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10 Tips for Effective Communication in Relationships

Recent Blog Posts - 02-13-2015 11:51

Are you having trouble finding ways to effectively communicate in your relationships? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many couples, families, coworkers, and even friends struggle with finding the right way to express their feelings in a positive, productive manner.

Perfecting communication in relationships is tough, but if you're anything like us, you're not ready to give up just yet! So for a little help in the right direction, we sought advice from Dr. Darren Adamson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Assistant Dean of Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences.

Dr. Adamson explains that "communication is like any skill, it takes practice." In order to start perfecting your communication skills, he suggests that "as objectively as possible, you analyze the causes of the poor communication – are they individual in the partners or interactional in the couple?" And he is sure to point out that "the need and the ability to create improvement usually lies in each individual AND in the relationship interaction."

Once you've successfully determined the underlying cause of your poor communication, Dr. Adamson suggests you keep these 10 tips in mind when taking the time to talk it out.

1. Make sure the conversation is appropriately arranged.

This means picking a proper setting, having a clear intent behind the conversation, and spelling out the desired outcome before you sit down to talk.

2. Prepare yourself with the right attitude.

Remember to point the finger in the right direction – at yourself, because you have the power to communicate well! In addition, make sure to come in to the conversation calm and open rather than upset and closed off.

3. Avoid unloading your list of stored up issues.

You already have a clear intent and desired outcome, so don't get steered off course by bringing up issues from the past that were already resolved.

4. Take your emotions out of it (at first).

This is a hard one to achieve. If you're having trouble, it may help you to keep your comments short and simple in the beginning of the conversation.

5. Mind your manners.

Remember that this is supposed to be a positive, respectful conversation. Try to use the tips your elders gave you years ago and mind those manners!

6. Stick to the facts.

Make sure your issues or complaints are described using data and not just emotions.

7. Remember the good stuff.

It's not all bad! Tell your partner something you appreciate about her or him – this keeps the conversation balanced. This also communicates that “it’s not just about an issue, it’s about our relationship”.

8. Own your emotions.

When talking about your emotions, try using "I" statements such as "I feel hurt, when ____ happens," and avoid the use of “you."

9. Ask questions instead of making statements.

Remember, your goal is to understand your partner, not to make sure that she or he understands you.

10. Celebrate communication success.

When it works, it works! Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate it – together!

In the end, remember that striving to perfect the art of effective communication in relationships is a process. You won't get it perfect the first time, and you may not even get close – just keep trying until you get there!

Have you ever used any of these tips before? What works for you and your partner?

Blog Categories: couples-therapyBlog Tags: communicationRelationshipsCommunication in Relationships
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Fair Use or Misuse? Social Media and Copyright Law

Recent Blog Posts - 02-11-2015 11:03

By Rick Rapier

She claims she had their permission and thought they would be grateful for the exposure, but, according to Ultra Records, fashion video blogger Michelle Phan was sadly mistaken.

In fact for using copyrighted music in her informational YouTube fashion videos, Phan is facing $150,000 in fines for each incident of misuse, with penalties adding into the millions. Such incidents of copyright violation are increasing, both by casual users and intentional abusers of copyrighted material – and by litigation instituted by wronged copyright holders.

Most of Phan’s legal trouble hinges on something you may have heard of before: fair use. And evidently cries of “Fair use!” – commonly invoked by users of social media sites, independent blogs and websites – offer little to no legal protection.

Does Fair Use Make It Fair Game?

Unlike cases early in the development of social media, like Napster, which is now infamous for allowing subscribers to download copyrighted music for free in the Net’s early days, and was deemed to be involved in a clear case of theft and copyright infringement, “fair use” is a little more in the gray area of the law.

The Fair Use Doctrine, frequently and often incorrectly invoked throughout the web, is borne of Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. While Section 106 affords all rights of use to the copyright holder, Section 107 offers some leeway to others, including allowing for use of copyrighted material for educational purposes. And as the Copyright Office itself says, “The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.”

Still, the Copyright Office goes on to suggest that the answer to the question is: No, fair use does not make copyrighted content fair game. The Copyright Office explains, “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”

Unintentional Violations

Much of the confusion can be attributed to the proliferation of social media. Whether YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Spotify, Pinterest, or personal blogs of various types, billions of online users are sharing, linking, embedding, and cutting and pasting as common practice. But that’s where copyright holders tend to be the most litigious. That is, lawsuits tend to arise when there is business being transacted and therefore money being made or – for the original creators – lost through “borrowing” or “sharing” media without permission, whether music, video, photographs, or infographics.

Thanks to the vague laws governing copyright and the use of copyrighted media, Phan is far from alone. According to one Internet and fair use expert, Sarah Bird, there have been hundreds of lawsuits filed and myriad rulings in the last several years on the matter of fair use versus copyright infringement, leading to legal precedents that often stand at odds with one another.

Bird is an SEO and social analytics expert and CEO of Moz, a provider of search engine optimization (SEO) optimization software. She asserts that due to fast-changing technologies and delivery platforms, copyright laws are intentionally vague. On her website, she is often asked about the topic of copyright, and an entire website, PlagiarismToday.com, has been dedicated to addressing and tracking the growing problem of Internet plagiarism.

“’Fair use is an important, controversial, and evolving concept”
—Sarah Bird, SEO and social analytics expert and CEO of Moz

Even the experts, including the U.S. Copyright office, say the subject is confusing. But in addition to being a gray area of the law, it can sometimes do harm to both copyright holders who lose income and to those who unknowingly violate copyright law and face penalties under the law.

In Phan’s case, while her YouTube videos are educational for those interested in fashion, Phan also makes a considerable profit – $5 million last year alone – generated by her channel’s online advertisers. And that is business generated, in part, by using copyrighted works.

Another infamous case of using social media as both educational tool and cottage industry is that of self-proclaimed “Food Babe” Vani Hari. While Hari has been heralded as noble by such renowned news organizations as CNN and New York Times for her efforts to make the ingredients in Subway’s bread and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese more healthy, she has many detractors as reported ScienceBasedMedicine.org and NPR.org. And one has apparently come at her for purported plagiarism for lifting the online content of others from various blogs and websites, no small charge to make against a woman whose whole career is based on her credibility.

The Virtual Damage Is Done

Hari has decried the charges as unfounded “ad hominem attacks,” however, in a certain sense, the suspicion of plagiarism will follow her for years – and many Google search results – to come. Still, the pair of Internet vlog entrepreneurs can serve as lessons for the rest of us. The risks of utilizing content produced by others, especially if for personal gain, can be costly. Not only can the penalties result in financial loss, but it can also damage credibility. This affirms that social media is not the free-for-all many believe it to be. Social media users must be mindful of these laws when it comes to sharing content.

To mitigate the risks of recrimination, Bird suggests that offering attribution and providing links back to the original source can often help reduce the risk of inciting the content’s originator, especially if a blog or social site is not intended for profit. But where the devil is in the details truly comes when there is money being made by the “fair user.”

In a case of making lemons out of lemonade, Phan has learned from her experience with Ultra Records and copyright law, founding a new venture: She’s launching her own music label.

Have you used content produced by others on your blog, YouTube, or other social media channels? What are your thoughts on the “Fair Use” doctrine?

