Creative Parenting-Amplifying a Deviation

 By Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW

The direct discipline approach with kids doesn’t always work. Parents can however use UNUSUAL yet effective communication techniques to get increased control of their kids (AND ADULTS!).


Children do not always change quickly. Instead of getting naturally frustrated you can watch for small changes in your child and build on them. People tend to behave in patterned ways and if a child is showing tendencies towards positive change the parent can take advantage of this patterned behavioral change and build on it.

For example – If you notice that your child is doing a better job listening and cooperating with you than he or she is in the classroom you might say “You are doing such a great job listening to me and cooperating with my needs…how could you do this with your teacher?” or “I am so happy about how you are being a leader with your friends. What is that about?” Then have him/her think about how he/she can apply this growth to the next tasks…like getting along with teachers. Another example…”I have noticed how you have made such mature decisions about managing your money and I am really curious to know how you are going to apply this maturity to dealing with finding a job.” 

All ideas are taken from Jay Haley’s book – “Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson”.



Creative Parenting – The Use of Space and Place

By Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW

The direct discipline approach with kids doesn’t always work. Parents can however use UNUSUAL yet effective communication techniques to get increased control of their kids (AND ADULTS!).


People associate events, self, others, thoughts, feelings and situations with specific physical locations. You as a parent can use this idea to encourage your child to continue in a positive direction, think more creatively and/or be more empathic.

For example – If you notice that your child is beginning to listen and share better with you – then the next time you discuss a related topic – talk in the same place. However, naturally and without explanation, take the child’s past sitting position and have him/her sit where you were. Listen to your child about what is happening with him/her and work in questions to make sure he/she understands how you felt about the topic the last time you talked…i.e. “Do you remember how that made me feel when we discussed this last time?” This change in the child’s sitting position will encourage him/her to use more levels of thinking to be empathic…especially with the parent.

Another example – Naturally and without explanation, change the sitting positions at a time the family is all together…perhaps when eating. As everyone is settled and going about their business, begin to talk about positive changes of one or all of the kids. Talk about the old and then the new and have the children (if possible) discuss the joys of positive change. Through an associated shift in location you will be teaching their unconscious thinking that the old is very old and the new is here, now, different and solid. 

All ideas are taken from Jay Haley’s book – “Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson”.




Creative Parenting – Motivating Through Metaphors

by Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW

The direct discipline approach with kids doesn’t always work. Parents can however use UNUSUAL yet effective communication techniques to get increased control of their kids (AND ADULTS!).


One of the best times to give a suggestion to someone is after you tell them a story. Applying this idea to parenting can be very helpful in facilitating change. Follow these steps – First, think of a behavior in one of your children that you want changed ( I want Joe to go to school) Second, think about what personal characteristic the child needs to improve to make this happen (ambition). Third, think of a time (story) in the past when he was ambitious and fearless. Forth, come up with a similar but unrelated story to use as your introduction that highlights or supports your main point. This first story will cause the listener to think more deeply and make connections. For example –
“Joe, I remember a time when your cousin was so interested in pleasing his boss. He wanted to do well at his job and get a promotion. He got to work early every day and even though he was new at the job he learned all he could until he felt comfortable. I remember when you did that when you learned to swim. You were scared but you got ready on time. I brought you there and you jumped right in to the pool.”
Stories as such are meant to make people think and come up with their own answers. If you simply tell someone what to do it can be resisted and easily forgotten.
Make sure to not explain yourself. If the child asks “Why are you telling me this?” just change the subject. Explaining it would be simplifying what is going on in the child’s thinking.
The best time to tell the story is close to the time when the parent and child were talking about the problem…going to school. Allow enough time to make it appear like a different topic but close enough that the child can make the association…perhaps 10-20 seconds.

All ideas are taken from Jay Haley’s book – “Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson”.




Creative Parenting -Providing a Worse Alternative

by Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW

The direct discipline approach with kids doesn’t always work. Parents can however use UNUSUAL yet effective communication techniques to get increased control of their kids (AND ADULTS!).


Children and young people will often oppose a parent’s suggestion to follow through on requested tasks and it can be difficult to motivate kids through direct requests. Also, parents generally want for their kids to learn how to make their own decisions while still being under the direction of a parent. Both of these things can be done at the same time if the parent provides for the child a set of alternatives. By doing this, the parent is allowing for choice and opposition is taken out of the equation since the parent is creating the options. Motivation can be created in the child by suggesting something that they will oppose yet providing a more pleasant option. Follow this process – think of what you want the child to do then give a suggestion of something that is worse. After this return to the statement of what you want for them to do and say it. For example –
“Do you want to go to clean the shower now or in 15 minutes?”
After they make their decision you can continue to use this method to suggest more of your desired behaviors.
“When you clean the shower would you rather wash the shower curtain or clean the drain?”
This method follows the basic understanding that people are motivated to do things when they feel empowered by choice.

