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Five Questions to Ask Your Teen About ’13 Reasons Why?’


By now many of us have become aware of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which is a series depicting the experience of a young teenager who commits suicide. Throughout the series the main character shares the various hurts and traumas she has gone through that leads to her decision to end her life. For many people this has been a troubling show to watch due to its graphic content, which includes a detailed depiction of sexual assault and the process of a completed suicide including the detailed depiction of the character dying through suicide.

Multiple media outlets have highlighted the creators intent to open dialogue surrounding suicide and not to glamorize the process of dying by way of suicide. However, for many the interpretation and impact of the visual content has had varying responses. For some it has been highly triggering and has increased suicidal ideation. For others it has created curiosity and the desire to open communication about suicide.

For all parents even those with the best filters or rules about viewing mature content, chances are your tween or teenager will be exposed to this show in some fashion. Whether viewing it themselves or through interactions with friends and social media, 13 Reasons Why isn’t going away and here are five questions to support you in starting this necessary conversation with your teen or tween.

What do you understand about the show?

Were there aspects of the show that you personally related to?

Is there anything I can do to help support you in understanding the realities of suicide?

Have you ever had thoughts like this yourself? Can you help me understand them?

Is there anything I can do for you?

If you discover your child has struggled with suicidal thoughts or is currently having them, it is important to not dismiss the seriousness of their experiences and these thoughts and to seek out help from licensed professional immediately. Below are resources for parents and children who may be in crisis.

If you feel your child could benefit from further professional help Wasatch Family Therapy is here to serve you.

National Suicide Prevention Life Line 1-800-273-TALK

The Utah Crisis Line 1-801-587-3000

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Youth) 1-866-488-7386


Three Great Ways to Explore and Embrace Diversity with Children…

Sharing diversity with children can have a woven like presence in the basic fabric of your life if you allow it. It is not a particular or singular act. I have found that there is somewhat of an approach or framework to how families can successfully embrace diversity and cultural competence as a family. These are ideas I share with clients as well as use with my own children and family.
Exposure: As a family embrace the diverse world around you. Spend time in various environments that host various ethnicities. Enjoy and participate in various events throughout the community and celebrate exploring these varying cultures as a family. Select and enjoy books, music and shows in your home that introduces various ethnic backgrounds and their customs.
Inclusion: Embracing others ethnic backgrounds goes well beyond talking about ethnicity and cultural differences. Go out of our way to spend time in places and spaces that welcome diversity and display inclusiveness and cohesion amongst varying cultures. Build friendships organically with all types of families from various backgrounds.
Modeling: By way of language, dialogue and behaviors. Children do as we do not as we say. Walk the walk of inclusion, acceptance and welcome open dialogue about ethnicity and diversity related topics in your home. Create an open fluid dialogue about current events, differences in lifestyles, ethnicity and customs within your home and family.
As our society evolves into a very polarized place remember that you have the power to create and set the tone for the environment in your home. Breathe love, acceptance and tolerance into your world and the world of your children.

Nutrition and Depression

canstockphoto0173381Nutrition and Depression
Have you ever considered food as a treatment or means of reducing your symptoms of Depression.  Through the research of Nutritional Psychology studies are finding concrete links between nutrition and relief of various mental health symptoms.
Take a look at this Psych Central Article published By Jane Collingwood
Melanie Davis CMHC NCC is currently studying within the field of Nutritional Psychology and excited about offering her clients a wide variety of options for reducing common symptoms associated with Anxiety and Depression.
For more information contact Wasatch Family Therapy at 801.944.4555

4 Tips for Working with a Discouraged Child

canstockphoto11822062Four tips for working with a discouraged child…

When working with a discouraged child, work to see them as a discouraged individual. Feeling discouraged isn’t just an emotion experienced by children, it is a very relatable feeling that adults often experience as well. Children, while developmentally less mature, are not experiencing something you lack the ability to empathize with. So lets start there! Empathy can soften even the most escalated situations. Now that we are going into this situation with empathy, explore how the four tips below could be implemented when you encounter a situation with your child who may be experiencing a moment of discouragement

1. How would you want someone to react to you if you were discouraged? Think back to a time when you last felt discouraged. How would you have like a loved one to respond to you? What would have felt good, comforting and supportive? Begin to respond to your child in a similar fashion.

2. How can you encourage the child to self-soothe and problem solve independently? Encourage your child to identify the state of discouragement and empower them to problem solve to help themselves to find relief and solutions.

