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sharon

Sharon Coulter MA, PPS; MA, LMFT offers therapy and counseling services to children, adults, and families in Hermosa Beach, California. She holds two Master’s Degrees – one in Counseling from the Loyola Marymount School of Education and one in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. To make an appointment, please call 310.871.4845

Are You Optimizing your Public School Options to Help Your Child?

Written by sharon on . Posted in Blog

As a provider of therapy and school counseling services, it’s apparent to me that parents often have no idea how to optimize public school options to make sure kids who are going through a difficult time are well supported in their academic environment. School counselors (who are not therapists), for the most part, have huge numbers of kids that they are overseeing, with ratios sometimes as high as 1 to 400. Some are academic advisors only; some are personal and social counselors; and others have dual functions. Understanding your school’s resources and using them are very much worth a parent’s time in an effort to help their child.

Kids spend almost 30 hours of their week in the school setting, so it can make a significant difference to your child if you let teachers and the school counselor be aware of issues such as low self esteem, depression, learning disorders, anxiety, fears of bullying or any ongoing bulling that you know about. Similarly, it’s in your child’s best interest that teachers and counselors be informed about family changes such as separation, divorce, death, illness, remarriage, and blended families. While, as parents, we may sometimes feel we want to keep certain events in our lives private from school, the benefit to your child when school personnel are informed far outweighs the drawbacks. In addition to teachers being more kind, sensitive to and patient with your child’s behavioral changes, counselors can often form a special bond with your child and check in with him/her one or more times a week. If your child needs more formal support, 504 Plans or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) may be called for to put in place and will require involvement of the school psychologist.

The best way to communicate with your school’s personnel is by telephone with a follow up e-mail referring to your conversation and your request for assistance. Documenting your requests and the school’s agreed interventions or measures of support is recommended. It will be up to you to be your child’s best advocate and make sure what the school agreed to is followed through on. For children who need extensive accommodations as part of Individualized Education Plans, if affordable, parents may wish to hire an education advocate to guide them through the IEP process and optimize services.

During difficult and changing times, school can become a major stressor for your child. When parents and schools work together, the school environment can be one that offers children greatly needed support and predictability to navigate those difficult times.

Dealing with the Holiday Blues?

Written by sharon on . Posted in Blog, Therapy

As we move past Thanksgiving and into the December holiday season, you may be among the many folks who find these celebrations stressful and anxiety provoking. That’s right, despite all the hoop-la and decorations, for many people the emotional intensity of the holidays may seem overwhelming.

Perhaps one of the following sounds familiar:  Reminders of loss? Challenging family reunions? Fears of overeating?  Financial distress? Isolation and loneliness? If you know you’re prone to the holiday blues, take heart in knowing you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to help you feel more in control and transition through this challenging time.

Check List:

  • Socialize or volunteer through a church or community center where you can be with others. Not only will this help you feel more connected, helping others raises our own sense of purpose.
  • Exercise every day – either outdoors or at the gym. Working out is the best way to increase the natural endorphins that make us feel happier.
  • Teach yourself some meditative belly breathing to center yourself when anxiety arises.
  • Minimize your TV time and choose programs that are uplifting and make you laugh.
  • Enjoy holiday foods but make sure you eat plenty of greens and fruits as well.
  • Maximize self care – do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  • Remember your friendship and kindness are the most important gifts you can give to others.

The good news is that in allowing ourselves to feel and share difficult feelings, we can move through them and live a more authentic and meaningful life. This is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.

What Is Choice Theory?

Written by sharon on . Posted in Blog, Choice Theory, Custom_Home_page, Therapy

Choice Theory, developed by Dr. William Glasser, is the explanation of human behavior based on internal motivation. As Dr. Glasser explains in the most recent of his widely read books, Choice Theory, all of our behavior is chosen as we continually attempt to meet one or more of the five basic needs that are part of our genetic structure.

Choice Theory posits that behavior is central to our existence and is driven by five genetically driven needs, similar to those of Abraham Maslow. They are: Survival; Love and Belonging; Power; Freedom; and Fun.

An understanding of these needs as well as the other major components of Choice Theory (the Basic Needs, the Quality World, the Perceived World, the Comparing Place, and the Total Behavior System) can help us build and maintain better relationships with the important people in our lives and lead happier, more satisfying lives.

Choice Theory has been successfully implemented, internationally, in schools, organizations and treatment programs. In the therapeutic setting, it aligns with a cognitive behavioral approach that many clients who are motivated to change find empowering.

The Ten Axioms of Choice Theory

  1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
  2. All we can give another person is information.
  3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
  4. The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
  5. What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
  6. We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.
  7. All we do is behave.
  8. All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology
  9. All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.
  10. All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.

Dr. William Glasser, an internationally recognized psychiatrist, is the creator of Reality Therapy and the theory that undergirds it, Choice Theory. This therapeutic approach is used world wide in schools, businesses, and the counseling and therapy environments. More information about this approach is available at http://wglasser.com/the-glasser-approach