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Opening Hours : Monday to Friday: 8 am to 5 pm
  Contact : (970) 889-8204

Dealing with Anxiety and the Fear of the Unknown

Dealing with Anxiety and the Fear of the Unknown

Dealing with Anxiety and the Fear of the Unknown

Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling offers counseling and assessments for people dealing with anxiety and the fear of the unknown

Plans change. Things get out of control. Your babysitter isn’t answering the phone. Your bills come quicker than you expected and they threaten to cut off your power. So, you start to feel your heart race. Your mind starts spinning around with thoughts and plans. And then you shut down, or maybe you blow up. Anxiety is a common response to feeling a fear of the unknown. While that fear can be helpful: staying away from dark alleys and strangers, sometimes it can get in the way of everyday life. If you ever feel anxious around small everyday matters or slight changes of plans, here are a few tips to help.

Deep Breathing

Sometimes it just takes a minute. Whenever you begin to feel the anxiety and fear come, take a second and breathe. If you stop and breathe, and give yourself some precious space, your brain can catch up to the moment and process information in a way that’s helpful. So, here’s the exercise: Take a slow deep breath through your nose for 5 seconds, then hold your breath for 4 seconds, and breathe it out through your mouth for 6 seconds. Think, “smell the rose, and blow out the candle.”

Ask Questions and Listen

Your mind is racing, and you’re feeling all this energy, so the most natural thing that happens is that you stop listening and you start acting. When that happens, take a second and ask good questions. So, plans for the day have changed. Try asking, “Does this one change actually change everything or just one thing?” Then listen, slow down and listen. Oftentimes when we train ourselves to listen in the moment, all the feelings and emotions of anxiety start to get replaced with adjustment, planning, and acceptance.

Accept Change

Change and the unknown are both a part of our lives in both the big and the small. We can resist it, and feel anxious, or we can be a part of a life that is vibrant, exciting, and engaging. Think of it this way, how much time and energy have you spent being anxious and afraid only to realize things work out? What would you do if you had all that time back? If you learn to accept change and accept that there are parts of life that are unknown, you will find yourself with more energy and you’ll be happier.

Prepare Yourself

Do everything you can to plan your day. Organize and strategize. And then as you are putting your day together, be sure to add to it the real possibility that things may change, and that’s okay. If you do all you can to keep your day and your priorities in line, the chance for change and the unknown greatly decreases. But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance. There can be traffic and you can be late. The kitchen can get your lunch order wrong. Your kids have a meltdown and need you to comfort them as they sleep. But if you prepare the space for things to go wrong, you’re less likely to feel anxious.

Trust That Most Things Work Out

Yes there are moments in life that are appropriate to fear, but those moments are exceptions, and not common. Instead of feeling anxious and afraid, look to the facts. Then you’ll see that most things end up working out despite our great effort or mismanagement. Mistakes are all part of it, and change is how this life works. Replace your fear with trust. You’ll be okay, things will work out, and your life will go through countless changes and moments of the unknown more than you can count.

We’re Here to Help!

Our clinicians specialize in treatment of anxiety and fear of the unknown at our offices in Fort Collins. Feel free to give us a call to learn how counseling could be helpful or to schedule an appointment. You can reach us at (970) 889-8204 or contact@coloradocac.com.

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5 Organizational Tools for Children with ADHD

5 Organizational Tools For Children With ADHD

Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling has plenty of resources to help children with ADHD stay organized and on task.

When parents bring their children with ADHD to our office, most of the time it is so they can find support and clarity. School is always a challenge, standardized testing rarely reflects their child’s intelligence, and their grades are falling through the floor semester after semester. So, when a parent chooses to pursue a psychological evaluation for their child, they not only want an answer to their questions, they want practical tools and strategies so their kid can succeed.

Oftentimes, the biggest change needed is in proper organization, and not in studying or testing techniques. If your child is organized in his mind and at his work area, success is a lot easier to find. We thought it would be helpful to share our Top Five organizational tools for children with ADHD.

1. Set Clear Goals

If you start with the problems and work forward, it’s really easy to be overwhelmed. But, if your child takes the time to think through what it is she wants to accomplish, she can then think backward and figure all that needs to be done to meet the goal.

Say your child needs to read 30 pages of a chapter, write an essay at the end of the month, and answer five out of seven questions at the end of a chapter section. Then after all of that, there will be a chapter test that accounts for 20% of her grade.

