Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just for fun...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, August 29, 2013

I got a good laugh out of this article. I hope you enjoy it. This is not one of those "If the shoe fits, wear it" articles. I would never suggest that our teenagers have learned all their problem behaviors from us; however, it is also true that our children imitate us and learn from what we do. We just can't really control what exactly they learn from us. This article has a lot of fun with that idea.

Here's the link. Oh and be warned there is some colorful language used in this article that some might find offensive.

Type rest of the post here

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Paradoxical Techniques
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, August 29, 2013

Click here to see orignal
Why something like "Ask Me Again" techniques work with our teenagers:

I've just read an interesting take on paradoxical techniques, which we sometimes employ at our meetings. For example, if we know a child might angrily storm out of a meeting once he hears what you have to say you might start the meeting by saying, "I know this is going to be hard for you. If at any point you need to just take a break we want you to know it's OK with us if get up and leave." Parents have discovered that this is an effective way to more or less nip that behavior in the bud, although we know that when we do that the storming out behavior might continue but if it does we have stripped the child of the oppositional nature of this behavior. It's no fun if Mom and Dad say you can do it.

Well this website seems to highlight this technique and explains it pretty well. I provide the link, but as with all the links we provide on this blog I don't necessarily recommend everything or fully buy into it 100 percent. For example, they point out that these techniques need to be said without sarcasm. I agree; however, if I worded some of what I was saying the way they do I really don't think I could keep the sarcasm out of my delivery. That brings up the point that you have to make this stuff your own. You have to be comfortable with what you say and so adjust any of these ideas to fit what you can best use and understand that some of it will just sound too stupid if you have to say it the way they do. Of course, the PARADOX here is that you must try somethings that are outside of your comfort zone if you want to grow. Have fun either way with this new information.

Here is the link.

Click here for original

By the way one of the many things I enjoyed about this article is this statement:

"Milton Erickson, when asked what he thought was crucial to bringing about behavioral change replied that it was not sufficient to explain a problem. It was important to get the client to “do” something different in regards to the problem. Neither Haley nor Erickson believed that “insight” or attempts to bring about self awareness and understanding were critical to behavior change. No matter how much alcoholics, smokers and other addicts “understand” the whys and how of their behavior the behavior does not change until they do something different. Following the principle that many people cannot think their way into a new way of behaving, however, they can behave their way into a new way of thinking. It is up to the therapist, then, to give directives that will cause a change of behavior, with or without, the client having insight."

Think how many times we hear the phrase "We had a talk, and now I think that Johnny understands." But read that paragraph again. Understanding doesn't change anything. Doing something different changes understanding.

I don't want to belabor the point, but in general we put too much store in "understanding." Yes, of course it's important but without behavior changes it usually doesn't by itself lead to anything. This is why we try to use role playing so much in group. We are trying to change behavior by showing or by doing something different, which can lead to understanding but hopefully it can lead to understanding that works.

You may also like to read about Ask Me Again on our blog.

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The Slippery Slope of Life
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, August 22, 2013

Living with Beaver: The Slippery Slope of Life

written by June

I have reviewed my previous writing attempts in trying to let you know what life is like with 20 year-old Beaver, and how I’ve handled it. After the initial initiation into the world of juvenile incarceration, the road hasn’t become smoother. The dog-gone slippery slope of life sometimes turns out to be a real pain in the butt. It’s actually grating at times.

Beaver was finally released from the revolving doors of various juvenile facilities in 2011. After 8 years in and out of placements, I thought that I could once again breathe freely, hear birds sing, and enjoy seeing the sun make my pearls gleam. Ah, the ugly face of deception rose up once again. The beginning was a lot of tiptoeing around each other, then it became tolerable; even okay. Until little Beaver told me that if my fiancĂ© ever told him to do something, he would tell him to "go ride a fire truck" or at least something that sounded like that. This really made me take a hard look at what life was becoming, and it didn’t look rosy.

June once again pulled her big girl pants up, took a deep breath, and told Beaver he had finally broken the camel’s back and would have to move to Dick’s house—NOW. Conceivably not the best retort, but June hadn’t finished the "Lloyd Woodward School of Appropriate Responses" yet. But June has now! It’s hard to remember all that she’s been taught, but nevertheless . . .

The outcome has proven to be far less than perfect. Beaver left Dick’s house because one night while Beaver was asleep, Dick had drunk a little too much cider and punched little Beaver in the face. And Beaver responded in kind. Again, not the best response.

