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Infidelity is a difficult hurdle to overcome in a marriage, but it is not impossible. No matter how long you’ve been married or how long the affair lasted, there is hope for you. One of the most effective ways to resolve conflicts after infidelity is through marriage counseling, like the confidential couples counseling services we offer at Family Counseling Associates. Let’s take a closer look at marriage counseling after infidelity so you can determine if it is right for you.

What to Expect from Marriage Counseling after Infidelity

If you have already been seeing a marriage counselor, the therapy sessions will proceed as normal. The infidelity will be a new challenge that you discuss in counseling, and your therapist will give you advice on how to work through your issues.

If you are thinking about marriage counseling because of infidelity, here are some experiences to expect:

  • Marriage counseling is 100% confidential and judgement-free.
  • You and your spouse will talk about your thoughts, experiences, concerns and frustrations at your own pace.
  • Your therapist will help you get to the root cause of your relationship issues – what sparked the infidelity, and how could it have been prevented?
  • Together, you will find ways to improve your communication and rebuild your trust.
  • You may pursue individual counseling in addition to marriage counseling to work through your personal struggles.
  • Marriage counseling isn’t just about “fixing problems.” It’s about finding solutions that prevent conflicts in the future and create a better overall quality of life.
  • You each get a turn to share your thoughts. Couples therapy encourages active listening and honest participation.
  • Your marriage counselor will guide you every step of the way, but you remain in control of the process.

The first therapy session is mostly an icebreaker, where you get to know your therapist and your therapist gets a chance to know you. Your therapist may recommend some homework for you, such as writing down your thoughts in a journal or making a list of your biggest goals in the relationship. This gives you a starting point for the next therapy session. As you progress through marriage counseling, you will uncover new topics to discuss and new solutions to work on as a team. The therapy is personalized for your relationship.

Goals of Couples Counseling

Every couple is unique, but the general goals of marriage counseling remain the same.

  1. Identify issues in the relationship.
  2. Determine the root cause of those issues (they’re usually not what you think).
  3. Find personalized solutions for each issue.
  4. Create an honest flow of communication that resolve conflicts and diffuses disputes.

If you are seeking marriage counseling after infidelity, this will be incorporated in the goals of your counseling program. However, it’s important to note that the therapy will not be entirely focused on infidelity. There are most likely many other obstacles beneath the surface that you can resolve in your marriage. Uncovering those will help you move forward after infidelity and improve your relationship as a whole.

To learn more about marriage counselor or to schedule an appointment with a licensed marriage counselor, contact Family Counseling Associates at 978-222-3121.

Having trouble disciplining your child? Does it feel like you just can’t get through to him? Every child and every parent is unique. Thus you must find solutions that work for your family dynamic. In this guide, we will explain how to find your child’s currency and how to use it in your parenting strategies.

What Is a Child’s Currency?

“Currency” typically referred to money – something exchanged to pay for goods or services. In this case, currency refers to something your child holds at a great value. This may be a tangible object, such as a toy or book, or it may not be a thing at all. For instance, some children value time they spend playing outside or watching a certain TV show. Whatever your child finds value in, that is his currency.

How to Find Your Child’s Currency

Some children have a more obvious currency than others. If your child is constantly asking to play video games, that’s probably his currency. If your child does not show profound interest in any specific object or event, think about what he or she reacts to the most. Does your child get upset when friends cannot come over to play? Does your child get annoyed when he can’t use the computer? Assess your child’s overall behavior to determine what his currency might be.

Using Your Child’s Currency as a Parenting Tool

Once you know your child’s currency, you can use it as a reward or a punishment, depending on the circumstances. For example, let’s say your child’s currency is playing video games. You could offer to get him a new game at the end of the school semester if your child maintains good grades. In the same light, you could take the game console away if your child misbehaves.

By understanding your child’s currency, you don’t have to worry about trial and error. You know what he responds to, so you can use it to your advantage.

Your Child’s Currency May Change over Time

As your child’s interests change, so will his currency. Thus you will need to adjust your parenting strategies to suit the currency changes. You may also need to adjust how you involve the currency in your parenting tactics. Instead of taking away a game console, you may need to limit your child’s internet access. Some games can be played through multiple devices, so removing one does not prohibit your child from playing.

No matter what you are struggling with as a family, your family counselor can help. In family counseling, you can improve communication in the household and resolve conflicts that continue to arise. You can also identify your child’s currency and learn personalized parenting techniques fit for your life. Contact Family Counseling Associates at 978-222-3121 to schedule an appointment with a family counselor near you.

A key step in anxiety treatment is learning how to stop and prevent a panic attack. Once you recognize the panic attack symptoms discussed in the first part of this guide, you can feel more in control of the situation.

In this part, we will focus on preventing panic attacks and treating anxiety attacks when they occur.

Panic Attack Prevention – Analyze an Unfamiliar Space

A simple trick you can use to avoid a panic attack is to familiarize yourself with any room that you are in. This is especially true when you enter a new environment. Take a moment to scan the room. Know where the exits and restrooms are, and assess the number of people in the room. You do not have to know the space completely. A quick scan will provide enough information to make you feel more comfortable.

How to Stop a Panic Attack

Your heart is racing, you feel dizzy, and it’s difficult to breathe. What can you do? Try these tricks to stop a panic attack:

  • Breathing Techniques: Breathe in for four seconds, slowly inhaling through your nose. Hold your breath for another four seconds. Then exhale through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat this until your symptoms start to dissipate.
  • Grounding Techniques: Identify sights, smells, and sounds throughout the room that you recognize. This helps you feel safer in the space because you notice familiar elements around you. Remind yourself where you are, who you are with, and that you are in control.
  • Fresh Air: If you feel claustrophobic or stifled by the room around you, move to a larger space. If possible, step outside to breathe in fresh air. If not, move to a larger room in the building, or a quieter space with fewer people.
  • Acknowledging the Panic Attack: Tell yourself that you are having a panic attack. Say this over and over again, “It’s just a panic attack.” You may start to worry that something more is going on, which will worsen your symptoms. Acknowledging the circumstances helps to prevent that.

Long-Term Solutions for Preventing Panic Attacks

The best panic attack treatment is prevention. The ideal path to prevention is anxiety counseling. In this process, you will identify the core sources of your anxiety so you can treat them head-on. Your therapist will provide personalized solutions for your unique situation. You can also find effective ways to control your panic attack symptoms.

Family Counseling Associates provides anxiety counseling and psychiatry services. Our therapists and psychiatrists are fully licensed. We will match you with the best anxiety treatment specialist for you. Give us a call at 978-222-3121 to start your journey to better mental health.

A panic attack can feel scary and overwhelming, especially if you’ve never had one before. In many ways, panic attack symptoms feel like heart attack symptoms, but they are not life threatening at all. Recognizing that you are having a panic attack will put your mind at ease, making the symptoms go away faster. Here are some signs of a panic attack.

Accelerated Heart Rate

This is the panic attack symptom that scares people the most. The rapid heart rate (your heart feels like it’s racing) may be combined with chest pains or heavy heartbeats. You suddenly become aware of your heart beating in your chest, which creates an uneasy feeling. If you control your breathing like we discuss in the second half of this guide, your heart rate will return to normal.

Difficulty Breathing

A panic attack can make it difficult to breathe. Throughout the day, your brain sends signals to all areas of your body to breathe, blink, move, etc. In an anxiety attack, your brain gets a little preoccupied. You need to focus on breathing to help your body calm down. Breathe in and out slowly, and focus on every breath you take. Soon your breathing will stabilize, and your panic will begin to subside.

A Feeling of Terror

Panic attack symptoms are similar to what you may experience in a hunted house or alone in the woods. There is a sense of impending doom, even if you are in a completely safe environment. Your fight or flight response gets triggered, and you feel the need to escape from your situation.

