I have had the opportunity to witness the most tender side another human being has to offer.  Where they get touched so deeply in their heart, a look of humility tends to their face, and an acknowledgement occurs.  This is a place where healing happens.

It is in these moments the work is happening.  And I believe it works because of the relationship WE have created together.  Without the relationship, we can never get to this place.  The recipe is building a relationship, building trust, and then time.

Therapy takes time.  This place within us is not to be rushed to.  We need to trust whoever we take to this place will be able to sit in this feeling with us.  To see what is really there. To see a piece of who we really are.  To be gentle with us.

We can quantify certain aspects of the human condition and come up with scientific based approaches for certain symptoms.  I am convinced though that the human spirit is unquantifiable and is more than science could ever show us.

I am grateful daily for the work I do and for those who allow me to enter into those dark caverns of their heart and mind and explore together.  


5 Tips for High School Teen Success

    1. Show up to class….everyday.  I know class can be boring and you have better things to teen girl in white tank top and jeans standing in front of oceando with your time.  But falling behind can lead to a never ending tunnel of doom.  Many concepts build on one another, so if you miss one thing, it may be hard to catch up.  Plus you can become an eye sore in the eyes of your teacher, who would be better to have as an ally than an enemy. 
    1. Get some sleep.  Transitioning back to school is tough, especially if you are someone who was going to bed in the morning and waking up in the late afternoon.  Being exhausted at school can make it feel extra dreadful.  Aim for at least 7-8 hours, if not more, of sleep.
    1. Eat during the day.  I know there was a time in junior high when it felt uncool to eat but it’s high school now and your brain needs fuel.  Try and eat something small yet substantial every 2-3 hours.  Almonds, granola bar, yogurt, etc.  It will not only help your ability to sustain attention but can also keep your mood more positive. 
    1. Schedule yourself.  You can get overbooked with activities and things you want to do.  Make sure you have enough time to do not only the things you love but also the things you needs to.  You will feel accomplished when you got it all done and no one is on your back about it.
  1. Ask for help.  From friends, parents, teachers, friend’s parents, school counselor, family members, etc.  We all need support around academic, social, and interpersonal feelings and events that arise.  Use your support network to get relief, guidance, understanding, and clarity around whatever is ailing you.

Girls’ Support Group Taking Off!!!

The teen girls’ support group is taking off!  First group starts on September 24 at 1:30PM. If interested, please contact me to set up a consultation session to learn more about the group, to get a feel for who I am, and for me to learn more about the possible group member.

Parents are often concerned what to do if their teen doesn’t want to commit to the group,  I always encourage all new participants to give group 3-4 tries and then make a decision. This gives the teen time to get a better understanding for the group.

Looking forward to September!!


New Girls’ Support Groups Starting This Fall

Welcome teens and junior high age girls to two new support groups starting Fall 2015 for those on an independent/home study track.  Please head to my group page for further details.

I have been facilitating groups for over 15 years, and I am beyond excited to help inspire, motivate, teach, and offer unconditional acceptance for girls in our community.  Please call call at 707-478-4351 or email for more info.

Looking forward with gratitude!

The Valuable Link Between Therapy with Adults, Teens, and Children

Working with children and teens greatly enhances my work with adults as I understand more about how our early attachments and experiences shape the person we become later in adult life.  I am reminded daily of how important the life process we have as children and teenagers creates the adult us.  While it isn’t the end all be all, it certainly is a factor in creating who we become.

Patterns from childhood emerge in adulthood whether we like it or not.  For example, let’s say you grew up in a home where you were not free to express emotions.  Where nobody ever talked about what they felt and negative emotions were taboo.  Now let’s imagine one carrying that pattern into an adult relationship.  See how that could become a problem?

In the above example, I can help children and teens learn to express themselves and families learn to allow for it.  The adult who comes to therapy can learn how to break this cycle and develop a trusting relationship with the therapist and try on this new way of being.  The teen can work to break this pattern why it is still early and not entirely solidified.  All with the intention that what happens in the therapy room emanates out into other relationships and creates a better way of relating and a better overall quality of life.

Our young selves lives inside each of us.  Some people are good at keeping it hidden while others display these parts of themselves on their sleeves.  Many shut off from the younger parts for both conscious and unconscious reasoning.  Irregardless, the young in us exists, and we can often be in touch with it if we listen closely.  Sometimes this younger self is where healing needs to happen in order to move forward in our lives.

Giving attention to the younger parts of ourselves can help us get unstuck and move on to feeling better about who we are and our lives.  Therapy with children, teens, and adults can be an invaluable resource to getting there.


I listen to what is inside of me that is asking to be healed.

Becoming A Better Parent

By Joris Louwes

Whether parenting a teen, junior high, elementary school, or preschool age child there are some parenting strategies that spread across the age continuum. It is even a great technique to use with other adults.  For all creative purposes, we will call it “naming the feeling.”

How this technique works is by really listening to what the individual is having to say and then naming the feeling for them.  “It sounds like you are really angry right now.”  When we label the feeling, people begin to feel understood and often lessen in intensity.

Feeling understood is huge when it comes to de escalating a conflict.  It disarms individuals and can soften them.  It can make people feel you are really understanding them.

When we come back at someone who is expressing themselves with judgements, yelling, and accusatory statements, it can make things worse.  The result: heat rising, more conflict, and/or withdrawing follows.