What June [and new hubby] felt was the best scenario for all was to set Beaver up in a room for rent that could be paid by week or month. Beaver got a good job [benefits, 401K, union]; car; new apartment September 1 -- life was good in Cleaverville!! Couldn’t tell Dick where Beaver was living though, because the fear of retaliation was smothering. Deception again crept into the picture.

The picture began to spiral downward. Since February, in just 6 short months, Beaver has managed to lose the job; his car is broken; he got the job back only to quit it because he found a better job. Doing what, you ask? Why--- delivering pizza. Not in the town he’s living in. A town that is a 20-minute drive away. "It’s full time, and I get tips and I figure with the tips I’ll be making more money" Beaver said to June, her head spinning around faster than Regan’s in the movie The Exorcist. The same day he got the pizza job, he quit the good job and his car broke down. Thus, he had to quit the pizza job.

June has now hit bottom, or close to it, once again. Never ever thought I would be thinking about jails, fines, getting a phone line installed for the phone calls; at least hoping that I wouldn’t. June found out today that she was deceived. Beaver felt he was trying to "handle it himself" by not telling me that he received a citation for public intoxication. I believe there were more charges considering he’s only 20, and the fine was around $650. Beaver called me this morning as he was being told that he was a day late [had to be there within 10 days to pay] and would be going to jail unless the fine was paid in full. And if I didn’t get into my jet van and be there 2 hours ago that he would be going to jail. Not thinking, just reacting, I went to the bank and withdrew the money. June’s jet van was blasting along when her cell phone rang. Boy, a lot of PSST violations just in the last 2 sentences, Mrs. Cleaver! It was Beaver on the line, who then put the constable on the phone. Turns out I didn’t need to be going there at all. Beaver was already cuffed, shackled, and about to be loaded into the car and taken to jail—for 30 days. And thus, a transportation fee was added onto the fine, which now brought it up to around $750.

I slowly turned my jet van around, and crawled slowly back home. No sunshine, no birds, no pearls. The tough love message of "I can not financially afford to help you. I’m sorry" tastes bitter as it rolls off my tongue. I also found out that he has a court hearing next week too. The fine for that one . . . $440. The police stopped him because they felt he was acting "evasive" and searched his car when they asked him to get out. They found an empty baggie that had contained some weed. I’m not exactly sure what the citation was for that they issued him, but he is beginning to collect them like squirrels do nuts. Beaver said that they took all the baggies out of his car, which were his lunch baggies. June did find a tad bit of humor in this, thinking about the bags going to be analyzed and them coming up with ham and cheese.

I’ve now removed my heels and pearls, combed my hair and sit here numbly typing my story. Tomorrow I will look outside and see if I can see the sun. For now, I will try to accept my tough love choice. Lloyd Woodward School has taught me well. If only the FDA could make a L.W. pill for easy acceptance of one’s choices . . .

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Tips on Visiting your Child in an Institution
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, August 12, 2013

Tips on Visiting your Child in an Institution, especially when he/she suffers from depression

We had a great meeting on August 10th and enjoyed a couple of new faces. The new faces sounded like veteran PSST parents, and as Jenn said, "Sounds like we can all learn a lot from what you two have already learned."

The theme of the meeting was highlighted by a father whose son is about to transition from psychiatric inpatient back to a halfway house that he had formerly completed. The experience of going in to see your teenager in some sort of placement, and walking out again feeling like you accomplished nothing, that your visit didn't do any good, and that maybe you have left your teenager more depressed, more upset, or generally speaking just worse off than when you started the visit was something that many parents can relate to.

As the meeting went on, it was clear that each parent had a contribution to this subject, and if we could put it all together it would make a great post.  

I did a role-play with the father who got us all started on this, but as has happened before, I realized after I got started that there were others in the room who could do perhaps a more effective role-play. One parent especially jumped in to do the same role-play and she just stole the show with her empathy, non-judgmental attitude and strong acceptance of wherever her son was with whatever. At one point the father playing the teenager said:

Teen: You don't have to visit me in here, there's nothing we can say or talk about that helps so just don't feel like you have to come here.

Mom: Oh, I intend to be here with you, it's OK if we don't talk. I'm good just being here with you.

Teen: You're just here because you feel like you have to be here.

Mom: I'm here because I want to be here. I need you in my life as much as I hope that you need me in yours.

Teen: So you just come here to make yourself feel better.

Mom: I need you to be in my life. It's really that simple. I love you. I'll always be here for you.

