Monthly Newsletter July - 2018

New Groups Coming This Fall

Monthly Newsletter - June 2018

Monthly Mental Health Spotlight:

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Let's start with a definition. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is defined as, "a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over." (NIMH) Individuals who have OCD may suffer with obsessions, compulsions or both. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, most people who have OCD are diagnosed by age 19 and onset typically occurs earlier in boys than girls.

What are the signs and symptoms?


Some Examples of obsessions are:

  • Having a fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted thoughts
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others and self
  • Making sure things stay in perfect order at all times

Some examples of compulsions are:

  • Washing hands repeatedly throughout the day
  • Ordering and arranging things very precisely
  • Repeatedly checking if doors are locked


"Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder." National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Jan. 2016,

A Person with OCD cannot control their thoughts or patterns even when they know they are doing something excessively.

Wanting therapy for yourself or someone you know? We can help. Our center offers individual, couples and family counseling services. We reach out to all youth in need of mental health services. Call our caring staff today to make an appointment.

Monthly Newsletter - April 2018

Learning to Relax

What is stress and how does it affect the body? Any change in your life, whether positive or negative can create stress. Stress might make you feel overwhelmed, angry or confused. Depending on how you respond to the stress brought on by change, it can either help or hinder you. You probably never considered that stress could help you since the word "stress" seems to carry a negative connotation. Sometimes stress as the result of change can be the catalyst for growth and making positive changes in your life. If we respond negatively to stress, we can experience mental and physical problems as a result such as anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines, stiff neck, and insomnia. The good news is that you have a choice to respond positively or negatively to stress in your life.

The first step in handling stress in a positive way is to realize when you are stressed out. The problem cannot be dealt with if you don't know it is there! Once you realize you are feeling stress, there are coping strategies you can use to help you relax and think clearly about a solution to the problem or change that you are dealing with. A few simple suggestions for coping with stress are to avoid caffeine, focus on cooperation instead of confrontation especially in situations at work, and making time for yourself. See additional positive and negative coping mechanisms below.

Positive Coping Mechanisms
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Relaxation - Doing what you truly enjoy doing
  • Cooking
  • Enjoying the outdoors
  • Listening to music
  • Letting go of situations we cannot control
  • Allowing others to take care of themselves while we focus on taking care of ourselves
  • Discussing possible solutions for a problem with a trusted friend.
Negative Coping Mechanisms
  • Fixating on other people's reactions and problems instead of dealing with our own problems
  • Trying to "fix" everyone and everything
  • Becoming so busy that we don't think about what is stressing us out
  • Engaging in compulsive behaviors such as smoking, drinking or eating to solve our problems.

Monthly Newsletter - February 2018


Grieving is a part of life.

Everyone experiences grief in their lives. There are many different situations in which people find themselves walking through the grief process: losing a loved one through death is only one of those situations. It is important to recognize the other life circumstances which can cause an individual to grieve such as the loss or absence of an important relationship, the death or loss of a pet, or an individual's own fight to survive in cases of terminal illness. In all of these cases, the 5 stages of grief proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross can provide helpful insight on this subject.

The 5 Stages of Grief

The 5 stages of grief are: Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Each individual who is grieving will move through the stages in a unique way, many times skipping a step or not going through the stages in order.

Denial and Isolation occur when the person experiencing grief denies the reality of an event where they have lost a person, thing or relationship. Denial helps individuals to block out their emotions and deal with the initial shock of the situation. For most people, this is the first stage they go through when they experience grief of any kind. Anger typically occurs after people move through the denial and isolation stage. As the feelings of denial and shock wear off and the reality of the situation becomes clear to the individual, they begin to feel angry. Many times, people will take out the anger they experience on others around them which may cause confusion on the part of the person receiving the anger.

People who grieve may try to regain control by bargaining.

Bargaining: When someone is experiencing a loss of some kind, they may feel out of control. In an attempt to regain control, a person can go through a list of "if-then" statements to try to make sense of the situation. An example of an if-then statement is, "If I had done _________, then the person wouldn't have died." Bargaining temporarily helps a person make sense of why something happened, and usually involves the person taking responsibility for the loss of a person or thing in some way.

Depression: Depression is the fourth stage in the grief process and there are two distinct types. The first type of depression has to do with the practical repercussions of a loved one passing away- burial costs as well as the individual not being able to care for loved ones such as children because he or she is grieving. The second type of depression that can happen in the grieving process is more personal and involves a slow process of letting go and saying goodbye to the person or thing that was lost which can cause emotional pain and stress.


Acceptance is marked by withdrawal and calm in a person's life.

Acceptance: The final stage of grief is acceptance. The characteristics of acceptance are withdrawal and calm. Individuals who have lost someone can enter in the stage of acceptance of the person's death or someone who is experiencing a terminal illness may come to a place of peace about his own death. Both of these cases involve acceptance of a situation in which someone has lost someone or something.

Reference: Axelrod, Julie. “The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss.” Psych Central,, 21 Feb. 2018,

Happy to help.

If you or someone you know is in need of counseling services, we are here to help. Please contact us for more information or to set up an initial appointment with a member of our staff. We look forward to hearing from you soon. 


Monthly Newsletter - February 2018

Can pets improve your mental health?

The simple answer? Yes. Research shows that pets significantly improve mental health for a number of reasons. Let's discuss why.

Spending time with a pet can alleviate negative feelings, improve satisfaction of life, and increase social connectedness.

We all experience negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, anger, and sadness. A recent study following college students experiencing homesickness and depression showed that spending only 30 minutes per week in the presence of a dog significantly improved their mood and connection with others. If you have ever been in the presence of a dog with their owner, you can understand how easy it is to start a conversation with that person.

This study proved that it is not necessary to own a pet to experience positive feelings as a result. You could go to an animal shelter to get the same affect and not have to take on the responsibility of being a pet owner. Research has also shown how pet therapy helps children who have literacy issues. It helps them to stay focused, improves their literacy skills, and helps create a calm, non-judgmental learning environment.

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Physical Health Benefits

You might be surprised to learn that spending time with pets can lower blood pressure, boost cardiovascular health, and provide a feeling of relaxation making medication unnecessary among many other benefits.

Mental Health Benefits

In addition, mental health benefits from spending time around an animal can include lessening depression and a decrease in feelings of isolation and anxiety. It can also help those who are suffering from a mental illness to recover more quickly. 

“Benefits of Pet Therapy.” PAWS for People,

Kurtz, Jaime. “Woof Your Way to Well-Being.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 13 Dec. 2016,

Seeking therapy?

Are you or someone or know in need of therapy services? William A. Presti Center, located in downtown Brighton, offers individual, couples and family counseling services at an affordable rate. Call us today for more information. *810-299-1472*


Monthly Newsletter - December 2017


Setting Healthy Boundaries

Maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships is important for your mental and emotional health. What are personal boundaries and how can they help you in your relationships with others?

"Personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships." ( There are three different types of boundaries: rigid, porous, and healthy boundaries. A person with rigid boundaries keeps others at a distance to an unhealthy extent. Someone who gets overly involved with others is said to have porous boundaries. When a person practices healthy boundaries, they know how to say "no" when they need or desire to and also feel comfortable getting close to others.

Do you struggle with maintaining healthy boundaries with certain friends or family members? Are you unsure of how to start setting boundaries in these relationships? Let's take a closer look at the traits of the three types of boundaries.

RIGID boundaries: Avoids intimacy and closeness with others, has trouble asking for help, doesn't like to share personal information, afraid of rejection so keeps others at a distance.
POROUS boundaries: Has a hard time saying no to others, overshares with people, does not fight back when abused, ridiculed, or disrespected, gets overinvolved in others' personal problems, has a very hard time saying "no" to others.
HEALTHY boundaries (ideal): Knows wants and needs (taking time to think about what you want and need is the first step here!) and is unafraid to communicate them to others, finds the balance between oversharing and under sharing - shares an appropriate amount with others, has morals and values that do not change based on what others say or think about you, accepting when people in your life say "no" to you.
Think about your relationships. Do you feel that you need to set healthier boundaries with the people in your life? What holds you back from doing so? These are all important questions to ask.

Reference: “Boundaries Info Sheet (Worksheet).” Therapist Aid,


Are you or someone you know in need of counseling services? The William A. Presti Center for Families and Youth offers individual, couples, and family counseling services. Call us today for more information!