Naming the feeling doesn’t mean we have to agree with the individual or take their side.  It simply says, “I really hear what you are saying.”  Sometimes that’s all someone is wanting from you.  They want you to hear what they have to say.  Period.

One challenge in using this technique is our own triggers being set off.  Like my cat meowing right now while I am trying to think about writing this article.  It is triggering me.  I want to yell at him right now for sounding so loud and demanding, but instead, I will name his feeling right now.  “It sounds like you are really hungry right now.”  Off to his food dish he goes and the meowing ceases.  Who knew it even worked for pets?!

Triggers are switches inside of us getting turned on when something around us happens.  Like when your kid says, “We never do anything fun.”  You find your eyes get big (you know you are being triggered) as you recount the previous 24 hours where you made homemade waffles, took the ferry into the city, played at Pier 39 all day, and had Amici’s pizza on the way home.  Yes, no fun at all.  At this point you may want to yell and take back all the past and future fun because you just got TRIGGERED.  But if you were using the naming the feeling technique you might say, “It sounds like you are really bored right now.”

In the effort of conscious parenting (another topic for another day), I strongly encourage you to give this technique a try.  And when you do, I want you to watch what happens.  Does your child make eye contact with you and nod his head like you are understanding them.  Do they say, “Yes!” and rattle on more with their story.  See if naming the feeling is all you have to do to help them work through the situation.  Try it with your spouse, co-workers, mother’s group friends, other family members, the list is endless.


I can handle what comes my way with understanding.

Is the Grass Always Greener?

We all see life from different vantage points.  Sometimes the grass seems greener.  That’s a big part of my job.  To see life from my patients’ point of view and also to point out other ways of looking and thinking about the world.  Exploring what is in the grass, if the grass is green, and if the grass really exists.

This American Life presents a story telling another view of what high school and going to college looks like for some teens.  Follow the link to 550: Three Miles.








Normal Versus Unique

Well worth 6 minutes and 8 seconds of your life.  Be inspired to be yourself, to allow your children to be themselves, and to go against the grain.

The Need For Others

Yeah, I get it. You want to do it yourself. You don’t want to have to rely on anyone to support you. You don’t want to bring anyone else down or count on anyone to be there for you. Got it.

Google Webmaster Relationship Loss of Trust

I hear this type of talk regularly and want you to understand something very important and crucial to the human existence.


We need people to support us, love us, tell us what we are doing is not ok, be kind to us, help us, encourage us, be quiet with us, have fun with us, teach us, grow with us, cry with us, tell us the truth, and hold us.


It can be so hard to allow the need for others to be met. Here are some reasons why.

  • It could be the message we got from parents both verbally and non-verbally to not need others.
  • It could be the best friend who blabbed all your secrets and taught the lesson that people you are close to cannot be trusted.
  • Maybe your favorite teacher shamed you in front of the whole class.
  • The BFF co-worker who put you down at the team meeting to make herself look better.
  • It could be the person who you loved stopped loving you back.
  • The idea that everyone we love dies, so why get close.

There are many reasons the belief to rely on others get tainted. Experiences are had that affirm this belief and patterns develop.

Therapy is an opportunity to undo this learning and work through issues of trust, shame, feeling burdensome, depression, anxiety, and a host of other ways of being and feeling that occur when we come from a place of not needing people.

Relationships are everything in this world. Think about it? Relationship with people, pets, events, things, you name it, it is the relationship that matters.

The relationship with a therapist, whether a child, teen, or adult is a place where expression and healing can happen. Both verbally and non-verbally a relationship of acceptance and humanness is offered. It is an exceptional thing to be accepted as is and to have one’s strengths be seen. Each relationship is so remarkably different. No two therapies can be the same.

We can heal old relationships and hurt. We can put to rest negative patterns when we take time to work on our stuff. It is a beautiful process.

You’re In Luck: New Girls’ Support Group Forming

Not only are you in luck but so am I.  Why the both of us?  Because I am excited to announce the opening of my next Girls’ Support Group for 5th and 6th grade girls happening on Thursday’s from 4-5PM.

So again, why the luck?  Because I am offering a venue for your daughter to come and be herself, learn tools to help her navigate the social world being this age carries, and you can kick back for an hour and know your child is being cared for and learning simply through being present and participating.

And I, Sierra, am lucky because?  This is what I love to do.  I love creating a group dynamic that challenges girls to bring their best self forward and let the light within them shine.  I love teaching and encouraging girls to be themselves and bring their inner strengths to the forefront.

How do I know this works?  I have been running groups for over 12 years and have seen the results.  Anxiety lessens, confidence is built, friends are made, social skills are fine tuned, opinions are shared, communications skills developed…these are some of the many direct effects working in a group with a qualified therapist can create.

When does it start?  Please contact me for an initial consultation and start date.

How often does the group meet?  The group will meet weekly each Thursday, and it is important your daughter attend every group possible.  By your child’s attendance, safety and cohesiveness is created and vitally important to creating a successful group.

How many girls in the group?  No more than 6 girls will be in the group.

How do I sign up my girl?  You can email me at sierradator@gmail.com or contact me via phone at 707-478-4351.

What if I have a child that doesn’t meet these age qualifications but could benefit from a group?  Contact me anyway.  I currently have a group for 9th and 10th grade girls meeting on Tuesdays.  I am always open to the idea of creating more groups for kids.