How to Survive a Family Vacation

The calendar is marked and the tickets are purchased. Summer is here and that family vacation you have been looking forward to is on its way. Despite your expectations, and all of the marketing that pictures smiling families and bright sandy beaches, family vacations can often come with a lot of stress.

This is completely normal! However, there are few basic things to keep in mind to ensure that you have as much fun as possible.

Realistic Compassion Is as Essential as Your Travel-Size Toothpaste.

The stress that comes with traveling and spending a significant amount of time together can be overwhelming. The chaos of being on the move, the tedium of long hours in the car or the airport, worry about expensive lodging and meals, disagreements on activities, and the sheer difficulty of getting everyone together and organized are just a few of the issues families commonly encounter.

As you go through the day, take a deep breath and take a good hard look at those around you. It’s ok to be anxious and nervous, and it’s also ok for those around you to feel the same way. Be realistic, and remember that everyone will decompress at different stages of the trip.

Be in the Now!

Sure, having your tablet, laptop, and smart phone is great while you are on the go. But, once you get to you destination, PUT THEM AWAY! No matter how behind you are at work, or stressed about unfinished projects at home, it can wait. Take the opportunity to enjoy the time you have with your family; you will be better for it.

Enjoy the moment, immerse yourself in it, embrace it. Don’t long for the next place to see, or the next activity, or for that hour when you can use the hotel Wi-Fi. Just live and enjoy yourself while you have the chance.

Resources You Do Not Want to Miss

If you have ever attended one of my sessions, you know that you can grow leaps and bounds by simply opening yourself up to new ideas. This can be as simple as doing research on your own or reading a book or resource I recommend for you. No book, website, or quote can take the place of professional counseling, but here at South Denver, the click of a mouse or the swipe of a smart phone can get you some resources to get you started.

Our Blog

The key to success is accessing as much knowledge and empowerment as you can get your hands on. That is why we offer a regular blog full of seasonal mental health tips, ideas to improve your life, and other suggestions to keep you healthy, informed, and ready to take on life’s many challenges.

Our New Facebook Page

South Denver even has a new Facebook page! Looking for inspiration? Interesting articles? Advice to get you through the day? Maybe even a little bit of a laugh? Well, look no further than our new Facebook page. We will update it several times a week, so make sure to include us in your feed to get the most out of your day.

Do not forget to make an appointment to see us all soon.

South Denver Movie Night: Short Videos to Help Us Remember we are not alone


It is one of the biggest feelings that we experience when we suffer from a mental illness or even just challenging periods of their lives. With the stigmas and taboos that circle around mental illness like dust devils before an afternoon thunderstorm, it can be scary to share what we are feeling because we fear the repercussions.

Despite this, it is essential to remember and easy to forget that we are not alone. There are millions of us who face similar things every single day. So this week, we are posting five videos sharing the power of being vulnerable, the bravery of telling your story and the truth that many of us face emotional and mental struggles every day.

On Vulnerability

To start things off, we thought we think you should chat with one of the experts to understand the power and beauty behind vulnerability.

Facing the Black Dog

These two videos find beauty, wonder and awe in both their own battle with depression and the fighting spirit in those they meet along the way.

Do I Really Need a Therapist?

Do I Really Need a Therapist?

“I have handled my tough stuff before, why would I need a therapist now?”  You or someone you know has probably said this before.  It is true; sometimes you already have the tools to take on the challenges that life throws your way.  However, if you are feeling in over your head, having the courage to seek professional help for your emotional wellbeing is both a great way to grow and an effective way to heal.

Therapists: Your Guide and Your Toolkit for Emotional Wellbeing

As a culture that glorifies do-it-yourselfers, it can be hard to ask for and see the value of therapy. However, just like you take your car in for regular tune-ups, pay a preparer to fill out your taxes, hire a guide to take you scuba diving, or go to the emergency room when you need stitches, it makes sense to seek a therapist to help you deal with the tough issues you’re facing.  A mental health professional has been specially trained to help you navigate the murky waters of life’s big changes, transitions, relationships, and challenges, as well as helping you heal from more clinical mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, or anger, among others.

Your therapist, counselor, psychotherapist, and any other mental health professional you turn to has had many years of training.  This training teaches them a wide variety of strategies, techniques, and therapies, and how to apply and implement them to fit each person’s needs.  This kind of work doesn’t just help you address life’s current struggles; it also gives you insight into how to handle future challenges, shows you how to reach towards your goals more effectively, and allows you to establish better awareness of the world and yourself.

But I have Hobbies and Friends to Talk to….

Fantastic! Pets, hobbies, staying active, a strong support network, and positive relationships are a great way to help sustain your mental health.  These can relieve stress, reduce depression, and give you people and places to bounce your thoughts off of, while fulfilling your emotional needs.

Yet, no matter how fantastic your friends and hobbies are, they will not replace the work you can do with a counselor.  Because, unlike your friend, your counselor only has one motivation – your wellbeing. There is no pre-conceived idea of what you “should” do and anything you decide has no impact on the relationship. A professional is going to ask the hard questions, closely and carefully listen to you, and help you achieve better self-awareness.

While a friend who both challenges and listens to you is a rare thing and powerful thing, this is part of the job description for every counselor.  You can expect to get the help and advice you need in every session.

So now, think of therapy as a statement that proclaims, “I am taking care of myself and I am challenging myself to be happier, healthier, and more productive.”  This approach will help you approach therapy in a better frame of mind.

Taking Control of Trauma: Understanding PTSD and EMDR.

For many individuals, traumas can have lasting and seemingly uncontrollable effects on our personal, social and working lives. The human mind usually processes and allows the effects of trauma to fade over time, for many of us the journey to recovery can last longer. One of the common and currently most talked about effects of these traumas is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  PTSD is the re-experiencing of a traumatic event or events. PTSD is caused by life threatening events or the witnessing life-threatening events, sometimes called “big T’s”. With today’s research, we now also know that many more events- even if they are considered less traumatic- have the similar impact and are referred to as “little T’s”.

If you think about important events in your past, such as the first day on a job, or a first date, you can vaguely recall your excitement and feeling almost “beside yourself”. Yet now when you look back, you may smile at the memory of those experiences, but they do not overwhelm you as if you were there. They are fond memories, adding to the story of who you are.

Some traumas don’t process this way. They get stuck in the part of the brain that controls fight, flight or freeze instincts. Everyday reminders become triggers and continuously create the feelings of the original trauma.  These triggers can even escalate and become something to fear as well. It is not clear why traumas get stuck and cause PTSD and other symptoms, but what it is clear that methods such as EMDR can have a dramatic impact on clearing these stuck traumas and allow normal processing.  EMDR helps the brain process the memory and move on, just as they do with pleasant memories. They may be less than fond memories, but with the use of EMDR they lose their impact.

Here at South Denver Psychotherapy, we use EMDR for many of our patients to help with PTSD and other conditions. We love that we get to help our clients on their paths to healthier, happier and better lives.