Ahh, the good ole’ adolescents! This blog has been long overdue for me and I am really excited to write about the ways I think adults can be better at supporting the voice and autonomy of adolescents. You might be thinking, why would I propose such a thing!? Well, let me explain. Aside from working with adolescents in my private practice, I am also a contracted therapist at a middle school. This has allowed me to be a guest in the adolescent world and during my stay I have learned a lot from their perspectives.

As their guest, I noticed that in some shape or form adolescents commonly believe that adults don’t understand, assume negative things about them, and do not provide them with an opportunity to explain. I wanted to bring awareness to these concerns because they were voiced frequently. I felt a responsibility to bring some insight to the adolescent world in order to spark change. These concerns are a great topic of exploration because they can be learning experiences for us adults. For the remainder of the blog, I am going to discuss my take on why adolescents may come to these conclusions and how as adults we can be better.

Let’s begin with the idea that adults do not understand. You might be thinking, “But I do understand! I have been there before!”. If you are thinking this, well frankly I think that is where the problem begins. One of the philosophies I have carried as a therapist is to never assume anything about a client. If I assume that I know, not only does this reduce my curiosity but it also places me in a place where I cannot learn any further. As adults, I think we can be better at practicing our curiosity with adolescents. I say this because we can assume a lot about what they go through since we have lived through it before. But the thing is, we know the adolescent stage through our perception only. While similar events happen to all adolescents, there are unique events as well as cultural, gender, and generational factors that shape one’s experience. Everyone experiences adolescence differently and I would challenge adults to learn more about the perspective of adolescents.

One of the best things I practice in my work with adolescents is that I allow them to teach me. I think more adults should make an effort to learn from adolescents rather than give them lessons all the time. I suspect adolescents feel like adults do not understand because of the way we show our expertise. I’m thinking of the times adults minimize the problems of adolescents. I do believe that when adults do this, it comes out of a helping nature. We understand that what happens in adolescence is not the end of the world. But guess what!? Adolescents do not have that understanding yet. They only know what they have lived and developmentally, they have not learned how to manage intense emotions. So when adults say things like “Get over it” or “There are people with worse problems” we place ourselves in a position of not fully understanding. Such statements can show a lack of empathy towards what the adolescent feels and what is important to them.

Moving on to the second most common concern that I noticed. Adolescents often speak about adults assuming negative things about them. You might be thinking, “Yeah, with good reason!”. And yes, while this can be true, what happens when it is not? What about the times adolescents are telling the truth but an adult doesn’t believe them? This is a crappy feeling for them and it makes them want to act out even more out of frustration. I understand how sometimes adolescents do not help their case. They truly can make it tough for adults to trust them. But I also think it’s hard out here for a teen and I think adults forget that. In my opinion, there are a lot of factors that influence adults to assume negatively about adolescents. I particularly would like to focus on factors that we might be unaware of.

Let’s think about the stereotypes and labels tied to an adolescent. When we think of the word adolescent, we think of words like impulsive, angry, mean, troublemaker, and emotional. These words not only place a premeditated belief in our minds but it also influences many to treat adolescents accordingly. As a result, adolescents becomes boxed in. Labels are dangerous because they have the power to heavily influence an adolescent. It also increases the chances for assumptions. And again, while some of the labels might hold some truth, adolescents are much more than these words. Adolescents can also be lovely, kind, generous, thoughtful, and reasonable. Language becomes very important when describing adolescents and I encourage adults to be mindful of their words. If you think about it, language creates our reality. If we often believe someone is up to no good, then we will not only begin expecting for them to act in such a way but we also start looking for our evidence. 

Another way adults can work on assumptions is by seeing adolescents in a better light. John Gottman has a term called “Negative Sentiment Override” in his work with couples which basically means that a partner sees their relationship in a negative lens due to the way problems are internalized. I think adults have a lot of negative sentiment override with adolescents, especially when there are behavior concerns involved. I would encourage adults to work on this negative lens. Adolescents are not perfect and can be frustrating. But, so can adults. Give an adolescent the space to explain where they came from rather than assume negatively.  

