Psychological Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

Archive for the Depression Category

Published on: November 29, 2015  

Managing Stress

There are so many things that can lead to us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Stress is something that crosses the lifespan but there are healthy ways to fell decrease the effects of stress and get back to feeling calm, relaxed and focused.


As you know, our bodies respond to situations differently. If we feel threatened, afraid or anxious, our bodies react giving us the extra resources we need to rise to face the challenge. Our hearts beat a little faster, our blood pressure rises, our focus increases, blood rushes to larger muscle groups, our senses heighten, and we feel more alert. Working properly, our response to stress enhances our ability to perform under pressure.

Our response to stress is rooted in biology and is designed to give your body everything it needs to meet the challenge of a real or perceived threat. Your response to stress can also be mildly activated when faced with doing a presentation in your most challenging class, having a difficult conversation with a close friend, or sitting for mid-terms. The system get activated to help give you the tools needed to overcome a challenge. When the demands have decreased, the system slows down, recedes and waits at the ready until the next challenge surfaces.

This system can be activated activated all the time, sending out stress hormones for weeks, months and been years when you are faced with multiple and long lasting challenges. This can deplete your body’s reserves, leaving you feeling drained, fatigued, anxious and depressed. A host of somatic and health-related problems like high blood pressure and decreased ability to fight infections are likely to follow if this system remains activated.

Unfortunately, managing challenges and diversity is ongoing throughout the lifespan. You may be unable to improve your current circumstance but you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you. Learning to identify what stresses you and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally is the key to successfully managing stress. Here are a few helpful tips:

Identify situations & circumstances that cause stress. The key to managing stress is to identify situations that cause you to feel overwhelmed. The first step is to write down what stresses you beginning with what’s most stressful to the least stressful. After that, figure out why these situations situations leave you feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

Make a plan. Once you’ve identified the situations that cause stress, you need to develop a strategy to keep these feelings at bay and not let it get the better of you. Notice how you body feels when feeling stressed. Once identified, take a deep breath and think about something positive and engage in a healthy activity you enjoy. Seek help from trusted adults and peers if you need to. Practicing managing your emotions in situations that are mildly stressful will get you prepared for more intense challenges.

Keep a close eye on your thoughts. The way you think influences the way you perceive yourself and the world. For example, think of change as an opportunity to learn and grow. Also, know that stressors are often temporary and can be managed successfully with the right attitude, preparation, and self-care.

Maintain a healthy sleep-wake schedule. Getting enough sleep is so important for many different reasons. Please resist the urge to stay up all night the night before a test, presentation, or special event. Remaining focused, energized, and clear minded are all linked to good quality sleep.

Maintain a healthy diet. Another way to push back stress is to maintain a healthy diet. You can always visit a dietician or nutritionist to help develop a plan that will work for you. Checking in with your child’s Pediatrician ahead of a visit with a specialist is always recommended.

Maintain a manageable schedule. Piling on activities and commitments is easy to do especially for the ambitious. Be sure to regularly evaluate your level of activity. If you’re stretched too thin, consider cutting out one or two of the activities that may be less meaningful for you leaving those that are the most important on your schedule.

Stress is very real and if not managed can cause some real problems. You’ll feel a lot better once you’ve identified the circumstances that lead to stress and developed a plan manage stress more effectively.

Please contact us if your child is having difficulty managing stressors. One our specialty-trained Psychologists would be happy to help you and your child develop an individualized plan to help manage stress more effectively, 360-236-0206.

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D
Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
866-616-4976 (gyro)

Published on: August 16, 2015  

Helping Teens Through the Grieving Process

It’s never easy to learn that someone close to you dies. It’s heart wrenching and so difficult to comprehend why they died when they did and what life will be like without the friend or family member in our lives. I will never forget the moment that my Dad died. We were fishing in Alaska two weeks before he died from liver cancer. It was so sudden and unexpected.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when he took his last breath, what I said to him just before he passed, and the reaction of each of my family members moments after his passing. We were all adults at the time and have grieved his loss in different ways over the years. The process is ongoing.


I can’t imagine what it must be like for a teen to lose a parent, a relative or close friend. This developmental stage is often filled with emotional turbulence and uncertainty where there are many more questions than answers.

When my friend died, the rest of the world kept going and no one knew what I was going through. No one could understand the pain I was feeling. I wanted the world to stop and I just wanted to scream out, ‘Doesn’t anyone realize that I am hurt?’ I kept looking at people and thinking, ‘You don’t have a care, and look at me, my friend just died.”

As adults, we want to make things better and may tend to tell a teen what to do to relieve the pain or other strong feelings associated with the loss. Being a companion as opposed to a director in this process may be more helpful for teens than taking on a more directive role. It’s important that adults are aware of the personal issues they bring to the situation as their attitudes and experiences will have an impact the way they interact and relate with the person grieving.

What to consider when supporting a teen through the grieving process:
First off, grief is our natural response to loss. The emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions can be intense, overwhelming, and difficult to make sense of and manage. Intense emotions may lead to feeling out of control, that you’re losing your mind, your life is unraveling and fractured in some way. Then there’s fear…

The feeling don’t suddenly evaporate or go to a special compartment in our brain. They need to be understood, managed and integrated. The grieving process is all about mourning the loss of someone who was meaningful for us and learning about how to adjust to the feelings and thoughts associated with the loss.

Helping teens to realize that strong feelings are a natural reaction to loss may help them put these feelings into perspective (“It’s common for people to feel this way when someone dies. I’m not the only one who feels like this”).

Everyone grieves differently. We all have different experiences with people in our lives. Specific experiences may be meaningful for us and less meaningful for others. That’s one of the reasons why the grieving process is different for each person.

