The Carriage House

Individuals, Couples & Family Therapy

COVID-19 Update
During these uncertain times, our team of therapists are here for you and your family. Teletherapy is now available to ensure your your health and safety.

About Our Group

About Our Group
Lizzie Stevenson is the founder and owner of Stevenson Therapy Services, a group practice located in Denver, Colorado.  Lizzie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who holds a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from the Dominican University of California.  She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Lizzie serves as the Lead Marriage and Family Therapist in the practice.

Lizzie’s practice assists couples to address and resolve relationship issues, communication difficulties, and problems within the family. Lizzie enjoys helping her clients gain insight into their relational patterns, increase emotional expression and develop the skills necessary to communicate and problem-solve with their partners more effectively. She believes that most people are happiest when they are in healthy and supportive relationships. Sessions take place within a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment where each person is treated with equal dignity and respect. All are welcome in the practice, individuals of all genders and orientations, all races, faiths and backgrounds!

How Can We Help?

As licensed therapists, we work with individuals, couples, and families. Our approach to therapy is humanistic, nonjudgemental, and down to earth. Client-centered and solution-focused therapies are used to help people determine and tackle their goals. We approach each individual as an already whole person with the capacity to change no matter what challenges they are experiencing. Change is scary but we believe in the resilience and adaptability of all our clients. Our focus for each client is to work as a team to conquer these fears, regain control and reach full potential. Together, we've got this.

We work with a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues including:
  • Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, Panic, and Phobia
  • Trauma
  • Mood Disorders
  • Substance Abuse, Dependency & Addiction
  • Couples & Family Conflict
  • Life Transition or Crisis
  • Parent/Child Conflict
  • Phase of Life Confusion
  • Grief & Loss
Treatment specialization includes:
  • Marraige and Couples Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Parenting & Co-parenting Support, Consultation, and Therapy
  • Blended Family Therapy
  • Child & Adolescent Therapy
  • EMDR 
  • Group Therapy
  • Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Teletherapy
  • Clinical Supervision


Sacha Lacasse MA, LPC

Clinical Director, Therapist

Sacha LaCasse, Clinical Director of DATG, is a practicing psychotherapist with a Master’s degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University. She is a crisis interventionist and long-time child welfare advocate experienced in dealing with issues such a grief, anxiety, autism, and the LGBTQ challenges.

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Sarah Shrier, LPC

Therapist & Clinical Supervisor

Sarah Shrier is a Licensed Professional Counselor serving clients of all ages in Denver, Colorado. She has experience treating toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults with a myriad of problems, including trauma, anxiety, depression, phobias, panic disorder, grief, and difficulty with life transitions.

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Kiera Rommel, MPS, LCAT, NLC

Therapist, Art Therapist, & Clinical Supervisor, Adolescent Specialist

Kiera Rommel is a licensed Art Therapist who has been practicing with a multitude of populations for over 5 years. She received her Master’s degree in Art Therapy from the School of Visual Arts located in New York City.

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Lyndsey Klemme, MA, LPC, LAC, NCC

Therapist, Addiction Counselor, & Clinical Supervisor, Adolescent Therapist

Lyndsey Klemme is a Licensed Professional, Addiction, and Nationally Certified Counselor in Colorado. Lyndsey’s experience extends to a variety of populations, with specialty in; persons struggling with substance abuse/recovery, LGBTQ, families and/or individuals involved with the court system and child protection programs, military-active and retired, minority populations, teens, and adults 50+.

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Lisa Elsey, MA, LPC

Individual and Family Therapist

Lisa has 25 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of capacities. Modalities include Family Systems, Behavioral, TF-CBT, DBT, Attachment, Anger Management, Play therapy, Mindfulness, Solution-Focused, Trauma Systems Therapy.

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Ben Bombach, MS, MFT

Marriage and Family Therapist

Ben is a humanistic therapist who uses a holistic and client-centered approach to cultivate growth and inspire change in his clients. He is very understanding, easy to talk to and meets people where they are at.

