Tag Archive Counseling

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Separation & Loss Jenga for Kids (free printables included)

Losing a parent or caregiver is difficult for any child, whether the loss is through death, separation, or removal from their home. Working with these children, they are often found to be struggling with grief and adjustment issues that might show up as a significant change in mood or acting out behaviors. Working with children who have been temporarily separated or sometimes permanently removed from their home can sometimes prove particularly difficult when trying to find creative ways to help them work their way through the loss of their parent or caregiver who has been a significant part of their lives for some time, often since birth.

Losing someone is never easy. While I certainly am not wanting to downplay the loss any child feels when a parent or caregiver dies, children who are separated from their homes, whether temporarily or permanently, face a unique challenge in itself. The child knows their parent didn’t die, so why can’t they still be with them? In cases where there has been neglect or abuse, a child may especially have difficulty understanding an array of confusing feelings… “I love my mom, but I didn’t like how she hurt me. But I feel guilty for not being with her but it’s kind of nice that I don’t have to worry so much or be so scared.”

In some cases, children aren’t even particularly sure why they’ve been separated from their parents or caregivers at all. They may not be given much information or they may not even realize that their parent’s neglect or other inappropriate behavior was ever wrong in the first place. From these kids’ perspectives, they have a really hard time understanding why or even how their lives seemed to suddenly be turned upside down. And sometimes, depending on the age of the child, it isn’t appropriate to offer a lot of details; regardless, it still doesn’t make up for the intense hurt and pain they feel from being separated from the only home they ever knew.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Child-centered play therapy, I’ve found, is especially helpful for these children when they are particularly young, but I’ve found that a more directive approach is often needed for middle and older elementary children and pre-teens. Seeking out ideas for techniques to work with these children has continued to result in dead ends. With the exception of a few specific techniques out there on the internet and in books for children who have lost their parent or caregiver not by death but by separation, therapists frequently need to adapt general grief activities for these vulnerable children. While this is certainly not a major problem, I began creating some of my own games, art, and other play activities myself.

The Idea Behind Separation & Loss Jenga

I came up with the idea of creating a Jenga game to help kids who have been separated from their parents or caregivers not long ago. The Jenga game has been a popular therapy tool for many therapists for years, as it can be easily adapted for a multitude of therapeutic purposes just by gluing question strips onto the individual blocks or marking the blocks with various colors and creating corresponding card decks filled with questions to ask or prompts to give children for anything from identifying feelings to learning and practicing social skills.
Coming up with questions for the individual Jenga blocks came easier than I anticipated. There are so many thoughts and feelings in these children’s minds when they’ve been separated from someone they love; pulling these thoughts and feelings out by using traditional methods of talk therapy only tend to work well for some kids (and usually these are the older ones). But give kids an activity or game, and suddenly the same things that a therapist has been trying to help the child express becomes less threatening for that child. There is a lot of psychology behind why and how play (such as playing games or doing other activities) works in the healing of children. Play is a child’s language.  It helps them express what they cannot express in words, whether it be because they don’t yet have the language or because they have been more reluctant or it has been too difficult to talk about such painful feelings.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Though I created the game with the idea of being used in therapy between a child and therapist, it can also be played in the child’s new home with their current caregiver(s). Either way, when the therapist or caregiver chooses a question block, they can read the question out loud to the child for him or her to answer or if you feel comfortable in self-disclosing a separation or loss (even if it was through the death of someone you once knew), this can be done also. Regardless of how you adapt the game, just make sure the child you’re playing with knows the rules and what you’re doing before you play. The child may not respond well if they find out after you draw your first question block and direct the question to them if they didn’t know ahead of time that this was what you had planned to do.
It’s also important to validate the child’s answers when he responds to a question. If the child discloses that he feels sad, for example, that he is no longer living with his abusive mother, it will not help for you to say something like, “What do you mean you feel sad? She did nothing but hurt you!” Just. Don’t. Really, don’t.
Even if you think the child’s answer is “wrong” (which by the way, there are no “wrong” answers in this game), validate what they’re telling you because what they’re saying is very real to them. For the earlier example, you could say something like, “It can feel sad when you’re away from a person you love and care about.” Then. Stop. Really. Don’t try to put a “but” at the end of that sentence. Just leave it there. Trust me, not validating something like this isn’t going to help build your relationship with the child. At all. This isn’t the time to refute the child’s beliefs. Please leave that up to after you know more about the child and they are further along in their healing process and have built more trust in you.
(There are no “wrong” ways to feel anyway, regardless of how we might think they “should” be feeling; it’s not up to us to tell anyone how they should or shouldn’t feel. Don’t refute a feeling, even if you’ve known the child for a really long time and you have a good relationship. Give the child permission to feel the way they’re feeling and validate those feelings, even if you disagree or can’t totally understand why anyone could ever feel such a way. Empathize.)
By the way, it’s important to let the child know before you begin playing, that they should only share what they feel comfortable sharing. If they look like they’re struggling to answer a particular question, especially, give them a pass or allow them to answer another question instead. I don’t like forcing children to rush through any healing process. This will also help build your relationship with the child and plant the seed that you’re someone that isn’t going to push him any faster than he is able or willing to go, and that helps to build trust in your relationship.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Creating Your Own Separation & Loss Jenga Game

To create your own game, simply click below and print the Separation & Loss question strips. After you print the questions, I recommend laminating the page for durability. Then simply cut out your questions, and glue each individual question onto a Jenga block. The blocks that are left over can be used as “free pass” blocks, blocks that allow the player a turn without answering a question or they can be rapport (relationship) building blocks.

I find “free pass” blocks to be helpful over utilizing each and every block for a question, as it seems to make kids more comfortable and feel less overwhelmed. Rapport, or relationship, building blocks are ones in which you can use questions such as those found below, to lighten the mood and discuss something a little more fun and less heavy. The topic of losing or being separated from someone you love can be pretty sensitive, let’s cut the child a break! I personally use some of the rapport (relationship) building questions AND a few “free pass” blocks.”

In regards to the rapport building questions I have included in this post, you obviously wouldn’t use all of the strips for this particular game or you wouldn’t have many blocks left for the separation and loss questions. You can pick and choose which of both sets of questions you would like to use. Or you might also decide to glue two questions onto each Jenga block, with one side having a separation and loss question and the other side including a rapport building question. This is what I choose to do. This way, if a child does feel particularly uncomfortable about answering a separation and loss question, there’s a “back up” question they can choose to answer instead.

Separation & Loss Jenga Question Strips

Relationship Building Jenga Question Strips

Enjoy playing!

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

55 Art Journal Prompts for Teens

In counseling children and teenagers, I must tell you that I’ve seen some incredible talent. Some kids are talented musically, some are talented in sports, some are great writers, others are great artists, and some can tell you every country’s capital as though it were as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In every kid I’ve ever worked with, I’ve found an amazing amount of creativity flourishing inside them.

creativity (noun) – the use of the imagination or original ideas

Everyone is creative in their own way. Don’t believe me? Those kids who can rattle off facts like it’s nothing to them? They had to use some creativity in order to be able to memorize and remember those facts, such as using mnemonics or using music. You have to be creative in different ways if you play a sport, remembering all the moves and such.

