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RelationTIPS Newsletter
January 2010  ~  Happy New Year!
In this issue
Pre-Teen Divorce Adjustment Class
New Year's Resolution: De-stress Your Home
Free Therapy?
New Twist on Resolutions
Emotional Self-Care for Parents
Achieving Betterment
Getting Hubby To Help
Group Therapy
Pre-teen Divorce Adjustment Class for Ages 10-13
Presented by Dr. Todd W. Dunn

This 6 week class is designed to help 10 to 13 year olds cope with this painful time. Topics will include learning about divorce, dealing with loss and transition, healthy coping skills and strengthening parent/child relationships.
Class begins Tuesday, January 19th
Time: 4:30-5:20 PM
Fee:   $150.00

For more information or to register, please contact Amber at 801.944.4555 or email here.
Using Design Psychology
by Amber Dunford, Mental Health Therapy Intern
Settling back into a routine after the holiday season is often easier said than done. With children returning to school and coordinating busy schedules between work and home, "life as usual" can actually be pretty stressful! As I look forward to beginning a new year, I find that I am drawn to the idea of using home as a place to re-charge, breathe and find refuge from every day stressors.


When we become mentally exhausted and stressed, we become distracted, irritable and impulsive, and are less inclined to take steps in making ourselves more comfortable. Stress also leads to a decrease in our immune system and we become less pleasant to those around us. Essentially, exhaustion and stress make us sick and much less enjoyable to be around. For those of us making a New Year's resolution to take better care of ourselves and our family, we need to look no further than our own home.


Using the environmental psychology principals of scent and sounds, we can transform our home into a place of refuge, where we feel most relaxed, creative and capable. Human beings process smells and emotions in the same part of their brain. Therefore, it seems fairly logical to consider the two when setting the emotional tone of each room in our home. For example, the smell of baby powder or floral scents tends to put us in a good mood and we are more apt to resolve disagreements through peaceful means. These scents also reduce the amount of pain we feel and give us the sense that we have been in a space for a shorter amount of time. For the next family meeting or "time-out", try infusing the room with the smell of baby powder or flowers to peacefully settle disputes or create the illusion of less elapsed time!


Sounds also play a significant role in our emotional state. Sound has been known to have a biological influence on us, as our heart beat and respiration synchronize with the rhythms around us. Those physiological responses have a direct influence on our attitudes and behaviors, which impact how we respond to those around us. When listening to music with a faster beat, our heart rate automatically responds by coordinating to the beat. When our heart beats faster, we feel energized and our breathing will follow suit. To create a soothing and peaceful environment in a bedroom or nursery, play soft, predictable music in the background. Conversely, when it's time to encourage the family to help with household chores, put on music with rhythms that are faster and upbeat.


Below are a few strategies for combining scents, sounds and psychology to create a desired mood for your home. As environmental psychologist Sally Augustin, PhD. states, "Places matter. And we're always in one."


Improving Mood

The scent of lemon and cinnamon-vanilla have been strongly associated with overall improvements in mood. While the combination of cinnamon and vanilla improves our mood, it is also linked to improving creativity. As for reducing tension, try drawing a bath with lavender oil as this scent sedates our nervous system and tends to elicit a calming effect. The smell of cedar has also been linked to tension reduction, so pull out those blankets stored in a cedar chest and wrap up after a particularly stressful day.


Many children find that returning to school after winter break can be anxiety provoking. Try packing an orange in your child's lunch box, as this smell is known to reduce anxiety. Do the same for yourself if you are returning to work with stressful deadlines or work you left behind for after the holidays. Scents of chamomile also relax us and spiced apple reduces blood pressure.


As for sounds, predictable rhythms are relaxing and we feel more peaceful when we can anticipate what is coming next. Sounds of harps and acoustic guitars are found to work best at lulling us into relaxation. In rooms that are meant to be more relaxing such as bedrooms or spa-like bathrooms, keep in mind the furniture design. Spaces with fewer right angles seem more quiet, therefore choose curved furniture or prints with circular, flowing patterns when creating rooms the suggest a sense of peace and quiet.



Jasmine has a calming effect in people and improves the quality of their sleep. While jasmine does not impact the amount of time spent sleeping, people wake up feeling less anxious and perform cognitive tasks better the next day. Spritz bed sheets with jasmine or add a jasmine scented dryer sheet to laundry next time you wash bedding to enhance sleep quality and improve mental performance.


Mental Tasks

Lemon and jasmine improve performance on mental tasks in general. Lavender in particular has been linked with improving performance on mathematical tasks. This may come in handy when managing monthly bills or if you have a child who struggles with math. Try placing a lavender candle in the room where mental tasks are being done to improve performance. Long term memory has been shown to improve with the scent of rosemary. Smelling rosemary before a test or when attempting to recall where you stored those gift receipts may prove beneficial. However, recalling stored information as in test taking, often works best when the same scent is present while studying for the test.


Adding the sound of white noise (such as moving water) further helps us perform mental tasks. Particularly complicated work is improved with the scent of lemon. Those smelling lemon are also more likely to report that they are in better health, which may be helpful in combating the unease caused by this flu season.


Physical Tasks

The smell of peppermint improves performance of physical tasks and makes it seem less frustrating and tiring. Additionally, peppermint leads people tend to believe they are performing better. If you are like most people and set a new years resolution that includes more exercise, try using peppermint lotion before heading to the gym or light a peppermint scented candle in that room where the treadmill has become a clothing fixture!

First Session Is Free. Schedule an appointment with Amber Dunford, Mental Health Therapy Intern today! Email to set up an initial appointment or call (801) 944-4555.
Wasatch Family Therapy would love to introduce you to our interns. Amber Dunford, Mental Health Counseling Intern and Jonathan Harrop, Marriage & Family Therapy Intern are offering professional counseling services at a significant discount! Right now you can book your first 50 minute session for FREE.

Each session after is only $50. Evening appointments available.
here to schedule YOUR FREE appointment or call 801-944-4555.
Pick up Wasatch Woman Magazine this month for a new twist on resolutions! Our clinical director Julie Hanks, LCSW is a new featured relationship columnist.  Read it here online (flip to pg. 18 on digital version)
A Gift to Your Child
(Watch for this article in this month's Utah Family Magazine!)  

by Julie Hanks, MSW, LCSW

As parents, our greatest desire is to raise a happy, healthy, bright, well-adjusted child.  We drive our children to soccer and dance, volunteer at school, take them to doctor visits, prepare healthy meals, read to them, and give them every opportunity possible to learn and to grow into adulthood.


In the flurries of children's needs and activities, it's easy to let our own needs take a back seat. While good parenting is about delayed gratification and personal sacrifice, it also takes a level of personal investment in ourselves to maintain the energy, health, and joy that our children need. More important than opportunities and activities, our children need us to be emotionally present and to be healthy models of how to be a joyful grown up. They are looking to us, as parents, to create a vision of their own future adult life.


What ideal are you creating for your children about what it means to be an adult? Do your children look forward to growing up when they look at you? Or do your children see a parent who is stressed, physically unhealthy, and mentally and emotionally depleted?


"Place Your Mask on First..."

Several years ago, while traveling on an airplane from Utah to Calif. with my baby in tow, the safety instructions given by the flight attendant struck me quite differently. "Should the cabin pressure change an oxygen mask will be made available. Place your mask on first, then assist dependent others." As I held my beloved baby in my arms, I thought how foreign, how wrong it would feel for me put my mask on first in the event of an emergency. Yet, it was at that moment I also realized how crucial it would be to both of our survival. If I put his mask on first and then I passed out, what good would I be to him or to anyone else?  It's often easier to place others' masks on first, especially your children, and soon find yourself "passed out" due to our lack of "oxygen". One of the most important things we can do as parents is to ensure that our own emotional, mental, and physical needs are met so we can give our children the love, attention and affection they need.