The process or grieving involves emotions, physical sensations, thoughts and behaviors surfacing in response to death, the circumstances around the death, the relationship with the deceased and the thoughts about what life might be like without that person in our lives. One may react to death and loss by becoming sad and angry while someone else may respond with laughter and find humor in the loss. These responses might change over time as the intensity of the emotions subside and we begin to look and experience the loss from a different viewpoint.

Adults can assist teens though this process by taking on the role of listener who yearns to understand their experience while allowing them to teach us about how they are making sense and coping with the loss.

There is no set script for the grieving process. The choices that we make through our process of grieving impacts us and others around us. Coping with death and loss does not follow a specific and clear-cut course and there are no hard and fast rules about how to grieve.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to react to change. Talking with trusted friends and adults, developing a journal about how you are managing your personal loss, writing songs about the beloved or expressing emotions through other creative outlets like painting, sculpture, poetry, and talking about emotions rather than holding them inside or hiding from them are healthier ways to manage strong emotions.

There are other choices that are unhealthy and even destructive that may result in short and long-term consequences. For example, some teens may try to manage loss by turning to alcohol and drugs, promiscuity, withdrawal from interacting with friends and family, sleeping and eating too much or too little, engaging in high-risk behaviors and other strategies that temporarily decrease the intensity of uncomfortable feelings associated with the loss. Please seek support should your child engage in high-risk or destructive behaviors.

“My friend went crazy into drugs, sex, and skipping school after her boyfriend got killed in a skiing accident. She stopped talking about him. Now she’s kicked out of school and is pregnant by a guy she hates. Since my boyfriend’s car accident, I know what can happen if I make wrong choices like her.” Sara, 18

Every death is unique and is experienced differently. The grieving process for teens differs according to many factors including their personality, coping skills learned, and the relationship they had with their grandparent, parent, sibling, friend, relative, or anyone who they had a meaningful relationship with.

“Expect the unexpected. Emily actually danced and sang after I told her that her mother died. I was shocked. Later I realized the relief we both felt. The relationship had been filled with her alcoholism, lies and illness.” Father of Emily, 17

Every person within a family might react to the loss differently at different times. One family member might cry, while another is angry and seeks vengeance for the loss, while another might withdraw, hide and not talk about their feelings or experiences. The variety of reactions might add tension and conflict between family members in an already stressed environment.

It’s important to honor each persons response to death and their way of coping with the overwhelming feelings at that time. Be aware that our responses to loss may change from one minute to the next.

Noticing behaviors is a way to increase the likelihood that they will reach out and share their experience. For example, you might say, “You seem sad today…”, “I noticed that you’ve been sleeping a lot lately…”, or “You’ve been going out with friend a lot lately…”. If they respond, please quiet your voice and be a good listener. You’ll communicate that you are there for them and that you want to understand without judgement or critique. They do enough of that on their own…

The grieving process is influenced by many circumstances and events. The impact of a death relates to a combination of factors including:

  • The social support systems available for the teen (family, friends and/or community)
  • The circumstances of the death – how, where and when the person died
  • Whether or not the young person unexpectedly found the body
  • The nature of the relationship with the person who died – harmonious, abusive, conflictual, unfinished, communicative
  • The teen’s level of involvement in the dying process
  • The emotional and developmental age of the teen
  • The teen’s previous experiences with death

Grief is an ongoing and evolving process. There isn’t any end point to the grieving process. It does change in intensity over time as it takes on a different shape and character. It never seems to go away though.

“I’ve had people say that you’ve got to go on, you’ve got to get over this. I just want to shout, ‘You’re wrong! Grief never ends.’ I don’t care what they say.” Philip, 13

Please give us a call if you know of a teen or child who is grieving and needs some support through this process, 360-236-0206. We’re here to help!

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
866-616-GYRO (4976)

Teen quotes courtesy of the Dougy Center.

Published on: July 26, 2015  

“Bring it on!” ~ Boosting Your Self-Confidence

“I’m not old enough to play baseball or football. I’m not eight yet. My mom told me when you start baseball, you aren’t going to be able to run that fast because you had an operation. I told Mom I wouldn’t need to run that fast. When I play baseball, I’ll just hit them out of the park. Then I’ll be able to walk.”

~Edward J. McGrath, Jr., “An Exceptional View of Life,”

People who are confident are sure of themselves and their abilities. They believe in themselves, have good communication, and good critical thinking, and social skills.


Confidence is often misconstrued as being arrogant or self-centered. Arrogance is an insulting way of thinking that you are better, smarter, or more important than others. Confidence, on the other hand, is inner knowledge or belief that you are capable and will be able to manage situations and circumstances, regardless of the obstacles.

There is a positive quality to people who are confident. They just know that they will be able to get through any situation. Confidence is not typically associated with appearances or those who are popular but to people who are secure and comfortable with who they are, what they believe and what they want (e.g., “I want to surround myself with friends who respect and value me”).

Confidence goes a long way. Being confident in yourself and your abilities helps you to move forward in new and exciting directions, talk with people that you may not otherwise talk to, and embrace and even welcome opportunities that come your way.

Making mistakes or even failing is inherent in trying new things. Mistakes lead to you growing and expanding in exciting ways. Making mistakes might lead to feeling some discomfort. Realize that there is a great opportunity for you to learn about yourself and grow as a person as you reflect on how you may have faltered. Learning from your mistakes and moving forward, in spite of feeling disappointed, builds self-confidence. The effort to learn and move forward validates the belief that you can overcome anything that comes your way. People who believe in themselves might even say, “bring it on….”, despite the perceived risk of failure or rejection..