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Heather Iwen, LCSW

Adolescent Therapist & Clinical Supervisor

Heather provides psychotherapy to adolescents and their families with the following issues: PTSD, psychosis, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, substance use, sexual abuse, offense-specific, mood disorders, and personality disorders.

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Rudy Shrier, LPC


Rudy Shrier is a Licensed Professional Therapist who has been practicing with an array of different populations for almost a decade. Rudy received his Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He has since earned the credential of Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and has a pending application to gain the title of National Certified Therapist.

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Maeve McGuinness, LCSW

Adolescent Therapist

Maeve McGuinness David Maeve has worked with adolescents facing a myriad of concerns, including eating disorders, anxiety, ADHD, depression, suicidality, self harming, sexual assault/abuse, trauma, grief, substance use and attachment issues.

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Clinical Interns

Chandler Golden

1st Year Clinical Intern

Chandler graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans in 2019 with a B.S in Psychology and a minor in African American Diaspora Studies. Chandler is a current first year Master’s student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Denver and will graduate in 2021. Chandler has various clinical experience with youth of color and is a registered psychotherapist in the state of Colorado.

Lucy Erickson

2nd Year Clinical Intern

Lucy, registered psychotherapist, graduated from Montana State University in 2018 with a BA in Psychology. She is currently a 2nd year Master’s student studying Counseling Psychology at the University of Denver. She will be graduating in 2020 with an MA in Clinical Mental Health. She has various clinical experience including therapy with children with Autism. She also enjoys working with adolescents and their families, as well as clients of all ages. This is Lucy’s 2nd year with DATG; she has a very warm approach to therapy that helps clients grow and feel supported. Lucy loves the outdoors and has been a skier her whole life!

Rebekah McGlasson

2nd Year Clinical Intern

Rebekah McGlasson is a second year Master’s student at the University of Denver studying Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Adolescent Addictions. She will be graduating in 2020 as a Licensed Professional Counselor. She is also a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of Colorado. Rebekah has experience working with adults with domestic violence, adults struggling with addictions, and kids. The therapeutic relationship is a very important aspect for the therapy process. In order to have that relationship, she approaches therapy with a warm and empathetic manner. Rebekah highlights strengths in her clients as a form of motivation and self-growth. She will provide a caring and supportive environment to help you explore and process challenges that you are facing in your life. When she is not in the office, she enjoys spending her spare time playing with her two Shih-Tzu dogs and watching movies.

Camille Ginsburg

1st Year Clinical Intern

Camille Ginsburg is graduate student completing her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Denver and a registered psychotherapist in the state of Colorado. Camille received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Colorado College. She has experience working with adolescents who have experienced trauma and related mental health problems. Her areas of interest include depression, anxiety, trauma and mental health problems related to the objectification of women and girls.

Child Therapy Services

Play Therapy

APT defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development." Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized Play Therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for: Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma. Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders. Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.

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Parent and Child Therapy

Using behavioral therapy to help strengthen the parent and child relationship by increasing healthy attachment and communication. Behavior therapy for young children is most effective when their parents learn strategies from therapists and use those strategies to manage their children’s behavior. Parents learn to create structure, reinforce good behavior, discourage negative behaviors, provide consistent discipline, and strengthen the relationship with their child through positive communication.

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"Sand tray therapy allows a person to construct his or her own microcosm using miniature toys and colored sand. The scene created acts as a reflection of the person’s own life and allows him or her the opportunity to resolve conflicts, remove obstacles, and gain acceptance of self. Through creative expression, a person in therapy is able to manifest in sand the things they would otherwise not be able to vocalize or address in traditional therapy. The therapist treats the person as whole and healed, knowing that the process of sand tray therapy allows the person to find the answers that are already within them". - GoodTherapy

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Sarah Shrier, LPC - Lead Child Therapist & Clinical Supervisor