This brings me to the third most common concern. Adolescents also often voiced feeling as though adults hardly provided them with the opportunity to explain. In their perception, they are more likely to be met with some sort of punishment or accusation first. This made me think of the times adults are not perfect and express their worry, frustration, fear, sadness, anger, and need to protect in a way that doesn’t allow an adolescent to have a voice. I like to think that most adults mean well in such situations, so I kept thinking to myself what may contribute to this feeling.

Here is what I came up with. The adult and adolescent relationship is a hierarchical one. As adults, we are on top of the hierarchy which means the adult and adolescent relationship is also one of a power struggle. In my opinion, adults need to start being more mindful of the power they have over adolescents based on this hierarchical system our society lives by. I do want to make it clear that when I make this point, I am not saying that adults should never use their hierarchical position. It will be needed during times of discipline, protection, and guidance. What I am saying is that our position of authority should not make an adolescent feel like they cannot explain or have a voice because that can make them feel really small.

I would encourage adults to steer away from phrases like “because I said so”, “because I am the adult”, or “you do what I say when I say it”. Such statements ingrain the belief that an adult is superior over a child in a negative manner. It gives the message that they are not worth an explanation or conversation. Taking the time to have a conversation uplifts the adolescent into a place of worth and is crucial to any adult and adolescent relationship.

While this blog only covered the areas of concerns that were brought to my attention, I am hoping this inspires adults to reflect on their actions and whether or not they require adjustments. As a family therapist, I’ve been a witness to the frustration of both sides. I know what misunderstandings and miscommunication can do to the relationship of an adult and adolescent.  But more importantly, I hope this goal initiates conversations that help bridge adults and adolescents closer to a place where they can feel as though they are part of the same team. 

As mentioned earlier, I believe this is a great topic of conversation. Please let me know your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or send me an email at jessica@yourtherapyhouston.com 



“How long is therapy going to last?” seems to be the magic question during my phone consultations. Naturally, my curiosity wondered about the factors that could influence the popularity of this question. I was inspired to process my thoughts in my blog and hopefully by the end I’ll be able to provide a satisfying answer to anyone wondering the answer to this question.    

My first thought was that I think a big factor that influences such question is our preference to know how much of our time, effort, and/or money we are about to invest ahead of time. For instance, I had a flashback to grad school. I remembered how knowing the length of my graduate program helped me prepare a lot. I knew that for 3 years I was going to dedicate myself to school. I knew that for one year I needed to rearrange my life because I was going to stop working full time to focus on my internship. Quantifying the length of my program also helped me when the school workload became really difficult. Being able to say “one more year or “two more semesters” really pushed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that gave me comfort. I think when people ask “How long is therapy going to last?”, they are seeking for a similar comfort. They want to know when their situation will be better. When they, too, will see the light in their tunnel.

But what about the goals that we unfortunately cannot quantify? Sometimes I wonder if our need for instant gratification is a factor that not only influences our need to know “How long?” but that can also negatively affect our experience when the comfort of quantifying an end time is not possible. An example outside of therapy that came to mind was fitness goals. I remember really struggling when I first started working out. I would become frustrated because my progress was not very visible even though I was working my ass off. My frustration then increased because I couldn’t quantify how much longer until I saw progress or met my goals like I could with grad school. I was unfortunately more focused on how much longer instead of appreciating the journey process.

One of the biggest lessons I learned with this experience that I think relates to therapy was to understand that there is not a magic pill that speeds up the process of reaching an improved lifestyle. When I work out and make healthier food choices I am literally changing my life and the way I live. Therapy is similar. When someone goes to therapy, they are changing their life. Someone is learning and growing. They are adjusting their lenses of viewing their world. They are enhancing their way of expression. They are improving the quality of their relationship with themselves and others. Because of this, I have a hard time quantifying therapy (unless it is through an EAP program, brief therapy, or mandated of course). You see, everyone has a different definition of success regarding their goals. When and how someone reaches that version of success also differs. So, it makes it really hard to answer how long therapy takes to achieve someone’s goals. 

