Author: Randy Runnels

Presented by Andrea Brewster, LCPC, CCS

Friday, September 17, 2021 or Wednesday, September 29, 2021

8:30am-4:00pm

Presented live via Zoom

The journey to create the practice of living well, grieving well, and welcoming our best selves back into our lives after trauma is at times so similar to addictions work that therapists can find they are at home using both recovery models interchangeably. This training will explore how to use these recovery models to facilitate healing.

Bringing Addictions Recovery interventions to mental health work can take skill. This training will build on expertise clinicians have in trauma recovery. We will consider how internal addiction can affect trauma recovery. When we think of addictions we often think of substance dependence and misuse, but compulsive behaviors, like food and sex addiction, can also misuse chemicals. We can create compulsive addictions within our internal neuro-chemical system. Trauma adds a motive for building compulsive systems. For instance a compulsive system can be designed to confuse an abuser, recover enough from a traumatic event to survive after chronic trauma, decipher chronic manipulative abuse or soothe from the pain following traumatic events. Trauma recovery can benefit from addictions treatment to intentionally regulate compulsive safety seeking. This course will isolate internal state addictions to better understand why they may develop, and how they affect the efficacy trauma recovery if they are not recognized and untreated.

This training is worth six (6) contact hours.
Only $59! Please share with your peers!

Learn more and register here:
September 17th
September 29th

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Katelyn Baxter-Musser

Working Successfully with Personality Disorders in Therapy

Deepen your knowledge of personality disorders with this one-day virtual training. We’ll discuss diagnosis, myths, biases, tools, and more.

About this Event

Working Successfully with Personality Disorders in Therapy: Decreasing Myths, Increasing Clinical Effectiveness and Tools to Use in Your Practice

Clients who present with personality disorders can be some of the most difficult and challenging clients that mental health providers engage with. These clients present with disrupted interpersonal relationships, self-harming and suicidal crises, difficulties regulating their emotions and an unstable sense of self. Without the right skills and support clinicians often find themselves feeling exhausted and frustrated when working with these diagnoses. Through this training clinicians will deepen their knowledge of personality disorders and discuss differential diagnoses. Clinicians will be able to challenge their preconceived notions and myths regarding this population. Clinicians will be provided with tools to enhance and freshen their skills set when working with personality disorders in a therapeutic setting.

Objectives

  • Understand myths, biases and judgments related to personality disorders
  • Review diagnostic criteria, differential diagnosis and co-occurring disorders
  • Learn therapeutic interventions to use in clinical practice to increase therapeutic effectiveness and client engagement
  • Develop an understanding of healthy and effective boundaries to set in an effort to decrease therapist burn-out

Outline

8:30 What do we know about personality disorders: Exploring biases and myths
9:00 Understanding personality disorders in clinical practice
10:15 Break
10:30 Evidence-based treatments and personality disorders
11:15 Exploring ways to implement clinical interventions
12:00 Lunch Break
1:00 Exploring ways to implement clinical interventions
2:15 Break
2:30 Case Conceptualization
3:00 Maintaining professional boundaries: decreasing therapist burnout and practicing self-care
4:00 Conclusion

About the Presenter

Katelyn Baxter-Musser is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Gorham. There she provides individual therapy, couples and family therapy and consultation to mental health professionals.

Katelyn has been in the field for over ten years and has worked in a variety of different roles including as a case manager, child and family therapist, trauma therapist and clinical coordinator. Prior to being in private practice Katelyn has worked for several agencies as well as Native American reservations.

In her private practice Katelyn specializes in working with domestic violence, abuse, trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, grief and relationship issues, dissociative disorders and personality disorders. Katelyn is a Certified Dialectical Behavior Therapist and a Certified EMDR therapist. Katelyn is trained in a variety of therapeutic modalities including DBT, EMDR, CBT, mindfulness and motivational interviewing.

She sits on the EMDRIA Standards and Training Committee and is the co-regional coordinator for the EMDR Southern Maine Regional Network.

Register Online:
Fri, March 12, 2021 – 8:30am – 4:00pm
Fri, March 19, 2021 – 8:30am – 4:00pm

 

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This class meets the requirements for Domain 3, Ethics & Professional Conduct, of the Maine MHRT/Community curriculum.

