Meet Julia

Hi! I’m Julia Herman, but a lot of people call me Jules, so I’ll introduce myself that way.  I’m a therapist, an early childhood teacher, and a lover of wildflowers. I play the harmonium, I’m a YA book reader, and I believe that talking about your feelings is a pretty great thing.  

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Who do I work with in therapy? Well, I mostly work with kids and teens who are dealing with loneliness, sadness, being told they have “too many feelings” & so much more.  I’m also a parent coach, who loves working with parents who might need help building blended families, and who want to build warm and real relationships with their kids.

I’m fiercely passionate about helping clients feel understood, listened to, and accepted. That’s what we all want, right? To feel like the darkest or most secret parts of ourselves - the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that we keep hidden - are seen and accepted by someone.  The truth is that I know what it’s like to feel that you have to keep certain parts of yourself secret or hidden, because you are afraid that your parents will stop loving you, or teachers or friends will not understand you. I know because I’ve experienced many of those feelings too, in my life.

The teens I work with come with questions like: if I lie to my parents am I a bad person? What do I do with my desire to do dangerous things? What if I’m not sure if I want to stay alive? Is it ok if I don’t want to stop my self-harm yet? Do I have too many emotions?

The parents I work with ask me questions like: “Does my kid like me?” “How can I learn to react differently when my child is angry?” “What if my partner parents differently than I do?” “What do I do if my teen self-harms?”

With the kids I see, play is the thing! I bring my sandtray, my miniature toys, we play games, read books, and we might even toss around my “ask me a question” soccer ball! Childhood is full of BIG emotions, wanting to belong, feeling afraid, learning to use your words, not knowing how to use them, being silly and wild and making a million mistakes. In the therapy room, I am non-directive & unconditionally accepting, and believe that through the power of play, so much can be done!

Wondering if you are lovable, feeling unsure of yourself, and struggling with decisions about life are at the center of most of my work with clients. I don’t run away from hard things, and you never have to act a certain way with me, or change any part of who you are.

What am I like as a therapist? Well, clients have said that my energy is gentle, calming, kind, “real”, and fun.  When you are in a session with me, I might bring out Bananagrams or Quirkle (my favorite), or you might share your favorite song (and I’ll share mine).  Or, maybe we’ll play with kinetic sand (it holds its shape!) and make flower mandalas. We can talk, too.  I think most of us hide like little bears, when we feel sad or unsafe, or scared. My ultimate goal as a therapist is to make it safe, even just for one session, to peek your head out of your little bear cave - to see the beauty that life can hold.

To learn more about me and how I approach my work, check out my website: https://therapywithjules.com and my page here.

 

Meet Lysle

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“Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.” Carl Jung

Meet Lysle: I believe people seek meaning and contentment in their lives.  I am passionate about self-discovery, life transitions, identity, spirituality, and life purpose. Who am I? Where do I belong? What is next? How do I break free from rigid roles, deep-rooted patterns, and old ways of thinking that no longer work? With creativity, curiosity, and hope these are the questions I like to explore with clients, no matter the age or stage of life.  From adolescence through adulthood we strive for growth and happiness, ponder our deepest selves, and seek our place in the world – as human beings it is our nature to evolve, develop, and grow.  In a sense we are always becoming, always emerging into that person we are meant to be.  Yet, life is messy, uncertain, and complex with no single belief system or way to live; tragedy, trauma, transitions, and life interruptions arise.  Growth stops.  We get stuck.  We lose sight of who we are and what we want.  I like to help clients sift through the messiness of life and regain a sense of vitality, purpose, and meaning. I firmly believe there is meaning in the messiness!  

My approach is holistic with an emphasis on personal transformation through exploration of one’s inner resources.  I help clients tap into the natural wisdom of the mind, body, and spirit.  I incorporate tools to integrate and foster connection between the unconscious parts of oneself and the present moment.  By honoring the “here and now” while at the same time taking a deeper look at past experience we can illuminate a new path forward. Expanded consciousness that brings about change is built through intentional cultivation and deeper knowledge of oneself; real and lasting change begins with awareness.  Suffering stands to be a part of life but when we begin to unpack our suffering in the presence of a trusted other we can shift our thoughts, attitudes, and ability to manage the ups and downs of life.