 All ideas are taken from Jay Haley’s book – “Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson”.





Creative Parenting by-Encouraging Resistance

Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW

The direct discipline approach with kids doesn’t always work. Parents can however use UNUSUAL yet effective communication techniques to get increased control of their kids (AND ADULTS!).


 – If one of your children challenges your direction then accept their behavior if you can. Take interest in their reasons to oppose you and treat their decision to do something else as a need. Your acceptance and interest will turn their opposition into cooperation. Since you have then repositioned the relationship as more cooperative it puts you as the parent in a better position to make suggestions and to be heard. Here is an example –
‘Mom – I am going out tonight …I don’t care what you say”
“I understand that you are going out tonight and that it is important to you. Thank you for telling me. Before you leave please finish the yard and be home by…”
You can also use this method to “encourage” negative behavior that is already being done. For example –
“I see that you need to spend a lot of time with your friends saying out late. While you are out please help me by picking up some groceries and talk to me about other things I need done when you get home.”
This idea follows the basic understanding that people do not like being told what to do.

All ideas are taken from Jay Haley’s book – “Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson”.

Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW Suggested TOP TEN LIST of Self Help Books

#10 Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz  

IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE that in the 1980s there was very little understanding about the impacts of alcoholism on a family. At the time alcoholism was seen as a problem impacting only the addict.Then Janet Woititz and other therapists like Claudia Black began to write about their observations of adult clients who were raised by an alcoholic. (Known as ACOA’S – Adult Children of Alcoholics) They noticed that these adult clients all shared many of the same struggles in their personal and relational lives. Alcoholism began to be seen as a systemic problem with impacts on the family that are highly predictable. Woititz work also changed the counseling profession since clients were given the opportunity to quickly understand that the chaotic behavior in their childhood families was not normal, that they were not alone and that tangible reasons existed to explain their experience. In this CLASSIC book Woititz clearly describes common characteristics of the ACOA, how they started, what challenges continue in adulthood, and offers a starting point for change. This is a MUST READ for anyone raised by an alcoholic parent, anyone married to someone raised by an alcoholic, ALL therapists, ALL marital therapists and anyone in the counseling ministry.


#9 Neuro – Linguistic Programming Workbook for Dummies By Romilla Ready and Kate Burton

Neuro–linguistic Programming (NLP) is a branch of psychotherapy that is based on the understanding that people experience the world through their senses and translate sensory information into conscious and unconscious thought patterns that impact physiology, emotions and behavior. The linguistic aspect in NLP refers to the idea that language helps capture, conceptualize and communicate experience while programming has to do with the idea that people have patterned internal processes that facilitate learning, acting and getting results.

NLP began as an attempt to explain and teach the patterns of successful individuals. Today NLP is used for performance enhancement, mental health and employee development.

I have found the strength of NLP to be in its written exercises.  Authors Ready and Burton have put together a workbook with the active learner in mind. Chapter topics include – motivational patterns, personal goal setting, challenging self resistance, challenging self-limiting behavior, subconscious communication for relationship development, visualization for emotional management, challenging limiting self beliefs, aliening self goals with purpose and value, and the power of story telling.

This workbook is a very good explanation of NPL and provides tools for immediate positive results. Enjoy!!


#8 Ten Days to a Less Defiant Child by Jeffrey Bernstein PhD

DON’T BE FOOLED by the title – dealing with a child who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder is difficult and eliciting positive behavioral change in the child takes time. However, following the suggestions in this book will bring quick results. A significant frustration for parents of defiant children is that their love, skilled parenting and investment in their child don’t seem to work. Bernstein explains in this book that parenting a defiant child takes a unique set of skills that can be learned and applied. He explains the often times misunderstood self perception of a defiant child, how to stay out of power struggles, side stepping yelling, dealing with school defiance and creating “dependable discipline”. This book is EXTEMELY helpful and will allow parents to change what at times seems like an impossible situation. Enjoy!!


