Archive for Jennifer Madere

Erikson’s Theory: Stage 4

This post is the fourth in a series about Erik Erikson’s Stage Theory of Psychosocial Development. If you would like to know more about this series, go here. To see the second post on stages 1 and 2, go here. To see the third post on stage 3, go here.

Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority

In Erikson’s 4th stage, Industry vs. Inferiority (typically ages 6-12), the task is achieving competence.  If all goes well enough, children begin to build a sense of who they are (self esteem) based upon what they can do, building upon earlier developmental milestones.

“Look what I can do!” “I won!” And similar exclamations reflect the sense of achievement and need for that to be recognized that is typical of this stage.  Winning and losing are a big deal.  Learning to spell, memorize facts, complete a craft or science project, run fast, etc, build confidence especially when tasks are achievable and encouraged by caregivers.  If caregivers expect more than is achievable, don’t recognize achievements, or discount achievements a sense of failure, shame, or inferiority may follow.  Sad face!

If earlier developmental stages were completed less than optimally, individuals can begin to lean heavily on competence to compensate for earlier gaps in development. For example, if someone lacks a solid foundation in Trust vs. Mistrust, s/he may more easily gravitate toward over-focus on achieving in work or school, saying friends or relationships are not worth it.  Conversely, a foundation of good friendships and trusting relationships can temper the urge to win at any cost in the pursuit of competence and self esteem.

Stuckness later in life related to this stage can look like becoming easily discouraged or insecure when faced with a task/challenge, preoccupation with ‘winning’ or being good enough, and/or low self esteem.  Focus on “I’m really good at ….” or competition with others without good sportsmanship can also be indicative of disrupted development in this area.

Healthy or complete-enough development in this stage includes having a balanced and generally accurate view of self – seeing ones own talents, strengths and weaknesses, and knowing others have talents, strengths and weaknesses, too.  Being willing to try new things, persevere through long or complicated tasks, and try again after failure are all indications that development in this area is strong.

Therapy-related focus for individuals struggling with issues related to industry vs. inferiority may include SMART goals, enhancing and celebrating small successes, and healing unprocessed memories related to early experiences of self as incompetent or inferior.  You can support loved ones by encouraging their efforts and small success, letting go of comparisons, and accepting their talents, strengths and weaknesses as well as your own.

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Spring Suicide Awareness

It’s widely known that antidepressants (SSRIs) pose a risk to increased suicidality, especially when a person is just starting to take antidepressants or the dosage taken is increased.  That’s strange, isn’t it? Does not compute!  During those weeks it takes for the antidepressant to reach full effect, some people experienced increased agitation as serotonin levels increase, giving energy to act on thoughts that they previously did not have the energy to carry out.

It turns out that sunshine, specifically increased exposure to daylight, may have a similar effect on serotonin levels for some people.  See article (   ) Statistically, suicide rates are higher in the Spring – sadly, many in the Central Texas area have seen this all too well among teens and young adults in recent years .  Perhaps it’s not just Spring Break, upcoming exams or filing taxes that causes this agitation.

Through formal learning and witnessing clients’ experience, I see that the most difficult part of a journey is often not at the bottom of the proverbial valley. Rather, the most difficult part is often when we’re about half way up the slope and find ourselves fatigued, frustrated, and invested enough in what we’re doing that we’re irritated we’re not “there yet.”  Since we can’t yet see the results of the climb, it’s common to wonder if we can or should keep moving toward the goal at the top.  Similarly, we may hopefully begin a project, and give up or wane in enthusiasm when an obstacle is encountered and makes the initial goal seem (or actually be) impossible to reach.

When someone is agitated or discouraged, connection to others is one of the most important preventative factors.  Connection to supportive others provides hope that the current struggles will pass, or if they don’t, others will be with them through the struggle.  It’s important to take suicidal thoughts seriously and seek professional or emergency help when needed. For more information: or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1(800) 273-8255.


