The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground

On Thursday February 7th, seniors at New Trier High School will gather to watch “The Hunting Ground” – a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses. A notice has already gone out to all parents; and students are given the option to opt out if needed.   This film is informative yet startling as it chronicles stories of men and women who were sexually assaulted on college campuses and the lack of support they received from the administrations. Survivors banned together to create change at their universities and then grow to create policy change regarding college campuses and their responsibility to report these assaults through Title IX.  Discussing sexual assault (or even sex in general) can be uncomfortable for parents and teens. We’ve created a brief guide of information to know about the documentary and discussion tips for you and your soon-to-be graduate.

What is Sexual Assault?

Webster’s Dictionary defines Sexual Assault “as illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (because of age or physical or mental incapacity)…”

Sexual Assault does not only refer to sex it includes any unwanted/forceful contact that is sexual in nature.

Can We Prevent Sexual Assault?::

There are steps you can take to increase safety, but we cannot eliminate the possibility that it could happen.  Examples and strategies to increase safety are available HERE.

What Parents Need to Know::

-College may not be the first time your child has experienced or knows someone who has experienced Sexual Assault/forced sexual behavior.  In fact, 16-19 year-old females are 4x more likely to experience sexual assault than the general population.

– Sexual Assault happens to both men and women. Individuals in the LGBTQ community are at a higher risk.

-Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

– Sexual Assault is underreported.  The picture below shows concerning stats:

What Your Teen Needs to Know::

-If you are Sexually Assaulted, it is never your fault.

-Even if you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, sexual assault is not your fault, and it is unacceptable.

-We believe you.  We will support you.

-Be an ally – if you see something, say something

-If something feels wrong, leave.  Trust your instincts.

-If a sexual partner changes their mind, immediately stop.

-If a sexual partner is not able to say ‘no,’ they are not able to say ‘yes.’

-It is never acceptable to pressure another individual to engage in sexual acts.

Discussion with your Teen:

You might be thinking, “Yikes! How do I even have this conversation with my teenager?”  You are not alone! It can be a challenge to have a distraction free, open and meaningful conversation with your teenager.  It could even be impossible, so don’t make that your goal. Go into this conversation with a simple goal: My teen will know I value them and that I am open to tough conversations.”  Use these tips:

  1. Give them a heads up – “I know you’re watching that documentary in school today, I think it’s a good idea that we talk about it, when is a good time for you?”
  2. Try to have the conversation 1-1 without siblings around – go out for a walk, coffee or dinner, if you can.
  3. Stop Talking! Do you want your teen to share? Ask a question and then listen well.  See how little you can talk!

Conversation Guide

What was your experience like watching the documentary today? How about in your group discussion afterward? How would you modify the experience?

How does this film impact your thoughts/opinions about going off to college?

What is helpful to watch this film? Are there other people that you think should watch the Hunting Ground?

What has your experience with/information about Sexual Assault been before watching the video? Do you want more information?

What is your safety strategy to increase safety for yourself and your friends?

Let’s look up the campus safety strategies for the school you’re going to attend.  (Be on the lookout for safe ride programs, advocacy groups, visitor policies etc)

More Information ::

National Sexual Violence Resource Center


The Hunting Ground

Video about Consent

Where can you watch this documentary?

Netflix ::

Stay tuned for Haven’s next blog post on about “How to Talk to Your Kids about Dating.”

Start Today

It is officially halfway through January 2019. How are your New Year Resolutions? U.S. News reports that 80% of resolutions will fail by the 2nd week in February. That statistic is not very comforting for those of us hoping to manifest change or growth this year. However, here at Haven, we’ve adapted a ‘start today’ philosophy that encourages people to not let a setback derail your motivation for improving your quality of life or mastering a new skill.

So now that the holiday buzz is over and the kids are back in school, have you taken a moment to do an internal review for yourself? Is there an area in your parenting that you’d like to change? Is there a career move you’d like to make? Is there a pattern you’d like to break? A habit you want to incorporate this year? It is not too late! If yourself permission to start today!

Tips for Setting Attainable Goals:

  • Make sure your goal is important to YOU: Don’t get caught up in the hype of “new year, new you” and set goals that society tells you ‘should’ do. Take some time to review last year for yourself and determine: What went well? How I can I continue that? What didn’t work? How would you like to see that change? What are you excited for?
  • Use the SMART goal setting strategy. It’s proven that this strategy makes achieving goals more manageable. Learn more HERE.