Sweating, Dizziness and Weakness

The sudden burst of panic may cause you to sweat or get the chills. It may also cause you to feel dizzy or weak. Think of the feeling you had the last time you caught a bad cold or the flu. Your mind felt foggy, your body temperature seemed beyond your control…it may have even felt like an out of body experience. This is similar to what you might go through during a panic attack. Once again, the feelings will go away once the panic attack is over.

Feeling out of Control

All of the panic attack symptoms above can make you feel like you are not in control of your mind and body. When the world around you seems far out of your control, you at least have comfort knowing you control your body. Now, that control seems like it is temporarily taken away from you. That is why it is important to learn how to stop and prevent a panic attack. You are in control of your body, and you always will be. You just need the skills to recognize the power you already have.

Continue to Part 2 to learn about Panic Attack Treatment and Prevention.

Moving to a new house or a new city can be exciting, but it also represents a major life change. As with any life transition, this experience can spark symptoms of anxiety. If you are preparing for a move or have already moved, these anxiety relief tips will help you through relocation. Read on to learn how to manage anxiety symptoms while moving.

Keep a To-Do List of Tasks

To-do lists are great for staying organized, especially when you have several tasks to remember. With the stress of moving, it’s easy to forget small details that could cause big delays. Rather than leaving that to chance, write down tasks as you think of them. You can keep the list on your phone or on a sheet of paper in your purse/wallet so you always have it on hand.

Proactively Prepare

One of the best ways to control anxiety is to be prepared. When you feel prepared, you are less likely to stress about an experience. In the case of a move, this means getting as much done as possible before your actual moving day. Start the process right now. There are plenty of things you can do before you move to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some tasks to keep in mind:

  • Find out what your utility deposits are going to be, and schedule your utilities to turn on before you arrive.
  • If you are renting, get your keys from the landlord before your move-in day.
  • Pack as much as you can before your moving day. Use disposable dishes and eating utensils, if possible, so you can pack your dishes. Keep an empty box to place items you cannot pack until the day of.
  • Make sure your keys work ahead of time.
  • Label your moving boxes on all sides, and clearly indicate which room they go in. The people helping you move will be able to easily put the boxes in place, and unpacking will be easier for you later on.
  • Keep a spare phone charger in your vehicle. Your charger may be hard to access in the moment.
  • If you are painting or doing any home repairs, try to complete them before you move in. Then you can focus on settling in.

Take a Break When You Feel Overwhelmed

If the stress of the move feels overwhelming, take a break. Give yourself a few minutes to escape from the pressure and calm down. If you feel a panic attack starting, focus on your breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath, and then breathe out for four seconds. Repeat this until you feel calmer and more in control.

Talk to Your Therapist about the Move

Your therapist can give you personalized advice on how to manage anxiety symptoms while moving. If you do not have a therapist, now is the perfect time to talk to one. With anxiety counseling, you can learn techniques that fit your lifestyle, personality and experiences.

For instance, you may benefit from journaling about your anxiety, or you may benefit from meditation. Your therapist may recommend seeing a psychiatrist to receive short-term or long-term anti-anxiety medicine. Whatever the circumstances may be, our professional team here at Family Counseling Associates would be happy to assist you. Give us a call at 978-222-3121 to schedule an appointment with an anxiety therapist near you.

Marriage counseling is designed for couples of all ages and all walks of life. Whether you recently got married or you’ve been together for decades, you can benefit from the lessons taught in couples therapy. With that in mind, you may be wondering: “What does marriage counseling do? Is marriage counseling right for us?” Let’s take a look at some common goals of marriage counseling so you can better understand the process.

Create a Positive and Effective Stream of Communication

Great communication is essential in a long-lasting relationship. However, those skills do not always come naturally. You must learn how to express your thoughts and feelings effectively. You must also learn how to understand and interpret your spouse’s emotions.

Just because you speak the same language doesn’t mean you speak each other’s language. This is something that marriage counseling can help you do. Your marriage counselor will act as an interpreter, bridging the gap between you and your spouse. Together, you can learn how to improve the flow of communication so you can resolve conflicts in the future.