Those are the tasks, but what is the goal?

If the goal is to accomplish all the assigned tasks at hand, she can then take some time to think through what is most important, what is most urgent, and what is the simplest thing to do first. If the goal is to understand what was so important about the taxes the British placed upon the American colonies, then things will look differently. This is a great moment for you to step in with some training and planning.

2. Plan and Write Down Your Tasks

Developing a consistent organizational system, and making it a habit, can make all the difference for children with ADHD. Some kids prefer a paper planner to organize everything from their daily schedule, study schedule, and morning routine, while others prefer keeping calendars and notes on their phones with alerts and reminders.

Everything in it’s place, and a place for everything.

When tasks and goals are written down, anxiety goes down, because now it’s in front of them instead of banging and clanking around in their head. Instead of frantically moving from one task to the next as they remember it, they can move from one task to the next.

3. Work Time and Break Time

A daily schedule with clearly set times for homework, and down time is a big help for children with ADHD. Also, so is a micro-version of a daily schedule. When your child is on a task, it can be helpful to take frequent and consistent short breaks.

  • Study for 10 minutes
  • 5 minute break
  • Study for 10 minutes
  • 5 minute break

When there aren’t a lot of breaks, boredom and frustration can set in, leaving your child to feeling either overwhelmed or distracted from the task at hand. Consider setting an egg timer next to your child while he studies. This way he has a clear and tactile reminder of the task at hand and break time.

4. “First, I will…”, “Next, I will…”, “Then, I will…”

Do you remember when your child was a toddler and would try to eat everything in front of them at once? So, you taught them to finish their bite of food in their mouth before taking another bite, so they didn’t choke. This is the same idea, just now food is switched out with homework.

One task at a time.

This ability to set aside and prioritize is a huge skill that will not only save countless hours of fruitless studying and working, but will also bring your child’s stress and anxiety under control. When kids can learn to place their attention on just one task, putting aside all the rest, they realize that they are able to control themselves and their work. It’s a huge boost for their esteem, but it will take some time and guidance to learn.

5. Recognize When You’re Overwhelmed

Before the lashing out, shutting down, and catastrophizing happens, it be a big help for your child  to learn when they are beginning to feel overwhelmed. Whenever you see your child struggling with a task, it can be helpful to gently intervene and ask if they want to take a break, or try it some other way. While struggling with new information is part of the learning process, there is a point in every person where the struggle is no longer helpful. It’s different for every child, and every child handles it differently.

We’re Here to Help!

Organization and learning new ways of doing familiar things takes time to master and understand. These skills and strategies may take a lot of effort to implement, and it may end up looking differently for your child than for others. Part of the success is finding out what exactly will be helpful for your child with ADHD. This is where our psychological evaluations are able to provide support and clarity for parents and children with ADHD. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Call our offices at: (970) 889-8204 or email us at: contact@coloradocac.com

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Why Do We Trust Our Fear So Much?

Why Do We Trust Our Fear So Much?

The Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling offers counseling for adults with fear, anxiety, and depression.

No One Has Disappointed Us As Much As Anxiety and Fear

Many people, in navigating their anxious thoughts and fears, fall into all these little traps along the way. The anxiety and fear build and build, until they are left either shutdown or totally overwhelmed. While there are plenty of tools to help people cope with anxiety and fear, I would like to offer a different way to think.

Imagine you had a friend or a coworker who told you all kinds of plans they had for you. This person tells you how your day will look, and they make all kinds promises to you. But when the moment comes, everything this person told you turns out to not be true. The trouble with this friend is that they do this all the time. Everything they say to you sounds so true in the moment, but nothing ever goes the way they say it will.

The real issue is not the friend that lies, it’s that you still trust them.

This is how anxiety and fear work: they constantly disappoint us. Anxiety feels so real. Fear makes so much sense sometimes. But when the moment or conversation we’ve dreaded actually happens, it never goes the way we thought it would. This is because anxiety and fear cannot predict anything. They just make us feel anxious and fearful.

Anxiety and fear are nothing more than strong feelings in the moment–just like anger or hunger or boredom. They may feel true and strong and right, but that may be just all that they are.

Everyone deals with anxiety and fear. How we deal with it makes all the difference.