Time Bound

  • Write them down. Achieving goals doesn’t happen on autopilot, it takes intentionality. When you spend time to write down your goals you solidify them instead of keeping them as vague concepts and good intentions.
  • Share and get accountability. Tell your friends or your family about your goals. Ask them to check in with out about them and do the same for them. Celebrate each others’ big and small victories this year. You might find yourself feeling even more empowered to reach your goals when your community is too!

We encourage everyone to set a goal for themselves! Big, small – something to add, something to drop – it doesn’t matter. Find something that is important to you and get after it. Looking for inspiration? Check out these Podcasts (HYFS does not endorse all ideas or statements from these podcasts, but rather suggests that these concepts may be helpful to you):

3 in 30 ::

Good to be Home ::

Super Soul Conversations ::






Healthy Mind Diet

These days everyone is overwhelmed – the tasks we take on as adults in order to make a life for ourselves can cause anxiety and sleepless nights. Yet, with a busy schedule, why is it sometimes we still feel empty inside? Children are not immune from this feeling either. The demands of school, both academically and socially, plus the bombardment of media doesn’t leave a lot of room for kids to be kids. Today’s world has created an environment when too many people’s mental well-being is being challenged through multi-tasking, fragmented attention, and information overload. So how can we be healthier to our minds?

If you were asked what makes up a healthy diet, you would know the answer – meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, dairy and grains. We are taught the food pyramid from a very young age, and our aware of what our bodies feel like and look like if we don’t take care of them. But has anyone ever taught you what makes a healthy mind? Mental health and the implications of being out of balance is not taught in schools, and often not emphasized in the workplace. The result is we stretch and overload ourselves in ways that may have more signigicant implications than an unhealthy physical diet.

Dr. Dan Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. He has developed a balance diet for the mind – The Healthy Mind Platter. The Healthy Mind Platter has seven essential mental activities necessary for optimum mental health in daily life. These seven activities make up the full set of ‘mental nutrients’ that assist your brain to function at its best.

By engaging in these activities every day, you promote integration in your life and enable your brain to coordinate and balance its activities. These essential mental behaviors strengthen your brain’s internal connections and your connections with other people and the world around you. Below is a brief description of each serving.


Focus Time When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.
Play Time When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain.
Connecting Time When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.
Physical Time When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways.
Time In When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.
Down Time When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.
Sleep Time When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.


You are now thinking, how can I possibly do all of these things in one day? You don’t have to – the idea behind the platter is to become aware of all the things your mind needs to function at an optimal level. The key is balancing the day with different activities. Think of the platter as a checklist. You can go through your day and identify what areas you completed and how much time you spent. Then recognize what it is you have been missing and start to incorporate activities that fulfill these areas. Mental wellness is about connecting all these areas both internally and externally. Think about what happens if you only eat fast food for an extended period of time.   Now, imagine if all you completed was ‘focus time’ while neglecting sleep, down, and physical time. Neither of these scenarios is sustainable and can have negative effects on you mentally and physically.

This exercise is beneficial for everyone. As we develop as children, move into adulthood and then progress into the senior years of our lives, our mental balance and stimulation is imperative. With good practice checking in to make sure we address all the needs of the mind, we position ourselves for a happier and healthier life.


The Healthy Mind Platter was created by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute and Clinical Professor at the UCLA School of Medicine in collaboration with Dr. David Rock, Executive Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute.



It’s Election Time!


  • How do we communicate at home about the candidates? current leaders? our preferences? our opponents?
  • What are we listening to on the radio? watching on TV? reading in our newspapers or on our favorite social media sites?
  • How do we communicate our thoughts and feelings with each other?
  • How much should we influence our children with our opinions? Experiences?
  • Do we encourage them to think like us? Do we present them with alternate views?
  • What should we tell them about people with different values, experiences, opinions?

Many of us, over the past couple of years, have felt challenged with how to communicate in this highly charged, politically polarized climate. Some of us have felt alienated from our friends and family. Perhaps we have alienated others. A few of us have created lists of “safe topics” on index cards for Thanksgiving dinner. We have heard and even engaged in emotionally charged name calling: “snowflake, redneck, elitist, hick, libtard, anti-science, wingnut, bible banger, commie, moonbat, radical, extremist, unpatriotic, evil…”

So how do we communicate across differences? Most theorists agree on a basic rule: don’t attack someone’s identity. When we attack someone’s identity, people are more likely to react defensively and are not able to truly hear what is said. It is easier to address conflict without emotionally charged, divisive “hate speech.” It is better to share the values that help to frame our mindset and influence our thoughts, policies, and practice.

