Raising an adolescent comes with its fair share of challenges, but one of the greatest rewards is their growing ability to comprehend complex thought. 

From the ages of 12-18, children stop seeing the world in “black and white” and begin exploring their own identities, thoughts, and opinions. This is a psychological stage known as cognitive growth, and while it can be a positive period of independence for a teenager, it can also be a time of potential risk. 

This is because the part of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking has not fully developed yet. Although many stereotypes associated with adolescents are very broad and don’t apply to every child, there is actually research to prove that impulsive behavior is normal for growing teens. 

But how do we approach them when their brains literally cannot even understand us? How can we let them make healthy mistakes without putting them at risk? 

Although adults are past the stages of understanding what they’re thinking, empathizing with developing teens can prevent life altering mistakes later on. Here is some advice to help you guide a growing adolescent, especially between the ages of 12-16. 

Encourage a Healthy Home Environment

Teens think and act very differently than younger children, but they will never stop looking up to you as a role model, even if they won’t admit it. Every family dynamic is different, whether you are a single-parent household or consist of a blended partnership. What matters is how you make your home a safe and positive environment.

For example, simply telling your child not to drink alcohol or relying on teachers to do the work for you will not stop them from doing anything. This is not just because they want to rebel, it has everything to do with their psychology. Since they do not know why it is bad for them to drink prematurely, they do not see any reason not to other than a bunch of adults keeping them from doing it. 

Instead of relying on punishments to keep your child from going to parties, make it a safe place to rely on if they make a mistake. They will inevitably do things that neither of you like, but instead of making it a completely negative experience, offer it up as an opportunity to grow with your child. 

If your teen comes home past curfew, save the discipline for later and make it clear that you’re happy they’re home safe. Listen with empathy, practice fair discipline, and be a positive role model. 

Be Honest

As mentioned previously, simply talking to your teen won’t prevent them from trying risky things. However, being authentic about these dangers may stop them from participating in permanently damaging behaviors. 

Have deeply authentic and open conversations about sex, alcohol, and drugs. Be very clear about what can happen if these actions are taken without using it as a fear tactic. 

However, part of honesty is also being clear about your boundaries. Make it very evident that these kinds of behaviors cannot happen in your house, and establish boundaries that they and their friends must respect when under your supervision. 

State the consequences that will follow if they choose not to listen and why they must be set (e.g. when you are leaving this house, you cannot drive with more than one person under the age of 18 because it is against the law, and you may risk someone else’s life as an inexperienced driver). 

While it is out of your control what happens away from your house, you should also encourage your teen to recognize dangerous situations on their own (e.g. I will not get in a car with a drunk driver. If this happens, I will call a trusted guardian). 

However, you can still make it clear what you expect out of your child when they are under your roof, which can greatly prevent them from wanting to engage in risky behavior. 

Be Supportive

Although you may not always be aware of what your teenager is up to, if you set your parental boundaries in an empathetic manner, they may respect you enough to consider your advice.

Mistakes can and will happen. Your teen is human, just like you, which means that they may do things that they regret. However, instead of using it as a way to ridicule them, take these opportunities as a chance to bond. 

The greatest way that you can teach your teenager rational thinking is by allowing them to trust you. This does not mean that you don’t set firm boundaries, but it can include offering your child a safe place to turn to when they know they have made a mistake. 

These crucial years may be hard, but they can also be extremely rewarding. Cherish these memories, teach your child with compassion, and be patient.

Consuming alcohol is one of the social standards of adult life. It goes along with almost any sort of party or lunch or gathering. Work parties will serve champagne, football games always have been, and there are always lovely wine and painting nights. But while alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation, having too much can be extremely dangerous. 

Crossing the line between normal drinking and excessive drinking is dangerous for our physical and mental health, as well as those around us. 

Read on to find out how much drinking is too much drinking and what you can do about it. 

How Does Drinking Affect Your Body?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it suppresses the central nervous system so much that it weakens and undermines your ability to speak, move, see, and think clearly. This impairment of thought is often sought by people who tend to binge drink or drink to get drunk. It is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine, making its effects almost instantaneous. 

