Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Connecting with Children in a Smart Phone World

Thursday, February 8th, 2018


Connecting with your child is a concern shared by most parents. Smiles and coos come naturally for so many parents of infants, but there are other points of connection that are more confusing and difficult to master. From feeding times and tummy time in infancy to family time and screen time as children grow, understanding what your child needs in order to feel connected to you overwhelms like a tsunami at times.

One point of connection becoming clear through scientific research has to do with screen time. Not just a child’s screen time, but the parent’s time spent in front of a screen. Dr. Tallie Baram and others, a group of researchers at the University of California at Irvine, demonstrated that “fragmented” parenting leads to negative emotional issues as children develop. Interactions with parents, i.e. smiles, conversations, etc., are necessary for children to develop the ability to enjoy activities and relationships.

Fragmented parenting is a phrase used to describe parents who are frequently distracted from those interactions with children under their care. Dr. Baram theorizes that if children lack the fullness of experience with caregivers at key points in development, they are more likely to engage in unhealthy pleasure seeking activities as  pre-teens and teenagers as well as other developmental setbacks through the years.

Of the distractions that lead to fragmented parenting, smart phone use is the most pervasive. Persistent notifications vie for our attention and have a psychological power all their own. Studies have already shown Facebook “likes” make us “feel better” and have addictive qualities of their own. If you find yourself checking your cell phone frequently, take some time to consider how you can temper your usage when you are with your children.

A few suggestions:

Leave your phone in another room unless you know someone will be calling.

Schedule social media checks or game time infrequently throughout the day, limiting time spent looking at social media and screens.

Inform your friends of your restricted social media use. Many people understand the need to limit time online, so posts like these have become more frequent in the past few years.

Of course these are not the only key in connecting with your kids, but the distractions of smartphones and social media can hold you from building a solid bond. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s well-being you can contact us at 918-745-0095.

Good luck making connections.

Written By Chris Hogue, MA, LMFT


Baram, T., et. al. (2012). Fragmentation and unpredictability of early-life experience in mental disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(9), 907-915.

Vasich, T. (2016). Put the cellphone away! Fragmented baby care can affect brain development. UCI News. Retrieved from 


Premarital Pointers

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

premarital-imageThe season of love and romance is upon us. Since the focus this time of year is on relationships, many couples may spend time evaluating their relationship. Some will decide to become engaged. Studies show that up to six million couples will get engaged on Valentine’s Day.

With the excitement of planning a wedding, many couples forget to plan their marriage. Premarital counseling is one avenue to strengthen an upcoming marriage. With all the time, energy, and money spent on weddings every year (the average cost for a wedding in Oklahoma is $23,000), it’s important for couples to also invest in their marriage.

Let’s talk about what premarital counseling is and is not.

Often couples are hesitant to have premarital counseling because they’re afraid the counselor will tell them they’re not suited for each other and shouldn’t get married. However, it is not the counselor’s role to determine that for the couple. The counselor is available to help the couple understand their strengths, so they can build on those. The counselor also helps identify potential problem areas, so they can learn skills to handle them. In premarital counseling, couples learn primarily how to problem solve, communicate, and resolve conflict.

Christian Family Institute offers a premarital package including five sessions prior to the wedding, one follow up session six to nine months after, and use of an online assessment tool called PREPARE. This test is a well researched tool in the industry whereby results for each partner are discussed in a safe space with the counselor.  Areas covered in the PREPARE curriculum are:


Conflict resolution

Leisure activities



Family and friends



Read more about our premarital counseling package or get a head start on your marriage by calling our office at 918-745-0095. For couples who are already married and would like to enrich their relationship, we offer a similar tool called ENRICH.

Let us help you prepare for a wonderful life together!

Krista Cannon, MA, LPC


Searching for Happiness?

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Could the pursuit for happiness be a major factor in the feelings of sadness and depression? This may sound like a strange question for a therapist to ask, but I like to get people thinking of things they may not be inclined to consider.

Let me say one thing: If you are experiencing depression or sadness, which are different, I have been there. This is in no way a commentary on your personal experience.

A Google search for “happiness” will give you, within a half a second, 327 million results.happiness-img

If happiness was something to be found, we could find it easily with that much information available. Yet here we are in the 21st century, and judging by titles in the self-help section, happiness continues to be elusive. According to the World Health Organization and other studies, as many as 9.5 percent of adults experience symptoms of major depression in any given year. These studies also identify depression as the leading cause of disability in the United States. Fifty years ago, the average age of onset was 29. Today it is fourteen. How can this be?

