Program Descriptions

  
BULLYING
  
THE BIG THREE: ANXIETY, TRAUMA & STRESS
  
STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH FOR EDUCATORS
  
OUT OF CONTROL KIDS
  
WHO'S IN CHARGE?
  

  
BULLYING:
It's More Than Kids Behaving Badly.    
  
Bullying among children and adolescents exists within the larger context of youth violence and peer relationships. It also raises serious mental health issues. Bullying abuses and degrades the “targets,” raises concerns about the witnesses to such trauma and posits questions about the actions and inaction of bullies, families, friends and school personnel. Everyone is affected.
Bullying is epidemic. More than “kids behaving badly,” bullying is potentially life-threatening. It occurs both in-school (e.g. cafeteria) and in out-of-school (e.g. public street) environments. Added to that mix is the available use of technology to impose cyber-bullying. Special needs kids, such as those with pre-existing mental health conditions like Tourette Syndrome, ADHD or BiPolar Disorder are targeted for bullying 3:1 over “normal” kids. Obviously, those most targeted for bullying are also those more susceptible to its effects due to their already existing challenges.
Rather than another anti-bullying program, this seminar is informational in nature, providing participants with the background material necessary to be able to comprehend and effectively address the complexities of bullying in their particular school district. Accordingly, in this seminar we will discuss and explore the dynamics of youth violence, childhood temperament, peer and other relationships and their impact on bullying. We will also discuss the anxiety, trauma and stress generated by bullying. We will see how bullying engenders Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as how such stress exacerbates Tourette tics, ADHD meltdowns and how it intensifies moods in BiPolar Disorder. The priorities, though, are school safety and suicide. It is no stretch to imagine that the trauma and stress wrought by bullying can either create or greatly exacerbate an already existing depressive condition whereby tragically, for some kids, suicide becomes a viable option. It is imperative that schools establish communities where all students can develop social connections within a safe and secure environment that guard against bullying.
The seminar focuses on delicate and gut-wrenching issues and will clearly demonstrate why bullying is more than kids behaving badly. Through the use of his personal experience, clinical expertise and a delightful sense of humor, Garry will make this seminar a poignant and beneficial one for all who attend.      TOP  
  
THE BIG THREE: ANXIETY, TRAUMA & STRESS
The Effects On Children & Adolescents.    
  
The interplay of these aspects, “The Big Three,” accounts for numerous mental health conditions that have an enormous impact, for example, on a student's ability to interact with peers, pay attention in educational settings and learn. These three aspects have distinct neuro-physiological underpinnings that manifest in emotional (e.g. depression), behavioral (e.g. acting out) and somatic (e.g. hypertension/headaches) ways. The existence, combination and manifestation of anxiety, trauma and stress are akin to the chicken and egg scenario. It's not about what came first or where each came from, rather it's the circular interplay among them that is important to grasp.  
  
Anxiety, commonly thought of as irrational, uncontrollable worrying, is an internal neuro-physiological state. There are several mental health conditions, such as panic Attacks, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that are characterized by underlying anxiety.  
  
Trauma, simply put, is a threat to the organism. It is perpetrated upon an individual by external situations, such as physical and/or sexual abuse, being a witness to domestic violence or from being bullied. Also, the existence of any neuro-biological-developmental condition itself, for instance Tourette Syndrome or BiPolar Disorder, traumatizes the individual from the inside out. Clearly, a kid with an already existing mental health condition is more vulnerable to external traumatic events, adding further insult to injury.  
  
Stress is inherent in everyday living such as driving or taking a test. How one reacts, responds and resolves stressful situations are directly linked to an individual's health. Some react more fearfully, “over-respond” and heighten their stress level while others respond more evenly to the situation, wherein bodily functions return to normal more successfully. Where such resolution does not come easily, continued or chronically high levels of stress result (i.e. a heightened state of arousal) which can culminate in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For already existing conditions, stress exacerbates symptoms. For example, stress increases the frequency and severity of ADHD meltdowns as well as Tourette Syndrome tics.  
  