When you consume too much alcohol, it can affect your body in permanent and negative ways. Alcohol damages the liver and pancreas by forcing the liver to work an unhealthy amount of overtime trying to metabolize it and causing the pancreas to excrete toxic chemicals that can lead to pancreatitis.

In even more serious cases, excessive alcohol will damage the brain. It causes communication pathways to break down and be disrupted, which outwardly shows itself as abrupt changes of mood or impaired motor control. If this process is repeated enough times, then the damage becomes permanent. 

Drinking too much alcohol also makes you vulnerable to numerous types of cancer as well as immune system failure. 

Beyond that, excessive drinking and alcoholism are closely linked to anxiety and depression, with the person often looking for a short-term cure for underlying mental illness.  

Defining “Too Much” Drinking

But what exactly does “too much alcohol” look like? It’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot but at its core, it is vague and subjective. Drinking excessively to one person might be having more than one glass of wine while drinking excessively to another person would mean chugging half a bottle. Even doctors will give widely different answers. 

However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines binge drinking as a woman having four or more standard drinks and a man having five or more standard drinks within a couple of hours, and heavy drinking is defined as binge drinking at least five times in the past month. A standard drink is defined as 1.5 oz of spirit, 5 oz of wine, or 6 oz of beer. 

But, these are only official guidelines and the truth is that it’s far more individual than that. Differences in sex, body weight, ethnic group, and age all play their parts in how alcohol affects you. For example, people with more bodyweight will tend to have a higher tolerance to it because there is more space for the alcohol to spread through the body. 

Alcoholism is a step beyond even heavy drinking. This is when a person begins to depend on alcohol as one depends on any addictive substance. Feeling a compulsion to drink, a lack of control over the amount of alcohol drunk or the time spent drinking, and not being able to have fun without having alcohol involved are all telltale signs of alcoholism or alcohol dependency. 

A heightened tolerance of alcohol, so that you need to drink more to get the same effects is one of the earliest signs of alcohol dependency. One of the most easily spotted signs is the worsening of platonic, romantic, and familial relationships, professional abilities, and even the ability to take care of yourself. When binge drinking becomes alcoholism, it becomes an addiction, negatively impacting all other aspects of life.

At this stage, drinking becomes a physiological issue, not just a mental one. A person who is dependent on alcohol has little control over it and would need to get professional help in order to free themselves from it. 

But the good news is that there are a plethora of treatment options for alcohol dependency, from individual therapy to support groups like AA, as well as rehab centers if you need it. Alcohol addiction is frightening but it doesn’t have to be forever.  

Emotional abuse is a type of intimate partner violence (IPV) where one partner psychologically manipulates another, causing them to feel shame, embarrassment, and/or fear. Although it may seem harsh to label non-physical manipulation a type of violence, it can have devastating psychological side effects just the same as physical violence. If consistent patterns of bullying and abusive behavior are identified, they can cause enduring harm.

Even worse, many victims of emotional abuse relationships do not know they are in one. This is partly because people do not realize that intimate partners are the most likely perpetrators of all types of violence and abuse, not strangers. 

Prevalence of Emotional Abuse Between Intimate Partners

Emotional abuse affects people of every gender, culture, race, and sexuality. It is a worldwide phenomenon that is recognized by international and national governmental organizations as violent and threatening to a person’s autonomy and liberty. Although intimate partner violence affects everyone, it affects women disproportionately. This is why authoritative sources like the World Health Organization and United Nations often focus on the term violence against women even while acknowledging that it can also affect men and nonbinary individuals. 

Emotional abuse is the most common of all types of intimate partner violence, which is an umbrella term that includes stalking, physical abuse, and sexual coercion. According to a peer-reviewed partner violence study, about 40% of women and 32% of men have experienced aggressive verbal behavior in their relationships. Studies have also shown that younger people are likely to be the targets of emotional abuse and that men’s risks are increasing over time while women’s are decreasing (even though women are more susceptible currently). 

