What's your story?

Every client has a story to tell. I became a therapist because I love your stories: the tearjerkers, the dramas, the tragedies and triumphs. More than that, I am committed to using my training, experience and intuition to help you overcome whatever it is that keeps you from living a fulfilling and meaningful life. That's what you can expect after rediscovering the personal strengths inside of you -- and with expert guidance -- learning to apply those strengths when your story takes a wrong turn.

Is Your Teen Troubled?

Knowing the Signs

 

 

  • Does your teen routinely snap at you for no apparent reason?

  • Have her grades dropped markedly without explanation?

  • Are there periods of anxiety, depression or mood swings out of proportion to the situation?

  • Has he withdrawn from his friends and/or family?

  • Do you see signs of preoccupation with appearance, obsessing about weight or body shape, extreme dieting or exercise, binge eating, purging?

  • Do you suspect or know that your teen is engaging in risky behaviors like substance use, cutting, acting out sexually?

 

If you sense something is not right for these or any other reasons, trust your gut: Explore the option of therapy for your teen.

 

If they are dead set against the idea, consider making an appointment for yourself. Helping you helps them. Believe me, therapy for the parent can be just as powerful. I've seen it.

 

Meanwhile, cut yourself some slack. It's pretty much a given that teens rebel against you to some extent. It's their to job to push your boundaries as they prepare for the independence of impending adulthood. But it can be exasperating and worrying, especially when your teen is faltering and the last person on earth they want to turn to is you, the one who set those pesky boundaries to begin with.

Email me to make an Appointment

Val Zaffos

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

 

feeling blue?
You are not your depression

 

Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Depression runs a close second to anxiety as one of the most common mental health challenges. About 10% of adults and 4% of teens in the US are experiencing some symptoms of depression at any given time.

 

The pharmaceutical industry's TV ads for anti-depressants do a great job depicting the suffering you endure when depression strikes:

  • lack of energy

  • sleep problems

  • loss of interest in activities that normally give you pleasure

  • tearfulness

  • withdrawing from family and friends

  • a sense of helplessness or hopelessness

  • pronounced irritability or anger outbursts (mostly seen in children and men)

 

The first step in overcoming depression is understanding that you are not your symptoms. With the right kind of help, getting out from under that dark cloud over your head is possible, even though right now you might not have the energy to lift your arms in the shower to wash your hair.

 

Therapy is the gold standard of treatment for depression. In fact, research shows that if you're experiencing mild- to moderate- depression, talk therapy is more effective than the use of anti-depressant meds either alone, or in combination with therapy. (Sorry, Big Pharma.)

 

Of course, if you are experiencing a level of depression that calls for Rx meds, I'm all for it, and will coordinate with your medical doctor to ensure that you receive the treatment you need.

Therapy for: Anxiety, Depression, Grief & Loss, Self -Esteem, Relationships, Gender Identity Confusion, Eating Disorders & Body Image, Life Stage Transitions, Personal Growth

Areas of Special Interest: Teens, Young Adults, Relationships, Parenting, Parent-Child Relations, Transgender Issues & "Letters"

Anxiety

When Worry Takes Control

Whether we're talking about a clinical disorder or an episode triggered by a specific stressful situation in your life, anxiety is defined by preoccupation with worries about the future. Does any of the following feel familiar to you?

 

  • The ominous phrase "What if" has taken up permanent residence on the tip of your tongue

  • You feel "on edge" much of the time

  • Thoughts speed through your mind like cars on a racetrack with no finish line

  • You have Panic Attacks, characterized by physical discomforts such as muscle tension, numbness, accelerated heart rate, sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath

  • You feel irritable, sad or both

 

If many of these symptoms fit for you, you're not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the US, affecting 17% of the population. These numbers don't take into account the garden-variety anxiety that crops up in just about everyone's life from time to time stemming from situations like job loss, academic performance, divorce -- or even happy events like a new baby or a promotion at work. (Any kind of change can trigger anxiety, because change means stepping into the unknown. That's just how we're wired.)

 

When I work with a client who is struggling with anxiety, our goal is to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of your symptoms. That involves identifying what triggers you, and then developing coping skills to replace the viscious cycle of anxiety responses that have been disrupting your life.

Parenting:

The Toughest Job You'll (N)ever Love?

 

When family life gets to be overwhelming, first remind yourself there is no such thing as The Perfect Parent. If there were, can you imagine how hard it would be for the kids to live up to THAT standard?

 

Next, consider reaching out for support. Parenting and Parent-Child Relations are two areas of special interest for me. You will be doing yourself and your kids a huge favor by giving yourself a place to vent, to learn that you deserve to take care of yourself too, and what recharges you. You'll also stockpile an arsenal of practical tools that restore peace to your home-life during those times when it feels like a war zone. 

When Biology & Brain Don't Match

Transgender Care

 

Whether you are confused about gender, or you absolutely KNOW that your body doesn't match with who you know yourself to be, life gets complicated. Either way, trans individuals are at risk for suicide and self-harm at an alarming rate:  Recent studies show that about one out of two people who identify as trans will consider, attempt or commit suicide. Especially tragic is the fact that the percentage increases exponentially in situations where the individual's family is unsupportive or downright abusive - one recent study put that number at 80%.

Beyond that, members of the trans community face stigma, microaggressions, discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare . . . 

 

Bottom Line: Living openly as a trans individual can be a Life-or-Death struggle. Finding a trusted therapist can be a lifeline. 

 

The best of times. The worst of times.

Relationship

 

Maybe more than any other part of life, relationships enrich us. Likewise, unhealthy dynamics with the people closest to us can create emotional wounds that shape the way we interact with others.

 

If you're struggling with relationships, then you're probably suffering in other areas of your life too. Interpersonal difficulties can be s symptom of many mental health issues: low self esteem, social anxiety, codependence, anger issues, depression, or a general sense of aloneness.

 

Entering into relationship with a trusted therapist can bring powerful change for the better. My clients find that hypnotherapy has been especially effective in getting at the heart of relationship struggles. I am certified in advanced clinical hypnotherapy. For more details about hypno, click HERE 

Congratulations! You've transitioned, or are in the process. You're ready to make some changes so that what's on the outside matches what's on the inside.

 

Whether you're going for HRT (hormone replacement therapy), or any number of surgical procedures, your doctors will require mental health clearance (known more commonly within the community as "Letters") from a licensed, qualified mental health professional. Sometimes the professional will recommend a course of therapy to resolve specific issues before agreeing to write The Letter required by your docs. Educate yourself on both the medical and mental health aspects of this process. 

For more information, click HERE to visit the Trans Care page on my website.

Trans Individuals in Transition &/or Post-Transition:
"Letters"

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"

When nothing

is going right,

Go left.

 

~ Overheard

on the street

"

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