Archive for the ‘families’ Category

Heart for Mental Health Radio Announcement

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

KXOJ radio station logoHeart for Mental Health flyerCFI Logo-innovated media

Look mom, we’re on the radio!

Click here to listen to the KXOJ radio spot for the upcoming Heart for Mental Health event.


If you have not already done so, register your attendance at

Click here for more info.

Heart for Mental Health Event

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Speaking Event

Christian Family Institute is honored to take part in the Heart for Mental Health event Friday, March 10, 2017.

Come support efforts to educate, raise awareness, learn about resources, and experience training in mental health.

Register your attendance with Dr. Roddy of Advanced Eye Care, Inc. 

Participating partners:

Southern Hills Baptist Church – Celebrate Recovery

Bright Tomorrows

Hope is Alive Mentoring Homes

Teen Challenge

Heart for Mental Health flyer

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.

Little Things Count

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

hands-437968_1920As couples consider ways to improve their emotional connection and friendship, they typically put a focus on efforts that take some effort. Going out on dates, weekend trips, efforts to improve physical intimacy and attending marriage enrichment events, are all useful and effective ways to increase a couples’ friendship. However, we often fail to recognize the cumulative effects of the very small interactions. In fact, healthy relationships are typically full of positive mini events.

Some examples of these moments can include, pointing out a post on social media, getting your partner something to drink, even a comment about the amount of traffic encountered on the way home. Simply put, these are small efforts to initiate conversation and positive interactions between partners. While it is important to get spouses to initiate these interactions, getting them to receive them in a positive manner, may be more important. Validating responses such as efforts to extend the conversation, a brief acknowledgement or even a responsive smile will pay dividends for both spouses.

On the other hand, a rejection, while seemingly small, can pierce very deeply. When one of these small gestures is made, that partner is taking a risk. The possibility of their partner accepting this bid for connection, also contains the very real possibility of its rejection. Rejections can be derisive statements and body language, or even simply ignoring their partner all together. This can create a pattern where partners are discouraged from making these gestures for connection and thus deprive the couple of a very important element to intimacy.

If you think that your relationship could benefit by increasing the frequency of these small moments of connection, there are two things I would encourage you to do:

  1.  take the risk and make the effort to initiate these small interactions. Be active in serving your partner in small ways, give an affectionate squeeze of their shoulder, make small talk, and find small ways to serve them.
  2. look for and acknowledge the things your partner is doing for the relationship. If you have gotten in a negative pattern, challenge those negative thoughts and appreciate that they are still making an effort to connect. Even if it feels awkward at first, work though it with a sense of humor and let your friendship grow.

by Eric Clements

Where Have The Fathers Gone?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

fathers-day-822550_1920The number one deficiency in our society today is Fatherhood. That’s right. Quite simply, there are too many children and not enough fathers. You many ask “How can this be?” We all know where children come from. Every child has a father, right? WRONG! Every child has a Male Biological Contributor, but unfortunately, a decreasing number of children have Fathers.

So, what does it take to be a Father rather than simply a male biological contributor? While this is likely not an exhaustive list, I have included characteristics that I believe bring men into Fatherhood.

1. Fathers are men, not boys. I am not speaking of age here. I know many mature boys and immature men. I could write an entire book on what it means to be a man, and some authors have done so. Stu Webber’s Tender Warrior comes to mind as a good one. Suffice it to say, men/fathers do manly things and boys do boyish things. This may ruffle feathers, but playing video games, refusing to take responsibility for his actions, going to clubs to get drunk or physically abusing any woman or child are just a few activities that boys do. These are not activities that men do. Quite simply, to be a father, the most important thing you must do is grow up.

2. Fathers are present. Having a father present in the lives of our children is important to the family and to society as a whole. According to the Census department and other U.S. government agency studies, there are far too many homes/children with no father present. According to these studies, 43% of children live without their male biological contributor present. This poses a number of problems which include: 90% of homeless and runaway children are fatherless; 71% of pregnant teenagers are fatherless; 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes. And the list goes on and on.

