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The Dangerous Side of Cyberstalking - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Trauma of Cyberstalking - By Chris Gearing

Monday, November 28, 2011

What To Do If Your Child Is Being Sexually Harassed - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sexual Harassment In Your Child's School - By Chris Gearing

Monday, November 21, 2011

How To Protect Your Children From Predators - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why do we miss predators in our own back yard so often?

First of all, we often use a lot of denial to explain their behavior. We want to believe the lies and we fill in the blanks of information that a skilled liar carefully leaves out.

A person of conscience has difficulty translating the behavior of a predator, and the sociopath uses that advantage to make the normal person feel paranoid and even crazy.

Here are some signs that someone you know may be a predator:

1. Charm and smoothness that covers a cunning, deceptive self

2. Natural actors who are adapt at reading and using others

3. Constantly studies the motivations of other people in order to manipulate them

4. Enjoys dominating others and taking control

5. When confronted, will use anger or tears to manipulate accusers

The worst part is that many predators are unable to acknowledge their actions and what they have done to the child.

They also refuse to acknowledge the consequences of their decisions, even when the facts are right in front of them. The refusal to see their part in their own wrongdoing is what psychologists call “consistent irresponsibility.” If something goes wrong, it is always someone else's fault—the child, the community, whatever. Tragically, the predator never learns from what they have done.

Parents, here’s what you can do to protect your kids:

Believe Them: All to often, parents dismiss what their kids are saying as fantasy and don’t believe them. When it comes to this kind of behavior, always take it seriously and talk to your child about what happened.

Educate Them: The Penn State tragedy has started a national conversation that parents need to utilize to educate their children on self-protection. Our children are often the only ones “face to face” with the potential pedophile and we need to teach them how to use their own common sense and intuition to speak out and fight back. Learning about sexual predators and their characteristics will help you guide your children and protect them from the dangers in their lives. This is not meant to scare them but to educate and empower them.

Protect Them: Always know where your kids are and whom they are with. Whether it’s a family member, a family friend, or friend from school – make sure that you know the people your children are around and keep a record of where they are. If you feel uneasy about the person or the place you are leaving your child, listen to your intuition and get them out of there. As an adult, you know more of the signals and signs of potential predators and are much better at picking them out and protecting your children from them.

If you are worried that your child may have been a victim of a sexual predator, please contact a licensed psychologist for help. This kind of trauma can fundamentally change your child’s life and have lifelong devastating effects.

Sources:

"The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout

What Jerry Sandusky Was Really Saying - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Coach Sandusky’s interview with Bob Costas this past Monday, he acknowledged showering and playing with young boys.

But what was he really saying between the lines?

Highly Distorted View of Reality: Obviously this man is presenting his own highly distorted version of reality. What was most striking is that he continues to try to justify and even legitimize the actions that he admitted to in the interview.

Authority Figure: As a man in authority, he wielded enormous influence over these boys. The behavior that he did admit to—showering, wrestling, some touching on the leg—was fundamentally wrong in and of itself. Sandusky seems totally unable to understand if and how he crossed a line. He has no insight into his behavior and certainly has shown minimal remorse.

Different Kind of Abuse: In my opinion, what he did admit to crossed such a serious line that it was abusive. A grown man showering and horsing around with boys is highly inappropriate and confusing for those children. Somehow he views his actions as normal, but showering with and touching children can have lifelong effects on their development.

Some pundits are saying the his interview answers seemed rehearsed or pre-written.

Absolutely, the conversation on the phone call seemed rehearsed, controlled and premeditated. Some of the hesitancy in phrasing, the monotone of his speech, and the obvious avoidance of certain questions lines up with scientifically proven lying behaviors. People who are telling the truth do so instantly and don’t answer a question with a question.

For example, his answer to the question of being attracted to children was very odd. First, he restated the question back to Mr Costas twice. He then hesitated and replied that he enjoyed young people and that he loved to be around them. It was as if, in his own mind, he was normalizing his behavior. It took him over 15 seconds to deny that he was attracted to young boys.

Innocent people say no emphatically, emotionally, and repeatedly. Liars are more careful and analytical. They are trying to control the pacing of the conversation to buy themselves more time to come up with a good answer.

Coach Sandusky's Interview With Bob Costas - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia discuss the Penn State scandal and Coach Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas - click here.

Sexual Harassment In Your Child's School - By Chris Gearing

Monday, November 07, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss sexual harassment in your child's school on CBS 11 - click here.

Being sexually harassed has become a way of life for millions of young teens. We knew that sexual harassment and bullying increased enormously in middle school but now we understand what form it takes. Attacking someone’s sexuality, attractiveness, appearance and relationships with the opposite sex is a devastating blow at any age. However, our appearance and sexuality are at their most vulnerable in this age range.

Having a bully repeatedly harass you about these things—that often you cannot change--can create longstanding beliefs that may linger for years. Kids struggle with questions about "how attractive am I really?" and "what kind of self confidence will carry me forward?" Such behavior can rearrange the beliefs of an otherwise normal child.

Such harassment can also lead to clinical depression. We know that depression strikes a full decade earlier in this generation of children compared to 50 years ago, and they tend to fall back into depression sometime during childhood a shocking 50% of the time. This study may explain in part, why our kids are getting depressed so early and so seriously.

Why has sexual harassment started to plague our kids at school?

Children in their middle school years naturally focus on their appearance and social status. However, they have never been more focused on their appearance and sexuality than they are today. Our kids live in the era of the adolescent celebrity culture and most of these celebrities are provocatively dressed with glamorous lifestyles that are highly misleading to an impressionable kid. Kids like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez present a slice of life that is just not possible.

I think that this study’s results highlight the enormous preoccupation with appearance and adequacy that starts much earlier in our children than it did a generation ago. The type of bullying and sexual harassment that we are now seeing is a direct reflection of the mixed messages our kids are getting.

Do boys and girls react differently to the sexual harassment?

This study indicates that girls suffer more. Girl were more frequently the victim with 52% of them reporting that they were harassed in person and 36% reporting online bullying. The girls were the recipient of being touched in an unwelcome way while their sexual orientation was raised as a question. We know that girls can descend into an internal dialogue that renders them helpless. They may not know what to do and as a result do nothing. While 34% of the boys were victims of in person harassment and 24% online harassment, the figures were still significant. Neither gender needs to hear this kind of bullying at school or anywhere else.

The effects of sexual harassment are devastating to a child's development.

The kids tend to get helpless. That is very typical of a bullied child—they do nothing, put their head down and perhaps the bully will go away. Indeed, the study reported that half of those who were harassed did nothing about it. Again, this kind of experience is very confusing. Most kids emerge out of childhood into early adolescence trusting that others will be nice to them. They do not start out believing that their peers will traumatize them. Sexual harassment is unexpected and there are no rehearsed strategies for dealing with it. They may be embarrassed to report it to their school counselors or parents.

The bigger question is how a child could even begin to harass others.

The research indicates that most kids use bullying and harassment to gain social status. Remember that this kind of behavior is often public and for the entertainment of others. The bullies know exactly what they are doing and it is intentional. Most of the time, these kids know exactly what they are doing is wrong.

Although some studies suggest that around 40% of them have some mild empathy, another 40% are indifferent to the suffering of their victims and 20% actively enjoy the intimidation and control.

The common denominator of all bullying and harassment is the intentional act to inflict pain on another person. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet is ideal for such vicious behavior. Around 50% of online bullies report that they inflict such cruelty “for fun” and to “teach the target a lesson.” However, a study published in 2006 reported that 12% of teens were physically threatened online and 5% actually feared for their physical safety.

If you're worried about your child being sexually harassed, here are some things you can do:

First, Stop Denying: Many adults prefer to view this form of bullying as a normal “rite of passage” through childhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are millions of kids who are being sexually harassed who are losing hope.

Bystanders Are Key: Research now argues that the bystanders of harassment and bullying are one of the vital keys to decreasing this growing problem. Our non harassed kids must learn to speak up, refuse to be an audience, label harassment publicly, and to go and get help when the situation is out of control.