Believe in yourself. I met an elementary school girl once as part of one of my military groups. She had been to 5-6 schools by the 5th grade and had traveled all over the world. During her first few weeks of schools she performed an amazing stand up comedy routine during recess. Students of all ages, teachers and parents participated. She was confident and believed in herself enough to take this incredible social risk.

I suspect she didn’t see it as much of a risk but as an opportunity to share who she is, how she thinks and connect with students who are like-minded. She was later asked to be the host for school-wide military kids forum. From what I hear, she did a fantastic job.

Think about what you are good and times when you’ve taken a risk and surprised yourself by performing better than you thought. Tell yourself, “I’ve got this…” when a new situation arises.

The important thing is to try; put yourself out there, share your opinions, be bold, and take a chance. A parent, family member, coach or friend might say, ”You can do this… I believe in you!” Others can praise and notice all of your wonderful and endearing qualities. If what they say doesn’t resonate with you then your run the risk of conjuring up those deflating and negative thoughts that depletes your energy, softens your resolve, and leads you to resist change and growth.

Think positively. The way we think about ourselves and how you will positive impact a situation is the heart and soul of being confident. The trick is to pay attention to your inner voice. Your mind doesn’t think in words but in images. If you tell yourself that,” I can’t do it”, I’m stupid”, “I don’t fit in”, or “things don’t work out for me”, your mind will search your memory banks and bring up experiences to validate that thought. Think about those experiences over time and you’ll begin to believe that you are a certain way when you’re anything but.

People around us might say that “you did such a great job on organizing your room” but we won’t even hear that as your mind is conditioned to think negatively about yourself and you abilities. You can change this by telling yourself that “I’m smart”, “People like who I am”, and “I can do this.” Practice this right now and your will feel your body fill with energy and hope as your mind will want to validate what you think.

Training your mind to think positively about yourself and your circumstance will lead you to want to throw your hat in the game and try. Your self-confidence will grow and opportunities will present themselves in exciting and sometimes mysterious ways.

Surround yourself with people who are also confident. Comparing yourself with others is natural and can lead to you to try and experiment with things you never thought possible. Find and surround yourself with people who think positively, are complimentary and supportive of who you are and what you want to achieve.

Try something new. Putting yourself out there and trying is one way to gain confidence. Low-risk activities typically are those that you are familiar with, are structured and where there is some type of adult support in place. Activities like taking tennis classes, trying out a new instrument, acting lessons, and volunteer experiences might be good staring points for you.

Choose activities that are just outside of your comfort zone. Getting out there and trying will help grow your confidence. Do this over time and your confidence will grow even stronger

Acknowledge and celebrate your talents and achievements. We’re taught to work hard to improve our weaknesses. Sometimes that’s important, like bringing up a bad grade. But don’t let working on a weakness prevent you from getting even better at the things you’re good at.

Let your true self shine. Let others see you for who you really are. Be honest about your mistakes, insecurities, shortcomings as well as your personal triumphs. Being honest with yourself and with others makes moving forward so much easier. Celebrate your quirks, personal internets, and ideas instead of trying to be someone your not because you want to fit in or be perceived by others as someone other than who you truly are. Accept and believe in yourself and your will gain the admiration and respect of others. Being “real” takes courage. The more real and honest we are the more confident we become.

Be kind to yourself. Putting yourself out there and trying new things is not always easy. Should you fall, think about the good choices you made, learn from what happened and think about what you could do differently is faced with a similar situation or circumstance. Be sure to to talk with a trusted adult or friend about your experience. Remind yourself of all of your positive qualities and successes, brush yourself off, saddle up, and get back in the game. You’ll be glad you did!

Please check out the Resources section of our website for more information about common disorders in children and adolescents. Please give us a call if you feel you child or teen lacks confidence, has a low-self-esteem, or is depressed, 360-236-0206. We’re here to help!

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
866-616-GYRO (4976)

Published on: June 7, 2015  

Improving Self-Esteem in Kids & Teens

Self-esteem is all about the things we tell ourselves about ourselves; it’s essentially our evaluation of ourselves. We might tell ourselves things like: “I think I did good job there”, “I make a lot of mistakes”, “I’m a good friend” or “nobody likes me.”image

The way we think and feel about ourselves can take may twists and turns. Thinking positively will lead to positive feelings while thinking negatively will lead to not feeling as good.

For example, a baseball player might say, “It sure was fun playing with my friends at the game today. My hitting is coming along. I wonder if my Mom can help me with my swing?”

The negative twist might go something like this, “I know my friends don’t like having me on the team. Sally laughed at me when I struck out. I suck at hitting. I guess I’m not cut out to play baseball.”

If reflect on it for a moment, you can actually feel differently when you read each example. Imagine yourself making mostly critical messages about yourself all day everyday. That’s tough terrain to navigate…
The great thing about our thoughts is that we can choose what we want to think about and when we want to think it. Thinking positively about ourselves, our accomplishments, and even the learning opportunities inherent in mistakes, leads to us feeling a certain way about ourselves. Stay hopeful and positive, believe in yourself and anything is possible. “You’re never out of the fight.”

Here are some helpful tips on how to change your thinking to feel better about yourself and elevating your self-esteem:

Pay attention to your inner voice. Did you know that many people are not really aware of the negative or positive things they tell themselves about themselves. Thoughts just happen and they feel sad, happy, or confused.

I’ve found that these people tend to look outside of themselves for reasons they feel the way they do (blaming). Looking inside and taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings is a much better way to go.