  • Tickets: $275
  • Location: Online Event
  • Presented By: Marylena Chaisson, LCSW & Mary Gagnon, LMFT
  • Registration: Register Online
  • Refund Policy: Refunds up to 7 days before event

About this Event

In this training, we will study the knowledge and application of ethics and professional conduct in your work as an MHRT/C.

The following knowledge competencies will be reviewed:

Knowledge Competencies for Domain 3: Ethics and Professional Conduct

Demonstrate a standard of professionalism and integrity in practice, and confront and resolve ethical challenges by seeking appropriate collaboration and consultation.

  1. Explain ethics and how to conduct practice within the context of a professional code of ethics. Give examples of inappropriate behavior. Define appropriate contexts for dual relationships and how to set and maintain clear, professional, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
  2. Relate the intersection of ethics with state and federal laws.
  3. Define confidentiality requirements and how to communicate these policies to staff, consumers, families, guardians, and others.
  4. Describe the evolution of HIPAA and what constitutes protected health information, including communication requirements within the context of health information technology.
  5. Explain how to secure informed consent from a consumer.
  6. Maintain sound documentation that reflects an adherence to individualized, person-centered care.
  7. Explain a provider’s ethical responsibility to empower consumers.
  8. Identify a number of strategies, consistent with professional practice, to empower consumers.
  9. Collaborate and interact effectively with community members and other professionals.
  10. Describe what it means to be an effective contributing member of an interdisciplinary team.
  11. Model appropriate professional behavior at all times, apply ethical guidelines and demonstrate the effective use of supervision.
  12. Practice using a supervisory relationship to resolve ethical challenges.
  13. Summarize the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of personal practice.
  14. Describe how individuals working in the behavioral health field practice self-care. Utilize supervision effectively to prevent compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization.

Course Expectations

1. Attendance:

Students must attend each day of class (5 units) and receive an 80% or above on the final exam to earn a certificate of completion. If a student misses a day, they are responsible for arranging to attend the next offering of the missed unit, with either the same trainer or another organization. Unit 5 is optional for students with the required academic preparation.

2. Make‐up work:

Students must attend all five units (or four with a related degree) as stated above, and complete and submit any missed assignments.

3. Class size:

The standardized MHRT/C curricula are interactive. The recommendation is that classes have no fewer than six (6) participants and no more than 20.

4. Class participation guidelines:

  1. Students will arrive on time and stay until the end of the unit (no early dismissals).
  2. Students will demonstrate respect for others. This means:
    • Listening completely before interjecting.
    • Use appropriate pronouns. Respect the pronouns individuals choose for themselves.
    • Use person‐first language. This language puts the individual before the disability. For example, “a person with schizophrenia” or “an individual with bipolar” as opposed to “a schizophrenic” or “bipolar woman” or “mentally ill man.”
    • Use first person language, such as “I” messages. [For example, “I didn’t understand his response to my question” as opposed to “He overreacted to my question.”] This allows students to take responsibility for their feelings and experiences rather than blame them on someone else.
    • Keep personal reflections and stories shared in class confidential.
  3. Cell phone use: Cell phones should be placed on vibrate or silenced at all times during the class. Cell phone calls must be taken in the hallway or in private.
  4. This course requires demonstration of knowledge and skills, therefore, students are expected to participate in all activities.

5. Course evaluations

Participants will receive a link to complete an online evaluation the last day of their training. The Muskie School Center for Learning will summarize the evaluations and share results with the trainers and DHHS/OBH.

About the Presenters:

Marylena Chaisson, LCSW, is a clinical supervisor in the case management program at Health Affiliates Maine. She is a clinical mental health counselor (LCPC) who has worked in rural, under-resourced Maine communities for nearly 20 years both in agency and private practice settings. She also enjoys her work as a Disaster Mental Health contracted trainer for the state of Maine’s Disaster Behavioral Health Team, part of the Maine CDC and Maine DHHS.