We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Monthly Newsletter - November 2017


Everyone experiences negative emotions; how we deal with them is important.

How we deal with negative emotions affects our mental health and view of ourselves. When you experience negative thoughts and feelings, what do you tend to do? Studies show that the majority of people do one of two things: obsess over the problem or try to avoid it by convincing yourself to feel numb. 

Negative Coping Strategies
Rumination, or thinking about the same problem over and over again, is not helpful in actually solving your problem. It may feel like "thinking it through" is how you will deal with the issue, but obsessing over how to fix it can actually make you feel more stressed and keep you in the negative emotional cycle you are already in.

Numbing your feelings is also not a healthy way of dealing with negative emotions and experiences. Research shows that you cannot numb only negative feelings. When you do not allow yourself to feel an emotion or process a negative experience, you may end up missing out on positive emotions and experiences as well. In addition, when we refuse to deal with how negative experiences affect us, we also do not learn how to cope with negative experiences which is an important skill.


Positive Coping Strategies
Instead of avoiding the negative feelings, be present with them and honest about what you are feeling. Ask yourself what has triggered the negative feelings and if your feelings are a response to what you are thinking about or what is actually happening.

Accept that suffering is inevitable. 
You cannot avoid it, but you can learn how to cope with it and move forward in a positive way.

Remind yourself that difficult experiences help you grow to be strong and resilient people. Negative experiences can end up influencing you positively in the future. Seek out the support of people you trust to discuss your negative thoughts and feelings. Try doing something creative to express how you feel such as journaling or drawing. Practice forgiving those who have hurt you.

Can the information discussed in this newsletter help someone you know? Feel free to pass it along to them. 

William A. Presti Center for Families and Youth offers individual, couples and family counseling services. Call us today for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Reference: “Deal with Negativity.” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing,

Monthly Newsletter - October 2017


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has been getting a lot of consideration in the last decade. You probably know one or more people who have been diagnosed with this disorder. We would like to discuss the signs and symptoms of ADHD to build awareness about how to help yourself or a loved one who may be affected by this disorder.

About ADHD: Signs & Symptoms

ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The National Resource Center on ADHD defines the disorder as, "characterized  inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity." Everyone struggles from time to time with being distracted or impulsive. People who are have ADHD find that the symptoms of the disorder are so severe that they cannot function in an academic, social and/or home environment. Nearly 11% of school-aged children are affected by ADHD according to the National Resource Center on ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD:
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition) lists three different ways that ADHD can present itself:
  • Inattentive Presentation: has trouble with attention to detail, easily distracted, forgetful, disorganized, has trouble staying focused on a task for a sustained period of time, makes careless mistakes.
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: fidgety, does not like sitting in one place for a sustained period of time, cannot easily complete activities quietly, restless, impatient in conversation and daily activities, interrupts others.
  • ADHD Combined Presentation: exhibits characteristics of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive presentations.
The National Resource Center on ADHD states that approximately one-third of children diagnosed with ADHD as children will also meet the criteria for ADHD as adults. For this reason, early intervention is critical for children diagnosed with ADHD so that they can learn how to cope with the disorder before entering the teenage years and adulthood.
With the proper diagnosis and treatment, people with ADHD can be very successful in life. The earlier a person can be identified and treated for the disorder, the better off they will be in learning how to cope with and overcome the difficulties associated with the disorder. If you know of someone in your family or a friend who could benefit from this information, please share this newsletter with them.

Reference: "About ADHD", n.d. Accessed 19 September 2017.

Monthly Newsletter - August 2017

Being a girl can be tough in today's world.

If you have a young daughter, niece, or are a woman yourself, you understand how difficult body image issues can be for all women, regardless of age. Our culture tends to push young women to be perfect in every way: in their careers, relationships, and how they look. How can we help young women recognize their self-worth and feel good about how they look? Let's talk about it. 

The first thing you can do is sympathize with your child. Talk to her about how you have struggled with feeling less than perfect in your own skin. Discuss the different ways you have overcome these feelings and learned to see yourself as a whole person, not just what you look like. It can help to talk about the different experiences that have boosted your self-esteem in the past.

The second thing you can do is be a good model for your daughter by being comfortable with your body. Behaviors such as complaining about your body or commiserating about how the donut you ate is going to make you fat will rub off on your daughter. Instead, talk about your body in a realistic but positive way. Recognize that she is watching you and how you look at yourself has an impact on her.

Dads can be extremely instrumental in a young woman's life when it comes to body image. Positive affirmation, not just about looks, from a father figure can boost a young girl's self-esteem and assist her in seeing herself from a realistic point of view. 

Fourth, have a handle on what your child is watching on TV and reading about in magazines. Pop culture tends to objectify women in all forms. Try to shield your daughter as much as possible from these types of shows and reading but also talk to her about what she is seeing and reading. Help her to see when someone on TV seems to be overly concerned with how they look instead of having a more well-rounded view of themselves.

Lastly, help her to be resilient when it comes to the parts of her body she dislikes. Sympathize with her when she talks about what she doesn't like about how she looks. We all have parts of our bodies we might wish were different but teach her how to cope with her negative feelings about her body in a positive way. 

Do you have a young person in your life who is struggling with body issues? Try out some of the approaches mentioned in this article and feel free to pass along this information to those who would benefit from it. 

Reference: "How to Help Your Daughter Have a Healthy Body Image", n.d., Accessed 2 August 2017.

Monthly Newsletter - July 2017


Mental Health in College

What you can do to help your child?

Mental health problems are on the rise in the United States for all age groups but especially for college students. College students are faced with unique challenges which they cannot easily prepare for. As they leave home for usually the first time, they must learn how to handle new relationships, a more difficult academic workload, and a new environment all at once. All of these changes can be challenging for a young adult.

In an article posted by NBC News, Susan Donaldson James writes, "More than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24...which is why college is such a critical time." College counselors are seeing an increase of students coming in with anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. Millennials have higher rates of self-injurious behavior coupled with anxiety and depression than in recent years as well. Researchers believe the self-injury to be a result of young people holding in their negative emotions rather than expressing them in a healthy way to someone they trust.

Here are some tips from the National Association of Mental Illness for parents of college students to help promote positive mental health practices:1. Make sure your child knows they are not alone in struggling with mental health issues. 1 in 5 have college students have mental health problems.2. Stress the importance of healthy sleep, diet, and exercise practices.3. Be able to recognize verbal and physical signs of mental stress and be aware of the college's mental health resources such as counseling services and access to a nearby psychiatrist. 4. Privacy laws make it so that parents need permission from the child once they turn 18 to have the child's mental health information shared with them. It may help to set up these permissions before your child needs your help.

Reference: "Mental Health Problems Rising Among College Students", 28 June 2017, Accessed 5 July 2017. 

Are you or someone you know in need of counseling service? Look no further! William A. Presti Center for Families and Youth offers individual, couples, and family therapy services.

Call a member of our caring staff today for more information: 810-626-3282 We look forward to hearing from you!

Monthly Newsletter - June 2017

Strengthen Your Child's Self-Esteem

What is self-esteem and why is it important?

Self-esteem in children can be referred to as, "the extent to which they expect to be accepted and valued by the adults and peers who are important to them." ( Parents and caregivers play a major role in helping children develop a positive view of themselves. Let's take a look at some ways you can boost your child's self-esteem:

*Help your child build positive relationships with other children. This could mean helping them communicate when they are younger or resolving conflict with their peers when they are older.

*Your child may feel good about themselves only in certain environments such as at home but may struggle more at school or a family member's or friend's home. If your child makes it known that someone other than yourself has made him feel about himself, you can discuss what happened to make him feel that way and reassure him that you accept him no matter what, even if others do not.

*Show appreciation for your child's interests instead of just praising her. If your child is interested in a certain topic, help her learn more about it by talking to her about it or involving her in activities surrounding that topic instead of just praising her for being interested in it. Your child's sense of self-worth will increase if you take her interests seriously.

*Keep in mind that young children benefit most from activities where they can accomplish a goal rather than just having a good time. For instance, teaching your child to help clean up after dinner shows him that there are clean dishes to use for future meals. The practice of accomplishing goals will help your child develop a positive view of themselves.

*"Esteem your child": ways to esteem your child include asking for his opinion on certain topics, treating him with respect, and giving him meaningful responses and feedback to all of his questions, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you.

