About Megan Sigmon-Olsen, M.S.W., LICSW

I am a psychotherapist specializing in teen therapy and various forms of family therapy. I most enjoy working with families. Located in St. Paul, MN.

My Teen is Depressed

Since the onset of the pandemic, mental health concerns, including depression have risen globally. It makes sense that this is the case. Events that people look forward to have been canceled, people are isolated, and there is uncertainty about when the pandemic will end, creating a perfect storm for depression to manifest. Not to mention depressive symptoms that existed before the pandemic.

If your teen is depressed, that is completely understandable.

talking to your teen about depression

What can you do as a parent?

It is really important that you find a way to be a support person for your teen. You can show them by saying validating statements. Validating statements acknowledge that someone else’s feelings make sense. Some examples include:

  • “I can tell that this is a really hard time for you.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “I’m sorry it is so difficult right now.”
  • “I understand you are feeling depressed.”

Validating statements help teens (adults and children too) feel seen, heard, understood and they strengthen relationships.

Here are some examples of invalidating statements (these are the types of statements to avoid):

  • “Why are you depressed, you have such a good life, you have no reason to feel that way.”
  • “I had it way worse when I was a kid.”
  • “Just be happy.”
  • “You are just being dramatic.”

A lot of times people are inadvertently invalidating. Some invalidating statements are really well-meaning. For example, telling someone to focus on the positive may genuinely be trying to help someone feel better. However, it could also convey that they SHOULDN’T feel the way that they do. We want to be compassionate and let teens know that how they are feeling is okay.

You can let your teen know that they can always come to talk to you about feeling depressed/sad/down. It is okay if your teen declines this. Pressing your teen to talk when they do not want to will not build trust or strengthen the relationship. Your teen will likely open up more over time as they see that you are a safe, trustworthy, validating person to go to.

Sometimes with depression, people have suicidal thoughts. This of course is very scary as a parent. If you have concerns for your teen’s safety, you can call a teen crisis line at 310-855-4673 or bring them directly to the emergency room.

At Sentier, we have multiple therapists who specialize in working with teens. If you think your teen needs additional support, please reach out today!

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Andrea Schroeder.

My Teen Won’t Go to School – Part One

You wake up on a cold, Monday morning to the annoying sound of your alarm and struggle to drag yourself from your bed. The temptation to resist is strong but you finally get out of bed to start your day and deal with the next battle… making sure your teen is up and ready for school. You walk into your teen’s room and are immediately greeted with a groan of disgust. After numerous attempts and even the potential yelling match, you admit defeat and walk away. You are left with a mix of emotions and think to yourself yet again, why won’t my teen just go to school?

teenager school attendance

what do you do when your teenager starts missing school?

School refusal isn’t a new problem, but has noticeably become a bigger issue due to the pandemic. Refusal rates are estimated to be 15% to 20% higher than previous pre pandemic rates of 1 to 5% of students. The pandemic has created a rollercoaster of ups and downs in schools. One week students are in-person and the next they are back to sitting in front of a computer and talking to their friends through a screen. Peer relationships are important in helping teens develop their social skills, problem solving skills and discovering their sense of self. Being distanced from their friends can cause your teen to feel lonely and isolated.

However, school refusal cannot just be credited to the pandemic. On a daily basis teens are learning to manage and navigate school workloads, extracurricular activities, and peer relationships. Dealing with this can feel immensely unbearable to teens as their problem solving skills have not fully developed.

Some other factors that lead to school refusal or absenteeism include: anxiety, friendships or bullying, family struggles and difficulties with classroom learning.

student school attendance

How can you help your teen?

  • Talk with your teen: Express interest and empathy in the struggles they are experiencing. Ask them if there is anything you can do at home to help with these feelings. Let your teen know they are heard! (Remember, some issues might seem small but can feel overwhelming large to your teen)
  • Connect with their teacher: Reach out to their teacher and see if there is a way to get your teen some help with managing their struggles in the classroom. (You can even include your teen in this conversation so they can feel like they have a voice. Teachers spend a significant amount of time with your kid and might have insights into their classroom struggles that you don’t.
  • Limit electronics: Removing video games, cell phones or other electronics can let your teens know it isn’t a fun, free day off. Holding firm limits during regular school hours takes away the temptation for them to stay home curled up in their bed scrolling through social media or trying to pass the next level in their video game. Electronics might only be adding to your teen’s stress, especially if bullying is happening.
  • Brainstorm fun mid week activities: Schedule fun activities to help keep your teen feeling connected with others and give them something to look forward to. Get creative and keep it simple. Have your teen pick a place to eat/order take out, plan a movie or game night, etc.

What tip will you try to help make that school struggle a little bit easier?

Blog written by Sentier therapist Bridgett Brye, MSW, LGSW

What your Sentier therapist does behind the scenes

teen counseling saint paul

Sentier Therapy at work and play

You park the car, enter the building, and open the door to the waiting room, where you are met with the calming whir of white noise machines.

Maybe you browse through a National Geographic or scroll through Instagram while you wait for your therapist, or maybe you make a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to sip on during your session.

Eventually, you walk into your therapist’s office and sink into the comfy chair of your choice.

Or, alternatively, you open your laptop, click the Doxy link, and wait for the ding that means your therapist is ready to begin.

What you may not realize once you leave the building or close the laptop is just how much your therapist is doing outside of your sessions. Here are just a few things that are part of your Sentier therapist’s job that you may not know about:

