Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness, CBIT, ERP, CBT-I, Behavior Consultation, and Treatment for Anxiety and Insomnia

Laura Van Schaick-Harman, Psy.D., BC-TMH


Dr. Laura's Meaningful Psychological Services

Online and Office Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

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Making the Most of College

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (3)

It's that time of year again- returning and first-time students are transitioning into the college semester. Depending on the academic calendar, some of you have already attended classes and others may be preparing for a start in a few weeks. Whichever your status, I hope to share with you some tips to help make the college experience successful, fun, meaningful, and smooth.


First, get involved in the experience. If you just go to class and then go home or back to your dorm room or apartment, you are not getting the total package. College is what you make it. I challenge you to attend a club fair, make a new friend, join a club, start a study group, or volunteer on campus. If you feel very anxious in these social situations, these are great ways of exposing yourself to the anxiety and helping you overcome it. When students are involved on campus, it can greatly enhance the experience for them.


Don't freak out when you read a syllabus for the first time. Remember that a syllabus is a summary of an entire semester, which will cover 14-15 weeks worth of work. It is important to read and re-read each syllabus again outside of the classroom to see if you have questions and to organize deadlines and due dates. The syllabus is a very useful tool and should not be ignored. You can plan out in advance when you will compete work and know before the night before something is due if there is a conflict, question, problem, or misunderstanding.


Attend class. Even if attendance is not taken or counted towards your grade. As tempting as it is to sleep in, take a last minute trip, or study on your own, there is no good-enough make-up for missing class other than going to class or another section (as long as the professor allows). If you must miss class, and this is likely to happen because you may get sick or have an emergency, let your professor know as soon as you can. Get contact information from peers in class and find out what you missed. Ask to attend a different section of the class is available to make up the lecture.


Listen to these brief audio workshops about how to have a successful and great college experience. I share about how to deal with test anxiety, being mindful, how to utilize resources on campus, managing your time, choosing colleges, and being financially prepared. You will have unlimited 24/7 access to the recordings for review at any time. You can access them here.

Now, go and have an awesome semester!

Focus On College

Posted on August 15, 2016 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (3)

Returning to college or starting college can be both an exciting and anxiety provoking experience. For some, this may be the first time you will be on your own, away from your parents and in a new area. For others, you may be returning to school for another semester of classes, friends, clubs, fun, and exams. For those of you commuting, you may be preparing for the best route to take to get to class, and balancing home life with work life with school life, etc. For parents of college students, you may also be experiencing this nervous excitement. It is a big step for both of you.

 

Being a college student can be an amazing experience. Yes, there will be the stressors of meeting new people, learning new and challenging information, exams, and independence. But, did you know that stressors aren’t necessarily negative. Interesting in learning more? See this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=154-mh8JbNg&index=3&list=PLbiVpU59JkVZeQPQ1u5mS8U1c0V7J5OJU" target="_blank">video that explains how to make stress your friend. The same stressors listed above can actually be fantastic opportunities. That is, if you view them that way.

 

Meeting new people- some of you may be saying "eekk" in your mind and experiencing a rise in anxiety. Meeting and getting to know people can be challenging, but can also lead to great friendships, healthy relationships, and professional connections.

 

Learning new and challenging information- again, some of you may be worried about the difficulty level of the material or whether or not it will be interesting or relative to your major, or about how much work there will be in each course. Learning is a tool for success, growth, and change in your life.

 

Exams- I don't need to elaborate on the level of nervousness you may be experiencing on this one. Exams can be tough, no doubt about that. Success requires effective preparation, study skills, knowledge of the new material you learned, and time management. Exams allow you to show off your skills, test your limits, and communicate your knowledge to others.

 

Independence- what a fun yet scary concept. From doing laundry and making dinner to paying rent or buying books, independence in college can be helpful or detrimental to college success. For a healthy experience, remember that these activities, when balanced appropriately with school responsibilities, are good for self-care.

 

If you want to learn how to meet new people and form healthy connections, embrace new course material and integrate it into prior knowledge, rock your exams, and build an independence that will serve and protect you, check out my series of brief workshops for an awesome college experience. You can listen anytime and on any device. You will learn how to master these skills and more. And best of all, you will learn how to have a meaningful, successful, and fun college experience.

