Book Review: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

This book is about getting over an eating disorder, how the author did it, how they helped thousands of others do it, and how they hope to help you or a loved one do it, too. They took on this project because they want to share what they learned, provide practical strategies and examples of what really works, and offer their own experience and that of their clients to facilitate your recovery process.

Here’s a quick review from the author’s site:

8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience is for anyone with an eating or body image problem. You don’t have to meet any formal diagnosis to benefit from this book. If you restrict, binge, purge, excessively diet or weigh yourself, exercise compulsively, or engage routinely and obsessively in any other food- or weight – related behaviors, the eight keys can help you get on, and stay on, the road to recovery. Although 8 Keys is a self-help book intended for those suffering from an eating disorder, it will also be informative and useful for family, friends, and professionals.

The thing that’s most interesting is the author’s transparency, honesty and structure in this essential resource for those of you struggling or anyone who know’s someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. This book is the type of support that is personal and can be read over and over, gathering little tidbits throughout each chapter. Eating disorders are a symptom of wealth and privilege but no less significant and debilitating. The author clearly knows what she’s talking about.

Thumbs up by Fonthill. Buy the book here.

Infographic: Cyberbullying

Definition: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation (PA), Parental Alienation Syndromw (PAS), or Hostile Aggressive Parenting

A constellation of behaviors by parents or caregivers that may impact children’s mental and emotional well-being, and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.

Both verbal or non-verbal behaviors can intentionally or unintentionally cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided.

PA behaviors deprive children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third person (like another family member, or even a well meaning mental health clinician) can become abusive to the child – as the alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing and often frightening, to the child, and can disenfranchise children of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychological coping skills.

Here is the formal definition as stated by Dr. Richard Gardner who was one of the original proponents of defining and fighting PAS

    The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.


Here’s what we typically see the child exhibiting

  1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
  2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
  3. The child is sure of himself or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.
  4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
  5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
  6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
  7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced.
  8. Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.


What to do if you think PAS is impacting your family

Educate Yourself

The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Conceptual, Clinical And Legal Considerations is one of the most definitive guides on PAS. It’s used by legal professionals, mental health professionals and family members.  This is the standard reference work that examines the growing social problem of children who develop an irrational hatred for a parent as the result of divorce. Resources should provide detailed information such as clinical, legal and research perspectives from respected contributors representing views from multiple countries and cultures. Resources should also address the effects of PAS on parents and children, discuss issues surrounding reconciliation between parent and alicnated child and includes material published for the first time on incidence, gender and false allegations of abuse in PAS.

Talk with your attorney

Not every family that has unhappy kids and parents has PAS going on. Ask them their understanding of PAS, history with previous cases where PAS was suspected, and what the outcomes were. Do not be affraid to shop around to find a sympathetic attorney. Having someone that believes in you will be critical. Here’s an example of the new breed of attorneys that specialize in PAS.

Talk with a mental health professional

Find someone that really understands PAS and all it’s manifestations. You will definitely need support and evidence that a clinician can provide. We especially working with professionals that know how to develop and maintain a team of professionals. Coordination with your attorney if vital.

Talk with your children

Ask them what is working and not working in your family. Encourage them to confidentially share their thoughts and feelings with a therapist or school counselor if they don’t feel comfortable talking with you.


How Facebook Can Kill Your Teen’s Future

Bare with us on this. Sounds a bit dramatic but, post something raunchy on Facebook and the unintended ripple affect can last years. We worked on a case where a Social Worker from the local county had posted some pics of a party she’d attended. Drinks, weird outfits, etc. But what really made up the minds of her boss that fired her within a few days of learning about the pics was the statement she made under the pics making fun of the poor and underprivileged she served. A client found the pics, emailed the social worker’s boss and, boom – no more job.

Here are the top ways in which Facebook can kill or at least mame your teen’s future:

1. College Admissions: It’s a bad idea to post dicey photos or racy prose on social networking sites, no matter how private teens may think they are. In a 2008 study, 1 of 10 college admissions staff routinely reviewed college applicants’ Facebook pages. Nearly 40% found content that reflected poorly on those prospective students. Here’s the interesting (and enlightening) part – It wasn’t that the teens posted nasty or hard core partying pics, they had simply written ugly things about the colleges they visited. Read more about this issue here.

Hint: Encourage your college-bound teen to clean up their FB pages, dump nasty photos, and post thoughtfully written content when they visit a college.

2. Peers: Friends, peers or just other random classmates can make life hell for your teen’s FB pages. Peers can easily throw others under the bus to administrators, teachers, or perspective employers.

Hint: This is a good time to educate your teen on the politics of social life. Be nice to others,  post nice things, don’t give them any ammunition and hopefully they’ll ascend into adulthood without FB biting them.

3. Legal: Facebook has been deemed admissible in many lawsuits making your teen’s postings have serious legal repercussions. Savvy attorneys now start out a case by searching online for information about plaintiffs, defendants, experts and witnesses. Read more here on this excellent blog from the law field.

