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Disaster Mental Health Response in Moore, Oklahoma

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

CFI’s Dr. Tim Doty volunteered last week with the American Red Cross in Moore as a Disaster Mental Health responder. This blog post is reposted from

As you have all seen from the pictures, videos, news reports, etc., the devastation is immense and fierce…but so is the spirit to rebuild.  I had two different assignments while on the scene.  The first was to accompany an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV)into the field to give out hot meals and cold water to people who haven’t had power or access for days.  I was assigned to a team of two nurses and two disaster mental health volunteers to help triage wounds, both emotional and physical. We talked to people who had lost everything…in fact some people had lost everything more than once.  They also survived the May 3, 1999 tornado.

Photo May 22, 10 10 38 AMPhoto May 22, 10 10 33 AM

In Disaster Mental Health, our role is to encourage, support, promote healthy coping strategies and to help identify those who need help immediately (like psychosis or suicidal/homicidal). There has been media coverage about who was let into the disaster areas and who was not (as in some residents) during the search and rescue and search and recovery phases of the disaster response.  Red Cross was given access on Wednesday, so we were among the first to be delivering food and water since Monday.  People were gracious.  They have been through incredible events.

Yesterday (Thursday) I had the honor of assisting with the reunion of the Briarwood elementary school that took place at Bonds elementary in Moore, just down the road from the destroyed Briarwood.  Again, as a Disaster Mental Health volunteer for the Red Cross, 8 psychologists were sent (4 each) to Briarwood and Plaza Towers reunions. It was a touching and powerful event.  Students and teachers reconnected.  Parents and family members were able to hug one another and actually close out their school year, which they were otherwise unable to do since the school was destroyed Monday. Some of the students were telling one another “I saw you on TV, so I knew you were ok.”  In fact, one father did not know that his son was alright until he viewed his son on TV as well.

The work through the Red Cross is emotionally challenging, but very rewarding when you can help encourage healthy coping strategies and help families predict the kinds of emotions and responses they are likely to encounter in the days and weeks ahead.

Our prayers continue to be with the survivors as they rebuild.

Dr. Tim headshot

Tim Doty, Psy.D.

twitter: @DrTimDoty


How Couples Handle Issues Related to Finances

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Republished from

Dr. Tim Doty appeared on Tulsa’s FOX affiliate’s Daybreak show February 7th, 2013. The program director was given a suggestion to talk about how couples handle financial decisions as a Valentine’s themed check on relationships. Dr. Tim was invited to talk on the subject! While finances may not be at the forefront of people’s minds during the Valentine’s season, it can be a good time, nevertheless to discuss the importance of communicating well through potential areas of conflict. Here is a summary of the literature that Dr. Tim discussed on Daybreak.

There are a few areas of “polite conversation” that we may not have been sufficiently prepared for when we entered into our own committed relationships: money, sex, politics. Most of us develop patterns in relationships that model what we saw in our own families of origin, therefore, if what we are used to in terms of discussions about how couples handle finances was either avoided or heated, we may likely fall into the same patterns ourselves. Research (and probably your own lives can attest) that the number one conflict starter in marriages and committed relationships is often discussions around money1. Further, discussions of money between couples often are important conversations that represent more than just how much money is in the bank, but can be reflective of concerns such as: trust, power, acceptance, security, and respect2,3. HOW we talk to one another in our relationships about issues such as marriage can be a determining factor in how we navigate the success or failure of a committed relationship. Important areas of couples communication skills and emotional understanding4 include: how you have fun together, sexual expectations, how you handle social lives and family, the roles you expect of one another, and spiritual beliefs.

So, what can we do to have better conversations about money, and a host of other potential relational indicators?

  1. Recognize that you may not ONLY be talking about money if you are talking about money. You can have a successful relationship with a little money and you can have a successful relationship with more money, the amount of money is unlikely the core issue.
  2. Start conversations from a position if invitation, not accusation.
  3. Start soft rather than demanding explanation.
  4. Come talk to a professional to have a “marriage checkup” and work together to improve communication skills and understanding of the emotional components of trust, power, acceptance, security and respect in your relationship.


1Storaasli, R. D., & Markman, H. J. (1990). Relationship problems in the early stages of marriage: A longitudinal investigation. Journal Of Family Psychology, 4(1), 80-98. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.4.1.80

2Jenkins, N.H., Stanley, S.M., Bailey, W.C., & Markman, H.J. (1992). You Paid how much for that?!: How to Win at money without losing at love. Jossey-Bass, San Fransicso, CA.

3Gottman, J.M. & Silver, N. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Three Rivers Press, New York, NY.

4Johnson, S. (2008). Hold Me tight: Seven Conversations for a lifetime of love. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.


Does Exercise Help Treat Depression?: A Response to The Atlantic’s Study of the Day

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Republished from

The Atlantic Study of the Day for July 10, 2012 summarizes an article that was published in the

British Medical Journal: “Facilitated Physical Activity as a Treatment for Depressed Adults: Randomised Controlled Trial.”

