the National Institute of Health, unhealthy eating habits and addictions can lead to both health risks and mental disorders or conditions such as depression. Establishing these habits at a young age can result in a teen who continues presenting with these habits even into their adulthood.

Therefore, it is so important for parents to help their teens and young adults develop a healthy body image and positive self-esteem.

Concrete Steps You Can Take as Parents

Start by trying to understand what your teenager feels about their own body image. The following questions can help you understand what they are thinking;

  • What qualities do they like about their body?
  • Are they happy with their physical appearance (weight, height, features)?
  • Is there a specific celebrity or public personality with a body type they like?
  • Is there any part of their body they would want to change or replace?

Additionally, work on your own values about your body and the messages you give to your kids about health and body image:

Give Prominence to Human Values Over Physical Appearance

  • Focus on qualities of kindness, helping others, and honesty over physical attributes or appearances.
  • Don’t criticize your teen or young adult over their physical appearance; work with them to pick up healthy eating habits, good sleeping habits, and to exercise appropirately.
  • Appreciate any efforts they make in this regard.

Lead by Example

  • If you have a negative body image or have self-esteem issues, your kids will notice.
  • If you tend to obsess over food, appearance, and weight they will pick up on those habits.
  • When you speak negatively about others’ appearance, they will feel encouraged to do the same.

Help Your Teen Overcome Negative Perceptions About Their Body

  • Talk to your teen about appreciating their body and their physical and emotional strengths.
  • You can help highlight a strength to counter any negative feelings they have about a specific body part.
  • Impress upon them that even celebrities and public figures must deal with imperfections; the images they see on the Internet, TV, and social media are often airbrushed or manipulated.
  • Talk to them about how marvelous the human body is in terms of what it can achieve, and that everyday life is not so much about how one looks, but about what one does.
  • Talk to them about people who have overcome physical, emotional, gender, and community biases to achieve greatness in their lives; this can help them understand the above-mentioned point of focusing on achievements and everyday actions.
  • Listen to your teen when they speak; if they know you are paying attention and care about their feelings, they will feel encouraged to open up about struggles.

Poor Self-esteem and Negative Body Image Issues – How Doorways Can Help Your Teen

If your teen is struggling with poor body image or low self-esteem, there is every chance they can fall into the trap of unhealthy lifestyle choices, including bad dietary habits and addictions. Assistance by way of behavioral, family, group counseling, and psychiatric intervention can help your teen learn to respect, feed, and appreciate their body.

To learn more about how we can help, visit Doorways or give us a call at 602-997-2880.

How a Parent Can Support Their Teen with an Eating Disorder

When your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder, your natural inclination is towards more information. You want to know: How long? Why is this happening? When will it stop? What can I do? But these answers, frustratingly, may be slow to surface. You want to understand what your teen is experiencing to offer the necessary support for their improvement. Yet, they may hold feelings and experiences close to their chest like cards in a game of poker.

Perhaps you’re aware how complicated and bewildering eating disorders are. Perhaps the symptoms of bulimia or anorexia have been plaguing your child for years, and now, along with an official diagnosis, you are feeling pangs of frustration and guilt. Maybe you’re angry or scared. These emotions are ALL completely natural responses. It’s hard and often scary to see someone you love suffering. Their journey to recovery will not be an easy process, and as you walk alongside them in this journey, neither will yours.

Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.”

Rick Warren

So what can you do? How can you support and walk alongside your teenage child in this difficult time?

1. Educate yourself.

The first step you can take is to learn as much as you can about eating disorders. Remember that natural inclination towards more information? Use it. By educating yourself with facts, first-hand accounts, and helpful tips you’ll start to feel a weight lift as your fears begin to diminish. Much of your anxiety is probably a result of the not knowing. So learn what you can so that you do know.

2. Get help from professionals.

You don’t have to travel this road alone. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), professional treatment can reduce the chance of significant psychological and health ramifications. Simply put, identifying and treating an eating disorder as soon as possible can save lives. Professional intervention can help you both understand the disorder and why it exists. Doorways offers outpatient treatment in Phoenix, Arizona for teens and young adults (13-25) with eating disorders, as well as family counseling. If your teen or young adult is struggling with an eating disorder, contact us for a free consultation. 602-997-2880.

