Scott Schimmel 0:20
Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of The You School podcast. Scott Schimmel here. And I'm excited to have Matt Bishop on the on the podcast today, Matt and I are, I don't know, I'd call you a friend. So I don't know if you would to me. We're certainly very friendly. I don't need any more. Actually, I'm not. And I still call your friend, Matt and I are connected through good friends. I think that's a part of it. When when I have really close friends that also are close friends with you. It's kind of that friendship by association. So I feel like I know you and I don't. But the reason I want you to be on the podcast today is, is for a few reasons. But this episode is predominantly around student anxiety. And anybody that works with kids in a way that has kids knows or anybody reads, The newspaper knows that student anxiety is a big deal these days. And there are so many reasons why. There's so many I guess there's so many people that say they know why is it cell phones? Is it generational parenting? Is it stress and trauma, there's all these different viewpoints. And so I wanted to have with all humility, an expert on this podcast to talk about seeing anxiety from a high level and then very specifically, towards the end of this conversation. I'm going to be asking Matt about how do you how do you deal with it? As an adult who works with kids? How do you? How do you help a kid who is having an anxious moment? Or isn't an anxious season? How do you really come alongside that student? So listen up as we go into the at the end of this episode. So Matt, tell us about you and what the heck you're doing. And just a little context for who you are.
Matt Bishop, LMFT 2:00
Yeah, well, first, thanks for having me, obviously, very excited to be here and get this opportunity to talk to your listeners. So I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. I have a private practice in Mission Hills, down in San Diego. I work with all types of populations, but one of my favorite populations for stores to work with teenagers and young adults, I actually do love working with teenagers, which is not a very common thing. Yeah, I'm on licensed medical professionals. And uh huh. And there's a couple of reasons for that, of course, when you see teenagers, you don't just see them, but you've talked with a lot of parents and navigating what they want for their kids versus what I see in the office, there's just a lot more and legality that goes into it. But in my experience, they're also just a lot more fun. I find that teenagers, and they just don't abide by the same social constructs that adults do. Alright, so they just haven't integrated that into their framework of the world. Okay, and so what do you mean by that? What does that mean? Well, I mean, just, you know, they're still figuring out what proper etiquette is, right? And so, so they don't mind, or the, it's not intuitive to them what is appropriate or not appropriate to say, or, or a way to describe something? Or, you know, I had a, I had a client the other day, and he used some slang word, and he just goes, Okay, I get your old so I will. I just love that work. Right. And that's, and that, honestly, you know, in the descriptive, I think, you know, today's culture, there's a lot of kind of language monitoring, rightfully so in a lot of ways. In a really beautifully honest way. I think yours don't necessarily abide by those same rules, which is really refreshing.
Scott Schimmel 3:45
Yeah, I'm surprised. So I was talking to a friend last night, he and I both have middle school boys. And so I work with teenagers all the time, but I'm surprised lately, how shocked I am when I hear teenage boys particularly use words that I haven't heard in a long time. Because as an adult, like I said, I've stopped using those terms, or my friends don't use those terms. But they're using the same terms and phrases to deride each other as perhaps I did with my friends. So I'm like, "Whoa, that's still a phrase?" And then the other part of me is like, "you can't say that dude, like, that's, like, you'll get sued for that stuff now." There's just like, refreshing. There's a refreshing part of that. I choose to have that lens as well towards them. This is just refreshing.
Matt Bishop, LMFT 4:30
Sure, yes. Yeah. And I think like, what, you know, I'm, I'm 32 I'm an adult but I'm, I'm I'm young enough to relate to them on a level and I feel like it can be really helpful to kind of corral them into healthy social etiquette at times. Yeah. And I do that primarily, I actually, I don't know if this will make our way to any of my clients, but I actually laugh at my clients a lot. Like, oh, Oh my god, you did that. And usually that's how we'll start most kids out when they first come in, you know, they're in trouble. Let's say I have a kid, what would you do? How'd you get him? Oh, wow, it was after curfew. I stole my mom's car. You didn't? Well, we think it kind of shatters that image that they may potentially have of looking at me as a parent or a teacher or a principal or an authoritative figure, you know, allows me to kind of relate to them. At the same time, say, what were you thinking? Yeah, I mean, you know, there's a better way for you to behave and live.