#7 The Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook by Matthew McKay Jeffrey Wood and Jeffrey Brantley

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the treatment of personality disorders came from a theoretical framework of delayed emotional development and psychotherapy focused on both confrontation and the management of a therapeutic relationship. The positive results of these methods are inconsistent. Later psychotherapist Marsha Linehan began to describe personality disorders as a set of problems stemming from both a low level of emotional tolerance and an inability to regulate emotions. She created what is known today as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which centers on a four part treatment focus of distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. The central practices of DBT include MINDFULNESS which is a behavioral exercise to develop the ability to be aware (and separate) of thoughts, emotions, body sensations and actions in the present moment as well as RADICAL ACCEPTANCE which is the ability to not judge one’s self and others. DBT has become a very effective and consistent treatment method for personality disorders. In this book the authors provide a clear description of DBT and provide many exercises fitting to each treatment part in DBT. This is an excellent book to use as part of therapy, groups or to use individually to provide a sense of what needs to be done to end the symptoms and cognitive patterns of these painful and stubborn disorders.  


#6 – The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory: A New Way of Thinking About the Individual and the Group by Roberta M. Gilbert

It is reasonable to say that one of the GREATEST contributors to the field of psychotherapy is Murray Bowen. Bowen challenged the idea that human behavior is an isolated act related only to one’s thoughts, feelings and youth. Bowen recognized that human behavior has more to do with how a person exists in their emotional context of people – particularly the family. “Systems Theory”, as it is known, was revolutionary because people could relieve themselves from the unreasonable responsibility of being the sole creator of their own problems. Equally important, it allowed therapists to help people end symptoms and problem behavior by changing what was happening AROUND the person.

In this book Roberta Gilbert does an incredible job of covering all of the major points of Browen Theory. Topics include – The Family Emotional System, Differentiation of Self, Family Triangulation, Emotional a Communicative Cut Offs, Family Projection, Multigenerational Influences and Sibling Position. Gilbert also includes special considerations for parents and leaders. System Theory is NOT intuitive and most everyone will have to read about it to understand how it relates to their own life. Considering the ideas in this book will help one to better understand why they act and feel as they do and how family members have contributed to current and past.


#5 Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Ann Katherine

It is ABSOLUTEY INCREDIBLE how just one relational topic gone wrong can cause so much damage. Boundary management is a behavioral consideration that comes from Murray Bowen’s theories about The Differentiation of Self. Poor boundary management will lead to anxiety, depression, anger, divorce, conflict, broken families, broken companies, lost careers, suicide, personality disorders and PTSD. The good news is that problem solving proper boundary management can eliminate all of these listed problems. Ann Katherine was the first to cover this topic in book form and has given readers a chance to regain their sanity. Boundaries is high on my list for self help books because of the selected topic and the incredible possibilities that exist if struggling people use these ideas.

#4 The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmond Bourne

Anxiety has a simple definition – FEAR OF THE FUTURE. However for something that seems so easy to grasp anxiety is extremely difficult to understand. It comes in many forms – generalized anxiety, panic, phobias, PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder. Its symptoms can mimic depression, ADD, behavior problems, mania and psychosis. Also, anxiety is DANGEROUS – left untreated anxiety will turn to major depression, will destroy the body and cause serious health problems.

The best treatment for anxiety begins with education since understanding and normalizing anxiety decreases its symptoms. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook covers most every topic and treatment intervention related to anxiety. It explains the various types of anxiety and its possible causes. The book teaches ways to end anxiety through problem solving, physical relaxation, feelings expression, change of diet, physical exercise and medication. The most powerful section is on self talk and mistaken beliefs where Bourne explains how the anxious person thinks differently about themselves and the future and the book provides ways to change these negative thought patterns. This book is high on my list because its organization, level of information and thoughtful directives are SO HELPFUL that many people who suffer with anxiety can use its suggestions successfully without therapeutic treatment.

#3 – Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro

When Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) became available to people in the early 1990’s it seemed too good to be true. The idea that controlled eye movements combined with visualization and body awareness could initiate a self healing mechanism for trauma seemed unbelievable. Despite years of extreme scrutiny from the psychiatric community, EMDR thrived and spread to treating other mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, panic, OCD, performance fears and low self esteem.

Throughout the history of EMDR the treatment protocol has been highly controlled by a therapist. Clients needed prescreening to assess readiness and the therapist followed a developed eight step model. The strictness of the procedure lead to both a well understood range of movement for clients and its very predictable process created a much needed yet unspoken climate of safety.

