Archive of ‘Mental Health’ category

When heroes need help

firefighters in action

byMaria Vanillo, M.S.

My father has been a first responder for over 30 years. His profession has come with numerous sacrifices both he and our family have made. From sleepless nights to difficulties with facing everyday stressors, we all struggled. I learned how difficult it is to ask for help, the misconceptions of receiving assistance, and the ripple effect a problem can have when it goes unsolved.

5 Steps to Asking for Help

Acknowledge there is a problem.

When it comes to family matters’ there is a false belief that a single person is to blame for all the negative aspects of our lives. Therapists who work from a family systems perspective believe that an occurring issue is not because of an individual but the family unit as a whole. Both positive and negative behaviors, thoughts, and emotions are reinforced within families. The negative beliefs loved ones have passed down about mental health, asking for help, and the misconception that vulnerability is a weakness is hurting us. Just because these thoughts are loud and feel true does not make them correct.

Identify safe individuals to speak with.

Finding helpful resources can be frustrating. To find a counselor that suits your needs searching Psychology Today or Inclusive Therapists allows you to specialize your search for a mental health professional. You can also speak with your primary care physician to ask about local referrals and support groups. 

Be vulnerable and share what is happening.

Once you have found a clinician you trust, SHARE! Share your thoughts, from fears of what therapy is to what brings you joy. Clinicians are not mind readers and are not making attempts to declare insanity. We ask questions to understand what is happening in your life and provide resources that best suit your needs.

Give yourself grace when working on steps to solve the problem.

It can take years for someone to reach out for help. It takes time for a clinician to provide tools to help you solve the problem. 

Set boundaries.

If you are not ready for the world to know you’re in counseling, that is okay. Voice your concerns to your clinician. They can help you create boundaries when discussing personal matters with others. Privacy is of the utmost importance when conducting sessions. What is shared and what is kept confidential will be discussed during the first session with your clinician.


  • You are not alone, and many people are struggling with the same problem you face.
  • Talking to a mental health professional does not make you a burden.
  • Ignoring the problem does not fix it.
  • Not asking for help is scarier than receiving it.

Written by

Maria Vanillo, M.S., LPC-Associate, Supervised by Molly McCann, M.S., LPC-S

Meet Maria!

Therapy is a long-term Investment

Are we there yet?

I remember going on family vacations when I was younger. The excitement between my three sisters and I would build for weeks. Finally, the day would arrive, and we were off. Pretty soon the questions would begin. Anyone who has traveled with children (or some adults) has heard these questions. “How much longer?” “Are we close?” “Are we there yet?” Depending on how long the drive was, there could be many variations of these questions, and they would be asked numerous times. This was usually when my parents remembered why we had flown instead of driven the year before.

The journey.

The journey of therapy has some similarities to our family road trips. Appointments are made with anticipation of feeling better. You may feel depressed, anxious, or could be dealing with a specific issue that is interfering with your life and your happiness. You are seeking help and a new perspective on life. Some clients come to therapy primarily to reduce the symptoms they are struggling with, and, there are some that want help discovering the issues that may cause those symptoms. 

How long is this going to take?

You finally make it to your first session. A common question that is asked is, “How many sessions will this take?” or “What’s the estimated time frame for this issue?” Moving into sessions two, three and four, people start asking, “How much longer will I need therapy?” “Is there something I should be doing on the side to expedite this process?” “Can you suggest any books or seminars that may cut off a few sessions?”

We live in a time where convenience, speed and efficiency are desired and expected. Expedited shipping, fast food, same-day delivery, express lane – we want everything fast. I just did a Google search for “Austin.” As soon as I hit the enter key, an entire selection of sites appeared. In fact, I received a notice telling me that Google had provided about 12,230,000,000 results in 0.84 seconds. Nearly instantaneous results have become our normal, which makes the process of therapy seem abnormally long.