*/ Blog Categories: social-mediaBlog Tags: social media
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Employee Engagement for Fun and Profit

Recent Blog Posts - 01-29-2015 17:22

Scavenger hunts, cooking classes and inflatable sumo wrestling. What do they all have in common? They could be the key to greater productivity and profit for you or your business.

National Fun at Work Day (January 30) is today. And with this unofficial holiday comes an opportunity for your company to have fun while improving employee engagement.

Here’s how it works. Fun is a great way to build staff relationships. Staff relationships have been identified as the most critical component of employee engagement. And companies with engaged employees show dramatically higher levels of performance and revenue. In fact, according to the management consulting firm Hay Group, “organizations in the top quartile on engagement demonstrate revenue growth 2.5 times that of those in the bottom quartile.”

So how can your company improve employee engagement? In their 2013 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identified the top five conditions for engaging employees:

Top 5 Conditions for Engaging Employees 1. Relationship with co-workers (73%) 2. Opportunities to use skills and abilities (70%) 3. Relationship with immediate supervisor (70%) 4. The work itself (68%) 5. Contribution of work to organization’s business goals (66%)

As you can see, the first and third conditions regard relationships among co-workers and supervisors. In all, the SHRM study identified 18 factors that foster engagement in a variety of areas, but clearly one of the most important is relationships.

The study surveyed 600 U.S. employees of all ages. Interestingly, when the findings were analyzed by gender and age, they did not change. This suggests that when it comes to engagement, employees of all ages are more alike than different.

Even though Baby Boomers, Gen X and the Millennials have quite different motivations and opinions about the workplace, they tend to agree about what engages them—and relationships are top of the list.

This means anything you can do to encourage staff interaction, collaboration, teamwork, and friendship can contribute to better engagement. Long term, this might include:

  • Mentorship programs
  • Employee self-recognition programs
  • Group classes
  • Regular team meetings
  • Volunteer projects
  • Ongoing competitions
  • Job switching

Of course, in the short-term, a great start could be a simple team-building exercise to celebrate National Fun at Work Day. The Internet is overflowing with good team-building ideas and most of them have the added benefit of being fun!

From Pictionary, paintball and potluck lunches to karaoke, card games and double-kayaking, there are numerous activities that can bring your company closer. But be careful, one company’s outstanding outing could be another company’s dysfunctional function. The Internet is also rife with team-building horror stories, like “Group Insult Sessions,” “Bathing with Your Managers,” and “Fake Terrorist Kidnappers.”

Don’t choose activities that might compromise someone’s dignity, privacy or personal space. Realize that what’s motivation for some people is misery for others, especially activities like athletic competitions, risky adventures or public performances.

A good first step might be to conduct your own survey and ask your employees what they would like to do. You should be able to find consensus on what’s fun for everyone in some capacity. The very act of surveying everyone or taking a vote can get people talking and having fun. And as long as they’re having fun, the rest will take care of itself.

Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: businessemployee engagement
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How Text-based Chat Can Aid Second Language Learning

Recent Blog Posts - 01-26-2015 17:02
What methods do you know people use when trying to learn a new language?

Watching movies? Using special software? Hanging out with fluent speaker? What about text chat?

In her study titled, "Prior knowledge and second language task production in text chat," published in Technology-mediated TBLT: Researching Technology and Tasks, Dr. Rebecca Adams took a closer look at how text-based chat can help people who are interested in learning a second language and which variables can help make it more successful.

About Dr. Adams

Dr. Adams is the associate director of the Faculty Resource Center at Northcentral University. She has a passion for language and earned her PhD in Linguistics from Georgetown University. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Brigham Young University, where she also completed her undergraduate education with a double major in Linguistics and German. Her areas of expertise include educational research, online teaching and learning, and English as a second language.

Purpose of the Study

Computer-mediated communication, or any communication done with the help of a computer, such as text-based chat in becoming increasingly important in today's diverse global environment. Skype, Facebook chat, Lync and Google Hangouts are just a few examples of popular text-based chat applications that allow people to communicate over a network or the Internet. In addition to allowing individuals to communicate, text-based chat can also aid in the actual learning and refining of second language skills.

With her background in TESOL, Dr. Adams desired to take a closer look at the efficiency of text-based chat is aiding second language learning. She believed that using text chat in task-based language learning, especially when it comes to tasks where students have prior knowledge, would be beneficial to students and could influence the accuracy, complexity and quantity of language production.

Specifically, she desired to answer the following questions:
  • • Does prior knowledge increase the accuracy of learner text chat task-based production?
  • • Does prior knowledge increase the complexity of learner text chat task-based production?
  • • Does prior knowledge increase the quantity of learner text chat task-based production?
Methodology

Dr. Adams used a mixed methods approach to answering the proposed research questions. Her study sample included 48 random, second-year engineering students (some electrical engineering students and some chemical engineering students) with intermediate-level English proficiency. The study was conducted at a technical university in Malaysia in a course on English for Professional Communication these students were all experienced users of text-based chat in their native language and familiar with Skype.

Inspired by Dr. Peter Robinson, who determined that completing a task can influence second language learning through increased language production and task engagement, Dr. Adams devised a task using the Cognition Hypothesis for students to complete using text-based chat. Cognitive Hypothesis predicts how the different features of a task design can influence second language learning.

In order to isolate the prior knowledge variable in her study, Dr. Adams chose a task that would be familiar to the electrical engineering students, but not to the chemical engineering students. The task required students to role play the part of an engineer in a multinational company meeting online who must decide what type of electrical engineering software (familiar to electrical engineering students) the company should adopt.

For the quantitative portion of her study, Dr. Adams analyzed the students' chat transcripts following the task to calculate scores for accuracy, complexity and quantity of language production. She completed MANOVA tests to determine the significance of the data. Following the task, Adams also held a voluntary face-to-face group discussion using open ended questions (qualitative research) to learn more about the students' perception of the activity and using text-based chat to accomplish the task.

Findings

Dr. Adams predicted that that the complexity of the assigned task (based on whether or not the student had prior knowledge of the subject) would influence the complexity, accuracy and fluency of speech production. Interestingly, her prediction was partly right and partly wrong.

The study indicated that increasing task complexity (no prior knowledge) was related to increased complexity and accuracy of students' language production. On the other hand, decreasing task complexity seemed to positively affect the students' fluency by increasing the quantity of language used during the task.

Join the Discussion

Text-based chat gives second language learners the unique ability to draft and edit their speech before posting, which is different than speaking face-to-face. How do you think this influenced the results of the study?

Blog Categories: researchBlog Tags: faculty publications
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Digital Detox: This is Your Intervention

Recent Blog Posts - 01-20-2015 10:15

By Mark Lange

This is your digital intervention. No, your family isn’t gathered in the living room. You won’t be whisked off to a dude ranch. And no one is going to “love” you through this. We just need you to turn off your digital devices for a while—after you read this article, of course.

The fact is, if you use a smartphone, tablet, computer or video game on a regular basis, you’re probably hooked to some extent. But, like most of us, you may be in denial. Because, ironically, this addiction started off by making you more productive, socially connected and mentally engaged.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to give up all of your technology; just enough to see the control it has over you and how moderation can improve your quality of life.

What are the signs of digital addiction?

How do you know if you’re addicted to technology? Review the signs and symptoms below:

Using technology like a drug:

Do you turn to your smartphone or computer when you’re bored, lonely or depressed? You may be using it like a drug to control your mood or emotions. Ironically, studies show that a lack of close relationships, social activities and physical exercise—the type you can’t get online—can cause depression.

Using technology more often:

A recent study reported that most people check their cellphone 150 times a day. Is checking your phone the last thing you do at night and the first thing you do in the morning? Do you monitor your texts, email, tweets, and social media so often that nothing has changed since the last time you looked? These are signs that your habit is escalating despite diminishing returns.

Withdrawing from friends and family:

Do you find yourself sneaking a peek at your phone in the middle of a conversation? During meals, parties or meetings? How about at movies, your kid’s recital, or in bed? Aside from being rude, it robs you of real-life interaction and the ability to focus on the real-world experience.

Mental health issues:

If you’re experiencing stress, depression or sleep disorders, it may be digitally induced. A recent study linked those mental health problems to heavy use of technology. Another study found that watching a computer monitor for just two hours can substantially lower levels of the sleep hormone serotonin, which can cause sleep disorders. Yet another study showed that one out of three Facebook visitors felt loneliness, envy, anger and frustration when comparing themselves socially to their digital peers.

Stress

A growing body of data suggests that constant smartphone use will stress you out. One university study linked the stress to our “relentless need to immediately review and respond to every incoming message, alert or bing.” It further found that the most stressed users experienced ‘phantom’ vibrations when there were no alerts.

Driving under the influence of technology

If you use a cellphone while driving, you’re driving impaired. Cellphone talkers are 5.36 times more likely to get in an accident than undistracted drivers. And hands-free devices are not any safer. Studies show the risk is the same as driving with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level. If you’re texting while driving, you are 23 times more likely to crash.

If any of the above behavior sounds like you, you are digitally addicted to some degree. And while this isn’t a real intervention, there is a simple five-step treatment program you should check into:

How to detox from digital addiction 1. No phone while driving.

Obviously, you should not be texting while driving. But also try not making or answering any phone calls. They can wait. Pay attention to the road.

2. No phones with other people.

Don’t look at your phone when talking with other people. This includes friends, family, co-workers, cashiers, waiters, you name it. Make live people a priority and give them your undivided attention.

3. No phones at functions.

While participating in a social event or business function, turn your phone off. Not even vibrate mode, just off. Again, fully focus and experience the activity at hand.

4. No digital devices in bed or before bedtime

No more staying up past bedtime to surf the Web, and no more falling asleep staring at your phone. Shut your phone off at night. Get a good night’s sleep.

5. Reserve more time for real life.

Here’s the big challenge. Get out and do more in the real world. Visit with friends and family, exercise, play with your kids, take in a ball game, have date night with your spouse, walk the dog at the park—all without using your phone. Integrate new hobbies, people and patterns into your day. If it causes you a great deal of discomfort or anxiety, you weren’t in control.

If you’re bored or depressed, you may need to develop more life offline. Of course, if you find this detox to be a pleasant, relaxing and enjoyable experience, you’ll know how much better your life could be if you set limits on your digital devices.

Blog Categories: lifestyle
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

WILLPOWER vs. BRAIN POWER: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RESOLUTIONS

Recent Blog Posts - 12-22-2014 12:38

By Rick Rapier

With the new year right around the corner, many people are considering or have made definitive resolutions for 2015. Most of us look at the new year as a clean slate and have every intention of sticking to the personal or professional changes we vow to make, so why is the idea of a resolution inspiring yet hellish at the same time? As Samuel Johnson (ca. 1775) said, “Hell is paved with good intentions.” So what is it about human nature that we make promises to ourselves to change, promises that we want to keep – but suspect we won’t?

Is there something immutable about our natural resistance to change? Or are there things that we can do to increase our chances of following through on resolutions and of making lasting changes?

Why People Fail at Resolutions

According to one study by the University of Scranton, 62 percent of all Americans set New Year’s resolutions at one time or another – and, according to researcher and psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88 percent of those who do make resolutions will fail. But according to a study done by Wiseman, there is a physiological reason for this common shortcoming: our brains.

Research by Stanford University, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, has shown that our prefrontal cortex, positioned at the fore of our brains, is responsible for providing self-control over our urges. But the downside is that this part of our brains is also responsible for handling short-term memory and abstract reasoning – all at the same time. It’s why you couldn’t resist those holiday chocolates while worrying about how to pay for those holiday gifts!

So, when we’re challenged by multitasking, overwhelmed by information, and assaulted by the daily stresses of life, that is when we are most likely to set aside self-control. We default to our strongest urges and existing patterns – and abandon our decision to resist those patterns.

Might as well stop before you start, right? Not so fast. According to Dr. Wiseman, the good news is that his studies show that the prefrontal cortex can be exercised like a muscle to strengthen by challenging ourselves to do multiple mental tasks more and more, over time. Thus, it would appear that we are not bound by our present limitations.

Additionally, how you approach your resolutions makes a positive difference as well. 4 Ways to Keep Your Resolutions

As suggested by Ramit Sethi, entrepreneur and author of New York Times bestseller I Will Teach You to Be Rich in his article “Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail” and also by the work of Dr. Wiseman, there are four general ways to improve your chances for a happier new year, one in which you succeed at achieving personal positive change.

1. Make Your Resolutions SPECIFIC

Instead of resolving to be a “better person,” be more specific. If being a better person to you means donating to charity, for example, earmark a percentage of your income to charity or make plans to volunteer for an hour each week. If part of becoming a better person means improving your health, be specific and resolve to run five miles or hit the gym three days a week. Whatever your version of being a better person is, specific actions and behaviors are strongly recommended to enable you to achieve your resolution goals.

2. Make Your Resolutions REALISTIC

Maybe weight has crept up on you and you’ve found yourself 20 pounds overweight, a daunting amount you’ve wanted to shed for years. What if you resolve instead to shedding 10 pounds? Or what about five pounds? Perhaps you’ve resolved to get free of credit card debt. Instead of resolving to pay off all of your debt, why not resolve to clear that card with the lowest balance first or highest interest rate. Setting small goals is a more realistic or manageable tactic to ensure accomplishing your overarching resolution.

3. Instead of Willpower Alone, Use METHODS

Implement a system or method for achieving your goals. This is similar to the suggestion of being specific: Instead of determining to lose 10 pounds, it is better to focus on the “how” such as resolving to run 10 miles a week or stop eating fast food. Additionally, telling people in your circle – family, friends, co-workers – about your resolutions also provides a degree of accountability for your to follow through on your resolution. People who explicitly make resolutions in writing are “10 times more likely to attain their goals” than people who don’t, according to the University of Scranton study.

4. Make Your Resolutions FEW

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Wiseman advises that if you want to succeed at a resolution, don’t tax your brain with the competing interests of other resolutions. Want to devote five more hours per week to your dissertation in the new year? Then don’t also decide to stop smoking, lose 10 pounds, and find a mate. Prioritize your goals, and focus on achieving them one by one, not simultaneously.

Finally, according to Ramit Sethi, you need to find a way to succeed with this year’s resolutions. As he put it, “Failing at our resolutions has implications…we start to distrust ourselves. If you’ve set the same resolutions for five years, and you never follow through, what makes you think you’ll be different this year?”

What are your resolutions for 2015? What methods are you using to achieve them?

Here’s to 2015 being your year to succeed at achieving the goals set out in your resolutions!

Blog Categories: psychologyBlog Tags: psychology
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

An Inside Look: Feminist Family Therapists and Oppression

Recent Blog Posts - 12-18-2014 13:38
What experiences do feminist family therapists have with oppression?

That is the question Dr. Annabelle Goodwin, core faculty member of Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences, wanted to answer in her study, "An Exploration of Feminist Family Therapists' Resistance to and Collusion with Oppression," published in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy.

About Dr. Goodwin

In addition to her role as a core faculty member at NCU, Dr. Goodwin is a practicing individual, couple and family therapist with a passion for serving clients from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Goodwin earned her PhD from Virginia Tech and her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from the University of Oregon. She also serves on the board of the Oregon Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Purpose of the Study

Back in 1970, Brazilian educator Dr. Paulo Freire, wrote about the likelihood of oppressed people to turn around and oppress others in their struggle to gain more respect and power in society. Dr. Goodwin wanted to discover more about how feminist family therapists deal with oppression.

Marriage and family therapists as a whole, receive significant social training as they prepare for their careers. In addition to clinical training, they explore gender diversity, family systems, historical and multicultural influences, and ethics. This deep understanding of social dynamics helps them better relate to the challenges of their diverse clientele. Knowing that, Dr. Goodwin set out to explore how well-educated feminist family therapists view oppression and their experiences with it, both in their personal and professional lives

Specifically, Dr. Goodwin desired to answer the following research questions:

1. How do highly informed family therapists who identify as feminist describe how their feminist identities and ideas about feminism have evolved over time?
2. How do highly informed feminist family therapists report stories of their own resistance to gender-based oppression?
3. How do highly informed feminist family therapists report stories of their own collusion with the oppression of others?
4. How do highly informed feminist family therapists encourage clients to examine oppression and collusion of oppression of others?

Methodology

Dr. Goodwin conducted a qualitative grounded theory study in her exploration of feminist family therapists and their resistance to and collusion with oppression. A grounded theory study relies on the analysis of data to develop a theory that explains similar processes or actions (e.g. why something happened).

By interviewing pioneers in the field of feminist family therapy over the phone, who have explored the topic of oppression from a personal and clinical perspective, Dr. Goodwin was able to identify their shared experiences. Analyzing these shared experiences, and the different perspectives from which they came (data), provided insight into potential theories of behavior of feminist family therapists.

The 10 participants in the study met the following characteristics:

• Have at least five years of clinical MFT experience
• Hold master's degree or higher in a mental health discipline
• Meet at least three of the four following criteria:
o Published at least two articles on gender or feminism related to MFT
o Have at least three years of experience in the field of feminist family therapy
o Cited in the book, Feminist Family Therapy: empowerment in Social Context, a handbook of feminist family therapy

Findings

The study uncovered multiple related themes, including resisting [oppression], strategies of feminist family therapists, recognizing oppression and injustice, and the development of a feminist identify.

For example, Dr. Goodwin learned that while feminist family therapists' identities often had political foundations, these identities expanded to include a desire for justice for all types of oppressed people (not just women). Additionally, a feminist identity is not something that one can turn off and on at whim—it very much influences every part of their personal and professional lives.

Dr. Goodwin also discovered that feminist family therapists must understand oppression and potential barriers to resistance in order to better help clients in their oppressive situations. This understanding can develop from education, research, and personal experience – both as the oppressed and the oppressor.

Join the Discussion

Can you think of instances when you have been oppressed? How about when you were the oppressor (can be as simple as laughing at a racist joke)? What would be your advice, based on your experiences, to help someone take steps towards eliminating oppression in their lives?

Blog Categories: faculty-spotlightBlog Tags: therapy
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Six Effective Ways Managers Can Motivate

Recent Blog Posts - 12-15-2014 15:19

By Rick Rapier

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you,” explained billionaire Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful business leaders

Without a doubt, great employees with all three traits are the lifeblood of an organization. However, what happens when managers don’t have teams with these characteristics? If a manager is new to the organization or role, he could likely inherit a department comprised of low and high performing individuals.

Knowing how to motivate the entire department to perform at their best requires a strategy. Here are six ways managers can cultivate a team of rock stars!

More Than Make Do… Motivate

As professional trainer and life coach Beth Ramsay puts it, “A bad attitude from a chronic complaining employee is like a cancer; it will only spread and infect others.” Consequently, discouraged or unmotivated employees are not something a manager can ignore. The scenarios touched on by Buffet and Ramsay can add up to an uncomfortable and unstable situation and, if left unaddressed, destructive, according to stats compiled by Entrepreneur Magazine under the title “The Real Cost of Unhappy Employees.”

A study performed by Dashburst has estimated that keeping employees happy would cut labor costs by $2.3 billion each year in the United States. Another estimate has it that unhappy employees can actually cost $200 billion a year in lost productivity – in the U.S. alone!

Because of this, it is critical for a manager to implement methods for encouraging and guiding direct reports - even the ones who make the job difficult. The good news is that there are a number of steps a wise manager can take to motivate even the most obstinate employee.

1. Keep Your Cool

Disrespect from an employee can push the buttons of even the most cool-headed manager, but it pays big dividends to maintain a professional demeanor. Open anger only serves to escalate conflict and upset the morale of other employees who might feel caught in the crossfire – or caught up in the heat of the moment.

2. Don’t Be Coldblooded

Especially in times of stress or transition within your department, it is best to avoid being aloof with problematic employees. Maintain a friendly, approachable demeanor, and be sure to respond to and check in with your employees as if they were your customers.

3. Shoot Straight

Most people can identify when a manager is “blowing smoke.” Being dishonest with your team erodes trust. Being sensitive to confidentiality around certain aspects of the business, managers should keep their employees in the loop as much as possible. Transparency and clear communication go a long way with teams.

4. There is no ‘I’ in team

There is a reason the adage, “There is no ‘I’ in team” is so popular. A manager who seems to be primarily out for himself can quickly demoralize and demotivate a department.. Teams work harder for a leader who gives them credit where credit is due. A major culprit for diminishing team motivation is a manager who singularly takes credit for work that’s been done by a group.

5. Do Your Homework Before Reacting

Always fact-find and fact-check before assessing a situation and before taking action. Ask questions and actively listen. And if the one who is responsible for a problem or error happens to be you, then admit your mistakes. You’ll be surprised by the amount of respect and commitment this move will garner from employees.

6. Lighten Their Load

Direct reports who feel you have their back, will work harder for you. Offering to pitch in to help them with tasks can show you’re supportive. But there is more to work than getting the work done: You can lighten the mood. Keep an eye out for the cues that someone is having a rough day. Offer a smile, a genuine laugh, or an openly voiced compliment – while withholding criticisms until they can be offered in private.

There can be a high price to pay, both in dollars and organizational morale, when employees do not feel appreciated. While money is a significant motivating factor for employee satisfaction, it isn’t the sole way to make an employee feel appreciated.

A study done by Ronald F. Piccolo and Timothy A. Judge, which considered more than 100 academic papers on the subject of employee satisfaction, concluded that pay has very little to do with keeping employees happy. To most employers’ surprise (and perhaps delight), while money can motivate employees, it is not the most important factor in worker satisfaction.

“Money can buy many things. Happiness at work just isn’t one of them”Ronald F. Piccolo and Timothy A. Judge

That’s where the savvy manager comes in. People will simply work harder when they feel appreciated, understood, and engaged by their boss. While financial compensation is a well-known motivator, dollars alone are not the end-all-be-all.