Take a moment and pay attention to the things you say to yourself about yourself. Remember, our minds don’t think in words. Words are symbols which conjures up images. These images lead to feelings. Positive thoughts about yourself will lead to feeling good while harsh criticisms and unkind thoughts often lead to feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration. How you feel is totally up to you!

“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.”
― Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart

Focus on the positives. There is a saying that if you own a red Camaro then your eyes will look for other red Camaro’s. If you’re used to evaluating yourself negatively, then you’ll tend to see the down side in all you experience. Pause and catch yourself in the act; take a minute and think about what went well, your accomplishments, and successes.

Better yet, write down at least 5 things you like about yourself, things you accomplished and learned everyday for the next week. By doing so, you will begin to train your brain to think more positively. Your life will really begin to open up and become exciting once the wheels of positive self-talk and self-affirmation begin to purposefully spin.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
― Gautama Buddha

Focus on the effort you put into something instead of the outcome. Some people set themselves up for disappointment by wanting something to happen a certain way along a certain timeframe. Deciding to try, moving forward despite obstacles, or a changing landscape, and believing in yourself will result in huge rewards; rewards that we may not have dreamed of when we first embarked. “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch.” Thanks for reminding me of this one D~!

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
― August Wilson

Mistakes are learning opportunities. People often never get started because they’re afraid of making mistakes, being embarrassed or ashamed. Mistakes are opportunities in disguise. The lesson is sometimes hard to see as strong emotions get in the way. Once calm, sit back, take a deep breath and think through what happened. Share your thoughts with a close and trusted friend or adult. What did you do or not do that resulted in the specific outcome? How do you want to adjust your thinking or strategy to insure that things go differently? Once you’ve decided, take action, rally your support network, and make it happen…

“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.”
― Iyanla Vanzant

Take yourself out for a spin. For one, engaging with others and trying out new activities is a surefire way change the way you feel. The psych term for this is, “behavior activation.” Call a friend, go for a walk, talk it up, and try something new.

My grandmother took history and art classes at the University of Washington until she was well into her 90’s. Never graduated from high school, never learned to drive but had a desire to learn about life outside of the little town of Concrete, Washington. She began to collect artwork from the Renaissance period and displayed these pieces in her home. My Dad used to refer to her as modern day Marie Antoinette. She was immensely proud of herself for taking the risk to attend college and learn about history, culture and art.

Positive thoughts lead to feelings of pride and confidence; pride and confidence lead to a desire to reach out further and try new activities thus expanding your scope and solidifying the belief that you CAN do whatever you set your mind to.

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
― Marilyn Monroe

Focus on what you can change and accept what you can’t. There are lots of things that we can control and many things that we can’t. You can change the way you think, change how you talk and interact with people, change activities, what you eat, how much you sleep, how many hours you spend playing video games (had to throw that one in there) and change your circle of friends. If you’re unhappy with something about yourself that you can change then tell yourself that you can, take action and tell everyone about what you want and how you plan to get there.

There are some things we can’t change like certain body features, medical conditions, and things that have happened in the past. We need to accept who we are and what events have brought us to where we are today. The path we’re on does not have to remain the same if we don’t want it to. Thinking that you can change your situation is a true tell sign that you have a positive self-image (self-esteem).

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Gautama Buddha

Establish and follow through with personal goals. Take a minute to think about what you’d like to accomplish in your personal life, with friends, family, important organizations like school, and how you would like to help out others in your community. Think about why you would like to accomplish these things (motivator) and then come up with a plan on how to thoughtfully go after what you want.

Before moving forward, run your goals and ideas across people you trust or who might have insight into how to achieve what you want. Collect information, adjust your plan if needed, and then move forward with gusto, making sure to keep your support system in the loop about how you’re progressing.

Tell yourself that you can do this, be kind to yourself, reflect back on why you want to accomplish what you want and praise yourself for every accomplishment however, small and insignificant it may seem. Believe in yourself and others will follow. In fact, they will sometimes make tremendous sacrifices to help you accomplish your goals and realize your dreams.

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
― Mark Twain

Remain true to your ideals. Share your thoughts and opinions confidently. Take pride in being a good listener; someone who understands, remains calm and thoughtful. Respect the opinions of others and communicate yours when the time is right. Within a disagreement, there is an opportunity to learn a new perspective. Embracing these debates will only strengthen your resolve. Remember, disagreements are not a reflection on your worth or your intelligence but an opportunity to learn and adjust. Be respectful of others and they will likely respect you in return. If they don’t know how to be respectful, it might be time to move on… “Some people need to learn how to be respectful.” –SF Soldier

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
― Frederick Douglass

Accept and embrace compliments. It’s easy to overlook the good things people say about us or their encouraging words of reassurance and hope. When our self-esteem is low and we’re depressed, it becomes difficult to accept kind things people say about us. We see only what we want to see even if it’s ugly, negative, and hurtful. Instead, embrace compliments, appreciate those who deliver them and return the favor by acknowledging something about that person that you appreciate and are grateful for.

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
― Norman Vincent Peale

Help others…give back. Perhaps you could help a classmate who’s having trouble, clean your room without being told, or volunteer your time in some meaningful way. It strengthens your opinion of yourself when you can see first hand that you are making a difference in the life of someone else. Stay active, connected, and engaged in healthy activities and with people you trust and watch your self-esteem take off.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Stay active & engaged. Remaining active helps get the endorphins moving and sustain a natural feeling of well-being. It helps to relieve stress and tension and is clinically proven to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing. You get to love your pretence. It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act – and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you’re trying to steal their most precious possession.”
― Jim Morrison

Make friends who maintain a positive outlook on life and themselves. Spend time with friends and adults who are positive, active, and have a positive and healthy outlook on life. Engage in activities you love and focus on your accomplishments. Believe in yourself and keep moving forward.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
― Harvey Fierstein

If you believe your child or teen has a low self-esteem or has symptoms of depression or anxiety please reach out for help, 360-236-0206. “We’re here to help.”