Scott Schimmel 5:34
Yes. Yeah. Let's think about this. Yeah, differently. Yeah. What do you think about student anxiety? You know, that's a big topic. What, what would you say? What are the things that you find coming out of your mouth as you talk to parents? Like, what, what are the some of the causes that you're seeing?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 5:48
Sure. I mean, I think you, there's a conglomeration, right, it's kind of a perfect storm of so many different variables. And so, of course, like increased screen time is linked to, essentially every negative mental outcome, or anxiety, more eating disorders more, right. And so what social media is doing to all of our brains, not just our kids brains, is it's pretty radical. You know, just the fact that just how quickly information gets its way to us. And so I was have a friend who's a elementary school teacher, and it's like, oh, my gosh, like they're having conversation elementary school about, like, global warming, and like climate change the world possibly coming to an end. And like, well, shooting, apparently, there was an assassination in Iran. And like, in third grade, it was like these things were on my radar at all. And because of, of social media, because of how news, how fast News travel, because kind of the nationalism of our news networks, and just like kind of putting so many things in your face, your skins are a lot more aware of just what's happening on like a big picture scale. That's overwhelming, like, global warming. Climate change is like a concern for me. So how, I don't know, especially living in San Diego, it's like, don't take my beautiful weather away. But for for a seventh grader for an eighth grade, ninth grade, what they have to kind of make sense of all that and calm themselves, is a lot more. And then of course, you have the tremendous pressure on kids to get into universities to be competitive, academically, athletically, to you know, it's like the list goes on and on and on, right to find your way. Really hormones. I mean, it's just a perfect storm of a lot of stuff. And so of course, respond with an anxiety, right, like, of course that their bodies their nervous systems response. It's not, it's not incongruent for them to have that response. It's actually perfectly congruent with the environment, feeding them.
Scott Schimmel 7:53
Interesting. That's interesting. What, Where do you see that going with kids? Where Where do they take their anxiety? What are some of the outlets that you see both pro and con? Sure.
Unknown Speaker 8:04
Yeah. Well, I think that, like, I'm glad you asked the pro side, I think the pro side is mental health awareness is just such a, it's just so much greater, like now a days you know, I actually did a speaking engagement at my old high school last year, was the most nerve wracking speaking engagement I've ever given in me life... large audiences, the quarterback coming out of high school. I was so immature.
Scott Schimmel 8:27
So it all comes back, doesn't it?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 8:32
Exactly, exactly. And I really was just blown away about how, you know, I would talk about, you know, the consequences of bullied and I'm not saying it doesn't still happen and stuff, but it just seems like there really has been more of an acceptance that people have struggles in life. And, you know, I was born and raised in La Jolla, and like, one of those image conscious communities imaginable. And, and the reality like, yeah, like depression is a thing, anxiety is a thing, it doesn't make you any less of a person you should okay to talk about. I am blown away by that by my clients who come to my office and seem to already have that understanding. I think that's a really positive kind of trajectory in our society. Now, obviously, in you know, it may vary depending on the community, depending on the culture, whatever, but but I think in large part, there is a really positive trajectory there. You know, I think on the on the negative side or the coping in unhealthy ways, you just see an increase in cutting and increase in attempted suicide, substance abuse, you know, isolation. I think, video game addiction screentime addiction, just I think all those things are ways in which is like, it's just an eject button out of anxiety. Just yeah, get me out of this. Yeah, to either go out and be put into like a trance state. it, which is what technology addiction video game addiction is. Or I need to be able to control my pain, which is what? Which is what like cutting is. And so, I mean, I, you know, sadly the list goes on in that case, yeah. Resources I think are there like never before as well, which is nice.