How have you been motivated by a leader, or how do you motivate your own team?

Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: business
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

WHAT KIND OF MANAGER ARE YOU?

Recent Blog Posts - 12-10-2014 13:49

By Rick Rapier

The words “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably.

Sam Walton, founder of the retail empires Walmart and Sam’s Club said, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.”

One might think that his success points the way for all managers; however, not all managers face the same challenges. The Harvard Business Review published an article exploring several distinct leadership and management styles. The article examined the areas of leadership and management and focused on a study conducted by Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of bestseller Emotional Intelligence, with the aid of international consulting firm Hay/McBer.

With his colleagues, Dr. Goleman conducted in-depth interviews and took a random sampling of opinions of nearly 4,000 managers from a database of more than 20,000 executives worldwide. The study involved in depth questions and interviews of those sampled.

Six Styles of Leadership: Pros & Cons 1. COERCIVE

This style of leadership sounds threating, and it can be. But it can also be very beneficial in limited situations and used sparingly. At their core, the coercive manager demands immediate compliance: no ifs, ands or buts. According to the study, the coercive approach has the most corrosive impact on an organization.

Pros: Very beneficial during a crisis or in turn-around situations. To be implemented only when necessary.

Cons: Tends to destroy morale, independent thought, risk-taking and erodes motivation.

2. AUTHORITATIVE

Both quantitatively and qualitatively, this style of management is, overall, the most effective style for most situations, as concluded by the study. Authoritative leaders are visionaries who move people toward a common vision and help them to see how they fit into long-term plans.

Pros: Employees know their purpose, which increases buy-in of the organization’s goals and strategies. Standards and rewards are known to all and the approach affords leeway to achieving individual goals.

Cons: Ill-suited to teams where subordinates are more experienced; leaders of this type can seem “pompous or out-of-touch”

3. AFFILIATIVE

The affiliative leader beckons the team to follow and is all about mandates. This style seeks to create harmony amongst employees and during stressful periods focuses on teamwork in order to motivate them. In short, people, not organizational goals, come first.

Pros: A good “all-weather” approach that is particularly useful for building team morale, improving communication, and repairing broken trust.

Cons: Should not be implemented without employing a different style simultaneously. Can lead to erosion of productivity and quality of work. Can also leave teammates feeling cut adrift.

4. DEMOCRATIC

Unlike styles that reply on unilateral decision-making, this style works to gain employee input, buy-in, and consensus if possible. This is often useful in phases of management change or dramatic business redirects.

Pros: Builds trust, commitment, and respect.

Cons: Inefficient especially in times of crisis. Can actually escalate conflict and give the impression of leaderlessness.

5. PACE-SETTING

To be used infrequently, this is when the leader sets a personal best as the standard, and expectation, for the entire team or organization. Those she leads are expected to follow and perform at their level best.

Pros: Works well with personnel who are as competent and motivated as their leader. Should be used in conjunction with another leadership approach.

Cons: Can lead to micromanaging and can cause employees to feel overwhelmed by unreasonable demands.

6. COACHING

This approach helps leaders identify their talents and shows them how to tie these strengths to their private and professional goals. Rarely used in most organizations, according to Dr. Goleman, this approach champions and empowers individual employees to achieve.

Pros: Helps employees identify strengths and weaknesses. Short-term failures tolerated with an eye to long-term successes.

Cons: An ill fit when employees are resistant to changing. Motivational efforts can be perceived with fear or disregard.

The study concluded there are six distinct leadership types – and they are most definitely not created equal. And, while this study presents six styles, Dr. Peter Bemski, Dean of the School of Business and Technology Management at Northcentral University, suggests there is a seventh style.

“The idea that we can adopt whatever leadership style is most appropriate is popular, but perhaps unrealistic,” explained Bemski. The key to being an effective leader is to have a broad repertoire of styles and to use them appropriately.”

While some hold to the notion that leaders are born not made, the evidence of the study shows us something different: Leaders are made not born. Still, as Dr. Goleman noted in agreement with the notion that leaders are made, managers can “work assiduously to increase” their ability to expand their repertoire and learn to practice styles that might not come naturally.

Consider your own management style. What kind of manager would you categorize yourself or your boss as?. Do you think you should stick with one style or adopt several?

Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Feeling Stressed? How Stress Hurts the Body

Recent Blog Posts - 12-08-2014 16:54

By Christia Gibbons

Are we more stressed out than our ancestors? Research shows that over the years, stress levels have grown along with the evolution of technology. Long-term stress can lead to inflated levels of cortisol, which for many translates into such mental debilitations as insomnia, depression and anxiety, and such physical infirmities as high blood pressure, stroke or cancer.

Cortisol is the hormone that jumps into action to kick-start the adrenalin that provides much-needed energy during a crisis situation. It provides better blood flow, sharper eyesight and mental acuity. But the stresses of life in the 21 century often don’t allow cortisol to return to normal levels. When stress levels are too high, it can have major implications for our bodies.

Fight-or-Flight

“We are consistently and constantly under fight-or-flight,” says Dr. Jennifer King, who works at Scottsdale, Arizona-based LifeScape Medical Associates, a concierge practice. Phoenix Magazine named King a 2014 Top Doctor in the family practice category.

While everyone is able to tolerate a certain amount of fight-or-flight experience, the dynamics of life are keeping many people in a perpetual stressed state that “continues to build because we don’t have the ability to run away. We used to run away from animals,” King says.

“Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn't provide an outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology—which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers—is sabotaging our bodies and minds in a sedentary, digital age,” explains Christopher Bergland in a January 2013 Psychology Today article titled “Cortisol: Why ‘The Stress Hormone’ is Public Enemy No. 1.

Mental Effect of Stress

A Mayo Clinic publication points out that when the people are constantly under stress the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of the brain, sets off an alarm system: “Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.”

When cortisol levels aren’t allowed to return to normal levels, “the body knows,” King says. According to an article in pyschcentral.com, the cognitive, emotional signs and behavioral ramifications of stress include: mental slowness, confusion, negative thoughts, concentration problems, forgetfulness, lack of a sense of humor, irritation, sense of helplessness, feeling overwhelmed, decreased sex drive, poor family and work relations, and a sense of loneliness.

Physical Impact

Uncontrolled stress hits the body through and through, according to The American Stress Institute, affecting the nervous, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems.

People can experience high blood pressure, headaches, panic attacks, compromised liver functions, heart attack, diarrhea, irregular menstrual cycles, and impotence. People don’t digest food properly, may have constipation and urination issues, and can gain or lose too much weight and can feel fatigued. Month after month of not having any down time – cortisol levels promoting physiological unintended affects – translates into stress that can lead to exhaustion, stroke, hospitalized depression and cancer, King points out. And, “Cortisol ages you,” she says.

Combating stress

Find a break in the action.

““Change is hard, it is. No doubt. And, it’s not comfortable. When [the effect of stress] gets painful enough, you’ll change,”
—Dr. Jennifer King, Scottsdale, Arizona-based LifeScape Medical Associates

“It’s not always the circumstance, but how you handle it,” she says. Find what works for you. Maybe it’s reading a book, being in a book club, watching a TV show, going to a museum, talking to a friend, or getting in some exercise.