Mary Gagnon, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Training and Clinical Development Specialist for Health Affiliates Maine. Mary has worked in private practice as well as a variety of community mental health settings throughout her career. Her most recent work at Health Affiliates Maine includes oversight of clinicians in private practice and development and facilitation of trainings for schools and conferences throughout the state. She is a certified trainer for Domains 1, 2, and 3 for the MHRT/C Non-Academic Curriculum.

Register Online

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This workshop is designed to help mental health and substance abuse providers explore common ethical decision-making situations.

November 12 | November 18, 2020

10:00 AM – 2:30 PM EST 

About the Training 

For today’s provider, ethical decisions are often complex, involving a range of multifaceted issues that cannot be easily resolved. This workshop is designed to help mental health and substance abuse providers explore common ethical decision-making situations. We will explore critical issues including confidentiality, dual relationships, boundaries, responsibility, competence, and legal standards.

Objectives of the Training:

  1. Become aware of appropriate models for ethical behavior
  2.  Discover meaningful guidelines within the broad limits of professional codes of ethics
  3. Develop clear ethical boundaries
  4. Identify methods of ethical decision-making
  5. Discuss common ethical pitfalls. Identify the gray areas in legal and ethical decision-making that contribute to professional errors

FEE: FREE for Health Affiliates Maine Affiliates; $30 for non-affiliates

About the Presenter 

Stephen R. Andrew, LCSW, LADC, CCS, CGP, is a “Storyteller”, Trainer, Author & Chief Energizing Officer of Health Education Training Institute. Stephen is the former substance abuse counselor for a public school system, the former Executive Director of an adolescent prevention/treatment agency, and founder of a recovery camp for adults. He is the co-founder of the Men’s Resource Center of Southern Maine, whose mission is to support boys, men and fathers and oppose violence. Stephen maintains a compassion-focused private practice in Portland, Maine and facilitates a variety of groups for men, co-ed, couples and caregivers. He also presents workshops internationally for health-care, criminal justice, social service agencies, substance abuse treatment agencies on motivational interviewing, adolescents and adults & addiction, diversity, co-occurring disorders, ethics, men’s issues and group work. Stephen with his two friends authored Game Plan: A Man’s Guide to Achieving Emotional Fitness. He has been a member of M.I.N.T. (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) since 2003. Stephen lives with his sweet wife, Hilary, in Portland, Maine, USA, and is a proud father of a twenty-three-year-old son, Sebastian.

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Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment

A day-long virtual training for mental health professionals 

September 14 | September 18 | September 21, 2020

8:30 am – 4:00 pm 

About the Training 

This interactive virtual training will help clinicians develop skills and knowledge in the basics of working with clients with eating disorders. The training will cover diagnosis, assessment, factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders, and relevant treatment modalities. Though virtual, this training will include ample time for case studies and questions and answers.

FEE: FREE for Health Affiliates Maine Affiliates; $30 for non-affiliates

Register for September 14 Session. 
Register for September 18 Session. 
Register for September 21 Session. 
 

About the Presenter 

Sarah Carnahan graduated from The University of Maine at Farmington with a BA in Women’s Studies, and a minor in Psychology. After graduation, she attended Ohio State University, where she received an MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work. While at OSU, Sarah also taught courses in the Women’s Studies department and completed an internship in the counseling center. She completed additional training working with clients with eating disorders at The Center for Balanced Living in Columbus, before returning to Maine in 2013. In addition to her work as a HAM affiliate, Sarah is a full-time mental health counselor at UMaine Farmington, and a board member of the Eating Disorders Association of Maine.

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All three Working Successfully with Personality Disorders in Therapy events have been postponed.

Dear Attendees,

Due to our first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Maine and recommendations to postpone large gatherings, at this time we are POSTPONING all three of our “Working Successfully with Personality Disorders in Therapy” workshops. We will look to reschedule these as soon as we are able.

If you would like your order refunded to you, please e-mail Mary Gagnon at mary.gagnon@healthaffiliatesmaine.com to make the request. Please giv the refund process a few days to occur if you make that selection. Otherwise, we will hold your order until we reschedule this training.

Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely,

Mary A. Gagnon, LMFT
Training and Clinical Development Specialist

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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on Februaury 11th, 2020 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Question:  I believe my husband may have a gambling problem. What started as a few nights of card games out with the guys has turned into more frequent outings and I suspect trips to casinos. He also buys a lot of scratch and lottery tickets and has been hiding them. I’ve asked him about it a few times and he shakes it off as not a big deal. He recently sold some household items that I know he would not have parted with if he didn’t really need some money and it has me very worried. I want to get him help if he needs it but if he doesn’t see it as a problem, I don’t know how to.

Answer: I am glad you asked about this question.  It is hard to help someone when they don’t believe they have a problem. As with other addictions, admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery. There are several indicators in what you wrote that do indicate a problem. You have noticed his attention to gambling increase, you have noticed he is buying a lot of scratch tickets and is hiding them. You have also noticed he has sold household items which you doubt he would part with if he didn’t need the money. Lastly, it is affecting your relationship; you are very worried.

Before I talk about him and the gambling problem in general, I would like to talk about you. It is important that you put in place things to protect your financial and your emotional health.  

  1. First, take over managing the family accounts. Keep a close eye on bank and credit card statements.  Do this frequently by checking periodically online or by phone. This will ensure that your own credit and finances are not at risk. Address questionable financial transactions early. Gambling addiction can cause people to behave in ways they never would have thought possible previously. This can mean lying and stealing.
  1. Prepare to be able to answer when he asks for money and be careful not to give in to manipulation.  Often with addictions the ones closest to the person with the problem can end up enabling them to continue. You can continue the cycle if you bail him out of debt or cover for him. Without efforts to recover he will have more debt soon.
  1. Confront the problem by talking with your husband about how his behavior is affecting the family. Try not to lose your temper or lecture him. Talk with him about getting help. Offer to go with him. A counselor can support you both in this. They can work with you on skills for setting boundaries. 
  1. Get support for yourself with such groups as GamAnon which can give you tools from people who have lived through this. You will learn not to bail him out if he gets into financial trouble. Even if he does not seek support from such a group, do so for yourself.
  1. Keep in mind that someone with a gambling problem is suffering and feels powerless to stop but often is not ready to recognize or admit this. Sometimes they gamble to treat underlying mood problems. Always take any statements about suicide seriously (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255).

Here are the criteria for Gambling Addiction from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association. Help should be sought if someone has 4 or more of these behaviors:

  • A need to gamble in increasing amounts to get the same level of satisfaction from the process.
  • Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to control or stop gambling or buy lottery tickets.
  • Preoccupation with gambling, watching for lottery numbers or purchasing scratch-off tickets in high amounts or very frequently.
  • Gambling when distressed (helpless, guilty, anxious or depressed).
  • Lying to hide the purchases or the extent of the investment in scratch-off pieces.
  • Chasing losses with more investments the next day, especially when done routinely.
  • Seeks out money from other people for gambling or buying lottery tickets.
  • Has jeopardized or lost significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunities because of gambling
  • Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

Here are the keys to help you and your husband:  

  • Protect your finances
  • Get education about gambling
  • Get professional and community help and support for both of you 

Helpful links:

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”

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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on January 9th, 2020 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Question:  I am a single mom to two kids. My oldest son is 16 and taller, bigger, and stronger than me. He has recently switched from sulky teen to angry teen and twice has grabbed me to the point of it being painful. I’m worried about this escalating into more and it prevents me from bringing things up with him as I am fearful of making him angry. As far as I know he has never been exposed to abuse. His dad was not abusive and I don’t know where this anger comes from. He always apologizes after but I need some ideas to talk to him about the seriousness of what he is doing without making it worse. Thank you.

Answer:  This is a tough situation, and one that I feel needs immediate intervention to help your son, and to protect you. You said that your son “recently switched” from being a “sulky teen to an angry teen.” Switches in personality, like you describe, usually have a precipitating event, or circumstance. It could be something going on with him physically, of which he has no control, or his emotions may be rooted in abuse, bullying, or fear. In our culture, anger is often easier for us to express, rather than the true emotion lying underneath. That is why talking with a professional, like a counselor, can help get to the root of the problem and find new ways of coping.