3. Offer yourself as a resource but don’t insist on being one. When a child is discouraged it may be nice to know they are not alone and that you are there as a resource in their life to offer support when they feel they need it. You might say something like. “I can see you are discouraged right now. I know you are a great problem solver but if you need any help problem solving or if you just need a hug, I am here for you”

4. Acknowledge, validate and commend your child for overcoming a challenging emotional experience. When you see your child may be de-escalating, has successfully problem solved, or is just finding their way through feeling discouraged, acknowledge them and their emotional work. That might look something like this. “Wow, I could see that you were really discouraged and I bet that was tough, but you really handled that nicely and found a way to help yourself through it and/or coped with that discouragement really well. I am happy you are starting to feel better”

If you identify that you may have a child struggling beyond your and their ability to cope with everyday emotions it may be a great time to explore the idea of seeking professional support. A licensed therapist can support you and your child in exploring ways to cope with difficult emotions and emotional reactions. Connecting with a therapist during hard times can aid in coping strategies and building family skills!

Melanie works closely with children, teens and parents to develop healthy and positive coping strategies. If you would like to schedule a session with Melanie D. Davis, CMHC, NCC contact Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555


5 Tips for Creating Emotional Security for Your Children


5 Tips for creating emotional security and safety for your children when they are away from home.

It is often discussed how to create a loving home that encompasses safety, love, and security.  We validate, empower and create open dialogue, encouraging our children to have voices amongst other things.  However, the world and especially school environments can be very different from home.  There are different elements to consider and prepare for to assist in creating a feeling of safety and emotional security for our children while in these environments outside of home.

Prepare your children for various encounters, The world can be a tricky place to navigate.  Even for adults, we encounter social situations that can be tough to navigate, and know how to react.  Helping your children to understand the various encounters they may have while outside your home can help reduce anxiety, and prepare them to handle these encounters with confidence.  How to interact with the bus driver, the teacher who may scold you, the children in the class who may have buddied up, the adults at church that say hello, are all wonderful encounters to prepare your child for.  Help them with ideas for these types of scenarios based on your families ideals and personal values.

Role Play.  Don’t let the classic “What would you do if?” questions disappear into he closet with your past!  These are still present and relevant questions to present to your child.  What would do if you were left out at school?  What would you do if you were being treated unkindly?  What would you do if you saw someone being unkind?  Role play situations like these and others with your child.  It will not guarantee your child handles every situation perfectly, but it will offer them some experience and ideas to better handle situations that may present themselves when they are away from home.


When Frustration Overflows – Tantrums Promote Learning


Review of Hand in Hand Article “When Frustration Overflows — Tantrums Promote Learning”

Have you ever found yourself sitting across from your little one who is in the midst of an emotional outburst and realized that it could possibly be the ideal time to connect with your child? Expressing emotion can manifest in many different ways, what we do with it as parents and caregivers can offer us a gateway to connecting and attaching to our children in amazing and powerful ways.
The article “when frustration overflows — tantrums promote learning”
published  by~ Lyra L’Estrange who is a Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor with Hand in Hand can be found at:
In this article you will gain some insight into:
  • Why tantrums can be a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child.
  • Understanding your child’s needs
  • Allowing you child to feel heard and validated
For more specific support surrounding parenting dilemmas and struggles contact Melanie Davis CMHC with Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.
Hand in Hand Parenting
Author of article: Lyra L’Estrange

5 Common Road Blocks to Couple Intimacy

couple-listening-optimizedWant more intimacy in 2015?

5 common road blocks that could be keeping you and your partner from optimal intimacy!


Work life, parenting responsibilities, maintaining a home, dishes in the sink or a bedroom overcrowded with laundry, these are just a few examples of things that contribute to shaping our environment. Is there anything present or obstacles in your environment that could interfering with opportunities to create more intimacy. Environment can play a crucial role in our ability to focus and dedicate time to growing and nurturing intimacy in our home and relationships.


Confidence Is Attractive! 10 Ways To Improve Self-esteem And Exude Confidence!

Confidence is attractive!  10 ways to improve your self-esteem and exude confidence!

Have you ever come across a wonderfully confident person and just think, wow how do they doWasatch Family Therapy Woman it? Confident people are just as human and flawed as everyone else. Confidence can all be a matter of perception, focus and redirecting those nasty “thinking errors” a.k.a. confidence killers, that can blow your confidence to smithereens!

Try on these 10 tips to give yourself a confidence make-over!