3. Fathers are not only present, but they are daily involved in the lives of their children. You may have heard “It’s about Quality time rather than Quantity time.” Well, that’s a myth. Children need a father who is present daily in their lives. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that we lead busy lives. But being there counts, big time. I’ve heard “Kids spell LOVE=T.I.M.E.“Here are some ideas to make quantity and quality time with your kids:

  • Do bedtime. Do not ever just send your kids to bed. Read, sing a song, pray, cuddle. This is a great way to end even a bad day.
  • Schedule a “date” with each of your children. I like the idea of a once a month breakfast date with each child, but there are other ways to have a date time with your children.
  • Play card games (Go Fish) or other board games with your kids.
  • Tell your children fun stories about family members they have never met (i.e. deceased grandparents, aunts/uncles).

father4. Fathers love their children’s mother and treat her well. Maybe someday I will write about how to overcome all of the excuses that men make to get out of this one; “we are divorced and she_____;”“We had a one night stand and there never was a relationship;”“She hurt my feelings when she_____.” None of these scenarios free men from the responsibility to show love and respect toward the mother of their children and treat her well. No matter what, children need to see you show respect to their mother, even if you have major disagreements with her and/or have to set serious boundaries with her. Trust me, it is possible. Your kids need it for their future.

These are just a few ideas of what fatherhood means and how to be a Father rather than just a male biological contributor. For the sake of our children and our future, we need more men to commit to being fully present and involved Fathers.

by Chris R. Giles, MS, LMFT

Is Your Child Shy?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Most shy children grow up to be socially functional adults who are able to speak up in meetings or give presentations, but during their formative years, these activities may be quite painful for shy kids.

It is important to distinguish what we mean when we talk about shyness. It is probably a commonplace distinction for most of us to be able to label our friends, co-workers, and children as either exuberant and outgoing or shy and reserved, but what might be going on inside the mind and body-state of the shy individual?

According to psychologists and social researchers, shyness (on the other end of the spectrum from exuberant) has to do with social inhibition. That fancy phrase means that kids may experience stress when faced with interacting with peers or adults in social or education environments, or pretty much any environment as a shy person can attest.

Shyness (social inhibition) therefore is different from being introverted. Introverted kids may be quite content to pursue individual tasks and not crave social interaction. Shy kids may in fact desire to spend time with their peers, but feel socially uncomfortable in doing so.

What’s the big deal about shyness then? Is it a problem? Shy kids are at greater risk of experiencing social anxiety as they grow into their adolescent and adult years. If the rate of anxious adults in the general population is as high as 10% of people, then shy kids are 3 or 4 times as likely (30-40%) to experience social anxiety later in life. Some shy kids, as the social pressures mount in middle and high school years, turn to alcohol or substances to help facilitate social interaction. Still, social anxiety can be overcome…there is a myriad of skills and cognitive-behavioral of help available (yes, we can help with that). Most shy kids learn to regulate the stress involved with social situations. The news isn’t’ all bad…

What positive characteristics do shy kids exhibit? Well, for one thing, as a socially inhibited individual, shy kids are much less likely to be risk takers. They are more likely to ‘think before they do’ (look before you leap) rather than leap first and examine the risk after your parents have to take you to the ER for a broken collar bone (insert your own story of risky behavior here). Shy kids may be “more attuned to threats in their environment1”

Parents, this part is for you… how then do we best assist our shy children? Instinctually, when we see people in stress or pain, we want to comfort and protect. Researchers2 say, “The prototypical shy child is timid, with a coy smile,” which is why we often are drawn to shy kids. However, the best way for a shy child to learn to navigate the stress of social interactions, is to be gently supported. If parents can take a step back from rescuing their kids, while being supportive and encouraging, their children will begin to take steps to do things on their own. Are you debating whether to keep your shy preschooler home? It may be better in the long-run if your child attends daycare and learns to interact with their peers. Those children are less anxious than shy kids who stay home with a parent or nanny.

It is important to remember not to label our children’s temperament as bad or negative. There is plenty of room in the world for slow-to-warm-up kids. They often grow up well adapted and possessing many useful skill sets. Just think about it…if we didn’t have cautious thinkers, how would we have come up with all this research in the first place?