Scott Schimmel 10:22
So to get real, like, granular when you see a client, and they're having a moment, I don't know what how you'd say that. Different people use different phrases, a breakdown. They can't control themselves. What what, what do you do? How do you someone comes in a student comes in and they're just emoting a lot. They're feeling big things. They're, or they're totally shut down. I don't know, how do you? What do you do? Is there a, is there a framework that you think about? Is there steps that you've used? How do you even be with them?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 10:57
Yeah, so I think like, the craziest thing for a teenager, in my opinion, is when their environment is crazy. But no one is saying, Hey, this is actually pretty crazy, right? And so what we want to do first is always validate their experience. Like, if they have a million different, you know, academic pressures or social pressures, or, you know, their family's going through a tough time, maybe the parents aren't getting along, you know, or maybe they broke up with, you know, their boyfriend or girlfriend, or whatever. And, like, what's craziest for them is if is if people either just won't acknowledge how hard that must be for them, or give them a quick, you know, pep talk, you know, grit your teeth and get on with it, right? Yeah. And so the metaphor that I like to tell parents is like, if your kid has a runaway horse, what we want to do is we want to meet them at that place, and then slow them down, right? Where are we, at that place? Is we validated, like, Yeah, this is really tough, isn't it? Like, I like I like it, you can point out physiological symptoms, like, like, yeah, when, you know, let's just say, let's just say for example, the freaking out about LSAT prep or calm application. And you just want to say like, yeah, sometimes like your heartbeats really fast, and your brain really speeds and you start thinking worst case scenario. Yeah, that's all totally normal. Like, of course, you're gonna feel that way. Right? Like, and then you're seeing like, a lot of my friends get into their first choice school, and I don't get into my first choice school like, like, that is totally normal for you in your junior situation. Of course, you're gonna freak out. I'm actually surprised you are freaking out more. When I was your age, I freaked out even more than you. actually really impressive. Right? Validating? Yeah. Right? And then like, once you meet them at that pace, like, then it's like, then we start slowing them down, right? And he's like, You know what, we can do this. And like, you were going to take this one day at a time. And like, I'm gonna with you here every step of the way. And like, look at that last essay, you did I read it, it was awesome. And so So first, we need to know that and we validate their experience, and then it wasn't through validation. And then we just start slowing them down through reassurance. Now, when you start to slow them down, they start kind of getting much more coherent, have their own thoughts, or prompt our ticket sells better. And then that's, I, in my experience, what you get, that's, that's really kind of, we're able to kind of understand the kind of the core of what their fear is right? And oftentimes, you know, parents are like, good, so shut down, why aren't they talking to me? And it's like that you're thinking that you're making a statement with the assumption that they know how they're feeling. Right? They know.
Scott Schimmel 13:49
And they're making that choice consciously. Yeah.
Matt Bishop, LMFT 13:51
Right. Exactly. Like oftentimes, it's like when when, when any of us are in a state of anxiety, it's like communicating in a coherent way is difficult, right. But when you're, when you're a teenager, and you've got all these different variables in place, it's like shutting down is like, kind of feels like the safest thing to do. And making sense of everything is really difficult. And so the way we kind of calm their system down so they can make sense of their own experience is by first validating, and then kind of naming the resources for them, like I'm going to do with you every step of your way. Let's come up with a teacher of your friends. Like, let's, let's remember, like, we can take this one day at a time. Yeah, kind of just hand them resources and remind them and ground them kind of in their reality.
Scott Schimmel 14:32
Last week, last week, I noticed this thing I'm... all my son's friends follow me on Instagram, and vice versa. My son doesn't have that. But they were doing this thing on Instagram stories where they were, I think it was like putting up two people's names two people's names two kids names from their class from their school. And then there's a whole bunch of questions, basically ranking them who has the better hair, who has the better style, who's the who's funnier? Who would you rather marry? And so I watched, I don't know probably 30 or 40 of these things and different kids were matched up different times, then all these people would make these comments. And I was sharing with my just asking about that my son the next day. And just saying to your point like, that is so absurd that happens, that has always happened in middle school high school, that we do that kind of subconsciously, maybe or we talk about people, but to actually literally have that on a screen that you can go and see, and go and watch what are your peers actually think about you and like, from the external ego standpoint, this how painful that is. But what I noticed in myself, was, I was feeling a bunch of stuff, too. So as the dad is the parent, I, all of a sudden, I'm doing a couple of layers, I hope my son doesn't feel overwhelmed at this, I hope he doesn't. And I'm feeling anxious for him, and how he's going to respond when he sees these things, because I can't hide them from him. And then I'm also kind of going through my own brings up stuff that I remember when I didn't feel like I was accepted or loved. So there's a whole nother layer that you're talking about. So talk about that. Because you have maybe the even from like attendance lady at a school tenants person out of school, and their students coming up. She's got stuff going on, as a student has having big feelings. And that could be from as simple as like, you're taking my time I was trying to do some other task. And now you're making me talk to you for the next few minutes. I'm irritated. But we all carry in with us. So how do we how do you even kind of address that the stuff that's going on inside us?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 16:22
