Tips to Improve Family Communication

Families today are more diverse than ever. Yours may be a blended family with his, hers and ours, or a family with kids from newborn to teenager. Some kids may be biological, while others may be adopted. You may even be what is often thought of as a traditional family with two kids just a few years apart. No matter how your family came to be, improving communication can lessen stress, frustration and lead to a happier household. Family counseling for Jacksonville, AL families can improve communication and harmony. Here’s how.

family counseling jacksonville al helps all types of families

Making it Better

Generally, people are a product of their environment. It’s quite probable you speak to your spouse or your children in a similar fashion as your parents spoke to you. Maybe you handle conflict the same way your mom or dad did. You think you turned out okay, and that’s great. But what if things could be better? What if you learned skills that would take your family bond to the next level? That sounds like a win-win! Read on for a few ideas on how this can be achieved.

  • Be deliberate. Put the phones away during meals. Focus on quality, uninterrupted time. When you engage with others ignoring interruptions, everyone feels important.
  • Insist on family meals. Schedules get busy, and it’s really easy to grab food on the fly. It is so important to ensure everyone is getting at least one healthy meal a day and that you’re doing it together. If dinner every night isn’t possible, commit to at least three meals a week. Use this time to learn about your child’s classes or your spouse’s job.
  • Focus on listening to what your family member is saying, and don’t interrupt. Acknowledge their feelings even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Have dates with your children. Your undivided attention means the world to your child. Having that one-on-one time with them strengthens your bond and nourishes their need to be loved.

Family Counseling in Jacksonville, AL at Garrett

Family counseling for Jacksonville, AL families is only a phone call away. With offices also available in Boaz, AL and Huntsville, AL, all our professional team memebers at Garrett Counseling can help your family improve communication and provide a more peaceful environment. Call (256) 239-5662 or reach us by clicking here.


Benefits of Nature Based Therapy

With pandemic induced isolation and virtual consumption on the rise, people are finding themselves drifting further and further away from nature based therapy, or “ecotherapy” for mental health treatment. In fact, a recent article by Counseling Today estimates that we are spending close to 90% of our time indoors! Garrett Counseling is here to help you better understand how the use of nature in therapy can benefit you in treating your mental health concerns.

What Is Nature Based Therapy, or Ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy is the use of nature as an aid in mental health treatment. Using ecotherapy effectively, does not mean that you have to dump all your earthly belongings and completely submerge yourself in nature to benefit. Nature based therapy can be as simple or complex as you and your mental health professional prefer it to be. Some therapists work in offices that have a specific, designated space, such as a garden, for this very purpose (you can learn more about Garrett Counseling’s Therapy Garden here). Other therapists may utilize more natural objects in their office (e.g., stones, plants, leaves, flowers, etc.) on a regular basis, offering it as a coping tool for clients when in session. Some therapists may consider utilizing something as simple as opening the window blinds during a session to allow for natural light and visuals of greenery and the sky.

How Does Nature Based Therapy, or Ecotherapy, Help?

Nature based therapy provides the client an ‘escape’ from the intensity of daily hustle and bustle, depressive symptoms, and painful life transitions (including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic). When a person is observing nature in all its complexities, they realize that – no matter what they are personally experiencing – life goes on. This notion provides people with a sense of stability and safety, in what may otherwise be tumultuous times.

This blog is not to say that nature based therapy, or Ecotherapy, will fix all of the concerns a person may be facing. However, it is noteworthy that even a short period of time in natural light, or a short walk, means less time to ruminate on what may be troubling you. The American Counseling Association says, “You can listen to the quiet of nature, admire some budding flowers, or just smile at the squirrels scampering about — all things to take the focus off what is stressing you”. Sometimes even the quickest of breaks, is all you need to get through the trying times – one day at a time.

If you are looking for a counselor who practices nature based therapy in Jacksonville, Huntsville, or Boaz, Alabama, contact us today by calling (256) 239 – 5662 or by clicking here.

