Archives for December 2013

Progressive Relaxation — A great way to induce sleep or reduce stress

Progressive relaxation is a technique used by many clinicians and individuals to help monitor muscle tension and learn how to relax and reduce stress.  It is has been found to be very effective in helping individuals increase their self-awareness and be able to reduce tension quickly in many settings, including those that induce stress.

Parents can utilize this with children in many ways, but practice is needed for it to be most effective. Using it at bedtime is a wonderful way of connecting with your child and helping to induce a calm, relaxing environment to encourage sleep and reduce anxiety or stress.

Start with a darkened room (a nightlight is fine) and if background noise is needed, use soft music or a sound machine. Have the child lay on their bed on their back with their eyes closed. Using the following script, have the child tighten the specific muscle group you are referring to for 10-20 seconds then release. Repeat if needed or move to the next muscle group.

Imagine you are laying on a nice warm patch of grass or a soft fluffy cloud. We are going to work on relaxing your body so you can be totally comfortable. First curl your toes tightly like you are trying to hide them. Hold that while you take a deep breath and then exhale and relax your toes. Next tighten your low leg like you are getting ready to jump. Hold that tight and take a breath, then relax. Squeeze your upper legs/thighs tight so they are hard as rocks. Hold….relax. Now pretend a puppy wants to sit on your stomach, tighten your stomach muscles so that the puppy doesn’t squish you! Hold it tight so the puppy can sit there for a minute….relax he jumped off. Imagine you have lemon in both of your hands. You need to squeeze it hard so you can feel it in your hands and arms. Get all of the juice out so you can make lemonade! Now drop the lemon and relax. Take another lemon and squeeze so you get enough juice. Do this one a bit harder so you can get out every last drop. Now taste the lemon juice. Pucker your lips and pinch your face because it is so sour. Now relax your face. Try another sip and pinch your face again…relax. That is better, someone added sugar! Finally, pull up your shoulders to your ears and hold tight. You are trying to hide your head….take a deep breath and let it out and relax. Now that your body is all relaxed, I want you to imagine you are nice and warm and like a blob of jelly. You are all relaxed and there is not a anything tense in your body.

There are many other scripts available online, so you can find something that works for your child. The goal is for your child to be able to run through this on their own anytime they are having trouble sleeping or feeling tense. For more information, visit

By: Teri McKean

Happy Holidays from ABC!

Everyone at ABC Counseling & Family Services wants to extend a warm holiday greeting to you and your family.  Your friendship and support means so much to us. This year has flown by, and we want to share some of the highlights with you:

  • 2 new babies born to staff members, Baby Hazel to Teri and Jason McKean of Champaign and Baby Emery to Jackie and Bob Lewis of Mahomet.  Melissa and Dan Box are expecting their first child in April of 2014.
  • The number of part-time and full-time employees at ABC is at 20.  We train Master level interns every semester and currently have five interns at ABC.
  • Several sexual abuse therapists attended the Midwest Conference on Child Sexual Abuse in September to further their training in a highly specialized field.
  • ABC’s budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 surpassed the $1 million mark.
  • Amanda Black became the new Director of Fundraising and Public Relations while maintaining her position as the Adoption Supervisor.
  • ABC hosted the 9th annual Gifts from the Heart to raise funds for the agency’s sexual abuse program. 
  • 5% of the children that received sexual abuse counseling this year used funds from the Ed Willard scholarship. 13% of the children served received reduced fee counseling through our sliding scale fees.  The number of children needing services and not being able to afford them continues to rise. It is critically important that you continue to donate to this fund (enclosed please find a donation card).
  • In 2013 624 children were seen (Jan-Nov) and 300 new cases were opened.  On a good note, 174 cases were closed.
  • 5 adoption placements occurred in 2013 and ABC assisted with many more.
  • ABC hosted our first Trivia at Twilight event in October. Many new supporters attended and the event was a success. Look for another fun trivia night in 2014.
  • ABC launched a new website. Please check us out at
  • The Peoria ABC office is moving to a new location in January 2014. We will be located at 7820 N. University St., Suite 101, Peoria, IL 61614. We hope to have an open house once we get settled in, so stay tuned for more information on the open house.
  • We are preparing for our 10th annual Gifts from the Heart event on April 5, 2014 at the DoubleTree in Bloomington. Dueling pianos are back! Please consider hosting a table and/or attending the event. More information to come soon.

Happy Holidays from ABC!


Resilient Children

As a therapist living and working in Tazewell County, I have heard first-hand about some of the devastation that has affected our community by the recent tornadoes in November. It has been encouraging seeing central Illinois come together during this difficult time to support their greater community. Please keep in mind that support will continue to be needed for Tazewell County as they work to rebuild in the next couple of years. After such an unexpected event, some are left with signs and symptoms of trauma. Working in an agency that specializes in sexual abuse counseling has given ABC Counseling staff a background to work from a lens of trauma-informed counseling with the clients we serve. Please see the article below to learn more about trauma’s effect on children and how we can all build resilience in the lives of our children.

Please note that the Peoria ABC office is moving to a new location in January 2014. We will be located at 7820 N. University St., Suite 101, Peoria, IL 61614. We hope to have an open house once we get settled in, so stay tuned for more information on the open house.

By: Sarah Maurer

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy

Attachment theories focus on the importance of young children building healthy, strong attachments to caregivers.  When healthy attachment styles are developed, the individual will have a framework for attachment in other interpersonal relationships.  Many attachment theorists ascertain that early trauma disrupts a developing attachment system by creating a distorted sense of self, others, and caregivers.  This article discusses Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, which is a therapy based in attachment theory used in order to rebuild or modify a child’s attachment to their caregiver.