Here are three tips to help you overcome untrustworthy feelings of anxiety and fear:

1. Ask Yourself: “What are the chances this will actually happen?”

Our fears can become very realistic, and anxiety can create incredibly vivid images in our minds, but rarely do they ever come true. When the waves of fearful thinking start, stop everything by asking if any of that could ever happen. Sometimes a simple question can stop anxiety immediately.

2. Take a minute to just breathe.

When you are anxious, you breathe differently. Your body tenses up, your fists tighten, and you breathe shallow and fast. This is an automatic response to stress. If you are running from a dangerous situation, this automatic response is helpful. But if you are not in a life threatening circumstance, there is no need for your body to think otherwise. To reverse those feelings, sometimes all you need to do is take a couple deep breaths and relax your body.

You have the power to change how you feel, sometimes you just need to remind your body.

3. Learn your triggers.

Fear and anxiety rarely happens without a reason. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? So, when you feel yourself becoming anxious, take some time to go back to the thought or circumstance that started everything. Have you ever found yourself thinking about something ridiculous or a memory comes to mind from forever ago? Make it an exercise to retrace your thoughts. That way when the anxiety tries to take over, you can go back and take back control. When you discover what causes anxious thinking or fearful feelings, you can then find patterns. From there you can make the necessary changes.

We’re Here to Help!

The Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling offers therapy for adults working through anxiety and fear. If you are interested in finding real support to navigate anxiety, contact us today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation. Call our offices at: (970) 889-8204, or email us at: contact@coloradocac.com

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benefit-child-psychological-testing

Who Benefits From Your Child’s Psychological Testing?

Who Benefits From Your Child’s Psychological Testing?

The Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling Offers Psychological Testing for Children in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado

It’s not easy seeing your child struggle in school. Finding the right kind of support for your child can also be a struggle. Most parents who come to our office in Fort Collins found us through their child’s school recommending their child undergo psychological testing. While this is a fairly common request for schools looking to implement any kind of accommodations or an IEP, most parents are not familiar with the process, and how it will actually help their child.

There are two images that might come to mind when you think of psychologists: One is seeing your little child lying on a couch, talking about their feelings to someone taking notes; and the other is your child wired up to a computer undergoing some kind of brain centered scientific research. With these images in mind, as well as seeing their child struggle in school, social interactions, staying focused, or whatever else the case may be, it can be hard to understand how psychological testing actually benefits them.

First, Here’s What Psychological Testing Looks Like at Our Practice:

  • We schedule 3-4 appointments over 2-3 weeks.
  • The first appointment is a 2-hour appointment, just for parents, where we get a full history of your child, and go over your current concerns.
  • The second appointment, if needed, is a 1-hour, anonymous school observation. With your and the school’s permission, one of our clinicians will observe your child in the classroom and during times of transition.
  • The third appointment is a full day of testing. Your child will come into our office and work through a variety of tests, puzzles, games, have conversations, answer some straightforward questions, tell stories, draw, and other measures. This day of testing gives our practice the opportunity to understand your child’s IQ, learning style, their strengths and weaknesses, attention, executive functioning, and many other areas of understanding.
  • The fourth appointment is a 1-hour parent feedback session, where you will receive a diagnostic overview, referrals for ongoing care, the results of our testing, and plenty of helpful recommendations.

So Who Does This Benefit and How?

1. Your child

Our testing is a great way for your child to understand how they learn. It’s really empowering when your child gets that he learns best by hearing a teacher explain things rather than reading instructions. And when your child understands how their brain works best, they will learn how to advocate for themselves as they go through their life in school.

2. You (The Parent)

One of the greatest strengths of psychological testing is that we are able to provide clarity. Oftentimes, children come to our office, and parents and teachers list off several issues they don’t understand. “He can’t sit still. She forgets what she just read. He can’t seem to control his outbursts. She doesn’t get along with her siblings…” The list goes on an on.

Children come to our practice with all these knotted up issues that parents and teachers aren’t sure how to help. With insightful and in-depth psychological testing, we can help “untie the knots” and provide clear practical ways of understanding. Countless times children have come into our office who have been labeled and treated as if they had this one issue, and it turned out, that simply wasn’t the case.

3. Your Child’s School

If your child is struggling at school, it is in the best interest of his school that he find supports to help him thrive. No good teacher wants to label a student as a troubled kid, or beyond help. They want to give instruction and help to children to the best of their ability. But it can be difficult for them if it is unclear as to what would actually help. While schools may be limited in their ability to diagnose your child, once there is clarity, most schools are able to provide straightforward, practical, appropriate help to your child.

