group therapy

How do I decide: Time-limited or Long-term Group Therapy?

Fall 2018 Group Therapy Offerings at GT Therapy Group

Photo by  Warren Wong  on  Unsplash

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

We have some awesome group therapy offerings this fall! We’ll have an elementary-age Friendship Circle group as well as a time-limited GirlTalk Therapy group for middle school girls. Both will start around Labor Day and will be eight weeks long. Georgia Denny will be leading these groups, so if you are interested in either group we will happily put you in touch with her in order to get the process started. 

We have open long-term groups available for middle and high school teens, including ongoing GirlTalk Therapy groups, mixed gender Identity & Relationships groups, and newly forming parent support groups and group therapy for college students & young adults. 

 

LONG-TERM OR TIME-LIMITED GROUP? HOW DO I KNOW WHICH IS THE RIGHT FIT?

Most of our groups are long-term, open enrollment, developmentally-appropriate process groups. This means that members can join and graduate from group at different times, and the group can keep going. These types of groups mirror our experiences in the world, where we are often having to navigate relationship transitions and learning how to enter into established groups as well as how to say goodbye when people leave. These groups are, at their core, about establishing healthy peer attachments. 

Our time-limited groups are more focused on practical learning and skills-acquisition and are great when your child or teen needs a primer on social-emotional development. Sometimes a child can participate in a time-limited group to build some language around the social and emotional skills we teach, and then might join an ongoing group for the long-term. 

While both groups teach skills and incorporate age-appropriate topics for discussion around emotions, sense of self and social relationships, the open groups are much more about the long-term process and experience of the group itself, and can adapt as the members grow. The needs of these groups might look different over time, and members can stay for different lengths of time depending on needs and goals, but they are based in the latest neuroscience that teaches us that interpersonal relationships are how we form our identity, how we regulate our emotions, and how we learn how to organize ourselves in the world.

In both time-limited and long-term group therapy, you will: 

  • gain tools for emotion regulation
  • develop interpersonal skills
  • learn about yourself & how to relate to others
  • use developmentally-appropriate games, exercises and activities to foster learning and connection

In short-term groups you will:

  • focus on skills using activities 
  • have a little more "teaching time" from the group therapist

In long-term groups you will:

  • focus on building healthy relationships with other group members
  • incorporate skills in a more emergent way (less formal teaching time, more about what's happening in the moment)

Short-term groups can be best when you want to get a quick primer on some social & emotional skills and have a chance to practice in a safe environment. Long-term groups can be best when you've been struggling for a while and need some ongoing support mixed in with some skill-building. 

Still not sure which group experience is right for you? Get in touch with us and we will work with you to determine the best fit. 

 

Meet Danielle

Hello, friend!  I’m so happy you’re here ☺

For those new to the idea of therapy, opening up and sharing pieces of yourself with a stranger can be weird, exciting and maybe a little intimidating.  Common thoughts like, “What am I supposed to say?” or “What if they think I’m weird/annoying/bad/crazy?” go through most people’s minds before meeting someone new, especially if that person is a therapist. In fact, one of the biggest misconceptions I hear about therapy is the expectation to go in and tell some deep, juicy secret to a person you’ve never met while they write and nod, filling the empty spaces with “Mmhmm” and “I see”.  Then suddenly… BAM! Four sessions later, all problems have disappeared and you are on your merry way.

As wonderful and convenient as this would be, sharing parts of your true, authentic self requires much more than a few weeks with a couch, a legal pad and a person with letters behind their name. It requires both client and therapist to be a little vulnerable in order to begin developing a strong foundation of mutual respect and trust – a necessity when building a secure, nurturing and overall safe relationship where you know you are valued and cared for. So, in the spirit of new relationship vulnerability, I’d love to open the door and share a bit of my story with you and invite you to share your story with me!

Originally hailing from Oklahoma City, OK, my understanding of empathy and desire to help others began at a very young age. Around 4 I began offering grumpy looking strangers unsolicited care in the form of band-aids (they fix everything, right?) and very lively and public renditions of my own “feel better” songs, which so happened to be  “Love Shack” by the B-52s and “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue. Though likely mortifying to my parents, they could see that I recognized emotions and wanted the world to be a better place.

As I got older, my care and concern for others continued to grow and I became fascinated with family dynamics and children in general. When I wasn’t busy with field hockey, track or choir, I was working as an after-school care provider, tutor, swim teacher and babysitter. This continued when I moved to Fort Worth, TX to attend Texas Christian University. While originally there for vocal music, I went between four (!) different majors before deciding that developmental psychology and child development was my passion and potential career path.