*Help your child cope with defeats in life by being honest about how difficult experiences affect us instead of acting like bad things never happen. When your child experiences something difficult, reassure them of your love and support regardless of the defeat. Once your child calms down over the event, then it can help to discuss what went wrong and how to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. It is important for your child to understand that life is full of ups and downs and to develop coping skills for how to deal with negative emotions when bad things happen. Discussing the defeat with your child will help him problem solving skills for similar situations that may come up in the future.

Reference: "How Can We Strengthen Children's Self-Esteem?", 5 Feb. 2014, Accessed 31 May 2017.

Monthly Newsletter - May 2017 

Distorted thinking: how to change your thought patterns

What is a cognitive distortion? You might be wondering. John Kim, LMFT writes in a Psychology Today article, "Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn't really true." Cognitive distortions result in cycles of negative thinking and emotion. They generally only serve to make you feel bad about yourself. Let's look at a few types of cognitive distortions:

  • Filtering: This type of cognitive distortion involves looking at only the negative aspects of a situation and "filtering" out all of the positive aspects. This type of thinking causes anxiety and fear to run rampant in your mind.
  • Polarized or "black and white" thinking: the distortion in polarized thinking comes in when you don't see the grey area or complexity in a situation. You might feel that you are perfect at something or a complete failure. In relationships, you see the person as a good person or a bad person regardless of their actions.
  • Overgeneralization: When something bad happens to you, even if only once, you think it will continue to happen in the future. This type of thinking also makes you form a general conclusion about something based on an event happening only once.
  • Jumping to conclusions: You think you know what a person is thinking or feeling about you without actually consulting them to know for sure. You may also think that a certain situation will not go well even if there is no evidence of this fact.
  • Catastrophizing: "What if" thinking. For instance, you hear a story on Facebook or from a friend and you automatically think it will happen to you. You may also exaggerate a situation in your head or when speaking with others that is not very significant in reality. You can also make remarkable events or situations seem insignificant when you have catastrophic thoughts.
Do you have distorted thoughts? Read more on this topic at the resource below to learn more about how to overcome this type of thinking and live a healthier life.

Reference: Kim, John. "5 Distorted Thought Patterns and How to Change Them." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC. 22 April 2017. Web. 26 April 2017.

Monthly Newsletter - March/April 2017

Diffusing The Angry Outbursts: 26 Phrases That Teach and Calm

Whether your child has a slow-burning fuse or explodes like a firecracker at the slightest provocation, every child can benefit from anger management skills. As parents, we lay the foundation for this skill set by governing our own emotions in the face an angry outburst.Next time you are dealing with a tantrum from a toddler, or cold shoulder from a teen, put your best foot forward by trying one of these 26 phrases:

1.Instead of: Stop throwing things!Try this:When you throw your toys, I think you don’t like playing with them. Is that what’s going on?

This speaker/listener technique is designed to help communicate feelings in a non-confrontational manner. Not only does this keep the lines of communication open, you are modeling how to phrase a situation from your perspective, which in turn gives your child a chance to rephrase events in his (her) perspective.

2.Instead of:Big kids don’t do this!

Try this:Big kids and even grownups sometimes have big feelings. It’s OK, these feeling will pass.

Let’s be honest. The older your kids get, the bigger the problems they face, the bigger the feelings they have. Telling them that big kids don’t experience anger, frustration, or anxiety is simply untrue. It also encourages children to avoid or quash emotions and prevents processing them in a healthy manner.

3.Instead of:Don’t be angry!

Try this:I get angry too sometimes. Let’s try our warrior cry to get those angry feelings in check.

A recent study reveals that yelling when we are physically hurt can actually interrupt pain messages being sent to the brain. Although your child may not be in pain per se, a warrior cry can work to release angry energy in a playful manner. Choose a warrior cry or mantra together with your child (think of William Wallace from the movie Brave Heart screaming “Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!”).

4.Instead of:Don’t you dare hit!

Try this:It’s OK to be angry, but I won’t let you hit. We need to keep everyone safe.

This gets the message firmly across that the emotion is okay, but the action is not. Separating the two will help your child learn to do likewise.

5.Instead of:You’re being so difficult!

Try this:This is a tough one, huh? We’re going to figure this out together.

When children are digging in their heels, it is important to understand why. This phrase reinforces the idea that you are on the same team, working toward the same goal.

6.Instead of:That’s it, you’re getting a time out!

Try this:Let’s go to our calm down space together.

This flips the script of “time out” to “time in,” allowing for reconnection instead of isolation.

7.Instead of:Brush your teeth right now!

Try this:Do you want to brush Elmo’s teeth first or yours?

For toddlers, tantrums are a way to exert control over their environment. This way, you are offering your toddler a choice, and in turn, some control.

8.Instead of:Eat your food or you will go to bed hungry!

Try this:What can we do to make this food yummy?

This places the responsibility of finding a solution back on your child.

9.Instead of:Your room is disgusting! You are grounded unless this gets clean.

Try this:How about we just start cleaning this itty bitty corner of your room? I’ll give you a hand.

In lieu of focusing on the overwhelming task of cleaning up a huge mess, shift the goal to simply starting. Starting an undesirable task can provide the impetus and momentum to continue.

10.Instead of:We. Are. LEAVING!

Try this:What do you need to do to be ready to leave?

Allow children to think through processes for the transitions in their lives. This helps avoid a power struggle and it gives them a chance to signal to their minds that they are making a transition to a new activity. This is also an excellent routine to role-play when you are not actually going anywhere.

11.Instead of:Stop whining!

Try this:How about a quick “do over” in your normal voice?

Sometimes kids whine and don’t even realize it. By asking them to rephrase in a normal tone, you are teaching them that the way they say things matters.

12.Instead of:Stop complaining!

Try this:I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?

Again, this places the responsibility back on the child. Next time your child is complaining non-stop about school/dinner/siblings, ask her to brainstorm solutions. Remind her there are no wrong answers, and the sillier she is, the better.

13.Instead of:How many times do I have to say the same thing???

Try this:I can see you didn’t hear me the first time. How about when I say it to you, you whisper it back to me?

Having your child repeat back what he hears solidifies your message. Varying the volume adds an element of fun to the request.

14.Instead of:Stop getting frustrated!

Try this:Is that ___ too hard right now? Let’s take a break and come back to it in 17 minutes.

It sounds random, but a research-based formula for productivity is to work for 52 minutes, break for 17. By taking a break from task-related stress, you come back to it ready to begin again, focused and more productive than before. The same concept applies to homework, practicing the piano, or playing a sport.

15.Instead of:Go to your room!

Try this:I’m going to stay right here by you until you’re ready for a hug.

Again, isolation sends the message that there is something wrong with your child. By giving her space until she is ready to re-engage, you are providing reassurance that you will always be there for her.

16.Instead of:You are embarrassing me!

Try this:Let’s go somewhere private so we can sort this out.

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about him and his feelings. By removing both of you from the situation, you are reinforcing the team effort without drawing attention to the behavior.

17.Instead of:(Sighing and rolling your eyes)

Try this:(Make eye contact, remember your child’s greatest strengths, and give her a compassionate smile.)

Practice keeping it in perspective by seeing the strengths in your child.

18.Instead of:You are impossible!

Try this:You are having a tough time. Let’s figure this out together.

Always, always separate the behavior from the child, reinforce the emotion, and work together to come up with a solution.

19.Instead of:Stop yelling!

Try this:I’m going to pretend I’m blowing out birthday candles. Will you do it with me?

Deep breathing helps restore the body to a calm state. Being playful with how you engage in the breathing hastens cooperation. For older children, ask them to breathe with you like Darth Vadar does.

20.Instead of:I can’t deal with you right now!

Try this:I’m starting to get frustrated, and I’m going to be right here calming down.

Teach children how to label and govern their emotions by modeling this in real time.

21.Instead of:I’m done talking!

Try this:I love you. I need you to understand that it is not okay to ____. Is there anything you need me to understand?

This keeps the lines of communication open while expressing the emotion in a healthy way.

22.Instead of:I am at the end of my rope!

Try this:If green is calm, yellow is frustrated, and red is angry, I’m in the yellow zone headed toward red. What color are you? What can we do to get back to green?

Give children a visual to express how they are feeling. It may surprise you what they say, and what kind of solutions they comes up with to change their direction.

23.Instead of:I am NOT changing it!

Try this:I’m sorry you don’t like how I ___. How can we do better next time?

Shifting the focus from the event to the solution eliminates the power struggle associated with digging in your heels about the event.

