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Be More Honest, It Will Keep You Out Of Trouble

We all mess up.  Sometimes it’s accidental, and sometimes we make a bad choice.  Whatever the case, once we realize there’s a problem with our behavior, honestly is the best way out.  Yes, you will likely have a consequence, but it’s nothing compared to the consequence you’ll face if you lie about it or try to cover up your misdoing.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Love The Body You Have

Everyone looks different, and we can celebrate that.
Credit: free-images.com

It’s hard to love yourself.  Teens, it’s really hard not to pick out whatever flaw is bothering you and get stuck there.  There’s always something that could be better.  But also, there are always ten things that could be worse.  No matter what you look like, it’s time for all of us as a culture to fight back against this need for perfection.

 

I’m going to fight back first.  I’m going to write out right here the things about my body that I wish were different.  Then I’m going to tell you why I’m thankful for these flaws.  I wish my skin tone was even.  I wish I didn’t have patches of dry skin.  I wish my teeth were whiter.  I wish I didn’t have cellulite.  As someone in recovery from eating disorder, I can tell you I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time concerned with the cellulite.

 

Why am I thankful for all these flaws?  They keep me humble.  If I looked perfect I’m sure I’d have way too much pride (not the good kind).  My flaws help me be less judgmental.  I’m not perfect in this area, but I can tell you that I appreciate people’s uniqueness more because I have imperfections.  My flaws remind me that I’m human.  I’m glad to be part of this messy, everyone looks different human race.  We are so beautifully created.  If we didn’t have “flaws” then we would look like Stepford Wives or robots.

 

My flaws remind me that God’s ways are higher than mine.  There’s a verse in the Bible that I LOVE.  It goes like this: “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Romans 12:2.  My flaws remind me that what I perceive as “imperfect” is really just a “pattern of this world.”  This world wants to tear you down because you have acne, or a crooked nose, or pale skin, or whatever else the media tells us is unattractive.  The truth is though, God looks at your heart and your mind.  He wants us to look at those things too.  The packaging is so much less important.  Even despite that, God made the packaging just the way He thought best for each one of us.

 

I know that if God gave me a “perfect” package according to the world’s standards, then I wouldn’t have ever learned to be concerned with my mind or my heart.  Now those are the things I focus on.  In the end I can tell you my “flaws” aren’t flaws at all, they are blessings that have slowly led me to maturity.

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

A Tip for Depression

Depression is a monster.  It is a joy-sucking, energy-draining, hope-stealing beast that sits on your chest until even the effort to breathe is strenuous.  Clawing your way out of depression takes a force of will equivalent to climbing the last 300ft. of Mt. Everest; one is devoid of oxygen or presence of mind.  The only way to climb Mt. Everest or to come up for air when drowning in depression is one small, intentional movement at a time.  Please watch this 60 second video on one of the most helpful tips for depression I’ve come across in my decade of counseling teenagers (The credit for this tip goes to Carrie Johnson, another outstanding member of the counseling team at Teen Therapy OC).

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Some Thoughts for Parents on Teens Attempting Suicide

Feeling alone and sad can lead to a teen’s thoughts of suicide.
Credit: Flickr/Andrew Schwegler

It’s late in the evening for me (9pm, and yes I know that makes me a whimp), but I had to get some thoughts down for you.  This comes from a place of saddness, so bear with me.

 

You seriously don’t know how long you have with your teen.  You think you know, but you don’t.  God is in control of the length of your life, and not you.  There are things that happen we never see coming and they can hit us like a car driving 60mph straight into a brick wall.  The twists and turns that befall a family are unpredictable as the wind, and sometimes these are tragic.

 

This year I have sat with two teenagers who came to therapy after making serious attempts on their lives.  I have sat with countless others who have wanted to end it all.  Thankfully none have succeeded.

 

Parents, this is something that seems to be afflicting our youth with a sickening prevalence.  Our teenagers are lost.  They cannot understand why their lives seem to be fraught with difficulty when their friends all look so happy online.  Many haven’t learned fortitude, and therefore become overwhelmed by their day to day problems.  In this digital age they expect instant results.  When they don’t feel better immediately, they presume they will be stuck in their depressed state forever; forever is a very long time.

 

We have a huge responsibility to teach our children how to 1) hope in the dark times and 2) communicate their angst.  To address the first point, your child needs to understand that he is created for a purpose.  Your child also needs to understand that in no way is he behind if he doesn’t know what his purpose is.  Your child needs to know his life isn’t ruined if things don’t go according to plan.  Do you know the number of college students I’ve worked with over the years who didn’t get into the college of their choice, and ended up glad to be at their second, third or even fourth choice?  Do you know the number of broken-hearted girls I’ve counseled who contacted me years later to say they’ve met their future spouse (and he isn’t that boy from high school)?  Your teenager needs to know that life evolves and there is always hope in God.

 

Regarding point number two, how to communicate angst, teach your adolescents that it is okay not to be okay.  This is something you’ll have to model.  Maybe you even need to learn this for the first time in your life.  Not everyday is good and enjoyable, and that’s just life.  Weird, upsetting, stressful things happen…to ALL of us.  Sometimes there is nothing wrong, but everything still feels wrong.  That is also okay.  No, we don’t sit helplessly waiting for someone else to fix our problems.  However, we do have to tolerate times where things aren’t right and we’re powerless to change our circumstances.  In those times acceptance is a big tool.  So please, don’t come home from work throwing things around the house and cursing because your boss is probably cutting you at the next layoff.  You cannot control that.  Just show that while you don’t like it, you accept it.  It does wonders for your watching teenager.

 

At the end of all this though, realize teens are vulnerable.  Even the most happy, popular, athletic kid who seems to have it all going for him is vulnerable.  Teenagers have intensely stormy moods at times without the maturity to wait them through.  These are the concerning moments; these are the times when impulsivity is a teen’s worst enemy.

 

So yes, this has been a hard fought year.  The 2017-2018 school year was full of difficulties for our teenagers.  They were faced with crazy pressure, and are some of the least prepared I’ve ever seen to deal with disappointment.  Let’s band together as a community and use our village to help them through.  Let’s set our phones down and pay more attention.  Goodness knows they need it.  And above all else, let’s make sure we’re talking to them enough to know if they feel suicidal.  We can’t help if we don’t know.

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Congrats Class of 2018!

This year I have worked with a larger than usual number of seniors in high school.  It’s been really fun!  Each and every one of you have courageously pushed through your individual struggles.  You have been awesome!  Congratulations on the milestone of finishing high school well.

 

Here’s a quick video of me singing your praises:

So proud of the class of 2018

A post shared by Teen Therapy OC (@laurengoodmanmft) on

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

I Have Seen Miralces In My Job

I have the privilege of walking with hurting teenagers for 10 years now.  When I say privilege, I truly mean it.  Being a therapist for teens is an amazing job because I get to see miraculous things happen in people’s lives.  In this short video I will relay some of the amazing things I have been privy to in the ten years I have been in practice counseling adolescents.

 

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT