Why Play Therapy if My Child Can Talk?


Even though your child is able to speak words, their minds are not yet capable of conveying feelings and emotions like an older child or an adult can. Research has shown that play therapy for PTSD and other mental health issues is a very effective method of treatment for younger clients.

reaching children through play therapy

Play Therapy Techniques and How it Works

When your child is playing at home or with friends, do you create a script for them to follow? Sounds like a silly question, right? More than likely, they are engrossed in an imaginary world acting out whatever creative thought comes to mind. Many scenarios within their playtime are recreations of situations they have witnessed in their own life.

Similarly, when a counselor is working with your child, there will be no limitations of play therapy. As they reenact life experiences or act out what they are feeling, the therapist asses different things including:

  • Social skills
  • Emotions
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Underlying behavioral issues

Observation of other things specifically related to the child also occur. A variety of methods can be used to complete the assessment such as board games, card games, puppets, sand trays, coloring, building with blocks, art and dolls.

Because a child does not always understand what they are feeling, play therapy gives them a way to express what’s inside while a trained mental health professional analyzes their behaviors and is able to distinguish what the issues are that need to be addressed.

Reaching Children Through Play Therapy at Garrett Counseling

Through evidence-based techniques, our play therapy experts at Garrett provide a unique approach that is effective with child therapy. Give us a call today and see how play therapy for PTSD can help your child. You can reach us at (256) 239-5662. If you have questions about limitations of play therapy, send us a message here, and we will get back to you as soon as possible! With offices in Boaz, Huntsville, and Jacksonville, we are reaching Alabama children through play therapy one child at a time.

Benefits of Post Adoption Counseling

Raising a child is a challenging, yet rewarding feat. When it comes to blending a family with a child who has been adopted, the dynamic of challenges is different. It can be a bit more complex depending on the age of the child and what they have already experienced in their short lifetime. If you are considering adoption or have already adopted, family or teen counseling should be at the top of your to do list.

family counseling for adoption

Why Family, Child and Teen Counseling Should be a Part of Your Adoptive Family Unit

A counselor with expertise in family counseling services, particularly those dealing with adopted children, can help the adopted child work through trauma-related issues they are experiencing. Additionally, the counselor can help the adoptive parents understand what their child is dealing with emotionally and psychologically. Therapy is not a one-size-fits all treatment. Therapy approaches for younger children will differ from those involved in adolescent or teen counseling.

It’s important for the family unit as a whole to have an understanding of what helps create a cohesiveness within the family and what hinders it. For example, a disciplinary action you use with your biological child that works well could trigger disruptive behavior or unpleasant emotional reaction when used with your adopted child. Another example would be if your adopted child experienced abuse with their former family simply raising your voice could lead to upset. It is vital that you learn to implement effective techniques so that your adopted child feels safe in their new environment and they learn that they are safe and loved.

Professional Adoption and Counseling Services for Families at Garrett Counseling

Our experienced adoption counselors understand the unique needs involved with families with an adopted child. Whether the issues are related to trauma, attachment, grief, loss, or something else, we can help. For more information on our family, child, teen counseling services, you can find that here. If you are ready to schedule an online or in-person appointment, click here. You can also reach one of our advocate specialists by calling (256) 239-5662.


Winter Break, Your Kids & Everyone’s Sanity

The holidays are coming up, and the kids will be out of school for an extended period of time. Everyone is excited about the upcoming festivities and break from school and work. However, inevitably before the break is over, our therapists at Jacksonville center for counseling have encountered the same scenario over and over; parents are going crazy, and kids are bored.

Tips to Help You Through the Holidays

Jacksonville center for counseling can helpHoliday planning can leave you feeling like a tornado hit and you’re just hanging on for the ride. Between the meal prep, work, making sure the kids are taken care of, entertaining guests, and traveling, it’s no wonder people find themselves struggling to enjoy this time of year. Hopefully the following list of helpful tips can help you and your family not only cope this season but actually enjoy your time together.

  • Perspective – Remember what school breaks were like when you were a kid. Close your eyes and go back to that time in your childhood and try to grasp that feeling again. Remind yourself that kids will be kids. They are just having fun. Meet them where they are as best you can and cherish every moment.
  • Be thankful – Not intended to sound cliche, but counting your blessings can actually curb your thoughts that lead to increased stress. Fill your mind with an attitude of gratefulness and find little things throughout the day to be thankful for. You’ll have little room for stress.
  • Get outside! It’s amazing what a simple walk outdoors in the fresh air can do for the psychology of our minds. Make moving part of your daily routine. For some, starting their day with a walk is ideal. Others find taking a break and walking when they feel stressed is best.

Contact Garrett and Have a Happy Holiday Season

At our Jacksonville center for counseling, we offer family counseling services and behavioral therapy for children. Let us help you navigate future family gatherings and school breaks without losing your sanity. Give us a call at (256) 239-5662 today, or click here to request an appointment through our online portal. Many of your friends and neighbors have had great success with our counseling teams.


How Can I Bring Up Relationship Counseling to My Partner?

Approaching your partner about relationship counseling can be intimidating and maybe even challenging. If you are struggling with how to start the conversation, we are going to discuss some ways that could be the inspiration your partner needs to jump on board with you.

how do you bring up relationship counseling

Approach With Caution

Not really, but it’s a catchy headline. Obviously, in the middle of an argument isn’t the most opportune time to bring up counseling. Number one, emotions are high, and the tone of voice when it comes out would more than likely be taken as a jab at your partner. It’s important to avoid “you” phrases. Pointing the finger at someone else is going to put them on the defensive, which is the opposite effect you want to have when trying to get someone to agree with you. Instead, try one of these suggestions below:

  • Choose the timing carefully – Make sure when you do decide to have the conversation it is during a time that is convenient for both of you and enough time that you don’t feel rushed. And not while emotions or tensions are high.
  • Connect emotionally – Tell your spouse or partner something you appreciate about them, or do an activity together to invite a peaceful environment.
  • Keep your voice calm and your ears open – It’s okay and may even be a good idea to ask to be able to finish speaking before your partner speaks. However, you need to give the same respect back as they respond and share their opinions.
  • Focus on Your Relationship – Don’t place blame, avoid too many “I” statements. Improving the relationship should be your angle, not changing your partner.

Garrett Counseling for Your Marriage Counseling, Relationship Counseling, and Christian Counseling Needs

A successful relationship survives when there is a strong foundation. Whether you are struggling in your relationship or just want to be proactive in securing that foundation, our experienced professionals can help. Call us at (256) 239-5662, or follow this link to our online inquiry form. Invest in your future and call today!

Why Choose Garrett Counseling

Ashley Garrett of Garrett CounselingSearching for therapists in Alabama can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to consider when choosing a mental health professional who you feel comfortable with and will fit the needs of your unique circumstances. Ashley Garrett founded Garrett Counseling with the mission “to provide exceptional mental health care that enhances your quality of life with innovation and compassion.”

Services at Garrett Counseling

Not all counseling centers offer the same services. Just as there are a variety of specialities in the medical field, the same is true for the mental health field. Counselors can have a generalized focus of practice, but others have specialties focused on families, couples counseling, pediatrics, PTSD, trauma, abuse, or one of many other categories. It’s important to know your needs and do the research based on what you’re hoping to get out of counseling.

The following list outlines some of the many services our skilled counselors are able to provide to our clients:

  • Anger management
  • Divorce
  • Adjusting to life changes
  • Coping skills
  • Anxiety
  • Pediatric and adolescent issues
  • Couples counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Aging
  • Anorexia or bulimia
  • Grief and bereavement
  • Disability
  • Premarital counseling
  • PTSD

Garrett is also certified in AutPlay Therapy.

We Know You Have Options ~ See Why Garrett Counseling is the Choice of So Many

The team at Garrett is specialized in a variety of techniques to help people of all ages from children to adults, transform, grow, and thrive. To serve the communities of Alabama better, we offer services online through telehealth visits and any one of our three locations, Jacksonville, Huntsville, and Boaz and we offer both English and Spanish speaking services. Find our contact information here. For faster service, call (256) 239-5662 today! Ashley Garrett invests in her counselors so they can provide therapy for you and your family that is second to none.