  • Therapists complete a case note for each and every therapy session they do in order to monitor their clients’ progress and keep track of what is covered in sessions. If you’ve noticed your therapist writing or typing during a session, they were probably adding to the session’s case note. These aren’t extensive reports but rather a quick summary of what happened during the session. What was discussed and what topics did the client bring up? What was the client’s mood and demeanor? What changes occurred between this session and the last? What sorts of activities or exercises were done during the session? Was any homework or practice assigned for next time?
  • Every day, each of the therapists at Sentier updates a massive spreadsheet with 18 tabs outlining everything from therapist availability for new clients to new client inquiries to important dates for the team to remember. Each time someone inquires about therapy at Sentier, it is carefully logged in this spreadsheet. The date and times of Sentier’s groups are outlined months in advance. The list goes on and on! This spreadsheet is a puzzle that keeps the clinic running smoothly and therapists maintaining each piece of it is crucial to the success of the clinic.
  • Sentier is an out-of-network clinic which means that therapists submit claims for some clients sessions to insurance providers. By doing this step for our clients, we are trying to make it easier for folks to get reimbursed if possible. Submitting to insurance also means that therapists work with clients to troubleshoot with insurance companies if issues with claims or reimbursement arise.
  • Therapists also monitor their sliding scale availability. By logging what sliding scale fees they have offered to clients, they are able to keep track of what they can offer to future individual and group clients.
  • Your therapist also updates their waiting list, reaching out to people when availability opens up and communicating frequently with clients about scheduling. Therapy is in high demand, and keeping these waiting lists organized and updated is an important part of your therapist’s job.
  • Sarah trains the team on HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines that keep your private health information safe.
  • Andrea is the resident expert on Sentier’s Electronic Health Record (EHR). She fields your therapist’s questions about the software and updates a manual that therapists often refer to when they need help.
  • Once a month, Sentier therapists gather in the Group Room of our office. We each do a brief check in, updating the team on both our personal and professional lives, and each share something we are grateful for, all while munching on breakfast provided by a rotating member of the team. These gratitudes are recorded in a journal so that your therapist can look back on them whenever they want. The team goes over big and small changes that may have come up in the past month, perhaps about our EHR or how our COVID policies continue to evolve. Therapists bring questions to the team about their approaches to client care and receive feedback and advice on how to proceed.

A few other things you might not know about what goes on at Sentier when you’re not in session:

  • Megan can tell who is coming to hang out in her office before they arrive based on their footsteps and her door is always open for a chat or a question.
  • Mailboxes fill with paperwork, and then are emptied, and then fill again, and sometimes chocolate or other treats appear in them from the Sunshine Committee. The Sunshine Committee is in charge of birthday gifts, handwritten messages of support and encouragement for therapists, and other random offerings that make our team a family.
  • Ashley provides the team with an endless supply of fidgets and help with the printer when it inevitably decides to stop working.
  • The thermostat is adjusted often, as half the therapists are always shivering and the other half are too warm.
  • Andrea keeps the kitchen stocked with sweet snacks.
  • Your therapists ponder the temperature of the lighting in the waiting rooms—too bright? Too warm?—and discuss how the furniture is arranged.
  • Jenga, Sentier’s therapy dog, plops down at your therapist’s feet between sessions and looks expectantly at them for pets, love, and apple cores, his tail eternally wagging.

These little things make all of the difference in the way daily life is shaped here at Sentier.

At Sentier, we’re lucky. Having such a small group of therapists allows the team to get to know each other and develop a flow so that we can all help one another be successful.

These personal moments that your therapists share help them maintain the momentum to get all of the other things done. It is a privilege to work with our clients and with one another, and we help each other out so that we can better help you.

Blog written by Client Care Coordinator, Ellie Struewing.

What Does Grief Look Like?

The Parts of Grief We Do Not Expect and Do Not Talk About

I am a Covid Widow. I lost my partner of nineteen years at the very beginning of the pandemic before we knew what Covid was, and before it was being diagnosed. We do not have an official diagnosis of Covid as the cause of death for my partner, however, all of the signs and symptoms and her cause of death point to Covid as the cause.

Since losing my late wife, I have become a non-consensual expert on Grief. Not only do I sit in and process my own grief, but I now have a collection of widow friends (we call ourselves “the weeping”) that I have formed a deep and intimate relationship with over these past eighteen months. Having a community of people who know what it is like to be a griever is a game-changer in being able to sit with and process grief. My weeping and baking bread are probably the two things that have made it possible to continue to exist in space with folks.

This blog isn’t necessarily about me and my experience with grief and it’s not about all of the usual mainstream conversations around grief, either. This blog is about the unspoken pieces of grief and the things that crept up or surprised us Weeping Widows while going through our Journeys.

grief is normal

First off…

Grief is not a horizontal line, and it’s not even a circle. Grief is like an ocean. Some days you have giant capsize your boat waves, and sometimes you just have little laps on the shore.

Grief has a starting point but never an end point. I think this is one of the hardest things to learn when going through the process. So many folks ask me when grief will end. I am the forever optimist and I want to say that it will end soon or someday, but the realist in me (and the griever) has to say unfortunately, never. Grief stays with you. At first it’s really intense and ever-present. As it continues to flow through you (and as you continue to process along your journey) it evolves. It still can be intense and ever-present, but hopefully those days get further apart and don’t linger as long as they did in the beginning.

Grieving is unpredictable and pops up in strange ways during the most inconvenient times. It can be a song or a smell, a bird or a flower, or something you didn’t know was going to bring on strong feelings. When talking with my widow friends, we all agree that those “surprise griefs” are the worst. Surprise griefs are the moments that show up when you least expect them; you have no idea where they came from. These are moments in grief that you can’t prepare for.

I asked my widow friends what were the things that surprised them the most after they lost their person, and here are their responses:

The build-up is always worse than the day…

The buildups to the big anniversary milestones (birthdays, hospitalizations, etc.) are hard and painful. We spend so much time and brainpower thinking about all the things that are, were, or what could be. We are also just anxious about how it’s going to be on the actual day. I have had 18 months worth of anniversaries and this statement is always true: The build-up has always been worse than the actual day. When the day comes, it might be sad, but it is never as tragically sad as we prepared for.

Those who you thought would stick around don’t, and those you didn’t think would stick around, will.

Is very interesting to see who stays after a significant loss. Everyone shows up obviously for the first two weeks to a month after the death, and then the world tapers off and gets back doing their thing. At this point, we as grievers are left feeling very lonely. Many of the people that I thought would hang around and be supportive did not support me, and I was constantly surprised by who was able to lean in and stay present even after that first month.

Grief math or “Widow Math” as I call it.

This is the subconscious need to countdown until the next significant event. How many days until the next anniversary? how many days has it been since the first anniversary? how many days until I’m older than they were ever going to be again? That constant counting of time is our brains trying to keep us connected to the human we lost, and also breaking down forever into measurable moments. It is not an anxiety easing process or technique. In fact, grief math is incredibly difficult and intrusive for most folx.

It’s really hard to be around people who don’t also experience grief.

This one surprised me. I am a people person and I love to be with people. I now find it hard to be around people who don’t know what it’s like to experience grief on a cellular level the way I have. I’ve asked a lot of widows about this, and this is something that they feel as well. It is a common theme. We tend to lean into each other and into our network because it’s a lot easier to be around people who get it than it is to explain it.
You see grief and death everywhere.

