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Gifts of Self: All he wants for Christmas is you: LDW Magazine

All He Wants for Christmas is You

I’m thrilled that Latter-day Woman Magazine invited me to write their “Love” article in their newly published Winter 2010 issue…

“Finding the perfect gift for your spouse is an exciting part of the holiday season. But fighting crowds to snag one of the latest must-have items and squeezing money out of a tight budget can make gift-giving stressful. While I wouldn’t mind a new iPad under the tree this year, (listening, Santa?) the best gifts are those that don’t require money, but require thought and time and emotional awareness.”

Read my tips on giving meaningful gifts of self…

Read Article online

Download PDF

What are you giving your spouse for Christmas?
What’s been the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received, and why?

Good Parenting is Not What You Think: Studio 5

What you may not know about good parenting

Studio 5 contributor and therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW, shares important parenting skills you might be overlooking.

Good Parenting is not just about you treat your child. I recently stumbled across a recent blog on highlighting surprising research — two out of the three most effective parenting skills don’t directly involve interacting with your kids. In the recent issue of Scientific American Mind (Nov./Dec. 2010)“What Makes A Good Parent?” psychologist and researcher by Robert Epstein, PhD found that while showing love and affection to your child is the most important parenting skills, how you treat yourself and how your interact with your spouse or co-parent rank second and third. While real parents are quite good at love and affection, they report poorer scores on areas stress management and adult relationship skills.

These results aren’t surprising to me and coincide with my professional journey. Interestingly, all of my early training was in play therapy working directly with children, but within a few years I realized that the best thing I could do for children was to help support their mother’s emotional well-being and to support their parent’s in developing healthy relationships. In my practice I frequently see well-meaning parents who don’t take good care of themselves and their adult relationships and their children suffer. A common dynamic I often see in my practice working with divorced families is parents speaking poorly of their child’s other parent or putting the child in the middle of conflict between co-parents, with devastating impact on their child

Improve your parenting by developing skill these 2 areas:

Stress Management

Have realistic expectations for yourself
Take a “time out” when you’re overwhelmed
Practice optimism

Healthy Adult Relationship

Talk positively about other parent
Model affection & communication
Keep child out of middle

The Parents’ 10 Competencies

1-Love and affection – respect & support, physical affection, quality time together

2-Stress management – reduce stress, practice relaxation, positive outlook

3-Relationships skills – model good relationship with spouse/significant other, co-parent

4-Autonomy & Independence – treat child with respect and encourage self-sufficiency

5-Education & learning – promote learning and provide opportunities

6-Life skills – provide financially, plan for future

7-Behavior management – use positive reinforcement and punish as last resort

8-Health – model healthy lifestyle

9-Religion – support child’s spiritual and religious development

10-Safety – protect child & have awareness of child’s activities

Free Parenting Test

Test your competency in the “Parents 10” skill areas. Take this free online test :

Pat yourself on the back for your strengths and then make a plan to improve in the areas with lower scores. According to Dr. Epstien, good parenting skills can be learned and parenting classes can be an effective way to improve your parenting and help raise a happier, healthier child.




Wasatch Woman Article!

Five easy ways to make your wedding anniversary more meaningful and fun!

Watch for Wasatch Woman the 3rd Friday of each month as a special insert in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News!

How do YOU make your anniversary meaningful?

Making Wedding Anniversaries Meaningful


Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares tips for making wedding anniversaries meaningful.

More couples “tie the knot” during the summer months which means more couples are also celebrating wedding anniversaries at this time of year. Taking the time, effort, and forethought to create meaningful anniversary traditions helps to nurture your marriage and to keep the romance alive. Reflecting on the history of your early relationship, and recommitting to the promises you made on your wedding day increases the sense of emotional security and deepens the bonds of love. Here are a few tips to inspire you to make your wedding anniversary more meaningful.


Discuss your expectations with your spouse. Decide who’s planning the celebration, what the budget is, and other important details. Don’t expect your husband or wife to read your mind, or to know what you’d like to celebrate your special day. It’s your responsibility to talk about you wishes to your spouse if there’s any chance they’ll come true.

After discussing their expectations, Travis & Edie Morgan decided to celebrate their 13th Wedding Anniversary or “Family Birthday” by going to a cabin with their young children.


Anniversaries are the perfect time to plan a visit to the special places of your early courtship and marriage day. Walk through the park where he proposed, visit the site where you took your marriage vows, or recreate your honeymoon. Reenacting your first date or the night of your engagement can be a fun anniversary activity.

Will & Jennie Bush revisit the mountain where Will proposed as part of their 3rd wedding anniversary. They even found the door where they carved their names on their engagement day.


Consider sitting down together and look through your wedding photos, watch your wedding video, or read through your guestbook. Share with your spouse your favorite memories of your wedding day…or wedding night. Recalling the special wedding day moments with your spouse keeps those memories alive, and brings back loving feelings.

Looking at this photo of our wedding over 21 years ago brings back amazing memories and wonderful emotions.


You take off time for holidays like Christmas and July 4th so why not take a day off for the most personal holiday, your anniversary? Get a baby sitter, request the day off of work and spend the day with your sweetheart. Even if you’re just running errands, going to lunch, or taking a nap, spend the day together.

Daniel & Debra Breitenstein take time off from work to celebrate their first anniversary at the Anniversary Inn.


Whether it’s a formal renewing of vows in a ceremony surrounded by family, a verbal expression over a candlelit dinner, or a handwritten love letter expressing your on-going commitment to your spouse, do something that reminds your spouse that you are wholeheartedly committed to your marriage and that you treasure him in your life.

Kevin & Laura Brotherson, married 19 years, renew their commitment by taking a photo on each anniversaries and display them in their home as proof of their on-going commitment to each other. Kevin & Laura are founders of Strengthening Marriage, Inc.,

Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!



Video Games and Your Relationship

Me? Quoted on a gaming website? I guess it makes sense given it’s an article about relationships and gaming. Video games aren’t just for kids anymore! Time spent using technology, including video game obsession, is a common issue in serious relationships. Here’s what I have to say on what’s really going on for the woman and how to avoid letting video games sabotage your relationship!

Read the article online here…

Why She Hates It, Why You Do It & How To Make It A Non-issue

Have video games impacted your serious relationship?

How have you successfully managed game time vs. face to face time?

Feel free to post comments below (email address will be kept private)

Marriage in distress? Try EFT

Ninety percent of couples improve with Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy! That’s an unparalleled success rate and last year I had the privilege of interviewing  Scott Wooley, PhD, one of the worldwide EFT trainers. Since then I have been training in EFT so I can more effectively help couples! To find an EFT therapist in your area visit

Watch the segments below…


EFT Part 2

Why Do Men Who Have It All Cheat? 2 News

Because of my therapy work with couples I was interviewed for a news story that aired tonight on KUTV 2 News called “Power Affairs”.

Power Affairs: Why do men who have it all cheat? Watch News Clip

Why do you think people are willing to risk it all? Post comments below (email address will not be made public).

Want Hubby to Help With Holidays? Here’s how!

Watch TV Segment

Women often complain about their husband’s lack of help or enthusiasm for the holiday preparations. Husband’s are often puzzled about why wives get so stressed out about shopping, decorating, and baking. Here’s why women get stressed and solutions to get your man to help with the festivities.

1-Women feel responsible for the “intangibles” of family life (e.g. maintaining relationships, fulfilling family expectations, setting mood & tone, giving meaning to family traditions, a sense that they are adding value)

Get your man to help by…Sharing what your holiday traditions mean to you. (“It’s important to me to keep in touch with friends and family through sending yearly Christmas cards.” “Baking cookies reminds me of holidays with my grandmother and helps me feel connected to her.”)

 2-Women want to fulfill their own & other’s expectations

Get your man to help by… listening to your husband’s feedback that challenges your assumptions about the way things “should be”. Allow your spouse to help you find more realistic expectations. (“Maybe we don’t need to send out Christmas cards every year. Maybe every other year would be fine.” “Do we really have to make homemade gifts for the entire neighborhood?”)

3-Women feel like they should be able to “do it all” & have difficulty asking for help

Get your man to help by… Ask for help directly, specifically, & with a time frame. ( “Will you help put labels on the Christmas cards by the end of the weekend?” “Will you be in charge of buying gifts for Brooke & Darin this year?” )

Alone time? What’s that?

I slept in this morning without interruption. I got ready for the day without interruption. These are rare occurances since becoming a mother 19 years ago. I’m not sure who thought that Dec. would be a great time to have a conference. That person must not be a mother. Can you think of any time of the year more packed with programs, parties, projects than December? It’s the WORST time of the year for a mother of 4 to go M.I.A. and head off to CA for an 8 day therapy conference. Or is it? Maybe it WAS a mom who chose this date at this time of year! The relief I felt excitement and relief as I addressed the last Christmas card, packed my stuff (only my stuff & not several other bags), and headed with a colleague to the airport.

Now my dillemna is whether I will go to every possible workshop with 70000 other people and soak in all the knoweldge and inspiration from psychology gurus from across the globe or should I take time this week to relax, relish silence, nap, and be…alone? I’m sure I’ll find somewhere in the middle.

But at this moment, I am alone and I like it.