4. Your Child’s Future Spouse and Other Significant Relationships

When children are able to find proper support and interventions at an early age, they are able to overcome challenges far more easily than otherwise. This sets your child up for success sooner and it will directly affect how they relate to their family members and other relationships. For example, when a child is able to join in social skills groups at a younger age, they are able to have the tools they need to navigate the swirl of relational challenges from middle school to college. Early help makes long-term change possible.

We’re Here to Help!

Our clinicians specialize in psychological testing and neuropsychological assessment with children, for concerns like ADHD, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, and mood disorders at our offices in Fort Collins. Feel free to give us a call to learn how counseling could be helpful or to schedule an appointment. You can reach us at (970) 889-8204 or contact@coloradocac.com.

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What to Do When Plans Change? 5 Tips for Children with Autism

What to Do When Plans Change? 5 Tips for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling offers psychological evaluations and counseling for children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

You had a plan. You packed the car. Everyone knew the time that they needed to get ready. You walked through how everything was going to go. And then…plans changed. For whatever reason, they cancelled soccer. Most children become upset by change, but children with autism spectrum disorder have a much harder time. The word for you is: inflexibility. Inflexibility describes the supposed stubbornness and rigidity of children with autism spectrum disorder. This rigidity often shows itself during times of unexpected changes, major transitions, and the moments between rest and action.

This inflexibility has little to do with preference. In fact, research shows inflexibility in children with autism is hardwired in their brains. It’s a direct response to anxiety and stress. The difficulty comes into play whenever tasks or expectations switch suddenly. The focus of their mind is to get in the car and go to soccer. That’s an easy place to be, and their brains are at rest. But if things change, many children with autism spectrum disorder melt down. This is because switching from rest to action is far more difficult for our children with ASD. And this difficulty grows with every change of plan and unmet expectation.

Children with autism spectrum disorder can be  restricted, inflexible, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests. So, our goal is to train and coach them into flexible thinking. In order to support and encourage children with these difficulties, here are 5 tips to help navigate times when plans change:

1.  Have a “Calm Down” Routine

Everyone must learn how to regulate their emotions. While we all experience emotional swings whenever we encounter difficulty, teaching emotional regulation can be a lifesaver for children with ASD. Whether that’s knowing when to take deep breaths, or giving themselves a hug with their eyes closed, the goal is for your children to know that they can control their emotions. So, when plans change, and your child faces that difficulty, teach them how they can calm down. Here are a couple ideas:

  • Deep breathing with eyes closed
  • Giving themselves a hug
  • Rubbing their hands together

Be sure to practice this calm down routine a couple times a day, and before any kind of predictably difficult situation. They will learn how to regulate their emotions safely, and it will become a natural response for them instead of outbursts or tantrums.

2. Give Warnings and Prepare Where You Can

With enough notice, most people can navigate change easily. If you give your child a straightforward, but calm, heads up of change, then they can have the space to switch their thinking. Then, when they begin to walk through the change, stay close and be supportive. Before you confirm a plan, it can also help to have a “plan B” just in case things don’t go the way everyone hoped.

If your child is moving to a new school, visit the school several times. Give plenty of time and attention to your child’s adjustment. If the first visit is a quick drive through the school’s parking lot, and the fifth visit walking through the halls, and the eighth visit is finally meeting his new teacher, then that transition will go far more easily for everyone involved.

3. Minimize Change As Much A Possible

If you’re renovating your house, and everything is out of the ordinary, it’s not a great time for your child to deal with much else. If they just started a new after school program, then you may want to hold off Any transition takes time and energy to handle. So it is helpful to have as few unnecessary transitions and changes as possible. While training your child in accepting small changes to routine throughout the day in a small scale, big changes can affect your child deeply and for a long time.

4. Find Ways of Communicating Frustration Appropriately

Be the example for your children and share how you positively navigate change and stress. Tell stories of times you felt scared because of change, and how everything worked out just fine. If something is bothering them, give them the space to talk with you. Then, ask helpful questions along the way. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” ask questions like, “How are you feeling about moving next month?” The more they understand that they can talk with you, the less they will act out inappropriately, because now they have a safe space to release all those feelings.

