Tag Archives: counseling

“Accidental” Psychotherapy (Pedcast)

Today, I am going to tell you about an amazing experience I had last week. A longtime patient of mine, a 12 year old boy who I have known for a decade, came in for his checkup. I had reviewed his chart before walking in the room, an noticed that the last time I had seen him, he came in with classic anxiety symptoms of difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling anxious, and having headaches, and stomachaches. When I asked him why he felt so anxious, he said that the social aspects of middle school were overwhelming for him. The academics were easy but the fitting in with his peers…that was a whole nother matter as they say down in the South. After we talked all this over,  it was so clear to me and his Mom that he was exhibiting the somatic symptoms of anxiety. I suggested that they go and try a therapy called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” or CBT as it is known in the business. Yes there are medicines for this but CBT is at least as effective. Continue reading

A doctor’s advice: harsh or life changing? (Pedcast)

 

-Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com.  I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, the hardest working pediatrician east of the Mississippi, bringing you pedcasts… short, informative, entertaining mp3’s discussing everything kid:  subjects ranging from the crib to the country club , from the play pen to the prom….from diapers to the dorm.   Well, you get the idea. With his permission, I am going to tell you a story about one of my patients who we call Drew that I think you might find interesting.  I did.  So sit back and listen to how a visit to the pediatrician changed Drew’s life for the better.

-Drew’s story starts at a party at the University of North Carolina a few years back…when my daughter was an undergraduate there.  Sarah, my daughter and …the web master of this blog, was introduced to Drew at this party. When introduced, he asked Sarah was she related to a  Dr. Smolen, and of course Sarah answered yes. Smolen is an unusual name and I happened to have been Derek’s doctor growing up in Charlotte.  Derek then spontaneously goes into the story of how I changed his life…  you heard me right…changed his life.  As he tells it, he was in for his routine physical where, of course,  we discuss all the routine subjects… height, weight, BP, BMI, exercise, diet etc.  It turns out that Derek was overweight at the time of this physical and his diet was very poor… lots of sweet drinks and processed food.

–His recollection of our conversation was that I was rather blunt about his weight problem and his poor diet.  I told him he had to change his diet or he might well go into the adult world being overweight and in poor health I told him that men generally reach their peak physical capacity at age 17 years and if he wasn’t healthy then, when would he be?  I strongly encouraged him to stop drinking soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, and processed foods so that his weight would normalize.  He informed me that “he was a football player and that he burned plenty of calories.”  “Everyone drank these drinks”, he explained.   At that point we had a short discussion about calorie balance I explained to him that unless one runs marathons, keeping a normal healthy weight with excess calorie intake is almost impossible. “Our weight is much more about what we eat than how much we burn. “  I explained.

-You need to understand, I have these conversations all the time with teens.  I see about 5-8 teens everyday and diet is a big part of a checkup.  I don’t remember him getting upset or angry during the visit but apparently I struck a cord.  As he tells it, “ he was very angry when I left that day.  He felt that I had been overly critical of him and he resented it.”…buuuut , the message got through.  He said the other doctors just danced around his weight but I was direct and he heard it.  Maybe he was just ready to hear it or maybe he understood that I cared about him and really wanted him to change… but for whatever reason, he decided to take action.

– After that visit, he stopped drinking soda and processed foods and his weight quickly normalized.  Activity was not his problem since he was quite athletic… it was his diet.  The short conversation we had at his checkup had truly changed his life.

-So here is what I learned from Derek’s experience:

People hear messages when they are ready to hear them…Derek was ready the day I saw him

Showing concern for someone’s well being, even if what you tell them is painful, is worth the effort.

Direct communication is the most effective way to connect with young people. My rule is, listen first, then speak.

And finally, people in positions of authority need not be afraid to use their influence in a positive way.  Children respond to honesty and direct communication.  We owe it to our kids to help them with direction and guidance when we can.  Remember, someone did it for us.

-Thanks for joining me today for this edition of DocSmo.com.  If you enjoyed this podcast, fell free to check out the myriad of other topics discussed in this blog.  And if you really get excited, write a comment about this story or any others you find interesting.  Don’t forget to “like” DocSmo on Facebook, or to subscribe on either my website www.docsmo.com, or on iTunes. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping you won’t find it too strange, to adjust to inevitable life change.

Until next time