GT News

Meet Savannah!

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Hi there! 

I’m so excited to join the GT Therapy team and I’m eager to share more with you about my journey as a therapist. I grew up in the delightfully small town of Tomball, TX, a rural suburb of Houston. Ever since my days as a “peer mediator” in elementary school, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist. I loved helping other classmates sort out their problems (and getting to miss class probably didn’t hurt). My heart has always had a special place for kiddos and families. When I was in high school I babysat and taught ballet to three year olds, and in college I worked at a preschool and nannied. 

I studied social work at the University of Texas as an undergrad, which sparked my passion for mental health and social justice. From there I went straight into graduate school for social work at UT, eager to continue honing my skills as a clinician and advocate. After graduating with my Masters of Science in Social Work, I worked in various jobs within the non profit world, supporting and training foster parents, facilitating group and individual counseling to survivors of domestic and sexual assault, offering family counseling and play therapy for children, and working as a school based therapist in middle and high schools across the Austin area. I’ve lived in Austin for quite a while now, and there’s no place I’d rather be. I love spending time outside with my dog Boone, catching up with friends over a meal, and when at all possible- not taking life too seriously.

I am so thankful for a career where I get to connect with people, hear their unique stories, and offer them genuine empathy. Getting to see my clients grow in self compassion, laugh with me (or sometimes at me), communicate more effectively, or mend a broken relationship makes my so heart happy. I’m continually inspired by the people that choose to take the brave step toward healing and seek out therapy, and am so thankful for each of the clients I have the privilege of working with. If you want to take the next step toward healing, please reach out, as I’d be honored to walk with you on your journey. 

Meet Austin!

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Hello!

My name is Austin. Thank you for pulling up this post and letting me introduce myself to you.  I’ll start by how I got here. I was born in Chicago and grew up in Chicago, LA, Dallas, France, and a couple of countries in central Africa.  I went back to Illinois for college and majored in Psychology and Philosophy. I also spent 6 months of my senior year in Rwanda working with a local organization that promotes reconciliation between perpetrators and victims of the 1994 genocide.  My psychology studies and experience in Rwanda strengthened my desire for a career in mental health. After college, I moved to Austin for love, following my now wife as she started a PhD program at UT. I have spent the last 6 years working for various nonprofits around central Texas and getting my MA in Professional Counseling with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from Texas State.

I love to travel but spend most of my vacations enjoying time with family.  I almost always prefer listening to other people to talking myself. In my free time I am usually reading or playing a game of some sort.  Following many years of throwing out the dry, brown remains of plants that didn’t make it, I have kept two different plants alive in pots for more than a year and counting.  I play video games but have only ever owned Nintendo game consoles because for me the main purpose of owning a video game console is to play games with friends. I have a puppy who embodies the mixing and melding that makes Austin (the city) so wonderfully weird.  

Probably as a result of moving around so much as a kid, I love variety and chances to learn new things.  In the last several years I have worked with everyone from kids who were going in and out of the mental hospital to kids and families grieving the death of a family member to people of all ages who have experienced trauma to kids and teens and adults who are feeling anxious or depressed to couples at every stage of a relationship. I don’t love the variety of pain that people experience. What I do love is being able to hold a safe space for people, provide some tools, and watch the strength and courage and compassion and growth and humor and ingenuity that shows up.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me better.  If you want to know more about me, you can read my bio and get in touch at the link below!

Meet Natalia!

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Hi there, welcome!!

I want to take this opportunity to talk to YOU directly and share a bit more of who I am. People often have mixed ideas about who comes to mind when they think of a therapist. In all honesty, growing up I did not think of a young, female in this profession. That’s not what was portrayed in movies or who I learned about in school, and also why I was nervous about delving into this career. AND yet... here I am, several licenses and years of counseling experience later. I am beyond grateful I showed up to be able to get to this point. I absolutely love this work and believe that I was meant for it!

One of the quotes that forever rings in my ears, is Georgia O’Keefe saying, “I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

This holds true to being a client in therapy as well. I’ve been lucky enough to be in both positions, and I totally get it. It takes a huge amount of courage to sit with a complete stranger and begin to share. I’m inspired when I see clients continue to show up and put in the work with me. Especially witnessing clients show up in other areas of their lives, maybe in a way that they had not, prior to therapy. I believe on some level, that everyone who ends up in my office was meant to be there as well.


To rewind a bit, I’m the epitome of unexpected blends. I’m a born and raised Texan, who also flies to Poland to visit my family, as often as I can get away with. I’m the only first-generation American in my family, and that comes with it a whole unique identity. I’m also a proud Aggie living in a city of burnt orange pride and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Part of the fun of living in this weird, diverse city is opportunity to connect with people of a variety of backgrounds and upbringings. As someone who self-identifies as quirky, I enjoy how Austin owns being weird.