In “Getting Past Your Past” Francine Shapiro (The creator of EMDR) steps out of the strict EMDR procedure by providing a teaching book on EMDR that can be used by the person who is suffering. It is the first book of its kind and through its pages she essentially takes the therapist out of the picture. Self administered EMDR is explained as a possibility for people who are struggling with mildly disturbing memories and Shapiro suggests that under certain circumstances EMDR can be done alone. This book is very high on my list because EMDR is so incredibly effective and by putting the procedure in the hands of the individual, Shapiro makes a great thing even better.

#2 Messages: The Communication Skills Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis and Patrick Fanning

Communication is a BIG topic. It is a relational necessity and can make or break marriages, families, relationships and businesses. Also, communication comes in many forms since it can be spoken, unspoken, conscious or unconscious. Communication also determines emotional health. For example, if someone is a poor communicator it can cause anger, passivity, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately proper communication it is not formally taught but is handed down to us through our closest relationships.

“Messages” is a gift to the interested learner. It covers every applicable topic related to healthy communication. Topics include – listening, self-disclosure, expressing, body language, assertiveness training, negotiation, couple skills, communicating with children, hidden agendas, Transactional Analysis, prejudgment and methods of influence. Messages is high on my list because it is a compete teaching about an extremely important topic and delivers the teaching in an organized way that will bring fast results.


#1 – Family Guide to Emotional Wellness by Patrick Fanning and Matthew McKay

Throughout the history of psychotherapy there has been an increased understanding of the POWER AND IMPORTANCE of the family. The study of child development, family systems theory and the marriage support the idea that family health is the primary influence for individual wellness, individual success and healthy communities.

Family Guide to Emotional Wellness is my NUMBER ONE choice of self help books for several reasons. First, it is about helping families recognize and change problems that may negatively impact its well being. Second – it is huge with 720 pages of exercises, teaching and resources. Third, this book covers more family topics than any other book I know including topics on couple skills, sex, communication, infidelity and anger. The book dedicates an entire section to kids including parenting skills. It also includes six chapters on addictions, seven chapters on dealing with medical problems and 15 chapters on specific mental health diagnosis and methods of treatment followed by a full section on wellness methods. This is not a cover to cover read but is a handbook for family health and an ongoing resource for the ever changing family.


Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW, ACSW is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice specializing in EMDR therapy. For contact call (616) 443-1425 or send an email to


Talking and Listening: How “In Depth Communication” can Strengthen your Personal and Family Life.

By Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW 

I.  Active Listening – Listening is not a passive behavior but an active process that involves choices for how to respond to the speaker. Active Listening has four main parts. They are paraphrasing, clarifying, giving feedback and listening with your body.

          A. Paraphrasing – After hearing what the speaker initially says, the listener provides a mirroring statement letting the speaker know they were heard. A good paraphrase can be developed by beginning with one of the following phrases:

                       So you are saying…In other words…If I understand you correctly…What I hearing you saying is that…Let me get this straight…

                     After paraphrasing is complete the speaker should have the sense that they were heard and are understood. The listener, however, does not have to agree with what was said.

          B. Clarifying – After giving feedback, the listener should clarify. This is done by gently asking questions about the presented topic and making sure there are no misunderstandings. Clarifying should make the speaker feel important and that their concerns have value. The listener also should be sure to have a goal of understanding and not interrogating.

                       Ask the “who, what, when, where” questions to make sure the speaker is understood.

         C. Feedback – After paraphrasing and clarifying give feedback. Feedback is a supportive yet honest expression of one’s opinion regarding the topic. Feedback should be given at the same time as the discussion because the speaker is then more likely to listen. Feedback gives the speaker an understanding of the impact of their language and it can provides a fresh point of view. 

                        Feedback should be honest but supportive. For example to say “I think you may have made a mistake” rather than “You blew it!”  

          D. Listening With Your Body – Listening with your body is an unspoken gesture that makes it easier for the speaker to talk. This can be done in many ways. For example,

                      Maintain eye contact, move closer or lean forward, nod as positive reinforcement, smile or frown in sympathy, keep posture open, remove distraction and remove objects between self and presenter.                                                                                                    

II. The Use of Self to Increase Communication – The quality of communication can be increased by paying attention to how one’s self is being used. The use of one’s self is the alteration of things in the relational context that already exist but may be unclear, normalized, taken for granted or ignored.

  1. A.    The Art of Being Quiet – Both listeners and presenters maintain an unspoken time limit on the accepted length of silence. Altering the length of silence before responding to a presenter can have a positive impact. Consider following these suggestions.