After graduating from college I backpacked through S.E. Asia for four months, using money saved from many, many hours babysitting, before finally moving to Austin, TX. In the four years I was here I explored different jobs, including behavioral work with children on the autism spectrum, pre-school teaching and full-time nannying for 3 different families. Though I had built a happy and comfortable life in Austin, I still knew that I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something different in order to help the most people. Once I was accepted to Vanderbilt’s Human Developmental Counseling master’s program, I decided to take the chance and move.

While I have had many ups and downs in life (as most of us have), the risk of giving up my life in Austin to become a therapist in Nashville was so heart-wrenching and insanely challenging that it made me question if I had made a mistake. It was through music, yoga, meditation and lots of soul-searching, love and support that I learned how to take a pause, find strength and push beyond what I originally believed I was capable of.

I hope to share this lesson with others who are on their own journeys through the ups and downs of life. I believe that everyone has a voice and a story that is worth being heard, regardless of the number of falls, challenges or setbacks it takes to come out the other side.

Thank you for allowing me to share bits of my story with you, and I look forward to hearing and helping you grow in yours ☺

Welcome Georgia!

We are thrilled to welcome Georgia Denny, LMSW to our team! We've had the pleasure of collaborating with Georgia over the years in her previous work as a school counselor, and now we are delighted to have her co-leading the upcoming Friendship Circle with Tracy, as well as facilitating a new 8-session Saturday GirlTalk Therapy group coming later this April! Welcome, Georgia!


Georgia has a passion for working with children, adolescents, and families. Georgia approaches her work with a systemic lens, understanding that individuals are shaped by families, peers, school environments, and communities. Prior to joining GT Therapy, she was a Lower School Counselor at Trinity Episcopal School. As the first Lower School Counselor at the school, Georgia developed and implemented the counseling and social/emotional program for the Lower School.

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Georgia has a deep interest in social and emotional learning, believing that emotional intelligence helps us grow into the best students, individuals, partners, colleagues, and caregivers that we can be. While at Trinity, she met with students and families, created and delivered curriculum in the classroom, facilitated group sessions, organized parent education, and collaborated with faculty regarding student and family needs. Georgia loves working with groups, knowing that so much work and growth (right alongside fun!) can happen through learning from the experiences of others. Georgia helps people find success through empowering individuals to use new tools as they face challenges, both small and large.

Georgia’s education includes a Bachelor of Business in Marketing and a Master of Science in Social Work, both from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to school counseling, she has worked in technology, medical social work, and special projects at the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. After growing up in Houston, attending school at UT, and a few years on the West Coast, Georgia loves calling Austin home and raising her two little girls in this special town.

Georgia helps children, adolescents, families, and groups with:

  • Anxiety and Stress Management
  • Social Skills
  • Self-Worth
  • Developing Healthy Relationships
  • Family Dynamics
  • Grief/Loss
  • Transitions
  • Parenting

ParentTip: Taking Time Out to Nurture YOU Can Nurture Your Whole Family

This post goes out to all those parents delving into the frenzy of fall. The following poem by Virginia Satir, a well-known psychotherapist and pioneer of family therapy, is a poignant reminder that being present is truly at the heart of raising a healthy family.  Read it, soak it in, and post it in your kitchen or family room – wherever the heart of your house it.   Let it shine light on your day, inform your conversations around the table and in the car, and gently tuck you in bed at night.  

How different it is to be with a nurturing family! Immediately I can sense the aliveness, the genuineness, honesty and love. I feel the heart and soul present as well as the head.

I feel that if I lived in such a family, I would be listened to and would be interested in listening to others, I would be considered and would wish to consider others. I could openly show my affection as well as my pain and disapproval. I wouldn’t be afraid to take risk because everyone in my family would realize that some mistakes are bound to come with my risk-taking~ that my mistakes are a sign that I am growing. I would feel like a person in my own right~ noticed, valued, loved and clearly asked to notice, value and love others.

One can actually see and hear the vitality in such a family. The bodies are graceful, the facial expressions relaxed. People look at one another, not through one another or at the floor, and they speak in rich, clear voices. There is a flow and harmony in their relations with one another.

Members of a nurturing family feel free to tell each other how they feel. Anything can be talked about~ the disappointment, fears, hurts, angers, criticism, as well as the joys and achievements.

Nurturing families show evidence of planning, but if something interferes with the plan, they can readily make adjustments. This way they are able to handle more of life’s problems without panicking.

In a nurturing family it is easy to pick up the message that human life and human feelings are more important than anything else. These parents see themselves as leaders, not bosses, and they see their job as primarily one of teaching their child how to be truly human in all situations.
— Virginia Satir, A Healthy Family

*Life balance as a parent can be challenging! Taking a moment to nourish you can reduce stress and anxiety as well as open up new pathways for living. Want to grow, learn, and foster healthier ways of relating to yourself, your partner or co-parent, and your children?  Join a parent group at GT Therapy Group this fall. Learn more about parent groups here and sign up to join us in connection this fall. 

Photo by  Tim Marshall  on  Unsplash

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. 