I hear a lot of kids (and adults, especially) tell me that they’re not creative. They think that because someone told them back in second grade that their drawing wasn’t “good enough” that they themselves are not “good enough.” I say those people that told you that don’t know what creativity is. Everyone is creative!


There’s something cool about using art in therapy. Please note that while I know some various art therapy techniques, I am not a fully trained or certified art therapist. I do, however, use quite a bit of creative expressive techniques in my work as a therapist. One technique I use to help show people that they are creative and that creative expression is remarkably healing is assigning them to journal. Whether it’s through writing, music, art, or any other creative expressive technique, we can find healing in our lives.

Let me say that you don’t have to be an “artist” to do an art journal. There is no “wrong” way to do art; there is no “bad artist.” Art is an outlet for the thoughts from your soul to your hands and onto paper. For art journaling, you can draw, you can color, you can paint, you can collage… the possibilities are endless. I’ve included in this post some of my favorite art journaling prompts that I use especially with teens (and even adults!). Please note that just because the prompt might say “draw,” doesn’t mean you have to draw. If you’d rather collage or do some other form of creative expression (like knitting or writing or sculpting, etc.), you can still use these prompts! Don’t overthink them. Just let yourself be in the moment and do it. Draw in the dark if you think you’re “not a good artist!” Just let yourself be. Just try it.

55 Art Journal Prompts for Teens

  1. Draw a picture of yourself as something other than a person.
  2. Draw a picture of your family doing something.
  3. My perfect day looks like…
  4. Draw the monster you struggle with (i.e., anxiety as a monster, anger monster, depression monster).
  5. Make a picture of the person you let other people see and a picture of the person you really are.
  6. Draw a picture of how you think others see you.
  7. What makes me unique…
  8. I feel happiest when…
  9. I wish I could…
  10. Draw or paint your emotions.
  11. Create a picture using only colors that calm you.
  12. Create a collage related to a quote that inspires you.
  13. Create a picture of what freedom looks like to you.
  14. Document an experience where you did something you didn’t think you could do.
  15. Draw or collage someone you admire.
  16. Draw a place where you feel safe.
  17. Create a motivational collage.
  18. Create a timeline and journal the most significant moments in your life, with the most important moments highlighted visually.
  19. Create a picture of an important childhood memory. Try to understand why it was so important to you.
  20. Illustrate a fairy tale about yourself. If you could put yourself into a happily ever after situation, what role would you play? How would the story go? Create a visual story that tells the tale.
  21. Create your own coat of arms. Choose symbols that represent your strengths.
  22. Draw a comic strip about a funny moment in your life.
  23. Create a picture for someone else.
  24. Who are the anchors in your life? Make an anchor and decorate it with the people and things that provide you stability and strength.
  25. Make a mind map that is a visual representation of all your thoughts.
  26. Draw your dreams.
  27. What do you need right now at this time in your life? Draw a picture or make a collage depicting this.
  28. Draw or collage a picture showing what you are currently worried about.
  29. What smartphone app would you like to create or see created? Represent this visually.
  30. If magic was real, what spell would you try to learn first?
  31. What problem are you currently grappling with?
  32. Create a picture of what helps you feel better when you’re feeling down.
  33. What is something you really wish you could tell or explain to your family?
  34. What is something you really wish you could tell or explain to the teachers at your school?
  35. What is something you really wish you could tell the other kids at school?
  36. What do you wish would get better?
  37. Draw your superpower (or the superpower you would like to have).
  38. Create a vision board.
  39. What is your good luck charm?
  40. Draw a picture of something that is better broken than whole.
  41. What do you need help with right now?
  42. What question are you afraid to ask?
  43. What people or activities leave you feeling drained?
  44. Create a picture of how you would like your home to feel.
  45. Draw or collage 10 things that make you feel loved.
  46. Design your own logo.
  47. Create a picture depicting what keeps you up at night.
  48. If I really loved myself I would…
  49. I’m afraid people won’t like/love/accept/want me if they knew ____ about me.
  50. If you came across a genie in a bottle who could grant you three wishes of anything at all in the world that you want, except for more wishes, what would you wish for?
  51. Create a picture of what everything would look like if you woke up tomorrow and everything was better.
  52. I think I’m really good at…
  53. Draw a picture of where you would be if you could be anywhere right now.
  54. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  55. Draw a self-portrait WITHOUT drawing your face (make it symbolic).

There you go. Have fun! 

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

What is Play Therapy?

“Play therapy is based on the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self expression. It is an opportunity which is given to the child to ‘play out’ his feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual ‘talks out’ his difficulties.”  – Virginia Axline, “Play Therapy”

Sigmund Freud believed he could understand children by watching them play. He was right. According to the Association for Play Therapy’s website, play is the child’s language. Play:
  • Is fun; it’s enjoyable.
  • Elevates our spirits; it brightens our outlook on life.
  • Expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization, and self-efficacy.
  • Relieves stress and boredom.
  • Helps us connect to people in a positive way.
  • Stimulates creative thinking and exploration.
  • Regulates our emotions.
  • Boosts our ego.
  • Allows us to practice skills and roles needed for survival.
  • Fosters learning and development.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Play therapy is the child’s mode of communication, for sharing his world, his inner thoughts and feelings, and the meanings that he makes of his experiences of the world. It’s the child’s opportunity to communicate what he can’t as easily put into words. It is child-to-self communication, similar to the way that many adults go over and over a topic that’s bothering them when working with a therapist – in ways that they won’t when thinking about it alone, even if they’re doing it “all the time.” Specially trained mental health professionals use play therapy to help kids express what’s troubling them when they may not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and how they’re feeling. It builds on the natural way that kids learn about themselves and their relationships with the world around them.
The Association for 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 psychological difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
In adult therapy, the counselor’s listening and empathic responses help the client work through their problems and gain insight. In play therapy (particularly Child-Centered Play Therapy, or CCPT), with the counselor’s attentive tracking and empathic responses, kids work all the way through their own repetitive, unproductive loops to reach new understandings of their experience, and new decisions of who they want to be and how they want to behave.
Play therapy is used to help kids cope with different emotions and find solutions to problems. By confronting their problems in this setting, kids are able to find healthier solutions.

Who Benefits from Play Therapy?

Everyone can benefit from play therapy, including teenagers and adults! It is especially appropriate for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Play therapy is identified as the treatment of choice in mental health, school, agency, developmental, hospital, residential, and recreational settings with clients of all ages, according to the Association for Play Therapy. As is the case with most therapy modalities used in treating children, it is most effective when a parent/caregiver is also actively involved in the child’s treatment; kids and families heal faster when they work together. The therapist will decide how and when to involve some or all of the child’s family members. At minimum, the therapist will want to communicate regularly with the child’s caregivers to develop an appropriate treatment plan, as well as to identify and monitor progress.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

What Issues and Concerns Does Play Therapy Help?

Play therapy is often utilized as the primary intervention or as an adjunctive therapy for multiple social, emotional, and behavioral disorders, including (but not limited to):
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Depressive disorders
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant and Conduct Disorders
  • Anger management
  • Trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Divorce and family dissolution
  • Academic and/or learning difficulties
  • Social developmental difficulties

How Long is a Play Therapy Session?

Play therapy sessions generally last for 30-50 minutes. For most school-aged children, I frequently allow for 45 minutes per session, once a week. The length of a session is dependent, however, not only on the age of the child, but additional factors as well, such as the child’s attention span and developmental level.
On average, it may take approximately 20 sessions of play therapy before treatment is deemed to be complete. However, this also varies from child to child. Some children require fewer sessions, while more serious or ongoing issues may require more. I ask parents and caregivers to be patient; it may seem sometimes as though all we’re doing is “playing,” but in reality, the child is hard at work.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Who Can Provide Play Therapy?

While many trained clinicians sometimes utilize play techniques in their sessions, the practice of true play therapy requires extensive specialized education, training, and experience. A licensed mental health professional with a Master’s or Doctorate degree must receive advanced, specialized training, experience, and supervision in order to be credentialed by the Association for Play Therapy as a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S), or School-Based Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT).
I am currently in the process of becoming a Registered Play Therapist (and have been for some time now). This means that I am permitted to practice play therapy while completing my training and required hours of experience while under the supervision of a RPT-S. If you’re interested in play therapy for your child (or even for yourself!), please contact Creative Resilience Counseling at 304-292-4050 or by contacting me on the website’s Contact page. I look forward to working with you and your child!
For more information about play therapy, check out the Association for Play Therapy’s website!
ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

A Therapist’s Favorite Feelings Apps – for Kids and Grown Ups Too!


One day while I was brainstorming activities I could use to help my tween and teen clients review feelings and emotions, I thought I had come up with the “perfect” idea. I was already creating flashcards for my younger clients, which were actually index cards with magazine pictures of different feelings faces and body language poses that I was planning to use to TEACH emotion identification. I figured, why not let my tweens and teens help me create the flashcards as a way to REVIEW feelings?!

I was excited! Not only had I come up with this bright idea to teach and review emotions, but I was going to get some help creating my flashcards. (Hey, I’m human! I need help too!) Next step, put my plan into action.

I visited a middle school that day and explained my plan to the 13-year-old sitting beside me. She was up for it. Yay! She thought it was a really neat idea, and she was especially psyched that she was going to be helping me create something I planned to use for many years to come with the younger kids.

So we began.

First we glued various pictures onto one side of each index card. She laughed at some of them, occasionally noting that some of the pictures were really funny. After all, who wouldn’t think that a dog wearing glasses wasn’t funny?

Then it came time to write the feeling name on the back of each index card. The first few were easy: a smiling child might be feeling happy, the dog wearing glasses might be feeling smart. The clown might be feeling silly. Then all of a sudden she was stumped. She showed me a picture of a teenager who was portraying that she was scared.

“Jealous?” she questioned.

I prompted her to look more closely at the picture, paying attention to the way the person’s body looked and to what clues the person’s face was showing us.


She really didn’t know. I felt terrible! Here I had assumed that by the old age of thirteen, that this would be a review on something fairly easy. Talk about an eye-opening experience.

What was even more eye-opening was that I soon learned that only maybe half of the 12 to 18-year-olds I worked with were able to accurately identify the emotions on the flashcards – never less their own emotions. And about 25 percent of adults I came in contact with just in everyday life weren’t quite sure either. I felt awful! How could I not have realized that even teens and grown-ups occasionally need some emotion identification education too?

Since then, I teach emotion identification and expression like crazy! After all, how can one be expected to regulate their emotions if they weren’t even quite sure what they’re feeling in the first place?


What’s the big deal about learning about feelings?

Now when a child or teenager begins therapy with me, my first task is always to assess whether or not they are able to identify feelings. Dependent on the age, I might use flashcards, workbooks, feelings charts, magazines, mirrors, games, or whatever else I’ve gotten my hands on that might be relevant.

Here’s the thing: Feelings are important! They give us information about what we’re experiencing and help us know how to react. But not only is it important to label how we’re feeling, it’s just as crucial to be able to at least get a sense of how those around us might feel.

Being aware of our emotions helps us to build better relationships, whether it be at home, at school, at work, or anywhere else out there in the real world. Knowing and being able to label our feelings help us to talk about them and describe them more clearly. They resolve conflicts better. They help us communicate more effectively with those around us.

Just being able to name what we’re feeling actually helps us move past difficult feelings more easily. In order to be able to modulate and regulate our feelings, we must first be able to label our different internal experiences!

Think about a young child, if you will, who is having a tantrum on the kitchen floor all because you told them that they couldn’t have that yummy looking cake setting on the counter until after dinner. They’re not tantruming because it’s fun and who doesn’t like to throw a good tantrum every now and then. No, they’re actually having a really difficult time regulating their emotions because they really wanted that cake and right now they can’t have it. They’re feeling really disappointed. They’re feeling very frustrated. Because they might not have the words yet to identify and express their emotions appropriately, they’re doing the only thing they know how to do right now in this moment: express their disappointment and frustration by acting out.

What can we do to help children (and ourselves) learn how to identify feelings?

As a therapist, I utilize a number of tools and strategies to help teach clients about feelings. I make feelings cards, I have kids make faces in the mirror, I use special feelings games and workbooks, and so on.

One of the easiest and most convenient ways, though, to teach children how to label their feelings and  be able to more accurately identify how others might feel is through the use of apps.

Years ago I didn’t have a really cool smartphone to help me out. (I think I probably had one of those awesome flip phones though.) Now most of us have a handy-dandy phone with access to tons and tons of awesome apps we can use that are supposed to make our lives easier and more productive (or to help kill boredom when we need it to).

There are so many feelings and emotion apps on iPhones and Androids, I don’t even want to begin trying to count them. Some of them are very simplistic, while others are much more complex. Some are for children and others are for us grown ups. Some cost money, though most are free. Some apps are really, really good; some apps are pretty useless and not worth your time.

They’re not all for learning how to identify emotions either. There are also some great apps out there that help us track our feelings from day to day – an especially useful tool for anyone struggling with a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder.

What are these apps?!

I’m going to save some of you the trouble of searching through all the various apps that support emotion awareness, though you’re obviously more than welcome to look and try any or all of them out for yourselves. These apps are my favorites, ones that I use in counseling kids and adults. They’re apps that I use for my own children, as well as ones that I use for myself – because hey, I’m not about to recommend something for you or your kids that I wouldn’t be willing to try and use for myself and my own family!

