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Katy Karas, Ph.D, on Adult and Teen Cyberbullying

It’s Not Just the Kids Anymore

She was asked to share a topless photo on Snapchat. Three close friends told her to ignore the request. Yet, the requests kept coming from the hot new guy at the gym. And her workout friends, told her to “show it off” and that it was all part of the new “dating game”.

After much angst, she decided not to send a photo. Rather, she sent a heartfelt message about how much she would like to have a date to get to know him and didn’t want to send that kind of photo. The guy took a screenshot of the message and used it to torment her for days on Instagram, Snapchat, and on Facebook group texts. The women who encouraged her to send the photos “liked” the tormented posts. The stress and anxiety of the situation caused headaches, stomachaches, embarrassment and anxiety. Not to mention, she felt completely socially isolated.


However, with the constant use of digital devices by all ages, cyberbullying does not discriminate. Headlines about cyberbullying are overwhelming at best and can leave all ages feeling overwhelmed and helpless in the cyber world.

cb2 Can cyberbullying be prevented in the cyber world?

According to the latest research from the Pew Research Center, 92% of teens go online daily and 24% of teens are online “almost constantly” while 90% of adults go online daily, yet only 12% are “constantly online (Lenhart, 2015).

What really is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the repetitive digital harassment or digital abuse that takes place through electronic devices, such as cell phones, tables or computers. It happens via email, social media, text messaging apps, chat forums and gaming systems.

Cyberbullying may include the following:

-Sharing, sending or posting hurtful, harmful negative or false information or content about an identifiable person.

  • -Sharing photos or screenshots with the intent to ridicule, humiliate or embarrass an identifiable person.
  • -Sharing non-consented personal information with the sole intent to humiliate or injure an identifiable personal or professional reputation.Due to the worldwide nature of social mediacb3 and the ability to share digital information in a nano second that has no cultural or geographical boarders, cyberbullying has ginormous reach. Life changing content can easily be shared before the victim is even aware, much less able to seek assistance. Additionally, cyber transgressions of any kind are particularly difficult to manage because most things posted online are screen shot permanent, even when deleted by the poster.

Digital Devices Do Not Discriminate. Anyone using the world wide web to communicate, research, share content, or play video games can be a victim of cyber bullying and other cyber transgressions.

Research shows that cyberbullying on social media is linked to depression in both teenagers and young adults. It’s essential that all digital device users remain engaged with both their family members and their peers and discuss ways to seek help.

How to deal with Cyberbullying

Do not Judge: Teenagers need parents to listen without judgement. Adults need friends and colleagues to listen without judgement. Nobody wants their parents or significant others to call schools or employment straight away. The first step is to listen and ask to follow up questions to understand the scope of the cyber transgression. Unconditional support is key. If you listen, empathize and work as a team, your family, friends or colleagues will continue to ask your assistance.

Respond thoughtfully {if you must respond}: Resist the urge to blast concerns or revenge on your own social media channels. This will help no one. Remember, most bullies are fishing. If you respond, you have just taken the bait!

Document everything: Take screenshots of any thing you deem a cyber transgression. Documents everything and anything. Sometimes stories lack details when people are questioned for details.

Work to formulate a plan: If a teen needs help, brainstorm possible solutions with the child, including the best point person at the school. If the cyberbullying is taking place at work or other, problem solve the best point person. Working together with others is the key to swift and positive resolution.

Use the tools within the apps: It can never hurt to review friends, connections & digital teammates. Unfriend, block, delete and quit teams that are not positive and productive to your daily living. Most all social media platforms and video games have methods to report fake accounts or inappropriate content.

And finally, take control of your cyber world. And help others do the same. Phones and computers must have input to give output. Choose wisely. If we empower ourselves and our children to help others when victimization occurs, we can begin to make a difference with harmful cyber behaviors that are all to common in the cyber world.

There are many positive benefits of traveling the cyber highway. Just as with the asphalt highway, there is litter, sign pollution and harmful drivers. Be conscientious and take charge of your world-wide-web travels and you will enjoy a beautiful, safe and educational journey.cb4


Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media, and technology: Overview 2015. Retrieved






Jillian Torabpour, MA, mental health provider at Fuller Living, on the topic of Winter and Mental Health

Winter is com…

Short cold days. Long cold nights. Your bed is warmer than your house in the morning. No chance to see the sun in the evening after work. Longer commutes, de-icing sidewalks, walking pets in the dark, navigating ice and snow on the roadways….the list goes on. Winter in Minnesota rolls in behind summer, with only a brief pause for a few weeks of milder weather for fall, and before you know it, mornings are spent scraping our cars off and watching for school closures.