**This article was written by Rachel Brewer. Rachel is an Associate Licensed Counselor (#C3719A) under the supervision of Jay H. Byham, MS, LPC-S (#0741). Learn more about Rachel here.

Into the Wild…or Simply, a Garden

Embracing Nature for Mental Health

When Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild hit shelves in 2012, it started a massive movement towards reading about and experiencing the outdoors-especially among women. In Strayed’s book, she highlights how nature can often offer a healing touch and comforting balm to wounds surrounding anxiety, depression, ptsd, and experiences from our past that we would much rather keep hidden from the sunlight. After experiencing a tragic death, divorce, drug use, and trauma, Strayed decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail during 1995–a trail over 2000 miles long that stretches from California to the Washington-Canada border. The story is one of tragedy, triumph, and the resilience we can all find in ourselves if we embrace all parts of our own stories, and open up to the healing process.

Why does Cheryl’s book stick with so many readers? Is it that so many can see themselves in her story? Her grief? Her struggles, challenges, and triumphs? Or is it something else?

One might point out that it could also be the setting. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is grueling. Gorgeous, of course, as most things are that stand the threat of time and development, but people who hike it suffer under no illusions that the path will be an easy one. Scorching desert temperatures at one part of the trail can rapidly surrender to plummeting degrees with feet of snow on the other–with everything in between. Anyone that voluntarily signs up for such a test of physical and mental resilience knows that the journey will require more of them than they could imagine at the time they begin.

Journeys like Strayed’s–and journeys into wild country and landscapes, in general, are not entirely unlike undertaking a journey to nurturing our mental health. It can be grueling as we face our shadow selves and past negative experiences, gorgeous as we turn to see how far we have come from where we started, and triumphant as we start to notice our progress over territory we previously thought uncrossable. Nature can offer us that, wherever we find it.

Does nature have to be wilderness in order to offer benefits when challenged with anxiety or depression, or other mental health concerns? Absolutely not. These benefits can be found anywhere-from hundreds of miles of untouched backcountry to an easily accessible community garden.

Spending time in nature can:

  • Increase feelings of calm and relaxation
  • Lessen feelings of stress, anger, and anxiety
  • Improve your physical activity and
  • Offer a place to play and process, especially with children

The next time you find yourself experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, or anger, consider going for a short stroll outside (or, in Cheryl Strayed’s case, a very, very long walk), and talking to a counselor about other ways to improve your mental health. If you are looking for a counselor in Huntsville, Boaz, or Jacksonville, Alabama call us today at (256) 239-5662 or fill out the online form by clicking here.

Stay tuned for our next blog about “Starting Your Own ‘Mental Health Garden'”.

This blog was written by Morgan Osburn. Morgan is Garrett Counseling’s Director of Community Outreach. You can learn more about her by clicking here

Tips for Coping with School Stress & Anxiety

School has been in session for just over a month, and it’s like summer did a 180. Summer break is full of carefree lazy days, swimming, playing with friends, and not having a care in the world. Literally overnight, summer ended, and kids are now faced with new classes, new friends, homework, sports, and day after day of busy schedules from sun up to sun down. If your child is showing signs of stress or anxiety, a child counselor in Huntsville, AL may be exactly what they need.

child counseling huntsville, AL for school stress and anxiety

How Much is Too Much?

Everyday stressors are normal, but if your child is experiencing an overload of stressful situations, they may need some help learning how to cope. Let’s look at some signs and symptoms that could indicate that your child is, as they say, “stressed out”.

  • Physical complaints of headaches or stomach aches.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Wetting the bed.
  • Difficulty sleeping at night or having nightmares.
  • Constant negative thoughts or excessive worrying.
  • Unusual changes in behavior like aggressiveness, moodiness, tantrums, or frequent crying.
  • Not wanting to go to school.

Coping Strategies

Now that we’ve identified things to watch for, let’s take a look at some ways to help your child. Sometimes something as simple as distraction can help in the moment. The strategy of redirection takes focus off of the issue and replaces thoughts with something enjoyable or at least tolerable. If you have time, soothing music or activities like reading or drawing can be helpful. When time is short, grounding exercises such as counting your breaths, counting colors, naming a few things you see, hear, feel, touch, and taste are a great way to calm the mind. Need a few more? Click here. When symptoms are more severe and unable to be relieved by self-methods, a child counselor can help.