24.Instead of:Stop saying “No!”

Try this:I hear you saying “No.” I understand you do not want this. Let’s figure out what we can do differently.

By acknowledging your child’s “No,” you are de-escalating the situation. Rather than arguing yes/no, change the script to focus on the future and the prospect of a solution.

25.Instead of:Stop overreacting!

Try this:You are having a big reaction to a big emotion. If your emotion had a monster’s face, what would it look like?

When kids are tired, hungry, or overstimulated, they are going to overreact. Putting a face to the emotion externalizes the issue and allows children to respond to their inner monologue of anger. This subsequently helps them exercise control over the emotion.

26.Instead of:Just stop!

Try this:I’m here for you. I love you. You’re safe. (Then, sit in stillness with your child and allow the emotion to rise up and pass.)

When children are in the throes of anger or panic, often their bodies are experiencing a stress response whereby they literally feel unsafe. Letting them know they are safe supports them until the discomfort passes. This is a vital skill of resilience.

Source: Jain, Renee. 13 May 2016.

Monthly Newsletter - February 2017

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8 Ways to Get Inspired this Spring!

Does winter have you feeling blue and indifferent? You may feel like your to-do list is a million miles long but still feel bored and uninterested in your daily life. There are many contributing factors to these types of feelings, but there are also some tried and true ways to help yourself get out of the boredom funk. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., discusses in her Psychology Today article how inspiration can be an active and passive process as we gain inspiration from watching someone we relate to be successful in some endeavor which then inspires us to pursue our goals. She says, "When you’ve got a case of the blahs, seeing someone you admire being successful may just be what you need to do the trick so that you fire up your creative juices as well." Keeping these ideas in mind, let's take a look at some tips to help you get motivated!

  1. Stay the course when you feel like giving up: It's not helpful to conclude that you are just not a creative person when you can't come with a creative idea on your own. Keep trying - there are many factors that influence our ability to be creative.
  2. Know that it is a good thing to look to others for ideas and inspiration.
  3. Take frequent mental breaks to allow your brain to refocus on the task at hand. Studies show that thinking about certain topics that make us feel proud can increase our creative capacity.
  4. Welcome spontaneous thoughts and activities: This can improve creative thinking capacity according to one study.
  5. Read more - reading different types of materials can refresh our brains and help us focus on different types of thoughts and beliefs.
  6. Bounce ideas off of others: Working as a team to come up with new ideas can be extremely beneficial for boosting creative thoughts and ideas.
  7. Accept that sometimes you won't feel inspired: Sometimes no matter how hard we try, the creative juices just won't flow and that is OK.
  8. Break up the larger concept into small pieces: It can be extremely helpful to break down the larger concept you are working on into smaller, more manageable pieces to think about and work on instead of trying to tackle the larger idea.

We hope this list of tips can help you gain some inspiration during the rest of winter and into spring! Have a great month!

Reference: Krauss Whitbourne, Susan. "8 Ways to Find Inspiration When You Need It Most." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 21 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Jan. 2017

Monthly Newsletter - January 2017

Parenting Styles

Parenting styles can be categorized into four main groups: authoritarian parenting, authoritative

parenting, permissive parenting, and uninvolved parenting. Each parenting style uses a different type of discipline technique and is usually based on what the parent thinks the child needs. Each parenting style has a different impact on the child. We will explore the details of each parenting style and how it affects the child in this month's newsletter.



  • Authoritarian Parenting: Parents who use this style establish firm rules and expect their children to follow them no matter what. This type of parenting does not allow children very many chances to problem solve or overcome challenges because the parents expect them to follow the rules in every circumstance. Children are not given reasons for the rules the parents establish and are often told they have to follow the rules because the parent said so. When the rules are broken, parents use punishment instead of consequences to reinforce the rule. Children from authoritarian homes tend to follow rules well but have low self-esteem. These children may become aggressive due to always being punished instead of learning how to solve problems in a healthy way.
  • Authoritative Parenting: This style of parenting involves establishing firm rules and boundaries but also allowing some exceptions to the rules based on the child's individual feelings and needs. When rules are broken, the parent institutes consequences instead of punishments which help the child to understand what they did wrong and why the rule exists in the first place. Positive consequences are used in the form of praise or physical rewards for good behavior as well. Children from authoritative homes usually grow up to be healthy adults who can problem solve and make good decisions.

  • Permissive Parenting: Discipline is usually avoided in the permissive style of parenting. Parents have the attitude that "kids will be kids" and don't see the need for rules to be set or for consequences or punishments to be instituted when rules are broken. Children of permissive parents may feel that their parent is more of a friend and this type of parenting can result in low self-esteem and resistance to rule following in everyday life. Research also shows that children of permissive parents may struggle academically. This could be due to the fact that the structure demanded of them at school is not present at home.
  • Uninvolved Parenting: Parents who are uninvolved in their child's life do not provide for their child's basic emotional and physical needs. These parents may be overwhelmed by life circumstances or simply do not understand what their child needs. Uninvolved parents set very few rules and expectations, if any, and do not give their children much attention at all.Children of uninvolved parents have a lot of sadness, low self-esteem, and may have a lot of behavior problems inside and outside of school.

Which parenting style(s) do you use? We hope this information provides a general framework of how different types of parenting styles affect children inside and outside of the home. Please share this information with your friends and family members.

Reference: Morin, Amy. "4 Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Children." Verywell. N.p., 21 June 2016. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.

Monthly Newsletter - December 2016

Coping with Grief and Loss

The holidays can be especially difficult for those who have lost a loved one. Memories of past holidays spent with our loved ones as well as seeing others enjoying the holidays can be painful, especially in the years immediately following the death of a loved one. Holidays also remind us of how things used to be and how they are different now without the presence of our loved one.

It is helpful to anticipate the difficulty we may experience during the holidays and put in place some practices to help us cope with troubling emotions we may experience after the death of a loved one.

Tips for Coping with Grief and Loss During the Holidays

  • Make sure to set realistic expectations: The holidays are filled with extra responsibilities. Ask yourself what you can handle and allow yourself to let some tasks go.
  • Keep supportive people around you: Sometimes sharing your memories of your deceased loved one can help you deal with your grief. Share these memories with supportive friends and family members during the holiday season.
  • Avoid cancelling planned holiday events despite the temptation to do so: It is important to have a balance of time to yourself and planned activities that you feel comfortable participating in as well.
  • Permit yourself to grieve: Recognize that it is OK to feel sadness during the holiday but also to feel joy. Feelings of happiness do not mean you do not miss your loved one.
  • Do something for others in need: Taking your mind off of your situation and participating in an act of kindness for someone else may help you cope positively with your feelings of grief

Reference: "Coping with Grief During the Holidays | VITAS Hospice." VITAS. N.P., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.

Monthly Newsletter - November 2016 


Trauma: What are the causes? offers great insight on the three different types of causes for trauma in our lives. The first is a one time event such as an accident, an attack, or an unexpected injury which affects our life greatly. The second cause of trauma is stress that is ongoing and seems relentless. This type of stress can be brought on by various life events. The third type of cause for trauma are the typically overlooked causes such as a death of someone close to you, the ending of a significant relationship or a humiliating event in your life.

Some emotional and psychological symptoms of trauma include: shock, disbelief, mood swings, anger, anxiety, and feeling sad or hopeless.

Physical symptoms of trauma can be insomnia or nightmares, racing heartbeat, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, fatigue, and being started easily.

Tips for Recovery

  • Exercise to manage stress: Since trauma messes with the body's natural state of equilibrium, movement and exercise can help your nervous system get "unstuck" while also releasing endorphins which can improve your mood.
  • Do not isolate yourself from others: When you experience trauma, it is natural to want to withdraw from others and spend a lot of time by yourself even though this can actually make the effects of the trauma worse. It is best to try to connect with others even if you don't feel comfortable discussing the trauma.
  • Adjust your nervous system: It is important to understand that you can regulate your nervous system using methods such as mindful breathing, staying grounded in the place where you are sitting, or appealing to your senses by listening to calming music, spending time with animals or eating and drinking certain foods that bring you comfort.
  • Take care of your body: This includes getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs as much as possible, reducing stress, and eating a well-balanced diet.
It is possible that you need to seek professional help to deal with your trauma. There are trained trauma specialists you can contact for further information on dealing with your trauma. References: Robinson, Lawrence, et al. "Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Learning to Heal from Recent or Childhood Trauma and Move on with Your Life." n.p. October 2016. 28 October 2016.

