Mindfulness Class

14 Apr

I remember it like it was yesterday the fall of 2009. There was such a crisp October smell in the air. Me, a frazzled post-graduate student who had just spent the last three years in utter chaotic stress from school had the desire to do nothing but BE STILL. However, I didn’t know how. I had tried mediating once or twice in the past but was discouraged with what I perceived as my inability to sit still for longer than one minute.

The opportunity came to enroll in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Class from Heather Donahue and Kristin Koskella and it was after that class that I walked out of the fog and saw my life clearly before me. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

You see, I was about 20 some weeks pregnant and had just found out that my baby boy may have some “complications” and there was a chance he may not survive.  Naturally, my mind ran wild with obsessive thoughts and fear with the inability to control the outcome and the future for this child. Through this class, I was able to become free from the paralyzing worry that was holding me hostage.

Living moment-to-moment, day-to-day I pressed forward breathing along the way . I am blessed to say that my little baby boy is now a healthy happy little one-year-old boy and such a joy in my life. Vowing to never take a moment for granted,  I am continually practicing being present with him each and every day. I am truly a better mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, photographer, and counselor because of this class. -Cristi Dame, LPC, NCC

This class is amazing. I would recommend it for ANYONE- Below is the information on the next upcoming class:

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – MBSR (Program modeled on the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Stress Reduction Clinic)

WHERE: 5203 West Silverlake Lane Boise, ID 83703

WHEN:  Starting May 5, 2011- 8 consecutive weeks on Thursdays  from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. with an All Day Saturday Class – June 11th

TUITION: $300 includes class materials

CONTACT INFO: Heather Donahue, LCSW 208.871.6412 and Kristin Koskella 208.866.2801


Mindfulness is the practice of consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness and challenges: thereby meeting each moment with greater clarity peace of mind. This course is true MBSR – the outgrowth of over 30 years of research by the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Stress Reduction Clinic. The facilitators participated in professional training program under the direction of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Saki Santorelli of the UMMS.


-Enduring and decrease in physical and psychological symptoms

-Increased ability to relax and reduce stress

-Greater energy and enthusiasm for life

-Improved self-esteem

-Idaho State CEU hours available



Practicing Praise Instead of Punishment with our Children

12 Apr

I spent the weekend at the Idaho Annual Play Therapy Conference with Scott Riviere, M.S., L.P.C., R.P.T.-S. as our keynote speaker.

The focus of the conference was on children and adolescents,  particulary with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. These are our kids who may be diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Conduct Disorder. Some “unofficial” temperaments of children who may fall under this category are: the anxious/nervous, depresseive, and the stubborn/strongwilled. Any of those sound familiar?

According to Riviere, studies have shown that 3-20% of our children may fall in the category of disruptive behavior. More importantly, studies also show that “Punishment Based Discipline” (ie- Grounding, time out, taking away priveleges) can be ineffective with these kiddos. They tend to do much better with a “Reward-Based Discipline” (ie, Praise, sticker chart, rewards, encouragement).

These kiddos seem to be particularly sensitive to failure (who isn’t). Therefore, punishment can be seen as an additional failure which causes them to give up trying or to act out in defiance. Not to mention, there is the potential for them to begin to see themselves as “a bad kid”…and before you know it- they  fulfill their role as that label.

Praise and encouragement for the things they are doing right is FAR more effective than pointing out the things they do wrong. It is just takes more effort and can more difficult for parents to do. :/ We must begin by observing those little things that too often go unnoticed. How nice is it to have a boss who is encouraging and pointing out the things he/she likes opposed to a boss who is always pointing out the things he/she dislikes about your work? Who would you rather work for?

For instance, when asking your child to clean their room- instead of going in there and pointing out all the things they missed such as the dirty socks on the floor or random legos they neglected to put away- try pointing out all the little things they did do. “Wow- I love how hard you worked at putting away your homework. And look how great you lined up your shoes- you really seemed to work hard.” They will feel so proud of their capabilities and want to continue to get that response out of you. Although their room may not look “perfect” (is there such thing) they will feel encouragement and actually want to continue this behavior.

So, now for us parents: Practice practice practice. Changing our language to be more positive may not come as natural as you would think. We often are far better at pointing out what we don’t like about our children and what they can improve on- then what we are proud of. Remember that our children are learning each and every day new things and we can’t expect them to behave exactly the way we want to 100% of the time. Do you behave 100% of the time…come on be honest…you are telling me that you never ever go above a speed limit? Even just 5 over? If you do then you are amazing and I want to meet you!  When we expect perfection from our children- we set ourselves up for disappointment- therefore we get frustrated with them. Nobody likes a grouchy mommy or daddy and I know you certainly don’t want to feel that way!