TeenTip: Identity & Relationship: New Groups Enrolling Now!

If we could sum up our GirlTalk Therapy groups in two words they would be: Identity and Relationship. At the heart of our groups is a dedication to supporting teen girls as they figure out who they are and where they belong in their changing worlds.

We have a host of new groups rolling out this January and February! We’ve added on two new therapists, Natalia and Simone, to help us serve the growing population of tween and teen girls who have sought out our GirlTalk Therapy Groups and want to benefit from a supportive (and fun) group therapy environment. If you are considering joining a therapy group, now is a great time to get in to our programs since we are opening up several new group sections right now! Here’s a snapshot of the groups that are welcoming new members:

Yoga for Anxiety: Meeting at the Treehouse Yoga Studio (South Austin) Saturday mornings 9-10:15 am starting January 21 and running for 6 weeks; No intake required though we recommend an initial phone call with the group leader prior to starting.

General Middle School Group (Central and South Locations): We are opening one or two new middle school groups. These groups are great for girls who want to connect with other girls, build their empathy for self and others and process the highs and lows of growing up.

High School Group for Anxious Teens (South Location): We have one more opening for this early high school group that is geared toward teens who are challenged by anxiety.

General High School Group (Central Location): Looking for a few motivated girls who would like support managing stress, emotion regulation, friendships difficulties and building their self-confidence and self-compassion.

A few more things to know about GT Therapy Group:

  • We provide intakes with each of our clients and their guardians before group starts to ensure goodness of fit.
  • We have two locations in Austin - south and central - and we do our best to fit the preferences of our clients. Location, time and date of groups are based on availability and need.
  • Unless stated otherwise, our groups are open to new members (when there is room) and are ongoing, with members joining and graduating at different times throughout the lifespan of group.
  • To get started, contact us today and a therapist will reach out to you within 24 hours to schedule a phone call or intake session!
Brought to you by Blake & Tracy and the GTTG Team

Brought to you by Blake & Tracy and the GTTG Team

Stay tuned for more news about our growth and offerings! We will have young adult and parent groups coming out later this Spring too! 

Self-Regulation

We are adding a new Middle School group in our Northwest location on the specific topic of self-regulation and emotional coping skills. Self-regulation has an important impact on so much of life - academics, peer relationships and overall well-being. When you have good self control and the ability to tolerate and cope with a variety of situations, you have a greater chance of success later in life. Early childhood self-regulation starts with the ability to inhibit one's self and delay gratification. Of course, this also continues all the way into adolescence and adult life.

Ever heard of the marshmallow experiment? This experiment was conducted in the late 60s and early 70s by Walter Mischel. In follow up studies, it produced correlations that indicated those children who were able to delay gratification and not eat the marshmallow immediately were later described by their parents to be more competent. Here's a modern-day version of the experiment.

Much of the distress of adolescence comes from a lack of self-control and difficulty with self-regulation. Emotions can feel intense and difficult to manage because the executive functioning part of the brain is underdeveloped. ParentMap shares an informative write-up about self-control/self-regulation and what you can do as a parent to help your tween/teen. Of course, parents can work and work on this with their children and still find days that things don't seem to "click." Try not to get discouraged, as this is all developmentally appropriate. One idea is to provide an alternative learning environment for your child to work on these skills with peers. If this seems like a good idea for your teen, contact us to find out more information about our new Middle School therapy group!

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Journaling with a Twist

Tonight we start our new NORTHWEST High School group! On tonight's agenda will be some fun activities from a book called "Wreck this Journal". It's a fun and innovative way to express yourself and be creative.

Journaling can be an inspirational method for producing positive transformation and a release of feelings. However, it can be a difficult practice to maintain. It can also be emotionally taxing. There are a lot of times that you may avoid journaling because you just don't want to have to go through it all again. Sometimes the best coping skill is the one in which we can find some healthy distraction and relaxation.

We find that journaling doesn't always have to follow the general stereotype of keeping a nice leather-bound notebook and filling it with pages of daily thoughts, feelings and experiences. In fact, for teens this process is rather unrealistic. With all the school work and activities that teens have these days, it is hard for them to keep up with a daily journal. Plus, with facebook, twitter and instagram, the act of sharing one's feelings has drastically changed. Our thoughts and actions are no longer as private as they used to be.

So, how can we still find the benefit of journaling with the time and social constraints that surround us? Journal Prompts are the solution! Wreck this Journal and many other creative journal books provide so many possibilities for sharing your thoughts and feelings. There are a vast number of ways to interpret a journal prompt, so it doesn't limit the journaler. Take the prompt below as an example:

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Teens really benefit from the opportunity to let their imagination be their source of inspiration and self-healing. Teens can also come up with their own journal prompts and share them with other friends or family members. Journaling doesn't have to be just pen and paper - it can be so much more!