Identify the Root Cause of Marital Disputes

Your marital disputes may not be as they appear on the surface. You may appear angry about your husband not doing the dishes, but really, you feel that there is an imbalance of household responsibilities. You may seem upset about your wife’s recent shopping trip, but the actual issue is the financial stress you’re experiencing. Your marriage counselor will help you get to the root of the issue so you can overcome your conflicts at the source.

Bring Closure to Past Disputes

Are issues from the past continuing to affect your relationship in the present? If so, you may need to bring closure to those events. Some issues, such as trauma, abuse, or infidelity, may be harder to overcome than others. Nevertheless, you can get through these obstacles with the help of an experienced marriage counselor.

Find Personalized Solutions for Ongoing Obstacles

Perhaps the biggest focus of marriage counseling is finding what works for your relationship specifically. Your personalities and lifestyles dictate what strategies work best for you. This may not be what works for another couple. Your marriage counselor will help you find communication and time management strategies that work for your lives. You’re not just getting generic advice – you’re getting a tailored guide from a trusted advisor.

Balance Stress and Responsibilities in the Relationship

We all experience stress from time to time. In a marriage, you have the opportunity to share some of that stress with another person so you do not carry the weight alone. It’s important to create a balance of responsibilities, including finances and household tasks. The nature of that balance is different for every couple. You have to find what works for you. Marriage counseling will help you establish a healthy balance that ensures both of you have a positive experience.

To learn more about marriage counseling or to schedule an appointment with a marriage counselor near you, contact Family Counseling Associates at 978-222-3121.

There is no denying the influence smartphones have on the modern world. By 2020, researchers estimate that smartphones will make up 2/3 of the mobile market, and 90% of the world’s population over the age of 6 will have a mobile phone. With this growing dependency on smartphone technology, it is only logical that people will develop an addiction to that wonder-filled touch screen in their purse or pocket.

But just how powerful is smartphone addiction in today’s society, and what role will it play in our mental state in the future? According to a new report from the University of Derby, one in eight people have smartphone addiction, and our increased reliance on smartphones only increases the chances of addiction in the years to come.

Smartphone Addiction: A Growing Problem Worldwide

Dr. Zaheer Hussain from the University of Derby headed the smartphone addiction study, where he and his team collected data from 256 participants in an online survey. The researchers determined that moodiness, loneliness, jealousy, and obsession with appearance were all indicators of smartphone addiction. They found that the more a person uses a smartphone, the more he is likely to develop an addiction.

An estimated 13% of participants showed signs of smartphone addictions. Those who had narcissistic personality types were more likely to be addicted than those who were not as concerned with physical appearances.

The study showed that the average person spends about 3.6 hours on his smartphone a day. 35% of participants admitted to using their phones in banned areas. Social networking was the most popular cause of smartphone use, followed by instant messaging and news apps.

Signs Of Smartphone Addiction

Smartphone addiction is a relatively new development, but it has signs similar to drug addiction, game addiction, or internet addiction. Symptoms of smartphone addiction may include:

  • Checking Your Phone Constantly, Sometimes Several Times Within The Same Minute
  • Feelings Of Anxiety When Separated From Your Smartphone
  • Increased Irritability When Someone Touches Or Uses Your Smartphone
  • Using Your Phone While Driving Or While At Work, Even If You Are Not Supposed To
  • Feelings Of Withdrawal When You Lose Or Forget Your Phone
  • Instant Compulsion To Check Your Phone After An Alarm Buzzes

If you feel like you have unhealthy relationship with your smartphone, you may speak with a professional counselor at Family Counseling Associates to conquer your addiction. Contact us today.

A child is known to grab whatever catches its fancy. However, an adult learns how to resist and not give in to the desire. Such conditioning is, however, absent in certain people known to suffer from impulse control disorder. Behavioral therapists and counselors can help these individuals cope with the problem by helping them to think logically and in a positive way along with assisting them to learn control and build new habits.