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services

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Published on: May 3, 2015  

Freeing Yourself From Bad Moods

There was one day last week when I just felt kinda down all morning. By lunchtime my mood had changed. My body felt more invigorated and my thoughts were clear and bright. Looking back, I simply needed to step out of the office for a few minutes, breathe in the beautiful Spring air and look at things from a different perspective.


One of my teammates had a similar experience. She talked with me a couple of times about her dilemma, talked the situation over with members accounting team of her team, and after an hour or still felt frustrated. She then decided to go for a walk. She returned 20 minutes later, popped into my office and said that she had an epiphany. Within an hour she was able to cut through all of the confusion and generate a solution to a problem that, a short time earlier, was fraught with uncertainty and frustration.

Have you ever been in a situation that you just couldn’t figure out? Feeling down in the dumps, frustrated, and funky? Or, wrestling with a mood that you just can’t shake?

Rolling over, pulling the sheets over your head and withdrawing into the abyss of worry, sadness an even fear is the most common reaction to these feelings. There si another way. But first you need to realize that you are in control of what you think and the way you feel. If you don’t like the way you’re feeling then take steps to change them.

You are in control of your thoughts and feelings. Believe it! You can choose to feel sad and funky, wrap yourself up in that comfortable blanket and fade away for a couple of hours, days or weeks, try a bunch of unhealthy ways to change the way you feel…and there are a ton of them. Or, you can decide to take action, make a change, and head in a new direction that’s full of possibility, satisfaction, and hope!

It all starts with the belief in yourself and your abilities to accomplish great things. Telling yourself, “I can do this…I’m not going to let all of this uncertainty or self-criticism distract me…I’ll find a way through this” sets the mind ablaze searching for possibilities and creative solutions!

The longer you stay in the funk, the harder it is to see your way through to possibilities and solutions. If this sounds like you, then just do the opposite of what you are doing. If you want to sleep, get up and go for a walk; if you don’t feel like eating, go to the kitchen and make a healthy snack; if you feel like being alone in darkness, then connect with someone you trust and get outside and breathe in the warm spring air. Engage with others and keep moving forward.

If you don’t know how, then reach out and ask. Someone might say, “How can I help?” Be ready to engage should this happen…

Here are some helpful strategies to help you to push away that funky mood and get moving again:

First things first – What are you thinking and feelings? Take a moment to stop and think about why you are feeling the way you are. Once identified, please write your feelings and thoughts down. Reflecting on what’s happening on the inside and getting it out usually results in feeling an immediate sense of relief. More importantly, it can lead to breaking out of those pesky negative thought patterns that keeps us in a depressive holding pattern.

Once you have your thoughts and feelings down on paper, the next step is to say them silently to yourself, out loud in front of a mirror, or integrated into a song (you wouldn’t be the first to do this…).

Once you’ve practiced syaing it aloud, it’s time to talk with someone else about what you think and feel. Don’t let this linger…make the connection soon!

Accept that your thoughts and feelings are real. Our bodies always respond to feelings in some way. Realize that’s it’s perfectly natural to feel the way you feel. Greet those feelings, embrace them, take them out for a spin, serve them a cup of tea or coffee and then YOU choose if you want them to stay around or not. Your body and mind…you’re rules!

Keep moving forward. Your environment can have a profound influence on your mood. Perhaps it’s best to change your environment up a bit, rearrange your room, redecorate, walk around a different part of your neighborhood; make a new fashion statement by trying on a new outfit then go to the gym, go for a walk, shoot baskets, or take a ride on your favorite horse.

Surround yourself with positive, productive, and motivated people. Doing things all by yourself has its share of challenges. Doing things together with people who care about your success is where the magic lies. Surrounding yourself with people who inspire and support you to be your very best is a sure fire way to bust through bad moods and burst into the light of possibility.

Stay active. Getting your body moving is a definite mood changer. Exercise (e.g., dance, walk, bike, tumble) consistently and your mood will likely change for the better. Try exercises that help you focus on your physical posture like yoga or t’ai chi. Engage in a workout that gets your heart rate up, or a combination of gentle stretching and deep breathing.

Say positive things to yourself about how wonderful and capable you are. Telling yourself about all of your great qualities, how great you look, what a fantastic helper you are, that you’re a trustworthy friend, and other positive messages about who you are work wonders. Saying positive things to yourself about yourself make all the difference in the world. Give it a try…you will feel the effects of this strategy instantly.

I hope you found this article helpful. Check out our “Helpful Resources” to learn more about DepressionAnxiety and other problems commen in children and teens.

If your are thinking about harming yourself in any way please call the Youth Help Line at 360-586-2777. All calls are confidential.

For parents, a call to the Thurston and Mason County Crisis Clinic is helpful, 360-586-2700. Calling 911 or taking your child to the nearest emergency room are also options to insure your child is safe and secure.

If your child is having difficulty managing their moods, our specialty-trained Child & Adolescent Psychologists are here to help! Please give us a call, 360-236-0206.

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Pediatric Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services

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Published on: March 15, 2015  

Helping Your Child or Teen Become an Effective Problem-Solver

Encouraging your child/teen to develop an effective process to solve personal and interpersonal problems is an important life skill that can be applied at home, in school, in social situations, and in community events, clubs and activities.  Successfully identifying a problem, developing emotional control, considering solutions and consequences and then taking thoughtful steps towards solving problems helps to build self-confidence and resilience. Moreover, developing an effective problem solving process fosters independent learning and critical thinking skills.