Parents are focusing more on giving their children everything they want to “make them happy” and “build their self-esteem.” We read the latest books promising a road to happiness for our self and our children. We purchase all the material items a commercial tells us will make us happy. Like changing shoes, men and women change families with the discomfort of their “happiness” being threatened.

Back to the question.

Could the search for happiness be a major factor in the increasing rate of depression? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Over 50 years ago, people were less focused on being happy and more focused on doing the right thing based on their values. Happiness was not mentioned as a primary motivator.
  2. When we search for happiness, it’s a thing to be found. A thing found can also be lost or stolen, which implies that it is outside of ourselves and out of our control. It’s why we look for it in other people, drugs, alcohol, religion (I mean the rules, not the relationship with God), or any other myriad of addictions.
  3. Those people who seek to become healthy – physically, relationally, mentally, spiritually – usually report higher levels of life satisfaction than those who seek to find “happiness.” People who look strive for health find happiness. People who strive for happiness find neither happiness nor health.

Focusing on happiness to get you “out” may be like searching for a home by looking exclusively at the paint color in the closet. If you are experiencing sadness, grief, or a Major Depressive Disorder, please understand that you can overcome.

Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Surround yourself with safe people that will challenge you to grow in those areas and who will accept your challenges as well.

Just remember, “happiness” is a byproduct not a thing to be found or the end goal.

If you find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to find happiness or satisfaction or a relationship that is not as fulfilling as you hoped, come see us. We can help.

Chris R. Giles, MS, LMFT


Limiting the Damages of Divorce (video)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Relying on over 40-years of practice, Dr. William (Bill) B. Berman, Ph.D. from CHRISTIAN FAMILY INSTITUTE (CFI) shares about limiting the damages of a divorce. There are harmful effects for everyone in a family in cases of divorce, even if amicable, and unfortunately children are more keenly affected. CFI often provides divorce recovery services, tips for successful coparenting and gives special focus on helping children to recover. Dr. Berman has consulted on over 500 child custody cases, and speaks with host Lisa Harris on key areas of concern for families facing or recovering from divorce. Dr. Berman is a licensed Psychologist as well as a Marital and Family Therapist and directs the clinical services at CFI.

Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (video)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Dr. William (Bill) B. Berman, Ph.D. from CHRISTIAN FAMILY INSTITUTE (CFI) speaks about divorce-proofing a marriage with host Lisa Harris during a recent segment of Joy In Our Town. Dr. Berman is a licensed Psychologist as well as a Marital and Family Therapist and directs the clinical services at CFI. Over 40-years clinical and forensic practice underlies the sound tips and advice he presents for couples desiring to shore up their marriage and avoid common pitfalls.

Bowden McElroy on Marriage

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Bowden McElroy was interviewed by the First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, OK as part of a series on marriage.

Mr. Bowden McElroy from First Baptist Broken Arrow on Vimeo.

We’re Hiring!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Career Ministry Opportunity

Stable Christian Counseling Center
Serving Oklahoma for 40 Years
Busy Practice With 12 Professionals

Position Involves Administration, Management and Direct Client Contact
Training Provided in Assessing Client Needs
Good Communication Skills Required
Must be able to Manage Multiple Tasks
Professional Manner and Attire
Must Have a History of Being Trustworthy and Responsible

Some College
Administrative Experience
Knowledge of Insurance
Customer Service Experience
Office Experience
Afternoon to Early Evening Shift

Bring Resume Including References and Salary Expectations to:
Christian Family Institute
6846 S. Canton Ave., Suite 501

It’s All Just Positive Thinking, Right?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

field-328962_1920When I work with people I spend a lot of time asking them to pay attention to their self-talk. Each of us has a near constant dialogue running through our head. Some of the dialogue is incredibly negative: life is terrible, bad things always happen to me, this is a catastrophe, etc. Most of us are completely unaware of the stream of demeaning, negative, self-talk that we subject ourselves to on a regular basis. One of the first steps in counseling is to learn to pay attention to what we are saying to ourselves.

The next steps are to reject the half-truths and catastrophic thinking and replace them with more objective, realistic thoughts.




Isn’t that just positive thinking? I don’t think so. I believe some of what passes for positive thinking can be equally untrue.

For example, I was often told as a teen that I could do anything I put my mind to. I don’t believe that’s true. If it were, I would be playing third base for the St. Louis Cardinals. God did not, however, gift me with athletic ability. No matter how hard I try (and in high school I tried really, really hard) my asthmatic, uncoordinated body places limits on my athletic ability.

Visualizing something won’t create a reality. I can visualize being 50 pounds lighter all I want but until I put down the Krispy Kreme’s and start hitting the gym it is unlikely I will actually lose weight.

