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The Needs Cycle

Here is a clip of Jeremiah teaching a tool called Needs Cycle with emphasis on the concept of Self Soothing. This is from a panel discussion at Granger Community Church on the topic of mental health. Click here to watch the entire series entitled “Hostage.”

Anger Management

Anger Management may sound cliche, but people need to manage their anger just as much, if not more, than any other emotion.  The truth Anger Managementis we are always managing emotions to some degree.  Anger is the emotion that gets the most attention because it frequently causes people to infringe on others’ rights – hence the popularity of the term ‘anger management’, but here’s the kicker: anger is what we call a secondary emotion which results from an underlying primary emotion of fear or anxiety.  Fear and anxiety, however, are vulnerable emotions, so in order to protect ourselves, we sometimes resort to anger.  

So, how can we manage anger?

First, we have to remember that we cannot manage someone else’s anger. We can only manage our own.  

Second, we have to recognize that it is a secondary emotion and then identify what the primary emotion was that led to the anger.  

Third, once we have identified that we are actually feeling fearful or anxious, then we can address that emotion.  We can manage our fear by reflecting on if our fear is rational: if it is, we can address it and take steps to decrease the need for fear, or, if it is irrational, we can realize we do not need to feel it.  If we are feeling anxious, we can think about what is causing us to feel that anxiety and manage that feeling.  We can take a ‘time-out’ by walking away from the situation and taking a break, we can exert some physical energy, or if we are at home, we can lie down for a few minutes until the anxiety diminishes.  

So, anger management is not what it seems; it is actually anger recognition and then identifying and managing the underlying emotion of fear or anxiety.

Julie Perron, L.M.F.T.A.
Julie Perron is a licensed marriage and family therapy associate practicing in South Bend, IN at Wright Directions Counseling.

How can I be happier in my relationship? One answer is assertiveness.

How can I be happier in my relationship? One answer is assertiveness.There are many reasons people seek couples counseling…as a marriage and family therapist associate, I’ve heard many reasons that usually come down to people being unhappy in their relationship and wanting their partner to change.  They are not satisfied with what they are getting- the costs to be in the relationship are outweighing the benefits.  According to Thibault and Kelley’s (1959) social exchange theory, over time, the costs and benefits should balance for both people in a relationship.  If that’s not happening in your relationship, you are understandably unhappy.  Here’s one way you can take action that may lead to you being happier in your relationship, and if it doesn’t, you will still be healthier than you were before.  You can’t lose.

So how can you get more of what you want out of your relationship without your partner thinking you are controlling or nagging? The answer is assertiveness.  Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want.  It is not bossy or demanding but being able to communicate clearly with your partner (or anyone in your life) about your needs and preferences without ‘stepping on their toes’.  It increases your chances of success and happiness in your relationship, and is a necessity for your personal health.

How can you become assertive?  Chances are, if you are reading this and struggle with being assertive, you may also have low self-confidence and doubt your ability to improve your assertiveness.  The good news is there is a connection between assertiveness and self-confidence.  The more you can practice assertiveness, the more self confidence you have, and the more self-confident you are, the more you can assert yourself in a relationship.  So, start practicing!

To improve your self-confidence, start small.  Find a place to volunteer where you feel you can be beneficial and go be beneficial!  Or, pick one thing a day you can do to improve your health.  Any way you can increase your self-confidence increases your chances of being able to be assertive.  To improve your assertiveness, start small…think about what you want to say, practice in a mirror if you need to, and go assert yourself!  Every time you are assertive, your self-confidence will improve, and the cycle of positivity continues!  If you want your relationship to last without losing yourself, be confident that you can improve yourself and the relationship by being assertive with your needs and preferences.

4 Ways to Cope when Flooding or another Natural Disaster Happens to You

4 Ways to Cope when Flooding or another Natural Disaster Happens to YouWhen people experience a natural disaster, it be very beneficial to talk with an empathic listener, so if you have the opportunity to speak with a crisis, grief, or other counselor, please seize it!  Collaborating with a trained professional in therapy can decrease recovery time and increase the degree to which natural disaster victims recover.  Even if you only meet once to help with the initial shock, please seek local counseling.  Here are some ideas to complement that counseling or help to get you by until you can find a counselor.

It can be helpful to write these down, so if you have paper and pencil available, use to record your notes.  If you don’t have paper and pencil, don’t worry – taking the time to think about these items will also be therapeutic.