Signs Your Family Would Benefit from Counseling – Part 2

As we continue on in our three-part blog series, today we are going to discuss how family counseling in Boaz, marriage counseling, and counseling for kids can benefit your blended family. If you missed part one in this series, you can get caught up by clicking here.

blended family counseling Boaz

Blending a Family is Hard Work

Hormones, differences in personalities, diverse backgrounds, differing parenting styles, emotional baggage from the dissolution of a family unit, these are all factors that fall into the melting pot of a blended family. Just trying to make a relationship between two people work successfully is a challenge. When you add kids into the mix and all of the feelings from past relationships, you’re climbing a very steep hill. Take a look at the bullet points below for a sampling of challenges a blended family faces.

  • Differing rules – Mom/dad lets me at their house. Why can’t I here?
  • Hurt/Anger – You’re not my mom/dad!
  • Separation anxiety – A child clinging to their biological parent.
  • Jealousy – You treat his/her children better than you treat me, or acting out just to get attention when the stepparent is around.

These are just a few of many situations you could run into when you make the choice to remarry with children involved. They are also very normal reactions for a child. As you can expect, when the children are acting out, it causes a strain on your marriage. The good news is that there is hope for a happy, peaceful blended family through family counseling in Boaz.

Blended Family Counseling in Boaz with Garrett Counseling

When trying to create a successful environment for your blended family, make counseling a priority. Contact us here to request an appointment or submit questions. For faster service, call (256) 239-5662. Stay tuned for part three in our mini series on the benefits of family counseling.


Signs Your Family Would Benefit from Counseling – Part 1

In this mini-blog series we’ll address some of the many signs of how family counseling would benefit your family. Clients who have participated in family counseling in Huntsville have developed better communication within their families and found solutions to issues resulting in a happier, more peaceful home.

family counseling Huntsville

“We Can Fix It On Our Own”

How’s that working out for you? How long have you been trying to “fix” the issues in your family resulting in the same results and frustration? Sometimes during couples counseling we discover a need for a pediatric counseling center too. This helps the whole family heal. Therapists are trained to assess, explore, diagnose, implement, and restructure treatment plans for the betterment of your mental health. They specialize in developing insight and dissecting issues that untrained people don’t have the knowledge to do.

Family counselors in Huntsville also have the experience that comes from working with a multitude of families. They are able to recognize the deeper issues and the need for pediatric counseling or teen counseling if necessary. Although family counselors do work with the whole family dynamic, sometimes it’s best for everyone for the child to see a pediatric counselor. If a teen in your family needs helps, working with a counselor well-versed in teenage issues benefits everyone. Sometimes, especially with teenagers, finding a counselor the family isn’t seeing helps the teen open up.

Family Counseling in Huntsville with Garrett Counseling

Keeping your family healthy and happy is important, but not always easy. If you know you need family counseling or are searching for “teenage therapist counseling near me” or a pediatric counseling center, contact Garrett Counseling today. We have offices not only in Huntsville, but also Boaz and Jacksonville, AL.  Our experienced team at any location can help you get the care your family needs with virtual or in-person appointments. Click here or call (256) 239-5662 now!


Is it Okay to Talk to My Child About Their Therapy Session?

When participating in family counseling services, the counselor will want to meet with each participant for individual sessions at some point. A child participating in therapy is obviously there for a reason. Not only are they dealing with whatever issues landed them there, but they are allowing themselves to be completely vulnerable with a stranger. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid! On the drive home, it’s really tempting to ask all about their session, but it’s best not to.

child therapy

The Trust Factor

Do you tend to confide in someone you don’t trust? Seems like a silly question, but it puts this topic in context. If your child knows everything they are saying to the counselor is going right back to mom or dad, how likely are they to open up? Not at all.

For therapy to be effective, there has to be trust between the counselor and the child. The counselor needs to understand all aspects of your child in order to help them truly heal, recover, or overcome the issues that got them into child therapy in the first place.

A great level of insight can come through play therapy, but getting to the root and guiding your child down the most appropriate path comes from a combination of therapeutic techniques and conversation. As a child feels comfortable and safe, they will open up. The same is true with you as their parent.