Signs of Emotional Abuse

What does emotional abuse from intimate partners look like? The answer can vary from situation to situation, but there are common features that may serve as warning signs. 

Rare, isolated incidents can be normal. But repeated and chronic ones are not, and are warning signs that you are in an abusive relationship. The difference between what is considered healthy and abusive depends on frequency, severity, and willingness to change.

Heated Verbal Altercations

When communication with your partner often escalates to aggression, name-calling, or yelling, this can be a clear sign of emotional abuse. The occasional fight may not be a sign of emotional abuse, but an indicator that couples’ therapy may be necessary. But unending verbal aggression can be frightening and a future predictor of physical violence.

Threats and Controlling Behavior

Controlling behavior is a clear sign of emotional abuse, especially when verbal threats and manipulation are involved. One common feature of emotionally abusive marriages and partnerships is economic abuse, which is the controlling of shared finances or resources to inhibit the other partner’s freedom.

Isolation from Friends and Family

Another form of manipulation, when a partner restricts another’s access to spending time with loved ones it is a sign of emotional abuse. Social isolation can include preventing a partner from socializing, insulting friends and family, and closely monitoring a partner’s activities and whereabouts. 


Gaslighting is a popular buzzword in popular culture lately, but in practice, it is a very unhealthy form of emotional manipulation. It consists of making a partner believe they are always in the wrong and at worse, makes them question their sanity.

Excessive Jealousy

Healthy relationships have clear boundaries and contain clear communication. If you are unable to talk about relationships outside of the relationship or are constantly questioned about your trustworthiness, it may be a sign of emotional abuse.

Blaming, Shaming, and Ignoring

These hurtful emotional practices can cause a partner to be excessively unhappy. If you are constantly blamed for things going wrong, shamed for your appearance or actions, or chronically ignored, these are also signs of emotional manipulation.

Symptoms of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse manifests itself both mentally and physically in key ways. These symptoms can either be apparent to the individual victim or friends and family.:

  • Increased or new anxiety and depression
  • Loss of sense of self and self-loathing
  • Disordered eating
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder after the end of a relationship
  • Several other physical and mental health problems

Therapeutic Interventions for Emotional Abuse

If you are in an identified emotionally abusive relationship, there are several steps you can take to escape it. The first is to acknowledge that you are in one and begin the process of healing. Before seeking professional help, it helps to make a plan: write down your feelings, try to establish clear boundaries, build support networks, avoid engaging, and plan an exit strategy.

Work with a Trusted Mental Health Professional

If both parties in a relationship are showing signs of being emotionally abusive, it is best to seek couples therapy from a licensed couples therapist. But if one partner is a perpetrator and the other the victim, it may be best to seek individualized treatment. Seek out an experienced professional who can help you identify the next steps and begin to heal.

Divorce is a word that many couples avoid as long as possible. Understandably, many people remain together to try to work things out or to avoid separating the family.

No matter how you get here, once you get to the point where you both decide to end your marriage, you inevitably have to face the challenges that come with it. This may mean a long road or legal bindings, financial obstacles, and emotional turmoil, which can be extremely stressful for you, your partner, and your children.

With that being said, you are not alone, and a divorce is a normal event that is sometimes the healthiest choice for everyone involved. If you are given the proper tools, support, and resources, you and your partner can amicably end your marriage.

Although navigating a divorce can feel like a lonesome process, there are several resources available to help you. Whether you need assistance legally, financially, or mentally, many tools can help you during this stressful time.

Prevent Stress

With a divorce, stress is unfortunately inevitable. However, it is also manageable. Everyone’s way of coping with divorce is different, valid, and personalized, so try to discover what works best for you.

For example, if you find joy in practicing meditation, prioritize a 30-minute relaxation exercise before meeting with your divorce lawyer. If meditation isn’t for you, maybe walking, reading, or a spa day is.