Sharing Values:
Most of us enjoy a good storyteller. Many of us like to listen to a meaningful story and even remember motivational speakers from earlier periods in our lives. What is “your story”? How has your story shaped your values? People are usually willing and open to listen to a story about the origin of our values. In sharing your story, be mindful of power differences (teacher/ student, parent/ child, employer/ employee) and privilege such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, income. Be aware of the person’s identity with whom you are speaking. What is their cultural identity? generational identity? How will these aspects of their identity influence their interest and ability in listening to what you are sharing? This principle is basic to parenting, education, marketing and sales, management, friendship – interpersonal relationships.

Improving Communication:
When we improve our communication, we also improve our relationships. Counselors, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists might have different training and philosophies about working with their clients, but there are a core set of values that we commonly share with communication:

  • listen with an open mind
  • be aware of one’s nonverbal communication (eye contact, posture, attention)
  • do not pass judgment on someone’s experience
  • offer feedback while allowing the other party to reach their own conclusions

The goal for effective communication is not to change someone’s mind; it is to foster understanding.

For those of you who are interested in gaining more skills around effective communication across differences and managing conflict, consider including this book on your reading list

Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts by Dan Shapiro, Ph.D. (Director of the Harvard International Negotiating Program)

Best wishes with your interpersonal communication and any upcoming holiday dinners! Please contact us at (847) 251-6630 if you have interest in learning more about effective communication across differences individually, within your family or if enough community interest, in a support group. Thank you!


October is Depression Awareness Month

Does this sound familiar? You have a teenager at home…one minute they’re on top of the world, the next they’re down in the dumps. One minute you’re the best dad or mom there ever was. The next you’re the world’s worst, and they can’t wait to leave home.

Teenagers are on an emotional seesaw as their lives, bodies and hormones change. The ride can vary from teen to teen, while some are even-tempered, others are always up, always down or somewhere in between. This fluctuation makes it difficult to know what’s developmentally appropriate. How can you tell whether an adolescent is just momentarily unhappy or if they are genuinely depressed and in need of professional help? These are questions that struggling teenagers and every parent of a child from 10 to 18, should seriously consider.

There is no one reason why kids become depressed, which makes things more complicated. Common factors include: parents’ divorce, family financial strain, being subjected to physical or sexual abuse or witnessing it, or having a parent who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Additionally, kids may become depressed because they aren’t achieving their academic or extracurricular goals; or because they have trouble making friends, or are relentlessly ridiculed or rejected by peers. Sometimes, the cause isn’t external but an underlying feeling of inadequacy or unattractiveness or confusion about sexual identity.

With so many influences, it’s not surprising that teenage depression in on the rise. Researchers predict that about one in 10 kids will develop a depressive disorder by age 16. Additionally, and more concerning is the increase in suicide. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people 15 to 24, behind accidents and homicides. In 2017 the National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found that 17.2 percent of students, or one in five high school age students, seriously considered attempting suicide.

Recognizing the Signs

It is easy to dismiss the signs of teenage depression as merely a phase or the mood swings of adolescence. And teenagers may be reluctant to admit they’re depressed, sometimes claiming, they don’t want to worry their parents or make things worse; even their closest friends may fail to notice the subtle or masked signs of severe depression, or, if they do notice, they find other explanations, like getting a bad grade or losing a boyfriend. So here is what you can look for: Depression can cause fatigue or interfere with the ability to concentrate. Teenagers may become irritable, angry, bored, excessively guilty or anxious. There may be frequent outbursts of shouting, complaining or crying. In some depressed adolescents, emotional stress shows up in physical complaints like chronic or recurrent headaches, muscle pains, tiredness or stomachaches. There are other signs like changes in eating habits, appetite, or sleep disturbances such as difficulty sleeping or oversleeping. Often, there is a loss of energy and withdrawal from friends and activities.   Remember there is no one recipe or symptom to define depression, which is why it is important to consult with a professional.


There are many methods in which to treat teenage depression. Psychotherapy, either traditional talk therapy or more focused skills based therapy, may be all that a moderately depressed teenager needs to recover fully. When depression is more severe, chronic, or recurrent, medication may be necessary. When a young person is struggling with depression, the emotional volatility can be exhausting for a parent. At this time, it is critical to remain open and engaged while exploring treatment options for your child. Often this means getting professional support for the parents and other family members as they navigate the effects of depression.   If any of this sounds familiar, or you have any questions regarding your child or teen’s behavior please call Haven 847-251-6630.