Being anxious or being traumatized is stressful. Conversely, stress, especially chronic stress, is traumatic to the organism and generates anxiety. No matter where you start and no matter how you add it up, one doesn't exist without the others. So goes their circular nature.  
  
Students, parents and educators each face their own unique emotional, behavioral and educational challenges in relation to the Big Three. This workshop will discuss each of these three aspects with regard to brain-based features, “co-mingling” and how they manifest in various mental health conditions. Additionally, indicators that include temperament traits and styles and the two-sided issue of behavioral inhibition/disinhibition in relation to one's fear response are discussed with the intent of revealing how such childhood features signal an adult's disposition.  
  
Participants will gain useful insight and realistic notions about what works, including the use of new digital technology, in reducing anxiety, trauma and stress on all those involved. Also, there is input on how to help students achieve educational goals. As is usual for Garry's seminars, the presentation will make use of metaphors, cartoons, personal reflections and his unique brand of humor.      TOP  
  
STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH FOR EDUCATORS  
  
There are numerous child & adolescent mental health conditions that have a direct impact on a student’s ability to learn. These conditions are formally discussed in the DSM-IV TR, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (version 4, text revision which are addendums to version 4. The DSM V is due in 2012.) While there are many conditions described in the DSM, this workshop will focus on the ones primarily encountered by educators. They include, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, of which there are three subtypes), Early Onset BiPolar Disorder (EOBiPD, quite different from the adult version), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD, a potential precursor for Conduct Disorder), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, regular and chronic versions) and Tourette Syndrome (TS).   
  
While extensive reference and use of DSM material will be utilized, the real strength of this workshop lies in Garry’s ability to focus on major themes that transcend the specific conditions and his ability to simplify and present clinical information in ways that will help you address key educational issues faced by your students. Too often the student’s diagnosis becomes the focus so that the student becomes that label, at times a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than “seeing the student” for who they really are. This workshop will not only inform you about these various conditions, it will also help you demystify them while offering you ways to humanize these kids. As in most of Garry’s presentations, metaphor, analogy and allegory are used in ways that allow participants to “see” what is actually occurring with these conditions.   
  
Threads such as anxiety, impulsivity, cognitive issues and the ever-present co-morbid aspects are intertwined throughout the workshop, enabling attendees to gain a broader and deeper understanding and appreciation of the challenges these special students face. Appropriate supportive material is included.      TOP  
  
OUT OF CONTROL KIDS:
Interventions for Temper Tantrums, Meltdowns & Rage Attacks    
  
Extreme displays of emotion are frightening enough for those caught up in such impulsive episodes, let alone for those in close proximity. While it is one thing to try to control the disruptive behaviors of children and adolescents, it is quite another to contend with severe emotional outbursts that appear "out of the blue" as if the person was somehow on a different planet. Questions such as "What the heck is your problem? and What was that all about? abound. Statements like "Go to your room and calm down" or "You better start behaving" indicate the frustrations in trying to "manage" these situations. Unexpected, unpredictable, illogical and unreasonable outbursts leave us dazed, confused, frightened and wondering not only what's going on but what can be done. As an "insider," Garry has had to contend with these sorts of episodes since early childhood. His decade's long quest for understanding and his commitment to self-awareness and change provides participants insight into what really goes on within those challenged by emotional and behavioral dysregulation.   
  
Emotional and behavioral outbursts are inherent in numerous mental health disorders such as AD/HD, OCD, Childhood Bi-Polar Disorder and Tourette Syndrome. Understanding the biological and environmental factors underlying temper tantrums, meltdowns and rage attacks, let alone interacting with and implementing effective interventions for them, is challenging at best. Through the use of analogies and metaphors, participants will be introduced to new conceptual paradigms regarding impulsive, "over-the-top" outbursts and their ramifications. The seminar will offer a unique clinical attitude and intervention style that addresses not only the behavioral manifestations but also the emotional, psychological, social and educational effects that these episodes have on children and adolescents, as well as on those trying to help them.   
  