3. Don’t over-simplify.

The solution may seem simple to your non-disordered brain. “Just eat.” However, this advice isn’t helpful and only serves to isolate your loved one further. Instead of oversimplifying, use meaningful communication to express your concern and your willingness to see the situation from their eyes. In fact, voicing your own mistakes or weaknesses will go a long ways in allowing your child to feel comfortable in doing the same.

4. It’s not your fault.

Finally, an eating disorder isn’t caused by a single factor. They are incredibly complex. So, this eating disorder isn’t your fault. We’ll say it again. This is not your fault. Your shortcomings as a parent didn’t produce an eating disorder. But we understand you may be feeling like they did. However, we encourage you to set these feelings aside and focus on presence. Stay involved. And continue to walk alongside your loved one through this deep valley…helping them to reach a new mountaintop.

Teen Internet Addiction – Should You be Worried?

teen internet addiction

The virtual, or online, world is replete with exciting opportunities and experiences.

The rise of social media sites, online shopping, extensive gaming opportunities, as well as easy and on-the-go access to literally every kind of information, are pushing the boundaries on the kind of influence and hold the virtual world has on different sections of populations.

This includes the vulnerable and experience-seeking teenager who is desperately trying to find their own space and identity.

Why is Internet Addiction Dangerous?

The most vulnerable sections of any society are young children and teenagers. And there is no doubt they are spending increasing amounts of time online. But can the time spent online convert into an addiction?

Consider the fact that today’s teenager has grown up on a steady dose of online content which they can easily consume over various screens. Of which, the smartphone is the most popular choice. The big question then is this – does more online screen time lead to Internet addiction?

While Internet addiction is not a cause of concern for every single teenager. The Internet can become a dangerous place for your teen, especially if the usage is largely unsupervised, for several reasons. Consider the following:

  • Easy availability of drugs online.
  • Easy access to online gaming.
  • Easy access to online porn and other adult content.
  • Easy access to provocative and polarizing online content (political, religious, violent) which are often created to influence young, unsuspecting minds.

Each of these factors can lead a teenager to pick up habits which are addictive in nature and dangerous to their mental and physical health.

Signs of Internet Addiction in Your Teen

As with any form of addiction, Internet addiction displays itself through a few common signs. Watch out for these signs in your teen:

  • Unduly obsessive about the time they spend online each day.
  • The number of hours spent online keeps increasing steadily.
  • Not missing an opportunity to go online.
  • Pushing back bed time to stay online or even staying up all night.
  • Pulls back from social engagement; withdraws from engaging with family and friends.
  • Falling grades, unable to focus on school work, lack of interest in school and learning.
  • Mood/emotional outbursts and signs – irritable, moody, or angry when asked to cut down time spent online.
  • Is convinced online connections/friends are real.
  • Over dependence on online friends and including them in all decisions.
  • Hides or refuses to divulge or share any information about online activities.
  • Becomes depressed if not online.

Who is at Risk?

Social, environmental, family, physical, and emotional factors play a vital role in the development process of a teenager. A problem in any of these areas increases the risk of the teen developing problems or picking up an addiction. Internet addiction is no different.

For example, teens who lack a strong social support system, or are battling depression, or anxiety or any other form of mental/emotional disorder fall in the vulnerable category. If the teen is already addicted to say, drugs or alcohol, again the chances of them becoming addicted to the Internet is higher.

Internet Addiction in Teens – What You Can Do About It

A simple “no” will obviously not work when it comes to dealing with teenagers. However, you can take certain steps to reduce the chance of your teen becoming addicted to the Internet by doing the following:

  • Fix a time limit for Internet usage when it comes to engaging on social sites and for consumption of other social content.
  • Be strict about fixing a time limit on gaming.
  • Make it clear that the Internet is essentially for doing school work and research.
  • Try and keep Internet access to common areas within the home such as the kitchen/dining area, the study, or the family space for easy monitoring.
  • If you notice unusual behavior, speak with your teenager about what could be triggering the behavior.
  • If you feel the time spent online is impacting your teen in other ways, address it as soon as possible – if you are unable to find a solution, consult with a professional.
  • Lastly, closely monitor all online activity – leaving your child unsupervised online can be dangerous.

Overcoming Internet Addiction is Possible – How Doorways Can Help Your Teen

A potent treatment combination of behavioral, family, group counselling, and psychiatric intervention can help your teen overcome their Internet addiction.

At Doorways, our focus is to first gain a comprehensive understanding of the triggers for the addiction, and then to address any of the mental and physical issues a teen might have developed during the course of the addiction.