It’s well known that moods tend to shift downward with the turning back of the clock at daylight savings time. Grey skies bring grey moods and the remembering of winters past brings anxiety for the long months ahead. Often times, during the winter months, people tend to notice increased irritability, a general feeling of unhappiness, fatigue, depressed mood, low energy, changes in sleeping and/or eating habits, isolation, increased anxiety, and other symptoms. Some people feel these mildly and talk about them in terms of having the “winter blues” and others may experience significant difficulties in their daily functioning and battle major depressive disorder, with a seasonal pattern (this replaces what many people still refer to as seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression).

I want to caveat the rest of this post by saying that if you are one of the people just described, and you are battling more than just the “winter blues” you should see your doctor, consider seeing a counselor, and consider, with your treatment team, what options will work best for you to conquer the symptoms your experiencing. I say conquer, because I believe you can conquer the hard things. Even in the long cold winter.

What if there are some ways to conquer winter beyond just putting on our bravest face and waiting for the first signs of spring? What if there are some choices we can make to combat those blue and grey feelings that roll in with the first big cold front and seem to pile higher with every snowfall? I believe that whether you’re someone trying to defeat the “winter blues” or someone battling a deeper depression, the following things can help you conquer some of those symptoms listed above.

Challenge yourself to talk and think differently about winter- Have some responses ready for when people try to engage you in complaining about the winter/weather/cold/snow (ex, “It is a hard adjustment, but I’m glad to have time to cozy up and enjoy my home a little more.” Or, “It’s an adjustment for sure, but I love how clean and pretty fresh snow makes the city look.” Or, “I’m still adjusting too. Let’s schedule a game night to keep ourselves busy!”). In addition, have a list handy of things you enjoy about winter and things you’re thankful for despite the season to remind yourself of when you catch yourself thinking negatively about the weather/season. It may sound cliché, but there really is power in positive thinking.

Regular exercise- Exercise releases endorphins that elevate mood. Regular exercise can help combat feelings of sadness, fatigue, and low energy.

Planned activities- People tend to isolate themselves more in the winter months for one reason or another. It’s a hassle to get bundled up to go out, driving is riskier, illnesses, low energy/mood causes us to want to stay in… Planning something to look forward to at least twice per month can help getting over these hurdle a little easier and prevent isolation. Some ideas: game/movie night with friends, ice skating or other winter sports, go to a show/concert/play/other art performance, visit a museum, plan a weekend (or longer) getaway if possible…

Light therapy- Less sunlight means less serotonin, which can contribute to depressed mood. More darkness means more melatonin, which can contribute to low energy, fatigue, and sleep changes. Light therapy mimics natural sunlight and can help the body combat the changes brought on by winter. There are many options for light boxes/therapy lights and you should talk with you’re doctor/provider to decide which option/regimen will work best for you. More info:

Vitamin D- Vitamin D has been linked to playing a key role in mood. Try to make the most of the time you have access to natural sunlight that you can. Maybe a walk during your lunch break, or getting outside as much as possible on your days off. But other options to increase your vitamin D could be to increase your intake of foods high in vitamin D or adding a supplement.

Volunteer- Giving your time and energy to a cause you care about can lift your spirits, increase social connectedness, decrease isolation, and help others along the way. Check out this article on volunteering and health:

Seek mental health treatment- Sometimes we need a little more help to get through certain seasons, figuratively and literally. If you are really struggling, reach out. You aren’t alone. And it will warm up again.

Are you in need of mental health support through this winter season?  Fuller Living is here to serve you!


money and marriage

Amber Fuller on the Topic of Marriage and Money

If you’re expecting to read an article regarding the connection between money fights and divorce, you’ve come to the wrong place.  Although this is a reason for divorce, it’s not the motivation for this material.

“We should really be doing this together” I said to my husband, while working on our financial program that I had been focusing on since college. “It just works better when we go at it together”. And in that moment, my husband saw the announcement for the upcoming class and jumped on the opportunity to take it at our local church.  From there, our lives started changing drastically. The coordinator of the class saw a spark in our financial journey and our story and offered us a life changing opportunity to lead the whole program at our multi-site church.  You may think I’m here to brag about our success, but I’m not (although, we’ve had great success working together as a team).  I’m here to talk about how the way you handle your money correlates with every aspect of your life including your marriage and when handled properly, you will see tremendous marital gains.

The Fights, the Fights, Oh, the Fights

‘ but never really about money, and they probably should have been.  When you create a goal of paying off debt and being able to live and give in unthinkable ways, there’s this transformation that happens where both start to join on the same page.  You turn inward instead of outward.  You start fighting more effectively instead of running around in circles never reaching your goal of being heard.  See the correlation?  Having a focus on where your money is going, telling your inner child no, and making small baby steps pays off big time in the long run. So I say to you, the next time you sit down to hash something out, think about your goal, and GET IT!  The moment you start with your negative talk, quickly tell your inner child no (and you’ll be good at it if you’ve been practicing with money) and reshift your focus back to what you really want, that being connection.  Following the financial program of paying off debt, budgeting well, and being able to live and give like nobody else has changed our fights. You learn how to goal set in your conversations and make careful and responsible moves with the words and actions you take.