I am a Licensed Master Social worker and psychotherapist under the supervision of Tammy Linseisen, LCSW, ACSW.  I incorporate modalities from both Western and Eastern traditions drawing from depth psychology, attachment theory, family systems theory, relational psychology, and body-centered therapies such as Yoga.  I believe in the power of healing through connection and consider the therapeutic relationship a powerful and transformational relationship that offers a sacred space for growth and change.  At heart, I believe meaning and joy can be found amidst the messiness of life!  

*Keep an eye out for our expanded group offerings that will begin in September.  These will include parent groups, LGBTQ and non-binary groups for teens, college student groups and other adult groups. Get on the list to be the first to hear about all our new offerings!

 

Meet Justin

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Hey everyone, I'm Justin!  I thought I’d use my first blog to let you peek into my story a bit and let you see who the man is under the hat.

I’m a small-town Iowa guy who’s dug up his roots and replanted them here in central Texas and, after six years, I’m starting to feel like a local.  If you’ve seen the movie “Bridges of Madison County” or know where John Wayne was born, you’ve gotten a little taste of where I come from.  Even though I wasn’t a farm boy and have never detassled corn, I was brought up on strong mid-Western values and work ethics.  I had a pretty average childhood and was always encouraged to find and follow my dreams.  The support that I received from my parents and mentors has led me right here, writing my first blog to you.  

I recognized pretty early on that I tended to dance to the beat of a different drummer so I guess it’s not surprising that I decided to take the non-traditional route after high school.  At the end of a pretty unproductive year at a small university where I was in constant search of my purpose, I landed a gig with Carnival Cruises and I spent a year as a production singer, touring the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Alaska.  As an 18 year old that had never really left Iowa, my world was rocked – there actually was more to life outside of my little bubble.  This began six years of my professional entertainment career during which time I performed in various theaters, theme parks, and cabarets in Chicago and Los Angeles as well as two tours of Europe.  My life as an entertainer was exciting and fulfilling until I realized that I was halfway through my 20’s and had no security nor any real stability.  I knew that I couldn’t spend the rest of my life behind a microphone wearing jazz shoes and I had yet to find that purpose that I had started looking for six years prior, so I needed to change my course.  I packed up the contents of my garden apartment in Chicago and headed back to Iowa.  I remained in Iowa for 10 years during which time I: met and married my husband, went back to school and obtained my undergraduate degree, bought a house, and planted roots back into the black soil of Iowa.  That darn purpose, though, had yet to show itself to me.  That is, until early 2011 when I attended a candlelight vigil.  My internal fire began to burn that night and it’s continued to grow every day since.

This vigil was held in memory of victims of suicide who had been highlighted by the media for being gay/queer or perceived as such.  It was devastating to see that members of my own community were falling prey to continued bigotry and hatred.  I couldn’t help but see that 17 year old Justin in the faces of the victims and I kept thinking to myself: is there still no one out there to reach out to these folks and show them that life does get better? Well, my purpose reared its head that night - I am that someone who must reach out.  By the end of the year, my husband and I had packed up our lives and our pets to start our new lives in Austin and, In January of 2012, I stepped foot into my first graduate-level social work class at UT.  As you’ve probably assumed, I finished my academic career at UT and I’m now here – reaching out to you just as I said I would.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you.  Now it’s your turn; I’d love to hear your story!

Learn more about Justin here. 

A Hard Hit

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This post goes out to the parents of littles, but take note that much of what you read can easily be adapted to fit your own needs or the needs of an older child. Do not underestimate the importance of self-care and self-compassion during a hard time. Even if you have not had a “direct hit” by Hurricane Harvey (i.e. your house may not have flooded, you didn’t have to evacuate, you only had a power outage), seeing friends and family suffer, even seeing strangers suffer, can be downright difficult and exhausting. There’s so much information to digest about how to help, what to do and what not to do that it can be overwhelming. There’s enough information download and processing happening, so let’s stick to some really important fundamentals. Please feel free to pass this along, as our connection with one another is more important than ever!