Hint: Talk with your teen about the repercussions of their actions (yeah, this is not the most popular thing for teens to hear). Let them know that what’s posted on FB is fair-game in court if they ever get into trouble.

4. Child Pornography/Rape: This last one is creepy to think about but more common than you may realize. Posting and sending photos of oneself or friends in sketchy clothing or sexually suggestive poses is popular with kids, but if any of those posing are under 18, child pornography charges may follow. Example: In 2008 a 15 y/o was charged with child pornography after sending nude pics of herself to friends. At the time, officials considered charging anyone who received those images as well. Here is link to a more recent example in Oklahoma. It’s one thing to be charged with sending or receiving child pornography as a minor, but those charges in adult court may carry not only prison time, but a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. Same is true of rape. We are not talking about the type where an intruder violates a stranger in their home. If an 18 y/o posts pics and makes references to having an intimate relationship with a minor (17 y/o or younger), they could be in serious trouble.

Hint: Check your kid’s FB accounts periodically. What they may consider totally fine may be exposing them to some unintended consequences in the future (…and the internet does not seem to forget anything).

5. Career: Employers are checking FB accounts. In this economic climate with high unemployment, companies can cherry pick the best of the best. Teens may not understand that FB is not only a communication tool, but a means of building their personal brand that will last throughout their career. Tarnish that profile early and teens can be a significant disadvantage to those competing for the same jobs.

Hint: Find some examples of FB pages that strick a balance between connecting with friends and family and acceptable to show a future boss.

8 Stupid Things Your Teen Might be Doing

Seems like teens have no limit to their motivation and creativity when it comes to getting high, drunk while trying to win another rung up the social ladder. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more extraordinary activities your offspring may be engaging in. If you’ve got more stories from stupid teen activities, send it our way and we’ll post it. For now, let’s dip into the current teen-o-sphere and check in with what’s cool in their mushy minds

1. Eyeballing

Teens are creative (and stupid) as they find new ways to consume alcohol without leaving the obvious smell of alcohol on their breath. This new trend involves pouring vodka directly into the eye which enters the bloodstream through the veins around the eyeball. The result –  quick buzz. This can cause burning or scaring the cornea, and in some cases cause blindness.

Hint: Look for eye problems not related to sports or typical injuries. Might be wearing sunglasses more often.

2. Strangling

Here’s the deal – teen uses various restraints to cut off the flow of blood to the brain, depriving it of oxygen. After being released, the blood immediately rushes back into the brain and evokes a high, dizzy feeling. This is also being used during sex (with and without a partner) to enhance the sexual experience.

Hint: Look for unusual use of scarves around the neck, turtle necks (who wears them anyway?), or popped collars.

3. Gummy Bears

Thanks to a popular YouTube video, your adventurous teen now has access to a step-by-step guide on how to soak gummy bears in vodka and chomp on them in plain sight just about anywhere. The result is an instant buzz not easily detected on their breath. The candy is often consumed in big amounts, rapidly leading to high levels of intoxication. Teens eat them way too fast and way too many and get super trashed and at risk of alcohol poisoning.

Hint: Did your teen suddenly develop a sweet tooth? Keep an eye out for copious gummy purchases.

4. Tampons

Not sure who the first person to come up with this one was but I’m sure they gave their parents a major headache. Here’s the weird but true stupid thing – A tampon is soaked in alcohol and then stuck in a vagina or rectum. No alcohol on the breath and quick drunkeness. Besides the obvious risks to those private body parts, the tampon can soak up alot of alcohol and put the stupid teen at high risk of alcohol poisoning.

Hint: Keep an eye out for unusual amounts of tampons being purchased (especially those of you with teenage sons).

5. Handsanitizer

Inexpensive and very accessible product is easy for experimenting teens to get their hands on. Salt is used to separate the high quantities of alcohol found in hand sanitizer, which they then drink. They typicall get about a shot-worth of hard liquor.

Hint: Buy the foam type of sanitizer or ones that do not list ethanol as their main ingredient.

6. Car Surfing

Teen + Car Roof + High Speed (or low speed for that matter) = Broken something. Teens climb on top of a car, hold onto the roof, and pretend to surf while someone drives. Some kids have gone to the extreme, and tried surfing on top of trains and subways.

Hint: Check your car roof for footprints Sunday morning.

7. Purple Drink

Ok…this sounds nasty but when did we start assuming teens had really good taste? The drink is a mixture of Sprite, Jolly Ranchers, and codeine cough syrup. It can be super toxic and cause hallucinations, unresponsiveness, and lethargy. Combined with alcohol, your kid may have a big problem. It’s hit pop culture and been glamorized by NFL players and rapers.

Hint: Periodically check your medicine cabinet for prescription and non-prescription meds being used up in odd amounts.

8. Bath Salts

Commonly referred to as “Purple Wave” and “Bliss,” this drug contains high levels of mephedrone, methylone, and MDPV, three drugs that cause hallucinations when smoked, snorted, or injected. Until recently, these salts were often found in smoke shops and were sold legally in the U.S. This drug can cause paranoia, suicidal behavior, and chest pain.