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  2. Identify the “thinking errors” that challenge your confidence and self-esteem and correct them.
  3. Identify the things you love about yourself and brag to yourself about them. In fact go ahead and hang them up on your wall as a reminder.
  4. Accept compliments with a smile and believe them!
  5. When you look in the mirror focus on the things you enjoy about the way you look and move past your flaws.
  6. When you walk, hold your head up high, your shoulders back firm and envision pure awesomeness! This may sound silly, but you will smile, have great posture and hey look you’re your probably not thinking a single bad thing about yourself right this instant.
  7. Extend your value above and beyond appearance. Are you smart, funny, witty, a crowd pleaser? Celebrate all aspects of what makes you.
  8. Be grateful for your existence and all that surrounds you.
  9. Designate a ‘theme song’ something you can listen to that pumps you up, brings out the best in you and makes you feel like you’re all that! Come on, you know you have one and if not find one, there is certainly one out there for you. Play this on those days that your confidence may need a little boost.
  10. Be a constant work in progress. When you are taking good care of yourself and improving in whatever area it might be, you will often find it brings about feelings of pride and accomplishment. Great confidence boosters!


Keep in mind low self-esteem and individuals who struggle with being confident in themselves can present on many levels. If you feel you need support in working on your self-esteem or that you may have other more deeply rooted concerns it’s always great to consult with a mental health provider for some guided support!

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Do your children run your life? Learn something from the French…

Do you find yourself:

  1. Constantly obsessing over your children? (i.e. their activities, whereabouts, are you parenting well, are they learning, are they in the right school, are they involved in enough activities)
  2. Wondering if your discipline is effective?
  3. Pondering if your child or children could make it five minutes without you?
  4. Drained thinking you have to do it all or they may not amount to anything?

Many parents, including myself have pondered in some degree all of the above. But what if there was an easier way to parent, to create healthy and secure children and to… miraculously, have time and energy to spare!

I recently came across a fun article in the Wall Street journal by Pamela Druckerman titled “Why French Parents Are Superior”. I learned a few great values that the French adopt as a culture that could relieve much of the stress, pressure and responsibility we as American culture place on ourselves.

A few things the French do:

  • Teach and practice delayed gratification
  • Expect common respect for others and parents
  • Allow parent time, where children may be present but it is not all about them
  • Education rather than discipline
  • Set and enforce boundaries that are firm but delivered with love and deliberateness
  • Practiced patience
  • Create a presence as parents and leaders/authorities
  • Designate meal and snack times AND remain consistent
  • They are not afraid to say “no.”


No, That’s Not How the Pillows Go! Learn the Art of Compromise

six stackHow learning how to compromise can lead to greater satisfaction in life and in marriage!

It all came to me the other day as I walked into my bedroom and noticed that the ten plus decorative pillows that we have displayed on our bed were not arranged exactly as I would have done it myself. My initial thought was, “Ughh, he knows the brown ruffle pillow goes in front of the chartreuse pillow”.  I immediately stopped my thought in its tracks and asked myself a few crucial questions. Couldn’t the pillows essentially be displayed in any way and be just fine? Who comes in our bedroom anyway? I highly doubt our 8 month old daughter will mind this discrepancy.  Then I asked myself, had I completely over looked the gratitude I could have for my husband’s effort in making the bed and graciously putting the pillows he finds to be so ridiculous and unnecessary on the bed so nicely?

We have all been there… you have your ideal way of doing things and so does your partner. It’s just too bad that those ideal ways of doing things are not always the same. Where does this leave you? You might consider that you have two roads to choose from . . . the road to peace or the road to endless dissatisfaction and continuous arguments. If there was a magic pill for more peace in your home, fewer arguments with your loved ones, and less nagging (yes, LESS of the big N word) would you take it? Well consider mastering the art of compromise as that magic pill.

Ask yourself the following questions and determine if you are facing an issue that you could possibly compromise on:

  • Pick your battles, is this one worth fighting? What’s really important to you? Does this really impact your overall happiness and life satisfaction? If your answer is no, should you really be giving it the energy needed to battle the matter?
  • How important is this to my partner? While you may prefer something a certain way but your partner is desiring to have it another way, consider why this issue may be important to your partner? Even better, ASK them! If it becomes known that it is very important to your partner, consider backing down and indulging in doing it their way.
  • Am I looking at the big picture? In life many of us have lofty life goals.  For some it may be a happy marriage, for others a successful career or running a marathon.  However, to this day I have yet to put on my life goals list the following: “Ensure proper displaying of decorative pillows on a daily basis”.  This issue is not going to impact my overall life goals, nor will it stand in the way of me meeting them if it is not done. Consider your big picture.
Creative Commons License photo credit: various brennemans

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