School Psychologists spend a lot of time in graduate school learning about IQ and IQ tests and then as professionals, we spend almost half of our working time administering and interpreting them. But what exactly is IQ and what does it mean? There are many many  myths out there about IQ. 

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and the first IQ tests were developed and administered in Europe. During World War I, the US Army started developing and administering IQ tests to soldiers. Then, they became popular in the school settings and especially with children to determine needs for special education. 

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Your IQ score is the result of your performance on a test of cognitive processes. Usually IQ tests measure verbal, nonverbal, memory, and processing speed skills.  On most assessments, standard scores of 100 are in the middle of the average range and most assessments are based on a Bell Curve.  The majority of any population has an average IQ. An average IQ score is actually a wonderful thing! It is like having average blood pressure or an average BMI. It is what we anticipate or what is typical for a person.

IQ is a very abstract concept and is super difficult to measure. That’s because it is hard to control for many factors that get in the way of an individual showing their true intellectual ability on a test. Exposure to language and information, culture, and language proficiency will absolutely sway your score. Fine motor skills, hearing, and vision can get in the way of your performance too. And if you struggle with focus, attention, or have test anxiety, those factors can all impact your score, and probably will. That is why you need a trained individual to administer and interpret these types of tests.

An IQ score is the measure of a person’s performance on just one test, and most School Psychologists see it that way, just a number. We tend to pay more attention to extreme low or high scores on the IQ spectrum or when there are significant differences between skill sets. It is maybe safe to say that most people who do not administer or interpret IQ tests put more emotional weight on these scores then us professionals who spend a good chunk of our day working with them.

It is probably important to follow that statement with what IQ isn’t. IQ isn’t a predictor of success in life.  IQ won’t predict how well you do in college or at your first job. There is no correlation between high IQ and happiness.  Your IQ doesn’t indicate if you are smart or dumb…. your IQ score is a snapshot of how well you were able to do on a test of cognitive tasks that you couldn’t prepare for, that’s all.  Your IQ score doesn’t provide any information about your social skills, personality, work ethic, or values. You can’t take a real IQ test on the internet in ten minutes and the score you get on one of those, doesn’t really mean anything. So to sum things up, IQ is a topic that confuses a lot of people and is frequently misunderstood. What is important to know is that there is much much more to any learner than his or her IQ score.

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The winter blues are easy to catch and when that happens, we can feel unmotivated. When it is cold, snowy, and there is less daylight, there is a lot of temptation to stay in bed and not do things. It does not help that right now we are encouraged to stay in due to the pandemic. You can still be productive indoors while practicing social distancing.  It is easy to feel stuck in a rut during the winter.  If you are feeling like you have less energy and lack motivation here are some tips to get you to feel energized and productive.

  • Set a sleep schedule- Even on the weekends and days off, go to bed and wake up at the same time. That will help get your body into a routine and will help you not to feel so tired in the morning.
  • Get ready for morning at night- Pick out your outfit, pack your lunch, charge your phone, write tomorrow’s to do list, and organize yourself at night for a hassle free morning.
  • Take a shower and get ready every day- Even if you have nowhere to go, stick to your routine and get fixed up. Do not stay in your pajamas all day!
  • Use timers to prompt for transitions.  Decide how much time you are going to spend on watching television, listening to music, exercising, or being online and stick to it. When the timer goes off, you are done!
  • Schedule in productivity time- Use that timer and set 30 minutes aside to clean, exercise, pay bills, or do whatever you have to do. Try to schedule your least favorite tasks before a preferable activity like dinner, family time, or movie time. Then, you will feel like you have a reward waiting for you when you are done with your work.
  • Wake up 15 minutes early- Use this time wisely and find what works for you. Maybe do some stretches, go for a ten-minute walk outside, or make a healthy breakfast. Think about what energizes you and start the day with that.
  • Take advantage of the cold- If you are feeling lazy and unmotivated go outside and take in some cold fresh air. The cold outside weather can help to ground you and energize you. You can also take a cold shower, go for a ride with the windows down, or put a cold washcloth on your face for a similar effect.
  • Do not take on too much- It is easy to feel discouraged if you over commit. Do not pack your free time with commitments and activities. Be realistic about what you can and should be doing.
  • Break down large tasks- If you have a big project at work, school, or home that you know is going to be time consuming, that alone can make you feel discouraged.  Do not avoid big projects. They will still be waiting for you when you decide to get back to them! Whenever you have a big task, try to chunk it into small parts and celebrate the completion of each small step.
  • Be smart with what you eat and drink- Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Drink plenty of water and healthy forms of caffeine like tea and coffee. Remember alcohol is a depressant and will bring your mood down, not up. Plus, avoid soda and sugary energy drinks, they are not good for you.