Sarah Shrier is a Licensed Professional Counselor serving clients of all ages in Denver, Colorado. She has experience treating toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults with a myriad of problems, including trauma, anxiety, depression, phobias, panic disorder, grief, and difficulty with life transitions. She’s received specialized training in non-directive client-centered Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Sarah has additional training in specialized EMDR, like Group Traumatic Event Protocol (GTEP) and Recent Traumatic Event Protocol (RTEP) which she utilized in treating survivors and family members of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on 2/14/2018. Sarah previously worked as Director of Clinical Training at a nonprofit agency in South Florida where she taught clinicians, teachers, and childcare workers of the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on brain development and physical health.

Rates and Insurance

$130.00-180.00 Individuals & $200.00 Couples & Families

Insurance accepted: Medicaid, Anthem, BCBS Payment Cash, check and all major credit cards accepted for payment. 24 Hour Cancellation Policy * Clinical Intern sliding scale rates available. Please contact us with any questions.

Good Reads

Logan St. Office

  • 948 North Logan Street, Denver, CO, USA
  • The Carriage House Offices

York St. Office

  • 1839 York Street, Denver, CO, USA
  • Denver Adolescent Therapy Group

Cost of Services



    We are living in an unprecedented time that is causing many people around the world to feel anxious, afraid and uncertain about what will come next. It is important to be informed but there is a limit to how much information is helpful and avoiding too much media exposure is an important aspect of self-care and anxiety regulation.  A recent article published in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak discusses the impact of global media exposure on mental health (Garfin, Silver, & Holman, 2020).  There tends to be a spike in stress responses in the midst and the aftermath of threatening events that are associated with increased help-seeking behaviors.  These behaviors may be disproportionate to the present threat that an individual is experiencing and can be harmful to relief efforts due to individuals seeking emergency resources when they are not necessary or panic buying items such as toilet paper and first aid kids which creates a global shortage.  Additionally, the heightened stress responses to media exposure during a collective crisis can lead to long-lasting physical health impacts, particularly cardiovascular disorders, presenting even 3 years after the threatening event has ended (Garfin et al., 2020).  

    Additionally, research has shown that individuals with a lower tolerance for uncertainty are at greater risk for the onset or exacerbation of anxiety-related disorders and other mental health disorders related to the uncertainty (Taha, Matheson, Cronin, & Anisman, 2014).  Currently, there are only predictions for when this pandemic will end and it is highly dependent upon the collective effort to socially distance ourselves.  Therefore, there are many factors of life that are uncertain, from job security to having trust that everyone will do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  For many, the ability to provide for family and pay bills is the line that can create insurmountable stress in addition to the stress of the pandemic and places another layer of uncertainty on individuals.  This is why it is important to develop helpful coping strategies and self-care practices to mitigate the anxiety related to lack of information.  

In times of anxiety, uncertainty, and disruption to our daily norms, it is important to pay attention to and care for ourselves.  This may take many different forms for different people and it is important to respect each others preferred self-care methods.  There is a narrative that has been perpetuated in the wake of this pandemic that with all of the extra time we have due to working from home that we should use it to enhance ourselves by learning a new skill or creating significant change in our lives.  While for some, this may provide a sense of comfort and purpose, others may feel burdened by the pressure to cultivate something new to show for their newfound time. However you decide to spend this time, self-care will be a helpful tool to reduce the depression or anxiety you may be feeling. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself in this time of high stress and uncertainty:

  • Get enough sleep: It can be very difficult to sleep when you are stuck at home and feeling stressed about the ambiguity of what tomorrow will look like.  Maintaining a regular sleep schedule will help create a routine and allow you to feel in control of one aspect of your day.  Pandemic or not, we still need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to function well throughout the day. 

  • Keep yourself moving: Having some form of daily movement is important for both physical and mental health, whether it is a walk or workout in your living room, this can help ease the burden of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders (Chekroud & Trugerman, 2019).  