Yours, Mine, and Ours

Its a phrase that comes up a lot if you’ve ever been to couples counseling (or at least it does if you’re in my office).  Money has this mysterious way of showing us where we are still acting like we are single or acting like we are a team.  When money is managed properly, we allow each other the room in our budget to delegate certain funds to be “just mine”.  Don’t have to answer for the money spent, don’t have to ask mama for permission, just me and Washington on the open road on our way to Target to wave each other goodbye.  Freedom.  There’s no guilt and there’s no fighting about where the money went because you already came together to discuss your allowed personal spending money and you won’t find yourself sneaking in that last piece of carrot cake in order to experience that sense of freedom, because you got to binge in the clothing aisle at Target.

On the topic of “ours”, you may find yourself very quickly in the middle of one of those fights mentioned above if you continue to spend your money like you’re single.  It can often feel disrespectful to the partner and leave them feeling disregarded and invisible.  Come together, develop your budget together, have conversations about wants and needs and find the compromise, and if you can’t, always go back to your financial goal and you will quickly find yourself on the couch spooning and eating ben and jerrys while watching the latest episode of This is Us (from Hulu of course, cuz aint nobody spending money on cable when you’re working your way out of debt).

The Nerd and Free Spirit

I often correlate these two labels with the myers briggs.  It is OBVIOUS from a thousand miles away who the Nerd is in my marriage, and there are three fingers pointing back at me! The strength of the nerd  and the way that they think about money, the budgeting, the intensity with paying off debt, the math, and self-control and discipline, is super sexy, aint nobody going to resist you when you’ve got these strengths.  The boredom though. We need our Free spirits. They liven us up, help us have fun, and help us live life and not live to work.  They are our saving grace.  Fun, full of life, and giving us the permission to say yes to ourselves once in a while is a NEED that we have that goes so unrecognized at times.  Learn to recognize these strengths and watch the way they show up in the way you handle your money. Respect. Plain and simple.  It comes down to conversations about the budget, again bringing needs and wants, and telling yourself no, while truly listening to each other. Both walk away feeling heard, important, and content.

Fight the Good Fight, and Don’t Forget to Kiss

Paying of debt is a journey and some of us get all gazelle intense!  My husband works 70 hours a week and I work around the same some weeks.  If we were piling on stress to each others plates we would probably be falling apart.  Encouraging each other in our every day  life is so important. It keeps us motivated and working towards our goal. Without encouragement, we would be DRAGGING our feet and at some point we would fail and give up (probably!).  Kiss, say nice things, spoon while watching this is us, it’s not hard, and it’ll keep you going.

Who’s in your circle?

With any other goal you have, accountability and support is SO important.  When paying off debt and working towards financial freedom, do you have people fueling the negative fire, making you feel guilty for not going out and spending money on cra–I mean stuff, and justifying and excusing your behavior when you do?  Or do you have people cheering you on, encouraging you to keep focused on your goal, and challenging you when you slip up? I promise you that the more intentional you are about the people who are in your circle, the more success you will see in your financial situation.

…and the same is true with your marriage.

“He said what?!” was my response, after finding out that somebody was fueling my husbands fire of bad habits after a bad argument.  Completely justifying and minimizing my husband’s actions which could have completely steered us away from our relational goals. It could have destroyed us, but thankfully we were working towards financial freedom at the time and knew how to have effective and productive conversations. An ideal response from a friend, mentor, counselor, when you’re in these situations goes something like, “I know you are hurting, and what can you change about your actions.  What is your part in this cycle and how can you take responsibility for your actions? Don’t forget your overall goal”, and the moment you start talking about your partner with this person (cuz that’s gossip BTW), the person would say something like, “I”m not comfortable with hearing this. It’s gossip. I’m hear to talk about you. Lets do that. And then you go home and talk to your wife about what you were just trying to talk to me about”.  How do these people end up in your life?  They’re usually the people that you’re least likely to put there and you see the fruit of them knowing what they are doing and what they are talking about.  Your circle is SO important.  I would say that in all of my years in practice, it’s not money that leads to divorce, it’s the people who are in your circle or who aren’t in your circle and should be, that are the biggest influence in your success or bankruptcy with both your marriage AND your finances.

And That’s the Final Bell

In closing, the correlation between the two go hand in hand. If you’re struggling with your marriage, look at the way you’re handling your money within your marriage and you will likely find a few things to improve on that will have a resulting effect on your marriage.  I’m not a financial advisor (But I am a professional marriage…kind of) but when you know how to goal set and develop a plan and then follow through with that plan to reach your goals, you can really accomplish anything.

Amber Fuller is a licensed marriage and family therapist, owner, and clinic director of Fuller Living & Associates, LLC.  She’s not a financial advisor or a milllionaire, but her and her husband have payed off $233,940.66 in the last three and a half years.