Monthly Newsletter - October 2016 

Difficult Emotions

Happy Fall everyone! We hope your school year and fall activities are off to a good start. This month, we would like to discuss a very important topic pertinent to all of us in our everyday situations. Emotions - we all experience them throughout the day and most of us experience difficult emotions which are hard to deal with. Dr. Toni Parker, blog writer for the Gottman Institute, has provided some valuable steps in being able to identify and effectively deal with difficult emotions. The first step, Dr. Parker tells us, is to accept our emotions as they are and not run away from them. An interesting point she makes is how helpful it can be to recognize where in your body you are feeling certain emotions. Bottling emotions can only harm you, not help you. The second step is to identify the emotion and give it a name. When you feel sad, say to yourself, "this is sadness". This way, you allow yourself to recognize the emotion without letting it have control over you. The third step is to actually accept your emotions.

Dr. Parker asks us to think of how you would respond to a loved one who was explaining to you how he is feeling. This type of response is one we deserve as well. Respond to how you are feeling with kindness and love as you would with others. The fourth step is to acknowledge the changing nature of your emotions. Emotions come for a time and then they leave. They will not last forever. Recognizing this fact will help you effectively manage your emotions. Some questions Dr. Parker suggests to ask yourself are, "What and where is this feeling? What do I need now? How can I nurture it?" These questions will help you gain self-knowledge and treat your emotions with acceptance and kindness. The fifth step is to "inquire and investigate" your emotions after you have had time to calm down using the techniques already discussed. It is helpful to ask yourself if something happened to trigger a certain emotion. Think back through all of the events of your day and ask yourself what was causing you to feel the way you did. When you take the time to gain insight into your emotions, you can become more self-aware and recognize the same emotion and trigger when it happens in the future. The sixth and final step is to stop seeking to control your emotions. Instead, Dr. Parker tells us to let the outcome of how we feel unfold before us and accept how it affects our lives. This is all part of accepting ourselves and showing kindness towards ourselves. We hope the six steps discussed in this newsletter will help you in dealing with your difficult emotions this month. As always, please let us know of any additional topics you would like us to provide information on in the future. We love to hear from you! Reference: Parker, Toni."6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions." The Gottman Institute. 28 September 2016. 29 September 2016.

Monthly Newsletter - September 2016 

Child Internet Safety


Kids are heading back to school and with that comes the understanding that children all over the country will be using technology in a vital way to learn new concepts this year. Teachers and parents alike understand the important role technology plays in our children's education but also see the potential dangers of allowing children access to the Internet. Let's take a look at some helpful tips for keeping our children safe as they navigate the web this school year.

1. Be Involved in their Internet activity: Experts in Internet Safety say that before age 7, parents should always be next to their child when they are using the Internet. After that, it is important to be in the same room with your child when they are on their device and frequently check in on what they are doing. 2. Set house rules for Internet activity: Have certain times of day and certain websites your child can go to. It may be helpful to have a signed contract next to the computer as a reminder of the rules. Some parents allow unsupervised access to certain sites where as other sites are not accessible without a parent next to the child. 3. Teach your child how to protect their online identity: Most children won't be able to fully understand the importance of protecting their privacy but nonetheless they should be told to never give out personal information (address, phone number, name, password) anywhere on the Internet, and not to open email from people they don't know. 4. Keep the computer in a central location: Whether you have a lot of devices in your home or not, it is helpful to only connect one or two of them to the Internet and only allow access to those devices in a central area of your home where people frequently come and go. 5. Establish a trusting relationship with your child: This applies to all areas of your child's life, but when it comes to the Internet, make sure your child knows they need to come to you immediately if something they see on the Internet scares them or makes them uncomfortable in any way. For more tips on how to keep your child safe while they use the Internet, refer to the website listed below. We hope you all had a relaxing summer! Reference: Reeks, Anne. "Keeping Your Child Safe on the Internet." Meredith Corporation. n.d. 1 September 2016.

Monthly Newsletter - August 2016

Is Anger Your Issue?

Anger is a common emotion we all feel from time to time. Some of us experience more anger when stressful events occur in our lives. Others of us seem to feel anger all the time throughout the day, and while we notice it, we don't necessarily understand why we keep getting so angry over seemingly small things. Dr. Alex Lickerman, a mental health professional, wrote a great article on the four main reasons he believes people get angry. Our hope is that this list can help you make sense of why you or those you love become angry. 1. To Harm Oneself: When someone is depressed, they express anger which is directed at themselves for feeling powerless. They tend to have self-destructive thoughts as well. How to Deal: Depression is usually the cause of this type of anger and should be treated by a mental health professional.

2. To Achieve Control: People express anger to intimidate and manipulate others when they feel that things aren't going the way they want in life or feel intense fear over situations in their life. How to Deal: It is helpful to ask yourself why you feel out of control. It could be because of fear or simply lacking control. Then try to deal with these feelings and the anger should be resolved.

  3. To Feel Powerful: "If we feel small, getting others to feel smaller makes us feel in comparison big." How to Deal: You direct your anger at others in this way when you feel insecure and small. If you deal with your insecurity issues, you will also likely be dealing with your anger issues as well.

4. To Fight Injustice: This describes anger directed towards a person and/or group of people which one perceives is committing a moral injustice against them or others. How to Deal: The best way to deal with this type of anger is to address the injustice committed against yourself or others in any way you can.

Reference: Lickerman, Alex M.D. "Dealing With Anger: Techniques to Manage Anger in Yourself and Others." Sussex Publishers, LLC. 10 November 2013. Web. 1 August 2016.


Monthly Newsletter - July 2016

Parenting Lesson 101: Behaviors to Avoid

As parents, we have all been in situations where we know we have the best intentions in our relationship with our children, but end up hurting their feelings with our actions. Some of our most well intentioned actions with our children can have a negative affect on them, and often we are left asking ourselves where we went wrong. Dr. John Gottman has laid out four specific behaviors which he calls the "four horsemen of the apocalypse"which we should try to avoid when caring for and guiding our children. We would like to shine a light on these behaviors in hopes that we can move towards a healthier, more peaceful relationship with our children. Horseman #1: Criticism Gottman makes the point that criticism, whichwe may try to use to motivate our children, can actually make them feel bad about themselves. Gottman sees that when children hear negative criticism from their parents, they begin to internalize the comments and believe these negative ideas about themselves. When a parent says, "Why can't you remember to make your bed?", the child hears "You're stupid", not "Please remember to make your bed." The best way to handle these situations is to use "I" statements instead of character judgments, such as "I would like you to make your bed please". Horseman #2: Contempt Contempt is just like criticism but it is derived from a place of superiority. Some examples of contemptuous actions would be name-calling, sneering, eye-rolling, sarcasm and mockery. Interestingly, studies have shown that children who experience contempt from their parents have more infectious diseases per year! When a parent says, "You selfish brat!" there is no way a child can feel respected. Instead, we should treat our children with the same respect we desire to receive. Horseman #3: Defensiveness All people can become defensive when they feel they need to protect themselves from a personal attack. In relationships with their children, parents may feel defensive when they realize they have done something wrong in a situation with their child or when the child points out their flaws. Parents who are defensive with their children will not admit to any wrong or fault of their own, but instead point the finger at their child. It is important for the parent to accept responsibility for any wrong they have done and listen to their child to understand their position in times of conflict. "I'm sorry I yelled at you, I lost my temper" will help the child feel respected instead of saying, "I wouldn't have lost my temper if you hadn't disobeyed me." Horseman #4: Stonewalling Stonewalling in the parent-child relationship is the action of leaving the conversation before both parent and child have resolved the conflict. Giving the cold shoulder or silent treatment would be an example of stonewalling. Parents may also stonewall by exiting the conversation without regarding the child's position such as, "Weare done talking about this. I will not be changing my mind." According to Gottman, many times parents will stonewall their children in an attempt to get relief for the frustration and anger they feel in the situation. There are alternativeways to self-soothe which don't cause further conflict such as taking a break from the conversation and returning to it later. We hope the explanation of these four behaviors to avoid in your relationship with your child can help you to build a more positive, peaceful bond between you and your child. References: Eanes, Rebecca. "4 Parental Behaviors to Avoid." Scooterbay Publishing. 24 August 2015. Web. 30 May 2016

Monthly Newsletter - June 2016

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Here's the Facts

June 27th, 2016 is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. PTSD is an important mental health issue which we would like to shed some light on this month.Let's start with some statistics. You might be surprised at the prevalence of PTSD in the United States.