1Robert J. Coplan as quoted in Weir, K (2014) Born bashful: Psychologists have new insights into the causes and effects of childhood shyness. Monitor on Psychology 45 (10), p.50. (
2 Dr. K. Perez-Edgar, also quoted in the same Monitor article

by Dr. Tim Doty

Dr. Doty’s personal web site


For further reading:
Wolfe, C.D., Zhang, J., Kim-Spoon, J., & Bell, M.A. (2014) A longitudinal perspective on the association between cognition and temperamental shyness International Journal of Behavioral Development doi:10.1177/0165025413516257

Pérez-Edgar, K., Reeb-Sutherland, B. C., McDermott, J. M., White, L. K., Henderson, H. A., Degnan, K. A., … Fox, N. A. (2011). Attention Biases to Threat Link Behavioral Inhibition to Social Withdrawal over Time in Very Young Children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(6), 885–895. doi:10.1007/s10802-011-9495-5

Cain, S. (2013) Quiet: The Power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Broadway Books.

Is My Child Depressed?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

It is difficult to know how many children (pre-teens) suffer from depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that, at any given time, 11% of children under the age of 18 meet the diagnostic criteria for Depression. We know that girls are more likely than boys to suffer from depression and that the risk increases as the child becomes older. But these numbers include teenagers; it is hard to find statistics for children from pre-K through age 12.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode include:

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities.
  • Significant weight loss weight gain.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness guilt.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), suicidal thoughts either with or without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt.

Adults and teens can talk about how they feel. The younger the child, the less they are able to verbalize feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness. Instead, children act out their feelings instead of talking about them.

The depressed child may be more irritable and angry than sad. They may be clingy, sulky, or grouchy. It was once thought that all depressed children hid or masked their depression with anger, but we now know that some kids do indeed look sad and blue.

The main things to look for are:

1. Changes in social activities.
2. Loss of interest in school.
3. Changes in academic performance.
4. Physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches that don’t respond to treatment.
5. Crying spells for no or little apparent reason.

Treatment options for depressed children are the same as for adults – counseling and medication. For children, we are more likely to recommend family counseling than individual counseling. Medications may be helpful but generally we want to try counseling first and are slower to refer to a physician for medication.

written by G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.
more articles on depression


When Your Child is Anxious

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

We all strive to provide a safe and satisfying life for our children. We want to protect them, as long as reasonably possible, from the worries of this life. However, some children (adults as well) just seemed prone to be more anxious than others. This can be very discouraging for parents. These children tend to find things to worry about. They often find things that seem outrageous for a child to be concerned with, yet they lose sleep and find these thoughts intrusive and overwhelming.

So what is a parent to do? Initially, avoid going into panic mode. Managing your own anxiety is an important part of helping our children manage theirs. Also, episodes of anxiety that go away as quickly as they begin, are not abnormal for many children. We all have struggled with these moments in our lives. However, if a child has developed a pattern of excessive worry and it is beginning to impact his or her ability to function, then intervention is indicated.

Initially, helping a child to think clearly, and providing appropriate reassurance, may be all the help that is needed. Also, aiding them to find healthy diversions, to short circuit troubling thoughts, can be very helpful. Even simple lifestyle habits like a healthy diet and exercise can be useful tools in overcoming anxiety.

If these things are not enough, then professional help may be necessary. Many parents will want to start with their pediatrician. It is useful to have the pediatrician involved early in the process so that possible medical concerns can be ruled out from the start. The pediatrician may suggest seeing a therapist. A therapist can help the family determine the sources of the anxiety problem and suggest appropriate treatments. Typically, treatment will involve a combination of individual and family therapies. Treatment will often focus on controlling troublesome thoughts and managing stresses in a child’s life. If response to these interventions is not sufficient, there may be a need to include medical intervention. The pediatrician and/or a psychiatrist would need to be consulted on these occasions.

Throughout all these processes, it is important for parents to be patient, hopeful and encouraging. The ability to model hopefulness and realistic expectations will go a long way though all aspects of treatment.

by Eric Clements, M.S.

