Enjoying some extended time away from the office and with my family this Holiday season.  I’ve been able to catch up on changing my fair share of diapers and some early morning feedings with my son, Kash, who recently turned one year of age.  My wife could not be happier to get a little more relief than she usually gets.  My daughter, Reese, turned the ripe old age of five the day after Christmas and told me she did not want to grow up.  Needless to say I did not discourage this idea.  We’ve exhausted ourselves wrestling and singing Christmas carols while she’s taught me the finer points of “Polly Pockets” and “High School Musical”. Blessings to you for a remarkable 2008 as a “Purple Cow” parent!  Make a resolution to spend more time with your spouse and your children and less time watching TV, surfing the Internet, or working more hours at the office.  No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time working.  I’ve never attended a funeral where income, promotions, and career accomplishments were shared in the eulogy.  Its all about their relationships and their impact as a parent, spouse, sibling, son or daughter, and friend to those they’ve loved and left behind.  Live remarkably and love your family deeply each and every day in 2008.  Happy New Year!

ADHD Kids Have Slower Brain Maturity

New brain imaging research indicates ADHD kids’ brains can lag as much as 3 years in crucial areas that suppress inappropriate actions and thoughts, focus attention, remember things from moment to moment, and in areas where one works for rewards and controls movement.  This research confirms the biological nature of ADHD and also helps explain why some kids seem to ‘outgrow’ it with time.  However, one-half of these kids do not outgrow it and and require treatment into adulthood.  While the disorder itself is neurological in nature psychologists like myself work extensively with these kids and their families because of the ‘psychological’ consequences of living with this condition over time.  Delayed development in these crucial brain areas explains why I work diligently with ADHD kids to ramp up their social, emotional, and academic coping skills.  These kids are trying to play ‘catch up’ with their same age, same grade peers.  Many of these kids struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence along with anxiety and depression.  While their peers and teachers are plugging along they are chronically frustrated trying to keep up academically, emotionally, behaviorally, and socially.  It gives credibility to my suggestion to hold these kids back a grade when they are young so the gap can narrow while we work to accelerate development in these important areas. 

Research Says Talk Therapy Important for Depressed Teens

A recent study that followed 600 teens with chronic depression for one year demonstrated that 80% of the participants recovered entirely or almost entirely when treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.  This is the most comprehensive and long-running study ever conducted on depression treatment in teens.  Another noteworty discovery was that talk therapy cancelled the risk of suicidal thinking in those taking anti-depressant medication.  Since 2004 the public has been scared stiff with ‘blackbox warnings’ about the increased risk suicidal thinking for teens prescribed anti-depressants.  Unfortunately, I have encountered many teens who surely could have benefitted from medication used in conjunction with regular counseling sessions.  I’ve always believed this risk is the most over-hyped, exaggerated scare tactic the field of mental health has faced.  I hate to know the number teens who could have benefitied from this type of treatment but were denied due to over-zealous types looking to demonize psychiatric medication.  I certainly cannot be characterized as ‘pro-medication’ due to the fact that as a Ph.D. psychologist I do not prescribe medications.  However, I see the importance of medication in helping some teens with chronic and serious depression obtain more immediate relief from these symptoms while I teach them the cognitive and behavioral coping skills necessary to manage and relieve depression over the long-haul.   Unfortunately, important studies such as this do not get the kind of attention by the media that the ‘blackbox warnings’ did just a few years ago.  I along with other mental health professionals are left to slowly erode the concerns of anxious parents who were frightened by what was blown completely out of proportion.

Cell Phone Use Much Risker than Alcohol in Teen Drivers

A study recently released by the Texas Transportation Institute indicates night time driving and cell phone use are much more likely to cause teenage driving accidents than alcohol.  Only one percent of the 4,400 teenagers surveyed (representing 17 texas high schools) believed that night time driving was unsafe.  Only one third of these students recognized talking or texting on their cell phone was dangerous.  Approximately two thirds of texas high schoolers had talked on their cell phone while driving in the last six months while 50 percent had read or sent text messages while driving.  The most frequent risk factor for fatal car crashes among teens was driving at night followed by distractions from a cell phone or other passenger.  This was followed by speeding, low seat belt use, and alcohol.  “The teen driver safety problem has reached epidemic proportions and has become an urgent public health crisis,” said Dennis Christiansen, director of the institute, referring to the nearly 500 teen drivers killed in accidents every year in Texas.