When something scary and unreal hits, like what Texas has experienced with Hurricane Harvey, our children need support in making some sense of it. Parents and adults can help children in adapting healthy coping strategies. Here are some simple first steps:

1. Attunement: Time is precious right now. There may be a lot going on with you and around you. As a parent, taking some time to connect with your child will have many positive effects on them and on you. This might be the time when you actually need to schedule, yes schedule, special time with your child. Go ahead and do it - carve out about 10 minutes for play time, extra cuddles, fun reading and good ‘ole fashioned one on one time. Perhaps make this a part of your new routine before bed, but slipping it in between phone calls is fine too. Just make sure that you have given yourself a chance to transition to a place of calm and focus before engaging with your child. Providing special connection time for your child during chaos will remind them of the fact that they are loved and safe. It will also give them an opportunity to be just as they need to be - a child without worry and fear.

2. Response: This might be a time when you, as a parent or caregiver, get a lot of questions. “Where will we sleep tonight?” “Why did this happen?” “When can I go back home?” “Why did my friend have to leave her house?” My go-to suggestion for parents overwhelmed by questions and feeling like they need to answer them all and answer them well is this: Pause and Breathe. Make space for you to clear out anxiety, stress and worry. Your child will not think twice if you don’t immediately answer their questions. Next step is to think: Is this an answer now or answer later question? If it is an answer now question, keep your response simple and age appropriate. The information you give doesn’t need to have a lot of detail. You can give a little bit at a time and check to see if that answers your child’s question. If you think this could be an answer later question, that’s okay too. Generally, those are for the real tough ones or when we don’t know what to say at all. Give the question the space it deserves. Respond with, “Wow, that’s a really good question. Mommy needs to think about that one. I’m not sure right now. I’m going to think about it and then answer you later.” Then, actually do think about it and answer it later. You can also ask your child what they think and how they feel about it.

3. Feelings: There are a lot of them right now. And they might not all make sense or seem totally logical. For instance, the feeling of anxiety may come up but bring into question 'why' because your family maybe hasn’t been directly affected or experienced significant hardship. Any feeling is fine right now. If you notice some behaviors or signs from your child that seem unusual to you, do you best to help them put words to their emotions. As Dan Siegel, MD, says, “Name it to Tame it.” It really does help to say the feeling or feelings out loud in order for them to be soothed and attended to. As a therapist, I love to suggest the following phrase, “I wonder if…” “I wonder if you are feeling scared. There are some scary things happening right now.” “I wonder if you are feeling tired right now. I see that you are rubbing your eyes.” “I wonder if you might be feeling lonely. It’s been a few days since you were able to play with your friends.”

Remember, in a time of crisis, much of how we cope is based on the need to survive. If you are seeing some concerning behavior in your child, DO reach out to a mental health provider to learn more about how to best address what you see and ensure that your child is being well taken care of during this time. The first priorities are providing safety, nourishment, shelter and love.

 

 

My Loved One Experiences Anxiety, Why Can’t They Get Over It?

Anxiety can feel as though you are being chased by a lion. Although this analogy may seem extreme to those who don't deal with an anxiety disorder, it's one that makes sense to someone who encounters anxiety on nearly an everyday basis. Sufferers of anxiety know the feeling of fear, experience hypervigilance to everyday situations, have an excess energy or even a depletion of energy due to the exhaustion of panic and feel that there is imminent danger nearby even though there may not be an actual threat around them.

Having the understanding of friends and family to support you through your anxiety can make all the difference in the world, but it isn't always easy to have empathy when you haven't experienced anxiety firsthand or been taught a bit about it. It is very natural and common for those closely connected to individuals with an anxiety disorder to believe a number of things such as, “I support them, I love them, and it doesn’t seem to be enough,” “It cannot possibly be that bad,” “They have a good life, this doesn’t make sense,” or “Why can’t they just get over it?” These are some typical thoughts to have, but are not helpful for someone who is struggling with anxiety to hear.

