Making Everyone Happy Doesn't Make You 'Nice': Published in "Your Tango"

Truth-telling is an art that requires practice, vulnerability, and our best efforts at tact. Link to article in Your Tango: "One of the most shocking findings of my work was the idea that the most compassionate people I have interviewed over the last 13 years were also the most boundaried." — Brené Brown, psychologist and best-selling author At a gathering, a colleague of ours shared a story about one of the minor horrors of first-world life: getting a bad haircut. She sat in the chair, filled with rising dread as she watched the stylist work. He was not doing what she’d asked him to do. Although they both knew

Planetary Help…On Teenagers: Published in Goop!

link to article in Goop: You wouldn’t necessarily think to look to Saturn and Jupiter for parenting advice, but the practice of astrology has some seriously amazing advice for parents and anyone else in the orbit of teens and pre-teens. Dr. Jennifer Freed, who has been practicing psychological astrology for nearly three decades, explains that there’s a unique source of age-old parenting wisdom in the ancient cycles of the planets. Her perspective on the teenage years is remarkably insightful, and while she draws on the cosmos, her recommendations to parents, teachers, and mentors are surprisingly grounded in the practical. Here, she explains how t

Peace Builders – A Student-Led Initiative

In 1999, Jennifer Freed, Ph.D. and Rendy Freedman, MFT co-founded AHA! (Attitude, Harmony, Achievement) in response to the Columbine High School massacre. Jennifer and Rendy both have backgrounds as educators, mediators, and psychotherapists and believed that in addition to academics, youth needed a curriculum to develop healthy relating skills and social and emotional skills, to navigate the storms of adolescence. Violence can only be abated if people develop strong empathy skills and mental health is prioritized beginning in childhood. AHA! has been reaching thousands of youth since 1999 in and out of school, and credits much of its success to the commitment to empower youth to transform t

Why Self-Care Is The Least Selfish Thing You Can Do

When I was young and I went outside to play with my friends instead of hanging around the house to listen to another screaming match between my parents, they called me "selfish." Now, as an adult, when I go upstairs for much-needed alone time, my kids think I'm self-centered because I don't want to chitchat in the living room. I have been accused, in slightly resentful tones, of having "great boundaries" and knowing what I want. Over 30 years as a healer, I've learned that self-care is not optional for those in the helping professions. It is a necessity. When I was first practicing as a psychotherapist and psychological astrologer, I would overextend myself. Buoyed by my belief that I was ne

Consider The Possible: Adolescent Self-Management AHA! – Attitude Harmony & Achievement

Dr. Freed’s Adolescent Programs Grow Productive Lifetimes Harmony And Self-Management Overview – She’s Worked Since 19 Years Old Listen up! We all can learn a great deal about creating adolescent balance and harmony from this dedicated, engaging, experienced and delightfully compassionate mentor and therapist. Dr. Jennifer Freed Jennifer Freed, PhD is a psychotherapist, mediator, mentor and author with over 30 years’ experience working with youth in the context of deep roots in the Santa Barbara, California area. She began her contributions at age 19, running a peer counselor training program at Dos Pueblos High School; shortly after that, she worked for YouthWorks – connecting students for

‘Peace Building’: California Nonprofit Teaches Teens to Avoid Violence

As seen in Concordia University AHA! helps teens learn “peace-building” techniques to help end violence in schools. Founded in 1999 shortly after the Columbine school tragedy, AHA! (short for Attitude, Harmony and Achievement) is a volunteer-driven nonprofit that provides compassion training to teenagers in Santa Barbara, California. Jennifer Freed, Ph.D., co-founded AHA! in 1999. “Research is conclusive that compassion training and social emotional learning programs assist children in feeling safer — to learn, to connect, to achieve,” said AHA! co-founder Jennifer Freed, Ph.D., a family and child behavioral expert. Freed says compassion training and social emotional learning programs emphas

A Better Way to Break-Up: 20 Ways to Leave Your Lover

The dissolution of any romantic relationship is invariably painful: At its worst, it is devastating and harmful and leaves a lot of emotional collateral damage in its wake; at its best, it’s done with tenderness and care, and both parties put aside a desire to just be done with it in favor of taking the time to separate with patience and love. The latter is difficult to achieve, but ultimately a more expedient path to peace. Below, Dr. Jennifer Freed, a therapist, astrologer, and the founder of Santa Barbara’s AHA!, together with her colleague, Molly Green, explains what needs to be reckoned with. 20 Ways to Leave Your Lover Paul Simon suggested: “You just slip out the back, Jack Make a new

Fox News: Interview with Jennifer Freed Keep “The One” with You Forever One goal of dating is to find “the one”, get married and live happily ever after. But there can’t be a “happily ever after” if the relationship is not healthy. According to marriage and family therapist, Dr. Jennifer Freed, a healthy relationship is one where both people don’t take each other for granted and prioritize the health of the relationship: (Dr. Freed) “An unhealthy relationship is one in which people expect the relationship to take care of them instead of taking care of the relationship and when things don’t go well they seek to blame one another instead of taking responsibility.” Fr

Summer Camp Teaches Lifelong Skills

There is perhaps no greater challenge to a parent come summertime than finding solutions to keep bored children entertained without resorting to omnipresent technology. While there are many local activities to draw from, summer camps offer more than mere entertainment, providing character-building experiences and developmental benefits that extend well into later life. A landmark study involving 5,000 families and over 80 camps done by the American Camp Association found that summer camp went well beyond the usual benefits of just getting out into nature. 96% of campers said that camp helped them make new friends. 93% said they got to know kids who are different from them. 92% said that peop