Adolescent depression is also a possibility to be explored; it can present as profound irritability and a shorter fuse. Your PCP can screen for depressive disorders for which treatment might be helpful.

Substance abuse must also be considered. Many teens experiment and some can have reactions, even allergic reactions, which seem to change their personalities, leaving parents wondering what happened to their child. This is serious and needs to be addressed early. If you don’t feel confident about this, seek parenting help and call your PCP.

Teens have a lot going on not only in physical growth and the demands of school, but also with adulthood looming in the future. This may lead to anxiety. Psychologically, they are doing a push-pull with parents, both pushing you away because they think they are adults while pulling you close for fear of growing up. This is part of normal development. Your son’s school most likely has a counselor whom he could see, or may have a recommendation. Health Affiliates Maine can connect him with a counselor, as can other agencies.

If his father is deceased or absent from his life, your son could benefit from male mentoring. Perhaps there are family members or family friends who might be able to take on that role.  There are other organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, New Beginnings, and Advocates for Children that might have resources which are helpful. 

Here are some things you can do that may be helpful:

  • Connect with his school and see if they have noticed any changes in him or can provide you with information.
  • When you feel it is safe to do this, talk with your son when he is calm, and see if he has any insight into what if troubling him. It’s reasonable to say to him that you both need to work together with a family therapist to learn how to communicate in a safe and healthy manner, and likely both parties need some help in this area. Open communication is the best plan, even when it is difficult and even when you are upset and angry, too. It is best for him to know where you stand and what your limits are. 
  • Take him to see his primary care provider (PCP). Let the PCP know what you are experiencing with him.
  • Your own safety also needs to be considered. If you are truly afraid he will hurt you or your other child, you may have to call 911 for help. At your son’s age, this will most likely lead to other interventions which could help him. He will be angry at you, but later understand.
  • Talk with your other child who may also feel afraid of their brother, yet fearful for him. When brother is angry, it can be an emotional and scary scene for the younger sibling, check in with them often about feelings and safety.

Right now your son needs you, even though he is pushing you away. He desperately needs to find another way of expressing his emotions, and you and your other child need to be safe. This is a very tough time for a parent. Don’t hesitate to get help.

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”

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Dear Attendees,

Due to our first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Maine and recommendations to postpone large gatherings, at this time we are POSTPONING all three of our “Working Successfully with Personality Disorders in Therapy” workshops. We will look to reschedule these as soon as we are able.

If you would like your order refunded to you, please e-mail Mary Gagnon at mary.gagnon@healthaffiliatesmaine.com to make the request. Please give the refund process a few days to occur if you make that selection. Otherwise, we will hold your order until we reschedule this training.

Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely, Mary A. Gagnon, LMFT Training and Clinical Development Specialist

LewistonFri, March 13, 2020 from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Franco Center
46 Cedar Street
Lewiston, ME
Register
PortlandFri, March 20, 2020 from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Italian Heritage Center
40 Westland Avenue
Portland, ME
Register
OronoFri, March 27, 2020 from 8:00am – 4:00pm
Black Bear Inn
4 Godfrey Drive
Orono, ME
Register

Deepen your knowledge of personality disorders with this one-day training, in which we’ll discuss diagnosis, myths, biases, tools, and more.

About this Event

Working Successfully with Personality Disorders in Therapy: Decreasing Myths, Increasing Clinical Effectiveness and Tools to Use in Your Practice

Clients who present with personality disorders can be some of the most difficult and challenging clients that mental health providers engage with. These clients present with disrupted interpersonal relationships, self-harming and suicidal crises, difficulties regulating their emotions and an unstable sense of self. Without the right skills and support clinicians often find themselves feeling exhausted and frustrated when working with these diagnoses. Through this training clinicians will deepen their knowledge of personality disorders and discuss differential diagnoses. Clinicians will be able to challenge their preconceived notions and myths regarding this population. Clinicians will be provided with tools to enhance and freshen their skills set when working with personality disorders in a therapeutic setting.

