Friday, July 27, 2012

Help! Crying baby!

Do I let my baby “cry it out?”
             You’re tired. Your baby is crying. You might be wondering, do I have to do something about it every time?  Aren’t we supposed to let babies “cry it out” sometimes? Here is what we really know about a baby’s cries:
Crying is a tool. In fact, it is the only tool that your baby has to signal that she needs something from you. She does not yet have the ability to soothe herself or take care of herself. Crying is unpleasant to adults so we can be motivated to do something about it!
What we do about it matters. From the moment your baby is born, he begins to form expectations about the world. He can learn that the world is a safe, predictable environment where growth and exploration is possible. He can also learn that the world is scary and out of control. Do parents have the power to influence this learning process? Yes!
Soothing a crying baby. When their cries are ignored, babies do not learn that they have any control over their feelings. On the other hand, a consistent response teaches babies that they have some way of helping themselves feel better (getting you to respond). Your baby will learn best if you respond every time to her cries, no matter what time of day it is (see helpful link below). Eventually, your baby will learn to soothe herself. Here are some tips:
·         Give the baby a warm bath.
·         Go for a walk or ride with the baby to get some fresh air.
·         For more tips, go to:
            One last thing – don’t worry if you have missed your baby’s cries in the past. A few bad experiences will not hurt her. Rather, the day in, day out experience of your care will be what helps her learn to trust you. By the end of the first year of life, your baby will be finding ways to help soothe herself. At this point, you will have taught her important ways to calm herself down and regulate herself – a key characteristic of healthy people.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

To Listen is to Care

to listen: to give attention with the ear
To listen has been defined as giving attention with the ear. In relationships, however, listening involves more than just the ear. Real listening means to really care about what the other person is saying. Genuine listening is an important part of strong relationships. Spouses, parents, and children all need to feel heard in order to feel loved.  To listen is to care.

How often do you really listen? How often to you really feel that someone is listening to you?

I recently met with a mom and her son who were having some problems. The mom was always tired and stressed and the son would always get in trouble at school and at home. Both felt mad at the other. As I was talking with the mom about her son, we realized that she doesn’t ever really listen to what he says to her. At the same time, we realized that the son doesn’t ever really listen to what his mom says to him. Neither of them feel like talking because the other person doesn’t listen!  There may be many things that prevent us from listening (busyness, I pods), but the main cause is that we probably do not feel heard ourselves. It is very hard to listen when we feel like others don’t listen to us.

But you can break the cycle. Although it may be really hard, try to take an extra minute and really listen and care about what someone is telling you. You will be amazed at how good it feels. And as you listen more, people will listen to you.

To listen is to care.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Healthy Relationships: Dating Violence

Whether you are a teenager or an adult, relationships can become unhealthy quickly.  This podcast includes stories and warning signs of teenage dating violence.  If you suspect you, a family member, or friend are in an unhealthy relationship, physically violent or not, get the help you need.  If you live in the Auburn area, visit or call (334) 844-4478 for an appointment with a therapist. 

Stay Teen Podcast

Be happy and healthy,


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Friend Request

Over and over again, research tells us that social support is important.  Without friends and family to be there for you, life can be depressing.  Personally, I know that without my loved ones, I would be in big trouble.  But is it any kind of social support that will do? Or does quality matter more than quantity? 
In the facebook era, we have lots of quantity.  My last facebook post had 9 likes and 6 comments.  Look at all that social support coming my way! There are at least 15 people who care about my well-being.  But is that enough to really give me all the benefits of social support?  I’m not so sure. 
I don’t want to bash facebook, because I do think it helps people get connected and stay in touch.  However, I believe it is the quality of friendships that provides the most fulfillment rather than the amount of surface friends one has.  With technology today, we can provide the illusion of friendship without the substance.  You have a cardboard cutout of a friend to sit beside you, but they really have no idea what is going on in your life beyond what you post on your wall.  It is the same information that the kid from your 8th grade science class knows as well, but it gives your friend the affirmation that they are still involved in your life.  Facebook and twitter are much easier than phone calls and visits, and I know I often fall into the trap of going to what is easier rather than what is meaningful.
This leads me to the question, what is a real friend?  I think this is different for every person.  I know someone is a true friend when I can trust them, depend on them, and open up to them without worrying about their judgment.  They are someone who is interested in what is going on in my life, someone who let’s me know that they care, and someone who brings joy into my life—and that I am the same to them, as well.  I know I am not doing my best job at supporting my friend when I am too busy or exhausted to pick up the phone.  I know there are many friendships that I am neglecting, but really do value.
Are you stuck in a virtual friendship?  Are you finding that you know more about your friend from her facebook page than from her face?  Sherry Turkle gives a fresh perspective on the influence of technology on relationships in her TED talk at  I’m suggesting a new friend request—not on a social media site, but time spent together lifting each other’s spirits.  Friends are about connection, so increase the quality of your connection through encouraging words or a fun time together.  It may take more work or be inconvenient with your schedule, but the opportunity to connect, to support, and to have fun will bring benefits to your mental and physical health in the long run!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hearts & Hammers: Episode 1: You First

