Friday, September 18, 2015

Top 5 Signs of Adolescent Technology Addiction

By Stephen C. Schultz

I recently received some interesting information about Gaming and Technology use from a good friend of mine, Chris Mulligan, LCSW. Chris is the founder of the Cyber Addiction Recovery Center located in Culver City, CA. He sent me a list of the Top 5 signs of technology addiction in teens.

Chris and I were able to spend a couple of nights in the back-country with a team of students enrolled at RedCliff Ascent. These students struggle with many issues and concerns but the common thread always seems to be technology. You can read about one of the students we met in this blog post I wrote soon after returning from the field.

Is there a way technology can be used in a healthy way? There are lots of opportunities for teens to excel and find career opportunities when technology is appropriately used and managed. It’s a fine line and one that parents must constantly be checking in with their teen about.

Here are the Top 5 Signs of Adolescent Technology Addiction

  • Difficulty completing homework – You might be saying, “Yeah…and every other teenager in the world!” However, anytime there is a decrease in academic performance, it does suggest some further investigation and questions from parents would be appropriate.

  • Reduced interaction with “off line” friends – If you notice that your son or daughter is spending less time with real friends, it may be time to take notice.

  • Reduction in “off-line” hobbies and interests – Is your son or daughter spending all of their awake time multi-tasking between Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, chat room, YouTube or online gaming? Are they faltering in their other areas of talent such as sports, music, outdoor interests or reading.

  • Emotional outbursts -  Your son or daughter gets angry or irritable when time with technology is disrupted due to parental limits being set or structure around use being put in place.

  • Depression – Your son or daughter becomes depressed or apathetic when gaming or online use is met by mandatory breaks from technology.

If you find yourself as a parent struggling to navigate the waters of teen technology use and constantly find yourself in conflict with your teen, this list may be helpful. Be sure to check out Chris's website that is highlighted above. It can give you a place to start…a way to formulate questions and some direction when having a conversation with your teenager.

If you have teens, how do you help them manage the technology use at an age appropriate level? Comments, personal experience and ideas are welcome!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pay It Forward With Kindness

By Stephen C. Schultz

I walked in the door at home after a long day of work. I made my way to the kitchen when my cell phone rang. It was my wife calling from the doctors office. She mentioned that my 14 year old daughter had an infection and needed some antibiotics. She told me that the doctors office had just now called in the prescription to a Walgreen's store down the street. I wasn’t excited to leave the house again, but turned around, grabbed my keys, slipped my shoes back on and headed out the door.

I pulled in the parking lot and got out of my car. My short walk across the parking lot was met with a welcome blast of cool air as I stepped through the automatic doors. Even though the kids are back in school, it is still summer as far as the weather goes. So, once inside, I made my way to the back corner of the store where the pharmacy is...halfheartedly noticing the non-descript music playing overhead.

As I rounded the corner of the isle, I was met with a line of about 10 people. I stepped through the line with brief eye contact and a soft “excuse me” to the lady in line with her young daughter. As I sauntered to the back of the line, I tried to assess the circumstances that would create this back up at the pharmacy. I thought to myself that maybe these folks were just getting off work like I was and stopping to get their respective medicine on the way home.

I stood there fidgeting and mumbling under my breathe a conversation with myself about how I always seem to be in the long line. How restaurants never seem too busy until I choose to walk through the door...and once inside the restaurant there is suddenly an hour wait! I thought how cars on the freeway all around me seem to be moving and I am stuck in the one lane that is at a dead stop! Don’t even get me started on the grocery store!!!

So, after about 15 minutes, which is an eternity when you’re standing in a line, I noticed that there was another lady at the counter who seemed to have a lot of items she was trying to purchase. The lovely lady behind the counter helping her, was trying her best to make the number of items being purchased match the amount of money she had. There were personal hygiene items being subtracted and then added back on. There were a couple of clothing items and items for her two children standing there next to her. It was obvious she struggled to add in her head the cost of the items she wanted and needed. She only had a twenty dollar bill and the items continued to add up more than $20.00. This was the hold up! This was the reason for the long line.

