Topics of Interest

Coping with a Loved One’s Deployment

In times of uncertainty and war, many of us know of friends and co-workers whose loved ones who may be deployed.  The deployment of a friend or relative can bring with it powerful feelings of worry, anxiety, upheaval and fear.  Often spouses and relatives may need to take on extra responsibilities at home caring for children for those at service.  Families may not have communication with their loved one for long periods of time.  These circumstances can lead to higher levels of stress that can affect physical and emotional well being.  Some of the symptoms of stress can include trouble sleeping, nightmares, loss of concentration, irritability, tense muscles, nervousness, and feelings of panic.  Stress can also result in feelings of depression, anger and guilt.

During these very difficult and frightening times, it is important that those of us waiting at home care for both ourselves and those around us.  In caring for ourselves, it is recommended that we discuss our feelings, develop and maintain a support network, maintain open communication with your loved one abroad, beware of rumors, seek accurate and relevant information directly from military sources, remain active, and accept the lack of control over deployment events.

Co-workers are also impacted when a colleague has a loved one deployed.  Often they share their co-worker’s concern and worry.  The UCLA Staff and Faculty Counseling Center is here to help individuals and departments who are affected by the deployment of a friend or family member.  SFCC is available to provide individual counseling, workgroup interventions and information about available community resources.  SFCC is also gathering names of employees with loved ones in military service who would like to participate in a support network or support group.  If you are interested in seeking assistance, please call the UCLA Staff and Faculty Counseling Center at (310) 794-0245.


When the pain doesn't stop-
Support for chronic pain sufferers

By Wendy Walsdorf, MFT

Everyone likes to hear "you look good", but for those in chronic pain it carries a mixed message. Chronic pain sufferers may appear well but suffer silently; often causing others to ignore the problem or at worst, doubt that there is in fact a problem at all.

The frustration that can accompany chronic pain and illness can lead to depression, anxiety and isolation if left untreated. Chronic pain is widespread, touching a large percentage of the population. The conditions that cause pain include but are not limited to, arthritis, migraine headaches, back pain, fibromyalgia and crohne's disease. The stress pain puts on the body and mind can make it difficult for employees to contribute fully to the workplace. The problem is often denied. Fear of job loss, being perceived as weak and shame contribute to the underreporting of this problem. Chronic pain and illness affects home life as well. Families have to adjust to new roles and expectations. It is not unusual to see significant others following a similar emotional cycle as the person in pain.

Pain is subjective; everyone experiences it differently depending on his or her own history, coping styles and support system; but if ever there was a "better time" to struggle with pain it is now. Researchers are discovering evidence of the mind/body connection and complimentary approaches to healing are greatly improving the quality of life.

There are numerous pain specialists and clinics emerging as the impact of chronic pain on individuals is acknowledged. Hospitals are now required to ask patients their level of pain and treat accordingly. Books and articles are widely available, as people live longer and the amount of people in chronic pain increases.

There is hope. People in pain can be taught to manage their symptoms and become an active participant in their own health and wellness. Understanding the triggers and emotions related to pain and illness, along with techniques to relieve the symptoms can help break the pain cycle. In an effort to assist UCLA employees, the SFCC offers a six-week educational support group whose goal it is to help pain sufferers increase their level of functioning and improve their quality of life.

For more information contact Wendy Walsdorf, MFT at (310) 794-0245.


Parenting Teenagers

By Beth Argus, MFT

Parenting teenagers is challenging. During this time, kids become allergic to parents and what once was a sweet, affectionate child who followed your rules may turn into a child that is defiant, moody and embarrassed to be seen in public with you. Gaining awareness of what is going on developmentally can help parents during these troubling years to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Developmental Issues*

Between the ages of 11 and 13, adolescents are adjusting to pubertal changes, learning to use new cognitive capacities, finding a place among their peers, and dealing with gender related expectations. Physical appearance becomes very important. Kids become increasingly self-centered and are unable to see other perspectives. They often take a stance that "no one understands me". They also have an intense involvement with their peer group.

In Middle Adolescence (Ages 14-16), adolescents are dealing with handling their sexuality, making moral decisions, developing new relationships with peers and balancing autonomy and accountability. During this period, they develop a greater awareness of the needs of others and a greater willingness to compromise. They are not as interested in gaining tangible rewards and instead seek the approval from their peers.

There is an increased emphasis in being independent and free from parental rule. Defining one’s identity is very important which includes experimentation in a variety of areas.

During Late Adolescence (Ages 17-19), teenagers are consolidating their identity, experiencing intimacy, and preparing to leave home. They begin to narrow choices for the future, have are fewer arguments with parents, and have increased capacity of intimacy.