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If you have ever been in the counseling seat you may have heard the old saying that “the therapy starts when you walk out the door”. Now, we know that the counseling chair is an amazing place to process, strategize, practice therapeutic tools and uncover emotional self-discoveries, but the real therapy work is found within the person who is seeking the counseling. Therapy is a series of processes that the counselor and client have the opportunity to walk through together, finding what works and what doesn’t. It is the client’s implementation of strategies/awarenesses into their real world outside of the counseling room that creates the true therapeutic change. So how do we as the counselors continue to help our clients after they walk out the door?

As counselors we often find ourselves suggesting assignments or tasks to work on between therapy sessions in order to engage the client in their therapy process. From simple worksheets to relatable podcasts, to behavioral lists we are always on the hunt for therapeutic supplements for clients. An easy and extremely common therapy addition is often a good self-help book that ties into the issues that the client is working on in their sessions. Slowly digesting a good and reliable book that helps the client expand their view on their therapy work is a great way for ongoing engagement in the therapy process between office visits. This action allows the counselor to challenge the client on their own self-awarenesses that they discover and provides client empowerment in the treatment process that can last far beyond the counseling room.

Entering into the “self-help” section of a book store or getting lost in the clicks of Amazon can be daunting for someone seeking a reliably sourced book that ties into their counseling journey. The MSC Therapy Team has put together our most used/suggested self-help books for our clients and ourselves. Our hope is that this list can help our community find therapy supplements that are relatable and reliable. We have included books for adults, children, families and couples. If you are new to the counseling process and unsure if it is right for you at this time, a self-help book can be a great start to exploring prior to entering the therapy journey. Happy Reading Friends, The MSC Team.

Individuals:

“Surrender to Love” by David Benner 

“Invitation to Silence and Solitude” by Ruth Haley Barton 

“The Anatomy of the Soul” by Curt Thompson 

“Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard 

“All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts for Boundless Living” by Morgan Harper Nichols

“The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done” by Kendra Adachi

“The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice For Making Life Decisions” by Emily P. Freeman

“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel A. van der Kolk

“Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss” by Patrick O’Malley

“Boundaries” by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

“Stop Walking on Eggshells (Taking your Life Back When Someone You Love has BPD)” by Paul Mason & Randi Kreger

“9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life” by Henry Cloud

“My Stroke of Insight” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Couples and Families:

“How We Love: Making Deeper Connections in Marriage” by Milan Yerkovich &Kay Yerkovich

“The Birth Order Book: Why You are the Way You Are” by Dr. Kevin Leman

“The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman

“The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity and Mating In Captivity” by Esther Perel

“7 Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman

“Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Dr. Sue Johnson

Kids:

“The Invisible String and Workbook” by Patrice Karst

“What to do When You Worry too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety” by Dawn Huebner

“What to do When You Dread the Bed: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Problems with Sleep” by Dawn Huebner

“1,2,3 Magic (Effective Discipline for Children 2-12)” by Thomas Phelan

“The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child” by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

“Gist: The Essence of Raising Life Ready Kids” by Anderson & Johanson

Posted on by Jessica Ulmer, LPC, NCC | Comments Off on MSC Book Recommendations
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Covid, quarantining, social distancing, and mask wearing have been challenges for both kids and adults. The current state caused by the pandemic can stir up emotional responses in everyone.  Karah Molesevich and Suzanne Presley, School Psychologists, provide some tips for parents to deal with the emotional difficulties that their children may be experiencing during the pandemic and offer advice about how to help kids to cope.

Anxiety is the fear of the unknown and with the pandemic, we have many new unknowns in our world. Classic symptoms of anxiety in children and adolescents include worry, racing thoughts, nervousness, fear, irritability, restlessness, feeling on edge, eating or sleeping too much or too little, muscle tension, concentration difficulties, isolation, and stomach upset.

Depression is another common condition that many people have developed over the pandemic. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by symptoms of saddens and loss. In youth, signs of depression can include change in appetite or sleep patterns, anger or irritability, fatigue, lack of interest in once enjoyed activities, isolation, sadness, or sudden fluctuations in mood.

If you notice these symptoms in your children or an increase in these symptoms since the pandemic, talk to them! Ask your kids about their feelings every day. How can you do this?  It’s simple! Ask them, “How are you feeling?” Provide your children with reassurance and validate their emotions. Remember feelings aren’t right or wrong, they are states that come and go. Do not judge or criticize your child for their feelings, they are their reality and very powerful to them.  Let your children know that you are sorry that they are feeling sad or anxious and that you know how uncomfortable those feelings are. Ask them what you can do to help, and then really listen.