The Atlantic’s article title, summary, and conclusions are misleading.  The Atlantic reports that the study either provided medical treatment (i.e. pharmacological prescription) plus encouragement to exercise, or encouragement to exercise ONLY.  The group that took part in exercise ONLY, were not much better off at the end of the study as it pertains to depression. Nowhere in the study was any form of talk therapy or counseling included.  Also, as a measure of depression, the Beck Depression Inventory is a useful clinical tool, but perhaps not sensitive enough to pick up on nuanced changes in one’s depression from time to time.

My advice…if you are struggling with depression, the best course of action is to seek out talk therapy with a trusted therapist and increase activities that allow our bodies’ neurochemicals to become more balanced:  such as, regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, and well-balanced diet.  Included in talk therapy, I think it is helpful for individuals struggling with depression to take a look at their broader social connections and increase relational satisfaction.  So, in conclusion, I am not terribly surprised that exercise ALONE did not cure depression, but exercise in combination with an individualized, guided approach to treatment is healthy and helpful.

Dr. Tim Doty

Dr. Tim Interviewed by FOX23 About OKC Thunder

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Dr. Tim Doty was interviewed last month by FOX23’s Adam Paluka about fans’ reactions to OKC Thunder losses.

Here’s an excerpt:

Tulsa psychologist Dr. Tim Doty says the way many people in Green County felt when the Thunder lost Game 3 of the NBA Finals Sunday night is called a “shared grief reaction.”

Dr. Doty says because there is just one big league team in the entire state of Oklahoma, this communal feeling of disappointment and frustration with the result of Game 3 is hitting Okies harder than usual.

February and March Speaking Engagements

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

CFI staff have a number of upcoming events in February and March

Dr. Tim Doty will be speaking at Metro Christian Academy as a part of their Spiritual Life series for parents Staying Connected to Our Kids: An interactive workshop series to help parents stay engaged in their kids’ lives as they mature.  Open to any parent in the greater Tulsa area.  Panel workshops will take place twice on February 13th, 11:30am-1pm, and again 7pm-8:30pm at Metro Christian Academy.  See the Staying Connected to Our Kids (pdf flyer).



On February 19th, Dr. Tim will be speaking alongside Pastor Brad Jenkins at The Gathering in Tulsa for the second installment of a series called “Love Machine.”  Dr. Doty will be sharing about how singles, couples, long-time married, newly married, divorced and combined families can employ healthy relationship principles.

7370 E. 71st St. Tulsa, OK 74133



Dr. Tim will also be speaking at Brookhaven Hospital on  March 7 from 11:30am-1pm. “Deepen Your Clinical Effectiveness: The Use of Psychological and Forensic Assessments in Your Practice.”

201 South Garnett Road

Tulsa, OK 74128-1800

Reservations: 918-438-4257

CEU Credits: 1.5 hours each, available to local professionals.



Dr. Dale Doty will be hosting a Certification Training for the PREPARE/ENRICH tool on Friday, March 30, 2012

This workshop is being offered specifically for pastors, pastoral or lay counselors, chaplains, marriage educators, and deacons or elders. Professional counselors & counselors-in-training are also welcome to attend.  6.0 CEU hours approved for LMFT / LPC.

If you would like additional information about the PREPARE/ENRICH tool and the training we offer, please take a look at Dr. Doty’s article and video.

To sign up for the workshop, and for additional details, here is the link to the registration page.


ADHD and Mental Health as it Relates to Your Child’s Education

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Parents, teachers, and school administrators work collaboratively to provide the best educational opportunities and accommodations for children/adolescents in the classroom.  Many parents are not aware that school systems are not able to adequately diagnose ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) or mental health disorders that impact students’ ability to perform to their best academically and behaviorally.

Where should parents turn to seek out appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and assistance in navigating the educational system to provide the best opportunities for their children?

Often students with emotional concerns and/or attention deficit disorders come to the awareness of teachers or school administrators when behavior becomes problematic, when grades suffer, or when academic benchmarks fall behind their peers developmentally.

Students who struggle with diagnosable mental health concerns can experience significant difficulty performing to the best of their ability in a traditional classroom setting.  Accommodation is sometimes necessary to help students with extra time to complete tasks and tests, work in smaller groups, or benefit from individualized attention and learning opportunities.

Teachers and school administrators are often overburdened with large classrooms and demands on their time.  Many schools have had to cut testing psychologists or special education teachers due to budget shortfalls.  Thus, when a student is pointed out as having behavioral, emotional, or attention problems, even if testing is available within the school, the waitlist may be significant (often 6-18 months).  If you are a taxpayer and live in a school district (most of us) you have the right to educational resources even if your child attends private school.  However, due to limited resources in many school districts, your child may be at the bottom of a lengthy list of educational test-takers.  Schools are sometimes able to test children for educational diagnoses (such as learning disorders) which may qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) based on the definitions of learning disabilities set up by Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

An educational plan, such as a 504 plan or IEP may help your child academically, but concerned parents will also want to intervene behaviorally at home for consistency and effective life skills and organizational help.  Working with a counselor, therapist, academic coach, or private professional can provide your family with the executive functioning assistance your child may need. A family approach to helping your student, in our experience, offers the most successful systemic intervention.