Until becoming a widow, I never realized every show has a character who deals with some sort of significant loss. Many shows have widowers or widdudes as we call them in the Widow’s Club. You can’t help but see those characters differently after joining the Widow Club/Grief Club. Or maybe you didn’t even notice that character at first, and then that’s all you can see.

The body remembers before your brain will.

There is something to be said about the body keeping score. We hold trauma in our bodies, and our body then reacts in somatic ways. My body told me an anniversary was coming up before the calendar did. It was shocking to make the connection between the physical pain and the proximity of the anniversary. Grief does not just hurt emotionally, it hurts physically, as well.

minnesota counseling can help

What is the takeaway from all of this?

If you are a griever:

Find a community. Find people who know what it’s like to experience what you have experienced. A community will give you common language, and most importantly connection. Grief is such an isolating experience that creates such big internal and external spaces of loneliness. Most people need to have people around them in order to get through, and out to the other side of those dark spaces. Remember that you’re not alone. There are so many of us out there. Just come find us.

If you’re not a griever:

Don’t forget about your friends who have lost humans. Be patient with them, as they may not be the same person they were before the loss. Allow people to grow into their new selves as they work on figuring out who they are becoming after their loss.

Don’t take silence personally. If your grieving friend withdraws, it is not about you. It is most likely because they needed to go inward and do some work.

Be there for them when they return with open arms, and not with judgment. Remember, they are different now.

Trust your grieving friend when they share things with you about their experiences. If you don’t understand why they are doing a certain thing or you don’t agree with the choices they are making, ask them about it. They may be doing things a certain way because they have to protect themselves or because they may be dealing with other people’s grief. They have to be a certain way in the world right now in order to keep themselves safe.

Do your best not to put your own grief onto the person who is grieving. If your friend loses a parent or a partner, going to your friend and talking about how sad you are and leaning into them to help you process your feelings of grief and loss may be incredibly overwhelming to that individual. If you’re able to take your feelings and process them with somebody else who is not as close to the loss, that is going to be more beneficial to your grieving friend. Grievers do not have the emotional space to hold grief for other grievers the way that other grievers need. This is not Universal for everybody but in general it’s very hard for those who are in it to be there for others.

One important thing to remember is that we will all be Grievers one day.

Unfortunately, death and loss are inevitable and every person will experience some sort of significant loss. As a culture (in North America), we are generally not great about talking about death. Death is scary, so it is avoided. But it is a thing that happens. The more we can all remember that we will all be grievers one day, the easier it will be for us to lean into that experience and to feel what we need to feel and process what we need to process.

You cannot bypass grief, you cannot avoid the loss, and grief can never be outrun. The only thing you can do is go through, feel it, process it, and even eventually embrace it. It is not scary, it is just beautifully sad.

What has helped you in your grief?

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Ashley Groshek, LMFT

How to Create Effective Household Rules with your Preteen

If you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head over your pre-teen’s inexplicably dramatic or uncharacteristic behavior, you’re not alone. Kids between the ages of 9-12 are undergoing a ton of major changes as they leave childhood and enter adolescence. This developmental stage is characterized by a drive for increased independence, experimenting with new forms of self-expression and identity, and a ton of very confusing physical and emotional changes, constantly bubbling under the surface, that can cause major emotional (and behavioral) turmoil. Tweens can greatly benefit from some additional nurturing and support during these years, but often it’s a challenge to figure out how to parent amidst all of the uncertainty and newness.

Maybe your kiddo has outgrown the rules that you’ve always had in place, maybe they’re ready for new challenges and/or new limits, or maybe you’re realizing that the old way of doing things just isn’t working anymore. It’s time for a change. Creating rules with structure can help your kiddo learn developmentally appropriate limits and can help you stay calm and in-control. If you can maintain your own emotional cool when your tween’s behavior goes sideways, you’ll be better able to protect a high degree of warmth and predictability in your relationship — two relationship qualities that your tween desperately needs to experience during this sometimes tumultuous stage of life.

However, implementing new rules is hard, because kids have grown accustomed to the household status quo.

parenting tips

Tips for creating effective rules


Your child needs to know exactly what the expectation is. (For example, instead of telling them to “clean the bathroom,” make sure your child knows specifically what that means – “cleaning the bathroom” means: cleaning the toilet, taking out the garbage, and wiping down the surfaces (or whatever the steps are).

Clear expectations help your child know what they need to do, and they help prevent YOU from becoming upset if your child doesn’t do something the way you wanted them to. A clear rule or expectation helps clear up any confusion or misinterpretation, and teaches a child how to perform new behaviors.


Think about what you can verify – will you be able to know whether or not this rule was followed? How? (If you can’t enforce the rule, avoid setting it up as a hard-and-fast “rule” and try to incorporate these more ambiguous expectations in conversations about behavior in a more general sense).

For the rules you create for your home, always follow through with enforcing the rules exactly as you had planned, in exactly the same way each and every time. Kids will still test the limits, but when you follow through with the consequences (and rewards!) exactly as planned, it will teach them the importance of limits and it will build their trust in YOU as their parent.


Make sure any consequences that are tied to “breaking” a rule are time-limited. For example: if the consequence for not doing homework, or getting a negative call home from school is “no video games,” make sure there is a predictable and pre-planned “end” to the consequence (i.e. “no video games for 2 hours,” or “no video games for the rest of tonight”). A shorter time frame (coupled with consistent incentives/consequences) will give you more frequent opportunities to reinforce behaviors.

The younger the child, the shorter the consequence needs to be.

Developmentally appropriate

Consider the developmental stage of your child when setting up rules and expectations. For example, the chore of “clean the bathroom,” or “pick up the living room” will look different for a 5 year old than it will for an 11 year old. Consider your child’s current abilities and what expectations are reasonable for a child of their age, and create rules that your child will reasonably be able to follow.

is my teen suffering from anxiety

Tips for using consequences

  • As much as possible, stay neutral when communicating rules and delivering consequences. Try to avoid letting your emotions take the wheel, even if you are upset or feeling challenged by your child. Maintaining your own emotional cool (especially in conflict-laden situations) is an important aspect of helping your child learn to navigate difficult conversations and regulate their own emotions in times of stress.
  • Pre-planned consequences are best. They allow your child to understand the connection between their behavior and the consequence (or reward) that follows. Plus, if the consequence isn’t predictable, your kiddo will feel extra hurt by their perception that you’re punishing them unfairly. Pre-planned consequences also prevent you from making up new punishments on-the-spot, which can be especially dangerous if you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or out-of-control.
  • Pre-planned rewards and consequences help you stay consistent, which helps both you and your child avoid confusion when it comes time to follow through with a consequence (or reward). The key here is to write down the rewards and/or consequences tied to specific behaviors (so you don’t forget the plan) and then follow through with it in the same way 100% of the time.
  • Try to deliver consequences (or rewards) as immediately as possible following a rule-breaking or rule-following incident. This helps reinforce the message and aids in developing the child’s understanding of desired and/or undesired behaviors.