First, for the kids…

Emotions, Feelings and Colors! Emotions, Feelings and Colors! is one of my 3-year-old’s favorite apps right now. Designed for kids in pre-K and Kindergarten, kids can watch short animated stories and identify what emotion the characters are feeling. In addition to that, the app also suggests some best tactics to help the characters work through their emotional situations! Love it!

Emotions from I Can Do AppsEmotions from I Can Do Apps

I actually have quite the collection of these emotions apps from I Can Do Apps. I use Emotions, Emotions 2, Emotions Flashcards, and Baby Emotions both professionally and at home. The I Can Do Apps, in general, offer apps to teach and reinforce speech and language development. The collection of the four emotions apps cost $4.99, though you can also purchase each one separately.

All of these apps help children practice emotion identification and develop understanding and interpretation of feelings. To clarify the differences in the apps, though:

Emotions helps kids identify different facial expressions using real faces and tests their understanding of emotions. This pack only includes the most basic emotions – happy, sad, scared, surprised, and angry.

Emotions 2 does the same thing as Emotions, but it includes more complex emotions, including tired, calm, grumpy, excited, proud, sick, bored, and frustrated.

The Emotions Flashcards app is exactly what it sounds like. It includes the emotions happy, sad, scared, surprised, angry, tired, grumpy, excited, proud, sick, bored, frustrated, and calm.

Baby Emotions is more for toddler aged children, though it could also potentially be used by parents who have difficulty identifying emotions in their infants and young children. The app includes baby faces portraying the emotions happy, sad, scared, surprised, tired, and calm.

Feelings with MiloFeelings with Milo is an emotional literacy app that teaches younger kids about feelings by helping them understand and learn to manage their emotions. It also lets kids keep record of their feelings everyday by giving them a chance to identify the mood they are feeling. This is a pretty cool app, and its graphics make it quite inviting for kids to use.

Feel Electric!Feel Electric! is brought to you by The Electric Company. Remember them? Feel Electric! offers engaging tools to help kids explore emotional vocabulary and self-expression. You can find games, a story maker, a glossary of 50 emotion words and definitions, and even a digital diary to help your kids track their moods. This app is especially good for elementary age but can also be appropriate for tweens and teens that are having difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions.

Now, for the teens and grown-ups…

Moodtrack DiaryMoodtrack Diary is my absolute favorite mood tracker! You can find it in the iTunes store, as well as at Google Play for Android. There are actually two versions, one that is a “social” mood tracker, which anonymously posts your current mood for other anonymous users to see – this is especially good if you’re looking for encouragement and want to connect anonymously with others out there in cyberspace.

I personally prefer the “private” mood tracker myself. The private version has a setting in which you’re able to share anonymously but it also allows you to keep your moods private and only for your eyes. The app works offline and syncs when you’re online if you turn on sync in the settings. You can track your mood as often or as little as you want, and it literally only takes a few seconds. You simply type in how you’re feeling, then you’re asked to rate your mood on a scale on 1 to 5, with 5 being the most positive mood. Then the program plots your moods on a graph, making it super easy to see patterns and mood swings.

This is the mood tracker I actually recommend the most to clients. It is not only simple and user-friendly, but if the user desires, they can share their graphed moods with their counselor or a good friend. All you have to do is provide them with your special designated password and they can log on to a computer to see how you’ve been feeling. On Touch ID devices, you can also set up a fingerprint lock. This app gets an A+ from this therapist!

EmotionaryEmotionary by Funny Feelings is another awesome app for kids and adults who are looking for the right word to describe just how they might be feeling. It not only includes a definition for common and funny feeling words (like “happy as Larry,” which apparently means you’re feeling extremely happy), but it also includes emoticons associated with most feelings.

What I like best though is how the app takes you step by step in finding the perfect word for how you’re feeling. First you pick a primary emotion (anger, anticipation, fear, joy, or sadness). Next you pick the category of feelings to find your perfect word. For instance, if you’re feeling sadness, you’re then given the categories alienated, disappointed, distressed, embarrassed, sad, and vulnerable. After choosing the category that best describes how you’re feeling, it takes you to a list of words (and definitions) which fall under that category.

Say I’m feeling embarrassed, so I click on that category. I’m then given a list of a list of over 20 words that I can choose to specifically identify my feeling, such as foolish, guilty, humiliated, mortified, and uncomfortable.

Not only is this app great for finding the perfect word to describe how you’re feeling, it’s perfect for all you writers out there as well!

Just a word of warning though… There are two versions of this – a free version and an inexpensive paid version. If you have kids who will be using the app, be aware that there may some words you’d rather them not see or be saying (such as “happy as a pig in sh**”).

Monster FeelingsOkay, just one more favorite of mine! Monster Feelings is like a more detailed version of Emotionary, only with MONSTERS! Look up descriptions, examples, and “energy” level of various feelings AND find a monster feelings face to go along with that feeling. This app can be used with kids, teens, and adults. I think this app is a lot of fun!


Regardless of whether you try these apps out for yourself (or your kids) or whether you search for others on your own, I really do encourage you to at least check emotion apps out. Learning how to identify and express emotions is key to being able to start regulating emotions more effectively. After all, how can you adequately express how you feel if you’re not even sure what you’re actually feeling in the first place? 🙂








ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Inside a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library – Part 2

Therapy Books, Kindle LibraryIn my last post – Inside a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library – I shared just a few books you can find in my Amazon Kindle library, including books about depression, anxiety, ADHD, executive functioning, life skills, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, and stress management.  If you thought that was the extent of my Kindle book collection, let me assure you with this post that my first list didn’t even cover half of my wide selection.

I’m a huge research junkie.  And I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who treats a wide variety of mental health issues and concerns.  I like knowing what the latest research says about what might help those struggling with mental health issues.  I am up front with my clients that sometimes I just don’t know all the answers (nor should I), but I will try to help them find someone or something that might.

Soooo… My Kindle library is quite extensive.  Even after sharing this post, I won’t be able to list every single book.  My bookshelves are the same.  My books may soon need their own house!  I frequently get asked about the books I have – both Kindle versions and those that are hard copies.  As promised in my last post, today I will share a few more selections you can find in this counselor’s Kindle library.

Again, as with the last post, I want to note that this is not a sponsored post.  Amazon.com, nor anyone else, is paying me to share my book selection.  Also, just because I have a particular book in my library doesn’t necessarily mean that I recommend it.  Most of the books in my Kindle library are really good.  Others, maybe not so much.  You live, you learn.  You’ll find that some books are specifically written for clinicians, while others are written for everybody else.