Hint: Most of this stuff is sold at ‘smoke shops’ as incense.

Using Entrepreneur Skills for a Happy Marriage

Would your relationship be more successful if it were treated like a business?


Here is an interview I did that was posted on in August 2012. I sat  down with the good folks over there for a conversation about what to do when one or more spouses in a relationship is an entrepreneur.

What if you could take the working lessons that you’ve learned in the business world and use it to improve your marriage? Both business and marriage are something that require a lot of time, effort and attention to maintain. It can be hard to find a balance in life when there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. Learn how to transform your business finesse into techniques that can improve your marriage.

Listen to the whole interview here.


Client Feedback: Daughter with Substance Abuse

We came to Fonthill Counseling after our seventeen year old daughter spun out of control.  They helped get her into treatment when her behavior became unmanageable.  They saved her life. They coordinated all of the services that her care came to involve –therapists, doctors, attorneys, police, schools, hospitals and treatment centers.  They helped us put our family back together.  They continue to help us manage her transition into independent living.

– Anonymous NC Parent

When to Seek Treatment for Your Teen

There is no perfect time to place a family member in treatment, especially when they deny having problems. This, of course, does not apply to medical emergencies, but you already knew that. Below is a quick guide to help you be aware of some of the things we often hear from parents led to calling us or treatment providers directly.

Emotional Changes 

  • Increased and persistant hopelessness
  • Cries suddenly and often
  • Extremely angry outbursts that seem like an overreaction
  • Phobias or fears that seem exaggerated
  • States that ‘no one understands’ them
  • Child states he or she feels “controlled” by bad thoughts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety
  • Bizarre behavior (temper tantrums; rambling speech; paranoid)

Behavioral Changes

  • Grades suddenly drop
  • No longer interested in activities they seemed to love just months ago
  • Isolates themselves; avoids people, even those they use to care about
  • Changes peer group and avoids introducing new friends to family
  • Threatening suicide, even seemingly insincere threats
  • Significant change in how they express themselves
  • Destructive toward self, others, or property
  • Dramatic changes in appearance (clothing, body piercing, tattoos)
  • Change in level of hygiene (no longer cares about appearance)

If you notice any of these changes call us for a complimentary conversation. You can also call your physician and/or therapist/counselor. Ultimately, it’s better to act and be described as overreacting rather than wind up losing your son or daughter to their internal demons.

Book Review: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character

Ok, this is less a review of Paul Tough‘s new book and more a post to start the conversation since none of us have read it yet. The write-up in the Wall Street Journal was intriguing enough to make us want to put our two cents in about this little gem before our little Amazon box showed up. He’s taking aim at the sacred cow of how we protect our children from adversity which, in the long run, undermines their ability to creatively overcome obstacles and find true success.

Here’s is a short synopsis from the author’s site:

Early adversity, scientists have come to understand, not only affects the conditions of children’s lives, it can also alter the physical development of their brains. But innovative thinkers around the country are now using this knowledge to help children overcome the constraints of poverty. With the right support, as Tough’s extraordinary reporting makes clear, children who grow up in the most painful circumstances can go on to achieve amazing things.

This provocative and profoundly hopeful book has the potential to change how we raise our children, how we run our schools, and how we construct our social safety net. It will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.

The thing that’s most interesting is the mounting evidence that pushes back against the hyper-aggressive nature of early childhood rearing these days. Kids are thrust into soccer, violin, Mandarin, basket weaving and calligraphy, not because they are curious or passionate about new subjects, but because parents have the delusion that this is the  price of admission to Harvard, Princeton or Yale. Our clinicians see it every day – over scheduled, over-indulged, over-stimulated kids stretched to the breaking point. They develop eating disorders, anxiety issues and substance abuse problems earlier and earlier. Just check out a pre-teens Facebook page in any upper-middle class neighborhood if you don’t believe it.

Thumbs up so far by Fonthill. Buy the book here.

Comparison: IEP vs. 504



The 504 plan offers all children with disabilities equal access to an education.  In some cases this may include special education services, but for a child in a wheelchair it may mean a ramp or elevator to access the classroom.
The 504 is documented in a written plan.
Specific timelines for the 504 do not exist.
There are no requirements stating who must attend the 504 plan meeting.
Reports of noncompliance and the request for a hearing are made to the Office for Civil Rights.
The 504 does not offer as many specific procedural safeguards as the IEP.



The IEP is only for children who require special education services. The individualized program must meet each child’s unique needs and it must provide educational benefit.
The IEP documents contain very specific language and parts such as goals and objectives that are not included in the 504.
Timelines for an IEP are very specific and important.
A minimum number of IEP participants and who they are, such as administrator, general education teacher, and special education teacher, are stipulated.
Reports of noncompliance and the request for due process are made to the State’s Department of Education.
IEP specific procedural safeguards include, but are not limited to: 1) The right to request an independent assessment at public expense and 2) the student may “stay put” until a dispute is resolved.