Help them to identify if their fears are rational. With anxiety, it is easy to catastrophize or accept the worst-case scenario as your reality. Ask your children to consider the likely outcome of the situation that is causing them distress. You can also ask them to consider the best and worst-case scenarios and what they would do or feel if those possibilities actually developed. Help them to identify probable outcomes and to focus on those.  Help foster positive thinking at home. Avoid statements like, “The pandemic is going to last forever.” and try to say things like, “This is all going to be over soon!”

During the pandemic, it is important that kids have at least one caring adult to talk to about their feelings. This does not have to be mom or dad.  A child may feel more comfortable confiding in his or her aunt, uncle, older cousin, grandparent or neighbor. Ask if your child would like to connect with another family member or close adult friend and help facilitate that conversation.

Exercise is a great remedy for anxiety, depression and stress. A brisk 20-minute walk can do wonders for your mental health. Ask your child if they would like to go for a walk with you or take the dog for a stroll.  Take advantage of the cold! A change in temperature can help you to focus on the moment, calm down, and ground you. Encourage your child to go outside and at least take some deep breaths or take in some sunshine.  If you are stuck inside due to weather, you can dance together in the living room or find a free online yoga or aerobic video on YouTube. Try to structure active family exercise time but respect if your child prefers to exercise alone.  If exercise isn’t your thing, that’s okay, maybe try to cook together or play a board game. Drawing, art projects, and making crafts are creative ways to express emotions during this time too. Spending time with your child will help them to feel supported and not alone. Take advantage of technology and Zoom or FaceTime with your child’s family and friends.

Try to set aside a half hour each day for some family emotional self-care time. Make a list of options that each member of your family can independently do during this time. Some ideas include reading, journaling, knitting, meditating, playing basketball, painting your nails, taking deep breaths, enjoying a hot bubble bath, stretching, playing with the cat, or whatever is relaxing to you!

Try to make mental health a normal topic of conversation at home, check in with each other about feelings, and try to plan time for individual and group self-care activities. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There are many supports at school and in the community for both you and your child to deal with this tough time. Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself too!  Just like on the airplane, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help someone else with his or her mask. Stay safe and be well everyone!

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Personality is simply what makes you……you and what makes you unique from everyone else on this planet. Personality is a pattern of behaviors and traits that arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Mostly, personality has been considered to be a fixed part of human nature that stabilizes during early adolescence. 

Some research supports that our personalities can fluctuate as adults.  Our personalities are more likely to mold in response to catastrophic or life changing events: trauma, becoming a parent, severe illness, war, moving to another country, etc. Still most research indicates that by the time you are 14, your personality is more or less stable. 

The first five years of life are considered the most formative in terms of personality development. Attaching properly to primary caregivers, having a safe, calm, and stable environment, and receiving unconditional love  set the stage for having a stable, likeable, and responsible personality as an adult. Neglect, abuse, over-indulging, and instability in early childhood have been linked to the dark side of personality development: Personality Disorders. 

 You probably have heard of the well-known Personality Disorders:  Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, and Antisocial Personality Disorders.  Researchers believe that these conditions develop due to having an unhealthy attachment to caregivers and a history of childhood abuse and neglect combined with some genetic predisposition. Common Personality Disorder symptoms include: lack of empathy, deceit, manipulation, impulsiveness, selfishness, and emotional dysregulation. Some individuals with these conditions can be very charming, helpful, and likeable in order to deceive or harm others.  Some can engage in very risky or attention seeking behaviors.

These toxic personalities do a great deal of harm to society.  It is interesting to think about how and who develops these conditions and why. Most researchers believe that these bad behaviors are defense mechanisms and maladaptive coping skills rooted in childhood.

So what is the point of this article? If you have children or the privilege of interacting with children, pay attention to what you do and what you say around them, because it could really matter. When children spend time with caregivers and adults who model stability, empathy, self-control, integrity, love, and good behaviors, they learn and copy that.  Pay attention to the environment you establish in your home, in your classroom, and in your community. Even if it seems like they are not listening, what is modeled for a child, even a little baby, will affect them.

Your personality and the environment you create will shape the personalities of the little people around you in some way.  All of these daily interactions and lessons help to create children’s personalities, and once their personality is set, it is very very hard to alter.

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Bodywork practitioners commonly say, “People hold their issues in their tissues.”  This means that our pain, suffering, anger, and joy are all felt in our body. It also identifies the important link between mental health and physical health. There are other common sayings like, “Depression hurts” and “When I am anxious my stomach is tied in knots” that also identify this mind body connection. Since we can feel emotional suffering just as we feel physical pain, it makes perfect sense that we would try to manipulate the body to treat mental health. 