So here we go again…

Some Research

From a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library – Part 2

Therapeutic Resources: Parenting, Family

  • “101 Bedtime Questions to Help Kids Talk About School” by Aaron Shaw, PhD
  • “365 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ to Your Kids” by Jay Payleitner
  • “The Defiant Child: A Parent’s Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder” by Douglas A. Riley
  • “Great Games! 175 Games & Activities for Families, Groups, & Children” by Matthew Toone
  • “How to Motivate Kids – No Nagging Required!” By Susan L. Paterson
  • “Little Book of Routines: A Practical Guide for Mums and Dads” by Michelle Kemp
  • “No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
  • “A Parenting Guide to Crisis Intervention for Today’s Teens and Difficult Children” by Steve Stevenson
  • “Playful Parenting – Fun Games & Activities for Families” by Judy H. Wright
  • “Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… In You and Your Kids” by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller
  • “The Staycation Jar: 200 Family Fun Ideas for Creative Meals, Main Events, Silliness, Love Projects” by Erica McNeal
  • “Toddler Discipline” by Rhonda Hart
  • “Who’s the Boss?: The Win-Win Way to Parent Your Defiant, Strong-Willed Child” by Don MacMannis PhD &Debra Manchester-MacMannis MSW
  • “Zombie Party Ideas for Kids: How to Party Like a Zombie… Zombie Approved Kids Party Ideas for Kids Age 6-14” by P.T. Hersom

Therapeutic Resources: Couples, Relationships

  • “The Drama Triangle (Transactional Analysis in Bite Sized Chunks” by Catherine Holden
  • “Games People Play” by Eric Berne
  • “The High-Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy, and Validation” by Alan E. Fruzzetti, PhD
  • “Relationship Guides: Exercises to Improve Relationships” by John Gottman & Julie Gottman

Therapeutic Resources: Play Therapy

  • “Play in Family Therapy, Second Edition” by Eliana Gil
  • “SANDPLAY: A Sourcebook for Play Therapists” by Susan McNally

Therapeutic Resources: Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • “Adult Asperger’s Syndrome: The Essential Guide” by Kenneth Roberson
  • “Asperger’s Syndrome: A Definite Guide Toward Understanding and Treating Asperger’s Syndrome” by Robert Korsh
  • “Autism: Help for Autistic Adults, Understanding Adults with Autism” by Mark Spectrum
  • “Creative Expressive Activities and Asperger’s Syndrome: Social and Emotional Skills and Positive Life Goals for Adolescents and Young Adults” by Judith Martinovich

Therapeutic Resources: Trauma

  • “Breaking Free: A Handbook for Recovery from Family Abuse and Violence” by Esly Regina Carvalho, PhD
  • “The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms” by Soili Poijula & Mary Beth Williams
  • “Self Help: Child Abuse: Childhood Abuse” by Hanna Monahan
  • “Sexual Assault is Really Rape of the Soul” by Bob Bray
  • “When Your Anxiety and Fears are Complex PTSD from Complex Trauma (C-PTSD): The Truth About Childhood Trauma, Relationship Trauma, Workplace Trauma, Natural Trauma” by J.B. Snow

Therapeutic Resources: Bullying

  • “The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job” by Gary Namie PhD & Ruth Namie PhD
  • “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle (Updated Edition)” by Barbara Coloroso
  • “Employee Rights Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Back Against Firing, Harassment, Discrimination and More” by Richard Campbell
  • “Know Your Rights: Easy Employment Law for Employees” by Charles Henter
  • “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Robert I. Dutton
  • “Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace” by Patricia Barnes
  • “When You Work for a Bully: Assessing Your Options and Taking Action” by Susan Futterman
  • “Your Rights in the Workplace” by Barbara Kate Repa

Therapeutic Resources: Addiction & Recovery

  • “The Addiction Recovery Skills Workbook: Changing Addictive Behaviors Using CBT, Mindfulness, and Motivational Interviewing Techniques” by Suzette Glasner-Edwards
  • “Kickstart Your Recovery – The Road Less Traveled to Freedom from Addiction” by Taite Adams

 Therapeutic Resources: Grief

  • “Grief and Loss: How to Get Through the Five Stages of Grief, Death and Loss after Losing a Loved One” by Ariana Kats
  • “Grief Recovery” by C.S. Hickman

Therapeutic Resources: Emotions

  • “Emotion Amplifiers” by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • “Emotions and Feelings: How do you feel today? A Kids Book About Emotions and Feelings” by Jenny River

Therapeutic Resources: Communication

  • “Body Language” by Craig James Baxter
  • “Non-Verbal Communication – Body Talk” by Dr. Harry Jay

Therapeutic Resources: Online Therapy/Counseling

  • “Online Counselling: A Handbook for Practitioners” by Gill Jones & Anne Stokes
  • “Online Therapy – Reading Between the Lines, A Practical NLP Based Guide to Online Counselling and Therapy Skills” by Jethto Adlington
  • “Therapy Online: A Practical Guide” by Kate Anthony & DeeAnna Merz Nagel

Therapeutic Resources: Creative Expression

  • “The Big Book of Therapeutic Activity Ideas for Children and Teens: Inspiring Arts-Based Activities and Character Education Curricula” by Lindsey Joiner
  • “Creative Expression Activities for Teens: Exploring Identity Through Art, Craft, and Journaling” by Bonnie Thomas

Therapeutic Resources: Miscellaneous

  • “1001 Solution-Focused Questions: Handbook for Solution-Focused Interviewing” by Fredrike Bannink
  • “20 Change Exercises for Group Workshops” by David Williams
  • “Allen Carr’s Easy Way for Women to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr
  • “Creative Problem Solving Techniques to Change Your Life” by Colin G. Smith
  • “The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual: Practical DBT for Self-Help and Individual and Group Treatment Settings” by Lane Pederson, Psy.D., LP, DBTC
  • “Free Your Mind” by M.P. Nearly
  • “How to Light Up a Room: 55 Techniques to Help You Increase Your Charisma, Build Rapport, and Make People Like You” by Kate Kennedy
  • “Inspiration, Confidence, Success: Motivational Ideals to Live By” by Nicholas Muir
  • “Over 600 Icebreakers & Games” by Jennifer Carter
  • “Ten Interesting Things About Human Behavior” by Suzanne Davis
  • “Top 100 Quotes About Education: Great Quotes and Amazing Images that Will Change the Way You Think” by Marco Dragovic
  • “The Top Ways to REMEMBER EVERYTHING” by Ian Stables
  • “Treating Somatization: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach” by Robert L. Woolfolk & Lesley A. Allen
Well, there you have it: a comprehensive list of the therapeutic resources I keep daily at my fingertips in my Kindle library. Watch for future posts and I may just give you a peak into what sits on my bookshelves. 😉


ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Inside a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library



I admit it.  I’m a research junkie.  This is no surprise to anyone who knows me, including the clients I work with (and their parents).  When I want to know something, I’m notorious for finding every bit of research I can on it.  If, in my research, I find a book cited frequently or I find a raving review, I can’t help but check it out on Amazon.com and most likely, add it to my Wish List.

Then of course, there are also times that I just browse a topic I’m interested in learning more about in the Amazon.com store just to see what’s out there and look over the many reviews to see if the particular book is worth my time.  Kindle book, paperback, hardback, spiral-bound…  My iPad and my bookshelves are filled with resources I use in my counseling practice.

I often get questions about the books in my library – both in my Kindle library and my hard copy library.  Today I thought I would share a few of the many therapy books (my “therapeutic resources”) you can find on my Kindle.  I will share some of my other books in a future post.