Teen and Father

Parents can help teach their child/teen how to effectively solve problems independently by utilizing some of these simple strategies:

Help your child/teen to manage strong feelings (emotional regulation) – Feelings of frustration, sadness, anxiety, and even excitement make identifying problems and generating solutions more challenging as their capacity to think clearly is diminished. Remaining calm is a central quality of all good problem solvers!

Our bodies respond to emotions in different ways. When angry, for example, some children become quiet and withdraw, while others raise their voices, move quickly and abruptly, and even become aggressive. Helping your child/teen identify how their body feels when they first start to feel emotions is a critical first step in helping them develop emotional regulation. Once recognized, they can take steps to calm down like thinking about something else, doing another activity (coloring, playing with Legos, word searches and even math problems). Engaging in other activities helps them focus their mind away from the frustrating circumstance and allows them to regain control and reset. Once calm, you can talk with your child/teen about what happened that led to their reaction and begin thinking through possible solutions and healthy action plans.

Identifying the problem – When you observe your child/teen having difficulty encourage them to recognize and describe the external (e.g., not understanding how to proceed with a project, friend is not available to meet) and internal factors (e.g., thinking about a loss, a friend rejecting them, not being chosen for an important role on an athletic team or theatrical event) that led to their reaction.

If talking about what happened is challenging, allow them to draw out the events and then describe them to you. This will allow your child/teen to understand the problem and what factors contributed to their reaction (e.g., not understanding what to do or where to start, feeling tired or hungry, or something not happening they way they expected).

Children and teens may not perceive the problem the same way adults do.  Allowing them to describe their experience and the perceived problem in their own words will lead them to trust their observations, communication and analytical sills.  Not only is this process part of the foundation of emotional development but rests at the heart of rational thinking.

Early in their development, children my not be able to verbalize the problem.  They just know that things are not working out the way they expected and are unable to be flexible in their thinking and adjust to changing circumstances. In such cases, simply state the problem for the child. If you say things like, “So the problem is…” children will eventually understand that clearly identifying problems leads to generating solutions and increased feelings of confidence and independence.

Give your child/teen the opportunity to generate solutions on their own – While a parent’s solutions might be more effective or efficient, simply giving the child a solution to the problem would deprive them of the opportunity to learn and develop confidence in their ability to generate creative solutions.

Once your child/teen has generated some solutions on their own, ask them how what they do might impact them and others around them (consequences). Allow them to try to solve the problem on their own and encourage them to come back to you and let you know how things turned out. I often talk with the children and teens I work with about being “scientists” and observing what happens when they make these important changes. Clipboards and rating scales are often a part of this process.

Identify what is and what isn’t working – To help children and teens move from a trial and error approach to a more systematic approach to problem-solving, encourage them to think about the results of their solutions. Parents can ask open-ended questions (e,g., Did it turn out the way you expected?; I wonder what would happen if…) and make comments (e.g., You seem happier now that you had a chance to talk with them) to help them consider alternatives.

Talking with your child or teen about what they did to solve the problem helps them to establish and cause-and- effect connection in their mind.  This will lead to them successfully solving problems on their own which will, in turn, build their self-confidence.

Once this mental association is in place and they’ve experienced being an effective problem solver, they stand a better chance of using this same approach when faced with conflicts and problems in the future. Be sure to praise them when they are able to use this process independently. You acknowledging them will go along way towards solidifying these skills and remind them of your kind presence and support.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Please visit the Resources section of our website for more information on Depression, Anxiety and Disruptive Behaviors as well tips on Parenting Teens and our article on Coping With Anger Outbursts.

Please contact one of our specialty-trained Psychologists should your child or teen need help with emotional control or developing effective and healthy strategies to solve problems, 360.236.0206.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,


Dr. Dave Callies

Child & Adolescent Psychologist

Gyro Psychology Services


Published on: October 5, 2014  

Grief: Adjusting to the Loss of a Loved One

Grief is the emotional reaction we have to death or a loss. The experience if grief can affect us in many different ways. We may experience changes in our eating habits and routines, our attitudes to others (they don’t understand), our sleeping habits, our ability to function at work or school, increased feelings of worry, hopelessness and despair, and the questioning of our religious or spiritual beliefs.

Portrait Of Teenage Girl

Regardless of our personal reaction, grief is a natural response to loss and provides us an opportunity to come to terms with what happened and find healthy ways to remember loved ones who have passed and how to make healthy adjustments in our lives without them present.

Grief, like many emotions, often comes is waves. Some people feel deep sadness and anger right away, while others are in disbelief about what happened, especially if the death was sudden and unexpected.

Facing this realization while surrounded by friends and family can provide support and comfort to those experiencing loss and grief. Memorial services and funerals help people get through the difficult times after a person’s death as they provide an opportunity to talk with others who have shared memories and experiences of the loved one and who share the sense of loss. Being around familiar people, especially right after the loss, can be both comforting and remind us that some things will remain the same.

It’s natural to have questions and feelings long after someone has died. It’s also natural and okay to start feeling better. Feeling better sometimes happens right away and other times it might last for some time. It all depends upon how the loss has affected your life and the lives of those around you.

How people experience grief can depend upon whether the loss was sudden or expected and how emotionally attached you were to the person who died. Feeling better typically happens gradually over time and the feelings of loss and sadness might be more intense at some times (e.g., holidays, birthday) than others.