My career journey has led me to work with teens in a residential juvenile detention facility, university crisis hotlines, hospitals, and in various outpatient settings. This is also where my passion for working with teens and families truly took shape. Although I value the range of clients that I get the honor of working with. Mental health requires a strong support system and to be one piece of that support, regardless of setting, is extremely rewarding.

Outside of work, I may be out on hiking adventures with my pup, traveling or trying out a new coffee shop. I also devote a significant portion of my free time to serving the community through volunteer work. I’ve been involved with Junior League of Austin for the past two years, as well as a volunteer therapist with Camp Phoenix.

Just as I myself have a lived narrative, I also bear witness to my clients’ stories. Some soft, loud, bold, beautiful, painful and each unique. I get to hold space for these stories and sit with brave story tellers. If you are living a plotline you are not content with, please reach out for counseling support. You deserve to live a life that you are genuinely excited about.

ProTip: Spotlight from Work Muse on Job Sharing with Blake & Tracy

We are thrilled to share a collaboration with the founder of Work Muse, Melissa Nicholson, who has a series of interviews with us on our “accidental job share” of co-owning and co-directing our wonderful group practice here. Our first article highlights the ways we put our work relationship first, so that we can bring our best selves to our partnership, our team, our clients and our families. It’s not always easy, but it’s always richly rewarding. We take time to really check in with each other, we show up for each other, we talk it out, and we know how to have fun while doing hard work:

We owe this to ourselves and each other, as well as our therapists and clients. Good communication = love + directness. We don’t wait to talk until we’re burning in resentment. Little things can slide, but the stuff that gets us in our feels is a signal it’s time to talk. Conflict resolution makes your partnership stronger. -Blake & Tracy

Never heard of job sharing? Work Muse is on a mission to bring this creative approach to the work/life balance dilemma so that more men and women can build personal and professional lives that offer flexibility, support, productivity and more joy. Learn more about job sharing and Work Muse’s story here.

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Meet Katelyn!

Hello and Welcome!!

I am so excited to be a part of the GT Therapy Group! I wanted to share a little bit of who I am, where I come from, and how I can help you through your journey. My name is Katelyn Williams and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Board Certified Counselor (NCC). I usually have a little trouble explaining where I am from (mostly because my family moved several times when I was a kid), but I was born in Yakima, Washington, and I claim San Antonio as my “childhood home” for all intents and purposes😊 I have lived in Austin for over 10 years, and love getting to enjoy the live music and natural beauty this city has to offer!

As a teenager, I thought I was destined for Hollywood, but after an internship at a Modeling and Casting Agency, I realized that I had a desire to help people, that went beyond getting them a temporary job. I wanted a lasting effect that gave people the skills they needed to be successful, across their lifespan. I had spent so much time focusing on the outward display of emotion from actors, but wanted to understand the inner workings of people and their feelings.

So after turning down a full time position in the entertainment business, I attended Texas State University and majored in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. After learning about Texas State’s CACREP counseling program, I knew I wanted to stick around to complete my MA in Professional Counseling. With my Master’s Degree in hand, and with the guidance of my professors and advisors in Texas State’s Professional Counseling Program, I decided to accept a job in School Counseling, and work with some of our most vulnerable populations: kids and teens.

While working as a school counselor, I had the opportunity to interact with children and teens across all SES backgrounds, tackling problems that ranged from abuse to anxiety to social issues to academic struggles. I truly love to work with this unique population and I am excited to continue help them process their experiences and better understand who they are as individuals. I want to empower tweens and teens, with the skills to combat anxiety and fear, and to handle life transitions with grace and confidence.

Through my work in education, I realized that the mental health concerns affecting our kids and teens is impacted greatly by the family and community that surrounds them. When couples were struggling, that struggle trickled down to their children. In order to be more effective when working with couples, I decided to pursue training from the Gottman Institute, one of the forerunners in Marriage and Couples Therapy. The Gottmans use empirical data to support their system and skills, and I have personally witnessed the benefits that these skills can bring to a relationship (yes, even some of the most broken relationships)! The goal of couples therapy is to increase healthy communication, and to identify your strengths as a couple, while renewing your commitment to tackle issues in a constructive way, that allows your relationship to progress to a place that both parties feel secure and committed.

As a therapist at GT Therapy Group, I am excited to work with both couples who are wanting to strengthen their relationship, and with tweens/teens/young adults who are struggling to find their place in this world! I look forward to meeting you, and supporting you through your growth, transition, and/or transformation!

Meet Alyssa!

