A Blogger's Thoughts on Depression

A comedian shares her very real and personal thoughts on her struggle with depression in a blog posting - great insight for those who are depressed or know someone who is depressed. If you’re dealing with depression, please contact the Council for Relationships to find out how we can help.


George James, a licensed therapist from the Council for Relationships, stopped by the NBC10 studios to explain how parents should approach talking to their children about tragedies.


Is Love At First Sight Real?

Kenneth Maguire, Psy.D., Director of CFR’s Institute for Sex Therapy, was recently quoted in an article for Cosmopolitan about falling in love at first sight.


Dr. Stephen Treat on NBC10: Suicide Pacts

Dr. Stephen Treat, CFR’s CEO and Senior Staff Therapist, spoke to NBC10 about a local elderly couple that recently committed suicide together.


In the early hours of 12/14/12, our nation was gripped by a tidal wave of grief and heartbreak upon learning of the deaths of 20 innocent children and 6 heroic adults. As we learned of these tragic deaths, parents across our country recognized in horror that they were left with the responsibility of explaining this unspeakable event to their own children. Each of us who cares for children feels a universal bond and holds an ethical responsibility for the ultimate safety of our “charges.” For those of us who love children, it is codified in our very being; children are vulnerable and it is our duty to protect them. The teachers and administrative staff in Newtown, Connecticut honored the code.


In the immediate aftermath of such devastation it is a natural response to have an array of emotions including anger, defensive aggression, hopelessness and fear. We are the experts - parents, educators, clinicians. It is our job to know, protect, and provide the necessary resources for children when they are suffering. It is within the framework of this task that parents need to begin by identifying where they are in their own sense of safety. A good place to begin is in quiet reflection. What questions do you need to answer for yourself regarding your children’s safety? What are the resources you have to comfort and support your fears and concerns? How will you continue to provide reassurance to your children that their world is a place to discover and explore.


It has been my experience that it is always best to address children’s fears in an age appropriate manner, taking into consideration the child’s temperament, style, and “stress account.” Take the time necessary to process their fears and requests for information, and always let them know when you don’t have an answer. It is best to check in with children after school and midday on weekends. Avoid engaging in highly charged topics before bedtime - an anxious brain does not rest, but continues to collect and select data.


Understand it is your role to protect your child’s brain. Children have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. The executive functioning role of your child’s brain is not prepared for highly charged emotionally alarming information. When children become overstimulated by frightening information they may begin to exhibit their fear by regressing to earlier behavior including bed-wetting, clinging, or verbal expression of internal distress. These are opportunities to provide body comfort like snuggling, extra hugs and hand holding.


Begin with a line of questioning that is supportive and curious.  Avoid being intrusive or suggestive of your own emotional needs. A good start would be to ask what questions, concerns or problems they have right now and then come up with a plan to tackle their biggest concern. Understand that sometimes children will reenact their fears through play. Play is a wonderful outlet and personal expression of self, self-industry, self-esteem and self-doubt. Support their play as it helps them create meaning out of uncertainty and mastery over conflict. There is no good or bad play; attend to play that is harming or harmful and redirect the child to a theme that is less negative.


Over the past several days we have heard much about the notion of children and resiliency. The idea that all children have a reserve account of resiliency that allows them to get to the other side of trauma is not altogether accurate. Resiliency is defined in literature as “the ability to withstand and rebound from disruptive life challenges” (Luthar, Ciccheti and Becker, 2000). Some of us are wired to cope, manage and sustain a positive attitude no matter what in life befalls us. Others have a more vulnerable constitution that requires more attention to sensory input and emotional distress. Please be mindful that children and their brains are not one-size-fits-all.  


Each child is exquisitely wired to receive, sort and create meaning out of information. Some of this information flow comes through primary emotions which are directly observed in nonverbal expressions. When the primary people in a child’s life provide the green light - warmth, soft tone of voice and reassurance - the child pursues his/her own needs. When the primary adults in a child’s life are profoundly impacted by negative emotion the child reads this in a parent’s facial expression, verbal cues or physical gestures. The ultimate message is that this resource is less available. Trauma is disorganizing.


The following tips may help:

  • Provide your children with a context to understand the events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  
  • Be aware and sensitive to their needs.  
  • Avoid labeling.  All children with mental health issues are not contemplating acts of violence. We are a part of a diverse human community and all children need out respect and support.
  • Avoid isolation. Help your children by expanding their “unexpected community.” Learn what other parents and community organizations are doing, discuss gun safety and enlist other parents.  
  • Doing is the antidote to hopelessness.

May the Newtown Community know that they are in our thoughts and prayers. From them, we have much to learn.


In the event that you or your family need counseling to support you during these difficult times, please know that the staff at CFR will be available to direct you to the appropriate resources.


