Psychological Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

Archive for the Test Taking 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: September 20, 2015  

The Perks of a Private College

My father described his upbringing as challenging and meager as his formative years occurred during the great depression. He hunted for food, fished, and worked on a farm to support his family. Attending and graduating from college with a degree was something he never envisioned as even a remote option.


When my grandfather signed my father up to serve (17yo) in WWI he was given a series of exams to determine how he could best serve. He tested higher than he thought and was assigned to pilot training in the Navy. He served in Pacific campaign.

When the war ended, he received the GI bill which allowed him to attend college. He never thought that attending college was an option as he was raised in Hackensack, Minnesota by parents who never attended high school needing to work and provide financially for their family.

He was later called up to serve in the Korean war where he served as a code breaker stationed in the Philippines. After the Korean war ended, he attended law school in Iowa.

Soon after his graduation, he had to make a decision; practice in Duluth or move to a larger city with more opportunities. He traveled through the Pacific Northwest while in the Navy and thought that the mountains and the sound were spectacular. He decided to move to Seattle where he took and passed the Washington State bar exam and practiced law for over 30 years.

My father always said that education provides an opportunity to increase possibilities and move beyond one’s current status. The other avenue to increase one’s status was marriage, he said.

Throughout his law career, he made some smart investments and put money aside for each of his children to attend higher education (college). He believed that we would have more opportunities if we graduated from college than if we didn’t. Graduating from high school and college wasn’t an option for me or my younger siblings; we would attend and graduate from college. My siblings and I all did.

I still think that higher education provides more opportunities than someone who does not choose this option. I am also sensitive to individual circumstances, believes and values and realize that going in this direction is not for everyone.

Here’s a thoughtful article about the benefits of attending a private college. The honest reflections of three students who chose this route are the highlight of this piece. Enjoy!

With Warmest Regards,

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

Published on: March 30, 2014  

Preparing For Exams

For most schools in the area the semester is coming to a close. This means that most kids, especially high school students, are preparing for exams. Many students find this time to be stressful and feel overwhelmed when attempting to study. Here are some study tips for students we have found to be helpful.

Set Aside Study Time: Don’t wait until the night before to prepare for an exam. Start studying in the days prior to the test. Set aside 1-2 hours each night for studying and review. Try to study at the same time each night. Use this time to read, review, write papers, or finish up projects. Effectively managing your time is the key!

Organize Your Study Time: Once you’ve decided how long you are going to study each night, determine how much time you need to study for each class/subject. (e.g., 30 min. for math, 45 min. for history, etc.) It may be a good idea to start with the most challenging first. Also be sure to include time for study breaks. Breaks should be no more than 10-15 minutes.

Eliminate Distractions: Study time is for studying only. Do not take calls, send or receive text messages, watch T.V., or work on something unrelated on the computer. Depending on your preference and levels of distractibility, some music may be fine.

Studying: Some basic studying strategies include skimming chapters to be covered on the exam (assuming you’ve already read them). Rereading notes taken – repetition is key here so, even rewriting notes may be helpful. Practice test questions using questions provided by your teacher or those included in previous assignments and tests. Make use of lecture outlines and/or review sheets provided by the teacher. Also, don’t forget to stay organized. Sometimes having study buddy is also helpful, but only as long as you don’t distract each other.

Learn how you study best: Everyone learns differently.  Just because your friend makes color-coded outlines, it doesn’t mean that’s the best way for you to study too. For example, change the lyrics of a song you know to help you memorize the countries of Asia, write a funny story about the characters in a book you’re being tested on, or acronyms for words that need to be memorized. Any studying is good studying, so do it the way that works best for you.

Try Not to Do Too Much: Spreading your studying out across several days is the key. Don’t spend all night every night studying. If you try to do too much at one time, you’ll tire out and add to your stress levels.

Get a good night’s sleep: Eight hours is ideal for the night before an exam. It may be tempting to stay up late studying, but remember: you’re going to need energy and focus while you’re taking your exam. Here are some resources and tips for managing sleep problems.

Relax: You’ve survived final exams before, and you’ll survive them this time too.  If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long.  Here are some tips for teens on managing stress and anxiety.

I hope you find some of these tips to be helpful. Please contact us if your child or teen has difficulty establishing an effective test taking strategies, 360.236.0206. We’re here to help!

Good Luck!

Gyro Psychology Services