Validate Each Other’s Feelings

Although it may be hard to remember a time when you and your partner weren’t in the middle of divorce proceedings, you were in love with this person at one point in your life. Even if you may not always agree with how the other person feels, it is important to validate them.

Empathize with their perspective and listen to each other. Save tough conversations for when you are both emotionally calm and collected. If emotions run high, step out and take breaks to cool off. Divorce is an emotion-filled process and it can be difficult to be empathetic under high duress.

Prepare Your Legal Team

It’s not the fun part of the process, but it is necessary to prepare for some of the messier aspects of divorce. Hire a good, experienced attorney and file your divorce papers promptly.

Don’t create power struggles with your partner, especially in a legal manner. When it comes to matters of the heart, Involving your lawyer should be the very last thing you should do. If this divorce is not a situation where your life or personal safety is on the line, try your absolute best to approach marital issues respectfully.

Seek Out Mental Health Care

Divorce is stressful, but if it is getting to the point where you are having a difficult time managing your mental health, approach a professional. If you’ve been noticing a significant difference in your emotional wellbeing, please approach a counselor to talk about the divorce in a neutral, judgment-free setting.

Organize Your Finances

On top of everything else, filing for divorce is expensive. The process involves the division of finances and assets as well.  With that in mind, try to plan by having proof of income, assets, and debts ready before you even meet with your lawyer or enter the court.

File Divorce Papers

Unless your partner has already done it for you, you will need to file divorce papers to prove that you and your current spouse are officially ending the marriage. This is important for legal and financial reasons.

Reach Out to Others

Reach out to your friends and family, especially if you are having a difficult time processing the divorce. Because you have shared a significant portion of your life with this person, it can affect everyone involved. Your loved ones will want to help you, so let them support you during this difficult time.

If Children Are Involved…

The first thing that you and your partner should do is be honest with your children, no matter how old they are. They may not completely understand yet, but if you explaining what is happening is the first step to ensuring children have the resources they need to cope.

When it comes to you and your partner’s grievances with each other, keep it away from your child. Don’t put your child in the middle, and never use them as a way to get back at your partner. Remember, this is about ending the relationship with your current spouse, not their relationship with you.

Above all, let your kids know that you both love them, no matter what happens. If they express negative feelings associated with the divorce, validate them. Take accountability for moments of weakness, and allow yourself to amicably end the marriage without your children experiencing immense amounts of trauma.

Setting boundaries sounds easy but it is not. You need to be self-aware to establish healthy boundaries. It’s also important to have confidence in yourself. This will help you have the strength and willpower to establish healthy boundaries in all relationships. The creation of boundaries is an integral part of your identity and a critical component of mental health and well-being. Healthy boundaries can help people to define themselves and identify what they are ready and not accountable for at any given moment. Thus, your interactions with friends and romantic partners will be more fulfilling rather than frustrating.

Here are some tips that can help you create and keep healthy boundaries:

  • Talk honestly and clearly about your thoughts and feelings. Share your thoughts and feelings with your partner or friend honestly but respectfully when needed. It is sometimes hard to understand your thoughts and feelings. It is good to ask for a while to resolve it but do not use it as a tactic to avoid an argument in the future.
  • Ask your friend or partner how they feel. Each one of you is entitled to your own thoughts and feelings, and it is the responsibility of each one to put them in words to make them understandable. Thus, your partner or friend does not have to guess in any way.
  • Be responsible for your choices. Ask yourself how your choices – deliberate or accidental – might have contributed to the situation, instead of blaming your partner or friend for what you feel or what’s going on.
  • Voice your emotions without blame. For instance, it would be far better to say something like, “I feel discouraged and saddened by what happened tonight” rather than to say, “You made me feel ugly because of how you’ve spoken about me with our friends tonight.”

Creating boundaries takes time and practice, especially when you come from a family with uncertain or less-than-desirable boundaries It can be challenging to build boundaries, but it is a must to retain your energy, live in your truth and not get lost. 