Nancy DePaul, MSW, LMFT, LCSW is the Director of CFR’s Concordville office and a Senior Staff Therapist and can be reached at 610-558-4060 x1. 


Connecticut Incident Puts Focus On School Shootings

Pat Ciarrocchi reports on recent school shootings in the wake of the Connecticut incident.  She is joined by CFR’s Ray McDevitt, expert in trauma, to try and make sense of why these tragedies continue to occur.
CBS3 News December 14, 2012

NY Times: Rules Eased for Veterans’ Brain Injury Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs will propose new regulations today that will make it easier for thousands of veterans to receive health care and compensation for certain illnesses that have been linked to traumatic brain injury.

The regulations, which will be published on Monday in the Federal Register, lists Parkinsonism, unprovoked seizures, certain dementias, depression and hormone deficiency diseases related to the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands as eligible for the expanded benefits.

The proposal, which must undergo a 60-day public comment period, could open the door to tens of thousands of veterans filing claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration, which is already struggling to process a huge inventory of such claims.

Since 2000, more than 250,000 service members — some still on active duty — have received diagnoses of traumatic brain injury, or T.B.I., according to the Defense Department. Though T.B.I. is commonly viewed as resulting from blast exposure, the vast majority of those injuries were diagnosed in nondeployed troops who were involved in vehicle crashes, training accidents or sports injuries.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that a much smaller number of veterans — about 51,000 — are currently receiving benefits for service-connected traumatic brain injuries. However the department acknowledges that thousands more troops with T.B.I. may be eligible for the expanded benefits.

Veterans of prior wars will also be eligible for the benefits, if they can demonstrate that a traumatic brain injury was connected to their military service.

Under current rules, a veteran with one of the five illnesses has to provide medical evidence that the disease is the result of military service in order to receive veterans’ benefits.

To read the rest of the article click here

If you are a veteran or a loved one of a veteran and feel the need to seek treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, or grief call us today to speak to a clinician with our Operation Home and Healing program: 215-382-6680


CFR’s very own, Scott Blacker, Director of Development, appeared on an episode of Jane Berryman’s “The Money Mom” radio show to talk about the realities of the climate change in nonprofit fundraising.

"The Money Mom" WWDB-AM Talk 860

Source: SoundCloud / CFRhilary

More Dads Buy the Toys, So Barbie, and Stores, Get Makeovers

Barbies are for girls and construction sets are for boys. Or are they?

For the first time in Barbie’s more than 50-year history, Mattel is introducing a Barbie construction set that underscores a huge shift in the marketplace. Fathers are doing more of the family shopping just as girls are being encouraged more than ever by hypervigilant parents to play with toys (as boys already do) that develop math and science skills early on.

It’s a combination that not only has Barbie building luxury mansions — they are pink, of course — but Lego promoting a line of pastel construction toys called Friends that is an early Christmas season hit. The Mega Bloks Barbie Build ’n Style line, available next week, has both girls — and their fathers — in mind.

“Once it’s in the home, dads would very much be able to join in this play that otherwise they might feel is not their territory,” said Dr. Maureen O’Brien, a psychologist who consulted on the new Barbie set.

Consumer surveys show that men are increasingly making the buying decisions for families, reflecting the growth in two-income households and those in which the women work and the men stay home. One-fifth of fathers with preschool-age children and working wives said they were the primary caretaker in 2010, according to the latest Census Bureau data. And 37.6 percent of working wives earned more than their husbands in 2011, up from 30.7 percent 10 years earlier.

Click here to read the full article


Public Shaming Goes Viral

A new app in Philadelphia is successfully putting the power of public embarrassment in your hands and at least one doctor thinks that’s the shame. 

Councilman Bobby Henon says to think of the City Hall App as a place to instantly document any issue you might be having in your community and call out the person behind it.

An example: a Northeast Philly businessman called out the owner of a truck for illegally parking in front of his shop.

Then there is a post taken by a neighbor of a house with trash piled out front.

But while public shaming may satisfy you in the moment, Raymond McDevitt of the Council for Relationships says in this online age, we may need to think beyond the instant gratification.

"Just doing it and then it will go away - things used to go away, they never go away anymore; they are there forever," McDevitt said.

What you may find as funny or making a point could damage a sense of community.

"That doesn’t make for a community coming together, it makes people taking sides, pointing," McDevitt said.

And with children, McDevitt says, there’s an even greater risk.

"Girls and women they will withdraw, they will become more silent, they won’t speak up for themselves. With boys, they react the opposite, they are going to get aggressive, and they are going to get violent," McDevitt said.

McDevitt says shaming someone will make them feel bad about themselves, but won’t necessarily correct their bad behavior, so he suggests focusing on the act and not the person.

"Once they feel that they are what’s wrong, that’s pretty hard to change, how do you change yourself, but the act can be repaired," McDevitt said.

6ABC November 21, 2012