By: Jennifer A. Madere, LPC-S.

Posted in: Awareness, Counseling, Jennifer Madere

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Back to School Transitions

Adults and children everywhere are in back-to-school mode! It’s an exciting and stressful time for many. Exciting because it means a fresh start, new teachers and friends, new books, new clothes and embarking on a new step in life. Stressful because it involves many changes in routine, decisions, and potential for success or failure. Whether you’re a parent, a college student, or trying to help a loved one through this normal but still challenging transition, follow these tips to have your best year yet and avoid burnout!

  • Remember what works and what’s important, and put those at the top of your daily priority list. If you know that you need morning prayer time, having lunches packed the night before, getting enough sleep, or taking 5 minutes to sketch out tomorrow’s to-do list to stay sane, do it and don’t get distracted. Whatever distracts you can probably wait, and won’t help you to maintain balance.
  • Limit outside or extracurricular commitments to a specific time or day – don’t let the temptations of every sports team tryout, play audition, volunteer opportunity, or happy hour take over your schedule. One extracurricular or volunteer activity per person in the household per week is usually plenty, and still allows you to do those things that you identified as “works and is important” (see #1).
  • Keep overwhelm at bay by setting daily goals and encouraging children to do the same. For example, “I’m going to call to set up that appointment I’ve been putting off” or “I will complete my math drills before time runs out.” If possible, share goals as a family over breakfast or dinner, or while traveling to/from school or extracurricular events. Setting and achieving small goals builds motivation and confidence for moving toward long-term goals.
  • Sketch out an approximate schedule for the week. Now that you probably know recurring obligations, classes, and extracurricular activities, sketch them all out (on paper or electronically) so you can see it all together. Don’t forget to include time for homework, and maintaining self, health, and home. Let this be your guide for making decisions on spontaneous or additional activities.
  • Take time to listen and connect. Relationships often suffer when we get stressed or overwhelmed, but with a little effort they can fill us and keep us going. Make it a priority to truly connect with someone important to you each day – maybe it’s a phone call to a family member, pillow-talk with your spouse, 1:1 time with your child, or spending time in prayer.
  • Don’t ignore problems that arise – act on them prudently, but quickly. If a teacher or professor doesn’t seem to be a good fit, schedule a conference to discuss concerns and see if the situation can be remedied before everyone gets too frustrated. If you or your child seem to be struggling, arrange tutoring, peer mediation, or counseling to help get back on track.

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Is Intensive Therapy for You?

Recently we have begun offering couples, family, and individual intensives. This approach can be helpful for busy people and those wishing to work through a specific experience or concern. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs after reviewing this Q&A.

What is intensive therapy? Intensive therapy is when we meet for three or four sessions in one day, sometimes for subsequent days, to address and resolve an identified issue. For example, if a family or individual has experienced a crisis or disaster, a couple has identified an issue that keeps their marriage in conflict, or and individual wishes to resolve a past disturbing or traumatic experience. One or more clinicians may be involved in the sessions depending on the needs of the client (family, couple, or individual).

Is intensive therapy for me? Do you have difficulty fitting weekly appointments into your schedule, travel frequently for work, or want issues to resolve more quickly than can be accomplished in one session per week? If so, an intensive may be a good option for you. At least one intake session with your counselor will be necessary to determine the appropriateness and focus of a therapy intensive for your situation.

When does an intensive happen? It can happen at the beginning of therapy (after an intake assessment), or during the course of more long-term therapy. Scheduling depends on the counselor(s) involved, however, weekend intensives are possible.

EMDR and intensive therapy: Many professionals and organizations offer intensive therapy days or weekends using many approaches. Our training and the nature of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy allows us to address and resolve many issues and patterns quite efficiently during extended sessions or an intensive, especially since EDMR does not require practice or “homework” to effect change.

Contact us for more information or to set up an assessment appointment.

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