Well, first, I'll say that's a perfect example of what I was referencing, first of teenagers not abiding by the same social constructs. If we're honest, we are all in one giant Instagram game of just it's just not it's just a little bit more subtle than that. That's just Yeah, it was, you know, and yeah, so I think
Scott Schimmel 16:46
you're right, that's what we did. Who's Richard? Evolved, but better vacations?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 16:54
Well, yeah, you know, I think one of my favorite authors, Rob Bell says 90% of parenting is managing your own anxiety. And I think it's the same of, you know, whether it's whenever you're interacting with a young person, we're going to have a therapist, we call it countertransference, which is basically our reaction to what our clients experiencing. So you know, oh, my gosh, I was in that situation, they would feel this way. Or if I was with this person, though, this person or this person reminds me of what I went through when I was a kid, or this reminds me of a brother who can be a jerk whenever it's our own reaction, right? And so as parents, as teachers, as administrators, as staff members, like we're going to have our own reactions to kids. Like, it'd be nice if we can have a wonderful objective, remove, yes, neutral, neutral base, where we can just observe and see attached, but of course, all that stuff is coming. And so what we want to do is, we don't want to just entirely discredit that because that can really be a bridge to empathy and a lot of things right, if I was in a situation, here's how to respond or I was in a situation similar to that. And here's how I did respond. Right? What but so but what we need to do is we always we need to come back to who the main character is, and the main character in that case would be your son, right? It's not you, right? Yes, it was you then it's like, we're panicking. And we're, we're making, you know, finding out in our own tribe. How is my son experiencing this? Like, you know,
Scott Schimmel 18:18
versus I'm gonna go and take him shopping the market and fresher duds and let's go get him a haircut. And let's make sure he doesn't have to win this competition. That's right. Oh, no, I know, this game is.
Unknown Speaker 18:32
It's not empathy and don't participate and everyone belongs, it's, you must win. Yeah, so I think just kind of being aware of your own your own stuff. And, you know, it's, it's, it's so classic. And it's, it's, it's so cliche and so classic, I'm, I'm almost surprised when it happens to my clients. And yet, I'm almost not surprised because it happens so often of parents pushing their own agenda on their kids, whether it's medically, whether it's academically, where they're socially, right, like, it's like, I had to be the best. So you have to be the rest and there's this vicarious a measurement that happens, right? Yeah. Um, so I think it's like, like, managing your own anxiety is owning your own staff. It's recognizing, okay, this is really anxious for me. I'm curious whether this is anxiety inducing for my son. I'm not going to necessarily assume that I'm just going to be curious about that. Right. And, and that and, you know, there are some cases there are there are some cases where you can ask yourself, like, you know, is this does this bother you? And they may say no, and maybe it does, or, you know, I'm not saying you're always going to give an accurate kind of portrayal of their internal experience from the from the teenager. But I think just I think owning your own stuff, realizing when you're having a big reaction, I can guarantee like You know, when you're at that, eight out of 10, you know, activation scale, like almost nothing ever productive happens when we're at that head space.
Scott Schimmel 20:12
At that point, kids are very irritating when they're activated when they're an eight to 10. Whether it is they're throwing a tantrum, whatever that looks like for them throwing a fit saying, No having teenagers myself. They'll just get mean, they'll get mean. Or I think of our youngest, she's sick. She's just literally tantrums, or sulking and even then causes some anxiety and in me, or as a lot of other parents or adults do like why are you? What's wrong with you? Why don't you then it's so tempting to start poking. I love what you said that that sense of being curious. It's there's a some neutrality to that, just kind of flipping that switch to say, Okay, let me be curious right now wonder why he might be acting this way. I wonder what's going on with me? There's I don't know, you can almost objectively look a little bit and pause maybe a few more seconds before you react in a really unhelpful, unproductive way.
Matt Bishop, LMFT 21:09
Yeah, I mean, and I would say, not just a few seconds. I mean, like, I mean, obviously, there's the immediacy, we want to we want to address what needs to be addressed in the immediate term. But even even coming back around to a conversation, when we're at a lower activation level, right? When we're kind of out of it, I wanted to follow up on that conversation that we have, right, like, no one's going anywhere. And I think a lot of times there can be an immediacy, and a sense that this is this conversation needs to happen now. I think, you know, that's one of the benefits I have as a therapist of like, when parents like I've been trying to get through to them for months. And you know, right now, all of a sudden, they kind of have this epiphany. It's like, well, I also have the benefit of like, they're coming to my office kind of mellow. And then we get to revisit these things. You're trying to address these things in the moment. Yeah, those of your things are really high. They're defensive, you're you're frustrated. That's gonna go well, right. You do kind of have an unfair advantage in that.