Stick with it, be consistent, and don’t give up hope if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped the first time or two. With persistence and consistency, your kids will adjust to a new way of doing things and they will learn to live with new rules.

It is so important that you have support around the new plan. If you have a parenting partner, make sure you are on the same page regarding the rules, and make sure you both are enforcing the rules consistently in order to avoid a “good cop / bad cop” situation.

Practice enforcing the rules in an unemotional manner. If you can follow through with the pre-planned consequences just as you planned, the “consequence will speak for itself” and you will avoid letting your own emotions escalate a situation even further.
When explaining rules to kids, it’s important to emphasize choice and that you support them making the choice that will result in the outcome they want (ie, playing video games). However, if they decide not to do their homework, they have made a choice that results in them not being able to play for the rest of the evening. But, because your consequence is time-limited, they can earn the video games tomorrow (by making a different choice).

Let us know. How did creating new expectations and consequences go in your family?

Blog was written by Sentier therapist, Elin Amundson, MSW, LGSW

Coming to Terms With the Psychological Effects of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic upended much of life as we knew it and people are now trying to make sense of what just happened to us. The existential weight of it is almost too much to comprehend, especially because it is still going on around the world. However, in the United States and here in our home state of Minnesota, we see rising numbers of vaccinated individuals and plummeting numbers of positive cases of COVID-19. We are receiving permission and even encouragement to resume “normal” activities. As we begin to see the restrictions of the pandemic in the rearview mirror, it can feel exciting and upsetting all at the same time.

understanding the psychological effects of covid

So exciting: Friends! Hugs! Live events!

So upsetting: Anxiety. Stress. 600,000+ deaths.

In therapy, we call this the dialectic: when two seemingly conflicting truths exist at the same time.

For example, I have heard clients talk about all of these dialectics throughout the pandemic and also experienced some of them myself:

  • Quarantine was both terrifying and relieving. Some people described an exciting pandemic “honeymoon” period while at once knowing that others were sick and dying – and that it could also happen to them.
  • The pandemic brought job loss and financial devastation to many while also presenting the chance for important professional reflection and growth that may have never happened without the forced slow down.
  • Some people decided to make important changes in their lives that will bring them closer to peace and happiness while also being forced to reckon with painful changes in other areas of life.

And now we are facing another dialectic: It is very hard to act or feel like everything is fine even when the experts say it is safe to get back out there. So why is that?

Simply put, we have experienced trauma. The COVID-19 pandemic has combined the threat of physical harm (“I could get sick and die.”) with heightened psychological vigilance (the 24-hour news cycle, constant changes to the rules and recommendations, worry about getting others sick, missed events, lack of closure, grief). Taking precautions like social distancing, masking, and immunization helped keep us safe, but it also meant being on guard all of the time. In addition to the pandemic, we also collectively felt stress from natural disasters, racial injustice and human rights violations, political turmoil, and police and community violence.

If you don’t quite feel like yourself, rest assured there is a good reason for that. Brain fog is a common symptom of chronic stress, and “chronically stressful” is an apt description for the circumstances of the past year. Under threatening conditions, the brain gets hijacked by stress. Then hormones like adrenaline flood the body and the nervous system goes into what is commonly known as fight, flight, or freeze to help keep the body safe. It becomes difficult to concentrate, reason, and have a clear sense of time and perspective when we are on high alert at all times waiting for something bad to happen. This is brain fog. Another common symptom is disorientation, especially under ambiguous circumstances. Although the virus is receding, there will be no hard and clear end to it, and that type of uncertainty increases anxiety even more.

Remember that you have lived through a series of rapid changes following a very abrupt shutdown. If you are feeling more upset than excited and struggling to return to “normal,” gently consider the following tips for recovery:

  1. Get organized. Show yourself compassion by using a calendar to track plans and tasks and set reminder alarms. Carving out a little more time than usual for daily tasks will increase the effectiveness of your work and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  2. Leave your home. You may be isolating yourself after following recommendations to physically distance. Question any notion that you are better off alone as that is likely anxiety speaking and not a rational thought. Start by establishing a simple routine for going outside, make eye contact, run errands, and be around other people with increasing frequency.
  3. Move your body. Movement creates new neural pathways that can help your brain get through mental blocks and also helps rid the body of stress hormones. This is particularly true with movement that engages both sides of the body in an alternating, repetitive motion. Take a walk, hop on a bike, or row a boat to help you process the big emotions of this new reality.
  4. Humans recover best together. Your relationships may have changed over the past year, and that is ok. Conversations with just one trusted person about the highs and lows of your experience can help calm your nervous system, reintroduce a sense of lightness and safety, and move you toward feeling and functioning better.

If you are struggling more now than earlier in the pandemic, you are not alone. This is trauma, and it takes time to get back into your body, calm the nerves, and make sense of it. Accepting the dialectic of the present moment – that it is indeed both exciting and upsetting at once – can get you feeling more like yourself again.

Sarah Souder Johnson, M.Ed., LPCC is a therapist at Sentier Psychotherapy in St. Paul, Minnesota

I’m Anxious About My Future

It is very normal to feel anxious about the future. For one thing, the future brings lots of uncertainty, which can be anxiety provoking in itself. Also, when thinking about the future, there are big decisions to make such as whether or not to go to college, take a gap year, enter the workforce, etc. Maybe you haven’t made these decisions yet and that’s okay. Some people put pressure on themselves about these decisions and/or get pressure from outside sources such as teachers and parents. Maybe you have gotten the message that you need to know what you want to do RIGHT NOW, and that what you choose you will be stuck with until you retire. That’s a lot of pressure! No wonder you are anxious if this is how the future feels to you.is my teen suffering from anxiety

Future decisions are not set in stone. You can take your time to make up your mind and can then make changes along the way. Some people change their major in college numerous times. Some people go to school for one thing and end up doing something else. Some people have a career for a while and then change careers later in life. All of this is okay. While thinking about the future is scary, taking time to plan out the future might decrease anxiety because it decreases uncertainty. And be ready for the curves or changes of heart that come along with being human. We don’t always know how things are going to be, or how we are going to feel. There is not a “right” way, as we are all different.