                      Wait longer before responding to create an atmosphere of calm and listening.

                      Wait longer before responding to allow the speaker to look internally and reflect.

           B. Boundaries – Boundaries are the spoken and unspoken rules, roles and limitations relevant to the relationship and context. Boundaries involve issues of time, authority, submission, involvement, distance and resources. Communication is greatly increased when boundaries are clear and verbalized. Boundaries are determined usually by the person in authority. When boundaries are clear, it allows for safety, freedom and self development. Here are examples of clear boundaries.

                         Job descriptions and work roles are clearly understood and well managed.

                      When a listener is clear and consistent regarding how long he or she can listen, what topics can be heard and how much he or she one is willing to do.

                    When someone is willing to say “no” to tasks that are too big, inappropriate or out of line with expectations.

                   When a manager listens to an employee or colleague in the same location each time they talk.

          C. Self Disclosure – Self disclosure is sharing information about oneself that is somewhat personal. When a listener self discloses he or she is giving an unspoken suggestion that the speaker self disclose as well. Consider using these ideas:

                       Think about what you would like for the speaker to say that would move the discussion in a direction you would like. Based on this topic, pick something from your life that is personal and share it. The speaker will hear this and most likely respond with a personal example on the same topic. (If you want someone to talk about their mother than start by talking about your own mother.)

                         Self disclosure allows the listener to control the discussion by setting the parameters of what is acceptable. In other words, the level and detail of personal disclosure is determined by the listener.

                        The listener should be sure to only share as much as he or she can manage emotionally.                                                                                            

III. Responding To Criticism – Responding to criticism has to do with one’s reactions to negative words about one’s self or behavior. How we respond  to criticism determines if the communication will be productive or nonproductive.

        A. Acknowledging – Acknowledging is saying one agrees with the criticism but not necessarily agreeing with how it is said. Acknowledging criticism allows one to decrease the amount of defense in the relationship and productively discuss change.

           “You are late again.”

                          …”You are right. I was late.”

          B. Clouding – Clouding is helpful for responding to manipulative putdowns of which you disagree. Do this by agreeing with part of what is said while holding your position. It decreases a defensive atmosphere and communicates a willingness to change while holding one’s ground.

                         ‘You work too much. You think the world will fall apart if you take a day off.”

                          …”You are right. I work too much.” 

          C. Probing – Asking questions following criticism to understand if it is constructive or manipulative. Listen to the main concern then restate it in a question.

                        ‘You do a poor job and you are not pulling your weight anymore”

                         …”What is it about my work that bothers you?” 

IV. Imago Communication – Imago Communication is a technique developed for marital therapy with the primary goal of developing relational intimacy. Proper Imago Communication will allow for the speaker to begin relating current conflicts to childhood experiences and emotions.

  1. A.    Mirroring Mirroring is simply a repeat of what was heard by the speaker.

         So you are saying…Is there more…let me make sure I have it all…

  1. B.      Validation –Validation is a statement that the speaker’s perspective is reasonable. Validation is not necessarily agreeing with the speaker, however.

        That makes sense because…Can you help me understand?

  1. C.    Empathy – Empathy is the act of putting oneself in the position of the speaker and imaging how it would feel to experience their position.

       I can imagine you feel…           

Five tips for strengthening your marriage WHILE raising teens

By Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW

1. Align in discipline and decisions – Outside of inappropriate methods of discipline, the choice of discipline is much less important than the spouses’ staying aligned. Even if you disagree, present a united front verbally and physically. Discuss differences in private.

2. Hold off on directives and exercise negotiation – Adolescents need to increasingly make decisions independently. Parents can talk alone to discuss the parameters of teen decisions then assist the teen in making decisions by asking questions. This facilities parental influence and decreases opposition.

3. Tell Your Story – Does your teenact out” the same way you did? Are you divorced or recovering from substance abuse? Tell your story of change first to your spouse and then to the teen in an appropriate way they can understand. The teen is most likely experiencing the same thing but does not know how to end it.

4. Don’t do for a teen as they can do for themselves – Rescuing a teen from the realities of adulthood is destructive. Assist teens in being independent by increasingly having them take on adult tasks such as earning money, spending money with limitation, cooking and cleaning. Parents can use the extra time to date.

5. Talk together to make plans of success for the teen and then tell them what you did – Following this suggestion will demand from your teen that they visualize their parents as loving, bonded advocates for their well-being. It makes it very difficult for the child to consciously be oppositional.