Hi Friends, I’m Alyssa! (and that cute lil’ pup is my baby, Benny) I am so incredibly happy you are here!

I know that the idea of beginning your journey with a new therapist and sharing your story can be exciting, intimidating, uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking and ALL of the other emotions. Let me share with you about myself, and I am hopeful that knowing a bit more about me can help ease some of your scaries.

Originally from Chicago, born and raised, I moved to Austin just over a year ago with my fiance (also a Chicago native) to embark on the adventurous journey of exploring a new city of which we knew little to nothing about. Not unlike beginning a relationship with a new therapist, I felt excited, anxious, uncertain, scared … the list goes on. Despite my many doubts including: leaving my family, friends, a job I loved, and a city I knew with my eyes closed (“what am I doing?!”), it did not take long for me to fall in love with Austin and all of the opportunity this city has to offer! Within the past year I have managed co-raise a doodle pup...well - we’re still working on that, obtain my yoga teaching certificate, complete my social work licensure, and buy a house with my now fiance (all seemingly intimidating, foreign, and impossible at the beginning have become proud challenges I have worked hard to accomplish). I share this with you as it relates to coming to therapy: what started out as a bit scary and unpredictable transformed into one of the greatest blessings I could have hoped for. I am hopeful that YOU have the opportunity to overcome and accomplish life’s many challenges and I would love to support you along the way!

My approach to therapy is warm, empathic, and understanding. You are the expert on your life and I will have the pleasure of accompanying you on your journey while offering support, validation, and guidance throughout.

My passion to work with adolescents and families started long ago in my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (GO BLUE!) as I became deeply interested in healing and psychology. I continued on to graduate school at Loyola University Chicago to pursue my Masters in Social Work with the enthusiasm to support adolescents and their families to live meaningful and fulfilling lives. I have had wonderful opportunities to work with kiddos and their families both in Chicago and Austin in several settings from inpatient treatment, outpatient programs, and within therapeutic groups. I look forward to bringing my experience to our relationship and learning even more from each unique individual - we are all unicorns with something different to offer the world!

During my free time, I am often spending my days outside enjoying the Austin sun (something I was certainly unable to do in the Midwest), kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, practicing yoga, listening to live music, and spending time with my new Austin family and friends (Benny, too!).

I so appreciate you taking the time to read my story, I look forward to hearing about yours! :)

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 ☺

April Updates from Anastasia

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The past few months have been full and rewarding. We've had the opportunity to connect with representatives from the Eating Recovery Center, Insight Behavioral Health Center, and Open Sky Wilderness Therapy They care for so many different people and cater to many different needs, and all are connected by a deep commitment to the individuals and families they support.

Earlier this spring I visited the Eating Recovery Center in Austin. It is a beautiful facility located in North Austin. They care for children, adolescents, and adults with anorexia nervosa, AFRID, binge eating disorder, bulimia, diabulimia, OSFED, and mood & anxiety disorders. They have different levels of care which include partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and virtual intensive outpatient program. I had a chance to meet some of their staff which included registered dieticians and mental health professionals. They were all very knowledgeable, kind, and passionate about the work they do. Their facility has many large group rooms, individual offices for private sessions, and a dining room for their clients which utilizes supervised meal support. Their treatment is grounded in ACT, DBT, CBT, and Family-Based Treatment.

The following week I visited Insight Behavioral Health Center, which is partnered with the Eating Recovery Center, located in Round Rock. It had a very similar feel as ERC; I saw the same kindness, knowledge, and passion for their work. Insight Behavioral Health Center has an intensive outpatient program and a partial hospitalization program for adolescents and adults with mood, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders as well as other behavioral issues. They have large group rooms, individual offices for private sessions, and they are in the process of expanding their office to be able to assist more individuals. Very exciting! They utilize ACT, DBT, CBT, and ERP, with trauma-informed care being the foundation to their approach in group and individual therapy. 

If you want to visit or learn more about ERC or Insight, the very kind and friendly Professional Relations Liaison, Sara Helms, is available and can offer even more information on the range of programs and services offered. Thanks for hosting us, Sara!

Later on in the month, we welcomed the Clinical Outreach Director at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, Jill Hutcheson, to our offices. She was absolutely lovely and so passionate about the work that happens at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy in Durango, Colorado. They take an innovative and holistic approach to treatment for adolescents, young adults and families navigating a wide range of mental health issues and substance abuse, especially individuals who may be resistant to therapy. As a family-systems-centered practice, we're particularly drawn to the work they do in connecting the whole family to the treatment process. Please check out their website for more information on the services they provide. 

We are honored to work in such a strong, dedicated and passionate community. 

Much Metta, 
Anastasia

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