Research indicates that supplementing mental health treatment with bodywork can be useful for individuals who have trauma, anxiety, depression, and addictions. One of the beliefs behind bodywork is that we hold our emotions in our bodies and that if you relax, touch, or work the area where you are holding emotional tension or suffering, your symptoms will decrease or you can heal or rewrite negative memories.

Some of the most common forms of Bodywork include:

Massage Therapy

Acupuncture

Yoga

Reflexology

Tapping Therapies (Emotional Freedom Therapy, Thought Field Therapy)

Reiki

Shiatsu

Grounding

Breathwork

Dance and Movement Therapy

Qigong

Tai Chi

It is easy to find free videos online, books, classes in the community or therapists that specialize in different kinds of bodywork. You do not need to have a mental health diagnosis to participate in and enjoy the benefits of bodywork but it is a good idea to check with your doctor first prior to starting any new physical routine. Most techniques at the very least will make you feel relaxed, focused, and calm. Why not look some techniques up and try to implement one or two into your self-care routine?  Happy healing!!!!! 

Posted on by karahmolesevich | Comments Off on What is Bodywork in Psychology?

Anxiety is a very uncomfortable feeling; it was designed to be that way! Anxiety is an adaptive emotion that we feel in our body to let us know that we need to pay attention to a possible danger or problem.  A healthy level of anxiety is a good and essential feeling to help us navigate our world. Anxiety is our body’s way of alerting us that something is wrong. However, in many people, anxiety is triggered when there isn’t a present or immediate danger and sometimes the sensations of anxiety hang around too long. Some people also experience extremely high levels of anxiety over relatively benign concerns.  When anxiety is causing problems with carrying out basic day-to-day, occupational or social activities for over six months, we start to consider that an individual may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Everyone can experience anxiety differently. The below is a list of some of the most common manifestations of anxiety. Did you know all of the below can be your body’s way of manifesting anxiety? Which symptoms do you feel when you are anxious?

Dizziness
Nausea
Heart palpitations
Restlessness
Rapid breathing, hyperventilating
Racing heart
Increased sweating

Confusion
Fear of impending doom
Trembling
Insomnia,
sleep disturbance
Obsessive or racing thoughts
Feeling agitated
Fatigue

Difficulties concentrating
Low levels of productivity
Irritability
Anger outbursts
Tense muscles
Chest pains
Headaches

Tightness in hips
Social isolation
Procrastination
Panic attacks
Paranoia
Talking fast or rambling
Stuttering or speech dysfluencies

Skin redness, irritation or rashes
Increase in blood pressure
Feeling too cold or too hot
Compulsive or repetitive behaviors
Out of body like experiences, feeling disconnected
Teeth grinding
Having to use the bathroom more

Hearing ringing, buzzing or popping sounds
Rumination
Perfectionism
Cold hands or feet
Impulsiveness
Hard time making decisions
Worry

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In the field of psychology, a common technique that therapists use with clients is visualization.  If you can picture it in your mind, it is more likely to happen! Many Eastern traditions also support the power of manifesting your goals and desires as a way to achieve them. There are many ways that you can apply visualization and manifestation strategies to your daily life. Not only will these techniques help to make you feel calm and lower your levels of anxiety, they can lead to you accomplishing your goals.  What many people tend to do when they engage in future thinking is to picture the worst-case scenario.  When people are about to embark on something new or a life change, they often will catastrophize and think about any and everything that could go wrong and how terrible that would be.  Please do not do this! Visualize your ideal outcome and try to picture how great you would feel if that would happen!

We can apply this as the students return to our buildings. Imagine in your heads that when Monday comes you will see smiling faces, order in the hallways, and your lesson plans will be well received! Imagine yourself connecting with and supporting your colleagues.  Picture in your mind yourself going over your lessons and the students being engaged. Imagine yourself driving home and thinking in your head, “I did a fantastic job today” Isn’t that beautiful imagery?

You can also apply visualization and manifestation techniques to other areas. Are you battling an illness? Picture going to the doctor and receiving a clean bill of health. Struggling with finances? Picture opening a credit card bill and seeing a $0 balance. Fighting too much with your teenage daughter? Picture yourself laughing and spending a fun afternoon with her. Struggling getting back out into the community after the pandemic? Picture yourself with friends enjoying a dinner together at your favorite restaurant.  Try to spend 5 minutes each day visualizing and manifesting what you would like to happen.