Sometimes I do wish that I had a quantified number to provide comfort to those who have asked, “How long is therapy going to take?” But if I tell anyone what brought you to therapy will be fixed in x amount of sessions I would be lying. Transparency is really important to me, and part of that transparency includes admitting when I do not know the exact answer someone is looking for. The best I could do is provide an estimate. Even then, I think the most truthful answer that I can provide is that therapy may last as long as the person, couple, or family is benefiting from the service. Your quantified number of needed sessions will most certainly depend on your specific goals and whether or not therapy is helping with those goals.  

One thing about therapy that I do feel comfortable guaranteeing, though, is that the journey process will be yours. Although there are similarities between people when experiencing growth such as stepping outside of comfort zones, facing difficult topics, and exploring areas of improvement, the process will be dependent on who you are and your specific needs. Also, as the expert of your life, you will get to decide when the end of therapy should be for you. For some people this has been in a few sessions, others have needed therapy for a few months, and then there’s individuals that have stayed in therapy for years. Whatever the case may be for you, I trust that your expertise will let you know when it is time to terminate just like it told you that it was time to begin therapy. 

Love to all,





So, the goal with creating a blog for my website was for me to connect with my readers. While I do want my blogs to be educational, I also want my blog to be raw and real. I want to be part of the movement that breaks the stigma of what is considered acceptable to talk about. Of what should be shown on the internet or social media.  

The topic of this post is none other than self-care. Now, yes self-care is often talked about and encouraged. But what is not often encouraged to talk about is the personal reasons why we would even need self-care. The times when life is sucky. Then there’s the idea that some people have a near to perfect life, especially the way social media works nowadays. 

I think there can be a dangerous misconstruction about therapists. regarding this topic.  Hell, there are MANY dangerous misconstructions about therapists (I promise we are not that bad). But the particular misconception that I am referring to is the idea that therapists should have life completely figured out because of the nature of our profession. This belief can not only place intense pressure on us but it is so unrealistic and unfair. Therapists are human too and as a human, I felt the need to express my recent struggles with self-care.  

Truth is I forgot what self-care was and I found myself desperately needing it. It’s hard for me to turn my brain off. It’s hard for me to forget about the to-do list. It’s hard for me to say “I’ll leave it for tomorrow”. I’m often in work-mode, and while that is a characteristic of myself that I love, it is something that I need to be careful with if I want to remain sane and mentally healthy. 

I found myself needing a change in routine. I promised myself that today, I was just going to relax and spend my evening doing things that made me happy. I decided to purchase a notebook where I was going to doodle and journal. 

My self-care tonight consisted of doodling, eating Whataburger (#5 with no onions & Dr. P), watching Netflix with my boo, a hot and unrushed shower, and play time with my dog Otis. I have to say that I certainly like this feeling. I’m happy that I choose myself today. More days like these to come. 


Sending light and positive vibrations to all. 



So, why did I decide to be a therapist?

Believe it or not, I used to dislike being asked this question. Not because I didn’t know my answer, but because I thought my response was going to discredit the passion that I felt when compared to other people’s inspirations. You see, I didn’t want to be a therapist because of a specific hardship in my life or because it was what I saw for myself at age 5. (Let’s face it, at that age, all I wanted to be was a home designer or a celebrity stylist. True Story.) But as time passed, I learned to embrace my story because honestly- I know being a therapist is my calling!

My journey towards becoming a therapist began with my interest in Psychology. Ever since I can remember I loved learning about the brain, psychological studies, and the history behind the famous pioneers like Freud, Jung, Pavlov, & Piaget. I loved it so much that I knew I wanted to study Psychology when I started my undergraduate education at the University of Houston. Go Coogs!

But although the interest in Psychology was there, I didn’t exactly know what my options were with this career path. I vividly remember having an “Oh, shit” moment during orientation. I thought to myself, “Well, what does one do with a Psychology degree when they graduate?” I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t second guess my choice. I then thought to myself, “Well, I have to finish my basics before I take courses related to my major. Let’s do that first and then make a change if needed.” Looking back, I very much would call this “a plan without a plan” haha.

