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The Collaborative Counselor

Make connections . . . Choose happiness . . . Find peace


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Collaborative Law Divorce

Posted on November 20, 2011 at 3:23 PM Comments comments (4)
Hi Melanie,
Thanks for the question below:
Is the collaborative law option (compared to regular divorce) more beneficial because of financial reasons or something else, like not having as much pressure and worries over legal aspects? Wouldn't a collaborative team be a lot more expensive in the end?
Using the Collaborative Law process to divorce is more beneficial for several reasons. First and foremost, it is less antagonistic and thus there is less conflict.  It is truly a team approach where the divorcing couple are focused on the future and what is best for everyone moving forward--especially the children--instead of being focused on just trying to hurt or "get" each other. 
Second, the (sometimes ugly) details of the couple's lives remain private and do not become part of public record as with a contested divorce.  This can be important when the parties are trying to protect professional reputations, etc. 
Finally, when couples are able to set aside their pain and get out of the "I'm going to make you pay for this" mode, Collaborative Law provides far more control.  In a standard contested divorce a judge makes many/all of the decisions.  A "collaborative divorce" allows the individual parties to make the decisions.  Most couples would agree that they know the needs of their family better than anyone else.  Why shouldn't they be the ones making the decisions instead of a judge who has never met them? 
As for cost, a Collaborative Law divorce falls somewhere between mediation and a contested one that goes to trial.  Costs can certainly vary, but most find it is well worth it. For more in-depth information on the Collaborative Law process, click here for the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas:  
Hope that helps!

Is My Teen Using Drugs?

Posted on November 9, 2011 at 7:39 AM Comments comments (1051)
Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for the great question about what to do if you suspect your teen is using drugs!  Sadly, drugs seem to be so readily available to teens these days, that many think it's perfectly normal and perfectly okay.  I cannot tell you how many teens have looked me straight in the eye and told me that because weed is "natural" it is actually good for you.  And they often believe there are no risks or downsides whatsoever. 

If you suspect your teen is using drugs, the first thing to try to understand is why.  In my experience working with teens (and adults, for that matter) drug or substance use of any kind is a form of escape 100% of the time.  Strong words, I know.  But I believe they are true. 

So for me the next logical question is to figure out what they are "escaping from."  It could be worry or sadness, grief or stress, pressures of school or life or competing at some sport or other activity, troubled relationships with a dating interest, friends, YOU (the parents), or even boredom.  Once you understand this, the next step is to try to talk to them . . . that doesn't mean yell or threaten or berate or degrade them.  It means to genuinely try to put yourself in their shoes and show that you understand where they are coming from.  You were a teen once.  Try to remember what it was like to feel so out of control over everything in your life. 

One of the reasons they aren't telling you what's going on in their lives is that they have figured out it's not always safe to tell you stuff.  They know you might judge them or reject them or punish them in some way, and they don't trust you.  To try to get through to them, you have to let them know they can trust you.  You are on their side.  And you are not simply going to try to control them (they hate that as much as you do.) 

It is okay to have consequences for them if you find drugs or drug paraphenalia.  It is okay to have rules and enforce them.  In fact, they need rules and guidelines and structure.  They need some sense of predicatbility of what will happen.  They just need these things administered with love and compassion and not with an "I gotcha" attitude. 

It will be difficult for all of you; it will take some time to build this trust.  And teens will often push back with everything they've got. But stand strong, always speak to them with love and not rejection. The connection with them is the key.  Build or rebuild the relationship. 

A long-winded answer for sure (anyone who knows me will not be surprised!).  But I hope it is helpful.  Tell me what you think.

New Life FAQ's blogsite

Posted on November 5, 2011 at 10:39 AM Comments comments (350)
I have started a new Dear Abby-style of blog site for people to write in for advice on relationship issues, self esteem, anger, worry, depression, etc.  Check it out here!

Speaking at TCA!

Posted on October 30, 2011 at 6:03 PM Comments comments (120)
I just wanted to let you all know how excited I am to be leading a session at this year's Texas Counseling Association conference in Ft. Worth.  WooHoo!  It is about how school counselors can use Choice Theory/Reality Therapy to improve work with students . . . and help students to choose thir own levels of happiness.  I am so excited about it!  If you will be at the conference, stop by and see it! 
My session is on Friday, Nov 11 at 4:00.  See you there!  :-D