5. Involve Them Everywhere You Can

If you’re moving, let them pick out the paint color of their new room. If they’re starting at a new school, let them pick out their clothes for the first day. And if there is a sudden change in plans, have a couple “plan b” choices. This kind of involvement is not only empowering, it gives them a level of ownership and control that they may not have experienced otherwise. These choices are ways that your children can protect themselves and work against the overwhelming feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety. By involving them directly, you give them power and agency in a world that can sometimes feel out of their control.

We’re Here to Help!

Our clinicians specialize in treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children, teens, and adults at our office in Fort Collins. Feel free to give us a call to learn how counseling or a psychological evaluation can help. Call us today schedule an appointment. You can reach us at (970) 889-8204 or contact@coloradocac.com.

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family counseling fortcollins

Is Family Counseling Right for Your Family? 5 Signs It May Help

When parents call our office, there’s a problem and they’re looking for help. Many parents want resources and support for just one of their children. For specialized services like psychological testing, you need an individualized focus on one child. But for some circumstances, it helps to have everyone in the family on the same page.

What is Family Counseling?

Family counseling is a particular approach to psychotherapy. Instead of addressing problems on an individual basis, family counseling recognizes that the problem impacts a number of people–not just one person. Counseling sessions can look like the whole family sitting together, or it can be many appointments spread out for each person. Whatever it looks like, the support is for all family members and really works on the family system as the means for change rather than just targeting one person in the family. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what the best first step should be. If you are unsure whether or not family counseling will help your family, ask yourself these questions:

Is Communication Difficult?

Instead of healthy and direct communication between every family members, some families have developed this intricate network of communication. Some families just don’t talk to each other. Whatever the reason, strain in communication leads to misunderstanding, resentment, and anxiety. If your child doesn’t understand what’s going on, that places a great deal of fear and confusion in their mind. Many children interpret a lack of communication as a sign that it’s up to them to take care of themselves. Trust is hard to come by when people can’t talk to each other.

Can Everyone Be In the Same Room?

Maybe this is your family: Everyone comes home from school and work and goes into their own private space to do their own thing. The tv is on, but no one is really watching it, everyone is on their phones, and no one really thinks about being together. Then, when a family member tries to get everyone together, it just feels awkward. It is important for everyone to have the space to decompress after a long day, and develop their own individual interests. Being at home can become a very isolating and individualized. Sometimes families need support and solutions to shift into healthier relating. Sometimes you just need one good idea to get everyone in the same room.

Does It Feel Like Everyone is Always Busy?

It can seem like everyone is always doing something. Everyone has their own agenda to keep. While life is busy for children, especially during the school year, parents can fill up their days and nights too. This can get to a point where everyone is so busy that people just don’t see each other. Parents simply say hello and goodbye as their schedules intersect. And the hope is that things will calm down at some point. But as we all know, things won’t calm down. With life is busy, children struggle with anxiety, because they have no down time to reset. They struggle with sleep. Their emotions are short. And there’s more outbursts at school.

A family schedule can overtake a family. So, if your family has a value of being together and loving each other, then you need to be intentional in resisting the constant drive of activity. It is so easy to fill every minute of every day with something. Oftentimes the solution is figuring out what your family’s priorities are and then making decisions as to what stays on the schedule and what doesn’t. Sometimes you need support in slowing down.

Is One Family Member’s Problem/Issue Affecting Everyone?

Everyone affects everyone. If a member of your family has an issue or situation where they need individual counseling, then your family may also need counseling. This is especially true if a family member has these following issues.

  • Addiction and substance abuse
  • Suicidal attempts or ideation (thinking and planning)
  • A debilitating disease or ongoing sickness
  • Personality disorders (borderline personality, narcissism, etc.)
  • Emotional disorders (bipolar, anxiety, depression, etc.).

Has There Been A Significant Event or Trauma?

While everyone experiences grief and pain differently, a family shares in those experiences. Whether there was a death in family, a divorce, or a traumatic experience, it can make such a difference if the entire family has support through the grief process. Sometimes children need the space and tools to express how the event made them feel. Moreover, parents need ideas on how to navigate their children’s emotions. Grief and tragedy don’t have to be isolating. A good family counselor will be able to show you how something like this can bring your family that much closer together.

We’re Here to Help!

The Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling offers family counseling, parent guidance, and counseling for children as young as 5 years old. Don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free 30 minute consultation with one of our child specialists or family therapists. Call us: (970) 889-8204, or email us: contact@coloradocac.com.

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