If you have a flat tire at rush hour on a bridge during a torrential thunderstorm, I don’t expect you to jump out of the car thinking “Best! Day! Ever!”.  Neither do I want you to be thinking “this is the worst day of my life”, “@&*#^ always happens to me”, or “God hates me”.

Counselors are not in the business of peddling unrealistic goals or creating euphoric feelings based on wishful thinking.

We are in the business of helping people peel back the layers of unrealistic, overly negative thought patterns and replacing them with good reality testing and sound judgment. We are in the business of helping people identify patterns of negative thinking and dysfunctional behavior, changing those things they have control over, and exercising their faith that somehow it will all work out in the end.

Pay attention to your self-talk. If you need some help “taking every thought captive”, we’re here to help.

(written by: G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.)

Too Busy Not to Sleep

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

sleeping-1159279_1920In our society today, it seems that busyness is seen as a badge of honor. One of the things that is sacrificed most often in our run about life is sleep. If we need to do “one more thing” we often add it to the end of the day, or at least extend the end of the day to make that “one more thing” happen. However, the benefit vs. the cost of that “one more thing” may not add up.

It is a common belief that sleep disruption is a major symptom of many mental health concerns such as Depression and Anxiety. However, research has shown that a lack of consistent sleep could actually be a contributor to the development of these issues.

In an article from Harvard Medical School, the authors report that 50-90% of clients in psychiatric care (any type of counseling, both inpatient and outpatient) experience some form of chronic sleep problem. This is compared to only 10 – 18% of the general population. While many clinicians focus on sleep problems as a symptom of mental health disorders, some research shows that in many cases the onset of chronic sleep problems (insomnia, sleep apnea, etc) actually preceded the onset of the mental health concerns. In fact researchers have found that in both adults and children, people experiencing chronic sleep disruption are four times more likely to develop some form of Depression. So the assumption is that treating the sleep issues may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem. Getting a regular, sufficient amount of sleep may also help prevent future mental health concerns.

We know that good sleep habits and different stages of the sleep cycle aid in things like energy level, memory function and emotion regulation. All of which play major roles in many other mental health concerns.

Tips For Healthy Sleep:

1. Sleep Hygiene. No need to worry about putting on deodorant before bed. Sleep hygiene is all about routine. Most parents will find that a better structured bedtime routine leads to better sleeping children. It is no different when we grow up. We adults tend to neglect the importance of bedtime routine as we grow up.

Many researchers believe that insomnia is learned. Sleep hygiene includes maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping (or sex), and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television. Cooler room temperature and comfy clothes also help. New research suggests keeping your cell phone out of the bedroom as well.

Much of what we experience as Depression and Anxiety is linked to a feeling of chaos or a sense of being out of control in our life. The area of sleep hygiene (think “routine”) may be one of the simplest starting points in regaining that control.

2.Physical activity. Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night. Regular, not necessarily intense activity. Don’t be afraid to start with a brisk 20 minute walk a few times a week.

3. Avoid CATS. Before all of you feline lovers out there stop reading, I am not talking about your furry lap napping pet. Actually, Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco and Sugar are all major contributors to sleep problems and should be avoided as much as possible, particularly near bedtime.

4. Relaxation Techniques. Get your body ready for rest with some deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation which you can read about or learn from your friendly mental health professional.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Because people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with not falling asleep, cognitive behavioral techniques help them to change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night’s sleep. These techniques can also help to change the “blame game” of attributing every personal problem during the day on lack of sleep.

So, challenge yourself to make sleep a priority. The dishes and tomorrow’s duties can wait. The better you sleep, the more able you will be to complete those tasks and feel energetic and in control to boot.

Call us at (918) 745-0095 if you are struggling with sleep or any other issue. We would be glad to help or get you to someone who can.

written by Chris Giles, M.S.

PREPARE ENRICH (Customized Version) Training

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

prepare-enrichTaught by:

Dale R. Doty, Ph.D.
User and Trainer in PREPARE for over 30 years

All Training Materials Provided:

PREPARE/ENRICH Manual and Resources

PREPARE/ENRICH Sample Computer Report

Complimentary Online Scoring

User Friendly Feedback Materials You Receive With Each Scoring:

Couple’s Workbook

Schedule Date and Registration Information:

Friday April 15, 2016

Held at Christian Family Institute (space limited)
6846 S. Canton Ave. Tulsa Oklahoma
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Lunch on Your Own)

Register Here

Cost: $195.00 Which Includes All Materials Necessary to be Certified
$245 for spouses to attend (material shared)
Contact: Christian Family Institute with Questions
(918) 745-0095

Deadline: April 15, 2016 (space limited)