Here are some tips on how to deal with teenagers.**

Change your style of parenting from authoritarian to authoritative

"Authoritative parents are warm but firm. They set standards for the child’s conduct but form expectations that are consistent with the child’s developing needs and capabilities. They place a high value on the development of autonomy and self-direction but assume the ultimate responsibility for their child’s behavior. Authoritative parents deal with their child in a rational, issue-orientated manner, frequently engaging in discussion and explanation with their children over matters of discipline." *

Get Involved by establishing regular weekly times to doing something special with your child, not being afraid to ask where you kids are going, who they’ll be with and what they’ll be doing. Get to know your kid’s friends-and their parents-so you are familiar with their activities. Try to be there after school when your child gets home. Eat together as often as you can.

Learn to Communicate by finding out about your child’s interests. The more you communicate, the more at ease your child will feel about discussing drugs and other sensitive issues with you. Be absolutely clear about your stance on issues such as drugs and alcohol abuse. Don’t leave room for interpretation. Be a better listener by paraphrasing what your child says to you. Ask for their input about family decisions. Give honest answers. Don’t react in a way that will cut off further discussion. Instead, try to have a calm discussion about things that shock you. Role-play with your kids situations in which they may be asked to do something they do not want to do by their peers. Don’t take what is said personally.

Provide Objective Behavioral Feedback. (E.g., "when you do _____, I feel _______. What I would like instead is _________".)

Walk the Walk by being a day-to-day example of your value system and examining your own behavior. If you smoke, drink, or take drugs, don’t expect your child to take advice on not taking drugs. Seek professional help for yourself if needed.

Lay Down the Law. Kids between the ages of 11-13 are highly at risk for drug experimentation. They are increasingly independent. Despite their protests, they still crave structure and guidance; they want you to show them you care enough to set limits. Create rules and discuss in advance the consequences. Set a curfew and enforce strictly. Have kids check in. Call parents whose home is to be used for a party and make sure adequate supervision is taking place.

Praise and Reward consistently and immediately. Accentuate the positive. Step back and let your kids make mistakes. Stick by them and trust their ability to overcome frustration and obstacles. Remember that Childhood is preparation and not a performance.

Problems

If there are more serious problems such as eating disorders, substance use, depression, withdrawal, delinquency or academic difficulties then seeking professional help is advisable. Remember that in dealing with these serious issues it is easy to focus on the symptoms and forget to deal with the true issues underlying the behavior. For example, a child with an eating disorder could be feeling very disconnected from his/her family and is using the disorder to have some control over the family. In these cases, working on communication issues and improving relationships within the family is crucial. Seeking professional help is a way to work on communication issues as well as to gain necessary resources for problem behaviors. The following are some good resources regarding parenting teenagers.

Resources

Early Adolescence Understanding the 10-15 Year Old by Gail A. Caissy Plennum Press.
Get Out Of My Life But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide To The NewTeenager, by Wolf, Anthony E., Harper Collins Canada Ltd., 1991
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, Kimberly Ann Coe (illustrator)
Parenting Teenagers: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting(Step) by Gary D. McKay (Contributor), Don, Sr. Dinkemeyer. Paperback (September 1990) For a free copy of Growing Up Drug-Free: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention, call the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program at 1.877.4EDPUBS. Additional resources on drug prevention can be ordered through the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1.800.788.2800 or by visiting their website at www.theantidrug.com
* Source The Adolescent in Family Therapy. Breaking the Cycle of Conflict and Control by Joseph A. Micucci, The Guildford Press, 1998

** Source Parenting Skills 21 Tips and Ideas to Help you Make a Difference from the Office of National Drug Control Policy

"Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld’s Secrets of Better Parenting Often Less is Much More" Bottom Line, Volume 21, Number 15 August 1, 2000


Coping With Change

By Beth Argus, MFT

Change is an inevitable part of our work and personal life. Change affects individuals in different ways. Some see change as positive; others are threatened by change. Learning how to manage change can make this process less stressful. The following are some tips on how to cope with change.

People do not fear change, they fear loss. The most common losses are in terms of security (uncertainty and feeling out of control), competence (one no longer knows what to do), relationships (loss of belonging to a team and loosing contact with individuals), sense of direction (mission becomes muddled), and territory (uncertainty of job assignment and space);

Most individuals go through a process of change that involves four stages: denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment. When you are experiencing a major change it is helpful to identify where you are in the process and to identify the feelings you are experiencing in each phase. If you are stuck in one of the stages, knowing which stage follows might help you move to the next phase;

In times of change, see yourself as a teamplayer/active participant and not a victim. For example, if you are experiencing changes in the workplace, ask yourself how you can actively participate in this change. Invent the future instead of redesigning the past!

The hardest changes to manage are those that are imposed on us because we often do not have time to prepare for the losses. During these changes it is helpful to remain positive and look at change as opportunity and not as danger;

If you are experiencing changes that are affecting your personal or work-life seek support through family and friends or seek professional help.

For further support, call the Staff & Faculty Counseling Center at X40245. Campus Human Resources offers workshops on Managing Change. For information on how to sign up for this workshop please call CHR at X40850.