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.


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.


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.


How Play Therapy for Trauma Helps

Kids love to play. They may not love to talk to an adult about what has traumatized them. That’s where play therapy comes in. Play therapy for trauma is an effective method of therapy to help children deal with their healing. While your child plays, our therapist gains insight and eases your child to the other side of their trauma while having fun.

play therapy for trauma

What is Play Therapy

The first recorded use of play therapy was in 1909 by Anna Freud. Using this method, Freud was able to build a rapport with the child and bring subconscious thoughts to the surface. Using toys and games, a child uses their imagination to reenact scenarios they’ve seen or experienced. When this play is structured, the therapist is able to target specific circumstances surrounding the child’s traumatic experience. As the therapist gets to know your child, they will tailor the sessions to include specific games or other creative play to target specific needs or goals. Talk therapy in combination with play therapy for trauma is an excellent strategy to help your child work through the aftermath of trauma.

But How Does it Work?

Play therapy sounds great for my child, but how does it actually work? Great question! We don’t just put your child in a room to play. The counselor structures play with purpose. Depending on the child, it may take a session (or few) to build a trusting relationship with their counselor. As trust grows, your child will become more comfortable and express more thoughts and feelings. Many things can be accomplished through play therapy, but we’ll touch on just a few here in this list:

  • Your child can develop creative solutions.
  • Learn how to accept themselves.
  • Express emotion.
  • Discover social skills.

Play at Garrett

Our team at Garrett Counseling has the experienced professionals your child needs to help them work through their trauma with play therapy. Schedule your appointment today through our online form here, or call (256) 239-5662. For your convenience, we offer services in Jacksonville, Boaz and Huntsville.


Does Teenage Depression Go Away?

If left untreated, teenage depression can evolve into a life-long illness. However, if it is addressed at the early stages, it is very probable the depression can be cured. In more serious cases, a combination of therapy and medication may be necessary.

teenage depression

Causes of Teenage Depression

Teenagers face an onslaught of new situations as they navigate through the adolescent years. Pressure to be in a certain crowd, social anxiety with starting a new school, worrying about getting good grades, and fear of the future after graduation are only a few of the reasons teenagers could fall into depression. So how can you decipher between what your teen is experiencing as normal or cause for concern?

Teens are Just Moody

Thanks to raging hormones, teens have a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s important to know the signs that could indicate your teen suffers from more than moodiness. If your child is exhibiting some or all of the following warning signs, they could be suffering from teenage depression.

  • Commenting that they are worthless, ugly, or stupid
  • No interest in activities that they used to enjoy
  • Lack of energy or sluggish in speech or gait
  • Sleeping all the time or trouble getting to sleep
  • Significant change in weight or appetite
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Difficulty with concentration or remembering
  • Overall negative view of life

Treatment for Depression

Depression is a treatable condition. Depending on the severity of symptoms and your teen’s general health, treatment will vary. It could include medication, one-on-one counseling, family therapy, and possibly input from your child’s school.

Our team is standing by to help. We can be reached at (256) 239-5662, or you can fill out the online form by clicking here, and one of our team members will be in touch with you shortly. You can trust that your teen will be in the best care with our Garrett team at any of our locations in Boaz, Huntsville and Jacksonville.


Signs & Treatment of Anxiety in Children

It is natural for a child to experience some level of fear or worry throughout their young life. However, when those emotions interfere with activities of daily living, the problem may run deeper. Since opening our location in Huntsville, anxiety counseling is one of the most prevalent types of therapy we treat. Let’s take a look at some of the signs that could be indicators of anxiety in your child.

pediatric anxiety counseling Huntsville

Typical symptoms of anxiety present as what is called “fight, fight, or freeze” response. This is the body’s natural response to a frightening or stressful situation. As an experienced adult, you recognize the symptoms: your heart starts racing. Breathing becomes rapid or difficult. Sweating ensues. Muscles tense. A child may react in the same way. However, they may instead become clingy or have a tantrum. Perhaps declare an upset stomach or headache, and they may startle easily. A child living with anxiety disorder may have trouble sleeping or be afraid to go to school or into a new social situation. The good news is that anxiety counseling can help!

Treatment for Anxiety in Children

The most common method of treating anxiety in children is the same as adults – talk therapy. Talk therapy is an evidence-based treatment method proven to be effective in helping children with anxiety. This incorporates several approaches including the following:

  • Changing negative thinking to positive thinking.
  • Teaching your child the tools they need to cope with social skills.
  • Learning about past experiences that could be the root of your child’s anxiety.
  • Educating your child on living in the moment (mindfulness).