Then I saw something unexpected. A woman in line, the same woman I stepped past when I first arrived, moved to the counter. She mentioned in a whispered tone that she would be willing to help. She pulled out her credit card and had the Walgreen's pharmacist behind the counter ring up all the items. The total was $45 and some change. The lady and her daughters then thanked this woman, gathered their bags and walked away.

This was one of those moments in time that bolsters your faith in humanity. It also provided an opportunity for me to evaluate what I would have done. Would I have stepped forward and helped this lady by purchasing her items for her? Do I pay attention to those around me, or am I too involved in my own thoughts and tasks? How often do we find ourselves in a situation like this to assist others in a kind and compassionate manner, quietly reaching out to total strangers in a time of need? May we all be on the lookout for that opportunity to “Pay it forward with kindness”.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The value of relationships in transition

By Stephen C. Schultz

The air was crisp with the feel of late summer. A dull glow was slowly appearing over the muted green horizon that was laced with the tops of large Douglas Fir trees. I stood next to the trunk of one of those very trees, gazing out upon the calm morning water that would bring with it a day of fishing. With my son, my father, my brother in-law and my nephew, we set out on the water. In fact, it was a day that began a week of travel that included three different lakes, fishing and family visits.

The lakes were Odell Lake in Central Oregon, Collard Lake on the Oregon Coast and Bear Lake that splits the Utah and Idaho border. Activities included the before mentioned fishing but also much needed time with grandparents, uncles, aunts cousins and extended family.

There was blood from the prick of a fish hook. There was sweat from time spent cleaning and sweeping the roof and rain gutters of grandparents too frail to keep up with the never-ending chores of home ownership. There were tears while visiting with my grandmother, who at 99 years old is simply a shell of the woman we knew at loved. There was laughter at the telling of funny stories and the many memories of times gone by.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Does therapy in the wilderness change lives?

Posted by Stephen C. Schultz
Submitted by Jason

This is a message sent to RedCliff Ascent by a former student. I’ll simply let the pictures and the message speak for themselves.

“I just wanted to write to you and let you know that looking back at the experience that I had gone through there, although challenging at times, in looking back at the whole experience I believe that it was beneficial to me.  To this day I enjoy the knowledge of being able to start a fire with the bow drill, and knowing how to survive in a challenging environment.  The most memorable staff member was a lady by the name of White Winds, an older lady with the longest and whitest hair I have ever seen.  I have a box of all of the clothes in my basement and every time that I open the box I am engulfed with the smell of 99 days of fire and wilderness. 

While reading the first page of the website I noticed a quote from a former student, who said,

 ‘I don't think that I can explain it to anyone.’ 

I can't agree with them more. I have tried to explain to my friends and family what it was like out there and I seem to find that no one can grasp the whole experience.  Some of my friend’s still can't forgive my mother for taking me away from them my senior year of high school but thank god she did.  A couple of weeks after I was enrolled 5 of my friends were arrested and I would have been with them. 

I am now a senior at Western Connecticut State University and am ready to graduate and go on with my life.  I really don't know why I am writing this but I felt it necessary to express at least a little bit of what it did for me.  Thank you for your time and I hope the program is doing for others what it did for me.

All the best - Jason”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vertical Thinking - A New Therapeutic Insight For Teens

By Stephen C. Schultz

"Vertical Thinking is a type of approach to problems that usually involves one being selective, analytical, and sequential...vertical thinking consists of using more of a conscious approach via rational assessment in order to take in information or make decisions."

For those who may not be aware, I simply want to make a brief introduction to Oxbow Academy. The administration team has been working with teens who demonstrate Problematic Sexual Behaviors since 2001. The very specialized and clinically sophisticated services of Oxbow Academy were launched in 2007. Oxbow offers treatment for sex specific issues as well as a blending of best practices and philosophy form RedCliff Ascent, Discovery Academy & Discovery Ranch.