I also see young people worry about the future because they think if they take a “misstep” their dreams will unravel. For example, they think they need to get all As or they will not get to have the future they want (or the future others want for them). Again, no wonder you feel anxious if you are being given the message that one B will ruin your future. It’s okay to not get all As. Many people who did not get all As in school go on to have very successful careers. I’m not saying don’t try in school. I’m just saying that you don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself.

what decision making actually looks like

Or maybe you are anxious for the future because it is such a big change (like those of you who are about to graduate high school, go off to college, or enter the workforce). Other people feel nervous about these transitions, too. You are not alone. Think about other times you have gone through a transition, like the transition from middle school to high school. Remind yourself you were able to get through it.

In summary, here are the strategies I have detailed to reduce worry about future:

  1. Remind yourself that decisions are not set in stone; life is fluid and ever changing. It is okay to change your mind.
  2. Make a plan, so that you know your next step. Remember, plans can change. This is a normal part of life and helps us understand ourselves better!
  3. Do your best to put less pressure on yourself!
  4. Remember other transitions you have gone through in your life that turned out okay. Think positive thoughts!

There are many reasons why thinking about the future is difficult. What has helped you in managing your anxiety about the future?

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Andrea Schroeder, MS, LPCC, LPC

I Don’t Agree With My Teen

Mood swings. Fighting. Slammed doors. The silent treatment. Eye rolling.

Parents of teenagers often come to our office worried and frustrated about all of these things. The teenage years can be hard, and full of so many changes. And communicating with your teen during that time can seem even harder! Do you feel like conversations with your teen often end up in a blowout argument…one that nobody wins?

These communication struggles during the teenage years are to be expected. Your teen is exploring their own identity and is constantly “testing the waters” to see what they think and feel about an issue or experience. But, disagreements and fighting can be exhausting and often lead both sides to feel defeated. An important part of making these disagreements a little more bearable and more effective is validation.

Validating your teen, or anyone for that matter, does not mean you agree with their choices, opinion, or behaviors. It does mean that you understand what they feel and recognize why emotion might be coming up for them. Validation sends the message that it is okay to experience that emotion, which actually makes teens feel safe to be vulnerable with you. Vulnerability leads to greater honesty and openness.

teen counseling minnesota

Here are some practical steps you can take when you and your teen aren’t seeing eye to eye:

  1. Give your teen your full attention. Try to avoid drafting an email or watching TV as you and your teen are talking. Close your laptop, turn off the TV, and physically turn your body towards your teen so they know you see and hear them fully. If you can’t at that moment, be honest, and then find a time you can both come back and be fully present.
  2. Demonstrate understanding. You don’t have to agree with your teen to understand where they are coming from. Try something like, “It makes sense that you are angry…” Perhaps there are other things that have gone on in their day which are increasing their stress and anxiety. You can likely relate to this.
  3. Look for areas of compromise. Of course, there are going to be some non-negotiables with your teen. Communicate expectations and boundaries directly and clearly and then see where you can both find some small areas of compromise to work toward a solution. Be okay with solving problems “half-way” and continuing to work on them.
  4. Remember it’s okay to take a “time out.” Once emotions are heated to a certain level, no one can give their full attention to the other. This is when parents and teens often spiral into even bigger arguments and greater misunderstanding. Taking a time out allows for you and your teen to calm and soothe big emotions. Be sure to schedule a time to come back to the issue so as not to avoid the conflict or issue at hand. This can sometimes be further invalidating if your teen perceives you have “just forgotten” about something that is important to them. This is something we hear from teens in therapy a lot.
  5. Avoid blaming. The minute a teen hears “It’s all my fault”, whether you explicitly say this or not, they will likely shut down. Blaming creates a sense of shame and can spiral your teen into negative thoughts about themselves, which makes it almost impossible to see solutions or areas of growth.
  6. End on a strength. Do your best to end these hard conversations by pointing out some way you can see your teen is trying. Did they stay on the couch and talk versus going to their room and slamming the door? Recognize that and acknowledge it.

As humans, we are more likely to change when we feel like we CAN. Pointing out areas of growth and strength does not excuse an unwanted behavior, but actually encourages your teen to keep trying.


Hang in there. Effective communication is difficult and exhausting at times. It takes practice.

Do you have any strategies you use that have been helpful during those tough teenage arguments? We’d love to hear from you!

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Tana Welter, MSW, LICSW.

How to Help Your Child Socially Re-Engage After Covid Isolation

How to Help Your Child Socially Re-Engage After Covid Isolation

Let’s face it. This last year has been rough! Rough on parents. Rough on families. Rough on children. Our “normal” lives were turned upside down. We have intentionally isolated ourselves and our children. Seeing friends, having playdates, and attending social gatherings were all put on hold. School and work were halted, causing a huge change in routines, expectations, and life as we knew it. Many children spent their days at home; spending hours on screens doing online learning, and then playing video games until bedtime. This past year has not only caused an insurmountable amount of stress and anxiety in children and families, but also extreme isolation.

child going back to school after covid

As the Covid numbers begin to go down and the vaccine rates begin to go up, what will life look like for our families? And more importantly, how will our children respond to breaking out of the isolation that has become so normal, and transitioning back to real life? Many predict that it won’t be easy. Here is what is expected:

  • Children may be nervous and worried to return to school.
  • Children may be reluctant to re-engage with friends or in activities outside of the home.
  • Children may prefer to stay at home, and on their screens.
  • Children may experience anxiety, anger and/ or sadness as a response to the transition.

What can parents do to help their child with the transition?

  1. Validate their feelings. It’s been hard and it’s going to be hard. Allow space for your child to express that. Validate and normalize their concerns, fears, and anxieties. You don’t have to “fix it,” just listen and validate what they are feeling. Offer your love and support, and let them know you will be there along the way.
  2. Re-build their confidence in engaging in social interactions. Remind your child of past experiences in which they overcame. For example, the time when they were nervous to start soccer/ballet/kindergarten but pushed through and ended up enjoying it. Or the time when they went to the park and made a new friend. A “you can do this” or “you got this” can go a long way.
  3. Prepare them for what’s to come. Whether it is returning to school or going to see a friend at the playground, prepare the child with what is expected to happen. Discuss what the experience might be like and how they might feel. Answer their questions in the best way you can. This creates feelings of safety and security.
  4. Provide opportunities to socially re-engage. Take baby steps if needed. For example, rather than attend a group gathering, schedule a one on one playdate for a short period of time. Ease the child back into social interactions. Encourage your child to get outside, to play with a friend. Ask them to come up with ways to socialize with others. Do they want to have a friend over? Do they want to play a sport? Have them create a list of ideas. And remember, holding off on socializing may just result in more anxiety and less confidence in the future.
  5. Take time to breathe and de-stress. This is an important step. Don’t skip it. It is important to do with your child (and without!). If you are less stressed, it helps your child to be less stressed. In addition, de-stressing with your child is teaching them the important skills of self regulation and self care. Explain the purpose to your child and practice it with them. Start with getting into a quiet, comfortable space with your child. You may want to play soothing music. Lay down flat on your back. Place your hands on your belly so you can feel your breath. Slowly breathe in and out, and feel your body relaxing. Take a few minutes to just be. We all need a little calm in such a wild world.