When someone is going through anxiety, their body is reacting as though there is danger close by and their stress response is activated. This means they experience acceleration of their lungs and heart, so the blood will rush to their extremities to be prepared to run from danger or “brace” themselves from it. It can also mean they cannot utilize critical thinking or logical thinking because their energy is currently in use to save them from a perceived danger. They can also experience tunnel vision, loss of hearing, and shaking, among other physiological responses. So, truly, they are reacting as though they are being chased by a lion. And yes, they know they aren’t being chased by a lion, which can make these feelings worse because they do not make sense to them.


So, what can you do? Ask them what they need. They may tell you they need to be alone because they are overstimulated and that is okay. Tell them where you will be if they need you. They may say that they need you, but do not know how they need you. You can sit with them and wait until they are ready to talk to you. But probably the most common response is, “I don’t know.” During these times, you can use your judgement, but giving advice may be the least helpful since they cannot truly hear you and any advice given may be minimizing their experience. Once they have calmed down, rested, and time has passed, ask if you can talk about what they need or want you to do in these situations. Ask them what is helpful and not helpful. It could be a trial and error situation, but the fact that you acknowledge what they are going through is real will make all the difference. And as always, if it is debilitating for them or they/you believe they need more help than what you can give, have a gentle discussion with them about finding a professional who can help the both of you.

Meet Blake & Tracy: Our Story

For those of you who have met us in person, you've probably gathered that we are not just business partners but true friends through and through. However, we didn't have a cosmic connection right from the beginning, if you can imagine that! When we met in graduate school at St. Edward's University, we were probably a bit too similar in ways that kept us a little removed from each other. We were both the "raise your hand at all the questions, sit at the front of the class, go for the extra credit" type. Both leaders, we each had our own path in grad school, but both ended up doing some of our postgraduate training at Austin Child Guidance Center, where we began to nurture the beginning of our friendship. However, it wasn't until after the creation of our GirlTalk Therapy programs (the very beginning of GT Therapy Group) that we began to develop our genuine love and support for one another. 

Now we know that our individual differences, which you could probably spot if you've ever taken one of our workshops or trainings, have given us each some super powers for business and therapy (or, at least we'd like to think of it that way)! We like to say that we're complementary halves and that's what has helped us thrive in work and friendship, and it is what the foundation of our practice is built on.

GT Therapy Group launched in the summer of 2016 after 5+ years of our dynamic duo leading groups and workshops through our GirlTalk Therapy beginnings. As the groups and our individual practices began to thrive in the community, we began to outgrow our GirlTalk Therapy beginnings. If we wanted to offer more to meet the demands of our diverse clients, we needed more therapists. a broader mission, and a home for our dream practice.  We went into "power planning" mode and devised the idea of a place where we could provide more to our clients while also offering a training ground for other professionals and therapists. A place where we could nurture ourselves and our clients, where we could expand our professional development program and create the kind of community that we value so deeply.

Over the last two years we've each seen much more than our business grow. We're moms (each with one boy and Tracy with another on the way!), therapists, supervisors, wives, friends, community supporters and local business owners. We have a new home for our thriving group practice and a fantastic team of therapists we are so proud to partner with. We're honored to have our roots in Austin, Texas and look forward to what growth and transformation lies ahead. Welcome to GT Therapy Group

Meet Danielle

Hi there! 

For starters, I'm born and raised here in Austin, Texas (a 5th generation Austinite actually!) which means there's no shortage of "y'alls" in my therapy office. While most of my life has been in Texas, it was during my four years living in Seattle that I discovered and cultivated my passion for working within marginalized communities through a career in social work and youth development. 

My ultimate goal is to make counseling feel safe and approachable for as many people as possible, especially those who feel that the face of mental health doesn't reflect or welcome their experience. If I can help to reduce the negative stigma around mental health, especially for communities of color, so that people feel free to show their authentic self in relationship and ask for support when they need it, I will have done my job. 