Empower the Victims: Believe your child about harassment. This study is proving that this is a reality for young teens. Children who are sexually harassed are likely to withdraw, deny what is happening, and suffer these horrors in silence. Such behaviors “feed” the harasser’s control. We cannot allow that as parents. Start a conversation today with your child about this issue. She needs to be reassured that you will take this seriously and will intervene if you have to. Get your child training in social skills and communication. These skills are teachable and will help to protect her.

Complex Trauma In Children - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss Judge Adams and complex trauma in children on CBS 11 - click here.

With the recent shocking video of Texas Judge William Adams beating his daughter, many people are wondering what kind of horrors may be lurking in their own neighborhoods. Many people do not fully understand trauma and how it can affect children and adolescents who are traumatized in their own homes.

How does physical and emotional abuse affect a child?

It is completely disastrous. The harm to a developing child is much more serious than to an adult. Adolescence is one of the worst times to expose a child’s brain to violence of any kind. Their brains are still developing and the brain can be fundamentally de-regulated during the most important years of development. The emotional parts of the brain are over-stimulated and they do not develop in unison leaving the child more vulnerable to a host of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, addictions and post-traumatic stress disorders. Such conditions have massive effect on the child's personality, how the treat others, and the choices that are made in jobs, spouses, and education. This is kind of child abuse can have lifelong effects.

Does parental physical abuse affect the child more than other kinds of abuse?

Without a doubt, physical abuse from a parent is much more devastating to the child. We know that trauma is worse when someone we know—a friend, neighbor or even acquaintance--inflicts it. Suddenly, someone you know trust is now a threat, and mistrust of others is a natural consequence.

In cases in which the parent inflicts the abuse, the betrayal is even more traumatic. We underestimate the effect that a parent’s cruel and abusive behavior can have on a child. The one person in the world you were supposed to trust—your parent—has now turned on you.

Worse then that, the behavior is legitimized by the rest of the family. There is nowhere for a young child to turn. The abuse is “crazy making” since the parent who has abused their authority is unapologetic, and the other family members blame you for the family turmoil. Children in this situation commonly develop complex traumatic disorder as a result of the chronic cruelty.

What is Complex Post-Traumatic Syndrome?

We now know that the most powerful determinant of psychological harm is the severity of the traumatic event itself. This new disorder goes beyond the traditional descriptions of post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologists now understand that psychological stressors reside on a complexity continuum. At one end are single-incident traumatic events such as a car accident, a mugging, etc. At the opposite end are psychological responses to multiple, extended, and often highly invasive and traumatic events. Having a family member physically strike you on multiple occasions belongs in this range.

Why don't the other family members ever come forward?

Trauma occurs when you feel completely powerless. You must remember that when a person is overwhelmed by terror and helplessness, their ability to self activate is completely obliterated. When neither resistance nor escape is possible, the human self-defense system becomes overwhelmed and disorganized. We are immobilized and literally the problem solving parts of the brain shut down.

Trauma occurs when nothing you do can alleviate the outcome. Traumatic events interrupt our belief that we can control the outcome of our lives. Psychologists now believe that trauma may even deeply affect the central nervous system. Trauma victims feel that their adrenaline is constantly flowing and they are in a state of continuous alert. Victims are convinced, at a visceral level, that danger might return at any moment. They narrow their world and become terrified of new situations.

Can Post Traumatic Stress or Complex Trauma occur in events that are not life threatening?

Both can absolutely occur in events that are not life threatening but threaten us in other ways. Psychologists now believe that trauma can be incurred in a number of other non-life threatening situations, such as infidelity, in which the betrayed partner is made to feel intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and the threat of their safety disappearing.

If you think you or someone you know may be traumatized, here are some of the top symptoms to watch out for:

Hyper-arousal: The person has a persistent expectation of danger and is overly reactive to stress.

Intrusive Thinking: The victim experiences repeated thoughts and memories from the trauma. Intrusive thoughts reflect the indelible imprint of the traumatic moment.

Emotional Constriction: People who have been victimized are often so overwrought with emotion that they try to avoid and restrict their emotional responses to everything. The constriction reflects the numbing response of surrender.

We know more about trauma than we ever did. The success rates for professional treatment are excellent and the sooner you address these issues, the better.

How To Talk To Your Child About 9/11 - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Watch Dr. Milton Gearing discuss how to talk to your children about 9/11 on CBS 11 - click here.


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