  • 70% of adults say they have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives - approximately 223.4 million people
  • Up to 20% of adults who have experienced a traumatic event go on to develop PTSD in the United States.
  • 8% of Americans which is approximately 24.4 million people are diagnosed with PTSD at any given time.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD - research shows 1 out of every 9 women have it.
*Stats taken from
"I am no longer at the mercy of my PTSD, and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. It's never too late to seek help." - P.K. Phillips
"I am grateful for the experience of my panic, because it taught me that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to panic and anxiety." -Rita Zoey Chin

What are the symptoms?

You might be wondering what a person experiences who has been diagnosed with PTSD. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) tells us PTSD is only diagnosed after the person has experienced symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. Many times, symptoms will not occur until many months or even years after the event. Here are the symptoms which can be grouped into three categories:

  • Experiencing the trauma over again through "intrusive, distressing recollections" of the traumatic event which can occur through dreams, flashbacks, or nightmares.
  • Feeling emotionally numb and purposefully avoiding people, places and activities which reminds the person in any way of the event.
  • Increased arousal which can take on the form of difficulty sleeping, becoming easily irritated or angry, and trouble concentrating.
Many people suffer with PTSD for years without seeking professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these symptoms, treatment is available. Treatment options include different types of therapy, medication, or a combination of both. For personal stories of individuals who have been diagnosed with PTSD and for more information on this disorder, you can visit References: "Symptoms of PTSD." n.p. April 2016. Web. 18 May 2016 Phillips, P.K. "My Story of Survival." n.p. n.d. Web. 18 May 2016 Chin, Rita Zoey. "Resolve and Resilience from Panic." n.p. n.d. Web. 18 May 2016 "PTSD Statistics." n.p. n.d. Web. 18 May 2016

Monthly Newsletter - May 2016

Turning Toward Your Child:

How to Meet Your Child's Emotional Needs

According to Rebecca Earnes from the Gottman Institute Relationship Blog, our loved ones make "bids" for our attention, which is "an attempt to get attention, affection, or acceptance. It's a bid for emotional connection." When they make a bid, we have a choice as parents and guardians to do one of three things: turn toward them (positive response), turn away (negative response), or give no response (negative response).Gottman says every time you respond positively to your child's bid for attention, you are making a direct deposit into their "Emotional Bank Account" which children need desperately to stay filled.
It is important to note that young children may make bids for your attention that you don't recognize as bids. A toddler reaching his arms into the air is asking you to connect with him and show him love. Gottman explains how poor behavior can many times be a bid such as a tantrum. When a child acts this way, Gottman tells us to respond positively to the poor behavior as if the child is actually saying, "Notice me. Show me I matter." Ways to Turn Toward Your Child:
  • Be attentive to your child's needs. Put away distractions and focus on your loved ones as much as possible.
  • Show concern with what they are concerned with, even if it seems trivial to you.
  • Convey the message that your child is loved and accepted by you as much as possible.
  • Try to avoid criticizing your child.
  • When your child wants to play, say yes. This time is very important for building connection.
  • Always greet your child with enthusiasm. Showing our children we delight in them speaks volumes to their self-esteem.
"It's about the quality of connection, not the presence of perfection." -Rebecca Earnes, Gottman Institute
Are you or someone you know in need of counseling services? William A. Presti Center for Families and Youth is a counseling center in Brighton, Michigan which provides individual, couples, and family counseling services as well as Life Advising and Coaching. - 810-299-1472 - Give us a call today for more information!

Monthly Newsletter - April 2016 

Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

This month as we focus on sexual assault, we would like to look at warning signs to identify if you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship. tells us that domestic abuse, also sometimes referred to as spousal abuse, "occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person." The purpose of all domestic abuse is always to manipulate and gain control over the person being abused and to maintain that control. It's important to note that domestic abuse and violence happens to people of all ethnic backgrounds, age ranges, genders, and sexual orientations. It may not be easy to tell in the beginning stages of a relationship if your partner is abusive. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says abusive behaviors can emerge as the relationship grows over time.

What are the Warning Signs?


Understanding and recognizing the warning signs of domestic abuse is the first step towards receiving help. Ask yourself or your loved one the following questions. The questions are broken down into four categories in order to identify abusive behavior in relationships.

If the answer to even some or most of these questions is yes, it is time to seek professional help. To learn more about resources you can turn to for help, clickhereor call the domestic violence hot line directly at 1-800-799-7233.

References: Smith, Melinda, and Segal, Jeanne. "Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships." n.p. March 2016. Web. 31 March 2016

"Warning Signs and Red Flags." The National Domestic Violence Hotline. n.p. n.d. Web. 31 March 2016

Copyright © 2016 William A. Presti Center for Families and Youth LLC, All rights reserved. April 2016 Newsletter Our mailing address is: 510 W. Grand River Avenue Suite 300 Brighton, MI 48116 Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Monthly Newsletter - March 2016

Let's shed some light on self-harm.

In March, we focus on promoting awareness about self-harm. Self-harm is more prevalent than you may think. HealthyPlace.Com tells us, "Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self injury." Of those who engage in self-harm, 90 percent begin during their pre-adolescent or teen years. Many people who engage in self-harm behaviors report learning how to do so from friends or pro-self harm websites. People who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can sometimes feel hopeless to the point of despair. These individuals feel that cutting or other self-harm behaviors will help them cope with the way they are feeling. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing specifically on cutting, though it's important to be aware that there are many self-injurious behaviors in addition to cutting.

"The problem is that the relief from self-harming doesn't last very long. It's like slapping on a band-aid when what you really need are stitches."

"About 50 percent of those who engage in self-mutilation begin around age 14 and carry on into their 20's."


What are the signs and symptoms of cutting?

  • Cutting or severely scratching your skin.
  • Burning or scalding yourself.
  • Hitting yourself or banging your head.
  • Punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects.
  • Sticking objects into your skin.
  • Intentionally preventing wounds from healing.
  • Swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects

Inside The Mind of Someone Who Cuts

You may be wondering why someone would feel that cutting helps them to deal with what is going on inside of them. Some of the reasons are: it helps them express feelings they cannot put into words, they feel a release from the pain and tension they feel inside, cutting helps them feel in control, and it distracts them from overwhelming situations in their life. Some other reasons include a relief from guilt, punishing themselves, and that cutting makes them feel alive rather than numb which is what they feel many times.

What can I do to help myself or someone I love who cuts?

Step 1: Confide in someone - make sure to choose someone you can trust to tell them that you have been cutting. It helps to think about who has been accepting and supportive in your life thus far. Once you choose the right person, remember to focus on your feelings, communicate in the way that makes you feel comfortable, and give the person time and space to process what you have told them.

Step 2: Figure out why you cut - it's vital to understand why you are cutting. There is always a deep seated reason behind the self-harm. Once you figure that out, possibly with a trusted therapist, you can find other ways to deal with the problem instead of cutting.

Step 3: Find new coping techniques - some of the reasons why you may be cutting could be to express pain and intense emotions, to calm and soothe yourself, or to vent anger and release tension. Feel free to go to the website below to reference a long list of coping techniques for each of these reasons and more.


Smith, Melinda, and Segal, Jeanne. "Cutting and Self-Harm: Self-Injury Help, Support and Treatment." n.p. February 2016. Web. 18 February 2016

Gluck, Samantha. "Self Injury, Self Harm Statistics, and Facts." n.p. 24 September 2015. Web. 18 February 2016.

Monthly Newsletter- February 2016

What is Teen Dating Violence?

We are so happy you asked! February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and so we would like to inform our readers about this very important issue. Teen Dating Violence is defined as, "the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking." ( Teen Dating violence can sometimes also be referred to as:

  • Relationship abuse
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Relationship violence
  • Dating abuse
  • Domestic abuse
  • Domestic violence

Teen Dating violence is more common than you probably think. According to a 2013 survey by the CDC, 10% of high school students reported "physical victimization" as well as "sexual victimization" from a dating partner in the 12 months prior to taking the survey. Another 2011 CDC survey found that 23% of females and 14% of males first experienced some form of violence from their partner prior to undergoing rape, physical violence, or stalking. (

What are the consequences of dating violence?