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. You may be telling yourself things which are actually making it more difficult for you to get through your day.  You might be having thoughts such as, “I’ll never get through this,”, “It can’t get any worse,” or “It’s not fair!”  While it’s understandable and normal to have these thoughts, they are only going to make it more difficult for you to do the work necessary to rebuild or relocate or do whatever is necessary.  If you can catch yourself thinking like this, try to shift your focus to ways you have gotten through tough situations in the past.  It is likely that you have more strength, endurance, and ideas than you realize!  Over time, you will find you are having fewer negative thoughts which will free up your energy for empowering thoughts.
  2. Pay attention to your feelings.  You may feel angry, discouraged, sad, hopeless, overwhelmed, or a myriad of other unpleasant emotions.  Again, these are completely normal.  However, getting stuck in any of these emotions will debilitate you and lower your ability to do the work necessary to recover from the storm.  So, if you notice yourself feeling any of these, know that it is normal, allow yourself to feel it for a few minutes, then take some deep breaths where you focus on exhaling slowly, take a short walk, get a drink of water, and move forward on the task at hand.  Over time, you will find you are having fewer negative emotions and that they last for less time, which frees up your energy for positive emotions that may now seem distant but are realistic to expect if you follow these steps.
  3. This leads to a third step in coping after a natural disaster. Pay attention to your behaviors. Your thoughts and emotions can cause you to do things, which outside of the current circumstances, you wouldn’t normally do.  For example, if you find yourself yelling or being impatient, stop, realize which thought or emotion caused it, and change what you’re doing!  Be intentional about what you do – someone who doesn’t know what you are trying to do should be able to identify your goal, even a short-term goal, by watching the way you behave in any given moment and over time.
  4. Be patient with yourself.  It takes time to recover from loss.

Parenting – 6 Ways to Live in Peace with Your Teenager

“My teenager is out of control! I don’t know how much longer I can take this. How is s/he going to make it as an adult?!”  Does this sound familiar? It’s not uncommon for parents of adolescents to experience some resistance from their teenagers, even from parenting methods that used to work.  While it’s understandable to be concerned about the welfare of your teenagers soon embarking on adulthood, the fact that they are showing some resistance (read initiative) can be a good thing. It can mean that your teenager is maturing and developing his or her own will, ideas, and yes, initiative, which will be necessary for he or she to become the successful adult you are hoping for.  However, they are not yet adults. You are still responsible for them. That can cause tension.  Here are few steps you can take to help ease the transition from adolescence into adulthood and lower the stress in your household.


Set them up for success

Give them a chance to collaborate with you.  Ask for their input.  They may be resorting to angry retorts and mutterings because they don’t know how else to be heard.  Expecting complete subservience from teenagers can actually stifle their problem-solving ability as well as their development of the skill of respectful communication with authority.  Remember we are teaching them how to be adults and they may someday need to navigate a conversation with a boss about a raise or with a police officer about an issue.  You’ll want them to know how to handle themselves in these situations.

Create a contract with them

Again, be collaborative.  This affirms that you value their opinions and holds them accountable to their own words.  For example, your teenager can decide that Behavior A leads to reward while Behavior B leads to punishment and agree to it in writing.

Let them be teenagers

This means let them have some reasonable freedoms that they have earned.  This teaches them that they are valued and have a contribution to make.  Similarly, adolescents’ “body clock” runs later than ours.  Their bodies want to wake up later and go to bed later.  Allow them freedom in this as is possible with real-world schedules.

Sit down when you talk to them

Although the height gap may be closing as your child ages, (or they may have already grown taller than you!), your body language can send an unintended aggressive message to which your teenager feels the need to defend him or herself.

Take interest in their lives.  Don’t let your only conversations be about how they have disappointed you.  Do an activity together, and you’ll have the chance to ask about their day or their test or their friends.  Go to their soccer games or band performances or choir or art shows and encourage their hard work.  They may not say anything about it, but they will notice.

Live the example of how you expect them to behave

Finally,  show compassion.  Model forgiveness. Be kind. Be honest. Have a sense of humor.  Exercise self-discipline.


Julie Perron, M.S., L.M.F.T.A.


Julie Perron is a marriage and family therapist at Wright Directions Counseling in South Bend, IN.


10 Marriage Questions to Ask Before “I Do.”

One common theme in my office as a marriage and family therapist is poor communication in relationships.  When people enter marriage, there are countless and usually unspoken expectations that we have of our spouse.  These usually are a mixture of the examples we saw from our parents, past experiences from other romantic relationships, and our perception of cultural norms.  The problem lies where we do not communicate these expectations, ideally prior to marriage, or at least once we are married.  The problem with unspoken expectations is just that – they are unspoken.  Would you sit down at a restaurant and expect the chef to know what you want to eat or how you want it cooked, and then complain when you got the wrong food?  Of course not.   If I do not know a need or a want, I cannot meet or fulfill it.  Similarly, if I do not communicate an expectation to my spouse, he or she cannot meet or fulfill it, and I cannot rightfully be upset with him or her for not reading my mind.