Who Can Benefit From Counseling

There is no surefire shot for treating impulse control disorder. Counseling as well as certain behavior modifying programs can, however, reduce some of the issues especially when the affected individual is a teenager whose brain and reasoning techniques have not developed adequately. Substance abuse patients are greatly benefitted by such programs too as they learn new habits to overcome the undisciplined lifestyle that had led them to become addicts in the first place. That is not all though. Patients who had suffered from stroke and other ailments of the brain are often left with judgment impairment and counseling can make them see reason thus returning them to a normal life eventually.

Techniques

The most effective type of counseling here is to condition the patient and modify his/her behavior slowly over time. There a number of techniques employed for helping the individual learn the rules for a number of given situations. The common technique of reward and practice is often used here along with imparting the knowledge about why the patient has to utilize the controls and curb his/her impulses.

The main focus of behavioral therapy is to improve the present behavior of the affected individual. The counselor emphasizes on the following while treating individuals who suffer from impulse control disorders.

  • Building and strengthening the accepted social skills.
  • Discussing and helping by providing tips on problem solving.
  • Learning to look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on instant gratification.
  • Learning to curb impulse through self discipline and self control.

This therapy has been effective in getting rid of addictions, certain phobias and eating disorders.

Types

The different types of impulse control disorder that respond to counseling and behavior modification therapy include:-

  • Dermatillomania- self damage of skin
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder- impulse acts of anger or aggression.
  • Kleptomania – act of stealing articles of no apparent value.
  • Onychophagia – biting the nails repeatedly without control.
  • Pathological Gambling – Continuing to gamble without any thought and ultimately suffering a monetary crisis and loss of property.
  • Pyromania- An uncontrollable urge to set fire without thinking of the consequences.
  • Trichotillomania – Pulling out the hair as it gives the feeling of being in control.

There are few more satisfactory feelings than realizing we have successfully accomplished one of the goals we have envisioned in our minds. However, procrastination so frequently interferes in the way and prevents us from accomplishing the simple day-to-day chores or long-term goals we set for ourselves. The question is what are the options and choices we have to deal with this recurring problem.

If we come to think of it, going beyond the limits of self is crucial to thrive in your personal and professional life. The motivation to win and constant hunger for success typically stimulate us to push the boundaries and accomplish more than we thought we could. Deadlines are definitely one of the most important ingredients that kindle creative thinking and prompt us to ‘think outside the box’. Though painfully overused, this phrase still holds true. To think outside the box, we must set ourselves against stringent targets and deadlines.

There is the popular perception that creativity and inspiration can be realized best when free from the limitations of time and schedule. But, it necessarily does not work that way. Ingenuity needs motivation and an absence of motivation can lead to laziness and a stagnant life.

Deadlines Help You Conquer Your Current Limitations

Have you ever witnessed an individual with one leg competing in snow skiing or running marathons? Their impressive capabilities are nothing short of a miracle as they have mastered their boundary and disadvantage of a missing leg to challenge them and grow. Conquering the disability became the powerful motivation factor for them. They were inspire and encouraged to take the challenge head on and get out of their own ‘box’ of limitations.

Most of us work under some kind of deadlines. They compel and encourage us to prioritize each of our responsibilities, limit procrastination, and ultimately help us achieve the goals in our life. However, more often than not, we have a complete lack of deadlines and goals in our personal lives. The trick is in imposing a deadline on yourself and following it through until you succeed in achieving the end objectives.

Start by writing down your goals and a ‘realistic’ deadline which is feasible to achieve within the set timeline and does not allow you indulge in procrastination. Then start working towards fulfilling the task and making your dreams come true!

If you are having problems setting goals and finding motivation in your life, our counseling services can help you find your inner focus, relieve debilitating depression and jump start your life in a new positive direction.