High Functioning Families

By Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW, ACSW

The McMaster Model of Family Functioning was developed as a measurement device for family health. This model suggests six important and well researched dimensions needed for family health. Knowing and following these six dimensions will help any family or group to better functioning and health.

Problem Solving

Problem Solving consists of a family’s ability to solve problems in an effort to maintain effective functioning. It is known that most all families, whether healthy or dysfunctional, have the same amount of problems. However, the differences in functioning are related to the family’s ability to resolve problems thoroughly. Thorough problem solving consists of problem identification, recognition of the key players in the problem, developing alternatives to the problem, deciding on an alternative, monitoring the decision’s effectiveness and then evaluating the effectiveness of the process. High functioning families do these steps in a very quick and spontaneous way. Most high functioning families have little or no unresolved issues


Communication is seen as the exchange of information in a family. For families to be functioning well the members need to be communicating both clearly and directly. Clear communication is determined by whether the message has been clearly stated or if it is unclear, camouflaged or “muddied”. Direct communication occurs when the family members give information to the intended recipient rather than talking through people.

Family Roles

Family Roles are seen as the repetitive patterns of behavior that members use to complete family tasks. Healthy families tend to follow three distinct characteristics regarding family roles. First, the members arrange themselves in a way that allows their collective work to fulfill all family needs and developmental demands. Also, members expect only what are appropriate tasks of its members. Overwhelming members is not an option and no task can be too intellectually, emotionally or developmentally beyond capacity. Also, healthy families have a built-in accountability process by which members are evaluated on their role performance. Family roles are clear so that evaluation is fair and accurate.

Affective Responsiveness

Affective Responsiveness refers to a family’s ability to respond to a given situation with the appropriate amount and type of emotional expression. Healthy families have a wide range of emotions and can apply the correct emotional response to a given family problem or success. Expression is neither overblown nor disengaged but is an appropriate response to the situation. Family members have the expectation that their actions will be followed by appropriate and consistent emotional reactions. Family members are not left in question regarding how members feel about their behavior.

Affective Involvement

Affective Involvement is the extent to which the family shows interest or involvement in activities and interests of individual family members. Healthy families are involved in the process of understanding each other. Family members need to have a reasonable response to members’ interest, neither being too engaged or uninvolved. At all levels of family activity, members need to be open and spontaneous with emotion. Healthy families take a basic tone of being invested and encouraging.

Behavior Control

Behavior Control is the pattern a family develops for managing family activity. Healthy behavioral control is seen as having standards that are reasonable for its members while also allowing for an opportunity to negotiate and change. Behavioral control is neither too ridged nor inflexible nor is it Laissez- faire with few standard requirements. Expectations for behavior are clear, negotiation is an option and accountability is the norm. Individuals in these families maintain a sense of responsibility and insight into the consequences of their behavior.

Optimal family functioning is acquired through knowledge and practice. Long standing research on healthy functioning has allowed people to follow suggested methods of change that lead to family health. Learn these six things, discuss them at home and invest in positive group change.


Bullying in Children and Youth – Warning Signs

By Jeff Dwarshuis LMSW ACSW 

Here is a description of the behavioral warning signs of both victims and bullies.


  1. Socially victims may appear to be isolated, unable to defend themselves, cautious, having low self esteem and having poor social skills.
  2. Psychologically victims may appear anxious, depressed and impulsive with a poor ability to regulate their emotions. Depressive thinking and hopelessness in the victim can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.
  3. Victims’ behavioral warning signs of abuse are a loss of interest in school, taking a different route to school, having physical injuries, withdrawing from family and school activities, emotional upset after receiving a call or email or using derogatory statements about specific kids.


  1. The bully’s primary characteristic is a persistent expression of contempt towards someone he or she sees as being different, inferior or not deserving of respect. The bully’s abusive behavior is not a single act but an on-going pattern of abuse towards another individual.
  2. The most common targets of the bully are people who are physically disabled, obese, who appear to be of a different sexual orientation or in a racial or religious minority.
  3. The bully will show warning signs of his or her behavior through displaying a lack of empathy, having a favorable view of violence, being aggressive towards adults, having a hard time following rules and having a need to dominate others.

Bullying happens most commonly when kids travel to and from school, in unsupervised school areas, in sports team settings that normalize aggression and over the internet.

Factors that contribute to bullying are not having anti-bullying policies, inconsistent school discipline, high teacher turnover and a lack of support for children with special needs.