Overcoming any form of addiction will only happen if the teenager can achieve an emotional, spiritual, and relational/social balance in their lives. This is our big focus area at Doorways.

If you suspect that your teenager is addicted to the Internet, or if you know of a family or friend with a teenager who is struggling with Internet addiction, please direct them to Doorways. We can also be reached at 602-997-2880.

Is Your Teen Being Negatively Influenced by Peer Groups?

is your teen being negatively influenced by peer groups?

As teenagers start exploring the world around them, their contact base will expand beyond their immediate circle of family, friends, and relatives to include another important section known as peer groups.

Peer groups enjoy a certain degree of acceptability based on shared similarities such as gender, community, age, and activity, which makes them a substantially influential group.

If the influence of peer groups is positive, it will lead to positive outcomes. However, if the influence is negative such as encouraging addictions, or substance abuse, or other forms of risky behavior, the implications can be dangerous for your teenager.

Identifying “Peer Groups” in Your Teen’s Life

As a parent it is important you are aware of the kind of ideas and influences your teen is being exposed to on a day-to-day basis. Which is why it is important you identify the peer groups that can influence your teen.

Peers or peer groups are a set of individuals your teen admires or identifies with in some way. These peers or peer groups can be from different places such as school, or at an after-school club or activity, from the neighborhood, or even via social platforms and online forums.

Why do Teens Feel Pressure to “Fit In”?

The need to “fit-in” or be one amongst a crowd can drive teens to succumb to peer pressure. So, a teen who wants the approval of these peer groups will feel pressured to mimic their behaviors and actions.

Bullying could also be a major reason for teens to succumb to peer pressure. In both instances, it is the pressure of conforming to a certain group or expectation which can lead to behavioral changes among teenagers.

Important Signs of Peer Pressure

Teenagers who enjoy healthy and positive relations with their friends and family, are better positioned to deal with peer pressure.

However, teens who are isolated or those who don’t have the buffer of family and friends, tend to be more vulnerable to peer pressure. If your teen is facing peer pressure, there are several signs which will indicate the same. You should be worried if your teen displays one or more of the following:

  • Is irritable or shows signs of depression.
  • Indulges in substance abuse and other forms of addiction (gaming, smoking, drugs, and alcohol).
  • Starts displaying behavioral changes that are out of character.
  • Displays sudden change in belief and attitude.
  • Is overly worried about not “fitting-in.”
  • Is easily influenced to think or act a certain way regardless of the dangers or risks involved.
  • Is easily influenced by “friends” – and as parents, these “friends” make you feel anxious or concerned.
  • Shows little or no interest in school and studies.

If you find it difficult to communicate with your child, are unable to help them deal with peer pressure, or find the above symptoms are getting worse, it is best to seek professional help.

Positive Impact of Peer Pressure on Your Teen

While peer pressure generally carries a negative connotation, this is not the case every time. So, while one set of people might have a negative influence on your teen, another set of people from the same age group or gender, can have a positive influence. As parents, it is easy to get overprotective of your child.

However, if you notice positive changes in your child after they start interacting or associating with a certain peer group, it is important to appreciate and encourage these interactions.

If you notice your teen is more confident, or is pursuing healthy interests and habits, or enjoys a greater sense of belonging which is having an overall positive impact on their thinking and decision making — encourage them!

Don’t be suspicious of every action; getting a tattoo does not necessarily mean your teen is associating with drug addicts or has fallen into bad company. Perhaps it is simply a sign of artistic expression.

Communicate with your teen and support their decisions. If you are against a particular action or idea, explain your reasons for feeling the way you do. Above all, support them so they know they can always depend on you regardless of what transpires in the outside world.

Knowing When to Ask for Help

If your teen enjoys a healthy relationship with their peers, you have nothing to worry about. The only time you should be concerned is when peer pressure starts having a negative impact on your teenager’s life and the choices they make. If you are unable to help, then seeking professional help is the best way forward.

How Doorways Can Help Your Teen

Here at Doorways, we are aware of the trials and pressures teenagers face in their growing years. We also know that each teen has their own way of dealing with these pressures – some find their own path, others need a little help.

Our role as behavioral therapists and professional counselors is to help teens and their families deal with peer pressure in a positive and constructive way and build confidence for all parties involved.

If you suspect your teen is facing peer pressure and needs help, please connect with us at Doorways. We can also be reached at 602-997-2880.