As always, this is not verbatim only because I didn't write it down or record anything.

As people started throwing tips out, even to the final comments, I realized that this is what PSST is all about. People were saying "this works for me" or "I find it helpful to keep this in mind."  Here are some of the ideas:

1. Give yourself permission to allow for periods of silence, even if they don't feel comfortable. Don't feel like you have to fill up every minute with noise.

2. Don't go in with the idea that you are going to fix things. Just be there and let trained professionals play the fix-it role.

3. It's OK to say "I don't know what to say. I know this is awkward."

4. Be prepared with a game.  Elizabeth suggested a zany game called "Would you Rather . . . ?" that you can buy at a place like Walmart or a bookstore.  Other options are chess, checkers, board games, or card games.

5. Use affirmation.  In this case especially, the young man reached out for help, he didn't try to hurt himself, he didn't relapse, he was still alive etc.

6. Don't ask Why? Just throw that word out of your vocabulary when you go to visit.

7. Remember, you can't joke a depressed person into not being depressed. Yes, you can sometimes get a depressed person to laugh, but when the joke is over, the depressed person is still depressed. Yes, if laughter comes up spontaneously that could be just what the doctor ordered, but don't go in with a list of jokes. The problem is that it could be interpreted as you not taking this whole dangerous situation seriously.

8.  When talking with your teen, try to brighten the environment by allowing your teen to face the windows, so that he/she can see outside.  If permitted, take your teen for a walk around campus while you visit.

9. Sometimes a letter can be a good way to communicate your feelings with your teen, when in-person communication may be too difficult, or when you really want to emphasize a point.  Your teen will have the letter to read & re-read on his/her own time.

10. If your teen is receptive, reminiscing can be a good way to re-live some of the good times you've shared as a family.  

11. Sharing old photos can be a great way to start a conversation.

12. Don’t try to force teachable moments into each visit.  Your teen is already experiencing the negative consequences of his/her actions.



Our teens are sensitive and sometimes they reach a heightened sense of awareness towards criticism.  For example, we may think we are helping or even re-framing by saying: 

Parent:   Boy, I guess you really need to start making better decisions, huh? 

However, being in a fragile place and perhaps already feeling quite badly about how things turned out, i.e., being back in some sort of placement or inpatient, the teen might feel like hey, if you just came here to rub my nose in it, don't even bother. 

So, the hostile response to this little statement might be: 

Teen:  Oh do ya think?  Duh! 

Or the response might be silence, and nothing said after that is going to get the teen to share anything about how he is feeling. Or maybe the teen perceiving that he is being attacked might strike back with: 

Teen:  Oh you really make good decisions huh?  Well 16 years ago when you decided to have another baby you screwed up!" 

When a teen is in placement it's probably better to go in with a line more like: 

Parent:  Don't beat yourself up.  


Parent:  You are really hard on yourself.  You know being in here I'm just going to guess that it's hard to remember all the good decisions you've made.

Teen:  Like what?

Parent:  Well, you know, like the way you brought up your school grade in Chem, or when you decided to get some counseling, or when you picked that funny card for Mom for her birthday.  Or when you told your sister that you liked the Onion Surprise dish she made for you and we could all see it was pretty bad!  You know I could go on and on but what's the point, it's only natural that you feel bad right now and that's OK too.
Teen:  You don't know how it feels to be in a place like this. 

Parent:  No I definitely do not.  I mean, sure I've made my share of lousy decisions so I get that part, but I do not know what it's like to be in here.  Want to tell me about it?    


Anyone with additional thoughts, please add them as Comments to this post!  

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Celebrating an Anniversary!!
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, August 10, 2013

Two years ago we thought we had lost Andy forever.  His lifestyle had hit a concrete wall and there seemed to be no end in sight beyond prison and eventual death.  After six years of addiction, 13-18 placements (we lost count) & permanently removing him from our home, TODAY we celebrate the most wonderful anniversary of our lives as a whole family unit.

A post from Andy on 8/8/2013
"Today is something I always dreamed of and knew was possible, but never thought would come. It's been the biggest up and down emotional roller coaster but given the chance I wouldn't change a thing that has happened thus far. Everyone I've come in contact with whether I love, hate, or have no feelings for, have helped me more than you know. Today we celebrate 2 years without a drink or drug."

Who would have thought that "Just For Today" would string so many days together?

Have faith fellow PSST members - there are some amazing miracles that can happen.
                                Cheryl, Jim, Andy and The Three Stooges

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