What did I miss? What else might kids need during this transition back to the world “after” Covid?

Blog written by Jaime Hughes, M.S.W, LICSW, Child Therapist.

My Spring Break Was Cancelled 2021

So your spring break was cancelled. Possibly for the second time.

The first lockdown in Minnesota was in March 2020, right around spring break time. And experts still advise against travel. But you definitely deserve a break.

Here are some ideas to make the best of your spring break 2021:

Travel virtually

Here is a list of virtual tours that you can do of museums, landmarks, national parks, and more. https://www.globotreks.com/tips/best-virtual-tours-world/

If you virtually travel abroad, really get into the experience by cooking some of what would be local cuisine.

Download the World Walking app

Take a walk somewhere local but be transported to someplace else through virtual tours of places all around the world.

Do a scavenger hunt

Download the Let’s Roam app and do scavenger hunts in Minneapolis or St. Paul with friends.

Go on a staycation

Get creative here! You can create a paradise at home!

Get into your bathing suit, put up pictures of beaches, lay on a towel in your living room, decorate with seashells, play ocean sounds, light an ocean scented candle, and make tropical smoothies.

Find a local event

The Wintertime LED Light Show is happening through the end of March. https://www.exploreminnesota.com/event/wintertime-led-light-show/25017

Start planning your spring break for 2022

Just planning a vacation can bring joy. Create a vision board of your dream vacation on Pinterest. Gather ideas of places you would like to visit and what sights you would like to see!

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: COVID-19 has taken so much from us.

So much that we were looking forward to, like trips, got cancelled. It’s okay to feel mad and disappointed about that.

And you can also make your spring break as fun and as relaxing as possible.

What will you do for spring break 2021? Connect with us and share on Sentier’s Instagram.

My Parent Died: What do I do?

They say it’s the mother (or father) of all losses. Nothing can truly prepare you for it, no matter your age. But when you’re a teen and your parent dies, it can be very disruptive to an otherwise normal process.

In adolescence – that sweet spot between childhood and adulthood – one of the things you naturally do is separate yourself from your parents.

You want to explore your own interests, spend time with your friends, figure out what you believe about life, and make your own decisions. It’s part of human development to want independence and to rely less on your parents!

coping with the loss of a parentAt the same time, parents are usually loosening the reins and giving you space in order to help you transition from the kid they’ve known into the adult you’ll be become.

If a parent dies, you are forced to do without them instead of slowly separating as you become an adult.

If you’ve been in conflict with your parent, which is also totally normal in adolescence, you likely have things left unsaid or undone.

Those “what ifs” and even regrets are all part of grief. It is important to know what normal grief looks like so that you can learn to live in a new way.

Disclaimer: We recognize not everyone has a healthy parent relationship. It’s natural to grieve whether or not you had a close bond with the parent who died.

So, what is “normal grief” for a teenager? There are four big things we tend to see in therapy:

  1. Under Construction. The teen years are all about building, much like a construction project, but when you lose a parent, it can change the whole plan. The solid foundation your parent may have built for you can shatter. If you had an unhealthy or abusive parent relationship, it can feel devastating not to ever get that chance. You might feel like you aren’t sure where to start. Grief becomes part of the (re) building process.
  2. Intense Emotions. Grief is a very complex process that is hard to control. Most teens feel confused and lost when their parent dies. It is common to have symptoms of depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and lots of crying. Anger is a very normal part of the grieving process as is disappointment. Parent loss can lead to uncertainty about who you are without your parent, and many grieving teens struggle with self esteem. It’s common to cycle through emotions, and they generally become less intense over time.
  3. Isolation. Death is hard, and we don’t always do a very good job of talking about it “in public”. Adults can be some of the worst offenders. Some will believe you don’t want or need to talk to an adult about it. Others may try to keep your time together lighthearted since they assume you’re sad the rest of the time or need a “break” from your grief. Unless they have experienced grief themselves, some of your friends are likely so uncomfortable with the idea of death that they avoid it altogether and never bring it up. All of that can lead you to feel alone.
  4. Academic Ups and Downs. It can be hard to focus on school work when you’re grieving. Afterall, you don’t get to choose when you are or aren’t grieving. If your parent had been really involved with your school, you might not yet know how to keep on top of your work on your own. Other teens pour themselves into school work as a distraction and actually perform better in school than before their parent died. Whatever it is for you, maintaining structure in your life by at least getting to school each day and interacting with peers will help in the long run.

how to deal with the loss of a loved oneWhile all normal, none of those things is easy. With support and understanding, you will learn how to function with the new normal in your life.

Peer support groups can be very helpful as can talking about it with a school counselor, clergy person, family member, or therapist.

Grief takes a winding course and it changes over time, just like being a teen, so the most important thing is to try and recognize when you’re grieving and be gentle with yourself.

Ask for what you need from others. While no one can replace your parent, you don’t have to do it alone.

What have you found to be helpful on your healing journey?

Blog written by therapist Sarah Souder-Johnson, MEd, LPCC

Gratitude During COVID Pandemic

Historically, as the calendar year comes to an end, I take time to reflect on the past year. I ask myself: What did I learn? How did I grow? What ways did I struggle? I create a mental Top Ten list of my favorite memories I long to hold forever.

I pause to honor the difficult memories, too, and consider what’s left to heal. Then, I take those reflections and allow them to help me consider goals for the new year.

As 2020 neared its end, I found myself avoiding that tradition. This past year felt like too much to process properly. I felt stuck. Then, as the great prophet Oprah Winfrey says, I had…

This tradition involves practicing GRATITUDE!!!


Yes. It’s true.  My gratitude practice struggled in 2020.