 

As you return to school, consider if there is an unhealthy habit that negatively impacts your success or experience during the semester. If you want to change this, my habit change course will be helpful to you. You may want to develop better study or time management skills, participate more in class, stop using your cell phone in class, or reduce nail biting. In the course, you will learn how to change your habit safely and effectively using science and research based strategies that are manageable to do. You can try out the first class for free to see if it is a god fit for you.

 

https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/recorded_audio?audioRecordingUrl=https%3A%2F%2Frs0000.freeconferencecall.com%2Fstorage%2FsgetFCC2%2FOrFzI%2Falw7&subscriptionId=5504662" target="_blank">Click here to access the free class

 

If you would like to access the complete course, which includes an additional three hours of content about the functions of behavior, collecting data, reinforcement, and interventions, as well as a workbook to support your learning, click here or here to purchase.


College, Work, and Fun, Oh My!

Posted on March 1, 2015 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

It is not uncommon for college students to experience a wide range of emotions during the course of their study. The transition from high school to college and then college to employment/career/graduate school can be difficult, exciting, anxiety provoking, smooth, or any other description of personal experience. Anxiety and stress are common culprits that affect today's college students.


College students receive syllabi that cover several (usually 14 or 15) weeks of assignments, responsibilities, due dates, and schedules for several classes. For students who are really good at organization, time management, and planning, figuring out how to organize themselves for the next few months might not be so difficult for them. Having the energy, the time, and the skills to develop an effective plan for being successful each semester and the entire academic career is hard work, even if you have strengths in the aforementioned areas.


During the course of college, students may experience anxiety related to academic, personal, and/or professional situations. These situations may include test anxiety, romantic relationships, roommates, living away from home, commuting, balancing work and school, making friends, nutrition, completing assignments on time, technology, communication, and more. There are a variety of resources students can access to help cope with these areas. Students can explore the availability of a campus counseling center to receive personal counseling or an academic center that can help with academic skills.


It is essential to develop effective coping, time management, and stress management skills to utilize during the college experience. College doesn’t have to be stressful, negative, or boring. Students can experience success and fun.


If you would like to learn more about developing effective skills for studying, time management, stress management, and being successful in college, I offer a package of 9 audio workshops that provides information regarding these areas. You can learn more about this package on my website.

Successfully Transitioning Back to School and College

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)


I can't believe it is already time to go back to school. The stores are buzzing with parents and kids (young and college-aged) reading supply lists, choosing new backpacks, selecting the best sheets for the dorm room, and grabbing deals on folders, crayons, pens, and notebooks. The other day while shopping in a popular retail store, I overheard several parents complaining about their childs' teachers, schools, and communicating feeling "bad for kids these days."


 

One of my goals in sharing this piece with you today is to help stop this cycle of negative feelings about school and to help support kids, young adults and families have a smooth, successful, and happy transition back to school. If you are a college student (or soon to be college student), I hope to also provide some strategies for a great transition back.


 

Here are some strategies for kids transitioning back to school:

 

Work With, Not Against, Your Child's Teacher

It is easy to get wrapped up in negativity when hearing other parents complain about their child's experience. Give the teacher and school a chance to get to know your child and family while you learn about them. Ask questions, attend any Meet the Teacher Nights that are offered, and learn about the structure of your child's day, classroom expectations, rules, supplies, etc. It is also helpful to get the contact information for your child's teacher so you can have open communication with them. Be patient when waiting for responses. You are trying to get to know one or two staff members while they are working on getting to know 20-30 kids and families.


 

Understand Goodness of Fit

The fit between a child and teacher is very important to consider and evaluate, as it affects the success of your child in school. Listen to your child when they tell you about their school day. Read the homework assignments. Ask about classroom behavior modification systems. Observe any behavior changes in your child. Communicate any helpful strategies that have worked in the past for your child with the new teacher. For example, let the teacher know if your child is more successful with writing assignments when there are lines on the paper or if your child responds well to reinforcement or taking breaks. The best way to do this is to establish a desire to have open and consistent communication with the teacher early on.


 

Utilize the Team

School should be a positive place for your child. There are a number of people on your child's team who are available in the building to help make the experience great. These team members include the teacher(s) and any other classroom staff, the school psychologist and/or social worker, nurse, and principal. The team also includes you (the parent) and the child (depending on age). If your child receives special education services, the team may also include a speech therapist, occupational therapist, or physical therapist. Everyone benefits from working together. Utilize team members when needed, as everyone presents their own unique role and area of expertise. Problems can be solved by communicating openly with team members.