What do you have to lose by trying this? – Absolutely nothing and you can feel calm in the moment of visualization.

Remember if you can believe it, and you can see it, then you can achieve it!

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As the year comes to a close and we prepare to kiss 2020 goodbye, let’s keep grounded yet hopeful for a New Year.  Although romanticized and traditionally seen as a new start, 1200am on January 1st does not provide us with a magical switch to which all of our problems and fears disappear.  2020 has undoubtedly been a rollercoaster of 12 months but we need to keep perspective as we turn our calendars into a new set of months.  When we wake up January 1st may we feel the hope that the New Year provides and realistically continue to face our challenges, internally and externally.  How can we say goodbye to 2020 and say hello to 2021 in a healthy way?  Here are some tips for your New Year:

  1. Reflect Back: on 2020 and all that has happened within your life, good and bad.  Journal about your experiences with the pandemic and how it has impacted your life specifically.  Find blessings that occurred within the year that you never expected.  Review your photo reel in your phone from 2020 to help you remember key times over the past year.  Maybe you found a new hobby or finally tackled that home project that you never had time for.  Maybe your church family provided support to you when you lost income.  What can you reflect back on from 2020?
  2. Forward Thinking: What bad habits or toxic relationships do you want to extinguish from your life?  What changes do you want to make for yourself this year?  Set small, achievable goals for each month of the year.  Don’t try to tackle a lot of ambitious changes at once.  An effective behavioral change takes at least 30 days of consistency to be lasting.  New Year’s Resolutions are simple ideas, but concrete desires set into motion as goals are life changing.  Although you don’t ever need a special date to start implementing change in your life, starting 2021 with a new direction breeds hope.  What direction do you want to move forward in?
  3. Keep Going: We have all been in bad situations in life before.  Personally, professionally, or even relationally, each one of us has had to face life challenges.  How did you overcome those challenges?  What tools did you use?  Who did you lean on for support?  Those experiences have helped to prepare you for this time of your life.  2020 may have been crueler to you than others but you can choose to keep going.  You cannot always control the circumstances or outcomes but you sure can choose to show up and face the situation.  Keep going my friend.  We are cheering you on.

As 2020 comes to a close we wish you all peace for a healthy and happier 2021.  Keep yourself grounded and hopeful as you prepare for this New Year. 

Cheers, The MSC Team

Posted on by Jessica Ulmer, LPC, NCC | Comments Off on 2021: A New Year

If you are experiencing grief, a loss, depression, or a life change, the holidays can be difficult. Here is a list of tips to deal with different challenges over the holidays.

Honor your loved one who passed:

·        Make their favorite cookies or side dish for a holiday meal. 

·        Watch their favorite movie or listen to their favorite songs while driving around and looking at Christmas lights.

·        Journal about your favorite holiday memories of your loved one and share them with family.

·         Give a donation to a cause they were passionate about in their name.

·        Write a letter stating how much you love them or miss them during the holidays.

 Start some new traditions: If your loss is recent, still very painful, or was unexpected, you may find it helpful to celebrate the holidays differently this year:

·        Start new traditions: eat new foods, celebrate Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, or attend a different church service.

·        Do not make such a big deal about the holidays: do some regular activities, listen to regular music on the radio, watch funny or happy movies, exercise, read books, organize or clean. 

·        Get away: spend a day or weekend visiting friends or exploring a small town or different city.

·        Make time for self- care and relax.

·        Scale back: have smaller celebrations with less frills. Less frills means less stress and less time and energy put into planning.

If you need to move on from a relationship or not think about/ see a toxic person:

·        Avoid social media and block the toxic person from all accounts, block their friends and family too.

·        Decline invitations to holiday parties where he/she may be.

·        Get rid of pictures and objects that remind you of him/her.

·        If you feel like calling or reaching out during the holidays, identify a backup friend or family member to call.

·        Make a list of the toxic person’s bad qualities to remind you of why he/she is out of your life and look at the list if you are tempted to reconcile or reach out.

·        If you are stuck ruminating, go outside, go for a walk, exercise, or do physical activity.

 Working through physical and mental illness:

·        Identify and lean on your support system.  Talk about how you are feeling. If you do not have a support system, look for online support groups and communities.

·        Journal about your feelings.

·        Focus on and identify the blessings, gifts, and positives in your life.

·        Make a list of all of your strengths and celebrate any progress you have made this year.

·        Practice self-compassion and kindness. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

·        Practice gratitude daily.

·        Surround yourself with people and things that you love and make you feel good.

·        Practice mindfulness.

·        Practice healthy coping skills

Posted on by karahmolesevich | Comments Off on Managing Grief or Loss Over the Holidays: