Therapy That Works...

CBS 11 - Corporal Punishment - How Much Is Too Much? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing Adrian Peterson and how to discipline your child effectively - click here.

CBS 11 - Corporal Punishment - How Much Is Too Much? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing Adrian Peterson and how to discipline your child effectively - click here.

Man Accused Of Firing At Police & Firefighters Speaks From Jail - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 15, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing the psychology behind a North Texas man recently accused of shooting at the police - click here.

Violence - The Effects of Violent Movies on Children and Teens - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the effects of movie violence on children and teens and how parents can limit violent movies and maintain their relationship with their child - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior. Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are wondering how to gauge which movies their kids should be watching or if their kids should be seeing violence at all!

State of Development

Be aware that adolescent brains, when compared to adult brains, are especially vulnerable to what they see, hear, and experience. They are still building their beliefs about the world, about other people, and about themselves. Always remember that your teenager’s brain will continue to unfold and develop until their mid-twenties.

External Influences

Neuroscientists warn us that by the time the brain reaches adolescence, brain development is heavily governed by external influences. What the adolescent brain sees, it encodes and internalizes. As parents, you want their movies to include appropriate themes and stories of empowerment, virtuous beliefs, courage & persistence, and age appropriate romances.

So, how can you keep your relationship with your child intact while also keeping your child away from violent movies?

Risk Factors

Violence from children and teens is often correlated with predictors including neglect or abuse at home, bullying at school, and serious mental illness. However, showing your child a violent movie does not mean that they will automatically become violent. There are hundreds of factors that keep children from turning to violence including a loving and supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and mental health counseling. Make sure that your child has all of the facts and fully understands the responsibilities and consequences of violence and gun use.

Just Say No

While it is always difficult to tell a child that they cannot see a movie that all their peers are seeing, you will thank yourself in the long run for holding the line if you believe that the movie has too much violence. “No” is a complete sentence and telling your child “no” is not an invitation for negotiation. Children and teens need compassionate, thoughtfully explained limits from their parents who are emotionally responsible. The best thing you can do is to draw those boundaries long before the trip to the movie theater, and make sure your child knows that violent movies will be fewer and far between.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

"The Primal Teen" by Barbara Strauch

Violence - Your Children and Violence In The Movies - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the recently published report from The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians about children and teens being influenced by violence in movies - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior.

Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are asking what effect can this movie violence have on their child?

Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

Weapons Effect

We do know that just seeing a weapon can increase levels of aggression and forceful behavior in certain people—what psychologists call the “weapon effect.” Studies clearly show that violence in movies can increase aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior.

Learning By Example

Watching an entire movie in which glamorous people you identify with or admire use guns may do several things: 1.) increase your comfort level with guns and gun violence, 2.) desensitize you to violent actions and gun violence, and 3.) decrease empathy and understanding for the victims of gun violence. Therefore as parents, it is advisable to limit your child’s exposure to gun violence in the movies.

Who To Watch

However, this finding does not mean that your child is going to automatically become violent if they are exposed to violence in the movies. There are hundreds of mitigating factors that would prevent them from becoming violent including a supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and the absence of significant mental health issues. The real vulnerability to violent imagery lies with children who are from neglectful or abusive families, who are bullied and marginalized at school, and who lack substantial psychological coping skills to deal with rejection and failure. These children often feel lost and the images of gun violence restore a sense of empowerment and control that is missing in their lives. These “at risk” kids are the ones we need to worry about.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

Recent Violence Spark Question of "Where Is Safe?" - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 answer the question - with all of the violence happening in the last few months (i.e., the Boston Marathon bombing, the Naval Yard shooting, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, etc.), where can you feel safe? Click Here

Violence Prediction and Narcissistic Decline - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how certain perceptions of the world can push vulnerable minds to violence - click here.

The Internet is filled with theories about the recent Boston Marathon bombings.

Doctors, journalists, and bloggers are focusing on the psychology of terrorism or the role of siblings in violence. However, perpetrators of such violent crimes often come with unique warning signs. If we know what to look for, it may be possible to prevent future tragedies. Here are some of the reasons that someone you know may be prone to violence:

Inflated Self-Image

Many perpetrators have grandiose opinions of themselves. They expect the world to recognize how special they are and reward their talents and abilities at all times. They are shocked when they do not receive the acclaim that they expect and they struggle to understand the reasons for it.

“Me Against The World”

The trouble begins when the world regularly frustrates and deprives them of the recognition they feel entitled to receive. Due to their exceptionally high opinions of themselves, the perpetrator develops elaborate explanations and conspiracies for these setbacks. They find somewhere to place the blame for their negative feelings and they may begin to plan their revenge.

Losing Their Grip On Reality

Once their negative feelings reach a tipping point, their thinking may become actively delusional as they slip deeper into disappointment. They become convinced that they have been robbed of the rewards they justly deserve. They find evidence all around them of a person or force determined to suppress their greatness.

Breaking Point

This type of thinking can often provoke a more anti-social perspective that starts to incorporate desires for revenge and payback. Each mind has its own threshold for violence, but their thinking may begin to fragment and allow irrational thoughts and justifications for violence.

