Annemarie K Lange LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor 


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Speaking the language of adolescence

Posted on May 17, 2016 at 9:37 AM Comments comments ()
Speaking the language of adolescence

What language does my adolescent speak? Sound familiar?  

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with an adolescent, or heck, if you’ve ever been an adolescent yourself, you’ve probably asked yourself this very question! One major difference, though, between you as the parent and your son/daughter as the adolescent is the major shift in communication with the inclusion of modern technology.

Modern technology - phones, computers, tablets, social media - has changed parenting and has changed the way we interact with each other and the way our children interact with their peers and their family members. Your teens today use their devices as a “go to” means of communicating. You may not prefer that, but that’s the reality! This shift has produced a whole new language that as their loved ones, we also must learn in order to effectively communicate and maintain strong connections.

How often do you hear your son/daughter say they “talked to a friend for hours”, when in face it was all through text or social media. I’ve worked with many teenagers who report increased confidence and comfort in texting to initiate conversation rather than talking in person.  There can be benefit to this type of communication but it’s important to remember, communication is only partially complete with words alone. Upwards of 90% of communication is non verbal - not what we say at all but how we say it - emotion is communicated through non verbals including tone of voice, inflection and body language. This leaves much room for misinterpretation.

Teens are in a constant state of transition. They live between childhood and adulthood. How do we help to blend these two worlds and make this time most comfortable for everyone?

Meaningful, face to face interactions are still important and valued by teenagers. Some of the work is finding and making the most of those opportunities while embracing and learning what role technology plays for your son/daughter.

Consider the following suggestions that I’ve seen work positively with some of the families in my practice:

  • Use technology to help you communicate more with your teens - send them funny texts; let them share with you an article or video they found and liked on the internet.  Watch it with them and laugh with them!

  • Adolescents are more emotionally mature and capable of more mature conversations than their younger selves.  They will respond positively when treated with respect and spoken to directly. Remember you can use more “grown up” language with your teens and trust them more so you can explain why certain rules and boundaries are necessary.

  • Be available when they are ready to talk. This is a tough one. It may not always be when you’re ready to talk. Let’s be honest, it rarely is! A consistent complaint I hear from my teenage clients is their parent is a “nag, doesn’t let it go or preaches”. I often suggest to these parents that they break down difficult conversations. For instance, open up the conversation in a non threatening manner, gauge openness to discuss and ask when would be good time to check back in with your son/daughter to talk some more.  This approach provides opportunity for your teen to think about how they feel, too, before responding, remembering that teens are wired to respond more impulsively.

  • Regular family dinners are so important. Agree as a family (parents included!) to put all electronics away during that vital time to reconnect after your busy day.  

Most importantly, remember that your teen is always looking for mentors to admire and look up to. By embracing the new technology enriched generation, you’ll provide an expressed interest and investment in their life. It is our role to meet our adolescents where they are and help them to navigate the many conflicting messages they receive, both in their internal and external worlds.

Benefits of Journaling

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 9:26 AM Comments comments ()
Journaling can be incredibly beneficial to relieve stress, regulate emotion and organize your thoughts. How to begin? Start with whatever is on your heart - try not to pay attention to punctuation or how eloquent is sounds. Remember this is an activity just for YOU. 
Looking for some "starters"? Here are a few suggestions. I'd love to hear your thoughts on journaling - what works for you, what doesn't?

Hope is.....
Happiness is......
My wellness is connected to......
When I picture a happy life I see......
What makes me a good mom/dad, wife/husband, friend, a good daughter/son, etc.....
Some of my strengths are.....(give detailed examples and why you view these as personal strengths)
I have a lot to offer myself, others, the world because......


Posted on June 19, 2013 at 10:42 PM Comments comments ()
It's hard to live in a daily state of unwell. Sometimes the best comfort comes not from pills but from people.  Make every effort to surround yourself with the right type of people!  You know the kind I mean....the ones that aren't afraid to hear about your aches/pains, the ones that can laugh with you one moment and cry with you the next!  

Even during the moments you're feeling well, someone who lives with a chronic illness can feel it looming.  The pill bottles are staring at you, the machines are in the corner of the room, the doctors appointments are on the calendar.  But still, you're LIFE goes on!  And it goes on well and healthy and happy!  You're healthy may look different than someone else's happy......isn't that part of what makes us unique, wonderful individuals?!  

Your unique experiences have made you who you are - good, bad and indifferent!  How do we embrace those experiences, forgive ourselves, forgive others, accept our present as a new opportunity, grieve what we have lost?  

LIFE blooms through chronic illness;  HOPE is ever present as each day provides new opportunity for healing emotionally and physically;  HOPE is redefining oneself;  HOPE is knowing there is a brighter tomorrow;  HOPE is acceptance;  HOPE is love;  HOPE is........

What hope means

Hope is bright shining light which keeps darkness at the bay
Hope is gentle cold breeze on a hot summer day

Hope is to remain positive when going gets tough
hope is seeking more when others think u had enough

What hope means

Hope is dreaming of tommorow
Hope is simmering under sorrow

Hope is sparkles when tears in our eyes
Hope is a beautiful thing & beutiful things never dies

What hope means

Hope is as light as a feather
Hope keeps all of us together

Hope is ubiquitous and free of cost
hope is the last thing ever lost..... 

Vineet Bansal

But she doesn't look sick

Posted on May 5, 2013 at 8:56 PM Comments comments ()
But she doesn't look sick?!  Have you ever used your handicapped parking sign and gotten "those looks".  Like we should be able to spot a mile away who is sick enough to be able to use a handicapped sign.  

