EP 40: Anxiety in Children and Teens with Shannan Blum, LMFT, CCATPCA, CEDS

The primary mental health issue that many counsellors have seen increase during COVID has been anxiety, which was already the number one mental health issue in the US. Today’s guest is Shannan Blum, Clinical Director at The Woodlands Recovery and Wellness, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional for Children and Adolescents. She specializes in treating individuals and families suffering from depression, anxiety, and relationship or family conflict, as well as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and difficulties adjusting to life transitions among others. In this episode, she shares her expertise and practical advice for those experiencing depression and anxiety and for parents who might be unknowingly exacerbating the anxiety of their children. Tuning in, you’ll hear from Shannan as she emphasizes flexibility over rigid routines and skill building over comfort and certainty, explains how she sees our outcome-based culture contributing to the anxiety that children and teens are experiencing, and shares her externalization approach to treating anxiety, which is in opposition with the traditional approach that says we should eradicate it. You’ll also learn about the invaluable skills that Shannan teaches, including mindfulness and self-soothing techniques, and the top four skills she believes children and teens need to know to tackle anxiety and depression head on. Tune in today to find out more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Learn more about Shannan and her personal history with family trauma and anxiety.
  • The certifications and experiences that have allowed her to approach anxiety and depression from a unique perspective.
  • Hear Shannan make the distinction between stress, worry, and anxiety.
  • How parents are unwittingly contributing to their children’s anxiety; how to help them manage uncertainty and discomfort instead.
  • Not the introvert’s dream: why the pandemic has been tough for kids suffering from anxiety.
  • The importance of helping your children build skills to help them segue back into school.
  • How Shannan sees an achievement focused, outcome-based culture contributing to anxiety.
  • While systemic changes could be made, parents have to decide to make individual changes.
  • When to seek a higher level of care, starting with a free professional assessment.
  • The value of keeping a log to track sleep, appetite, or medication during treatment.
  • Learn more about the traditional approach to anxiety, which deals with eliminating it.
  • Why Shannan tells her patients to thank their brains for trying to protect them and then move into the realm of positive creativity.
  • Find out how your depression and anxiety hijack your values; you are not your anxiety!
  • Shannan shares her approach, which centers around externalizing not eliminating anxiety.
  • The mindfulness, self-soothing, challenging cognitive distortion, and reaching out for support skills that Shannan teaches.
  • How to rally and use the energy of your anxiety as a resource; go on the offense!
  • Shannan explains why parents are not assisting their kids by removing obstacles for them.
  • Four top skills: dialectical versus dichotomous thinking, identify and challenge distortions, self-analysis, and mindfulness.
  • Why Shannan tells patients to exhale first; the tendency to hold your breath with anxious.
  • The reinforcement role parents play when their children are learning those top four skills.
  • The importance of strengthening bonds between family members when mental illness seeks to isolate them from one another.
  • Learn more about The Woodlands Recovery and Wellness, what they focus on and offer.
  • Ending with the success story of one of Shannan’s patients that demonstrates the importance of outing the stigma around mental health.


Tweetables:

“All [my] professional work has laid the foundation for me to be able to talk very freely and extemporaneously and in a lot of different contexts about social anxiety or general anxiety or different phobias that people might have and be able to bridge the gap in a lot of different areas for them.” — Shannan Blum [0:05:46]

“Anxiety demands certainty and it demands comfort. We often think, as parents, if I can make them more comfortable and if I can be more certain, their anxiety is going to reduce – and it will for a moment but, over time, that just makes the monster stronger.” — Shannan Blum [0:14:52]

“Battling the cultural impact [on anxiety] is really difficult. Usually, my encouragement is: focus on the skills first and the outcome second. The outcome will come.” — Shannan Blum [0:25:18]

“Anxiety is not a time-management issue. Procrastination is not a time-management issue. It’s an emotion regulation issue. It’s a very different framework.” — Shannan Blum [0:35:22]

“If I can teach you a process, the content [of your anxieties] won’t matter. I want to change the relationship you have to your anxiety.” — Shannan Blum [0:43:59]

“Anxiety and depression and all sorts of other mental illnesses seek to isolate family members from one another. If we can repair those [connections] and the parents and the kids can come back together, then they do that reparative work on an ongoing basis.” — Shannan Blum [0:59:18]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Shannan Blum on LinkedIn

Shannan Blum on Instagram

Shannan Blum on Facebook

The Woodlands Recovery and Wellness

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