This year brought heavy grief on a global, national, state, local, and personal level. There was no manual on how to be a mom, partner, friend, daughter, sister, teacher (not self-inflicted), or therapist during a pandemic.

Gratitude is high on my personal values list and typically feels second nature to practice. However, sometimes the things that once felt  easy can feel almost impossible in times of crisis.

As the dumpster fire of 2020 continued to spread, this value was challenged for me. I could always force myself to find something to be grateful for, but the key word here is FORCE. What once felt familiar, was now a struggle. I wasn’t feeling grateful for this pandemic year.  So how can I practice it, if I don’t feel it?

As I processed these thoughts with my best friend, he said, “Thankfulness is a feeling, gratitude is an action.” This brought my second ah-ha moment.  My ACTIONS of gratitude were lacking because I didn’t always FEEL it.  With this revelation, I researched ways to jump start my gratitude actions in 2021:

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”
Henri Frederic Amiel

  1. Keep a gratitude journal.
  2. Consider the small things; they add up.
  3. Complete a random act of kindness.
  4. Take 2 min to think about someone who inspires you.
  5. Say it out loud: Tell someone you love something you are grateful for. Tell them you love them while you’re at it too.
  6. Write a thank you note to someone.
  7. Volunteer your time for a cause you are passionate about.
  8. Create a gratitude jar.  Write the items you’re thankful for and place them in a jar, read as needed.
  9. Create a piece of art to represent something you are thankful for.
  10. Build routine: pick one consistent time of the day to practice.

If you have also struggled to feel thankful this year in the midst of grief and loss, consider trying one of these action steps to increase your gratefulness. What other ways do you practice gratitude?

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Alyssa Haggerty

Home for the Holidays… Still.

santa with face mask

It was great to see how creative families were in making Halloween an exciting holiday, even with COVID-19 restrictions. There were candy chutes, scavenger hunts, and small get-togethers with safe “pods” of people.

With winter holidays approaching, feelings of disappointment might be coming up because you can’t see family or do certain traditions.

Many of you have also been home for the past nine months, which means coming home for the holidays just isn’t the same. It is important to acknowledge that loss and feelings of disappointment. It is also important to try and embrace the current situation.

Just because the holiday season looks different this year, doesn’t mean it can’t have the usual holiday cheer! And hey, you might even create a new tradition!

things to do for christmas

I have 14 ideas for you on how to have a safe and fun holiday this season:

  1. Have a virtual ugly sweater party. You can make DIY ugly sweaters or if crafting is not up your alley, there are many available for purchase online. At your virtual party you can vote on who is the “ugliest.”
  2. Do a Secret Santa gift exchange. You can draw names virtually using a website such as drawnames.com. Deliver gifts secretly and follow social distancing by dropping them off on the giftee’s doorstep or mail the gift anonymously.
  3. Have a virtual family dinner. The holidays are often a time to get together and enjoy a big meal. Before the holiday dinner share recipes or do driveway drop offs so the family favorite dishes can be enjoyed. Share the meal or dessert together via Zoom.
  4. Watch your favorite holiday movies. You can still watch your favorite holiday movies! If you want you can discuss them with your friends and family while you watch using Teleparty.
  5. Bake cookies. Baking cookies is always a classic. Families often have their own traditions around baking cookies for the holidays. This year you could bake them together virtually and deliver them to friends and family.
  6. Go to the St. Paul Winter Carnival. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is happening this year with COVID-19 restrictions.
  7. Go to the GLOW Holiday Festival. The Minnesota State Fairgrounds is having a drive-thru event that will include a light display, State Fair food court, and more.
  8. Go to a drive-thru light display. Severs Holiday Lights (Shakopee, MN), Christmas in Color (Shakopee, MN), Bentlyville (Duluth, MN), Sleepy Eye in Motion (Sleepy Eye, MN), Sam’s Christmas Village (Somerset, WI) and Christmas Village (Chippewa Falls, WI) are having drive-thru light displays this year. Get everyone a warm beverage, load up the car, put on holiday music, and enjoy a cozy ride in the car.
  9. Look at light displays in residential neighborhoods. Many houses in the Twin Cities have impressive light displays. Here is a 2020 light display guide.
  10. Attend an outdoor/virtual Holiday Market. Holiday markets are great ways to check out goods from local vendors. You can get gifts for everyone on your list. If visiting in person, don’t forget to wear your mask.
  11. Attend a virtual event. Holidazzle has gone virtual this year. Check out the link for more information: https://www.holidazzle.com/
  12. Check out Gingerbread Wonderland at the Norway House. This exhibit of elaborate gingerbread houses is available to see in-person by appointment from November 6-January 2 or virtually beginning December 6.
  13. See a play. The Ordway and the Guthrie are having virtual performances this year.
  14. Embrace Hygge. Hygge is a defining characteristic of Danish culture that means: a quality of coziness that results in feelings of contentment and well-being. Read more to capture this feeling in your life: https://www.countryliving.com/life/a41187/what-is-hygge-things-to-know-about-the-danish-lifestyle-trend/

christmas lights st paul

There are many creative ways to make the best of the holidays this year. What ideas do you have?

Blog was written by therapist, Andrea Schroeder, MS, LPCC

College Students and COVID-19

covid-19 memeTo say that it is a weird year for college students is an understatement.

When I think of college, I think of it being a time to meet new people and “find yourself.” I think of busy cafeterias and full lecture halls. This year schools look a lot different.

Some schools are fully online, while others are doing in-person classes with restrictions, and others are doing a hybrid model. Some students are choosing to defer their enrollment altogether because none of these options seem desirable.

College students know they won’t get the typical college experience because of the pandemic and want to wait to attend school until they can.

I remember my first night of college. My wing had a “wing event” where all my hallmates went to get ice cream at Sonic together. Around October there was an event in which all organizations on campus set up booths and you could walk around and see what interested you. I signed up for Psychology Club. Events such as these are online or cancelled this year, which makes it more difficult to try new things and meet new people.

how to deal with covid-19 in college

Whether your classes are virtual, in-person, or you decided to defer a year, you are undoubtedly experiencing grief. Grief does not just occur when there is a loss of a loved one.

People have feelings of grief when life goes differently than they envisioned or there is a loss of any kind. There are so many losses when it comes to COVID. School is different, sports are cancelled, events have been called off, we can’t see friends, etc.

Fortunately, something that helps with grief is gratitude. Since it’s November, expressing gratitude often happens if not personally, at a family holiday or tradition.  Sometimes it can be hard to think of something that you are grateful for, so here are some tips to start your gratitude practice.