When feeling sad, it’s best to connect with loved ones, communicate your feelings of loss, sadness, anger or confusion and ask for support. By staying connected with loved ones, talking about your feelings, taking care of yourself, and engaging in activities you enjoy, you CAN help yourself feel better. At some point, perhaps, you’ll find a sense of meaning in the experience.


Here are some suggestions on how to express your feelings and find some meaning for yourself in the midst of a loss:

Take some time during your day to write down how you’ve been reacting and feeling. Writing down how you’re feeling and reacting can often times be the first step in expressing your feelings.

Think of someone you can share your feelings with. It’s important that you take time to talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through and how the loss is affecting you. It can sometimes help just to be with others who also loved the person who died, even if you don’t feel like talking.

Think about what you’ve discovered about yourself, about others, or about life as a result of going through this loss.

  • What did the person mean to you?
  • What did you learn from him or her?
  • What good has come from this difficult experience?
  • What have you learned about yourself, other people, or life?
  • Are there things you appreciate more?
  • Who are the people who have been there for you? Were they the people you expected? What have you learned about them?
  • In what ways have you grown or matured based on this experience?


Be Sure To Take Good Care of Yourself

The loss of someone close to you can be a stressful experience. Be sure to take good care of yourself. Here are a few ways that you can take care of yourself though this difficult time:

Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is healing for both body and mind. Focus on building healthy sleep habits like going to bed at the same time each night or establishing bedtime routines like doing gentle yoga or breathing exercises.

Get Plenty of Exercise. Exercise helps to improve your mood and decrease feelings of anxiety and sadness. It may be hard to get motivated when you’re grieving, so modify your usual routine if you need to. Even a gentle walk outdoors can help to reset your perspective on things.

Eat Healthy Foods. You may feel like skipping meals or you may not feel hungry. Avoid overeating, loading up on junk foods, or drinking alcohol in excess to feel better.

Please realize that grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss and that the intensity and frequency of your emotions will lesson over time. Please feel free to contact us should you or someone you know is having difficulty adjusting to a loss, 360.236.0206. We’re here to help!

With Warm Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

5191 Corporate Center Court SE

Lacey, Washington 98503

P: 360.236.0206

F: 360.236.9909

T: 866.616.4976 (GYRO)

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Published on: July 24, 2013  

Body Image

What is body image?

On the most basic level, body image is how you think and feel about your physical appearance. The opinions you hold about your body influence your self-esteem, your behavior, and even how you feel others perceive you. Body image is not constant. How you feel about yourself will fluctuate between good and bad depending on a variety of things like your mood and environment. You have a healthy body image when the days you feel happy with your body outnumber the days you don’t.

What influences body image?

  • Cultural/Societal ideals
    • Western society ideals are most often portrayed through the media. Our society’s beauty standards are very focused on extreme thinness for women, a muscular physique for males, and the idea that aging is something we should do our best to hide. It is almost impossible to go a day without seeing an advertisement relaying these types of messages. Research studies have linked exposure to the thin ideal to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in women. Societal pressure to attain a muscular physique has also appeared to be related to body dissatisfaction among men.

  • Parents, Peers, and Friends
    • Family has shown to be an important source of messages to adolescents about appearance and eating habits. If you are raised in a household where the adults eat well, exercise, and feel positive about their own bodies you are more likely to have a positive body image yourself. Families that are too critical about looks can be toxic when trying to develop a healthy body image.

  • Friends and peers also play an important role in influencing body image. Do they make fun of people for looking a certain way? Do they constantly complain about their looks? Do they obsess over looking a certain way? When everyone else around you is sending the message of what is and is not an accepted way to look it is bound to affect how you view yourself.

Differences between people with positive and negative body image

  • People with positive body image:
    • Accept and appreciate their body the way it is.
    • Feel comfortable in their own skin.
    • Don’t spend an excessive amount of time worrying about what they look like or what they eat.
    • Carry themselves with confidence.
    • Don’t judge others for differences in weights, eating habits, looks, etc.
    • Understand that looks don’t determine their or anyone else’s worth as a human being.
    • Understand that everyone’s body is different and it’s okay not to look like someone else.
    • Appreciate all the amazing things their body does for them on a daily basis.

  • People with negative body image:
    • Feel like their body isn’t meeting some standard set by their peers, their family, or society.
    • Feel dissatisfied with their looks and tend to have a distorted view of their appearance.
    • Are anxious and self -conscious about their body.
    • Feel awkward in their body.
    • Have constant negative thoughts about their appearance.
    • Spend way too much time obsessing over weight, calories, exercise, etc.
    • Don’t find themselves to be attractive.
    • Judge other people for not looking a certain way.

Effects of a negative body image:

  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Unhealthy dieting habits
  • Eating disorders
  • Avoidance of activities that require showing your body (ex. swimming)

Where to start to improve body image:

  • Develop ways to think positively about your body. Stop negative thoughts when they start and replace them with something positive.

  • Discuss your negative feelings with someone you trust like a parent, friend, family member, or counselor. Talking about these feelings helps you feel better, and that person might even know some tricks to help you think more positively.

  • Make a list of positive qualities that you like about yourself that don’t include things about appearance. Look at this list whenever you feel down to remind yourself that you are more than what you look like.

  • Surround yourself with positive and supportive people that make you feel good about yourself.

  • Treat your body with respect and kindness. Eat healthy, exercise, and don’t put yourself down!

  • Set realistic expectations about what you can and cannot change. Having a goal to live a healthier lifestyle is great but don’t try to force your body to a certain weight or size.

  • Value all the amazing things your body does for you every day like breathing and walking.

Please visit the Resources page on our site to learn more about Depression and Anxiety and treatments that work.