King suggests her patients change one thing at a time for 30 days. Perhaps add a day of 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a week – pick any day. “It’s more than you did before. I don’t want it to feel like a job.”

Maybe it’s removing one pre-packaged food from one’s diet for a month to get started. King advocates a “clean” diet of nonprocessed food: nuts, seeds, protein without antibiotics. “Avoid anything that comes out of a bag,” she says. It’s OK to have brownies, just make them from scratch instead of a mix. Consider adding flaxseed and hemp parts to help with cholesterol and pump some vitamin A and C into your recipes.

King suggests an easy way to eat better. “I would definitely recommend not putting anything in your body or in your mouth that has a long list of ingredients, in other words, the fewer the ingredients the better both internally and externally.”

Or, perhaps it’s adding meditation to your day. King says many people have a misconception of what it takes to meditate and what it takes to clear one’s mind. It doesn’t have to be stressful just to try to relax. She currently is participating in the free 21-day meditation experience promoted by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey.

King also suggests the 4-7-8 breathing technique practiced by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
And, King says, “Don’t forget that everything counts, including taking the stairs, parking in the most distant spot so you walk more before you get into the store, walking in the airport if you have a layover, walking or bicycling to work if possible.”

King encourages people in their 20s to get going on making changes to avoid what can be the devastating effects of stress in later years. The very best defense against stress, though, is sleep.

“Sleep is key in every medical condition,” King says. “When you sleep you heal, repair, and when you sleep you think better.”

People deal with stress in different ways. The key is dealing with stressors in a positive way.
What are some of the ways you’ve found that are helpful for stress management?

Blog Categories: your-life-your-healthBlog Tags: stress
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Q&A with Dr. James Billings

Recent Blog Posts - 12-05-2014 14:34

James Billings, Ph.D. has been Dean of Northcentral University’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences (SoMFS) for eight years. Dr. Billings has considerable professional experience as a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked in the field for 16 years. He earned his M.A. from Pacific Lutheran University, and his Ph.D. from Loma Linda University.

We caught up with Dr. Billings to learn more about what led him into the field of marriage and family therapy and about what sets our School of Marriage and Family Sciences apart from the rest.

Dr. Billings, what got you interested in and excited about marriage and family therapy?

I got excited about the field of marriage and family therapy very early in my life. My parents, ironically, were both nurses, but my dad was a psychiatric nurse, and as I listened to him talk about the experiences he had helping people, I found that I became very excited about the “helping” professions. As I discovered the field of family therapy, I found that it was a great fit for me.

The relational aspect that is taught to students and therapists to help individuals is something that fit with my paradigm. Understanding how people interact with each other and helping to shift those relationships to overcome stress and difficulties in their lives I’ve found to be very effective, both personally, from my professional experience, and from the research. I'm excited to be a part of this field and a part of this university.

Why should a potential master’s candidate choose the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at NCU?

From their inception, the marriage and family therapy programs here at Northcentral University were designed to meet the highest educational standards within our field. Our master's program became the first ever predominantly distance-based program to receive accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or what's referred to as COAMFTE.

Our doctoral program is also designed to meet these high standards within our field. Currently, we're pursuing that accreditation through this same commission. Once again, we're the first predominantly distance-based doctoral program to pursue this accreditation.

What are the major advantages of NCU’s Marriage and Family Therapy programs over that of other schools?

Northcentral University's Marriage and Family Therapy programs are very different than other schools. Obviously, the one component that's different from many traditional programs is that it's primarily a distance-based program, meaning much of the coursework is all done online with faculty via our Courserooms , also known as My.NCU.edu is the virtual classroom students use for course work and interaction with faculty. But I think the piece that makes Northcentral even more unique, even compared to other distance-based programs, is found in two key aspects:

One is our non-cohort model, or what we call our one-to-one model, meaning that each student works one-to-one with a faculty member. They're neither part of a larger group nor dependent on other students in order to be successful in their courses.

The other aspect that I think is extremely unique about our program is the non-residency requirement. That means that students who enroll in our programs never at any point during the entire process need to fly out to a particular location or a particular state in order to complete their degree. They can complete their entire degree from their local community. As long as they're able to obtain an internship or a residency within their area, they never have to leave their local community to complete the program. And that aspect, in itself, is a very unique aspect among marriage and family therapy programs today.

What separates NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences faculty from that of other universities?

The faculty in the Marriage and Family Therapy programs here at Northcentral University are a powerful group with diverse experiences in education. And most exciting is that all of them hold doctoral degrees. Not just doctoral degrees in general, but all hold graduate level degrees within the field of marriage and family therapy. There are often programs where the faculty themselves are not actual marriage family therapists [who are] teaching marriage family therapy courses.

Here at Northcentral, all the faculty that we hire are both experienced marriage and family therapists who hold licenses in the field of marriage and family therapy and have experience teaching within this field. In addition, the faculty come with a wealth of experience in different areas and different specializations, and they are able to share that with students as they work with them in the course rooms.

What does it take to become a successful student in NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences?

To be a successful student here at Northcentral University, it's important that they have several different attributes, one of those being time management. With being a distance-based program, you won't be attending a class on a set day in a set week and having a professor lecture to you each week. Thus, it's important that you manage your schedule in a way that ensures you have adequate time to look at the content for each week and then determine how to use that to apply that to whatever assignments or projects you might be working on within that course.

One of the things that we have found that has been helpful for students when they first start the program is to really map out their average week and determine what days and times they're going to use to focus on their studies. When that’s mapped out, they can then hold themselves to that schedule to ensure that they have adequate time each week to work on their studies.

Blog Categories: marriage-and-family-therapyBlog Tags: marriage-and-family-sciences
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

FROM HAPPY TO “HANGRY”: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FOOD

Recent Blog Posts - 11-25-2014 10:11

 

By Rick Rapier

We all know that certain foods can change our moods. It’s been widely reported that chocolate can simulate feelings of love, and every holiday party attendee knows that alcohol tends to reduce inhibitions. But is there more to food and the mind than temporary changes to blood sugar?

From the very beginning of life outside the womb, human beings exhibit a strong relationship between food and a sense of well-being. As explained in The Psychology of Food and Eating by English sociologist John L. Smith, infants who do not receive enough interaction with mothers while nursing will grow drowsy from milk. However, with mother’s cooing and touching, infants will remain alert despite a full stomach.

 

But the relationship between food and psychology certainly doesn’t end in childhood. In fact, food has implications far beyond the individual. Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, an expert in the psychology of food, as well as a critic of the American food industry, says that food has a profound impact on not only the human psyche but also on society at large. Yale University even offers a course called, “The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food.”

When What You Eat Is Eating You

Who among us isn’t aware of the mental effects that foods like coffee and soda pop have? Most could describe the effects produced by the caffeine as energized. But for some who are sensitive to it or are not used to it the effect can simulate anxiety or produce nausea, headache, irritability and the inability to focus.

Sometimes food – even those foods we would consider healthy, such as fruits and vegetables – can have serious impacts on brain function. As reported in Psychology Today by Dr. Gary L. Wenk, a doctor of Psychology and Neuroscience, starfruit, an unusually tart fruit known in Latin America as carambola, has been known to produce “dangerous cognitive side effects.” Though loaded with anti-oxidants, minerals, and fiber, starfruit also contains caramboxin, which can actually cause mental confusion and deadly seizures in certain individuals.

Are Feel Good Foods a Cure for Depression?