You might be wondering what the effects of dating violence are on the individual. Often, teens undergoing some form of violence in an unhealthy dating relationship will show symptoms of depression and anxiety. The teen may also begin engaging in unhealthy habits such as tobacco or drug use. They may experience thoughts of suicide or exhibit antisocial behavior as well.

It's important to know that dating violence can be prevented if we work together in our families and communities to recognize it and take action against it. Teens who may be particularly at risk for experiencing dating violence usually partake in some of the following (

  • Belief that dating violence is acceptable
  • Are depressed, anxious, or have other symptoms or trauma
  • Display aggression towards peers or display other aggressive behaviors
  • Use drugs or illegal substances
  • Engage in early sexual activity and have multiple sexual partners
  • Have a friend involved in dating violence
  • Have conflicts with a partner
  • Witness or experience violence in the home

Do you know someone who may be experiencing dating violence? Don't be afraid to direct them to seek help.

Reference: Teen Dating Violence. Retrieved January 2016 from:

Monthly Newsletter- January 2016

Are you struggling with your adolescent?

"The ultimate goal of parental discipline is to help adolescents develop sufficient self-discipline to manage themselves and their lives independently and well."

(Psychology This quote from Dr. Carl Pickhardt sums up what each of us as parents want for our adolescent children. We want our discipline practices at this stage in our children's' lives to help them become self-sufficient and independent, while also providing guidance as they explore their world and the challenges it brings each day.

The William A. Presti Center staff want to focus on some positive discipline approaches you can try with your adolescent to help assist you in this difficult stage of parenting with the help of Dr. Carl Pickhardt, a Psychologist and author of "Surviving (Your Child's) Adolescence."

1.Set clear rules and be consistent in applying them.

2. Patiently insist (until they do it) that what gets asked gets done. This consistency is key for success.

3. When giving correction on a misbehavior, avoid criticism and blame and focus only on the actual behavior as well as what they need to do differently next time.

4. Show your teen that you see what they did well, while at the same time correct them for what they did wrong.

5. When confronting your adolescent about what they did wrong, your child should always expect their side of the story to be listened to and understood by you.

6. Concern should always precede consequences - make sure your adolescent understands that you care about their well-being before discussing any consequences for misbehavior.

7. Individual choice is respected, meaning your child knows that you will let them make their own choices, but that what they choose will affect how you will respond.

8. Give guidance regularly and faithfully - your child should expect that you will always provide help and guidance, show them respect, and be sensitive to how they feel they handled each situation.

9. The first consequence is always communication - teenagers should come to understand that when you find out your child has done something wrong, you will consistently listen to their side of the story and your child will be expected to listen to you as well. This is sometimes referred to as "a good talking to."

Reference: Ten Practices of Effective Discipline with Your Adolescent. Retrieved December 2015 from

Monthly Newsletter- December 2015

Managing Stress During the Holidays

We all experience stress during the holidays. These feelings, sometimes referred to as "holiday blues" can be brought on by simply having too much to do, too many parties to attend, having impossible expectations to meet, general stress that comes from being around family, and so many other factors.

As a result, we end up feeling fatigued, irritable, and depressed. Many experience sleep problems, headaches, and have issues overeating. (Let's face it, we all struggle with that last one!)

So what can we do to relieve some of this stress?

  • Plan Early: Try doing your holiday shopping throughout the year as opposed to right before Christmas. Your bank account will thank you!
  • Think about what normally stresses you out and change or take out those stressful activities.
  • Be realistic: Look at your goals and think about if they are truly achievable or idealistic and unreasonable.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: being a depressant, it can actually make you feel worse.
  • Do not feel obliged to feel or act happy or festive: allow yourself to feel how you want to feel regardless of the time of year.
  • Know your spending limit and stick to it! Try to enjoy holiday activities that are free.
  • Consider ways to structure this time for your children to avoid stressful situations. For example, set limits when you enter a store and follow through on those limits.
  • Take care of yourself: Exercise, indulge in a warm bath, call a good friend, rent a movie, spend time on your hobbies. All these things can assist in de-stressing you during this busy time of year.
  • Help the less fortunate any way you can: This practice will help keep your mind on the most important aspects of the holiday season, giving to others, and spending time with those who do not have family or friends to visit them.
Reference: Stress Management During the Holidays. Retrieved November 2015 from:

Monthly Newsletter- November 2015

Children go through stages of grief when their parents get a divorce

Research shows that these stages are similar to the stages terminally ill patients go through. It is vital for parents and caregivers to look for and recognize these emotional stages in order to better support the children in their lives. Both adults and children go through these stages, but children experience each stage much differently than adults do.

Stage 1- Denial: In this initial stage, children simply refuse to believe that their parents are separating and the home as they know it has changed. Children also believe that their parents will reunite at some point in the future during this stage.

Stage 2- Anger: In the second stage, children become angry at their parents for their separation. Children will often exhibit poor or "acting out" behavior as they feel frustration at their parents for allowing the divorce to happen and for ruining their family as they see it.

Stage 3- Bargaining: The third stage is comprised of children seeking to reunite their parents by an action of their own such as exhibiting good behavior at school and at home. Children of certain ages may question and possibly believe that their previous bad behavior is what caused their parents to split up in the first place.

Children who do not get the support they need can get stuck in the denial stage. Parents can prevent this by focusing on their child's needs as well as their own. "Most family functioning is worse 12 to 18 months after the divorce than at the time immediately surrounding the divorce."

Stage 4- Depression: Children begin to feel extremely sad about every aspect of their life in the fourth stage of divorce. Parents should watch out for children who try to be overly successful during this period. Overachieving behavior can be a sign that the child is trying to get a hold of their out-of-control emotions.

Stage 5- Acceptance: Young children may have a hard time ever reaching this stage. During this final stage, the person comes to peace with the fact that their parents have separated. This usually occurs when the person believes that their parents are actually happier living apart than in the same house.

Reference: (2001). Stages of Divorce. Retrieved October 2015 from

Monthly Newsletter - October 2015

Let's talk about bullying.

October is Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is defined as, "unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance." ( Bullying behavior always is or has the potential to be repeated over time, which is what can make its effects long-lasting.
What can you do about it? First, let's take a look at some basic warning signs that someone you know may be experiencing bullying:
  • Unexplainable injuries.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.
  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
  • Declining grades,not wanting to go to school.
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations.
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem.
  • Self destructive behaviors such as: running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.
Statistics show that in less than 40% of cases, a child will notify an adult that they are being bullied. This is why it is imperative for us to not ignore possible warning signs we may see in children we come in contact with.

How to Respond to Bullying: Basic Steps

1. Stop bullying on the spot - Respond quickly to bullying behavior. This sends the message to the child who is bullying that their behavior is unacceptable.

2. Find out what happened - Get the facts on the situation, hear both sides out, review the bullying definition, and determine if it was actually bullying taking place.

3. Support the kids involved - It is important for all kids involved to receive support, those who have been bullied, and those who are doing the bullying.

4. Be more than a bystander- kids need your help to feel safe and prevent bullying around them. Be an example for them.

Reference: (2015). Warning Signs. Retrieved September 2015 from

Monthly Newsletter - September 2015

Know the Signs - Save a Life

In light of the 41st Annual Suicide Prevention week this month, we as an organization want to focus on an extremely important mental health issue facing not just those in the United States but in countries all over the world: Suicide. We would like to give you some information on suicide rates in the United States and then take a look at warning signs for those having thoughts of suicide. It is important to educate ourselves on characteristics of those struggling with Depression, Anxiety and other issues which many times are precursors to someone actually committing suicide. If we notice the signs, we can better help those around us seek help and safety before hurting themselves.

Suicide is in fact on the rise in the United States. Data from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) tells us that between 2000-2013, the suicide rate in the U.S. rose from 10.43 (per 100,000) to 13.02. Men are shown to die by suicide at four times the rate of women in the United States and from 2000-2013, suicide rates in men have risen from 17.11 to 20.59. We can see from this staggering data how deeply suicide is effecting our country.

You may have been effected by thoughts of suicide or have had a friend or family member who has committed suicide. It is vital for all people to know the warning signs for someone thinking about committing suicide so we can help that person seek help and save their life. Please read the warning signs listed below and keep these in mind as you spend time around co-workers, friends, and family members each day. You really do have the power to save someone's life from just noticing these certain behaviors.