Please give us a call if you suspect your child or teen might have a body image problem, are depressed or anxious. Our team of highly skilled Psychologists are here to help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington



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Published on: July 18, 2013  

Improving Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Parents can play a significant role in the development of their children’s self-esteem. Parents’ actions provide a framework for their children to observe and learn from, which guides a child’s development of self-image and self-concept. While parents’ intentions may not be malicious, it is easy to say or do something hurtful when stressed out or distracted, which may be harmful in the long run. Eventually your children and teens will become adults and have to make it on their own, so establishing a healthy level of self-esteem while they are young will help them succeed and live a happier life. Today’s blog is going to talk about the importance of criticism, praise, respecting what they have to say, and more!

Tips to positively influence self-esteem:

  • Be careful with criticism. Without criticism we are not able to learn from mistakes and improve, but criticism is only helpful when constructive. Demeaning and hurtful statements like “why can’t you do better?” or comparisons like “your sister never had trouble with math” are destructive to self-esteem. Each child is different and each child will have strengths and weaknesses. Just because you were good at math or a sibling was good at reading right from the start does not mean your child will be. With the proper help, support, and encouragement your child can develop skills in numerous areas of life.
  • Acknowledge their achievements. Constructive criticism and discipline help children learn and grow into independent adults, but you must not forget the importance of praise. Sometimes we are too quick to point out flaws while not fully acknowledging their accomplishments and the effort children put into what they do.  I am not advocating for insincere compliments or excessive praise, but it is important to notice and congratulate them on their achievements.
  • Respect their opinions. As children grow up they begin to develop opinions in a number of areas, and these opinions can be very important to them. If possible, try to ask for their opinions on small things like what color to paint the living room. Asking for their opinion makes them feel included and lets them know you think their opinions are worthwhile. When it comes to bigger issues, you might not always agree, but please respect their opinions regardless.
  • Listen to them. As I’m sure you know from your own experiences, being able to talk openly with someone about what is going on in your life helps you reflect. Give them your full attention and listen when they talk to you. Having this time to talk can help them work out their thoughts, solve problems, and keep you informed about what’s going on in their life.
  • Support the activities they love. For children, finding something they are passionate about and excel in is great for boosting self-esteem. All activities are bound to make them face challenges as they advance. Overcoming these challenges will help them build confidence in themselves and their abilities.
  • Encourage them to solve problems. At all ages children are going to run into problems with family, friends, school, etc. Being able to calmly problem solve and deal with conflict are important life skills to learn. Encouraging them to practice these skills when they are younger will help them approach bigger conflicts later on in life with more confidence. You can start by explicitly modeling how you solve problems and deal with conflict.
  • Discuss the media. The media has been found to have an influence on what girls AND boys think about how they should look and act. Make sure to talk to them about what they see in the media so they understand that it does not necessarily represent what they could or should be.

We have put together a comprehensive list of websites, books for parents and kids, as well as downloads, about a variety of topics, that may be helpful in the Resources page of our site.

Give us a call if you think your child or teen might have problems with their self esteem, 360.236.0206 or 866.616.GYRO (4976).  We’re partners in your child’s wellness!

Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington


866.616.GYRO (4976)

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Published on: July 10, 2013  

Building Self-Esteem

Your pre-teen and teenage years can be rough on your self-esteem. Everything from how you look to how you act seems more important than it used to as you start to compare yourselves to others around you. This type of frequent peer comparison is a dangerous habit to slip into because of the toll it can take on your self-esteem.

What are some consequences of low self-esteem?

  • Can affect ability to pay attention and learn in school
  • Negative influence on body image
  • Lead to unsafe habits such as drug use or unsafe sex
  • Involvement in unhealthy relationships
  • Stress
  • Easily peer pressured

Self-esteem starts with you and how you treat yourself. You have the power to boost your confidence. It might not be easy at first but having confidence is important not only for your emotional and mental health but for moving forward in life. Confidence in yourself and the things you do plays a large role in achieving your future goals.

Tips and Tricks: Building Self-Esteem:

  • Focus on your positive qualities. Are you a good singer? An athlete? Stylish? Smart? Funny? What sets you apart? Everyone has something that makes them special! Once you figure that out you can rock your best qualities with confidence.
  • Not everything in life has to be a competition. While competition can be a great motivator, don’t let it negatively influence how you view yourself. It is important to acknowledge that there are going to be people who are better than you at something or another. Don’t worry so much about what other people are doing! Focus on yourself and what you can do to improve.
  • Set goals. Taking on goals, especially challenging ones, can help build your self-esteem. Making progress towards and reaching your goals is a great feeling!
  • Stop the negative self-talk! I know that sometimes it’s a lot easier to say “I suck” after something bad happens, but being negative isn’t doing you any favors. Positive thoughts like “I am smart regardless of one bad grade,” can do wonders for building self-confidence. Try to be aware of what you say to yourself and stop the negative self-talk when it starts.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. When trying to build and maintain self-esteem it is important to surround yourself with people who will help you achieve that goal. Spend time with people that support you and make you feel good about yourself. Avoid those who put you down or have bad attitudes, they will only hold you back.
  • Give back! Volunteering is awesome not only because you get to help out a cause, but it can be a very rewarding experience. You may even discover something you’re passionate about!
  • Join an activity. Find a club, a hobby, a sport, or any type other type of activity that you enjoy.   Progressing in an activity will require you to rise above challenges which can is great for improving self-confidence. Activities are also a good way to meet friends and have fun.

Hope you are all enjoying these beautiful sunny days of summer. Please feel free to give us a call if you believe your child might have low self-esteem.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington


866.616.GYRO (4976)

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