Scott Schimmel 22:08
Yes. Well, thank God for people like you, which is I, whether you're listening, whether as an as a parent, you have the means or the resources to send your kid to therapists to therapy. I know there's a kind of an emerging industry in life coaching, life coaching for teens, some people call that call what we do, and some version of that, or close mentors, adults, so having other adults involved in your kids lives, it's actually something you can do is you can insert, as long as they're still in the house, you can you can organize, you can arrange adults to be around, you can let the adults know in your life. I want you to be involved in my kid, I want you to ask them questions, you can invite them to do that. But but to specifically have support from someone who's licensed, trained, has a framework knows how to diagnose knows how to walk alongside kids like you. Just to kind of wrap this up a little bit, Matt, maybe you can speak to a couple things. One, if I'm a parent, or or someone working in school, what what are the reasons I ought to consider getting my kid or that kid connected to the therapist? And then secondly, how do they how would they specifically connect with you?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 23:19
Yeah, no, I think if you notice any coping mechanisms that are destructive in a way that you feel like there can be some serious harm that it's been doing done to my kids. So if you notice, they're cutting a lot. You know, I would say that's a mental health issue, right? If they're, you know, smoking weed, you know, daily, you know, or just, they just they've, you've given consequence as a consequence of a consequence, and they're still smoking or they're still drinking, it's like, you know, that, that that is a mental health issue if they're acting out violently. in excess, you know, of course, you know, like, for young boys, they're kind of figuring out their bodies, and there can be some fun but really an excess and I think that could be a mental health issue. And if you know if you're just if you notice that they're depressed, no way that they're just sleeping all the time, or they're avoiding social socializing, or you know, they are there's a difficult life transition. I mean, they divorce a really difficult breakup on their end, I can't tell you how often parents kind of dismiss breakups as puppy love and when I tried to say is, it is popular, but your kids are puppy and pupply love is for the puppies. And it's like, when you had your breakup at 25 It's, it's a lot different than a breakup at 15 when the entire school knows and whose gonna sit next to you at lunch can be really difficult. So I think those are just some some big reasons and and I'll just say I love what you said about having kind of some other adults around them to be good influences because in kind of natural teenage development, adolescent development. It is a, Hey, Mom and Dad, this is where you stop, and I began, and I'm going to differentiate from you and be my own person. And that's a healthy normal development, that's disruptive, fine. It's very disruptive. And it's frustrating when they just go into the room where you ask them how school works, they say, Fine, they don't want to talk. That's, that's, that's, it's can be frustrating. And so that is the time where it is good to have those kind of whether it's a life coach, or mentor, or uncle, an aunt, therapist, whatever, and kinda come alongside and walk alongside your kids. So.
Scott Schimmel 25:37
How can they get connected with you and what you're up to?
Matt Bishop, LMFT 25:40
Yeah, so I'm actually going through a big transition in my own life, I was at a wonderful private practice called Soul Care hair, or Soul Care House. For the last three and a half years, I've been trying to transition out of that. And so you can email me at Matt at Matt Bishop therapy.com. The website will be Matt Bishop therapy.com, eventually, not yet up by now, although weeks by the time it will be up. Yeah. So you can always look me up there, at some point,
Scott Schimmel 26:06
And we'll have that in the show notes. And also, for those of you listening who work in schools, professional development is a big deal. And Matt's a part of the You School team, broadly to come in and bring great tools and experiences to educate and equip adults how to do this kind of work well, like the whole thing we're trying to do with you schools, create environments, cultures, inside schools, where where the natural result is kids can construct meaningful lives for themselves. And as much as anxiety is creeping in and has crept in to the normal school day, we need adults, we need more and more tools, more equipment, more framework, more chances to learn about how do we care for kids? Well, because all this is for the sake of kids, that they might be able to design and construct great lives for themselves. That's why we're in this game. So thank you, Matt. Thanks for being a part of The You School team. Congrats on the transition. And we're gonna be sending people. There's so many broken people, myself included, we're gonna be sending people to you for years to come. And thanks for all the work that you do to care for kids and support families.
Matt Bishop, LMFT 27:12
Back at you, man. Thanks for having me on.
Scott Schimmel 27:14
Hey, thanks for joining in on The YouSchool podcast, we'd love to share with you the resources available on our website at theyouschool.com Not just articles, ebooks, worksheets and other podcasts episodes, but specifically you should know about a free course we have available called The Real Me course. It's digital, it's interactive, and it'll guide you to get clear about who you are and the great story you could tell with your life. So go register for a free account and get started on The Real Me course today at theyouschoolschool.com That's the you school dot.com