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Archive for July, 2012

“Just a stage?” Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children, and Defiant Disorder Treatment

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

As every parent knows, kids love to use the word “no.”  It gives them a sense of power and it allows them to perceive they have some control over their endlessly rule laden lives.  While unpleasant, this is a normal part of child maturation and testing boundaries, and it is a normal part of parenthood to continue to be the boundary enforcer. But what happens when a child surpasses normal non-compliance efforts, and their unruliness becomes so severe and so consistent that the parent is unable to regain authoritative control? It may be the child’s behavior is a diagnosable condition.

So how do you know when those refusals to comply have become more than just a little stage?  There is a little known but increasingly diagnosed disorder called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).  If your child is exhibiting the signs below it may be a signal that something more serious is going on and it’s time to contact a mental health professional about a possible ODD diagnosis.

The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder in childeren is a repeated pattern of negative behavior that is “deliberate, spiteful, and argumentative.”  This is not the preschooler who tells mom “no” to bath time or the school age kid who doesn’t want to do his homework.  This is a child or teen who, over a six month period or longer, repeatedly refuses to follow rules, argues with adults, and is easily angered.

The result is often serious disruptions at school or other social settings. ODD is usually recognized by about age 8 and can be diagnosed by early adolescence.  If not addressed, symptoms may become more confrontational and more persistent as the child enters middle school and high school. Treatments include impulse control therapy, cognitive behavioral therapies, and behavioral therapies.

So the next time your child exercises his “no” muscle, have no fear.  It is a normal part of growth and helps him mature, develop decision making skills, and become independent.  If, however, your child’s “no” has become constant, results in discipline problems at school, or appears overly intentional or directed at adults, check with your school or community counselor for a referral.  There are defiant disorder treatment options, and licensed family and parenting counselors will be able to help.

Understanding Infidelity: a Sexual Affair, an Emotional Affair, an Affair Online

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

When counseling couples who are trying to survive infidelity, one of the first tasks for the therapist helping the couple through affair recovery is to help the couple define what exactly happened, and what is meant by uttering the word, “affair?”

Was it an affair if the offending partner only had sex with the paramour one time and there are no lingering affectionate feelings?

Was it an affair if the offending partner shared intimate details about the relationship, kept meetings and communications a secret from the non-offending partner, but never had sex (usually coined as an emotional affair)?

Was it an affair online, where the offending partner never actually met the paramour face to face? Affairs are the cause of anywhere between 50% and 60% of divorces yet a commonly accepted definition for the term “affair” is elusive.

Like a disease that can only be accurately diagnosed post mortem, one way to diagnose an affair is to examine the resulting damage. In almost all cases the non-offending partner reports feelings of betrayal, trauma, and insecurity. Diseases are common due to unprotected sex. Divorce can follow.

Another way to determine whether or not a relationship qualifies as an affair by definition is to determine the level of secrecy. Were instant messages from the paramour deleted? Were the passwords to Facebook and email accounts kept a secret from the non-offending partner? Were meetings with the paramour conveniently omitted when describing daily activities? If a relationship outside the committed relationship elicits overt lies or lies of omission, then with or without sex the relationship has the trappings of an affair.

A commonly accepted definition for infidelity is difficult because the feelings and post-discovery reactions are so personal. Regardless of the definition one assigns to an affair, if an outside relationship has the potential for trauma, disease, and emotional damage to the partner in the committed relationship, or, if lies are necessary to maintain it, it is probably wise to avoid it.

Infidelity, however defined, is a destructive force. Never the less, when faced with the reality of it, what is done is done. Yet affair recovery is possible if the couple is determined to build strong roads of trust and faithfulness once more. A licensed and certified therapist in marital counseling will be an invaluable assistant in the process.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of found in The Woodlands TX.  A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor, she is trained as a marriage and family expert. Dr. Walker specializes in couples and families, especially those struggling to survive addictions and infidelity.

Financial Infidelity

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

When the word infidelity is mentioned most people think of sexual betrayal. Since the recession of 2009, however, financial infidelity has started to share some of the spotlight. According to one source, financial infidelity is beginning to pass sexual infidelity as one of the leading causes of breakups. So what is financial infidelity and what is the impact on committed relationships?

Financial infidelity is often described in terms of ‘hiding money.’ For example, one partner in a committed relationship fails to disclose the whereabouts of a savings account, lies about a purchase or withdrawal from a joint bank account, or maintains a hidden line of credit. Another sign is the failure of one partner to disclose financial difficulty to the other partner.

The impact of this failure to disclose on a committed relationship can be quite severe. Many respondents in the survey viewed financial cheating as harshly as they viewed sexual infidelity. In fact many believed that financial infidelity could be a precursor to sexual infidelity because ‘if you can lie about money, you can lie about sex.’ Unfaithfulness in marriage is, after all, unfaithfulness in marriage, whatever state it may take.

As a marriage counselor I often see couples whose financial infidelity began in courtship when one partner lied to the other about tarnished credit or exorbitant debt. While that is rarely the reason a couple seeks therapy, early financial infidelity is often described as one of the many hurts or betrayals that has led to the current difficulties.

Talking about money can be as awkward as talking about sex for some couples. Some good habits for struggling couples are:

  1. Setting and keeping a budget
  2. Agreeing on future goals, and
  3. Developing a way for each partner to spend budgeted money with ‘no questions asked.’

Taking steps to safeguard your relationship from the temptation of financial cheating will not only build trust, it will increase intimacy and possibly inoculate against future infidelity.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of found in The Woodlands TX.

Am I an Addict? A Simple Addiction Test to Begin Your Journey as a Recovering Addict

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

“Am I an addict?”

Have you ever asked yourself this simple question? It may be surprising to know that many struggle with identifying addiction in their own life.  Addiction has many definitions, but one way to think of it is to challenge yourself, “Does this substance/behavior have more control over me than I have over it?” It’s a simple question, and provides you with an addiction test that has identifiable methods for gauging an answer.

Here are some addiction test questions which are easy to relate to and may assist you in determining if a substance/ behavior might be an addiction:

•    Do you ever use alone?
•    Have you taken one drug to overcome the effects of another drug?
•    Do you avoid people or places that you used to enjoy because they disapprove of your using?
•    Have you been unsuccessful at cutting back or stopping the behavior or drug use?
•    Do you often use more than you planned?
•    Have you gotten into trouble as a result of using?
•    Have you lied about using a drug or how much you have used?
•    Have you lost any relationships due to your substance use or behavior?
•    Have you used drugs to make you feel better about a situation?
•    Do you continue to use a drug despite negative consequences?
•    Do you have family/friends who have said you need to cut back or stop using?
•    Do you have to use more of the drug to get the same effect as before?
•    Have you forgotten things you did or said while using?
•    Has your job or school performance deteriorated since you have started the drug?

Answering positively to any of these is a cause for concern. Three or more positive responses indicate you have a substance use problem and you may be an addict.

Declaring a drug is a problem takes courage. But admitting the problem is the pivotal event that allows a hopeless addict to become a hopeful, recovering addict.  It is the beginning of getting better and regaining control over your life.

Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management. Lear more about TIa Parsley the these websites: and


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