Since foods can affect our brain chemistry, and thereby change our moods, many authors and self-proclaimed experts suggest foods can be a natural way of treating various chronic emotional conditions. Who hasn’t heard that chocolate can make us feel better? Or heard that eating turkey can cause relaxation and help with insomnia? The curious thing here is that much of it is evidently the placebo effect.

Dr. Wenk explains that tryptophan, for example, popularly thought to cause drowsiness after eating Thanksgiving turkey actually has difficulty reaching the brain when ingested in the context of meat. So, the tryptophan known to be in turkey doesn’t actually reach the brain, so it is more likely the excess of carbohydrates consumed at the holidays that is responsible. And an excessive consumption of carbohydrates such as white flours and sugars can actually “induce changes in brain function.”

The irony here is that, according to Dr. Wenk, while low-quality foods and poor nutrition can negatively impact us emotionally, “a good diet will only prevent you from feeling depressed.” A good diet can not rescue you once depression sets in, Wenk explains.

From Happy to “HANGRY”

Television commercials for Snickers candy bars humorously illustrate that when blood sugar drops we can be “not ourselves.” When the featured character, who typically acts unusually surly or testy, eats the candy bar provided to him, he returns to his amiable self. A protein-based product, Jack Link’s Jerky, also takes a similar comedic approach to the state it calls “hangry moments.”

Humor aside, it is true that Type 2 diabetes, chronic hypoglycemia and other conditions are known to result in erratic up-and-down emotions tied to blood sugar levels. Left untreated, these chronic conditions can lead to far worse than irritability or mood swings. But research shows that a certain key mineral can do a lot to even out moods and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Magnesium’s “Chill” Effect

In fact, psychiatrist Emily Deans, PhD, calls magnesium “The Original Chill Pill.” She writes in Psychology Today that this vital mineral is often deficient in modern diets. She suggests that due to our modern lifestyle and the fact that magnesium is removed during the water treatment process, most people get as little as half their daily requirement.

The resulting deficiency can cause insomnia, anxiety, apathy, depression, headaches, insecurity, irritability, restlessness, and more, including being implicated in physiological complaints like fibromyalgia. But adding magnesium, either through supplements or magnesium-rich foods like almonds and spinach to the diet, can actually reverse many of these common ailments, according to Deans.

Deans recounts the case of a manic-depressive male who was experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. Despite being prescribed Lithium and other anti-depressant prescription drugs nothing seemed to work. However, after starting to take 300mg of magnesium glycinate with every meal, his sleep was immediately restored, depression and anxiety began to abate, leaving him with a “feeling of wellness.”

It all adds up to one thing: While the old adage you are what you eat may be a little over-simplistic, food does have a considerable impact on our sense of emotional well-being as well as on our physical health.

Blog Categories: psychologyBlog Tags: psychology
Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

The Statistical Reality of the Modern Family

Recent Blog Posts - 11-21-2014 11:02

By Rick Rapier

According to NCU’s Dr. Darren Adamson, Assistant Dean of the School of Marriage and Family Sciences, “The modern American family represents an evolution over time that reflects changes in the larger society.” Countless studies have been done that confirm his observation. And much has been written about the evolving American family. Television programs and motion pictures examining the changing nature of life’s most basic social institution have been plenty as well.

Most notably ABC Network has won ratings and many artistic awards for its “Modern Family,” a comedy which features the producers’ snapshot of how families in America have evolved. All of the impacts on the family from the sexual revolution, the technological revolution, and the civil rights movement are represented. The show presents a traditional but quirky marriage, an amusing blended second marriage, and a comedic same-sex couple - a trio of families that rounds out the “modern” conception of family.

Altogether, the picture the show paints is a far cry from the traditional family depicted in the illustrations of Norman Rockwell or in mass entertainment produced up through the ‘90s. But it all leads to an interesting question:

How do these depictions compare to the current statistical realities of today’s American families?

Married with Children

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was indeed a time when the predominant family in America consisted of a mother, a father, and children who were the product of that single marriage. From the start of the 20th century through 1950, 80% of households were occupied by married couples and their children. According to the 2010 census, that percentage fell to 48% with just 20% being married with children.

The American Family in Real Numbers

Today the U.S. Census Bureau lays out a variety of “household” definitions. Traditional husband-wife arrangements now account for 54.5 million households or 68% of family units. However, the number of single and unmarried households – what the census called “non-family households” – had increased considerably. Of the 105.5 million domiciles, 71.8 million are “family households.” But of that 68% of family households, the census now splits the married category into two forms: those “with own children” (45.5%) and those “without own children” (54.5%), the latter hinting at blended family households.

With the rise in the number of single-parent homes reported, nearly 13 million homes are “female householder, no spouse present.” Another 4.4 million are “male householder, no spouse present.” And within these two groupings, the census further breaks it down to those with their own children and those without their own children. For female-led households of this type, 59% have children of their own. For male-led single households, 50% live with their own children.

So, what is the makeup of these families with children if the heads of households do not claim the children as “their own?” Per the 2010 census, of the 88.8 million children accounted for, 93% were biological offspring. The balance of the children were identified as stepchildren (4.7%) or adopted children (2.3%).

“Non-family” Families

The census also accounts for what it calls “non-family households.” Of non-family households, which is about 32% of American homes, the census splits that number into two general categories: those led by a single male (46%) and those led by a single female (54%).

Per the census, the category “unmarried partners” includes same-sex couples. Of the 5.5 million households shared by unmarried partners, opposite-sex partners numbered 4.9 million or 89%. This was an increase of 40% over the 2000 census. The balance of unmarried partners includes those of the same sex, or 11% of unmarried partners, per the census.

Same-sex Families

While the stigma associated with same-sex arrangements is waning, the number of same-sex households remains comparatively small. Of those households where partners cohabitate, about one-third of one percent are same-sex arrangements (.34%). While the census did not identify the number of same-sex households with children or without, an abstract of the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS) explores the question in depth.

Authors of the abstract assert that based on analysis of the 1990 census, 22% of lesbian households have children compared to 5% of partnered gay men. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) reports that as of 2000 there were children living in 27% of gay households. But a more recent estimate from the 2008 ACS study shows there may have been a significant increase. Some 13.9% of male-male households now contain children and 26.5% of female-female households have kids.

According to the 2009 ACS study, the majority of children in same-sex households are the products of previous heterosexual relationships.

An Evolving Institution

Up to now, we have explored how the American family has changed. But NCU’s Dr. Adamson offers us a sense of why.

“With more attractive economic opportunities in specific parts of the country, individual families and family members became more mobile – moving away from extended family. It seems clear that our efforts to support families are best spent on seeking to understand the current family structure and not to seek to recreate history.”
—Dr. Darren Adamson, Assistant Dean of the School of Marriage and Family Sciences, Northcentral University

*/ Blog Categories: couples-therapyBlog Tags: family
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Do You Have The Skills To Be An Entrepreneur?

Recent Blog Posts - 11-17-2014 13:16

By Rick Rapier

Poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” While Eliot lived before business innovators like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Lori Greiner, and Daymond John, he might as well have been describing the modern entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have learned firsthand that by taking risks, they can go quite far.

But surely there must be more to it than risk? Just ask people who take the risk of starting small businesses each year and who fail. Many are willing to take great risks – mortgaging their homes, cashing in retirement funds, and spending life savings to make a go of it. It is rarely for lack of risk-taking that such endeavors go by the boards. While intestinal fortitude is clearly a must, there must be a lot more to it than a willingness to risk.