Next Steps

If you are looking for a child counselor in Huntsville, AL, Boaz, AL or Jacksonville, AL, Garrett Counseling can help. We have experienced child counselors with available appointments to help your child learn coping strategies to thrive during this school year. Call (256) 239-5662 or reach us by clicking here.


How Couples Counseling Can Strengthen a Relationship

Relationship counseling is not just for those experiencing a traumatic event or those on the brink of calling it quits. It is a tool for people that helps build healthier, stronger relationship. Couples counseling also teaches us how to communicate effectively, resolve conflict in a healthy manner, and overall become better versions of themselves.

couples counseling or relationship counseling can stregthen a relationship

What to Expect with Relationship Counseling

The first session or two is focused on getting to know you and your partner. In order for your therapist to truly understand who you are and what makes you tick, they need to gather information not only from your present circumstances, but all the way back through childhood. Often they make connect events that occurred years or decades ago to patterns of behavior currently playing out.

If you and your partner have specific concerns or goals, it is important to voice them and be sure the counselor knows where each of you stand. You must be honest with your therapist and willing to do the work if you want anything to change. Even if you aren’t having any issues and are just looking to improve your relationship, it can only get better if you actually take the counselor’s suggestions and put them to use.

How Much Does it Cost?

Because there is no set standard on the cost of couples counseling in Huntsville, AL, you will find that prices vary. It is important for you to do some research to find a provider who can help you withing your budget. If you have insurance, call your carrier to find in-network providers. Patients whose choose in-network providers often have coverage with little to no copay. If you are interested in meeting with someone out of network, a discounted price may be available. Self-pay clients should ask about sliding scale fees.

Quality Therapy with Garrett

Contact us today to schedule your telehealth or in-person appointment. Whether you are looking for couples counseling in Huntsville, AL, or other offices, we have your relationship counseling needs covered! Pick up the phone now and call (256) 239-5662.


Seeking & Finding the Right Licensed Therapist

As humans, we look for people we can relate to in all aspects of life. Those are the people who inevitably become our friends. Why then, when looking for a therapist, would we not search with the same intention? Finding a licensed therapist you connect with is one of the most important pieces of your healing process.

sometimes finding the right licensed therapist means a black therapist or lbgqt educated one

Making That Connection

Connection is key. Have you ever walked into a room and felt the vibe? Maybe it was the doctor’s office with one other patient waiting. Perhaps it was a meeting at your child’s school. When you are in a more intimate setting with a stranger, your response is typically one of two things. You either feel comfortable enough to make small talk, or you’re uncomfortable and stay to yourself. If you are not comfortable with the licensed therapist you have chosen, you’re not going to speak as freely, which will hinder your progress. On the flip side, when you are at ease in your surroundings and the company you keep, conversation flows easily, and you are more apt to share information at a deeper level.

First impressions are important, but let’s take a look at some other factors that are important in securing the ideal counselor for you.

  • If you have had bad experiences with male providers in the past, choosing a female would be a better option (and vice versa).
  • Race is important for many clients.
  • People of the Christian faith may be better suited with a counselor who shares the same beliefs and values.
  • Counselors who specialize in the LBGQT population are better equipped to deal with this specific community.

Read reviews. Do the research. Whatever your situation is, find a licensed therapist that checks most (if not all) of the boxes that are important to you.

Need Help?

Whether you are seeking a faith-based therapist, black therapist, male, female, or someone specializing in a particular niche, contact Garrett today. Reach us by completing a brief form here, or call (256) 239-5662 today for your online or in-person consultation in Boaz, Huntsville, or Jacksonville. Connecting is the key to your success. Call today.