What’s TeenShrink?

I have been searching for an innovative way to provide professional adolescent and parent counseling services to more people who want it at a fraction of the cost of traditional counseling and in a form that is ultra-convenient and flexible.  “Time” is in short supply these days as families shuffle from soccer practice to tutoring to dance, etc.  Not to mention frantically searching for time to get homework done, eat dinner, and prepare for the next day.  I finally found the answer and have been designing this service for over a year now.  It’s now officially launched!

I call this ‘portable counseling’ and families can purchase individual or family memberships for a nominal monthly fee. 
You can work with a professional counselor over the phone at a time that is most convenient for you or your teen.  You also have the option of working with her through email, text messaging, and anytime access to the AdviceLine.  The AdviceLine is available 7 days-a-week and in the evenings when you or your teen need some quick advice, tips, or support.  This service is included free of charge when you purchase the ‘ecounseling’ or ‘comprehensive’ membership plans.  Feel free to call 972.998.3878 for brief consultation.  Some teens and parents even choose this service an adjunct to traditional counseling because they want support and solution-focused advice between office visits.  Please email us at and we will be happy to assist you or answer all your questions!

Bipolar Epidemic?

According to a recent study the number of children and adolescents treated for Bipolar Disorder has increased from 20,000 in 1994 to 800,000 in 2003.  This is a 40 fold increase that is certain to have grown substantially since 2003.  This represents about 1 percent of the general population under the age of 20.  Some argue that Bipolar is the new and latest mental health fad much like ADD/ADHD was in the 90’s.  The controversy surrounding pediatric bipolar is in part due to the difficulty and subjectivity of the diagnosis itself.  Bipolar is characterized by fluctuating and extreme mood swings but the clinical picture in children is difficult to sort out because there is often no consistent pattern.  If you’re interested in understanding pediatric biploar visit the site  This is a fantastic educational resource.  I am sure there will be much more for us to learn about its diagnosis and treatment especially since the first research study regarding pediatric bipolar did not appear until 1995.  Until then clinicians were led to believe it was a disorder affecting adults only.  The dramatic rise in diagnoses can certainly be attributed to mental health professionals and doctors ability to understand and identify the symptoms more accurately and with more clarity.  While others suggest its the latest fad fueled by the deep pockets of drug companies.  Read Benedict Carey’s New York Times article at

They’re not just selling iPhones

Recently, AT&T has launched a new service that gives parents wide-ranging control over their children’s cell phone use.  For only $5 a month parents can set limits on when, how much, and to whom their child talks to or text messages.  This is definitely a victory for all the parents I know who provide their children phones because they want anytime access and safety for their teen.  Although this represents a nightmare for teens everywhere; I habitually see and here about teens who are addicted to their phone.  “Cell phone abuse” by teens has become commonplace and before now parents were constantly on edge wondering who their kids were talking to, when, and how much.   As an added bonus – now we might see a surge in homework completion and less bags under the eyes of adolescent AT&T subscribers everywhere.,2933,295651,00.html

Fearful at School?

Separation Anxiety is a common occurrence this time of year as kids get back in the groove of school once again after an especially long Texas summer.  For those going away for the first time it can be especially daunting.  It is critical that parents model confidence and expect the child to do well rather than getting bogged down in all the tears and fears.  You actually do more harm than good when you overly reassure a child and give them lots of attention due to their anxieties.  Instead focus on and praise your child’s confident, independent behaviors and watch your child soar!  Trust your gut.

Receive a Complementary Copy of the ADHD Monitoring System

David Rabiner, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist at Duke University has developed a simple but reliable tool to track how well your child’s symptoms are managed at school.  It provides a simple, user-friendly means of getting objective, behavioral feedback from your child’s teacher about how he or she is coping in the classroom.  Using this tool regularly will alert you to when changes in your child’s treatment may be necessary.  I think you will find it extremely beneficial!  It can be used regardless of what treatment or treatments your child is receiving.  You can request a free copy of this tool by visiting Wishing everyone a successful school year! Have a great first day!