 

 

For college students:


 

Know Your Schedule

Make sure you access your schedule prior to the semester starting and classes beginning. Double check any room changes, class cancelations, or professor changes. You will have a limited time frame once the semester starts to make changes to your classes, so be sure to attend all classes and confirm they are the right day/time/course for you.

 


Parents: Support and Encourage But Don't Hover

You have a young adult now. Let him/her explore the new life of college. Educate them about safety, health, and any concerns you have as a parent. Students- you are going to have more independence than ever before, especially if you are living on campus. Seek support when needed and enjoy this added responsibility and privilege. Let your family know if you need more or less from them.

 


Seek Support

Get to know at least one other student in each of your classes. They could be a great support for you. Having the contact information of at least one other student can be a lifesaver if you need to miss class for any reason, don't understand an assignment, or want a study buddy. A note of caution- the most accurate information will always come directly from the professor. Therefore, be sure to always communicate absences as soon as you can to the professor and confirm you have correct information for what you missed. In addition, most colleges have plenty of resources available for free to students. These include a counseling center, tutoring center, professor office hours, library, computers, financial aid office, and more. Information for these can usually be found on the college's website or class syllabi.

 


For All:


Have Fun

School, no matter at what age, should be fun. Practice mindfulness, try new experiences, communicate openly with teachers and professors, make new friends, join clubs, and get support when needed.

 

 

There are plenty of resources available at schools and in the community. You can research the website of the district or campus, visit the local library, or do simple online searches. In my practice, I provide services for parents, such as the online Behavior Management Group as well as services for college students, such as the online College Suite. I also work directly with schools using a School Consultation Model to support children and teachers in the classroom.

 

 

#BacktoSchool, #College, #schoolsuccess

How to Have a Fun, Meaningful, Successful, and Memorable College Experience

Posted on September 13, 2013 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)


College-what an exciting and terrifying time! It's exciting and terrifying for both students and parents. It’s the start of a brand new learning experience. It's an opportunity to shed old reputations and try on new ones. It's a time to challenge yourself and reach goals you never thought you could. It's a time to form lasting relationships and friendships. It's a time to learn and practice stress and time management skills. It's also a time when independence and autonomy gets tested. It's when "all nighters" might be pulled, parties are attended, and anxiety experienced.


Many people describe college as life changing and feeling as if they have grown tremendously during the years they spent in school. College can be a truly amazing and fantastic experience that can impact your life in a healthy and positive way. For some, however, ineffective management of college life can impede on personal growth and can even be hurtful.


What kind of college student are you? What kind of college student do you hope to be? If you are a parent of a college student, what kinds of hopes and dreams do you have for your "all grown up" child?


If you want to have a fun, meaningful, successful, and memorable college experience, then please read on!


This is an exclusive sneak peak into my brand new initiative, the College Suite. This will be open to students, parents, and teachers. Details coming soon. I can't wait to share this opportunity with you!


In the meantime, I have included a selection of helpful strategies from the College Suite that I have learned, taught, and practiced for having a super college experience.


Get Involved!

Getting involved in college activities, clubs, and events can change a boring and stressful college experience into a fulfilling one. This is true even if you feel like you can't possibly fit another minute into your day. Joining a club or attending an event can actually help refresh your mind and make those classes and homework time more productive.


Reevaluate

What worked in high school might not work in college. What works in one class might not work with another class. What works with one professor might not work with another. This means that it is important for you reevaluate your study techniques (flash cards, highlighting, groups, etc.), test taking strategies, workload management, etc.


Be Here Now

One can be in attendance in class but not be present. This means mindfully being in the room with your attention and awareness focused in the present moment. Really hear and see what the professor is teaching. You can text and Facebook surf later. You can daydream later. Your messages will be waiting for you. What was taught in class may not be repeated and you may miss an important piece of information.


Take Care of Test Anxiety

Many college students struggle with test anxiety, even if they have never experienced anxiety before. Learning effective study strategies, preparing adequately (not too much and not too little) for exams, practicing deep breathing, managing stress, and learning effective test taking techniques can really help alleviate discomfort and enhance performance. The counseling center on campus and a therapist in the community can help too.


Check my website and Facebook page for updates in the next few weeks about how to join the College Suite. You can also sign up for my newsletter on the website and you will be the first to know!


 

#collegesuccess #collegeexperience