Now get out there and give some additional encouragement to your kiddos…come on- right now- go see what happens!

Just a few thoughts today- much more on inspirations from this workshop coming soon!-

Cristi Dame, LPC, NCC

Take a Photo Walk

6 Apr

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Sometimes I like to go for a walk with my camera and snap photos along the way. I like to call them inspiration walks. I snap whatever inspires me at that moment in time.  It is amazing to see the stories of objects come to life as you see them in your viewfinder. I use this with many of my clients as we walk around and explore their world view. Try it- grab any old camera you have and take a walk. Get down at different angles and see the many different perspectives each object has. You will quite amazed with what you find!


– Cristi Dame, LPC, NCC

I am love with this magazine.

26 Mar

It’s Friday night…I can’t peel my eyes off the new “Seeing Magazine” I just got in the mail. I ripped the plastic off the minute it touched my fingertips and flipped through the pages. I love the texture of the pages- they are like matte finished with a hint of texture and feel SO amazing. The magazine is simple…mostly photographs and few sentences scattered on pages. It’s so simple that I don’t want to over do the description…basically it is about seeing the “small things”- about real people and real life stories of the everyday life. Best part NO ADS!  I heart this magazine! You gotta check this out!

If I could reccommend just one book…

24 Mar

If I could pick just one book for parents to read it would be this book.

“How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is AWESOME. First of all it has pictures… who doesn’t love a book with pictures?! I think that is why I love it- and best of all… it is so simple. There are so many parenting philosophies out there that can get so complex and overwhelming. How often do we as parents run behind our child screaming “Don’t do that, Get off of that!, STOP!, Cut it out!” Get the idea? We are so busy telling our children what we DON’T want them to do, that we forget to tell them what we want them to do. It is a hard habit to break…

Try it! Next time your child is doing something you don’t want them to do- try telling them in a concise two or three word statement what you want them to do instead. Example: Instead of: “ STOP running Billy- you know how I hate it when you run around the house- it drives me CRAZY!!!!” Try: “Walking feet please.” Worth a shot right?

I am telling you it Works! I started my career back in 2000 working for a Behavioral outpatient program in Salt Lake City for children ages 2-5 who had severe emotional and behavioral issues. I had a class of 4 and 5 year olds. Not just any 4 and 5 year olds. Many of these kiddos were kicked out of their preschool for their behavior and let me tell you…they were hard! Throwing chairs, spitting, and cussing at one another including us “big people” (adults) were daily occurrences when they first entered into the program. So, as a new therapists, we were advised to read this book. I thought really- another parenting book?  But, I thought I would give it a whirl one day when I saw a boy in my class running up and down on the table. I calmly said: “Feet on the floor Buddy” and to my amazement- without missing a beat he came bouncing of the table with a smile on his face. I knew right then- there is an art form when communicating with children. I am not saying it will work all the time…but it is great practice to find a different way of positively communicating with our young children rather than the negative. More to come on this book in the future- that’s just scratching the surface! For now-go out and read it and tell me what you think!


27 Apr

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Why Play Therapy?

27 Apr

Can you imagine what it would be like to have such STRONG feelings in your body and NOT have the language or understanding of EXPRESSING what was going on inside? This is often how children may feel because they lack the capacity of processing their feelings through verbal language. Their SMALL little bodies can experience BIG emotions and a child who acts out or withdraws really is telling you that they are feeling something they can’t explain.


I had the opportunity to attend the Annual Idaho Play Therapy Conference a few weeks ago and noticed some perplexed faces when I described to my friends what conference I had just been to.  It then occurred to me that YOU also may not know exactly what and why “Play Therapy” is used with children.

Play Therapy allows children to manipulate their world from their perspective on a smaller scale, something that cannot be done in the child’s everyday big and COMPLEX environment. By playing with specially selected toys and with the guidance of a person who reacts in a designated manner, the child plays out his/her feelings. Bringing these hidden emotions to the surface, the child learns how to recognize and cope with their feelings in a SAFE place.

Kiddos who have these signs may benefit from
play therapy:
· Excessive anger, worry, sadness, or fear
· Aggressive behavior (hurting others or self)
· Separation anxiety
· Excessive shyness
· Behavioral regression
· Low self esteem
· Learning or other school problems
· Sleep, eating, or elimination problems
· Preoccupation with sexual behavior
· Difficulty adjusting to family changes
· Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches that have no medical cause