(more articles on anxiety)

(more articles on children and parenting)


Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

(part 1 can be found here)

Chronic health problems or long-term personal issues often trigger adult suicide attempts. Teenage suicide attempts are often triggered by problems in relationships; especially significant “break ups” or major disruptions in relationships with close friends or family members. When relationships end it can be very difficult, even under the best of circumstances, so when your teenager looses their boyfriend or girlfriend it can be very traumatic, especially if they have emotionally invested a lot of themselves in the relationship. For many teenagers their relationship with their significant other is viewed as the “best thing that ever happened” to them. Consequently, when this relationship is lost you may need to treat it as such. This may be really hard to understand as an adult because so often we are tempted to see these relationships as “childish” or “just a phase.”

Parents of suicidal teenagers often overlook the loss of this kind of relationship. For some it is because the teenager has kept the relationship a secret. For others it is simply because parents often underestimate the power of these young relationships over their child. The answer to this problem is awareness. Parent getting and staying connected with their kids; parents earning the right to talk with their teenagers about their “love life” by meeting and loving their child as they are, listening well, and communicating a genuine sense of love and care that transcends the felt need to lecture and coerce.

Problems in school seem to be a pretty common theme with teenagers and suicide attempts; problems with grades and performance, of course, but perhaps more are their relationships with friends (White, 1999). As a parent you send your kids to school to get an education, but an education is only half of what they receive. Peer relationships are vital to your child’s development, however; as you may already know, teenage peer relationships can be very complicated. Social blunders often overlooked in the adult world are exploited by teenagers and used as a means of singling out certain individuals and targeting them for social punishment. Time and again I have worked with teenagers who made a mistake, made someone else angry, or hurt a specific person’s feelings and subsequently were socially destroyed; targeted, attacked and essentially “kicked out” of their group of friends. As a result many teenagers will begin to feel rejected, lonely, hopeless, and worthless.

A significant breach in the relationship between a parent and a child can be devastating at any age. Family fights are often the trigger of suicide attempts and need to be handled with care (White, 1999). May of the parents of suicidal teenagers I work with often appear surprised when I inform them that abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) is often associated with suicide attempts. Perhaps this is due to the dramatic nature of abuse as a very “messy subject” and inability to cope with their child being abused. However, abuse, in all its forms, is often a trigger of suicidal thoughts and cannot be overlooked. Also the loss of a significant family member, especially a parent, through death, divorce, or abandonment can be a major trigger. Many times teenagers (and children) will begin to think that they were the reason their parent is gone, blaming themselves for their situation in a manner in which they will begin to struggle with feelings of self-hatred and self-destruction.


  • Use and/or abuse of drugs and alcohol (some drugs can trigger this kind of stuff)
  • Feeling hopeless, alone, or alienated
  • Recent suicide of a friend, family, or role model
  • Legal problems
  • Moving
  • Failure
  • Access to a weapon (White, 1999)

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***


White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by Joe James, Psy.D.
other articles on teens

Grandparenting: How to Help Without Butting In

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

grandparentsAs grandparents, you want your grandchildren to grow up in the most loving, healthy environment possible. You can play a significant role creating that environment by how you interact with your children who are now parents.  A few tips on making the best choices for the best environment include:

  • Don’t tell your “kids” how to raise their children.  Avoid judging their parenting style.  If you disagree with their decisions (and there will be times you will), bite your tongue unless you are asked for advice.  Your job is to be the grandparent, not the parent.
  • Respect their parenting efforts and look for reasons to complement them. Validating them builds not only their confidence but builds their relationship with you as well.
  • It’s important to realize that methods on raising children vary from one generation to the next.  For example, discipline styles and methods (or lack thereof) often become a source of tension.  Using a gentle approach in offering your input on this topic can avoid a defensive attitude and power struggle for “who knows best”.
  • Being a parent is hard work and most parents are a bit unsure of their parenting skills (remember?).  What they need is encouragement.  By being less critical, they become less defensive.  By being more supportive, you create a strong, healthy relationship with your “kids” and a loving, healthy environment for your grandchildren.

 Lois Trost, M.S.W

Lois Trost headshot