Gratitude Tips:

  1. Write down three things that you are grateful for each day
  2. Let people in your life know what you appreciate about them
  3. Make a collage of things you are grateful for; engage someone in your bubble to clip magazines together!
  4. Try to think of the positives in negative situations (eg. being able to stay connected with friends and family through virtual get-togethers)
  5. Make a gratitude practice part of your routine by thinking about what you are grateful for at the same time every day (such as meal time or before bed)
  6. Post what you are grateful for on social media
  7. Expressing gratitude is not intended to minimize your feelings of anxiety, sadness, etc. You can feel your feelings AND be grateful for something.

COVID is hard and it has taken and will take a lot away from us. Despite this, what is something you can find to be grateful for?

Also see Preventing Social Isolation to Protect Our Mental Health

Blog written by Andrea Schroeder, MS, LPCC, therapist at Sentier Psychotherapy

Will Seasonal Affective Disorder Arrive Early During COVID?

Winter… ready or not, here it comes!

With winter comes beautiful snow falls, cozy sweaters, and warm cups of cocoa around the fireplace. But let’s be real, winters can also be long, dark, and take a toll on our mental health.

People often describe getting “winter blues,” also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, and experiencing feelings of sadness, changes in mood, low energy, and difficulty sleeping. In addition to the change in season, the uncertainty that comes with the Coronavirus pandemic might add stress and have negative impacts on our health, schooling, work-life balance, and ability to get a good night’s sleep.

sunshine and your health

With this in mind, now is the time to begin preparing ourselves for the effects of these seasonal changes and continued social isolation related to Covid-19 in the winter months. Ways to fight against symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  • Get as much outdoor time and sunlight as possible
  • Find creative ways to stay connected with loved ones
  • Exercise
  • Practice good sleep hygiene

Another way to help manage “winter blues” and increased stressors, is taking the right vitamins and supplements. Vitamin D is sometimes known as “the sunshine vitamin” due to its production in the body in response to sunlight. Vitamin D helps our immune system fight off disease and builds healthy bones. But did you know, vitamin D is also linked to improved mood and reducing symptoms related to depression?

hello sunshine

Vitamin D and Depression

Researchers have found links between vitamin D deficiencies and increased levels of anxiety and depression. Studies show that individuals taking vitamin D reported a decrease in their depression. Because increasing your sun exposure during the winter months is difficult, taking a vitamin D supplement may be a healthy alternative to getting that needed dose of sunshine. Vitamin D can also be found in foods such as:

  • fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
  • egg yolks
  • cheese
  • beef liver
  • mushrooms
  • fortified milk
  • fortified cereals and juices


vitamin d supplements

Can Vitamin D Supplements Help Fight Depression?

Health professionals recommend taking magnesium along with your vitamin D to help support your body in absorbing the vitamin and receiving its full benefits. Taking vitamin D and magnesium supplements are best paired with other practices, such as those listed above, to help treat depression.

When considering taking vitamin D and magnesium, be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure you take the correct amount and consider all potential effects to your individual health.

How do you plan to combat winter blues? Do you take any vitamins or supplements that are helpful for your mood and overall health?

This blog was written by Sentier therapist, Tana Welter, MSW

Connect with us on social media and tell us. We’d love to hear from you.

Virtual School Survival Kit for 2020

school post covid-19

The school year is underway, and as expected, it has been hard! Whether you have sent your kiddos back to school in person, or are trying distance learning, this school year has been unlike any year before.

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that will make this virtual learning school year completely pain-free but here a few tools that could help:

  1. Set up a “school space”
  2. Back to school shopping.
  3. Set your child up for success.
  4. Emotions chart
  5. Patience

Set up a “school space”
There’s no need to search through Pinterest for hours on how to set up the ideal remote learning environment and create a space that is designated just for school time. This allows your kiddo to “go to school”/get in the mindset of school and be able to leave the stress of school at the end of their work periods. Let your kid have some choice over what goes into the space, maybe they get to pick out which chair they want, the headphones they use for their zoom calls, or a picture on the wall. This could help them get excited for an unexpected school year.

Back to school shopping.

If you haven’t already and it is in your budget, go back to school shopping. This could be done virtually (yay for online shopping!) or masked up at the store. Back to school shopping is a tradition in many families and may help your child feel some sense of normalcy about returning to school. This will also encourage your child to “get ready” for school each day, which is important so your child can feel their best when school starts.

Set your child up for success.

As we have all learned over the past several months, sitting in front of a long zoom call can be hard. Support you kiddo in staying regulated by setting them up with some tools.

  • Yoga ball or Chair band. Sitting still is hard work, giving your child a way to move their body while they work online can support them in staying engaged. For a list of options check out hobbr.com.
  • Play-Doh/putty. Having something to move in your hands can make listening a lot easier. Consider some Play-Doh or putty for your child to work with while they listen in their school meetings.
  • Gum and crunch snacks. Gum can support kids in staying regulated and focused. An alternative if you are worried about where the gum might end up is crunchy snacks! Try veggie straws or carrot sticks.

chair band for kids  kids yoga ball

Emotions chart.

Consider hanging an emotion chart somewhere in your child’s school space. From the challenges of online learning to complications with internet connection speeds, this year is going to bring up a lot of emotions and children don’t always have the words to express these. Support them in their social and emotional learning as well as their academics! With a quick google search you can find all sorts of different feelings charts.

emotions chart


Have patience with your child, your child’s teacher, and most importantly with yourself. This is hard on everyone! Get extra support for yourself and your child(ren) when needed.

What are you doing to make this school year a success for yourself and your child?

Blog written by Annalise John, MSW, LICSW

Home/About this blog

Families are our passion! Sentier Psychotherapy is a group of therapists in St. Paul, MN who work with all ages of clients. We all write entries and respond to comments that you leave us.  We use this blog to share parenting tips, information about family therapy and adolescent/teen counseling, and many other things. Much of this blog is dedicated to teenagers and parenting teenagers because we spend a great deal of time helping teens and families of teens. We typically write about topics that can’t be ignored in our practice. We can’t ignore these topics because many of you come to us to discuss these issues.

Please check back periodically if these topics are of interest to you. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the topics I write about or requests that you might have for our next blog post. Please email me directly if you have a subject area that you would like me to blog about: msigmon[at]sentiertherapy[dot]com

Megan Sigmon-Olsen, M.S.W., LICSW
670 South Cleveland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55116


Sentier Psychotherapy Stillwater MN

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