Even when schools believe that ADHD or another mental health disorder is present in a student, they are legally limited in their ability to make that diagnosis.  For instance, in Oklahoma, if a school does make a mental health diagnosis, they become liable for the treatment.

Instead of going through the school district, many parents choose to seek out private educational, emotional health, and/or behavioral assessments.  At Christian Family Institute, we offer these assessments and evaluations in an individualized manner.  We take the time to get to know your family, and your child’s needs.  Our process includes taking a detailed history of the concern, customizing an evaluation process that includes psychological tests and data, gathering behavioral observations from multiple sources, and sitting down with the family to provide feedback—including developing a treatment plan that can include helping your family advocate for accommodation needs within the educational system.

Dr. Tim Doty | Twitter

Holiday Stress- CFI Video Podcast posted on YouTube

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Dr. Tim Doty, Psy.D. of Christian Family Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma shares some quick tips about how to stay healthy during the holiday season. He discusses continuing to place an importance on healthy exercise, eating and sleep as well as taking joy in the season.

Feel free to share this link with your friends and family.  Here is the  YouTube link.  Or if you prefer, Vimeo link.

Inagural Video Podcast- What Every Youth Minister Needs to Know About Crisis Management

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Mr. Bowden McElroy and Dr. Tim Doty discuss what “we wish every youth minister knew about crisis management in twenty minutes or less.” We cover issues of confidentiality and legal/moral/ethical obligations to be wary of secret-keeping. We also discuss linking to referral sources and we encourage youth ministers and helpers in general to prioritize self-care. We hope you enjoy this podcast and we look forward to posting additional teaching-related material.

What Every Youth Minister Needs to Know About Handling Mental Health Crises from Dr. Timothy Doty on Vimeo.

A Compassionate Reponse to the Haitian Earthquake

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The recent news of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti leaves many of us feeling great sadness and compassion for the people affected by the tragedy.  Many of us, with good intentions, want to respond and help in any way we can.  In fact, some whose resources allow may feel a desire to board a plane and add to the ongoing relief efforts in person.  However, our initial desire to act may not be the most sustainable and helpful responses.

Because of the need to respond to primary needs and rescue efforts urgently, philanthropy experts recommend giving monetarily to relief-aid groups who have an established presence in Haiti.  It is more effective during the early stages of disaster relief and during ongoing rebuilding efforts to work with organizations that have leadership in place to respond to a needs-based assessment on the ground.  New organizations to the area or individuals who join in aid efforts without connection to an organization may add to the chaos.

It is okay to wait on your giving.  Reconstruction efforts will take time and monetary giving will be needed on an ongoing basis.

It can be anxiety-provoking to sit “idly by” when so much is needed in response to the Haitian earthquake.  However, this is an instance in which relying on experts in the area (i.e. the Haitian people and established relief-aid workers) is perhaps a more compassionate response than rushing in with our “expertise.”  I would encourage you to donate monetarily and prayerfully to organizations that you already trust to do compassionate work for the needs of our world.

Tim D. Doty, Psy.D.

The following is a list (not exhaustive) of organization who have a presence in Haiti:

Action Against Hunger

American Red Cross

Beyond Borders


Direct Relief International

Doctors Without Borders


International Medical Corps

International Relief Teams

Meds and Food for Kids

Mercy Corps

Operation USA

Oxfam America

Partners in Health

Save the Children

Stop Hunger Now


World Concern

World Vision

Yele Haiti

Jesus had a screwed up family (tree) too

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Dr. TimI was first introduced to the intentional nature of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ lineage while attending a freshman intro course of New Testament study at Oklahoma Baptist University (or at least that’s when I remember it sinking in) taught by Mac Roark—since retired.  If I remember correctly, Matthew specifically mentions individuals in Jesus’ family tree that most people would like to accidentally leave out of their own histories.  Women of “questionable character”[1] including the likes of prostitutes and adulterers are specifically mentioned.  Also mentioned are “evil” people and a note of another Bible says that God “works through ordinary people” to “accomplish his will.”[2]

What does Jesus’ family tree have to do with thoughts on psychology, psychotherapy and families?  Well, in family therapy we commonly talk about intergenerational trauma or the affects of previous family patterns on current family dynamics.  If it can be said that Jesus’ own family history included generational embarrassments and individuals of “questionable character,” can it also be said that great healing and redemption can come from our own family histories?  One thing that impacts me about Matthew’s account of Jesus’ lineage is that he listed questionable individuals and even “evil” individuals in the and provided a sense of hope that regardless the struggles that might have been a part of your family, both in distant past and in current circumstances, that God can work out some impressive results.  I also happen to think that Matthew provided a nice example for psychotherapy in that he was willing to engage in conversation about previous sore spots in the family.  I think talking about issues is one step in the healing process.

My above thoughts were in response to this podcast from Imago Dei Community in Portland regarding the Advent season.

Tim Doty, Psy.D.

[1] According to the ESV Study Bible notes


[2] NIV Life Application Study Bible notes