I've been told my counseling "vibe" is very warm, down to earth and calming. One of the first things I'll generally say to my clients is "how nervous are you right now?" because I like to acknowledge off the bat that beginning counseling can be scary and I'm a total stranger to them! I love meeting clients where they're at and normalizing the anxiety and feelings of "what the heck am I doing here!?!?" that they may feel when first stepping into my office.  I also believe you don't have to be in crisis to seek support. Why wait until your teen is running away three times a week or your relationship is on the brink of ending? Why not give yourself the space to work through some of your questions and struggles before they reach the boiling point? And you may be thinking, "my life isn't as bad as others, so why am I struggling so much?" Because life is hard. It's beautiful, but it's filled with tough moments that sometimes we just can't shake on our own. I'd invite you to consider that a life transition or simply just feelings of "something is missing" are reason enough to start on the path of self-care. 

I also specialize in culturally responsive counseling. What's that mean exactly? I'm glad you asked! It means that I will acknowledge your experience of the world as your truth and in our work together we may consider the impact of the stories that society tells about who you are or who you should be. This really allows for deep exploration of cultural identity, systemic oppression, acknowledgment of privilege and more as we work towards a stronger sense of self and define what it means to truly belong.

To learn more about Danielle visit Our Team page and DanielleLocklearCounseling.com!

Meet Anastasia

Hello Everyone!

So, maybe you have read my bio on the GT Therapy website and you know a little bit about the work I do and who I work with, but what do I actually do in therapy? My honest answer is that it varies from person to person because I know no one is exactly alike. I approach therapy in a very person-centered way. I do not believe therapy needs to be formal and you do not need to come in with a definitive problem every time because I find value within your everyday stories. I try to find your strengths within the stories you tell me and explore them more to be able to utilize them when life is tough. 

I am an integrative yoga teacher and that does come out in my therapeutic process at times, especially if someone requests it in their therapeutic experience. For me bringing yoga into therapy means that I feel the mind and body have a very strong connection and at times of stress, feelings of intense emotion, or lack of rest, the mind-body connection can become disconnected and feel disorienting. Through breath work, meditation, and body awareness exercises, people can feel connected again. 

I am also a realist and know that coming to see a therapist can feel intimidating, scary, and, well, awkward. I commit to doing my very best to ease these feelings so you can talk to me about anything that comes to mind to generate a conversation and explore your vulnerabilities. Wait, vulnerability? Yes, this can be uncomfortable at times, but I believe that a lot of change begins to happen when we explore them (thanks for the research, Brené Brown) and will always give it my best to make you feel safe enough to get to this point.

I gently encourage everyone to show me all sides of their personality, even those less than desirable qualities we all have because this is your space to let it all out without a filter. We tend to censor ourselves a lot because we don’t want to hurt others, we fear judgement, or for any other personal reasons, so having a space to talk to someone without worry can be so therapeutic. I mean, it can be absolutely exhausting to hold back everything, right? 

But what about the judgement that you may think will come from me or what if I don’t give you the attention you believe you need? Well, lucky for you, I do believe and practice, yes, you guessed it, the ever so popular term, mindfulness* (I am a yoga teacher and teach yoga in my practice, what did you expect?). I will be present for you in your times of need and I will sit with you in times of discomfort. 

Who do I enjoy working with? I love working with a variety of different people. I work with young children who may be experiencing difficult relationships and the world for the first time; adolescents who I believe need a space to be heard through the challenging transition into adulthood; young adults who may be coping with actual “adulting”; couples who may need help communicating with each other to find a deeper and more intimate connection; and families who may wish they could be closer and be able to talk to each other more effectively. 

So, that is a glimpse of me and how I conduct therapy. I hope this was helpful.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or if you feel like I may be a good fit for you, your child, or your family. Much metta** to you! 

*Just in case you haven’t learned the definition of mindfulness, here it is: “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” –Jon Kabat-Zinn 

**Metta: Loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence

- Anastasia

To learn more about Anastasia, visit Our Team page here!

 

 

Meet Natalia

Hello! I'm Natalia Amari and I love helping young women (particularly, twentysomethings and millennials) overcome experiences of trauma. 

Sound daunting? I know. I get it a lot. On planes. At parties. At the checkout line at the beauty store.