How Crisis and Trauma Counseling Differ

Crisis and trauma seem interchangeable, however they differ significantly. Crisis is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “an extremely difficult or dangerous point.” Thus, a specific time or event. Also defined by Cambridge Dictionary, trauma is a “severe and lasting emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience.”

trauma counseling crisis counseling

A Further Look

Now, let’s explore some scenarios and categorize them as either crisis or trauma. Let’s start with a crisis. Since a crisis is more of an acute situation, examples would include moving, job loss, death of a loved one, or any other short-term occurrence causing an extreme amount of distress. Crisis counseling would typically be a period of a few sessions to several weeks but not intended to be long term.

On the other hand, trauma counseling focuses on the triggering event. Then, we work through the subsequent issues it’s causing. Obviously, this would require a longer period of time to work through the layers of emotions and implement effective coping strategies.

Why Trauma and Crisis Counseling are Important

When you’ve faced a trauma or crisis, our minds function differently. The way we think, act and react changes. All of this affects our lives. When the mind is in an unhealthy place, we may withdraw from life. That, in turn, strains personal relationships. Sometimes sleep is disrupted, and you might even miss work. Trauma counseling and crisis counseling are equally as important because they provide support and help you work through your emotional pain. Your therapist will tech you coping strategies to help prevent or minimize future distress.

What We Can Do

If you or someone you know has been affected by a crisis or is experiencing symptoms of trauma, our experienced team at Garrett can provide the crisis counseling or trauma counseling services you need. Reach us here and tell us a little about yourself, or call (256) 239-5662 to schedule your consultation today. Online and in-person sessions are available at our Boaz, Huntsville, and Jacksonville locations. Make it the best and call us today.


Signs of Anxiety in Children

Anxiety at all ages is a normal emotion. So how do you know when anxiety is affecting your child beyond the scope of normal? In this blog, we are going to outline some signs and symptoms that would suggest the need for anxiety counseling in Huntsville, AL.

anxiety counseling huntsville al

Healthy versus Unhealthy

As stated, anxiety to some degree is perfectly normal throughout stages of development. Being anxious around strangers helps protect a child from going with someone they don’t know. Being anxious on the curb of a busy street keeps your little one safe from darting into traffic. Anxiety becomes detrimental, however, when the fear affects everyday functions. The behaviors listed below give you an idea of anxiety that has gone too far.

  • Extreme fear about a person, place, or thing
  • Being super clingy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Incessant worrying
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet
  • Physical ailments such as stomachaches and headaches

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of some things to look for if you have an anxious child. It is important to be aware of concerning behaviors so your child can get help before the effects of anxiety snowball into more serious issues. The good news is that anxiety counseling is available in Huntsville, AL for your family. It can not only ease the disturbing symptoms but also teach your child coping skills they can use moving forward to help keep these behaviors at bay.

Garrett Offers Anxiety Counseling in Huntsville, AL, Boaz, AL & Jacksonville, AL

There is no greater gift than a child. You can trust that our compassionate and skilled experts at Garrett will give your child the care they deserve. We offer anxiety counseling in Huntsville, AL, Boaz, AL and Jacksonville, AL in person or online through video chat. Call us at (256) 239-5662, or click here to submit a request online.


Learning Techniques for Coping with Codependency

We all know of someone who seems to be “thin skinned.” Or maybe you are more familiar with a “people pleaser.” Both are behaviors of codependency. What is that you ask? Let me explain.

Coping with codependency

Exploring Codependency

Merriam-Webster broadly defines codependency as “dependence on the needs of or control by another.” Some people need the approval of others in order to feel adequate. They will typically “try too hard” to gain acceptance so they don’t feel like a disappointment. Putting the needs and wants of others before their own is a regular occurrence. Don’t misunderstand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with extending kindness to another human being. However, when you are always trying to please others, you lose yourself along the way and are now coping with codependency.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, there are typically four primary themes of codependent behavior. These include a propensity to focus on others, trouble recognizing or expressing emotions, self-sacrifice, and a need for control. Let’s take a more specific look at what some of those signs look like.