Oxbow Academy is on the cutting edge of research and treatment specifically geared towards adolescents. Uniquely designed to work with students struggling with Problematic Sexual Behavior, Oxbow recognized years ago these problematic trends.   

Gregg Lott, LCSW is one of the senior therapists at Oxbow. In this short video he takes the students on a hike and discusses some of the Thinking Patterns these boys have developed over the years. Take a look and see what you think. This little hike probably had a more positive impact on these boys than sitting on a couch in Gregg's office "Talking" for an hour!

More times than not, students with these particular sexual issues are admitted to a Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center (RTC) with no knowledge of any underlying sexual issues. It’s only after they are enrolled that the sexual issues (usually it’s inappropriately touching a fellow student, preoccupation with sexual talk, accessing porn sites on school computers or exposing himself etc.) present themselves. At this point, it is usually an awkward position for the school because the presenting problems would have been disqualifying criteria had these issues been known up front. It is important to note that these issues don’t simply resolve themselves. We have found that the identifying incident is usually the proverbial “tip of the ice berg”.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Adventures of Little Kids & Big Trees

By Stephen C. Schultz

The clouds were low and gray. A few drops tapped the bill of my hat as I pushed the mower along the edge of the sidewalk. The smell of damp cut grass filled the air and a slight breeze blowing from the west let me know a rain shower was on its way.

It was the middle of the morning and I felt a bit of pressure to get the lawn mowed before the storm rolled in. So, I was focused and moving at a little quicker pace than normal. I looked up and saw three of the neighbor kids climbing in one of my trees. I kept the mower going and moved closer to the tree. On my way towards them, they noticed that I saw them. They looked away and then glanced back at me with that childhood curiosity that screams;

“Is he going to tell us to get down? Are we going to get in trouble? Will he tell our parents?”

In the fifty feet it took me to get to the tree, I also had a flood of thoughts. I recalled many instances in my childhood climbing trees and having make-believe adventures around the neighborhood. I remembered times playing in the neighbors yard, riding bikes up and down the sidewalk complete with Evel Knievel jumps and taking adventurous trips to the reservoir with our Red Rider BB Guns!

As I got closer to the tree, I turned off the mower. I stepped to the base of the tree and looked up. They didn't say a thing. I let the awkwardness hang in the air for just a bit more then I said,

“I love climbing trees! I used to climb tree's all the time when I was your age!”

The three boys relaxed a bit and one said, “Yeah, it's fun! I climb trees at my grandmas house!”

I then asked them,

“Do any of you know first aide?”

They looked at me quizzically.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

5 Reasons young adults struggle to stay in treatment

By Stephen C. Schultz

Many young adults in today’s society, those who are 18 to 26 years old, find themselves contemplating mental health treatment of some kind. This self- realization comes to them because they are struggling in college to maintain good grades while partying throughout the week. There are some who simply flunk out of school and go back to live with mom and dad. Still others graduate high school, live with their parents and move from job to job never really making that transition into adulthood.

When partying and gaming take over their lives, these young adults start getting pressure from family to turn their life around. Their behaviors start to affect family relationships.  They may also suffer from bouts with depression, anxiety or other emotional issues that are symptomatic of their situation. It turns into the typical “Failure to Launch” syndrome.

When things get bad enough or when there is enough pressure from family to take care of the problem, these young adults will seek help. Often they start seeing an outpatient therapist in their community. Sometimes, things are bad enough that they seek help from a residential treatment program like a drug & alcohol rehab or mental health facility.

It is widely known throughout the treatment community that the majority of young adults who enter treatment also drop out of treatment before completion. There are many clinically complicated reasons why this is so, but here are the five most common reasons that young adults fail to complete treatment.