With wide eyes, strangers and new acquaintances in my life wonder aloud how I can "handle" hearing such difficult stories. The truth is that I know what it's like to have a few "difficult stories" of my own. Furthermore, what I hear most in those stories are resilience.

It takes a lot of resilience to even get to my couch despite what happened before. While trauma is challenging, the other side of it is survivorship, strength, and post-traumatic growth. That's incredible to bear witness to and to work with.

Trauma (and stress for that matter) is fundamentally a part of life. The only way to avoid hardship at all is to, in a way, avoid life. Which could be a painful experience in it's own right.

I'm honored to sit in both the pain and the growth of this kind of life experience with my clients.

Additionally, working with twentysomethings and millennials can be equally impactful work. Figuring out how to adult. Sorting out the stuff you inherited from your family of origin and deciding what to own and what to toss. Getting lost in the questions, "Who am I? What am I here for?" Learning how to handle failure and rejection. Realizing you keep dating the same people over and over again. Navigating new boundaries on your own. Putting together a life you own. These are the themes that come up most in my work with young women.

And, it's brilliant work. Too often we minimize this stage of life, but the impact of the choices we make as young adults can be long-lasting. Therapy can help us build a more present and compassionate relationship with ourselves. It can also help us get the most out of our efforts during this stage of life.

Finally, for those who feel intimidated by the idea of therapy - I get it. I've seen the way we are portrayed in movies and TV shows. Either we are cold and overly analytical or warm and unprofessional. Or it's a mixed bag because they had to speed up the plot. Hollywood hasn't nailed it yet.

Because of this, I'm keen to foster a therapy space that is warm and professional, with a few f-bombs and YAS QUEEN'S thrown in. If it feels awkward at first, we can listen to some music, paint our nails, or play Bananagrams. And, yes, it would still be therapy. 

Lightening up the experience can make therapy more accessible and enable us to move towards the harder things at a gentle pace. Moving gently allows for more sustainable changes. And, isn't that the goal?

To learn more about me and how I approach my work, check out my website: https://nataliaamari.com/meet-natalia/ and Our Team page here

LifeTip: Constellations of Adaptive Responses

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When we experience a stressful or traumatic event our brains activate different response systems.  These are commonly referred to as adaptive responses because they help us adapt, stay safe and survive potentially threatening and/or sudden changes in our environment.

Some adaptive responses are entirely physiological and are a result of the body’s neurophysiological response to stress, threats, and/or danger.  These responses can include the fight, flight, and freeze responses, which are activated by the most primitive part of our brain, the limbic system, and at a most basic level, prepare our bodies to fight, run away or hide (freeze) in the face of danger.  

Additional physiological responses to stress include: panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbance, and the like.  Even though we are all humans, we don’t always all respond the same way to the same kinds of experiences.  For example, some of us can tolerate extreme sports and roller coasters, while others would find that too physiologically overwhelming.  The same is true in the face of traumatic events.

On the other hand, some adaptive responses manifest themselves more in the emotional, cognitive and behavioral realm.  Some examples of this include being angry, intrusive thoughts, using humor, throwing ourselves into advocacy work to prevent the traumas that happened to us from happening to another, or to avoid dealing with our own trauma history.  These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, really.  There are so many kinds of responses and each person has their own unique constellation of responses in order to get through life.

While it may be hard to understand sometimes, all of these responses are ultimately there to help us survive a given moment or experience.  It’s just a matter of teasing out whether or not they are indeed still helpful in our stimuli-laden, busy, modern lives.  Sometimes too, we find that strategies that worked in the past no longer work in the present and in fact, have become a source of trouble, or maladaptive.  When this happens it can feel like life is playing a big prank on us.

Many adaptive responses are involuntary, however we are also capable of utilizing new strategies, voluntarily, as we learn and grow.  Our work in therapy is centered on promoting self-discovery of the physiological and psychological adaptive responses.  What’s serving you?  What’s not?  What is your body, mind, heart, or spirit needing from you in order to get back in the driver’s seat of your life?  This is the work to be done.  And, this is what we are here to help with.