Tag: kathryn rea smith

Coping With Negative Emotions

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


A few weeks ago I received a lengthy text message from my son. He was feeling upset about something that happened at school and decided to write about the experience to see if he could determine why he felt bad. He added, “I’ll let you read this and we can talk tonight after I finish my homework.” Right away, I noticed that by writing about and wanting to talk about his negative feelings, my son, at age 16, had discovered an approach to dealing with emotions that I did not learn until I was a doctoral student in a Counseling Psychology program. In this article, I will elaborate upon the three-step approach demonstrated by my son for effectively coping with and working through distressing emotions. Read more →

An Important Discussion About Suicide

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


On November 5th, I attended the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee’s 18th Annual Fall Psychiatric Symposium. This Symposium is a continuing education event for mental health practitioners in every discipline. The Symposium’s opening session was titled “On the Road to Zero Suicide”. The presenter, Kelly Posner, Ph.D., is the founder of the Center for Suicide Risk Assessment at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute. As a mental health professional called to assess for suicide risk frequently, I was very interested in what Dr. Posner had to say. Read more →

The Value Of Serving Others

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


The theme for this month’s edition of Knoxville Parent is “Educating the Whole Child.” Since most parents would like to raise children who are caring and helpful towards the needy, the focus of this article is teaching children to volunteer their time and talent and instilling in them a lifelong desire to help others. I will describe how a group of seventh grade boys is making a difference in our community and learning about the joys of serving others in the process.  Read more →

Bonding Through Book Clubs

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


Reading and talking about books with your child, whether formally in a book club or informally at home, is a great way to strengthen the bond between a parent and child and open the door to discussions about all manner of interesting topics. Read more →

My Meditation Journey

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


Each February for the past nine years, I have attended an annual 3-day meditation retreat with a group of Knoxville friends held at St. Mary’s Sewanee Center. Most of the retreat, including meals, is held in silence, and twice daily we meditate as a group. Many of my retreat friends have a regular meditation practice and have spoken compellingly of the benefits of daily meditation. Each time I returned from the retreat I would think about starting to meditate on a regular basis but never did. I simply could not figure out how to fit it in to my busy schedule. Read more →

An Inside Look At Inside Out

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


Over the July 4th weekend my family and I saw the new Pixar movie Inside Out. Everyone from my 12-year-old son to my 72-year-old mother thought it was terrific. The movie shows the inner workings of the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who moves with her parents from Minnesota to San Francisco, as she leaves behind friends she has known all her life. Inside Riley’s mind there are five “characters”, each representing a different emotion—Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness. These characters reside in “headquarters” in Riley’s brain and take turns operating a control console in response to events in Riley’s daily life. Read more →

The Dos And Don’ts Of Sports Parenting

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


How should parents with children in youth sports behave? A great article—“What makes a nightmare sports parent—and what makes a great one” written by Steve Henson in February 2012 (http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/more-family-fun/201202/what-makes-nightmare-sports-parent), provides some insightful answers. In the article, Mr. Henson refers to findings from an informal survey of college athletes by longtime coaches Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller. In the survey, athletes were asked about their worst and best memories of playing youth sports. The athletes said their worst memories were of riding home with their parents after a game. Their best memories were of hearing their parents say, simply, “I love to watch you play.” Furthermore, the article lists “five signs of an ideal sports parent” and “five signs of a nightmare sports parent.” Read more →

What’s Love Got To Do With It

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


In psychological research, “parental warmth” is an important concept related to the quality of a parent-child relationship. Studies have shown that the presence of parental warmth is associated with a variety of positive outcomes including improved self-esteem, lower rates of teen pregnancy and underage drinking, lower delinquency rates, better parent-child communication, and greater college adjustment. Parental warmth seems to be a good thing. So what is it? And why should we try to get more of it into our relationships with our children?

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It’s All Right To Cry

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.



When I was a seven-year-old girl, I watched a television program called “Free To Be . . .You and Me.” Marlo Thomas, in collaboration with many gifted writers and entertainers, produced a show that promoted “independence and self-fulfillment, the human need for love, sharing and mutual assistance, [and] the joys of creative cooperative relationships with one’s parents, siblings, and friends” (from www.freetobefoundation.org/history.htm). I loved the television program so much that my mother purchased the Free to Be record album which I played so often I practically wore it out. The songs and stories featured on the album have themes promoting tolerance and acceptance. It also undermines stereotypes of all kinds, specifically gender stereotypes. Read more →

Fostering Pro-Social Adolescent Development

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.



In my role as a forensic psychologist, I evaluate adolescents with legal problems. Sometimes these evaluations are in anticipation of a transfer hearing, in which the prosecutor will argue that the adolescent offender should be tried as an adult in criminal court, and the juvenile court judge must decide whether to transfer the case. In such instances, I am called upon to describe to the court the ways in which the adolescent’s development was derailed and the circumstances that contributed to the development of criminal behaviors. I am also asked to recommend interventions for rehabilitating the adolescent. In order to know what help these troubled adolescents need, it is first necessary to understand the factors that contribute to successful adolescent development. In their book Rethinking juvenile justice, Elizabeth Scott and Laurence Steinberg describe three conditions during adolescence that have been shown to foster social and emotional maturity: (1) authoritative parenting; (2) participation in pro-social peer groups; and (3) involvement in activities that allow for autonomous decision-making and critical thinking. Read more →