34: Dr. Jennifer Freed: On Bullying and Grieving Orlando

34: Dr. Jennifer Freed: On Bullying and Grieving Orlando Today I am talking with Dr. Jennifer Freed, a child psychologist and the co-founder of AHA! (Attitude.Harmony.Achievement.), a youth-focused non-profit that works to end bullying, improve self-esteem, and empower teens through emotional learning and creative expression. AHA! was founded in response to the Columbine tragedy and here I am recording this interview 2 days after the Orlando massacre. I think you’ll agree the work of Jennifer and her organization has never been more imperative. When I scheduled this interview it was intended to be about bullying – which Jennifer and I discuss in depth. But, we also talk through some things

Traveling With Kids: Tips for Keeping Children Happy While Traveling

As Seen in Conde Nast Traveler Prepare your child for a flight by reading simple picture books showing the parts of a plane and walk kids through the process of taking a flight to ease their anxiety. Share via facebook dialog Share via Pinterest Whether you're dealing with motion sickness, nap schedule changes, or iPhone addiction, there are strategies for every situation. As a travel writer, I take dozens of trips every year. However, as mom to two high-energy boys (ages five and seven), travel with the kids can sometimes be painful. When my kids were younger, I brought stickers, colo

Becoming An Expert Appreciator

As Seen in the Huffington Post Social media feeds are full of video of amazing people doing amazing things that they seem born to do. A 12-year-old schoolgirl knocks an operatic aria out of the park on “America’s Got Talent.” Young mountain bikers, star athletes, and parkour whizzes wow with us with their dexterity, and Instagram fitness stars show off sculpted shapes that are, in large part, enabled by genetic gifts. Any day of the week, there’s online celebration of natural abilities, inherent gifts, and native intelligence. This seems like a sensible way to appreciate our children; but research now shows us that this approach has the opposite of its intended effect. Most parents believe t

We Fell in Love and Got Pregnant With a Non-Profit

As seen in the Huffington Post I met my life partner, Rendy at a counseling agency in 1994. When we first met, she was married to a man and had three children aged 9, 11 and 13. Over the course of the next two years, we became close friends and colleagues. We both shared a love for swimming in the ocean, a passion for social justice, an interest in psychology and spirituality and a tremendous capacity for joy, tears and laughter. In 1997, Rendy’s marriage of twenty years ended and our friendship organically grew into a passionate and mature love. We also felt a deep kinship around the idea that love doesn’t always have to be labeled unless someone chooses to identify with a label. Rendy had

Delete Cyberbullying

As seen in by Julian Henderson with Dr. Jennifer Freed I participated in AHA! 10 years ago as a teen. Now, as a 27-year-old facilitator for youth in that same program, I see firsthand the impact that cyberbullying has on today’s youth. Many youth come to AHA!’s after-school connection circles emotionally tormented due to bullying in the cyberworld. One teen came in to an after-school group so distraught from a hurtful comment on one of her Facebook photos that it took her a whole 30 minutes just to calm down enough to check in. This kind of shaming is absolutely unacceptable. We need to communicate to young people that bullying of any kind is cruel behavior that we will not s

Why Bother with Empathy?

As seen in emŸpaŸthy (n.) the ability to understand and share the feelings of another When very young children watch videos of people getting hurt, pain-related neurons are activated in their brains. Other brain studies find that children between seven and 12 naturally feel empathy for others in pain. Barring brain disease or damage, we all have some variation of the hardware required to connect with others around tough emotions. All brains are not created equally, so some people have less original capacity for empathy than others; luckily, however, empathy is something that can be learned. The scientific consensus is that empathy is a necessary and beneficial habit and skill

Giving Up Parental Narcissism for Parental Maturity

As Seen in Parent Parents often seek their validation from the wrong source-their children. The pure unconditional love of an infant is so intoxicating that many parents want to experience that transcendental glow for as long as possible. Who wouldn’t want to be adored without any discernment or judgement? The tricky part is that in order to be a truly loving and effective parent one needs to learn to give up the idealization from their child in favor of setting boundaries, expectations, and healthy limits. The love that can develop when a parent does not try to be mirrore


“Article Published in Psych Central Babe, can you put your phone away for a minute? I am trying to talk to you.” We have probably said this. We have all probably had this said to us. Some of us are digital natives — we grew up glued to a screen. Some of us are digital immigrants, awkwardly attached to our devices like scrambling-to-keep-up voyeurs. If we took a Google picture of Earth from space at any time of day, we would see millions of stick figures hunched over tiny flickering boxes, as if their lives depended on it. The once evolutionary imperative for humans to walk upright is now solidly threatened. Follow this hunched bending pose for centuries and we most certainly will become larg

A 3-Step Routine For Processing Betrayal (And Walking Away Happier)

"I've been cheated, been mistreated When will I be loved I've been put down, I've been pushed 'round When will I be loved" Click Here: — Linda Ronstadt, "When Will I Be Loved" Sad to say, many of us have sung a version of this tune in the face of adultery and betrayal. Most people are shocked and utterly shaken by this type of betrayal because they "never saw it coming." It's like a meteor of misery hurling from outer space that bursts our life apart. Reconstituting our life after deep betrayal is an arduous task but, if done well, it can be extraordinarily transformational and empo

USA Today Article by Jennifer Freed

As images of violence escalate, how do we talk to our children? Column Police-involved and mass shootings can negatively influence kids. Turn their attention to other things. (Photo: Elise Amendola, AP) The recent spate of police-involved shootings in Chicago, Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minnesota have put everyone on high alert. Mass shootings such as the ones that happened this year in Germany and Florida continue to feed our fears. It is almost impossible not to feel growing anxiety as the incessant reports roll into our news feeds. While the debate rages about whether we need more or less gun control and who is to blame, a generation of children are growing up saturated with what seem like m

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