Netflix recently released the second season of 13 Reasons Why, a series which became a bit of a cult phenomenon with teenagers last year when it was first released. The original story was set in the aftermath of the suicide of a high school girl named Hannah, who left a series of recordings she had made talking about the 13 people who led her to ultimately take her own life. Each person represented a specific reason for her death, and she made it clear how each had wronged her in their own way.  After its release, there was a great deal of criticism over how the show depicted suicide: first of all, because it was portrayed as giving power to a teenage girl through her death, with her suicide becoming a vehicle for others to finally understand her pain. Secondly, there was criticism for how graphically her suicide was depicted. Both of these issues go against most training and literature on suicide prevention and there were concerns that it sent an unhealthy message to teens who may be struggling or may be triggered by graphic depictions of death, self-harm or rape.

At the very start of 13 Reasons Why, Season 2, there is a sliver of hope that the producers of the show had taken this criticism to heart and might be changing their tone. Rather than the generic warning about graphic content appearing on the screen, the episode starts with a more personal public service announcement from several of the show’s stars, warning of the specific graphic things that will be depicted, advising those who are struggling to perhaps avoid watching, and letting viewers know that mental health resources are available on their website. This seems to be a promising start, but throughout the entirety of the second season it never materializes into anything more than lip service to the concerns that had been raised. Many of the same problems that plagued 13 Reasons Why in its first season remain unchanged. I will highlight several that stood out as the most problematic and that may be of greatest concern to parents.

Mental Health Resources
One of the main charges against 13 Reasons Why, Season 1, was its failure to portray mental health resources as being a healthy and viable option for those who are struggling. There is virtually no discussion of mental health, therapy or of medication at any point during the first season, which is striking for a show whose primary story arch focuses on a teenager’s suicide. The only representative of mental health in the first season is the high school counselor, whose poor advice is coupled with cynicism and a failure to engage when he sees someone struggling. He tells Hannah, who has just been the victim of a rape and who is making vague comments about death to effectively “get over it.” In the wake of her death, he tears out the page from his day planner that shows that he ever had a meeting with her so as to avoid potential legal blowback.

The school counselor does, in the second season, become more active and engaged, attempting to atone for his past missteps that he feels may have led in part to Hannah’s death. However, the way in which he chooses to engage is reckless and couched in terms of being a moral crusade. He corners and threatens a school bully whom he believes to be the one who raped Hannah. He visits another student’s house to chastise and challenge his absentee mother struggling with addiction, resulting in a fight with the mother’s drug dealer boyfriend and the counselor’s subsequent arrest. There are other examples of this strange vigilante approach to mental health, which results in the eventual loss of the counselor’s job. In the show, by engaging in this behavior, he earns back the respect of his wife and peers who see this as proof that he is “doing everything he can to help these kids.” Portraying mental health professionals as either deceitful and uncaring or as reckless and impulsive is a dangerous message to send to kids who need to know that there is someone they can talk to who can help guide them thoughtfully and knowledgeably through life’s challenges and give them support and help they need in the midst of their emotional pain.

The only brief discussion of someone seeking therapy in Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why is with Hannah’s grieving mother. The second season follows the lawsuit that her parents have brought against the school for creating a culture of bullying, which they believe led to Hannah’s death. While being cross-examined, Hannah’s mother is asked about her own mental health issues. She acknowledges that she struggles with anxiety and has sought therapy for herself in the past. When asked if she ever thought to seek out therapy for Hannah, her mother retorts that “she was only a child,” but eventually acknowledges, hesitantly, that perhaps she should have considered it. There is no clear statement about how therapy could have been helpful, that addressing her mental health issues could have been vital, but rather only a resignation that maybe it ought to have been considered. Again, this feels like poor messaging and at the very least a missed opportunity to be a clear voice of reason, if only retroactively.

