Tiny Rudder Blog

Role Models, Modeling What?

As we progress throughout the lifespan, so do our role models.

When I was little I idolized cats. I didn’t have a cat but I adored them through pictures and wall calendars. I eventually moved onto princesses, Strawberry Shortcake, Powerpuff Girls and Power Rangers because they were capable of the impossible. In high school, I moved onto actresses and musicians. They looked so cool and showed me how to dress and behave.

I think the importance of goals regardless of judgement is that it gives us something or someone to look up to. It shows us how they did it so hey, we can too, right? Thankfully, I developed other goals with futuristic importance during middle school which significantly helped fuel my academic career. What about kids that don’t have that? What if their role models are only through media?

Let’s also consider the variable of screen time in the life of a typical American child. It is significantly more hours, more days, and younger and younger ages of initiation. Technology has boomed in recent decades and children consume programs, whether it’s TV, YouTube, social media, video games… the list goes on. So, does technology consumption play a role in role models?

I feel that child ‘followers’ are modeling sexualized behavior that they find online. Some musicians claim that they are owning their sexuality but are they considering their impact on sugestible minds? I think back to what fierce women went through to get suffrage and equal rights. They fought, they marched, they even burned their bras in the name of the movement. Women are more than our bodies. We cannot force-feed a child a cherry-picked celebrity for our daughters to admire (Hello, Michelle Obama). What we can do is talk to our children about topics that they need instruction on.

PSA: We need to talk to them about sex! If they don’t hear it from you then Billy from the neighborhood will tell them his version. Yikes! YouTube influencers are now role models and advising kids of things they could be or should try. This is just a gentle reminder that we need to be parents. We need to teach them as much as we can in order to shoot them off into the world fully prepared. They need discipline and life skills at home in order to make it as adults. We do not need to be helicopter parents that bulldoze any potential obstacle out of the way. We also do not need to be living-in-denial parents that borderline neglect their children’s needs. It is great if we simply be there when a child fails and help them get back up. It is also great if our child is testing our boundaries that we would be able to recognize it and address it. We need to be present and curious to our childrens needs for attention, safety, and love. Childen can never have too many positive role models.

Image result for role model
Food For Thought

For Mother’s Day

My parents had six children, so my mom spent many years of her life pregnant or nursing a baby with other children in tow. She made sacrifices for us including breastfeeding each one of us for about one year. For those of us that are still able to show love to a parent today, I encourage you to do it! Today is a great day to think about our mother’s and to show them the love they deserve.

My older sister was the first sibling to become a mother. She started childbearing while I was a teenager and now has five children including triplets! At the time, I didn’t grasp the enormity of being a mother. 

I learned about the journey to motherhood when I became pregnant and eventually a mother myself. It was then I understood about sacrifice and commitment. I read prolifically throughout my pregnancy and took classes in hypnobirthing to use meditation as a form of pain relief for child birth. 

9 Months Pregnant

My birthing story was an incredible water birth with a midwife. I won’t go into too much detail but it was intense and completely over within four hours! I used breathing to control my heart rate which in turn relaxed my body. I challenged myself to breastfeed for 18 months partly due to my mom’s example and encouragement.

Newborn Pics

Giving birth to a child catapulted me into two years of working as a birth doula and helping women give birth and latch afterwards. The long labors of my clients and the difficulty of talking a birthing mother through the process was always worth the reward of having the baby crying moment at the end. 

My Mom & Daughter

Motherhood is something that can be hard and unrewarding at times. In my case, it is not glamorous and seems to always be a test of patience or a power struggle. Although, it is fulfilling and the best part of my world. I am infinitely blessed to know the benefits of this club and to have been a member since 2015.

1st Birthday

How To: Group Therapy for Cutting

As a counselor working with a clinical population, I see a lot of self-injurious behavior. I have been training in a theory called DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, in order to begin running a group for girls who cut. Cutting is not necessarily understood by parents as each generation has its own issues. The purpose of this video is to inform the viewers of the efficacy of the theory and to direct other counselors to these materials for more information.

Running the Race of the Grad School

Gradual –Graduate School

Currently, I find myself in my final two semesters of my master’s degree. While there are many spinning plates at this point, the pressure is coming from all angles and facets of my life.

As I juggle my internship, my clinical hours, my research assistantship, my child, my family, soccer practices and 8AM Saturday games, graduate courses and homework, preschool and preparing for VPK….I find myself getting a bit anxious. Believe it or not, I did not notice I was anxious until I started seeing the signs: forgetting things, rapid heartbeat while sleeping and dropping balls all over the place. However, I plowed on to make sure I presented at my state conference… When I came back up for air…it is already February. This month I am required to take my comprehensive exit exam to literally be permitted to graduate from my program. Also, as part of my application process into a doctoral program, I have my group interview next week.

