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Adolescence Defined

Julia Murphy, LMFT

Adolescence has historically been characterized as a period of great turbulence and change in the lives of teens and parents. Media images of high profile stars like Justin Bieber and Lindsey Lohan careening off the rails with their involvement in drugs, alcohol and reckless behavior seem to support this portrait and strike fear in the hearts of many parents. Nonetheless, I like to look at this phase of development as a time of essential, vibrant growth and change that, at its most successful, can meaningfully prepare a teen for a rich and varied adult life. Research proves that the majority of teens make it through high school, are attached to their families, and escape serious involvement with violence or drug abuse. This optimism is not an attempt to discount the real risks involved in the adolescent years or to ignore those teens who feel isolated, lost, or out of control, but rather to promote the sort of guidance and support parents, professionals, and mentors can offer teens to give them the best chance for positive development.

It is our job as adults to create opportunities for teens to be exposed to relationships and environments that promote growth and minimize risk. The starting point is to preemptively improve the one-to-one relationships that are integral to a youth’s happiness, success, independence and security. The hope is that these improvements will have a ripple effect on larger systems like the family system, the school system, the criminal justice system or the social welfare system. One way to make a powerful difference is for adults in a teen’s life to understand and empathize with the amazing changes, risks, joys, aggravations, excitement and growing pains that happen during the teen years and the purpose they serve in a child’s life. According to The John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath publication on Adolescent Development, research supports that (1) adolescence is a time of opportunity; (2) normal, healthy development is uneven; (3) young people develop positive attributes through learning and experience; (4) the larger community plays a fundamental and essential role in helping young people move successfully toward adulthood.  TO BE CONTINUED

Helping Your Child Master Skills

The key is collaboration. Academic and social skills do not develop in a vacuum. They are the result of interactions between the child and his/her environment. Your child’s capacity to complete tasks independently occurs when skills have been mastered and external supports are no longer required. For example, complex academic assignments may overwhelm your child’s brain. She needs you to look at the task with her and collaboratively develop a plan for how the assignment or project will be executed. This means breaking the task down into steps, then creating timelines for each step to be accomplished. You might also have to work with your child to actually complete the steps. The idea here is not to do the work for your child but to do it with her. This collaboration will enhance his learning, while also helping her develop the organizational and planning skills necessary to eventually mange the work on her own.

How Genes Unfold

“Genes are rarely about inevitability, especially when it comes to humans, the brain, or behavior. They’re about vulnerability, propensities, tendencies.”

-Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

 

Stress: An Alternative Explanation for Common Learning and Behavioral Challenges

Breakout Session with Dr. Peter Murphy and Dr. Daniel Franklin at the Language and Learning Conference, May 2, 2015 – UCLA Carnesale Commons

Drawing on the latest findings from the fields of social neuroscience, psychology, and education, this presentation will explore the biological mechanisms of stress and identify how stress impacts learning and behavior. In addition, the connection between healthy attachment and stress will be discussed. This presentation will offer specific strategies that parents, teachers, and clinicians can use to mitigate stress-related learning and behavioral challenges.

Conference registration online at www.DyslexiaLA.org/events

 

The ABCs of Learning Challenges (Part 2)

Academic Skill Deficits

1. Dyslexia, or reading difficulties, effects about 80% of children with learning challenges.

  • They may have difficulty decoding words, reading fluently, as well as comprehending text.
  • Writing may also be difficult, which includes organizing thoughts, putting ideas into sequence and using grammar, punctuation and spelling appropriately.

2. Dyscalculia, or difficulty with math, is also common among children with learning challenges.

  • This may include difficulty with mental math, transposing digits, failing to line up numbers properly in an equation or omitting steps in a math problem.

Fortunately, there are strategies and accommodations that will help your child cope with his or her learning challenges, including implementing the right modifications and accommodations at school to help him learn, supporting the development of his interests and strengths, helping him understand his challenges, and providing him with support and understanding.

The ABCs of Learning Challenges (Part 1)

  • Most children with learning differences are affected by multiple challenges.
  • Learning challenges often surface when there is a mismatch between the child’s abilities and the demands of the environment. For example, an academic curriculum may be accelerated beyond the developmental level of the child (or many of the children) in a particular classroom.
  • People with verbal learning disabilities have difficulty with words, both spoken and written
  • People with non-verbal learning disabilities may have difficulty processing abstract concepts, abstract reasoning and conceptualizing concepts.
  • visual processing or perceptual disorder refers to a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes.
  • An auditory processing disorder interferes with a person’s ability to make sense of information taken in through the ears.

(To be continued)

Poets Who Inspire: Mary Oliver

 

What follows is a moving poem by Mary Oliver called The Journey, which may be an inspiration to those of you facing a period of great change or difficult decision making.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice —

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

(Mary Oliver)

Divorce Support Groups

We’ve added Divorce Support Groups to our menu of services. Led by Tara Boerner, LMFT and Julia Murphy, LMFT.

1. Begin Again: A Healing Group for Women

This group will meet Wednesdays 1-2:30 pm in our Tarzana offices. An initial assessment is required for admission.

2. Helping Teens Cope with Divorce

These groups will meet 1x/week for 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon or early evening. Members will be grouped separately according to age: 13-14, 15-17, 18+.

Contact: Julia Murphy, LMFT 818-388-1526 or Email: Info@MurphyPsychologyGroup.com

tara_058           Julia

Tara Boerner, LMFT             Julia Murphy, LMFT

 

Parent Conversations: Understanding Your Child’s Changing Developmental Needs

Event Date: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Dr. Murphy gave a parent presentation at the Country School about the developmental needs of pre-school children, with a particular emphasis on the critical role parents play in fostering their child’s emotional, cognitive and social development. Topics included:

  • Principles of effective discipline
  • Coping with transitions
  • Managing tantrums
  • Facilitating social skills development
  • Managing adult expectations

Other talks in this series will focus on Elementary and Middle School children.

Please email info@murphypsychologygroup.com if you are interested in having Dr. Murphy speak to parents or teachers at your school.

Manage Negative Emotions About Parenting an LD Child

Parents cope with a wide range of difficult feelings about their child’s learning challenges. Will my son or daughter be accepted to a good middle school, high school or college? Will he be able to create a life for himself? Will she ever be able to make and keep friends? All these questions weigh heavily on your mind and increase stress. While you may love your child and want the bet for him or her, your feelings of disappointment, confusion, helplessness, shame and anger may not seem very loving. You might find yourself trying to deny that you have these feelings, or you may take them as a sign that you are failing as a parent. The difficulty with this guilty mindset is that it only intensifies already painful feelings. Here’s my message to you: When parenting any child, a range of feelings, both positive and negative, is natural and human. It may be counterintuitive, but this self acceptance is crucial to processing your emotions and maintaining the composure to be present for your child. From this place, you’ll be better able to implement effective parenting strategies. Being comfortable with a wide range of feelings also helps you develop a greater capacity to understand and accept the range of emotions and experiences your child will have.

Of course, if you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed or your anger is out of control, seek the help and support of a professional.