Here's the startling reality folks, the majority of chronically ill people look just like you and I.  In fact, sometimes they are the images we strive to become.  How often have you seen a person on the street or on the beach and thought "how do they stay so thin?"?  Consider the possibility they stay thin due to their illness, despite their daily efforts to gain weight.

Remember the age old saying, Don't judge a book by its cover?  The simple fact is, you just never know what someone else is going through even if they look "normal"!  Increased awareness of chronic illness is so important; as a society, we need to stop making assumptions on what is only skin deep.  The physical and emotional sides of chronic illness speak volumes - way more than the skinny girl on the beach or the seemingly healthy guy who just parked in the handicapped spot at the mall!

Some suggestions for remaining open minded: 
  • Ask someone "how are you" and take a minute to really hear their answer
  • Make no assumptions!!
  • Recognize there are many different reasons for an individuals appearance/presentation
  • Talk with someone living with chronic illness - take a moment to "walk in their shoes"
  • Honest compassion, friendship and support helps!  Pity does not......offer your love and support as often as you can, even in the smallest of gestures 

Maternal Mental Health

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 6:57 AM Comments comments ()
Happy May!  A new month, a new season!  While flowers are blooming all around us, so are mothers and families!  May is maternal mental health awareness month so let us embrace and celebrate them! 

Maternal wellness encompasses a variety of elements.  There's physical wellness, of course.  As moms, we try our best to follow up with our OB/GYN's, our family physicians, eye doctors, etc.  What else constitutes a mothers' wellness?  Community outreach?  Playgroups?  Getting the laundry done....checking off all of the to do's?  Dare I mention.....the mothers' mental health?!  

A new mother is more at risk of developing depression or anxiety in the months following childbirth than at any other point in her life!  It is imperative that we make maternal mental health a priority in our follow up care to new families.  This can occur in a variety of settings - OB/GYN offices, pediatricians, moms groups and support groups. 

Maternal mental health is not just important to new moms but to "established" moms as well!  It can be a struggle to define yourself beyond a mom once you've stayed home to raise you children for a number of years.  Now that the older kids are in school all day, what's your role?  This disconnect from where you found yourself for so many years can be very disorienting.  Without the proper education, support and nurturing, these moms are at risk for depression, anxiety and struggles with low self esteem.  It's vitally important that we support these women in the next chapter of their life - mom and also a new woman with a new sense of purpose!  

So, as you're buying that Mother's Day card for your mom, wife, sister, consider what you're personal message of support will be for that special woman in your life.  Will you support her mothering, her personal and/or professional dreams, her creativity?  

Because the expressed support of our loved ones means so much more than they know...... 

Speaking in code

Posted on April 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM Comments comments ()
How are you doing today?  We all hear that question repeated throughout the day.  What's the typical response?  "I'm good. You?".  

Now say you haven't been feeling well or you just had surgery and someone asks how you're doing.  You may respond a bit more honestly telling them about your discomfort.  "I feel awful.  It hurts just to get out of bed.  I've never felt like this before."  Now, imagine that discomfort, multiply it by 10, add a dozen or more pills and daily treatments and you'll begin to understand a little about what life is like with chronic illness.  

The illustration here  helps to give some insight into the daily struggles of those who live with chronic illness/chronic pain everyday.  They tend to speak in a code, a secret language that only those who are very close to them can begin to understand.  I heard someone just the other day refer to this type of smile as a plastic smile.  A smile we plaster onto our faces despite how we're feeling and continue on. 

Do not assume your loved one is not experiencing pain when they say that they are fine.  They're constantly struggling with living a "normal" life and keeping their suffering private, in part due to the lack of understanding in others or not wanting to burden others. It's difficult to find the right words to describe their pain, both physical and emotional.  

Speaking from personal experience with chronic illness, it's vital to have friends who can laugh with you one moment and cry with you the next!  Chronic illness, if nothing else, is unpredictable and the relationships you build along the way are so very important!  More on the role of the caregiver and social support next time.......


Best time of your life???

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 9:53 PM Comments comments ()
Congratulations!  Isn’t this just the best time of your life?!  You must be so happy!  These early moments are so precious! 

Sound familiar?  Are you hearing these words from your friends & family and not really feeling “right”?  Are you struggling with how you “should” be feeling and how you actually are feeling about being a new mom?  Well, you are not alone!  Many women (at least 1 in 7) experience some form of postpartum stress, anxiety, and mood disorders. 

The bad news:  this feels pretty terrible right now.  You’re not sleeping, you’re feeling sad/lonely/anxious, you’re not feeling very connected to your baby and who is that person you’re living with?  Oh, that’s your partner!  Remember him/her?  It can be tough on the marriage too!

The great news:  THERE IS HELP!  This is not something you need to struggle with alone and, with treatment, you will feel better!  Your mood will improve, your relationships will improve, you will feel like “you” again! 

It takes an incredible amount of strength and courage to stand up and say “I’m not feeling right and I need some help”.  When you’re ready to take that leap, I’m ready to catch you! 

Our wellness

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 10:08 PM Comments comments ()
I'm thrilled to be a part of a wonderful wellness center in Berwyn, PA!  Primary Chiropratic Center in Berwyn offers a wide range of services to address all your needs, both physically and emotionally!  Some of the practitioners in the group include a chiropractor, massage therapist, harpist therapist, nutritionist, homeopathic counseling and breast thermography!  

I'm so fortunate to be associated with this group of women!  When we naturally take care of our bodies and our spirits, our lives are healthier, more productive and overall, happier!  

Stay tuned for more information and special events on the wellness center as well as articles and commentary on relevant information to my practice!