Breaking the Cycle

Posted: 2016-04-14 10:25 by Leah Lucas, Clinician/Consultant - PTMO


“The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family.”
Mother Teresa

Since I began working in the field of social work 10 years ago, I have encountered many children who have been abused and neglected. The common link between the parents that perpetrate the abuse is depression. Many of the parents who abuse or neglect their children are themselves victims of abuse. Ellen McGrath stated in Psychology Today (2003), “Both depression and abuse are legacy issues. They run together in families, passed down from generation to generation. The intergenerational transmission of abuse is invariably associated with the symptoms of depression. Abuse brings with it the vulnerability to depression.”

It tends to become a vicious cycle in families unless members start to get help. They must deal with the depression, anger, and underlying feelings that they have bottled up inside for years. They must learn how to use new skills and be different. When I meet with a new family I often map out a Geno-gram which enables us to explore how the parenting practices were passed down. It helps parents make connections and often they say that they want to parent differently than the way they were raised.

It is my opinion that most parents do not desire to become abusive. I haven’t met a parent yet that births a child because he or she wants someone to take out his or her frustrations on. Rather, these parents lack coping skills to deal with everyday life so when larger issues come about, they are lost and then revert to what they know. Abuse rarely begins with the heinous acts you hear about in the news. It usually starts with yelling and emotional abuse and grows into more. This is in no way saying that any abuse is acceptable, but I do challenge everyone to take a moment with that mom or dad that you see starting to struggle. Check in with him or her – “Hey there – parenting is rough! Is there anything I can help you with?” See if they want a referral for counseling. Getting the support that is needed early on can help prevent more abuse and keep families intact.

With PMTO (Parent Management Training Oregon-model) we strive to empower mothers and fathers so that they can parent in a healthy way. I have seen many families grow closer and have more fruitful relationships because the PMTO skills that the parents use focus on positive reinforcement and shining a light on the children’s good behaviors. Wedgwood also offers other effective programs that can help heal families such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Outpatient counseling, Substance Abuse counseling, and Wrap-Around services. Families need to know that help is available and that it is ok to seek that help. Reach out to families that you see struggling and let them know they are not alone. It could help save a life in more than one way.

McGrath, Ellen. "Child Abuse and Depression: Most Adults Depressives Have Experienced Child Abuse." Psychology Today, 7 May 2003. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

Ways to Say 'I Love You'

Posted: 2016-02-25 13:14 by Erin Rowlson - LMFT Clinical Supervisor

Just because Valentine’s Day has come and gone, doesn’t mean that showing love should go on the backburner. There are many different ways to show the people in your life that you care about them. Here are a few tips to help you send the love this week:

  • write them a little note each morning and say one thing you appreciate about them
  • cook them dinner
  • let them pick the TV show or movie one night
  • do one of their chores around the house for them
  • give them a hug
  • ask how their day was
  • turn your cell phones off and have an evening just the two of you
  • play a game
  • talk a walk
  • go explore a new restaurant that they want to try
  • buy a card that says what you always want to say but never do
  • take care of the kids for a few hours
  • surprise them with something

These are just a few ways to say I love you. 

What are some of the other ways you’ve said these words to people in your life? 

Erin Rowlson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Clincal Supervisor in Wedgwood Christian Services' Community Program

Including Kids on Valentine's Day

Posted: 2016-02-10 13:07 by Erin Rowlson - LMFT Clinical Supervisor


Valentine’s Day isn’t just about your significant other – its about saying you love all of those around you – including your kids. We can dream of having a nice romantic evening with our partner on Valentine’s Day but reality strikes and the kids are yelling, wanting to play and needing your attention. No sweat! Here are some ways to incorporate the kids into your Valentine’s Day celebration:

  • Start the morning by giving each child a handmade card with a couple of reasons why you love them so much
  • make a fun breakfast for the whole family – make heart shaped pancakes – who doesn’t love pancakes?
  • play a game all together
  • play outside together
  • let each child pick an activity the whole family will partake in today
  • give each other hugs throughout the day
  • high five each kiddo as you see them doing something nice today
  • smile at each other
  • put your cell phone and computers away today and focus only on the family
  • take a walk together
  • play dress up or do pretend play
  • bake heart shaped cookies and decorate them
  • go to a movie that the whole family can agree on
  • watch a movie at home that the whole family can agree on
  • make a special dinner and dessert, light the candles, and have sparkling juice all together while sharing a few things you appreciate about one another
  • tell good bedtime stories

These are just some of the ways you can incorporate you children into your Valentine’s Day and have lots of fun doing so. Plan something fun to do after the kiddos are in bed too to cap off the evening. 

Erin Rowlson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Clincal Supervisor in Wedgwood Christian Services' Community Program



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