Understanding impulsivity, especially pertinent with highly co- morbid disorders and the resultant disinhibition, is crucial to assisting clients and caregivers. Frustrating attitudes, approaches and interventions implied by statements and questions such as, "This just doesn't make any sense!" and "Why can't they just behave?" will be addressed and clarified.   
  
Such emotionally charged situations are highly stressful. Reducing client, parent and teacher frustrations as well as therapist/educator burn-out is critical. Personal and professional mindfulness practices instill discipline and provide a structured approach to achieve the stability and consistency necessary to "stay on track" and maintain wellness. Integrating, for instance, yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi and other martial arts as well as breathing and meditation techniques and practices into one's daily routines serves to benefit clients and helpers alike. Participants will leave the seminar with renewed energy, a sense of hope, effective treatment approaches and ways to augment both self and client well-being.      TOP  
  
WHO'S IN CHARGE?
Working with Distracted & Disorganized Children.  
  
Difficulties with Executive Functioning (EF) are inherent in those challenged by Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other co-morbid neuro-biological disorders. EF, centered in the brain's frontal lobe area, is responsible for the ability to effectively plan, organize and make decisions, among other executive tasks. Children and adolescents who evidence Executive (Dys)function encounter a 25-30% developmental delay from their normal peers. Kids who are easily distracted and who lack focus find it difficult to stay on task and to complete projects, thereby increasing their risk of underachieving academically. Their low, or lack of a tolerance for frustration leads them, in the words of Ross Greene, Ph.D., to become explosive. The emotional inconsistency engenders additional social and behavioral difficulties, often resulting in alienation, ridicule, bullying and depression. Unfortunately, these young people are not much understood or appreciated by others, including teachers, parents and therapists, as their chronic "mis-behaving" generates frequent and unproductive confrontations with authority figures. It is easy to wonder about who's in charge, what tail is wagging what dog! Often, these individuals are asked, What's your problem" or told to "Shape up." Many involved in trying to help are often at a loss as to how to intervene and to assist those struggling with deficits in EF. Early detection and intervention is crucial to helping these children in order to prevent more serious, life-long consequences, difficulties which are cogently presented by Drs. Ed Hallowell and John Ratey in their book, Driven To Distraction.   
  
Garry Earles uses his own personal and at times humorous struggles with EF along with his broad-based clinical expertise to help participants differentiate between actual brain dysfunction disorders vis a vis situations where clients are distracted, disorganized and unmotivated due to other circumstances. He will help you acquire and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively assist these children, adolescents and their parents. The attitude is one of acknowledging the persons strengths and interests which allows for an approach based on helping the child or adolescent increase their frustration tolerance and acquire the necessary skills to succeed educationally, socially and emotionally. In conjunction with helping the children and adolescents struggling with EF, you will be better able to reduce parent and teacher frustrations. Everyone will benefit when you provide important and factual information about EF.   
  
Co-Morbidity among these disorders is extremely high. It presents challenges as to how to appropriately conceptualize, accurately diagnose and effectively treat these chronic conditions. There will be discussion about how to observe and recognize particular disorder components and especially on the dynamic interplay or melding of the various disorders traits. Treatment attitudes, approaches and interventions will follow directly from an impulsivity/co-morbid perspective. Neuro-biological capability in conjunction with the concepts of coherence-incoherence will be delineated. Treatment frustrations such as, "This just doesn't make any sense! and Why cant they just behave? will be addressed and made understandable. Assumptions about impulse disorders will be demystified.   
  
Mindfulness, and any of its tangible benefits, needs to be more than an intellectual exercise; it needs to be an active process. Actual practices instill discipline which offer a structured approach to achieve stability and consistency, necessary for staying on track and maintaining wellness. Self-care as well as client health is crucial. Participants will acquire an appreciation for realistic and effective mindfulness practices and be better informed in order to consider using various disciplines such as yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi or other martial arts, meditation and breathing techniques for practitioner and client alike. You will leave the seminar with renewed energy, a sense of hope, highly effective treatment techniques and ways to augment both self and client wellness.      TOP  
  

All material on this website ©2009 by Bridging the Chasm and Garry L. Earles, L.I.C.S.W.