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Hilber Psychological Services

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Posts tagged anxiety
Girls and the Struggle with Confidence

In the article “Why Girls Beat Boys at Schools and Lose to them at the Office,” author Lisa Damour describes that even though girls do better academically, they are still not getting the recognition they deserve for working so hard. Boys and girls may receive the same grades, but it is seen that girls put more effort into their work than boys because they are afraid of making a mistake. 

For example, Damour stated that between an eighth-grade girl and a ninth-grade boy in her practice who were siblings, the girl said that she was overwhelmed by school and made sure that her grades were unmistakeable by spending an hour on each assignment (Damour). She noted that she felt “safe” only if she did this routinely. On the contrary, her brother would do the same assignments and fly through them and still get the same grade as her. 

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As a result, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, who wrote The Confidence Gap, “found that a shortage of competence is less likely to be an obstacle than a shortage of confidence.” In detail, it is found that girls are more self-disciplined regarding their school work than boys are. Girls may study harder and get better grades, but men still have “95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies” (Damour).

As men experience that they can get away with exerting minimal effort in school, they develop a type of confidence that gets them to the top. On the other hand, girls may focus so much on studying for the “perfect” academic grades that they may discredit their own abilities and/or miss opportunities for building their confidence.

As girls grow up, remind them that they are intelligent and can work hard but at the same time balance out their lives with fun and rewards for doing so well and applying so much effort. We want them to build more confidence with their work, without developing more anxiety. Women may put so much pressure on themselves to do well and stress that everything needs to be perfect. The main question Damour asks is “how do we get hyper-conscientious girls (and boys, as there certainly are some with the same style) to build both confidence and competence at school?”

For more information on girls, confidence, and anxiety, please contact us. To learn how we can help you or your child who may be struggling with their confidence at school or at the office, contact us or visit our website. For more information on therapy, visit Hilber Psychological Services.

- Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Damour, Lisa. (2019, Feb 7). Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office. The New York Times. Opinion. Web. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/sunday/girls-school-confidence.html.

Kay, Katty & Shipman, Claire. (2014, May). The Confidence Gap. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/.

Anxiety and Resilience in Teenage Girls

In the article, “How to Help Teenage Girls Reframe Anxiety and Strengthen Resilience,” author Deborah Farmer Kris recounts how rates of anxiety-related disorders in teenage girls have risen. Furthermore, not only can girls get anxious and stressed out easily, but so can any other teenager or adult. This could be because of the environment they are in, denial of their stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, no validation of their emotions, etc. Damour, a psychologist and author of the new book "Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls," states “some degree of stress and anxiety is not only normal but essential for human growth.”

Through decades of research and working with adolescent girls and their families, Damour observed that “the anxiety that teenagers express is a sign that they are aware of their surroundings, mindful of their growing responsibilities, and frightened of things that are, in fact, scary.” She notes that adults can make a difference by reassuring their child and have an honest conversation with them about their emotions and what is going on in their life that may make them stressed.

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Keep in mind that teenagers brains and bodies are still developing and that change can spur stress. Not only physical or emotional change but also the act of continually switching schools, academic workload is increasing, or social relationships are constantly evolving. With this information, parents should continue to support their child but also let them figure it out on their own. “Teenage girls are particularly sensitive to the cues they receive from parents and teachers –  from words to facial expressions. How adults respond to teens’ emotional reactions matters a lot,” said Damour. The growth that they experience on their own will allow them to develop as a person who can withstand these types of stresses in the future and know how to handle them.

It is best not to avoid the anxiety as a whole, but to call it out and realize that one needs help. In this case, parents should stick to the two words that Damour has found helpful: “stinks” and “handle:”

“‘That really stinks’ is a very simple phrase that cuts right through it. It says, ‘I hear you and I’m just going to sit here for a moment and acknowledge that what you are up against isn’t that great.”

Validation and empathy go a long way when it comes to the exact thing that a child wants to hear, that they are being heard and that someone understands what they are going through. If teens realize that some level of stress is inevitable then they can accept it and move on to focus on how they can build in recovery time whether that is by having some downtime or getting more sleep.

Sleep deprivation is one of the simplest explanations for the rise in anxiety-related concerns, Damour said. If your child is getting less than seven or eight hours of sleep then a change needs to be made. Most of the time, teenagers may not be getting enough sleep because they are on their electronics. With the change of turning off social media for the night by putting their device on do not disturb or putting their phone in another room can make all the difference.

Stress and anxiety is part of life. It is not a parents job to get rid of it completely but to help their child get through it by sitting down with them and discussing their feelings. Stress and anxiety do not go away overnight, but with some extra sleep, reflection time, and downtime, teenagers can develop a sense of self on their own and figure it out with some guidance from a parent if needed.

For more information on stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation or how Hilber Psychological Services can help, please contact us and check out Lisa Damour’s book "Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.”

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Kris, Deborah Farmer. “How to Help Teenage Girls Reframe Anxiety and Strengthen Resilience.” Mindshift. Web. 12 Feb. 2019. https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/52994/how-to-help-teenage-girls-reframe-anxiety-and-strengthen-resilience

Damour, Lisa. Under Pressure Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399180052?pf_rd_p=f3acc539-5d5f-49a3-89ea-768a917d5900&pf_rd_r=R1KSEQT2AT89FSXWG6K1  

Parental Therapy for Children who have Anxiety

In the article, “New Childhood Anxiety Treatment Focuses on the Parents,” author Matt Kristoffersen discusses how Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) is an alternative to behavioral therapy used to treat childhood anxiety. He acknowledges that it all starts with the parents and how they perceive their child’s anxiety in the given situation.