I took sociology and philosophy courses because they fit my required curriculum for Psychology. The classes were very interesting but it didn’t spark anything for me. Another semester I ended up taking a communication course and explored the possibility of becoming a speech therapist. I think at this point in my life, I knew that I wanted to help people but I didn’t know in what capacity. I remember thinking long and hard about making the switch, but my love for psychology didn’t allow me to be 100% sure of that decision. So I didn’t make the switch and stayed with my original choice.

Then came the fun part. I learned about social psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, forensic psychology, neuropsychology, etc. Man oh man, was I grateful that I didn’t impulsively act when I second-guessed myself back in orientation. At this point in my journey, I was convinced that I was going to study clinical psychology. I had it all planned out. I was going to apply to the Clinical Psychology program that U of H offered and become a psychologist. In my mind, I was going to help bring awareness to mental health with the help of research. So the logical thing for me at the time was to begin this career path already! I was so excited. I started working as a research assistant with the Clinical Psychology Program. Soon after that I also began working at the Medical Center as a data collector and assisted with a couple of research studies. I was literally preparing for something I just knew was going to happen.

I kind of laugh at myself sometimes. I wish I could portray how convinced I was that this was going to be my path. The research experiences were fun and very interesting. I learned a lot, but deep down I found myself not connecting to the people I was interacting with. I realized that my favorite part of gathering data was the times when I was able to have authentic interactions with the participants. I could live without the data entry, the scripts, the protocols. After all, I wanted to help people, not study them. And while research does help people, I wanted to do it in a way that was meaningful to me. I wish I could say that this was the point in my journey where I decided therapy was my calling. But it’s not. I struggled with finding how I was going to use psychology to help people. There was a point where I even considered forensic psychology, but that lasted about 5 minutes.

I’m a big believer in the power of timing. As fate would have it, one of my school projects was to volunteer somewhere and write about psychological aspects. I ended up choosing to volunteer at a foster home. The children absolutely stole my heart. I wasn’t licensed at the time, and while I did not attempt to do therapy, I saw the benefits that meaningful conversations can have in someone’s life. I enjoyed myself so much that I stayed to become a volunteer even after my project was completed. In my time there, I saw the growth in these children. I saw the impact. I saw the change. I loved the connection building aspect of it. I loved the interactions. I was sold. I knew that I was making an impact on someone’s life and that feeling for me, is irreplaceable. This was the moment in my life where I knew that being a therapist is what I wanted to do. I had found the spark I was looking for. Most importantly, I found the manner in which I could help people that brought meaning to my life. 

Although the stories they would share with me were tough, it never overpowered the feeling of being helpful to someone in need. I have a helping nature, and I thought that having a career that enhanced this characteristic of mine would make me happy. I was right. I will always be thankful for them. I still remember their names, faces, and from time to time I wonder how they are. I wish they knew that it was through my connection with them that I found my calling.

I once read an article that brought up the idea of how we sometimes try to force creative ideas, sparks of interest, or inspirations by making ourselves be in that mental space. But if you think about it, the best ideas come randomly. Inspirations cannot be forced. Genuine passion for something cannot be forced. Looking back I think I tried to force my career path. I tried to make myself feel the feeling that I felt while volunteering at the foster home. Being a therapist is something that makes my heart happy and I didn’t try looking for it. The career found me.

And that is how I decided to be a therapist. I probably don’t have the most inspirational story, but I am proud of it because it says a lot about who I am as a person. I explored and experimented until I found my passion. I didn’t settle for a career path that didn’t feel right for me. There were moments where I was lost and it was tempting to stay in my comfort zone but I stayed true to myself and now, I am living the absolute dream. I get to have the honor of being invited to someone’s life to help them find what they are looking for. I’m seriously lucky to do what I love, and there is not a day that I take it for granted.

I hope that my story helps anyone who is confused or stressed about their current career path to find comfort in the unknown. My career path wasn’t well thought out and I started off with a plan that didn’t even come close to what I actually did. And that’s okay. It can be scary out there. But don’t give up, and keep exploring until you find something that you connect with. It’s a beautiful feeling and you WILL KNOW once you find it. 

Peace and love