When they feel they are being drilled with questions, they might shy away from discussing anything with you. There might be things they have shared with their therapist that they don’t feel comfortable sharing with you for whatever reason. Maybe they’re afraid it will hurt your feelings or upset you. The important thing is that they are getting help and on their way to a happier life. Give them space. Let them come to you and share what they want to when they are ready. And if they don’t, accept that and embrace their wellness over the details.

Family Counseling Services at Garrett Counseling

If you feel like you should be more involved in your child’s therapy sessions, contact Garrett Counseling today. We are happy to answer any questions you have and will guide you in the way that’s best for you and your family. We have three convenient locations in Boaz, Huntsville, and Jacksonville and offer in-person or online counseling sessions. Call (256) 239-5662 today, or follow this link to request an appointment.


Myths about Therapy for Kids

Are you worried about how others will perceive you if your child attends therapy? Are you afraid once your child starts therapy they will need it forever? Believe it or not, receiving child therapy doesn’t mean you or your child are crazy. Stay with me here, and we’ll debunk other myths about therapy.

myths about therapy


Educating the public is part of why we have this section on out website. It’s impossible to share everything about every possible situation regarding counseling, however, today we will dig into a few of the most common.

  1. Once you start, it’s forever. The only way this would be true is if you have an inadequate, just plain old bad therapist. An experienced therapist will have goals so you (or your child) can reach a final session. Therapy is a guide to help your child through specific events or stages of life. Once your child is equipped with the tools they need to successfully cope, it is up to them to open that toolkit and pull out what they need when they need it. Self-sufficiency is the goal – not dependency.
  2. Therapy doesn’t work. For someone who may have had a bad experience with the wrong therapist, this myth is understandable. However, that doesn’t make it true. When you do the research and find a therapist appropriate for your child’s needs and whom you are comfortable with, there will always be a level of accomplishment.
  3. Only crazy kids need therapy. A child therapist is very similar to a school teacher. A teacher receives training and a degree for a specific age group. They are considered experts in that field for those children. A child therapist receives training and a degree also for specific age groups, yet they take their education a step further to specialize in certain behaviors or mental health disorders. They are experts in the psychology and behaviors of children.

Child Therapy in Boaz, Huntsville, and Jacksonville, AL

Don’t let myths about therapy rob your child of optimum mental health wellness. Contact Garrett Counseling today. Fill out the brief form here, and one of our professional staff members will reach out to you shortly, or call (256) 239-5662.


Overcoming the Trauma of Divorce

Whether a divorce is amicable or full of hostility, children are always affected. The safety of your child’s home has been compromised. All they knew has been blown apart leaving shrapnel of trauma in their tiny mind now full of questions and doubt. Through the use of play therapy for trauma, a child therapist can help your child recover from this broken situation.

child therapist

How Divorce Affects Your Child

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say, “Kids are resilient. They’ll be fine.” Although it is true that kids do have an innate ability to adapt better than adults, it does not mean they are immune to the effects of trauma. A child may have difficulty expressing their emotions. In these cases, it is important to recognize behaviors that could indicate symptoms of the trauma they have experienced. The list below outlines only a few signs and symptoms that could indicate that it’s time for you to meet with a child therapist.

  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • A good student who is now receiving failing grades.
  • Increased anger and/or fighting.
  • Flashbacks or nightmares of parents fighting.
  • Hesitancy to enter the house because they relive abuse they have seen or hurtful words their mom and dad yelled at each other.
  • Blaming themselves for the divorce.
  • Experimenting with substances or substance abuse.

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is not uncommon, especially when a child heard fighting or saw abuse. Play therapy for trauma is a proven effective method to help children heal from the devastating effects they are experiencing.

Play Therapy at Garrett

Children struggle the most within the first two years of divorce. We have skilled child therapists ready to help through play therapy and other methods. We do all we can to ensure a path to healing at Garrett while working through their feelings and emotions. Don’t delay in getting your child the help they deserve! Contact us here for your online or in-person appointment, or call (256) 239-5662 today!


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.