Danger of Substance Abuse Among Teens is Acute and on the Rise

danger of substance abuse among teens is on the rise

Did you know that almost 50% of high school seniors have tried an inhalant or illicit drug at least once in their lives? Here’s another alarming stat – more teenagers die from having abused prescription drugs than those who have used cocaine and heroin.

Neither of these stats read well for teens growing up in today’s world.

As parents and guardians, the responsibility of keeping teens and young adults safe is enormous. And while one can argue that substance abuse has been an issue for past generations of teens and young adults, the challenge today is very different and far more complex than say, even a decade earlier.

Some of these challenges include:

  • Marijuana strains available today are far stronger than those available in the earlier years.
  • An influx and easy availability (online purchase) of designer drugs such as ketamine and synthetic drugs such as Spice.
  • Revival of the heroin culture.
  • Marijuana has been made legal across many states.
  • Increase in abuse of pain medication.
  • Prescription drug and over-the-counter medication abuse on the rise.

The Modern Social and Personal Life of a Teenager is Highly Complex

It is a universally accepted fact that teenage years are difficult. Young teens are under immense pressure to meet certain standards, to “fit-in,” and often, they struggle to find their own space and establish their identity.

The open nature of today’s media, of which social is a big part, is a major contributor to skewed and unrealistic expectations and pressures that today’s teens face in their personal and social lives.

The social life of a teenager today is complicated to say the least. Add to that the fact that their exposure to the world is very different; they are competing and trying to stay relevant not just among their school peers, but also on social platforms.

Many face a lot of negative sentiment and experience bullying not only at school, but also online. Without a strong support structure to back them, many buckle under the pressure of meeting these standards.

The result is that many teens develop a negative impression of their lives. This often cascades into a negative body image, depression, and low self-esteem leading many turning to drugs.

Of course, some teens use drugs to experience a thrill and end up getting addicted. Sometimes substance abuse is a result of their social conditions or surroundings, family history, or abuse.

Why should you be worried?

The danger comes when a teen becomes addicted. Addiction is a medical condition with specific symptoms. Addiction can eventually lead your teen to experience erratic or harmful behavior, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, violent and suicidal tendencies, as well as serious health conditions.

Overcoming Mental Addiction is the Bigger Challenge

Addiction is a medical condition in which the brain craves certain substances, leading to an impulsive and uncontrollable dependence on the substance even though the substance is harmful.

And although someone fighting an addiction problem might be able to control their physical craving for the drug, it is in fighting the mental addiction that they face their biggest challenge. The brain can carry the mental addiction well into adulthood.

The Dangers of Drug Abuse Among Teens

If your teen is addicted to drugs, or even if you suspect your teen might be using illegal substances, the most important thing is to not ignore it. The last thing you should do is dismiss the behavior as a “phase.”

Some of the dangers of substance abuse include:

  • Lower IQ, especially among teens who use marijuana before the age of 18.
  • Developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
  • Developing physical health conditions because of impaired growth hormones, brain development, and organ function.
  • Increased tendency to become violent and dangerously aggressive.
  • Inability to maintain and develop relationships or live in established social structures.
  • Sudden and drastic dip in academic performance.
  • High probability of becoming juvenile delinquents.

Treatment for Substance Abuse

Successful treatment for substance abuse involves a combination of behavioral, family, group counselling, and psychiatric intervention.

Our treatment plan takes on a comprehensive approach to help a teen overcome their addiction problem, while also addressing and treating any of the mental and physical conditions the teen might have developed because of the substance abuse.

Finally, we work with the teen to help them develop an emotional, relational, and spiritual balance in their life. This is done with the aim of ensuring the teen can go back to his normal life in the present and to be able to plan and build a future life as well.

We know this arena!

If your teenager is addicted to drugs, or if you know of a loved one who is struggling through substance abuse, please direct them to Doorways. We can also be reached at 602-997-2880.

All in the Family – When Family Counseling is a Good Idea

when is family counseling a good idea?

Family counseling is a form of therapy that is optimized to address specific issues that affect the health and function of a family. It is especially useful when a mental illness or behavioral problem is occurring in a family member who is a teen or young adult. Sometimes such issues cannot be successfully addressed without understanding the dynamics of the entire family unit.

Are There Different Types of Family Counseling?

Family counseling employs techniques and exercises that are also used in other kinds of therapy – behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, individual therapy, and interpersonal therapy. The strategies employed will depend on the specific issues the young person and the family present with.

What is Meant by the Term “Family”?