So, what does it take for an entrepreneur to succeed? As author Tom Wolfe put it, do they also need “the right stuff?” Moreover, do you have the right stuff to be a successful entrepreneur?

No Silver Bullet

Truth be told, there isn’t just one characteristic that will determine whether you have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. There are several. And everyone seems to have an opinion of what they are. Google the phrase “traits of successful entrepreneurs” and you’ll get nearly 500 thousand results.

Entrepreneur Magazine claims to have isolated seven traits. StartUpBros.com, an online advice column for business startups, examines six keys characteristics. And finally, Inc. Magazine offers their readers five essential attributes that all successful entrepreneurs share.

Five Traits Distilled

Five characteristics were common among each of the aforementioned publications. These traits are considered essential characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs:

1. Driven

Yale Law professor Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, asserts that an attitude of “I’m gonna show everybody” can produce incredible entrepreneurial drive in certain individuals.

For an entrepreneur to succeed, he or she must be intensely motivated. More than one source called this “passion.” Thomas Edison was so driven by his desire to invent that he slept only three or four hours a night. The same has been said of President John F. Kennedy who sacrificed sleep in his own effort to be more productive. Successful entrepreneurs will sacrifice all – sleep, relationships, and savings, whatever else it takes – to realize their vision.

2. Singular Vision

A single-minded focus is also evident in successful entrepreneurs. Will Mitchell of StartupBros called it “immunity to shiny objects.” Until a particular goal is achieved, the entrepreneur cannot be dissuaded by other, newer goals. In an effort to hold to their singular vision, entrepreneurs also write down their goals. According to Drew Hendricks of Inc., “Putting things in writing makes them more real and easier to remember and can help avoid confusion down the road.”

3. Tenacious

Entrepreneurs also must be willing to keep going - regardless of temporary failure and obstacles. They have an attitude of never taking no as the answer. This trait is also expressed as patience and persistence, with a willingness to fail. Lori Greiner, inventor-entrepreneur and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” proclaimed on her Facebook page in 2012 that, “Falling down is part of life – getting back up is living!”

4. Thinks Outside the Box

While it might come with a negative connotation, Entrepreneur Magazine asserts successful entrepreneurs are rule breakers. To reframe that as a positive, they must be innovative with a tolerance of ambiguity. If the rule is, “that can’t be done,” the entrepreneur will seek to find a way to prove that rule wrong. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, offers this outlook: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules.”

5. Networked

The four traits listed above are completely internal. But this last trait also involves something outside the individual: connections. Peer-to-peer connections give the entrepreneur a chance to bounce ideas off other experts at their own level and to build their organization with like-minded people.

While it takes a certain personality exhibited by many of the traits above, to succeed an entrepreneur also needs a network of relationships with money sources. Steve Martin famously taught his audiences “how to become a millionaire and pay no taxes.” His advice was, “First, get a million dollars.” While seemingly silly, according to the experts, it isn’t far off. If this sounds like something that would suit you and you want to get the right skills check out NCU's MBA program with a entrepreneurship specialization.

So, do you have the right stuff to be a successful entrepreneur? If you have a burning desire to find out, you just might! Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: entrepreneurshipmaster-of-business-administration
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Resources for Military – Active Duty, Veterans, and Military Spouses

Recent Blog Posts - 11-11-2014 08:50







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Today is Veteran’s Day and with thousands of Americans currently serving their country both at home and abroad we here at Northcentral would like to acknowledge the incredible contribution those in the military make.  Not only do they defend and protect their fellow citizens and our way of life domestically, they also bring amazing helps to people in need in other parts of the world.  And not only do the enlisted and the commissioned dedicate their lives to military service, so do their families who sacrifice so much.  And we are proud to say that not only do we have many graduates who have served in the various branches of the U.S. military, thanks to our approach to personalized, one-to-one online education with no residency requirement, we have students who are still actively serving!

To show our appreciation for those who have served or are currently serving we have compiled a list of discounts available exclusively for Active Duty Military and Veterans. Please feel free to share this list with friends and family. We appreciate all that you do!







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Discounts & Freebies for Military

Military Discounts Offered by Stores, Services and Online Stores

Verify service to immediately access special pricing on premium brands, sports & event tickets

Connecting America’s Military with the best of local business

Discounts for military spouses

Additional spouse and family benefits and resources

Benefits/Resources for Active Duty and Veterans

·          Armed Forces Tax Benefits

·          Automobiles and Adaptive Equipment for Disables Veterans and Service members

·          Basic Medical Benefits package for veterans

·          Caregiver programs and services

·          Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Program

·          Clothing Allowance

·          Compensated Work Therapy

·          Dental Care

·          Direct Home Loans for Native Americans

·          Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP)

·          Education- Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty)

·          Education- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)

·          Educational and Vocational Counseling

·          Foreign Medical Program

·          Gratuitous Service-Disables Veterans Insurance (ARH)

·          Headstones, Makers and Medallions for Placement in Private Cemeteries

·          Health Insurance for Dependents (CHAMPVA)

·          Home Based Primary Care (HBPC)

·          Home Loan for Regular Purchase

·          Homeless Veterans Assistance Center

·          Homeless Veterans Programs

·          Interest Rate Reeducation Refinance Loan (IRRRL)

·          Jobs for Veterans State Grants Programs (JVSG)

·          Local Veterans Employment Representative Program (LVER)

·          Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs

·          Mental Health Services

·          Military Exposure Registry Examination Program

·          Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

·          Military Sexual Trauma

·          Montgomery GI Bill (Selected Reserve)

·          Nursing Home Care

·          Payments for Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Born with Certain Birth Defects

·          Pharmacy Service

·          Post- 9/11 GI Bill

·          Presidential Memorial Certificates

·          Readjustment Counseling (Vet Centers)

·          Respite Care

·          Service- Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI)

·          service members’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

·          service members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

·          service members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Disability Extension

·          Service members' Group Life Insurance Family Coverage (FSGLI)

·          Service members' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)

·          Services and Aid for Blind Veterans

·          Social Security Special Benefits for Qualified WWII Veterans

·          Specially Adapted Housing Grant

·          Spina Bifida Health Care Program

·          Supplemental Service Disabled Veterans Insurance

·          The Non-VA Medical Care Program

·          Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

·          Travel Reimbursement

·          Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

·          VA - Birth Defects Assistance - Payments for Children with Spina Bifida whose Parents Served in Vietnam or Korea

·          VA - Survivors' Payments - Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

·          VA-Guaranteed Home Loan Program

·          Veteran & Dependent Burial in VA National Cemeteries

·          Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program

·          Veterans Death Pension

·          Veterans Life Insurance Policy Loans and Cash Surrenders

·          Veterans Pension

·          Veterans Preference (VP)

·          Veterans Prosthetic Appliances

·          Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)

·          Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP)

·          Veterans' Compensation for Service-Connected Disabilities

·          Veterans' Employment & Training Service (VETS)

·          Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

·          Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

·          Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services for Veterans with Disabilities

·          Vocational Training for Children with Spina Bifida or Certain Birth Defects

·          Waiver of Insurance Premiums for Disabled Veterans

·          Women Health Care Benefits

Blog Categories: just-for-funBlog Tags: militaryveterans
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