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Stated by the National Institute of Mental Health, “nearly one in three American children will experience at least some kind of anxiety disorder before reaching adulthood.” Although drugs and therapy techniques have shown to be proven successful in the past years, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, promulgates a new technique developed for the parents.

A team of Yale researchers randomly selected 124 children with anxiety and assigned them to a therapy-based group or a parent-only group for 12 weeks. In these meetings they were divided into two groups, one in cognitive behavioral therapy and one in SPACE therapy. They learned how to control their symptoms and confront their fears through therapeutic exposure. The researchers observed that children in the first group never spoke to a therapist about their specific anxiety during the trial. The researchers suggested that parents should support their child in a sense of letting them figure out how to cope with anxiety on their own, by using the SPACE treatment, rather than continuing to oblige to their child’s behavior. For example, “if a child gets anxious when there are guests in the house, parents may stop inviting people over. However, according to the study, children can grow accustomed to these accommodations over time, which can lead to greater difficulty with anxiety later in life.” In this case, parents should take a step back and “replace accommodation with words of support and with expressions of confidence in their children’s abilities to deal with anxiety on their own.”

In the first study administered in 2013, author Lebowitz prompted parents to follow a script of ways to be supportive and reassuring in order to reduce accommodations for their child with anxiety:

We understand it makes you feel really anxious or afraid,” the script said. “We want you to know that this is perfectly natural and everyone feels afraid some of the time. But we also want you to know that it is our job as your parents to help you get better at things that are hard for you, and we have decided to do exactly that. We are going to be working on this for a while and we know it will probably take time, but we love you too much not to help you when you need help.”

Through SPACE therapy, parents were able to form a much closer relationship with their children than those of the children in the cognitive therapy-based group and help them work on their anxiety problem. Because of this study, “SPACE will provide an alternative for children with anxiety who may not respond well to traditional therapy or who refuse to participate.”

For more information on therapy for anxiety with the parents or the children, or any other therapy, please contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference

Kristoffersen, Matt.New Childhood Anxiety Treatment Focuses on the Parents.” Yale News. Scitech. Web. 26 March 2019. https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2019/03/26/new-childhood-anxiety-treatment-focuses-on-the-parents/?fbclid=IwAR1_yDjSIF9njsJ6ATplIrWwivPIqbj-OgqtehNYIxvfE85vrVkfTFoOj7k

Top 7 things anxiety sufferers want those without it to know
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Sometimes suffering from anxiety can be hard to understand if you don't suffer from it yourself. People without anxiety often think "Just breathe and you'll be fine" or "What's the big deal?". But to people with anxiety, it's a really big deal. Here are the top 7 things anxiety sufferers want those without it to know. 

1. People with anxiety obsess over the little things. 
Things that seem like little things to you, are actually really big things to people who suffer with anxiety. Something as "small" as being looked at wrong or ignored can be very daunting. Situations like these stick with them throughout the day causing even more problems. So the next time something "small" happens, recognize it can be big to them. 

2. People with anxiety have every intention of going to an outing, but at last minute cancel. 
As these daunting ideas continue through out the day, our decision to go out to the movies or dinner becomes the worst idea in the world. Although people with anxiety want to go out, their thoughts often get the best of them and lead to only one decision, canceling. 

3. We are exhausted. 
The constant thinking and question can take a toll on a person who suffers from anxiety. Distracting thoughts throughout the day lead to staying up late at night constantly thinking. This leads to a lack of sleep and struggle to wake up in the morning. Waking up is a struggle for everyone, but imagine what it's like for someone with anxiety. 

4. Anxiety sufferers replay conversations in our head.
When your mind is constantly thinking and running through every possible scenario, you often start to explain a topic faster than possible. All of a sudden, what you're saying isn't making sense. This can be embarrassing for someone who suffers from anxiety. With that feeling of embarrassment, they often shut down. This doesn't mean they're in a mood, they're just struggling with that moment. 

5. Anxiety sufferers compare themselves to others. 
It's hard for someone with anxiety to understand how easy it is for people to get over things. When they see in person or on social media everything that is going on in other people's lives, they often question why it's so much harder for them. This causing even more of an issue when they begin worrying about why they're so worried all the time. 

6. Anxiety sufferers obsess over mistakes and beat ourselves up over it:
When something goes wrong, they often blame themselves. Therefore, when they make a mistake, they obsess over it. Doing things wrong and believing they're not good enough can lead to bigger problems. It's no surprise they're perfectionists. 

7. Finally: please, please don’t give up on us.
Sometimes, when a person with anxiety has no other option than to give up on themselves, they really need YOU to not give up on them. Although it can be frustrating and hard to understand, don't give up on them. 

People who suffer with anxiety are aware of how irrational they may sound. They know what they are going through and they're trying their hardest. Before giving up on them, try to understand them. 

While this information is geared towards individuals who suffer with anxiety, this same information about empathy and understanding emotions can be used to all individuals with disabilties. 

 Contact us for more information on individuals who suffer with anxiety, learning and expressing emotions, or for help with children who are struggling.

~Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Mazza, Laura. “Top 7 Things Anxiety Sufferers Want Those without It to Know.”Love What Matters.