I should note that this is not a sponsored post.  Amazon.com, nor anyone else, is paying me to share my book selection.  I want to further note that just because I have a particular book in my library doesn’t necessarily mean that I recommend it.  Most of the books in my Kindle library are really, really good.  Others, maybe not so much.  You’ll find that some books are specifically written for clinicians, while others are written for everybody else.

Okay, so here goes…

On the Tablet

From a Professional Counselor’s Kindle Library

Therapeutic Resources: Mindfulness, Meditation, Relaxation, Stress Management

  • “10 of the Best Relaxation Techniques: Helping You Live a More Balanced and Peaceful Life” by Michael Hetherington
  • “Five Minute Meditation: Mindfulness, Stress Relief and Focus for Absolute Beginners” by Lisa Shea
  • “Lolli and the Lollipop: Meditation Adventures for Kids” by Elena Paige
  • “Meditation: The Proven Guide to Alleviate Anxiety, Depression, and Stress” by Nathan Reynolds
  • “Mindfulness for Busy People: Everyday Mindfulness Tricks to Enjoy Your Life, Be Happy, Reduce Stress, and Create Freedom” by Marta Tuchowska
  • “Mindfulness without Meditation: Creating Mindful Habits that Actually Stick” by Shea Matthew Fisher
  • “Mindfulness for Beginners – Change Your Life by Living Anxiety Free and Stress Free” by Angel Greene
  • “Mindfulness for Beginners – The Anxiety Cure: A Guide to Replacing Worries, Anxiety and Negative Thoughts with Happiness and Fulfillment by Using the Power of Mindfulness” by Henry Hill
  • “Name That Emotion: A Mindful Approach to Understanding Your Feelings and Reducing Stress” by Erin Olivo
  • “The Primal Meditation Method: How to Meditate When Sitting Still is Infuriating” by Matt Peplinski
  • “Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)” by Eline Snel
  • “Stress Management Made Easy – How to Relieve a Stressed and Worried Mind Today” by PP Brennan
  • “Zen for Beginners: How to Achieve Happiness, Focus & Mindfulness by the Power of Zen Buddhism” by James Arvin

Therapeutic Resources: Depression & Anxiety

  • “The 18 Rules of Happiness: How to Be Happy” by Karl Moore
  • “40 Worth-it Life Quotes” by Jade the Mystic
  • “The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry, and Panic” by Jennifer Shannon
  • “Cognitive Behavior Therapy: CBT to Cure Anxiety, Fight Depression, and Beat Back Against Natural Phobias” by Nathan Bellow
  • “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A Practical Guide to CBT for Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, Addictions & Other Psychological Conditions” by Jane Aniston
  • “Confidence: Positive Thinking: How to Get Confidence” by Laura Boyle
  • “Depression Help: Stop! 5 Top Secrets to Create a Depression Free Life” by Heather Rose
  • “Gratitude Journal: A Daily Appreciation” by Brenda Nathan
  • “Happiness 365: One-a-Day Inspirational Quotes for a Happy YOU” by Deena B. Chopra and KC Harry
  • “Happiness Quotes: Inspirational Picture Quotes About Happiness” by Gabi Rupp
  • “365 Quotes for Daily Motivation” by Jonny Fox
  • “The Irritability Cure: How to Stop Being Angry, Anxious and Frustrated All the Time” by Doc Orman MD
  • “The Most Unique Anxiety Relief Workbook for Your Child in the Universe” by Renee Jain
  • “The Secret to Happiness: Change Your Life Around” by Jenna Louise
  • “Success and Happiness – Quotes to Motivate, Inspire & Live By” by Atticus Aristotle
  • “Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety” by Kelly G. Wilson & Troy DuFrene

Therapeutic Resources: ADHD, Executive Functioning, Life Skills

  • “21 Ways to Organize and Declutter Your Home” by Jane Denham
  • “The 4 List Method: A Simple Way to Organize Your Life and Reclaim Productivity for Entrepreneurs and Others Living with Disarray” by Ketra Oberlander
  • “The Adult ADHD Tool Kit: Using CBT to Facilitate Coping Inside and Out” by J. Russell Ramsay and Anthony L. Rostain
  • “Cleaning Hacks and Decluttering Ideas” Box Set by Riley Stevens, Kathy Stanton, & Rick Riley
  • “Clutter Kills: How to Declutter and Release Your Power” by William Wittmann
  • “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD” by Mary V. Solanto
  • “Effective Decision-Making: How to Make Better Decisions Under Uncertainty and Pressure” by Edoardo Binda Zane
  • “Focus: How to Overcome Procrastination and Distractions (2nd Edition)” by Zayne Parker
  • “Goal Setting: 10 Steps to Success: Write It Down and Make It Happen” by Matt Morris
  • “How to Improve Your Memory and Remember Anything: Flash Cards, Memory Palaces, Mnemonics (50+ Powerful Hacks for Amazing Memory Improvement)” by John Connelly
  • “How to Stop Living a Cluttered Life and Get Organized” Box Set by Kathy Stanton and Rick Riley
  • “How to Study” by George Fillmore Swain
  • “Level Up: Ways to Be More Productive, Manage Time and Get Things Done” by Zak Khan
  • “Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs” by Darlene Mannix
  • “Masterful Focus: 33 Tips to Improve Concentration, Work Smarter, and Be More Productive” by I. C. Robledo
  • “Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program Therapist Guide” by Steven A. Safren, Carol A. Perlman, Susan Sprich, & Michael W. Otto
  • “The Motivation Switch” by AJ Winters
  • “Motivation: Master the Power of Motivation to Propel Yourself to Success” by Ace McCloud
  • “Organize Your Day: Life-Changing Tips on Becoming More Productive, Clutter and Stress-Free!” by Jessie Fuller
  • “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD (2nd Edition-Revised and Updated) Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized” by Susan C. Pinsky
  • “Rock Your To-Do List: Get to Your Biggest Goals Faster, with Less Stress, in Only 15 Minutes a Day” by Lain Ehmann
  • “Smart but Scattered Teens: The ‘Executive Skills’ Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential” by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, & Colin Guare
  • “Time Management Systems: 3 Simple Time Management Systems for Busy People” by How To eBooks


There you have it… Just a few of my growing library of Kindle books!  I didn’t even start to cover the books I have on relationships, parenting, family, addiction, and trauma recovery.  Those will come later:-)

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Batman in the Playroom: Using Superheroes to Heal

What if I told you that Batman is my security guard, my protector, my hero?  My superhero?  Would you think I was crazy?  Or perhaps that maybe I was joking? I’m speaking only truth.  He helps me learn new ways of looking at things.  He helps me solve the problems I face.  And he shields me from the villains that might be lurking around in the shadows.