Marriage Questions Couple Talking wright directions counseling

Questions to Ask Before Marriage

The solution?  Talk with your partner.  It is best to do so before marriage and even before engagement.  Ask questions and give honest answers.  If you would like, write your answers to the same questions and compare them.  Are they similar?  If so, it will go a long way in helping your relationship.  If not, you and partner have different expectations that need to be discussed.  If you are not already married, you may choose the end the relationship and seek someone who has more similar expectations to yours.  If you are already married, you will need to discuss the differences and negotiate some compromises in your expectations of each other.  The main idea is to communicate.  Unspoken expectations, usually expectations we do not even think about, that we assume are a given, can make relationships much more difficult than they need to be.


What kind of marriage questions should you ask?

  1. Where will we live?
  2. Will we raise children?
  3. Are you open to adopting or fostering children?
  4. Who will work?  Whose job will take precedence if required to relocate or if we have children?
  5. Will someone stay at home with children?
  6. Who will do/be responsible for the household chores – Cooking? Cleaning? Shopping? Any outdoor maintenance? Vehicle maintenance?
  7. Will we attend religious services?  Which ones?
  8. Will we teach any children religious practices/views? Which ones?
  9. How will we handle finances?
  10. How involved will we be with our families of origin and extended families?  How involved in our lives will they be?


Julie Perron, M.S., L.M.F.T.A.
Julie Perron is a marriage and family therapist at Wright Directions Counseling in South Bend, IN.

Managing your Child’s Behavior: Toddlers and Preschoolers

Parenting can be the most challenging job in the world; it is an all-day, every-day, in-your-face, in-your-home job that comes with no instructions.  If we are lucky, we had a good example when we were kids, but who can really remember that far back?  We may have even had a bad example when we were kids, which we are more likely to remember and naturally be inclined to make the same mistakes.  So, how can we best parent?  First, be well-rested.  Then, follow these 4 principles to succeed at parenting toddler and preschool aged children.

4 principles to succeed at parenting toddler and preschool aged children

  1. Have a relationship with your child.  Play is their language, and reading to them helps them make words their language as they grow.  Set aside time each day to give your undivided attention to your child.  Even 20 minutes a day of play time with you communicates to your child that you care.  Make it a positive experience by not judging his or her play.  With toddlers, you can tell the child about what he or she is doing (Siegel, 2012), mixing narration with interaction.  With preschoolers, be silly and join them in their worlds of imagination and exploration.
  2. Give your child structure.  Structure makes him or her feel safe by giving some predictability.  For example, interrupting your child to take a potty break during potty training is less upsetting if he or she knows it is coming and can expect it.  Similarly, giving preschool age children a two-minute “warning” that in two minutes their activity will change helps them to mentally ‘shift gears’ increases the likelihood they will cooperate when it is time to clean up toys and get ready for lunch, for example.  Structure can include a daily routine, including regular meal/snack/nap times.  A well-rested child with belly that is comfortably full is way more likely to have a good attitude and obey your directives.  
  3. We can influence our children’s behavior with positive reinforcement – encouraging good behavior by giving effective commands, establishing home rules, and using effective punishment procedures (Northey, Wells, Silverman, & Bailey, 2003) such as “time-out” for pushing a sibling.  When done correctly, time-outs actually teach children a life-skill of self-soothing while reinforcing that the behavior that resulted in the time-out is not acceptable.  A time-out can start at the same amount of minutes as the child’s age, but often a child can come down in less time, so adjust accordingly.  It should be in the same safe place in the home. Let it be a time-out…once the child is there and has been calmly told why, do not give him or her any more attention until the timer dings.
  4. Give your child some choices.  “Do you want grapes or a banana?” “Do you want to wear the blue pants or the green pants?” It gives them a sense of control so they are less likely to fight you when they do not have a choice, teaches them you value their opinion which encourages cooperation with you, and gives them practice in making decisions.


Julie Perron, M.S., L.M.F.T.A.


Julie Perron is a marriage and family therapist at Wright Directions Counseling in South Bend, IN.



Northey, W.F., Wells, K.C., Silverman, W.K., & Bailey, C.E. (2003). Childhood behavioral and emotional disorders. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29(4), 523-545.


Siegel, D. J. (2012). The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. ISBN: 9781462503902.