  • Keep in touch: Social distancing is a necessary step to take to prevent the spread of disease, but it can lead to individuals feeling isolated and disconnected from others, especially those living alone.  Try to keep up with friends and family over the phone or via video chat.  Not only will this help you feel more connected to your social circles but it will have positive health benefits as well. Research shows that the more social connection that you have, the healthier your immune system is (Cohen, Doyle, & Skoner, 1997).  

  • Stay informed but allow yourself to unplug: For essential updates on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website (  There you can find information about the disease, regular updates about the reported cases around the United States, guidelines for how to prevent spreading the disease, and more information on stress responses and coping during the pandemic.  After gathering all the necessary information, take a break from the media and engage in something you enjoy.  


Chekroud, A. M., & Trugerman, A. (2019). The opportunity for exercise to improve population 

mental health. JAMA Psychiatry, 76(11), 1206–1207.

Cohen, S., Doyle, W. & Skoner, D. (1997). Social Ties and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. 

Journal of the American Medical Association, 277, (24), 1940-194

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (n.d.). Retrieved from

Garfin, D. R., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2020). The novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) 

outbreak: Amplification of public health consequences by media exposure. Health Psychology.

Taha, S., Matheson, K., Cronin, T., & Anisman, H. (2014). Intolerance of uncertainty, appraisals, 

coping, and anxiety: The case of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. British Journal of Health 

Psychology, 19(3), 592–605.

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Teens and Stress

By Rebekah McGlasson

Teenagers today face multiple stressors on a daily basis. From school, to friends, to family,

they have stress coming to them from every angle, sometimes it can seem too overwhelming to

handle. Having that much stress in your teenage years, especially at such a chronic level, can

cause severe health problems, both physically and mentally. Our teenage years are so critical for

human development that stress of that amount can cause serious problems that can follow you

into adulthood.

Page and Coutellier (2018) did a study on female and male mice that focused on the amount

of stress they received in their teenage years and how it affected the mice later in their adult

years, specifically anxiety-related behaviors, emotional maturation, and cognitive functioning.

They found that chronic stress during adolescence caused over activation of the amygdala, the

brain system that is responsible for processing emotions and linked to fears and pleasures, which

caused an unregulated emotional response along with heightened anxiety behaviors in adulthood.

(Page & Coutellier, 2018) They also found that stress during adolescence caused impaired

cognitive functioning which sometimes show during adolescent years but often manifests later in

adulthood. Along with this, they found a sex difference where female mice were more resilient

and demonstrated less of an effect on their cognitive functioning in adulthood whereas male mice

had more stress-induced cognitive dysfunction in adulthood. (Page & Coutellier, 2018)

The study shows us that stress has different effects on different people based on different

factors including their age and sex. Stress does not look the same for everyone. Stress can

manifest in different ways but yet everyone who is experiencing chronic stress in their teenage

years are at risk for emotional disorders like depression and anxiety in adulthood.

Since stress is inevitable, especially in high school, here are some ways that teenagers

and parents can help decrease stress and reduce higher risks in adulthood (The American

Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2019):


  • Get enough sleep and have a good sleep routine
  • Exercise and eat regularly
  • Learn relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques)
  • Develop assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings in polite, firm, and not
  • overly aggressive or passive ways: ("I feel angry when you yell at me.”; "Please stop
  • yelling.”)
  • Decrease negative self-talk: challenge negative thoughts - with alternative, neutral, or
  • positive thoughts; "My life will never get better” can be transformed into "I may feel
  • hopeless now, but my life will probably get better if I work at it and get some help.”
  • Take a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening to music, talking to a
  • friend, drawing, writing, or spending time with a pet can reduce stress.


  • Learn and model stress management skills.
  • Support involvement in sports and other pro-social activities.
  • Listen to your teen. For example, in disagreements, when it comes to their mental health,
  • and overall just being a good resource for them to come talk to.