It should be noted that in family counseling, the term “family” does not necessarily mean that only blood relatives are included in the counseling sessions. In terms of getting the best help, “family” is anyone who is playing a long-term supportive role in the individual’s life.

What Training Does a Family Counselor Have?

Because families are highly complex units that differ greatly, a family counselor is called upon to assume many different roles. Because of the high stakes involved, a family therapist is required to have undergone the right kind of education, and extensive training and testing to ensure that the therapist is up to the task and does not cause more harm than good. To counsel families, therapists must know how to:

  • Understand interactions within the family unit.
  • Evaluate and resolve relationship issues.
  • Diagnose and treat psychological disorders within the context of a family.
  • Guide clients through transitional crises, e.g., divorce or bereavement.
  • Teach replacement of dysfunctional behavior patterns with healthy alternatives.
  • Take a holistic approach to wellness.

What Does Family Therapy Aim to Achieve?

The goal of family therapy is to work together to heal any behavioral, mental, emotional, or psychological issues that are disrupting the family unit. The aim is to produce a healthier family environment for all family members by improving understanding and communication to help solve family problems. While individual counseling concentrates on working with one individual, the family counselor views problems in the context of the “system” of the family. To solve a problem in a system, all parts of the system must be considered.


What are the Benefits of Family Therapy?

The benefits of family therapy are many, and include:

  • A better understanding of family patterns, dynamics and healthy boundaries.
  • Deeper empathy, enhanced communication skills, and improved problem solving.
  • Better anger management skills and reduced conflict.
  • Bringing the family closer together after a crisis.
  • Creating honesty and instilling trust between family members.
  • Reducing sources of tension and stress and developing a more supportive family environment.
  • Resolving conflicts between family members and helping them forgive each other.
  • Bringing members who have been isolated back into the family fold.

A Take Home Message

Family counseling can help you and your family learn how to effectively communicate with each other, work together to solve family problems, and build and maintain healthy family relationships. This type of therapy is unique in that problems are viewed through a broad lens and as part of the complex system that is the family. This perspective allows family counselors to help families get to the root of their problems and facilitates healing for everyone involved.

“Why family therapy…because it deals with family pain.”
Virginia Satir, a key figure in the development of family therapy.

Family Counseling in Phoenix

It’s important to understand that an individual family member’s problems do not exist in a vacuum; they exist in the context of the family and will likely need to be addressed within that context. At Doorways, we help families who are experiencing problems relating to a family member aged 13-25. Our trained family counselors help troubled families to learn how to better communicate with each other in a nonjudgmental, caring, atmosphere. So, if you need help for your family, please reach out to us and schedule an initial no-charge consultation. There is help for your family!

Eating Disorder IOP for Teens -Phoenix Arizona

The Adolescent Eating Disorders IOP is for ages 13-18. It is 3 days per week, a total of 10 hours per week.  Open enrollment, join any time.

If you know anyone who may benefit from either of these specialty programs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 602.997.2880 or email us at IOP@doorwaysarizona.com.

We are also contracted with Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and United Behavioral Healthcare for our IOP’s. 

Anxiety Disorders/OCD IOP

The Anxiety Disorders/OCD IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) at Doorways is a group therapy program for teens who are struggling with the following issues or symptoms:

  • School avoidance/ refusal
  • Specific phobias (fear of vomiting, fear of spiders/animals, fear of elevators, etc.)
  • Panic attacks, panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

The Anxiety Disorders/OCD Intensive Outpatient Program is held three days per week.

Our IOP groups are contracted with Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and United Behavioral Healthcare.

For more information about IOP, contact our IOP coordinator at 602-997-2880 or IOP@doorwaysarizona.com.

Here’s a typical session at our Anxiety Disorders/OCD IOP.

The first hour of our IOP is group sharing time. Members share and celebrate their successes and challenges with anxiety since the last group and offer each other feedback.

Then the remainder of the group we engage in fun and creative tasks to help adolescents face their fears.

These serve a purpose in challenging the social anxiety and OCD symptoms that keep adolescents from functioning in their world.We might play a game of charades, lip-syncing contests or practice doing every day activities that they might avoid.

We also go offsite and participate in activities that normally would cause us to feel extreme anxiety, but by doing it as a group in a safe setting, we learn how to overcome those feelings. For example, we recently went to a pumpkin patch and participated in a maze to challenge particular fears. We also go to malls or restaurants and plan social activities.