You’ll experience more joy in your relationships because you will have learned not to hold onto uncomfortable emotions and the associated dysfunctional behaviors that bring any relationship down. Speak your truth and stay centered vigorously. You can better identify where the boundaries should be in your relationships. Doing so will make the relationship deeper and healthier over the years.

Parker Colorado Therapy and Counseling

Having a highly sensitive partner is a rare gift, but if you know how to make them feel at home with you. Here are some useful ways to help your partner become more open and understood by you.

1. Be patient for their response.

Highly sensitive people have vibrant inner worlds with many thoughts going on in their mind.  When you are waiting for a decision from them, do your best to be patient. Their minds are busy, and they may need some time than most.

2. Give them space for quiet time, alone time, or less stimulating time.

Assure your highly sensitive partner that you would be happy to prioritize their sensitivity.

You can soothe your stressed partner after a busy week by asking whether they want to meditate or go to bed early. Let them know that you understand their needs and that you want to share their unique world experience. If a highly sensitive person feels and hopes that they are safe with you, they let you into their soul’s richness and beauty.

3. Redecorate your home in a calmer way.

You can redecorate your home environment for your partner, knowing that your environment can easily overwhelm your partner. Put pillows and blankets draped gently on sofas and beds. Install dimmer switches for your lights. If you can, invest in soundproofing your walls if you live in a boisterous neighborhood or have loud neighbors.

The less stimulating the environment is, the better your partner feels. They can let down their guard and be there with you.

4. Be with them for when they feel overstimulated.

In some situations, your very sensitive partner may become over-stimulated to the point that verbal communication is difficult.

You and your partner can work together to create a signal, which may be massively beneficial. It might be a secret sign of peace, or your partner puts their hands on their ears. Whichever signal you choose, make sure that it makes sense to the both of you and that the signal is accepted when it is used.

You can also be present with them in a quiet room during a noisy party or even leave early when they become tired and overwhelmed.

Because HSPs don’t feel like they fit in the real world (due to modern life not being welcoming to the highly sensitive), you become much more appreciated in your efforts to better understand and respect them.

Highly Sensitive Persons Colorado Therapy

Are you or do you know someone who is highly sensitive? High sensitivity can be characterized as an immediate response to external (social, environmental) or inner (intrapersonal) stimuli, physically, mentally and emotionally. An introvert, an extrovert or somewhere in between may be a highly sensitive person.

Fifteen to twenty percent of the population are highly sensitive and process stimuli profoundly from sight to sound to emotion. The HSP responsiveness to sensory processing means that reality is “changed” more than other experiences. The nervous systems are no less sensitive than introversion, depression, anxiety or even autism, and process information more deeply because of a biological difference.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

So, what’s it like to be an HSP? While many people may occasionally experience some of these signs, a highly sensitive person is likely to “feel too much” and “feel too deep.”

  • They feel things profoundly and observe people well but may shield their feelings from others because they have learned to withdraw into ourselves. They struggle with sleep and anxiety, and they may feel angry or upset about social injustice in society.
  • In group situations, such as work meetings or parties, we can feel overwhelmed because of the number of stimuli, including loud noises and strong scents. This does not mean that relationships are not respected.
  •  If they watch or read negative media content, they may get upset. They hate programming with “shock” value (i.e. shows that are extremely frightening or violent). They feel unhappy after reading social media posts.
  • They may seek reassurance when they start new relationships, such as friendships or romantic partnerships, because they are hypersensitive to any perceived signs of rejection.
  •  On the other hand, they talk about negative emotions because of the amount of “drama” in their lives. They find it hard to accept feedback, even if it is offered in a fair and constructive manner. They feel like people will judge them, no matter what, despite a lack of strong evidence otherwise.

Although a highly sensitive person has many positive qualities, others can be overstimulated with more signs in the list.

For many sensitive people, emotional and sensory immunity techniques can be used to soothe and relieve overstimulation to control oversensitivity. Efficient communication skills are required to cultivate positive and constructive relationships for those who live or work with extremely sensitive individuals.