Villains?  Yes.  Villains.  You know, the ones outside of my cozy little therapy room?  The villains.  The bully who picks on me.  The man who lives down the street and scares me and gives me goosebumps every time I pass by on my bike in front of his house.  My mom, who hits me until she blacks out.   Those villains.  The villains we all encounter in some way at different points in our lives in the real world.  The ones who frighten us.  The ones who seem a lot more powerful than us.  The villains. 

But don’t worry about me because I’ve got Batman to protect me.  And Superman, the Incredible Hulk, and Wonder Woman too.  They get me through it all.  To you, they might look like just toys, but to me, they’re like my best friends, and best of all, they teach me how I can be a superhero too…

Superhero Child

Play and Children

I don’t think that there’s any question that children love to play.  Spend fifteen minutes with a child, and you will likely catch a glimpse into an entirely different world, one that is magical and, truthfully, a lot more fun.  What could a child possibly love more than play?!  Well, there actually is something…. They really love it when a grown-up joins in and plays with them!

It turns out that play has even more benefits than just being fun. It actually has a purpose!

“In their play, children repeat everything that has made a great impression on them in real life, and that in doing so, they abstract the strength of the impression and make themselves a master of the situation.” -Sigmund Freud.

Play, especially fantasy play, is a safe way for children to express their emotions, to figure out the confusing things that they’re experiencing, and sometimes to even distance themselves from what are otherwise very painful situations. Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist who contributed a great deal in the field of developmental psychology, regarded fantasy play as a window into a child’s under’s understanding of their current reality, of which they’re able to “experiment with competencies and understandings beyond the constraints of their intellect and experience.”

Maybe this will help: As grown-ups, we often use metaphors to help us understand things (concepts) more completely and to help us gain insight into the many situations we encounter in our day to day lives.  A metaphor is simply a figure of speech containing an implied comparison, one in which a word or phrase is applied to an object (or action) to which it isn’t literally applicable. “All the world’s a stage” is likely a metaphor that you have heard.

What metaphors do for us, fantasy does for a child.  Most of us have probably watched a young child as she transforms her building blocks into a fast and exciting train. Or perhaps you’ve seen the family cat magically imagined to become a terrifying tiger in the jungle! Metaphors help us, as humans, generate various possible solutions to the problems we face.  They help to provide those “light bulb” moments of insight.  This is what play does for children!

Calling All Superheroes!

Enter Batman.  Superman and the Incredible Hulk too.  Invite all the superheroes.  And don’t forget the villains!

The Joker

Yep. They’re all invited to my play therapy room.  They come so they can help teach children how to their own superhero and how to identify the superheroes in their own lives.  (Not all heroes wear capes, after all.)  They teach kids how to use their superpowers to defeat the villains they may encounter. They help kids work through their own adversity, and they do it all in a safe, non-threatening, and playful way.

You see, within each of us (children included) lies a number of superpowers that we often don’t know are even there.  One such superpower is strength.  Inner strength.  Superheroes are able to help teach children that.  Superheroes have the power to heal the hearts that have been broken and the spirits that have shattered.  Superheroes help the child being bullied in the school hallways.  They help teach children how to solve problems and look for solutions. They teach courage to the child who has to go to court to testify against his abuser.  They give children the opportunity to learn that they too can fight any villain they encounter throughout life – that good really can overcome evil.

Why Superheroes?

Calling All Superheroes!There’s something about superheroes that many kids can relate to, whether they’re in therapy or not.  Here are some things about superheroes that I myself never realized until I started exploring using superhero therapy:

  • The superhero has often experienced some type of early childhood traumatization.
    • Superman was separated from his parents and sent to a completely different planet.
    • Spiderman was adopted and raised by his aunt and uncle.
    • Batman was orphaned after his parents were brutally murdered.
  • Most superheroes grow up without his or her biological parents.
  • The classic American superhero generally comes from outside of the community he or she is called to serve, though he may reside therein.
  • The superhero is outcasted from society in some way.
  • Every superhero was faced with with adversities and failures in their childhood that only continued as they aged on their road to super heroism.  Yet, somehow and in some way, they were able to survive and ultimately rise.
  • The superhero’s motivation is a selfless zeal for justice.
  • When faced with adversities, the superhero finds answers in vigilantism and restoring justice.
  • The superhero, though on a mission of personal vengeance, unites this vengeance with a consuming love of impartial injustice.
  • To do what he (or she) does requires superhuman powers and the inability to suffer fatal injury.

Can you see why some children feel such great connection with superheroes?  Simply put, they can relate to these super figures.  The children I see in therapy are frequently those who, just like their superhero friends, have also faced significant adversities and challenges in their young lives. Some  have faced traumatic events; some have trouble coping with anxiety or have been beaten down with depression.  There are kids who have been outcasted by their peers at school and others who have suffered at the hands (or hurtful, hateful words) of a bully.  And there are children who feel invisible to the world around them and may even be behaving in ways in attempt to find someone who cares enough to pay attention.

Regardless of the challenge, regardless of the adversities these children have endured, it can be guaranteed that there’s a superhero out there who has faced something similar.

When superheroes and children “meet,” kids are suddenly given an ally in the world; they find a friend.  They realize that they’re not alone. There’s finally someone to validate how they feel.  Children become empowered by the new knowledge that they too can overcome, that even they have superpowers. And most importantly, they learn that they can be a superhero too.  And isn’t that something we hope all children have the opportunity to realize?

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

17 Coping Strategies for When You’re Stressed


I have a confession.  I don’t handle stress very well.  In fact, if I don’t do something about it before it becomes overwhelming, it won’t take long before anxiety kicks in.  I have another confession.  I sometimes don’t take the time to stop and actually do something about it before becoming overwhelmed.

There you have it:  an actual therapist with years of education and training and years of experience, and much like many of the clients I see, I too experience an anxiety that intrudes upon my life when I’m stressed.  It might seem strange that a therapist wouldn’t know how to handle stress very well, but the truth is that I do know how to handle stress.  I can just never seem make time to actually handle it.

So what’s a human to do?  That’s right.  Human.  That’s the thing.  We all feel stress, maybe some more than others, but it’s human!  It happens to everyone!  Some people just handle, or cope, with it better (and more effectively) than others.   

Here’s the thing, I know that if I would just stop and listen to my body, I could prevent, or at least better cope, with that anxiety that will soon take over my life when I’m feeling stressed.  Here are 17 of the most effective coping skills that I’ve found to help me find some peace.  Give them a try.  You may find something that will help you too.


17 Spiritual Strategies for When You’re Stressed

First off, let me note that you don’t have to consider yourself to be a “spiritual” person just to be able to use these techniques.  “Spiritual” strategies are simply skills that can affect a person on a more spiritual, mindful level.  Satisfying the human need to feel worthwhile and connected (and at peace) improves a person’s core well-being.  These strategies aren’t like ones that simply distract you; those are temporary fixes to use when you aren’t able to more effectively cope at that moment (such as when you need to concentrate on the test you’re taking at the time).  Distraction isn’t very effective to help in the long-term because the moment the distraction is no longer present, the stress or anxiety generally returns.  Spiritual strategies are more effective not only in the moment, but also provide peace and calm in the long-run.