Objectives:

  • Understand myths, biases and judgments related to personality disorders
  • Review diagnostic criteria, differential diagnosis and co-occurring disorders
  • Learn therapeutic interventions to use in clinical practice to increase therapeutic effectiveness and client engagement
  • Develop an understanding of healthy and effective boundaries to set in an effort to decrease therapist burn-out

Outline:

8:30 What do we know about personality disorders: Exploring biases and myths
9:00 Understanding personality disorders in clinical practice
10:15 Break
10:30 Evidence-based treatments and personality disorders
11:15 Exploring ways to implement clinical interventions
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Exploring ways to implement clinical interventions
2:15 Break
2:30 Case Conceptualization
3:00 Maintaining professional boundaries: decreasing therapist burnout and practicing self-care
4:00 Conclusion

About the Presenter

Katelyn Baxter-Musser is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Gorham. There she provides individual therapy, couples and family therapy and consultation to mental health professionals. Katelyn has been in the field for over ten years and has worked in a variety of different roles including as a case manager, child and family therapist, trauma therapist and clinical coordinator. Prior to being in private practice Katelyn has worked for several agencies as well as Native American reservations. In her private practice Katelyn specializes in working with domestic violence, abuse, trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, grief and relationship issues, dissociative disorders and personality disorders. Katelyn is a Certified Dialectical Behavior Therapist and a Certified EMDR therapist. Katelyn is trained in a variety of therapeutic modalities including DBT, EMDR, CBT, mindfulness and motivational interviewing. She sits on the EMDRIA Standards and Training Committee and is the co-regional coordinator for the EMDR Southern Maine Regional Network.

 

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Soon “Empty Nest” Has Dad Sad

Our youngest child is a senior in high school and I am looking at a future empty nest with a heavy heart. My wife is the opposite and talking about our retirement years and being kid-free.

This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on December 12th, 2019 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Question: Our youngest child is a senior in high school and I am looking at a future empty nest with a heavy heart. My wife is the opposite and talking about our retirement years and being kid-free. I know she will miss the kids too but seems almost gleeful about it being just us. I love my wife and look forward to those years but am also pretty sad about losing our kids. How do I address it best with her to maybe tone down the glee and recognize I may have some tough feelings around our empty nest?

Answer: I think like you. Having my children around, as little ones or adults, is one of the joys of my life. I have found that doesn’t change even though they no longer live under my roof. This time of having children transition to adulthood affects everyone differently. For some, the “Empty Nest Syndrome” is characterized by sadness and even depression, while others may view it as “Empty Nest Symphony” as one feels the lightening of responsibility and a newfound freedom. Most people experience both ways of feeling to some degree.  It is one of those life transitions that take time.

This would be a great time to have a conversation with your wife. Try to really understand what this means to her. After years of insisting that homework get done, teeth get brushed, or they get up and off to school, she may be looking forward to not being responsible for everyone. Enjoying being with you, and having time to herself, may have been put on the back burner.

I also urge you to talk with her about your feelings about having the kids gone, and that it is harder for you. If it is difficult for you to ask her to “tone down the glee,” it may point to a larger issue of needing to find each other again. All parents should work hard to not make their kids be the only focus in their relationship with each other. This is hard to do. It takes an effort to continue to have your personal interests, and those interests you share as a couple, once you have children. Setting aside time for each other without kids, through the years, will help when the empty nest comes around.

Try not to think of having your kids move out as a hard stop. Your relationships with them should continue. Enjoying your children as adults can be a new kind of fun. Your children will also need you for many reasons in their young adult lives. Try to view each stage of their lives as new beginnings, not endings. If your adult children plan to live close to you, make some family time together each week. Before long more children may come along to enrich your life. 

Right now, take on the new project of making the most of the marriage that produced those children you have enjoyed so much.  There is a richness there that needs to be rediscovered. The goal is to grow together in the empty nest. Through the child raising years, people grow and change. Many couples seek counseling to help them rekindle those connections which brought them together pre-kids, and to learn to enjoy each other again. Don’t hesitate to seek support in the process, and if you continue to struggle with this transition, seek help for yourself.

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”

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Coronavirus/COVID-19 Alert - The health and safety of our affiliates, staff, case managers, and clients is our top priority. Our COVID-19 Updates page provides current information about how we are working together to help keep our communities safe. Learn More

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