We all feel vulnerable sometimes in relationships.  This little cartoon short is funny yet poignant, I think.  Why do we sometimes hold back from our partners?  At times, do we become angry and hurtful towards our loved ones?  Underlying feelings of insecurity, pain, and fear can cause us to act in ways that actually harm our relationships, despite our best wishes.

Call the Auburn University Marriage and Family Therapy Center today for an appointment.  One of our therapists can help get you and your partner back on track.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don’t forget to take care of YOU!

People often seek marriage / family therapy because there is something troubling them about their current relationship situation. Whether it is an unfaithful partner, a willful child, or intrusive in-laws (or ALL of the above), one thing is certain: it hurts us. All of these situations count as stressors. What happens when we get stressed out? We get sick! Numerous studies have pointed toward a link between relationship quality and physical health. But how is this possible?

One way that this happens is through the continual activation of our body’s stress-response system – namely, the HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal) Axis. The HPA Axis is what regulates the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps mobilize energy in the body for a situation that may be challenging. This sounds like a good thing, right? One casualty during this process, however, is the immune system. When the HPA Axis is chronically in overdrive due to the amount of stress we experience, our immune system becomes chronically suppressed. Low immune system, more sickness.

So, what do we do about this? Certainly, seeking family therapy is definitely one helpful component in reducing stress. However, it might be easy to forget that it is just as necessary to take care of our own bodies during this process. Stress is not just psychological – it is physiological, too. Therefore, we need to take care to ensure that our bodies are not falling to pieces when we get stressed out. Take a walk. Instead of the donut at breakfast, take the banana. Get a massage after work (or on your lunch break!) – research suggests that massages can help reduce cortisol levels.

All in all, don’t forget that whatever relationship problem you might be experiencing, you’re always doing yourself a favor by giving yourself some special care.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Does Every Person Need?

By: Allen  

Just as we need food, water, and shelter to survive, people need to be connected to other people. Did you know that orphans in Romania have died from a lack of human interaction and connection even after being given food and water sufficient to survive? Did you know that people will die if left all alone? Luckily, very few people in the world are completely alone. But many people do suffer from loneliness. Perhaps because loneliness can occur even when people are physically close by. And it seems odd that with the rise and popularity of social media, that people would seem to feel more connected than ever before. However, receiving a text or a wall post doesn’t quite feel the same as talking with a good friend face to face.

Loneliness is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. It makes people more prone to both sickness and suicide. Loneliness can be felt in a close relationship if one person doesn’t feel understood. Loneliness can be felt by a “popular” kid at school. It can be felt by an older adult who doesn’t feel appreciated for all they contributed to the world. Loneliness is unfortunately rampant all around us, probably more so than one might imagine because people do not like to admit that they feel lonely. Or they may not even realize it as they try to find easy replacements (e.g., video games, drugs).

So, then what are the most important things people can do for other people? First, be there. And listen. Second, recognize what people are going through. Think to yourself, “What is this person experiencing?” Be empathic. If you were in their place, what might you be feeling or thinking? And third, tell them. This will allow people to feel connected and avoid loneliness.

What about this idea for parents? Parents, instead of telling children that they shouldn’t be sad or hurt or tired, say something like “I bet it’s really hard when your brother calls you a bad name. That would make me sad too.” That way, your child will feel that you really care about them and will be more willing to listen to corrective guidance when it is needed.

To feel connected to others. This is what every person needs.