So here they are:

  1. Practice mindfulness.  (I can’t stress the value of this one enough!)
  2. Enjoy nature.
  3. Get involved in a worthy cause.
  4. Take a walk or go for a hike in the woods.
  5. Pray or meditate.
  6. Practice random acts of kindness.  (This is especially helpful for me personally.)
  7. Practice gratitude.
  8. Keep a gratitude journal.  At least once a day, write 3-5 things that you’re grateful for.  (An alternative is to identify at least 3 positive things that happened that day.)
  9. Listen to a playlist of your favorite songs.  (Research shows that music really does heal the soul!)
  10. Gaze at the clouds or stargaze.
  11. Go outside.
  12. Volunteer your time.
  13. Make a present for a friend or make a treat for your neighbor.
  14. Plant something.  Garden.
  15. Start practicing yoga.
  16. Send someone flowers.
  17. Surround yourself with positive people.

I hope you’re able to find something on this list that helps you better manage your stress too!  If you know of other strategies that help you cope with stress, please leave a comment so I can add them to my list!

ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

Book Review: “How to be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers”

How to Be Comfortable In Your Own Feathers photoI’m very picky about things like books, movies, and television shows.  Something has to be really good for me to like it.  When I first ordered How to be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers by Julia Cook, I admit that I was very excited.

I like Julia Cook’s children’s books because they always teach a valuable lesson for children while keeping it fun, like how to keep from blurting out in class, maintaining self-control, and the difference in tattling and keeping yourself or your friends safe.  Julia Cook, who has authored more than 50 books for children and teachers, is a former teacher and school counselor with a master’s degree in Elementary School Counseling.  She writes books for children that keep them laughing while learning to solve their own problems, use better behavior, and develop healthy relationships.

In the book’s Foreward, it states, “How to be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers uses a creative approach to speak to children who may be currently struggling with body-image concerns.  Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, it is important that adults understand how to use this book effectively.  This story is written in a manner that gives children an opportunity to apply the characters’ experiences to their own lives.  It also demonstrates appropriate adult responses that encourage the development of healthy eating habits.”

Bluebird, who is the main character in this story, wants to flutter like the most popular bird in class, Hummingbird.  Bluebird, Chicken, and Owl all try so very hard to flutter like the hummingbird, but each of them just aren’t able to do it.  Hummingbird tells Bluebird that the reason she isn’t able to flutter like her is because her body is “too frumpy,” her wing span’s too wide, and her feathers look “lumpy.”  Hummingbird even advises Bluebird to go on a diet and work out at the gym so her body could be thin.

So Bluebird goes on a strict diet where she barely eats, and she works out, just like the hummingbird told her.  Eventually, Bluebird begins losing her feathers and not feeling so well.  Her mom finds out about what she has been doing and teaches her about balance and having a healthy “Food Voice.”  Bluebird begins to learn how to find balance and even finds out that she isn’t supposed to flutter like a hummingbird because she is a bluebird, and bluebirds are meant to soar. Near the ending of the book, Bluebird is seen talking to a counselor and is beginning to feel better about herself, though some days are still harder than others.

What I Thought About the Book

Just as I have liked several other books authored by Julia Cook, I felt this one was a winner as well.  It is beautifully illustrated by Anita Dufalla, which makes the book even more appealing to readers.  I felt the book’s message about body image, good self-esteem, and healthy eating was definitely one that many children of today need to hear.  The book is recommended for third graders and older, but I think a more appropriate age recommendation would be fourth grade to sixth grade.  I’m not sure I can see a child in middle school not thinking that the book is too young for him or her.

I do think the book started out really strong and quite engrossing and then began to slack off as soon as Bluebird’s mother learned of her body image issues.  Then it seemed the book was quick to rush to the end.  I’m not sure I liked the last few pages where Bluebird is seen talking to her counselor, and I am a counselor.  Maybe it was the way things were worded, but it just seemed kind of hokey, not that seeing a counselor isn’t an excellent idea for someone having problems with their body image.  After I read the book, I looked back at the amazon.com reviews that others had written and apparently there were others who felt the same way too.

Although the ending seemed kind of abrupt and rushed, I still felt that this was a good book, particularly for the children in which it was written for – those with body image issues.  Children with low self-esteem could also benefit from the book, though it may not be appropriate for everyone.  Body image can be a sensitive topic, but that doesn’t make it any less important.  Children in elementary grades are now dieting excessively and trying to lose weight, and most of them, even if a weight issue exists, have little idea as to how to eat and exercise healthily and with appropriate balance.  It’s certainly a topic that should be addressed.




ByStacy Garcia, MA, LPC, NCC

10 Reasons to Choose Creative Resilience Counseling

female child photoIf you’re seeking a qualified mental health provider and live in the Morgantown, West Virginia area, Creative Resilience Counseling, LLC can help!  Following are just ten incredible reasons to choose us for your mental health needs.  To set up an appointment with a Licensed Professional Counselor, contact us today at 304-292-4050; we can help you address any concerns you may have or issues you may be experiencing.


Creative Resilience Counseling offers nontraditional office hours for those who just can’t make it in for an appointment between the normal business hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Office hours include Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 to 8:00 pm; and Saturdays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

2.  Affordable Payment Plans

Creative Resilience Counseling will work with you in any way we can to arrange an affordable payment plan that works for you, should you need one.  We also accept and bill insurance companies.

3.  Easily Accessible Location

Creative Resilience Counseling’s office is located in downtown Morgantown.  It’s easy to find and easily accessible by bus, car, or bike.  You can also easily walk to our office, as it’s within walking distance of West Virginia University’s downtown campus.

4.  Professional and Confidential Care

Creative Resilience Counseling’s therapist, Stacy L. Garcia, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has a LOT of experience working with people facing various issues and challenges, including children as young as four years old, teenagers, and their families.

5.  Sensitivity and Compassion

Therapy is conducted in a comfortable, caring atmosphere by a therapist with genuine sensitivity and compassion.

6.  Evidence-Based Counseling Techniques

All techniques and interventions used in therapy are evidence-based and proven effective by research.

7.  Continued Education & Training

Stacy maintains up-to-date training in a variety of subject areas directly related to therapy and treatment.  She is also a born researcher.  She is able to provide you the latest information and interventions for whatever concerns or challenges you may be facing.

8.  Individualized Treatment

Each client’s therapy is specifically tailored and individualized to his or her strengths and needs.  You’re not like everyone else, so why should your treatment be just like everyone else’s?


Stacy utilizes a variety of toys, games, and art supplies in conducting therapy with children, adolescents, and families, as well as with adults who wish to explore their creativity!  Stacy is currently working toward her Registered Play Therapist certification, so play and creative techniques are one of the things she does best!

10.  No Judgment Zone

Creative Resilience Counseling is a no judgment zone.  NO ONE is judged for any reason, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, appearance, gender preferences, past decisions and history, etc.  You will be welcomed with open arms and a genuinely caring heart.




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