To go fast, we slow things down

Jonathan Shedler said, “Psychotherapy is about slowing things down—so we can begin to see and understand the patterns that otherwise happen quickly, automatically, without reflection or awareness. (American Psychologist: 2019) When my family took road trips when I was a kid, so much more happened along the way than just getting to our destination. While it may have been  faster to fly, we certainly learned more about ourselves, and made deep, lasting memories during our drives in the car.

Similarly, accelerated therapy is not expeditious. Slower is faster. Attempting to race through therapy may work for a time. But when we don’t take the time to look deeply into the issues at play, it usually results in coming back to therapy again, perhaps with more issues the next time. There is no express lane for restructuring years of harmful learned behaviors, barriers that were built for safety, non- effective coping mechanisms, or destructive narratives that we believe and live out. It takes years to build unhealthy beliefs and patterns of behavior. It takes time to discover them and unlearn them.

Therapy is an investment of time, money, and effort

Therapy is an investment in a better life. It takes time, money and effort. Those who are willing to exert patience, fervent determination and hard work are the ones who experience a positive return on the investment. You are worth it.

Written by clinician Lorri M. Frasier M.A., NCC,  LCDC – Associate, LPC-Associate

supervised by Dr. Kyle Miller, LPC-S

Meet Lorri!

Destigmatizing Anger

Woman expressing anger emotion

Anger is valid, like any of the other emotions we experience. However, it seems to have a much worse reputation than other feelings due to its potential to directly harm those around us. This makes learning to control it just as or maybe even more important than controlling other emotions we experience. Let’s start by destigmatizing anger.

Anger is a secondary emotion which means that every time we experience anger, there is another emotion we are experiencing beneath the surface that may be more vulnerable to share. The “Anger Iceberg” provides a great visual of this concept. Unfortunately, the society we live in has portrayed anger, especially for men, to be much more socially acceptable to show as compared to sadness by crying, guilt, shame, embarrassment, jealousy, and the list goes on. So what can we do with this information? How can we learn to control our anger? As with all other emotions, I always say – start with curiosity, asking yourself “what” and “how” questions!

How was anger shown in my family growing up?

In addition to society normalizing anger, maybe anger was seen as a more acceptable emotion as compared to sadness or shame in your family. Having awareness of what we have learned about what different emotions mean and how to portray them from our families is key. This helps us better understand ourselves so we can either change how we show or what we think about anger or continue to engage in healthy patterns.

What is my anger telling me?” aka “What am I experiencing underneath my anger?

This may be one of the most difficult or uncomfortable questions to really sit with and answer – especially if this is not something you have had to identify previously. It may feel difficult now, and sitting with and sharing discomfort and vulnerability leads to growth! Just like every other emotion we experience, our feelings are always telling us something about our needs – either they are being met or they aren’t. This Feelings Wheel depicts just that. For example, your feeling of anger can be a result of one of your boundaries being crossed.

What are my triggers for anger?

Identifying your triggers for what makes you angry is a great way to identify what you need. Sometimes we are able to avoid certain triggers – for example, maybe sitting in traffic is a trigger and so you may identify that you need to leave earlier or later for work to avoid traffic. However, sometimes we cannot avoid certain triggers. For example, maybe seeing your family leads to feelings of anger – you may be able to see them less, but may not be able to avoid them altogether. This is where coping skills can be helpful!

What helps me control my anger?

Maybe you’ve noticed deep breathing helps bring you to a grounded place. Maybe you just need some space to go on a walk, journal your thoughts, or vent to a loved one. This worksheet goes more in depth about different coping skills for anger. Ultimately, identifying the coping skills that work best for you is a personal journey!

Anger doesn’t have to be scary or concerning for yourself or those around you. Like all emotions, it is something that you can learn to control versus letting it control you – an experience that is empowering! Therapy can be helpful in guiding you through this process of empowerment. I encourage you to continue to use curiosity instead of judgement to better understand your feelings and needs!

written by

Sarah Shah, M.S., LPC-Associate (she/hers) supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S


Meet Sarah!

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