Depending on the child’s age, play therapy and art therapy may be part of their anxiety counseling in Huntsville.

Compassionate Counseling in Huntsville 

To find out more about anxiety counseling, contact Garrett Counseling today. We offer anxiety counseling in Huntsville, Jacksonville, and Boaz. Our specially trained counselors will provide your child with effective therapy, compassion, and an environment where they will feel safe and have fun. Fill out the online information form here, or call (256) 239-5662 today.


Understanding Adolescents Play Therapy

When left to their own devices, children act out their innermost feelings and emotions through creative play and is well-known as a method of counseling for young children. Surprisingly to many, adolescents play therapy is still quite effective. As children grow into their tween and early teen years, their type of play may change. Instead of being fantasy-based it becomes more structured. That simply means that the therapist must understand and utilize different techniques.

adolescent play therapy

Defining Play Therapy

If you’re not familiar with play therapy, the Association of Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

How it Applies to a Tween or Young Teen

Creative skills and abstract thinking are beginning to develop in an adolescent mind. Some pre-teens still enjoy dressing up and pretending to be a particular character or person. Some of our adolescent clients find games entertaining. When incorporating adolescent play therapy, our skilled therapists can use games of any sort to face challenging issues.

Board games, card games, and  other therapeutic activities are helpful in dealing with issues of self-esteem, self-control, anxiety, depression, coping skills, aggression, social skills, as well as many more areas of concern. Sand tray therapy is another great way for adolescents to act out their thoughts without feeling judged. Using miniature figurines, they can paint a picture of their issues in an environment without pressure.

Therapy Can Help Your Adolescent

Whether your child is struggling with making friends, behavioral issues, or has experienced trauma, therapy is an effective tool that can help. Play therapy may be especially helpful because the child has fun and feels like they in a safe environment. This makes them more likely to open up about what they are experiencing, feeling, or thinking. Additionally, facing challenges is less scary when they’re having fun.

Our skilled therapists will provide a safe environment for your child. Let their creativity run wild with an experienced counselor they can trust. At Garrett Counseling, our trained professionals have years of experience in adolescent play therapy. Call us today at (256) 239-5662 or click here to complete the online form.


Huntsville, Boaz and Jacksonville, Alabama Counseling Centers

Alabama Counseling CentersIf you are looking for a compassionate counselor in Alabama, Garrett Counseling has three convenient locations to serve you and your family. We specialize in the needs of children of all ages and adults covering a variety of issues. Here is a bit more about our Alabama counseling center services and locations.


We provide service for individuals, families, adults, adolescents, and children. No matter which of our Alabama counseling locations you choose, we have counselors skilled in all areas of expertise. A partial list of targeted issues is listed below, but feel free to contact us for any therapy need:

  • Divorce
  • Grief counseling
  • Premarital counseling
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Empty nest syndrome
  • Depression (adults and adolescents)
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic illness
  • Parenting concerns/issues

Additionally, Garrett Counseling is a certified provider for AutPlay Therapy. Counseling sessions are conducted in-person and online through real-time video. In addition, teletherapy sessions are a great alternative for anyone who feels safer and more secure in their own home environment.


Our fully staffed Huntsville office is located just off of 72 and west of 255. We have experienced and dedicate counselor ready to help you or your children with a variety of issues. If you need directions, please click here and then click on “directions.”


If you live or work in Boaz area, you’ll find our office right off of 431. However, if you’re better with using landmarks, you’ll find us just north of Boaz Middle and High Schools.   Click here for more detailed directions. We have several compassionate counselors on staff ready to help you through grief, overcome anxiety or any of our other services.


Right across the street from Jacksonville High School is our Jacksonville office. You’ll find support from any one of our staff for you as an individual, for you and your spouse or for your child or children. Click here if you need further directions.

Trust Our Alabama Counseling Centers

With three locations in Alabama, Garrett Counseling has compassionate counselors with decades of experience. Of course, we accept many different insurances and are ready to help you through whatever life circumstance you, your child, or your family are facing. Call us today at (256) 239-5662 to schedule your appointment. Or, you can fill out the information form here, and one of our staff members will be in touch with you shortly.


How Therapy for Kids Helps with Anxiety

When normal fears turn into chronic anxious thoughts and behaviors, it gives cause to seek help. When you notice this with your child, you should consider therapy for your child as soon as you notice an issue developing. Therapy for kids can help teach a child coping mechanisms and avoid deeper ongoing issues.

therapy for kid to treat anxiety

Types of Anxiety

Anxiety is a broad term. Under the umbrella of anxiety are more specific diagnoses that could help narrow down where your child’s issues are stemming from. We will look at a few of these more in depth below. Although it may sound a bit scary, don’t worry. Kids therapy can help.