The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2019, January). Stress management

and teens. Retrieved from:


Page, C. E. & Coutellier, L. (2018). Adolescent stress disrupts the maturation of anxiety-related

behaviors and alters the developmental trajectory of the prefrontal cortex in a sex- and

age-specified manner. Neuroscience, 390, 265-277.

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Adolescents face a variety of challenges during their teen years. They have to navigate through the pressures from the outside world while simultaneously meeting parental expectations. In addition to these pressures, teens are also trying to navigate who they are, who their friends are, and all of the various other complexities that come with growth and development. Today’s teens are also experiencing even more difficulties with the fast expansion of social media and technology. These difficulties and pressures take a toll on an adolescent’s mental health. 

Prevalence rates for adolescent depression vary across different countries from 1.3 to 18.2%. In a report of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National, it was reported that at least 1 in 10 adolescents (aged 12 to 17) had experienced a major depressive disorder in the past year in the United States. Adolescents experiencing depression are often at risk of engaging in high-risk behaviors. Furthermore, adolescents experiencing depression are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and even commit an attempt. (Bodden, Stikkelbroek, & Dirksen., 2018). 

Although there are many different avenues to help adolescents navigate through pressures and the resulting emotions, an often overlooked method is teaching adolescents about self-care. Spending time doing regular self-care routines can help with the challenges that adolescents face. Although self-care activities are not full solutions to the problems, they can provide youth with healthy skills to help navigate challenges. Self-care also allows adolescents  to build a level of resilience while also in some cases improving self-esteem. 

There is no right or wrong way to do self-care. It can be anything that makes your teen happy while also supporting their mental, physical, and emotional health. However, if you are struggling to come up with self-care activities here are a few suggestions: 

  1. Disconnect: We’re living in a digital age. Too much social media and screen time has been linked to increased levels of anxiety for teens as well as adults. Taking a bit of time to disconnect and spend quality time either alone or with someone you care about can be a great way to reset. (Cain., 2018)

  2. Meditation/Mindfulness: Taking some time to do meditation can be great for reducing stress and helping to control anxiety (Hudizack., 2018). When starting out, short meditation sessions can often be more effective than longer sessions. There are also mindfulness apps (Calm, Headspace, etc.) that can provide you with guided meditations if you prefer. Meditation can even consist of just taking a few minutes to yourself to take a few deep breaths in order to regain focus and release some stress. 

  3. DIY Spa Day: There’s nothing more relaxing than taking an afternoon to indulge in some self-love. All you need are some bath bombs (if that’s your preference), face masks, your favorite music, and maybe even some relaxing essential oils. Taking the time to pamper yourself and relax can be the perfect way to get re-energized and refreshed. 

  4. Creative Expression: Choose your favorite creative outlet to convey your thoughts and feelings. This could be by journaling, painting, drawing, dancing, or playing music, or anything else that makes you feel inspired. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s perfect. Just take time and allow yourself the space to express yourself!


Bodden, D., Stikkelbroek, Y., & Dirksen, C. (2018). Societal burden of adolescent depression, an overview and cost-of-illness study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 241, 256-262.

Cain, J. (2018). It's Time to Confront Student Mental Health Issues Associated with Smartphones and Social Media. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 82(7), 6862.

Hudziak, J. (2018). 33.4 Meditation and Mental Health. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57(10), S48-S49.

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As the holiday season is finally underway many of us are looking forward to spending time with our loved ones and celebrating togetherness. However, it is worth noting that for some this time of year is marked by feelings of stress and even sadness. For LBGTQ+ youth who have faced rejection or have not come out yet to their families due to fear of rejection, the holidays can feel incredibly difficult. According to Trevor Project Crisis Service Manager Odalis Gonzales “Our busiest times are actually the days before and after the holidays. Young people are considering whether or not to “come out”, are facing isolation or judgment from family, or are unable to go home at all, and these are just a few stressors that our youth may face”.