Graphic Content
The graphic content of 13 Reasons Why, Season 1, focused around two rapes and the Hannah’s suicide in the final episode. Viewers of Season 2 might initially feel that the concerns about the graphic nature of Season 1 were heard by the show’s producers and that they are in for a tamer experience. For most of the second season, it is tamer, although the rapes and Hannah’s suicide from Season 1 are discussed as part of the trial, and there are several scenes during which a high school student goes through withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction and is later seen relapsing. Comparatively, however, Season 2  of 13 Reasons Why is tamer than Season 1, right up until the last episode. The content of the final episode is so shocking and graphic that many parents have called for Netflix to take down or cancel the show. In short, a male student who has been chronically bullied and was instrumental in bringing charges against the football player accused of rape, is violently assaulted by the friends of the athlete as retaliation for his court testimony. He is cornered in the school bathroom and badly beaten, with his head smashed first into the mirror, then against the sink. Bloodied and dazed, he is then held down over the toilet while someone tears his pants off and proceeds to rape him with the wooden handle of a mop. The mop handle is pulled away and seen to be covered in blood afterwards, and the boy is left crying and barely conscious.

This scene, which is violent and obscene, is hard to watch, and has been the focus of much criticism – and for good reason. While disturbing, the story does not end there; in the hours after his assault, the victim goes home, cleans himself up, and begins to arm himself, dressing in black and filling duffel bags with weapons and ammunition. His evolution into a school shooter had been hinted at previously, but this assault pushes him over the edge. On his way into the school, the image of an angry, stone-faced teenager, dressed in black and carrying an AR-15, one which has become all too familiar in today’s cultural climate, is quite arresting. In the end, his friends intervene and are able to stop him and convince him to abandon his plans. While the scene is troubling on several levels, perhaps most troubling are his friend’s instructions to the others not to call the police, but instead to call a friend off campus who arrives, tires squealing, as a get-away driver, taking the potential shooter to safety and away from the possibility of arrest. Again, 13 Reasons Why shows a situation in which someone is extremely troubled, but does not seek help from professionals or make responsible decisions.

Cause and Effect
Aside from the concerns already outlined about 13 Reasons Why, the biggest issue that I couldn’t stop thinking about while watching was the show’s overly simplistic cause-and-effect structure, which is repeated throughout both seasons. Peers bullied Hannah; then she was sexually assaulted; this caused her to take her own life. If only someone had been nicer to her, had been a better friend, she would not have been driven to that point. If the school had provided a safer climate, she would not have been driven to that point. Anyone could have stopped her and therefore everyone is culpable. A male peer was continually bullied and then sexually assaulted; he became a school shooter; his friend told him that life was worth living and that he shouldn’t do it; so he didn’t. According to 13 Reasons Why, what caused Hannah’s death? Her sexual assault? Bullying? The school’s inadequate response? There is too much finger pointing and asking whose fault it was as opposed to showing how she could have been helped.

I can appreciate the desire to delve into difficult topics which teenagers face, but to present this cause-and-effect dynamic sends a very poor message. It is, of course, entirely fine to encourage others to be more thoughtful, more kind, and more aware of what others are struggling with, but the message needs to be more than that. It needs to communicate that suicide is not inevitable, and that it is important to seek help and to focus on becoming emotionally healthy. It is important to send a message that responsible, knowledgeable people are able to help and that we should be proactive in seeking that out, rather than waiting and hoping that someone else will step in and prevent the inevitable.

After the first season of 13 Reasons Why was released, I advised parents to watch it with their teenagers, and to require a discussion afterwards. Although there are problematic elements in the first season, I didn’t want to discourage parents from what could be a viable starting point for having constructive conversations about difficult topics. Having seen Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, I would advise parents and teens to skip it altogether if possible, as the show appears to have nothing new to say, and continues to present the same overly simplistic approach to dealing with some of the most challenging circumstances a teenager can face. It continues to show an absence of responsible adults: both the adults and the teenagers are frequently emotionally impulsive and short-sighted in their responses to the challenges they encounter. There is no guiding or corrective voice: nobody appears to challenge the two-dimensional understanding of emotional and mental health, of addiction, and of violence. Season 1 had potential to help create real dialogue between parents and teens despite its numerous problems. Season 2 seems to be interested only in rehashing old material and resorts to shock in lieu of substance. The only reason to watch the second season of 13 Reasons Why is so that you can be informed and be able to engage with your children if they want to watch it, so that you can be the one to offer the responsible, adult perspective that the show has continually failed to provide.