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety is exactly as it sounds. Your child worries not only about normal childhood stressors but things you wouldn’t typically expect a child to worry over. Examples range from recess, lunchtime, homework, and playing with friends to the weather, world events, and the future. Because there is constant worry, it is difficult for them to relax, sleep, or have fun. They may even miss school because of not feeling well or being scared to go.
  2. Separation anxiety disorder. As a baby, it is normal to experience bouts of crying or unhappiness when separated from mom or dad. Once they get used to being left with a grandparent or babysitter, these tendencies typically subside. If your child doesn’t outgrow these issues associated with being separated, they may try to get out of school so they can be home with you. They may opt out of playdates, sleepovers, or any other activities where mom or dad is not involved.
  3. Social anxiety disorder. When suffering with social anxiety, your child does not want to be the center of attention. They’re afraid of what others think of them or that they’ll make a mistake if they do say something around their peers. When called upon in class, they may experience shortness of breath or their heart racing.

Kids Therapy Here

Therapy for kids with anxiety is essential for their overall wellbeing and success. Our skilled therapists are available in Boaz, Huntsville, and Jacksonville. Contact us today for your consultation. Click here or call (256) 239-5662.


Utilizing Play Therapy in Counseling

The thought of taking your child to a counselor can be a bit scary. Play therapy is a unique approach that our skilled experts use to interact with your child. This method utilizes the natural abilities your child has in expressing themselves to resolve conflict through play.

play therapy

What is Play Therapy?

Children do not always possess the capability of being able to express their emotions. In play therapy we give the child some toys and allowed to play freely during their session. As they interact with the items they choose, a counselor gains insight into underlying issues that may be related to their behavior. This allows the counselor to then begin exploring emotions with your child and dealing with any unresolved trauma. To the untrained eye, play therapy simply looks like a normal part of a child’s day. To a trained therapist, it can be a wealth of  insightful information.

Benefits of Play Therapy

Play Therapy International states that 70% of children are helped through the use of evidence-based practices such as play therapy. Fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and language are a few of the benefits that result from this approach. Other benefits include the following:

  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Discovering coping mechanisms
  • Self-respect
  • Improved social skills
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Respect for others
  • Learning to take responsibility for their own actions

At first, your child may be apprehensive when meeting with the counselor. As they spend time together, trust will begin to grow. Inevitably, once we’ve established trust, your child will become more creative in their play and increasingly verbal.

Adjunct Therapy

This specific method of treatment for your child is intended to work alongside any medications or other treatments if necessary, not replace them. To better serve you and your family, we offer in-person appointments in three locations, Boaz, Huntsville, and Jacksonville. Although we do still offer teletherapy visits, we don’t generally recommend them for pediatric appointments. Contact us today by filling out the confidential online form or calling  (256) 239-5662.


Treating Teenage Depression with Counseling

According to the CDC, approximately 1.9 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with depression. The World Health Organization cites that globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.

teenage depression

Early Detection is Key

Recognizing signs of teenage depression is crucial to warding off an escalation of symptoms and inconceivable consequences. Adolescence predictably brings with it a change in behaviors. Deciphering the difference between normal teenage-isms and depression could be a challenge. Emotional symptoms of teenage depression  include the following:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Unexplained crying spells
  • Feeling worthless
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • A grim outlook on the future
  • Easily frustrated
  • Overly sensitive
  • Difficulty with concentration or thinking
  • Thoughts of suicide

Behavioral changes associated with depression include sleeping too much or not being able to sleep at all, changes in appetite, lack of energy, social isolation, neglecting personal hygiene, self-harm, or use of drugs or alcohol.

When to Get Help

If you are concerned with your child’s behavior, start by talking with them. This will give you a clearer understanding if they are experiencing normal adolescent changes or if there may be something more going on. Depressive symptoms typically do not go away on their own, so it is important for you to seek help for your teen. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen and put your child at risk of suicide or other self-harming behaviors. If there is an immediate risk of suicide or threats of suicide, call 911 or local emergency contact number.

Compassionate Counselors

Our team of compassionate counselors are specialized in the scope of teenage depression. To serve you better, we offer in-person counseling sessions at all three of our Garrett Counseling locations (Huntsville, Boaz, or Jacksonville). Teletherapy sessions are also available. Request more information by clicking here, or call (256) 239-5662.