Studies have shown that LBGTQ+ youth are at greater risk for poor mental health and suicidality than their heterosexual counterparts (Rivers et al., 2018). The CDC also reports that LBGTQ+ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost 3 times the rate and are almost 5 times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their straight peers. Additional research is indicating that suicidality within the LBGTQ+ community is influenced by two interpersonal experiences 1) feeling that one does not belong to meaningful relationship groups and 2) feeling that one is a burden to others (Ingram et al., 2019). Feelings of not belonging and of being burdensome are commonly reported by youth who have experienced extreme bullying as well as other forms of victimization. Youth also expressed experiencing feelings of being a burden when deciding whether or not to come out to friends and family.

We know that all youth need and deserve to feel social, emotionally, and physically safe and supported to live healthy and happy lives. Research by McCormick & Balgride has found that family acceptance is one of the strongest predictors of physical health, mental health, and well-being. LBGTQ+ youth who feel they have accepting families are 8 times less likely to attempt suicide and 6 times less likely to meet depression criteria. These youth have also been found to be less likely to engage in substance abuse and other risky behaviors. This research shows us that while the struggles LBGTQ+ youth are facing are ever-present there all small steps that those closest to them can take to lessen their struggles and to provide a safe space. Here are some tips for how to supportively engage with the LBGTQ youth in your life this holiday season:

  • Treat an LBGTQ+ person as you would treat anyone else in your family
  • Don’t ask your LBGTQ+ family member to act a certain way. Allow them the space to be their authentic selves.
  • If your LBGTQ+ family member is bringing a partner, include them in your family traditions.
  • If you are unsure of your family members' pronouns, respectfully ask in private and make an effort to use those pronouns.

After the holiday festivities pass, be sure to follow up with them to check-in, tell them how happy you were to spend time with them.

If you are LBGTQ+ and find yourself needing immediate help or just a little extra support this holiday season resources are available at

By: Chandler Golden

Chandler is a 1st-year master’s student completing her degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Denver and a registered psychotherapist in the state of Colorado. Chandler received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in African American Diaspora Studies at the Xavier University of Louisiana. She has experience working with at-risk youth who have experienced trauma and mental health difficulties. Chandler’s areas of interest include mental health concerns within low-income communities of color, depression in adolescents, art therapy, as well as trauma and other related mental health issues. Chandler is currently interning with the Denver Adolescent Therapy Group at Stevenson Therapy Services.


Ingram, K., Mintz, S., Hartley, C., Valido, A., Espelage, D., & Wyman, P. (2019). Predictors of Suicidal Ideation and Attempts among LGBTQ Adolescents: The Roles of Help-seeking Beliefs, Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Drug Use. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(9), 2443-2455.

McCormick, A., & Baldridge, S. (2019). Family Acceptance and Faith: Understanding the Acceptance Processes of Parents of LGBTQ Youth. Social Work and Christianity : Journal of the National Association of Christians in Social Work., 46(1), 32.

Rivers, I., Gonzalez C., Nodin N., Peel E., & Tyler A. (2018). LGBT people and suicidality in youth: A qualitative study of perceptions of risk and protective circumstances. Social Science & Medicine, 212, 1-8

Saving Young LGBTQ Lives. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2019, from

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         There’s no doubt that social media has become a staple of social interaction, particularly in the world of adolescents. While it seems like a fun way to share photos and stay connected, we need to understand the kind of subliminal and overt messages teens are getting. In the past few years, we have seen a rise in “influencers” and celebrity presence on social media, particularly on the popular app Instagram. These people are usually young, thin, traditionally attractive women who are paid to promote certain products on their accounts. The idea behind “influencers” is that their appearance and lifestyle are so desirable that others will want to use the products that they do to feel desirable themselves. The issue with this is that the target audience is adolescent girls and young women who are idealizing these highly made-up, retouched, professionally photographed people and thinking that what they are seeing is attainable for an everyday teen.  