Reclaim Childlike Joy

What is your oxygen? In my therapy practice I often hear stories of parents who have lost touch with their personal goals, needs and desires. Reclaiming the things that bring joy and passion into your life is the first step to a happier you and to being a better parent. Here are two questions to help you identify your specific type of "oxygen". Grab a pen and paper and write down the first things that come to mind.


1) What brought me pure joy as a child?
After reflecting upon happy childhood memories, think about the steps needed now to incorporate what brought you joy as a child back into your life. For me, I felt pure joy swimming in my grandma's pool in the summertime and standing on the piano bench singing while my dad accompanied me on the piano. If I don't get enough sunshine and water, and if I spend too much time away from music I start to feel less joy. 


2) What do I want to do before I die?
No matter how big your dreams, I encourage you to take one tiny step toward your goal. If you want to travel in Europe, start planning your itinerary and save a few dollars a week. If your goal is to publish a book, start by writing a chapter. You get the idea...


Prioritize You

Once you know what kind of "oxygen" you need, the next step is to make your needs, desires, and passions a priority. If you aren't putting on your emotional oxygen masks, who will? Your kids? Yeah, right! Your friends? Uh-uh. Your spouse? Nope. Others can only help you meet your needs and support you in pursing your passions, but if you are waiting for someone else to take care of your personal needs and to fulfill your dreams you will end up being very disappointed, and will likely feel empty and angry.


The Difference Between Selfish & Self-care

Many parents are reluctant to make their own needs a priority. See if any of these phrases sound familiar:


I just don't have time. 
I can't take time away from my family.
I have to finish all of my work before I 'play'.
I don't want to be selfish.


Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines selfish as "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others." Self-care is doing what's in your best interest with regard for others. Remember "place your mask on first, then assist dependent others". We are modeling for our children how to be joyful, emotionally healthy adults. Let's give them something to look forward to by modeling joy and showing them how wonderful it is to be a grown-up.

Schedule a therapy appointment with Julie here
For more relationship advice or to find out where Julie is presenting next visit "Inspiring a Better You!"

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW 
by Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, Director Child & Adolescent Services 

Many of us find ourselves making our "new and improved" new year's resolutions about this time of year. Most of us have lists that include things like:
Lose 10 pounds
Exercise every day
Be nicer to my bossy neighbor who I can't stand
Be organized
Take my dog on a daily walk (okay, that is just me)
My new mantra is "I am in control". No more yelling, I will be calm with my kids.

The list continues with all of these great ideas about how we can better ourselves and for that first month, we do really great at sticking to a new diet or exercise routine, saying thank you to the checkout clerk at the grocery store, but by about mid-February, we are back to our old routine and feeling like we haven't made any movement.

Why is this? There are a lot of different theories out there, we lack will power, we want too big of changes too quickly, etc. This may be true, but I think that another reason is that most of us have good goals/resolutions- we just haven't put together a plan in place to achieve them on a long-term basis. We have made a resolution but not necessarily a decision to make changes. Our goals are still in the lofty idealized version and not anchored to real life. To continue reading click HERE
Clair is a regular Child & Family Contributor at Click here to read past articles.
Studio 5 TV Segment

Even though the holidays are over, the same principles apply to other marital differences. Julie Hanks, LCSW, Clinical Director and Matt Townsend, Relationship Coach share their thoughts on getting through the holidays without the typical run-ins.
 JOIN A THERAPY GROUP! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Women's Therapy Group - Wednesdays 5:00-5:50pm
On-going weekly therapy group for women. Depression, healthy
relationships, family issues, body image.
Sexual Abuse Survivor's Group - Thursdays 7:00 - 8:30pm
On-going weekly therapy group for women healing from childhood
sexual and other forms of abuse.
K.I.D.S. Group - Fridays 3:30-5:00pm
Bi-monthly play therapy group to help children ages 8-11. This group will help your child gain skills to manage anxiety and strengthen social skills.
Starting soon: Men's Group, Teens Groups, Children's Divorce Class!
To join a group please Email or call (801) 944-4555. 
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