Inmates + Pet Therapy = Healthy Relationships

pets; relationship therapyFamilies all around the world embrace animals such as cats, dogs, fish, and gerbils- just to name a few. They welcome these small or large critters into their home because they make them happy and offer companionship. They teach children responsibility and friendship. But did you know pets can also do the same for inmates?

According to a 2015 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “When pet therapy is used in prisons a symbolic relationship develops between pets and prison inmates.” (1) Through pet therapy, inmates at a correctional institution were able to develop good relationships and promote healthy development and cultivate reciprocal empathy. Pets offer people so much more than something soft and cuddly to play with. Here’s a look at what your pet is teaching you about healthy relationships without you even realizing it.

  1. Be yourself. No matter what species your pet stems from, one things for sure- it’s teaching you to be yourself. There is no need to put on a show for guests. 100 percent of the time, your pet acts exactly like himself, no matter who’s watching. You should be too! Embrace the person you are and be yourself in all your relationships.
  2. Forgive mistakes. No one forgives mistakes like pets do. They truly forgive and forget. While forgetting may be something of its own challenge, certainly focus on forgiving. Learning to forgive in the same way your pet does can help you overcome obstacles that take place in relationships.
  3. Embrace silence. Silence is not always a negative thing. Your pet understands this! Embrace silence in your life and in each of your relationships. Often times silence allows us to breathe, rest, and regroup for whatever is next.
  4. Show love. Like a dog who greets his owner with a sloppy, wet kiss so too should you show your love in relationships. Take the time to regularly demonstrate your affection for family and friends. In return, they are likely to do the same back.
  5. Be active. Most pets tend to be active in life and we should strive to be too. Take it from your pet, and get active. Weather you choose to join a team sport, attend a gym regularly, or simply take a daily walk around the block, being active can help improve not only your relationships with others but also your relationship with yourself.
  6. Let loose. Your pet certainly doesn’t allow stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions to control their relationship with you. You shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to let loose every now and again like your pet and enjoy socializing with others.

Because good relationships promote growth and healthy development, (2) it’s time to take a cue from your pet. Like with inmates who benefit from pet therapy, so should families of pet owners. Embrace the relationship lessons your furry (or scaly) friend is teaching you and better connect with others.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

###

 

 

Sources:

Pet Therapy in Correctional Institutions: A Perspective from Relational-Cultural Theory, Relationships develop, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26083555

Coping with Shared Custody

Family CounselingWith over 35 percent of all U.S. marriages ending in divorce according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shared or split custody of children is becoming part of the norm. (1) But how do parents cope with shared custody of their children?

It goes without saying how challenging it is to go from seeing your child(ren) on a daily basis to half the time with shared custody. Oftentimes these periods when the child is in the opposite parent’s care, can lead to sadness, depression, and loneliness. To help you better transition to a shared custody lifestyle, here are a few tips for coping thorough shared custody.

  1. Stop with the “what ifs.” When you’re lonely and sad because you miss your children it can be easy to get caught up in the “what if” game but you should stop while you’re ahead. Asking yourself about what may or may not be different if you had only stayed married won’t change or help the situation now. What is, is.
  2. Soak up your time. When it is your turn to care for the child be sure to soak of every moment of your time with them. Get all your moneys’ worth, if you will. Whenever you have the chance be spontaneous with them and enjoy each other’s company.
  3. Document it. Like with kindergarteners who bring a family photo to school for when they may feel homesick, you should document your favorite times with your children and display them in your home. This means hanging photos of you and your children or displaying their artwork. Having small mementos of them will help make them feel more a part of the home even when they are not physically present.
  4. Invest your time. Often times parents of shared custody children find themselves with empty time on their hands. Though you may not be sure what exactly to do with your new found free time, sulking alone in your home is not the answer. Instead invest it into something enjoyable and that you are passionate about. Learn something new, join a team, or volunteer.
  5. Seek support. People need support for all sorts of life challenges including shared custody. Seek support in loved ones, friends, or even a professional to help. With the support you need you can openly discuss your feelings and any challenges you may have while embracing any aid they may offer you.

With an increasingly high divorce rate, it’s obvious why we have so many families living with shared custody. While shared custody offers the benefit of the child being able to spend time with both parents separately, it does leave room for sadness, depression, and loneliness to develop in parents while the child is away. Better cope with shared custody by keeping these 5 tips in mind and applying them to your daily life.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

###

Sources:

  1. Marriage and Divorce, Number of divorces statistics, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/marriage-divorce.htm
  2. Child and Family Coping One Year After Mediated and Litigated Child Custody Disputes, General topic information, 1994, http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/fam/8/2/150/
  3. Preparing Your Child for Back-to-School http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/school-rush.aspx

 

Mark Parisi

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical PsychologistDr. Mark Parisi is Licensed as a Clinical Psychologist In Illinois and Florida.

He earned his Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1991. Dr. Parisi went on to earn a Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology and his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) Degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology In 1995.

He is also certified as a Professional Mediator through the Association of Conflict Resolution Institute. Dr. Parisi finished his internship and residency while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1995 – 1998 and specialized in Child and Adolescent Psychology, Community Mental Health, and Traumatic Stress Disorders.  He deployed overseas to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, in 1997 with the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army as part of Task Force 2-87.  He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for his active duty military service in 1998. Dr. Parisi has worked post-residency since 1998 and opened his practice in the Chicagoland area back in 2000.

He has served as a consultant to schools and businesses on a wide variety of mental health topics.  As a child psychologist, Dr. Parisi has worked as a child advocate, as a consultant for Head Start, and as a pediatric evaluation and treatment expert.  He has highly specialized training in disruptive behavior disorders of childhood under Drs. Russell Barkley and Robert Brooks.

At his clinic, Dr. Parisi maintains a broad-based practice serving children as young as three years old and adults well into their golden years.  He provides individual, group, family, and couples’ therapy utilizing a Cognitive-Behavioral / Solution-Focused treatment style.  In his work as an I/O Psychologist, Dr. Parisi has performed personnel selection and job analysis for both military and civilian agencies.

In addition to his work as child psychologist, Dr. Parisi has a sub-specialty in geriatrics and has worked tirelessly as a champion for mental health issues among the elderly and chronic mentally ill.  He serves as a consultant to several area nursing homes and long term care facilities and designs state-of-the-art programs tailored to the unique needs of skilled nursing facilities around Metro Chicagoland.

Dr. Parisi grew up in Park Ridge.  He is married and lives with his family in Skokie where he enjoys family time, attending movies and plays, reading, hiking, and running.  Dr. Parisi is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Skokie Valley Rotary Club.  He presently serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserves and is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.