           A recent study shows that exposure to social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram increases body image issues. This study surveyed girls between the ages of 13 and 15 about their internet and social media use and found that exposure to social media was highly correlated with body dissatisfaction, body surveillance and drive for thinness (Tiggemann & Slater, 2013). Seeing as exposure alone can cause young girls to feel poorly about their appearance, the addition of promotional products that are meant to help you achieve the body that you want is especially enticing. Instagram, more than other social media platforms, is viewed as a highlight reel of your life and where you post your best photos of yourself. For this reason, even when celebrities post seemingly casual selfies, much more work has gone into that photo than we think. This can be incredibly damaging to young girls who compare themselves to teenage celebrities who appear to be their peers when in reality they are representing and unrealistic and harmful standard. 

           There are real dangers in not knowing what is real and what is manufactured when viewing people that you think are your peers. Social media, unlike traditional print media, allows the viewer to be involved and interact. This includes posting their own photos with the possibility that many people will see them. A recent study found that young women have developed a heightened awareness of how they might appear on social media and it impacts thoughts and behaviors offline as well (Choukas-Bradley et al., 2019). This means that young women and girls are thinking about their appearance no only in the moment, but considering the possibility for a photo-op and how they might appear on social media. Research shows a connection between this hyper-awareness of social media appearance with low body image, high body comparison, and depressive symptoms. In certain situations, this kind of body comparison and desire to look like celebrities and influencers on social media can lead girls to develop eating disorders (Mabe et al., 2014). This shows that there are real consequences to social media consumption and participation and it is impacting adolescents. 

           Instagram is taking some first steps to combat this by announcing that they will restrict the advertising for dieting products, either to people above the age of 18 or in some cases by removing the ad entirely. They are also removing the “like” feature which, while controversial amongst Instagram enthusiasts, should have some positive repercussions for user mental health. “Likes” were functioning as reinforcement for posting certain types of photos, and also a motivator to make sure you look your best in every photo you post. They also were seen as a status symbol, the more "likes" a person got the more liked they must have been. Hopefully, this removal will change the way people think about what they post. Even with these measures being taken, there is still a lot of harmful content out there that can be hurting your teenagers. Here are some tips for how to engage with your teenager about social media:  

  • Stay informed: Ask your kids what they know about Instagram or "influencers" and let them show you, letting them be the expert will help you get a glimpse of what they are following and seeing. 

    • It might be helpful to get on some of these apps yourself so you can be familiar with how they work 
    • Make sure you know if they are spending money on Instagram advertised products and if so, is it something they should be spending money on?
  • Be a mentor, not a micromanager: Instead of trying to control your child’s social media use, have open-ended conversations with them about how they are engaging with the platform. Often, teenagers are willing to share their activity if you are curious and ask in a non-judgmental way. If you try to restrict your teen’s use, it won’t work (teens always find a way) and it will make them feel like they cannot talk to you about issues when they do arise. This will also allow your teen to show you why they enjoy using social media. 
  • Be a good role model for body positivity and that will have an impact!: Even if your teen seems to ignore you most of the time, you are one of their biggest influencers. You can show your teen what a healthy relationship with their body is supposed to look like simply by doing it yourself. Talk to them about nutrition, exercise and treating her body well. 


By: Camille Ginsburg

Camille is a graduate student completing her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Denver and a registered psychotherapist in the state of Colorado. Camille received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Colorado College. She has experience working with adolescents who have experienced trauma and related mental health problems. Camille's areas of interest include depression, anxiety, trauma and mental health issues related to objectification.  Camille is currently interning with the Denver Adolescent Therapy Group at Stevenson Therapy Services.


Choukas-Bradley, S., Nesi, J., Widman, L., & Higgins, M. K. (2019). Camera-ready: Young women’s appearance-related social media consciousness. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8(4), 473–481. doi: 10.1037/ppm0000196

Mabe, A. G., Forney, K. J., & Keel, P. K. (2014). Do you “like” my photo? Facebook use maintains eating disorder risk. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47(5), 516–523. doi: 10.1002/eat.22254

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