What I have done about my stress, is to be compassionate towards myself when I haven’t quite hit the mark. I think about why I got frustrated or why I procrastinated something and forgive myself. I also try to learn from it and move on, no more harping on bad behavior. Right now, time management seems to be my area that needs improvement. I figured out as much as I can right now, so I will take deep breaths and be more cognizant of my daily schedule. Sometimes, adjusting one’s sleep is the easiest way to improve efficiency!

At this point, you may or may not be impressed at my level of busy. As I continue writing, I am also reflecting on how it is somewhat of a cultural norm to be considered successful based on how ‘busy’ we are. I encourage anyone who reads this to not compare or try to keep up with others. Stay in your lane. It is not the finish line that keeps me going, it is the journey that means the most. Real life happens in the journeys- NOT the finish line.

I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have, for the journey that I’m on and to relish each day as a gift.

James McGreevey
Peace and Love

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

Confidence lacking? Check this author out!

I recently heard myself criticizing Rachel Hollis. I thought, what could she possibly share about self-care or mental health if she doesn’t have the credentials to back up her claims. I am ashamed to admit that, but hey- I ate my words once I listened to her audio book. I feel like my learning lesson helped to keep my pride in check and remember to continually put humility first. This is for anyone who needs a boost in inspiration and wants to get pumped up about yourself! Love Love Love!!!



Working With Clients in Recovery

When working with clients struggling with addiction, one angle I would like to gently encourage new and well-seasoned counselors to remember is the holistic point-of-view. As counselors, we are trained to conceptualize… but are we truly being holistic when we treat? Here is a CHIME model that I have worked on over the past year. I found this model to be effective with an adult population struggling with alcohol addiction. Here is a free video powerpoint with self-advancing slides to help increase your knowledge of CHIME. Enjoy!

Counseling in Spanish

I am currently working with Spanish-speaking families and thought it would be helpful to share some of my ponderings with other new counselors who may be considering how to conduct a therapy session in Spanish. I am currently completing my final year of my master’s degree while working with adolescents in a behavioral health hospital in South Florida. I simply wanted to share some helpful tidbits and games that I have found helpful when Spanish clients are present. From my experiences, I am either conducting initial assessments, individual therapy, or translating for clients while another colleague runs group counseling.

When we learned about counseling in the classroom, it was much different than the first day of practicum, right? Well, I know there is a big shift between speaking Spanish and then applying what I have learned in English into the way Spanish formulates sentences. This may sound confusing so I will try to explain further. I tend to use the subjunctive tense during group counseling. For example, when beginning groups, we ask for the youth to stop what they’re currently doing, bring a chair, and come sit around a table. Instead of saying, “usted trae una silla” I would say “por favor traiga una silla”. It is more of a command in Spanish, but I feel like it conveys that I am the professional in the room and it is time to start group.

Before beginning to expand your bilingual counseling competence, make certain that you have a supervisor who is capable of overseeing and helping in the case of an emergency. It is very important to remain ethical while learning. I also practice humility when I am unfamiliar with a word, I simply ask the client to describe the meaning of the word using the phrase, “Lo siento, no sé esa palabra. ¿Qué significa _________?”

When providing ‘consejos’ (counseling/advice) to clients, it may be helpful to consider which tense to use. For youth, I use the Tú because it is less formal and they are younger than I am. When I run a family session, I begin using the Usted and Ustedes tenses and eventually switch to the Tú . This may be cultural because my brother-in-law uses the Ustds for everyone all the time. I elect to use the usted tense when it is the initial meeting, with doctors and supervisors, and for older people. I had one other case with a teenage boy who had frequent crushes on the other patients. In this case, I consistently used the third person. I thought that it conveyed that I was the professional and not someone that he could flirt with. Most cases, using the Ustds form is formal and considered universally to be respectful language.

Finally, while in the role of translator during a group counseling session, I have learned that translating is very difficult. Since other people do not know what is expected, it is easy to fall into the trap of translating for everyone for one person to understand. After doing that a few times, I knew I needed to come up with a better idea. For the past two months, we have been using this bilingual game, similar to Jenga. It has cards written in English and Spanish. Unfortunately, the game does not put English on one side and Spanish on the other. I found that using a glue stick, I was able to match up the cards so it would super easy to help translate. This game is fantastic and has great open-ended thought-provoking questions aimed at building self-esteem and self-awareness.

Bilingual Group Counseling Game

bilingual board game