3 Tips to Better Communicate With Your Spouse

In a relationship, two different people can have different communication skills. Yet better communication can also be practiced because it is an ability that anyone can learn. Communication can make the most of a relationship or ruin them. By bringing some of these ideas into your relationship, you can improve your relationship.

1. Stop and listen.

How many times have you heard anyone say that? The issue is more complicated than it seems. When we are embroiled in a serious discussion or disagreement with our partner, it’s difficult for the moment to put aside our viewpoint and listen. Sometimes we’re so terrified not to be heard that we try to keep talking. Unfortunately, this kind of action makes it more likely that we will not be heard.

2. Make yourself hear your partner.

You’ve stopped talking momentarily, but all the thoughts you want to say are still spinning in your head, so you don’t really understand what’s being said anymore. You may find the situation funny, but therapists have a strategy that works very well that “allows” them to hear what a client tells them— rephrasing what a person has just told them (called “reflection“).

Do this too much, or you may end up pushing them away. Also, do not try this in a way that implies that you’re teasing rather than trying to listen seriously. Use this technique in moderation. Let your partner know why you’re doing it when they inquire, “Sometimes I don’t think I’m getting what you’re asking me, and doing that helps me to slow down my mind and really listen to understand what you’re doing.”

3. Be open with your partner.

Many people in their lives have never been very open to others. Many people may not even know themselves, or they do not know a lot about their true needs and desires. Being in a relationship is taking a step towards talking openly about your life and yourself.

Little lies become big lies. Lying may work for you to cover your feelings behind a mask, but it won’t work for most others. Pretending that everything is normal is not okay. And it’s about as useful as giving your partner the silent treatment about not getting what you want for the holidays. In the past, these strategies may have “worked” for you, but they all hinder good communication.

To be open means to speak about things that another person in your life might never have spoken about before. It means truly taking the time to listen and reflect on what your partner has to say. This may mean opening to a world of potential pain and disappointment. But it also ensures that you can be open to the full potential of a true relationship.

Why You Should Date Your Spouse

Dating shouldn’t stop at the altar.

In the beginning, the reason for dating is to get to know someone better to see if this is a good fit. Yet, for those who have been married for a while, they may see dating as a waste of time, energy and money. Rather, dating your spouse should begin with a desire to have a much deeper understanding of each other.

Here are some reasons that you may have forgotten during your dating phase that will hopefully get you back into dating your spouse.

Dating consists of:

  •  Fascinating and effortless conversations. Dating partners tend to value opposing opinions, and readily accept that they disagree over certain quirks. Most married couples presume about each other’s views and refuse to recognize that an individual may change as the years pass.
  • Exciting plans. Whichever partner takes the lead, the date is usually well-planned and may even come with one or two surprises. Instead of going to new places and taking part in new activities, married couples tend to go out to the usual places they’ve been going to for years.
  • Warm body language. A happy couple in a restaurant is easy to pick. They have intentional communication when they laugh and smile at each other. Married couples oppose or overreact to their spouse’s body language without checking their assumptions and reverting to avoidance and exaggeration.
  • Letting go of past mistakes. Dating couples let go of perceived offenses. They just break-up if things are not working out. In contrast, married couples remember past indiscretions which can lead to heated fights. Couples who date while married remain friendly, gentle, and respectable.
  • New and exciting adventures. Any new adventure would help a dating couple enjoy each other’s company enthusiastically. This is where many married couples are lacking in their lives. The passing of time will build years of bitterness, unresolved anger and lack of forgiveness. A boost in passion is just what is required to overcome unresolved problems.

How to Get Started on Dating

Plan a bi-monthly date night, even though it sounds uncomfortable at first. Use this valuable time to reconnect with your spouse.

If you don’t have a good connection, you may need to make the time to go out. Above all, try to add new things wherever you can–a new bar, a new game, or a new trip.

Ultimately, couples bond better with novelty, according to several love experts including the scientist Dr. Art Aron. Then, plan new places and activities together. Start small and see what happens. You will be on your way to feeling together again, by prioritizing connection in real, effective ways.