  • Self-worth that is dependent on the opinions of others
  • Regularly apologizing or taking blame
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Ignoring one’s own wants/desires
  • Feeling guilty about doing something for yourself
  • Saying or doing things to keep the peace or make someone happy even though they are things you don’t want to do

Keep in mind that some of these things are normal acts of human behavior. When these behaviors become unhealthy is when actions of these sorts are excessive and start affecting your psychological well-being.

Coping with Codependency at Garrett

Our therapists at Garrett will help you dive in and explore the causes of your codependent behaviors. Triggers will be identified, and coping skills will be taught so you can manage these troubling traits in a healthy way. Your mental well-being is important to us. We have multiple locations as well as online appointments available. Call us today at (256) 239-5662, or click here to provide some brief information, and one of our care members will contact you shortly.


Bookshelf: “The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole”

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is a book written by Michelle Cuevas.

Zoe Garrett recently read this book and wrote a review to share with you:

The Care and Feeding of a Black Hole is such an amazing and truthful tale. It has a plot that always keeps you interested, cool page designs, and talks about grief. The character in the story is sad and distant because she lost her dad. She tries to erase memories of him so she doesn’t feel the pain. It’s beautiful, relatable, and inspiring. Michelle Cuevas did a great job. Grade A.


Zoe’s Favorite Quotes From The Book: 

“…Black Hole can be your light in the darkest dark.”

“And later, when I got rid of all my memories in the black hole, I thought I’d forget everything on the list. But I haven’t. I know that the first thing on the list is how everything he cooked was a little burnt, but we were all too nice to say anything.”

“I decided then that home was probably all of these things: something sought after, found, held close, used, well-worn, and best of all, familiar.”

Note for Parents and Counselors: The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole Inside

Helping a child out of a loop of sadness and grief is challenging. Depending on their state of life, and how important the person who died was, it can be even harder. What helps, however, is talking about it with someone who is also going through missing that person.

If you are looking for grief counseling for you or your child, Garrett Counseling has offices in Jacksonville, Boaz, and Huntsville, Alabama. We also offer telehealth options. Contact us today by calling (256) 239-5662 or online by clicking here. For more information about The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole, click here.

Zoe Garrett is 10 years old. She works part-time in the family business helping with office tasks, cleaning, and helping those older than her understand kid culture. She enjoys reading, playing Minecraft, and cooking. She does not enjoy cleaning out her lunch box, cleaning her room, or getting up early! Zoe is also the proud parent of Yam, her baby hedgehog.


How Long will Marriage Counseling Take?

Have you ever tried to lose weight? Those pounds sure don’t come off as quickly as they hopped on, am I right? You may be asking what on earth weight loss has to do with marriage counseling. Great question! Let’s break this down.

marriage counseling

Problems Evolve

The deterioration of a relationship is a process that gradually occurs over time. For example, if you sweep issues under the rug instead of dealing with them, unhealthy feelings begin to develop. Over time, these feelings can result in resentment, anger, and isolation. Once you’re in counseling, it is going to take time to unravel the hurt, get to the root of it all, and implement strategies to prevent the situation from happening again. Just as the problem evolves over time, resolving the problem will take time. As you can imagine, unraveling issues and learning new concepts is not going to have a fix-it-quick answer, much like gaining and losing weight.

What to Expect

The purpose of marriage counseling is to help each partner understand the needs and wants of the other. Another important focus is helping you communicate effectively. Healthy communication creates an environment where you can feel safe sharing the easy and the not-so-easy topics. Trust will flourish, and the bond between you and your spouse will inevitably grow stronger. The key to this end result, however, is the willingness of you and your spouse to put the time and the necessary work into the process.

Garrett offers Marriage Counseling in Huntsville, Boaz and Jacksonville, AL

How long marriage counseling takes depends very much on the issues you and your spouse have, how much work you are willing to do, and your mutual desire to repair the relationship. If you are looking for marriage counseling in Huntsville, AL, Boaz, AL or Jacksonville, AL, Garrett Counseling can help. We have experienced marriage counselors with available appointments to get your marriage back on track. Call (256) 239-5662 or reach us by clicking here.