If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist to help you understand the signs of violence and what you can do to help.

Sources:

The work of Gavin de Becker

The work of Dr. John Exner

The Thousand Steps To Violence - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some pre-incident indicators of violence and how violence is caused by thousands of small decisions and actions - click here.

Most of us think that violence is unpredictable and that people “just snap.”

However, violence is a progressive action made up of hundreds of decisions and actions that climax in a violent act. There are often a series perceived slights, thoughts that they are not being properly recognized or praised, or the belief that someone or something is out to get them. Perpetrators tend to alternate between feelings of humiliation and righteous indignation. Slowly and steadily, they begin to find justifications for violence against others.

Here are some of the pre-incident indicators to watch out for:

Gathering Evidence

In the beginning, the troubled mind relentlessly seeks out and gathers the evidence to support their negative worldview. They will ignore or negate any evidence to the contrary and only focus on how they are the victim. At some point, frustration is replaced by total indignation and rage that pushes the person to begin to consider violence.

Planning The Act

At some point, retribution becomes the only solution. To them, thoughts of violence and retaliation are soothing and offer temporary relief from the tremendous rage that brews and festers. When they are around other people, they may act extremely cool and calm - even to the point of seeming robotic or cold. They are channeling all of their rage into planning their revenge.

Rehearsing Violence

Mental and even physical rehearsal of the violence begins to take center stage. Their revenge consumes all of their time and attention. They focus on the satisfaction they will feel from their revenge, the mental images and planning of the act, and the erosion of accurate judgment and self-control.

Friends and family often miss these pre-incident indicators, but in retrospect they are crystal clear.

If you are worried about someone you know, be on the lookout for the signs of the downward spiral of a vulnerable mind. Please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist to help you understand the signs of violence and what you can do to help.

Sources:

The work of Gavin de Becker

The work of Dr. John Exner

The Violent Influence of Siblings - By Chris Gearing

Monday, April 29, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how siblings can make each other more extreme in their views and more violent toward the world - click here.

Two brothers planned, built, and detonated multiple bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Many people are wondering how one brother with a promising future could allow himself to be lead astray by his troubled and angry older brother. What would lead him to abandon and attack the city that had celebrated and rewarded him?

Absent Parents

Parental absence in late adolescence can be highly damaging with certain children. Without their parents around, they may have no one to keep them in line and remain a positive influence. A teenager can become involved in social movements and militant causes without fully understanding the motivations and implications of such activities. It is easy to overestimate the maturity of a late teen or early twenties child who is still mentally developing and defining who they are.

A Convincing Sibling

An older sibling who champions extreme or militant causes may be impossible to resist. They can be a strong influence on an insecure younger sibling who lacks immediate parental guidance and insight into the older sibling’s troubles. The younger teenager may be mesmerized and convinced by a sibling out of control.

Tests of Love and Loyalty

Particularly when there is a specific cause or injustice to be avenged, a trusting and naïve teenager can be convinced by the irresistible arguments of their older, more experienced sibling. Older siblings often frame the cause as a test of the younger sibling’s love and loyalty.

The Bond of Violence

Violence can be an alluring bond for young men who are lost. Anger and violence are unfortunately a legitimate way to connect for boys and men. If there is a common goal to avenge a perceived injustice, any prohibitions against violence or murder may diminish and fade away.

A Developing Mind

In late adolescence, many adolescents still lack consistent, critical thinking skills necessary to reason their way through an ambiguous situation. They simply may not understand how irrational and extreme ideas can sound plausible and logical at first. Faulty, paranoid assumptions can sound reasonable to an inexperienced mind that is impressionable and naïve. Our fully developed frontal lobes and our critical thinking skills restore reality by reminding us of alternative explanations that are more realistic and often more accurate.

In the end, sibling bonds often last a lifetime and most of the time only lead to benefits for both parties. The crimes in Boston teach us once more that misplaced loyalty can be one of life’s greatest mistakes.

Sources:

The work of Gavin de Becker

The work of Dr. James Masterson

The work of Dr. John Exner

Trauma - Secondary Trauma - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how first responders and even those watching the news can develop symptoms of psychological trauma - click here.

Secondary trauma is a special risk for professionals involved in responding first to the scene of violence and destruction.

Despite their focus on managing the scene and assisting those in need, they also become participants in the events leaving them uniquely exposed to trauma. While they witness firsthand the consequences of tragic events such as terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, and deliberate acts of violence, their brains begin to absorb and record the tragedy in front of them.

About 50% of those who are routinely exposed to traumatic events develop their own anxiety and trauma. Sometimes, they can develop symptoms similar to the original victims.

Some of the symptoms of secondary trauma include:

  • Emotional deregulation
  • Intrusive thoughts and memories about the event
  • Hyper-vigilance or constantly being on guard
  • Psychological numbing
  • A shift in their explanatory view toward more negative, pessimistic, and darker beliefs

Secondary trauma is more likely to occur in people who have experienced trauma before. In addition, the ill effects of secondary trauma may accumulate over time. If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing the effects of trauma, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Source:

The work of Dr. John Briere


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