These first three warning signs should prompt you to immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a mental health professional.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun>
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

The following behaviors may also indiciate a serious risk for suicide:

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
Reference: (2014). Warning Signs for Suicide. Retrieved September 2015, from SPRC:

Monthly Newsletter- August 2015

Back-to-School Anxiety, How to Help Your Child

Returning to school after a long summer break can be difficult for young children. It's helpful to view the first couple weeks back to school as a transitional period where a lot of change is bound to take place. According to AnxietyBC, an Anxiety Disorders Association, feelings of worry and anxiety in children are common during times of change or transition. Some common worries children experience prior to returning to school are:

  • Who will my new teacher be?
  • What if my new teacher is mean?
  • Will any of my friends be in my class?
  • Will I fit in?
  • Who will I sit with at lunch?
  • What if I miss the bus?
  • What if I can't understand the new schoolwork?

If and when you start to notice your child experiencing anxiety, follow these steps to help them relax and feel more at ease about going through this change.

  • Look after the basics: getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, building in routines to the day, especially in the morning and at bedtime.
  • Encourage your child to share his or her fears about the future.
  • Instead of making reassuring comments, help your child think of ways to solve their problems.
  • Role-play with your child the situations that are difficult for them.This will help them feel more confident in their ability to handle the situation in real life.
  • Encourage your child to think of the positives of starting a new school year instead of dwelling on the negatives.
  • Pay attention your own behavior regarding school-related issues. Your child will pick up on your cues so make sure to show them your confidence so they will feel reassured that everything will be OK.

For a timeline you can follow leading up to the first day of school, click the link below:

Reference: Helping Your Child Cope with Back-to-School Anxiety. Retrieved August 2015, from AnxietyBC:

Monthly Newsletter - July 2015

Teens and Technology

Why Adolescents Overuse Technology

You may have noticed in the recent future how smart phones have changed the way we live life as a society. We can no longer wait in line at a store or let 30 minutes go by without grabbing for our phones to check in on all of our applications, text message someone, or simply check the time. It is true that we have become reliant on our phones to provide instant entertainment, information, and social connection. This is true of all age groups in our present time but especially for young people.

Mental Health professionals and parents alike can see the detrimental impact this reliance on technology has on adolescents who are in a particularly fragile state in their lives. In order to understand how to help adolescents use technology in a balanced way, it's helpful to know why they are overusing it in the first place. Dr. Stephanie Newman writes, " One way to spot a problem is to consider the warning signs: a Vampire-like failure to emerge from behind a closed bedroom door until the onset of dusk, a reduction in hours spent socializing or engaging in sports or hobbies, and a decline in grades are all tip offs that a teenager might be overusing technology." Once we know it's happening, what can we do about it as parents, you might ask.

The most important thing you can do is talk to your teen. If you notice some of the signs mentioned above, start by opening up dialogue. Many times, behaviors such as constant texting and pulling out their phone in social situations are used as protective mechanisms for feeling anxious or uncomfortable. It is much easier for a person to express how they feel in a text message or email than in person at times. Overuse of screen time can be a cover-up for an underlying emotional problem. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to when your teen is using their phone the most and try to talk to them about what might be going on in that situation, using non-critical, non-judgmental phrasing. You may be surprised at how your teen expresses how they are feeling if given the opportunity.

One more way you can help your teen with the overuse of technology is to set healthy limits for use of their cell phones and computer, especially when they are younger. Leaving all cell phones on the table once 9:00pm rolls around is a good way for adolescents to stay detached from the Internet when the day is coming to a close. It also helps them maintain a sense of balance to life, taking an extended break from the screen to enjoy the world around them and wind down from their day.

Reference: (2012). Why Adolescents Overuse Technology and What We Can Do About It. Retrieved June 2015, from Psychology Today:

Monthly Newsletter - June 2015

Children's Art:

A Path to Healing

A brief look at the use of art to help children express difficult feelings and inner struggles, providing insight into their inner world.

Throughout history, human beings have naturally been drawn to the use of Art to help work through and understand experiences and feelings. Studies have actually proven that the practice of making art creates brain patterns which enhance the automatic nervous system, hormonal balance, and brain neurotransmitters ( Many children find it much easier to express how they are feeling with Art than with their own words. This is why it is so important for us as parents and caregivers to encourage children to express themselves artistically. By looking at what the child creates, we can see what they are thinking and feeling and start a conversation with them about it.

Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D., discusses how you don't have to be a trained therapist to help your child express themselves through art. All you need are some art supplies such as giant rolls of paper, crayons, paints, and different types of markers. The following are some exercises you can use to encourage communication with your child through the use of art:

1. Draw a self-portrait - Trace your child's body on a large sheet of paper and have him/her fill it in with their thoughts and feelings.

2. Picture the future - Suggest your child make two drawings: One the way things are, and one the way he/she wishes they would be.

3. Show and Tell - After a walk through an imaginary experience, have your child draw what she saw and did.

4. Talk to the Image - Have your child draw what a certain feeling feels like and then have them talk to the feeling they just drew.

5. Take artistic action - If the child wishes, have her change the picture she's already created in some way to release further emotions, either by drawing in more colors, or even ripping up the paper.

6. Capture the memory - Hang the pictures your child creates in a private but visible place which can create a feeling of safety and security for the child.

7. Accept every drawing - Reassure your child that everything he creates is fine.

Reference: (2009). The Healing Power of Children's Art. Retreived June 2015, from Psychology Today: CHAMPION-PASSIONATE-RIDDIM-SINGLE-ZJ-HENO-21ST-HAPILOS-DIGITAL.Mp3

Monthly Newsletter-May 2015

Mental Health in May

May is Mental Health Awareness Month so we are taking a special look at two very common mental health issues- anxiety and depression. Refer to our (NEW!) William A. Presti Center blog page for more information on depression this month (see link below). We will be focusing on Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms and management in this newsletter.

We have all personally experienced the effects of stress in our lives. Too much stress for too long can lead to anxiety. Some of us may struggle more than others with stress and anxiety and have been diagnosed with what we call "Generalized Anxiety Disorder" or GAD. Anxiety can greatly affect your overall well-being and should be dealt with immediately. You have to know you have anxiety before you can deal with it, though.

You may be dealing with GAD if you experience "persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things", according to ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

Some simple tips you can use to deal with anxiety are:

  • Take a time out
  • Eat well-balanced meals
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise daily
  • Take deep breaths
  • Count to 10 slowly
  • Accept that you cannot control everything
  • Welcome humor
  • Maintain a positive attitude
  • Get involved
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety
  • Talk to someone

For more information or to schedule a counseling appointment with one of our caring professionals, please call us at: 810-299-1472

Reference: (2015). Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress. Retreived May 2015, from Adaa:

Being a girl can be tough in today's world.

If you have a young daughter, niece, or are a woman yourself, you understand how difficult body image issues can be for all women, regardless of age. Our culture tends to push young women to be perfect in every way: in their careers, relationships, and how they look. How can we help young women recognize their self-worth and feel good about how they look? Let's talk about it. 

The first thing you can do is sympathize with your child. Talk to her about how you have struggled with feeling less than perfect in your own skin. Discuss the different ways you have overcome these feelings and learned to see yourself as a whole person, not just what you look like. It can help to talk about the different experiences that have boosted your self-esteem in the past.

The second thing you can do is be a good model for your daughter by being comfortable with your body. Behaviors such as complaining about your body or commiserating about how the donut you ate is going to make you fat will rub off on your daughter. Instead, talk about your body in a realistic but positive way. Recognize that she is watching you and how you look at yourself has an impact on her..

Dads can be extremely instrumental in a young woman's life when it comes to body image. Positive affirmation, not just about looks, from a father figure can boost a young girl's self-esteem and assist her in seeing herself from a realistic point of view. 

Fourth, have a handle on what your child is watching on TV and reading about in magazines. Pop culture tends to objectify women in all forms. Try to sheild your daughter as much as possible from these types of shows and reading but also talk to her about what she is seeing and reading. Help her to see when someone on TV seems to be overly concerned with how they look instead of having a more well-rounded view of themselves.

Lastly, help her to be resilient when it comes to the parts of her body she dislikes. Sympathize with her when she talks about what she doesn't like about how she looks. We all have parts of our bodies we might wish were different but teach her how to cope with her negative feelings about her body in a positive way. 

Do you have a young person in your life who is struggling with body issues? Try out some of the approaches mentioned in this article and feel free to pass along this information to those who would benefit from it. 

Reference: "How to Help Your Daughter Have a Healthy Body Image",n.d., Accessed 2 August 2017.