Alpacas, Cockapoos, Goldendoodles, Oh MY!

Walking a dog seems to be an enjoyable activity for some people.  It’s a mindless routine that enables the mind to wander.  Many take this time to enjoy nature, admire the landscape, listen to the birds, and talk to the neighbors….wait, stop, nope!   Well, maybe if we are six feet away these days.  


I love walking my dog, however I love observing human nature even more.  I have noticed some interesting behavior during this new social distancing world we are living in while on my ever increasing dog walks.   People seem to make less eye contact, heads are looking downward, people subtly walk to the opposite side of the road, and I have even observed people holding their breath when passing others on the sidewalk.  As much as this makes me sad, I understand.

However, the most interesting observation transpired when my dog and I came in contact with another person and their dog.  The humans were consciously practicing social distancing, while of course the dogs were not.  All of a sudden my neighbor’s golden doodle sneezed on my cockapoos head.   While I started to giggle, my neighbor was in a panic, “I’m so sorry, oh my goodness, I’m sorry”, she exclaimed while running off and yanking her dog in the opposite direction.  I continued to say, “wait, stop, its ok”, to no avail.


 We are living in strange times right now, which can trigger stress, anxiety, depression, irrational thinking, and irrational behavior.   What can we do?

One summer I was visiting Martha’s Vineyard and stumbled across the most amazing alpaca farm.  Throughout the day visitors could pet them, play with them, and do yoga classes with them.  It was a beautiful place with acres of land for the alpaca’s to roam.  However, on this day the alpaca’s were huddled in a circle surrounding a new born baby alpaca.  The informative staff member explained that alpaca’s can only thrive in group settings and if alpacas are left all alone they will fail to survive.  So this community of alpaca’s instinctively joined together around this new baby.  All of the visitors were then asked to think of a name for this new baby girl alpaca.  We were told to write down a name as well as our own email addresses.  The staff members informed us that a name would be chosen and we would all be contacted to be told what her name would be.


Soon after returning home we received the email:  Grace, baby Grace, little baby Gracie would be her name.  We were also informed that Grace was thriving mainly in part to her close alpaca community taking care of her.  What a wonderful society they have created.  So similar to humans!

 In this odd time, perhaps when we may need our community the most, we are told to practice social distancing.  How will this affect our mental health?  Will we fail to thrive?  What can we do?


First, give yourself grace!  You can get through this.  Make that phone call instead of texting, answer that phone instead of letting it go to voicemail, use facetime, or even the houseparty app.  Go for that bike ride or walk, smile at your neighbor in the distance, read that book, cook that gourmet meal, and limit your social media consumption (you might want to check out island alpacas of MV on insta for a smile though).  Practice your deep breathing with your added mantra:

1. Relax your neck and shoulders.

2. Unclench your jaw.

3. Remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth.

4. Close your mouth and breathe through your nose.

5. Fill your lungs with air and push out your stomach.

6. Hold your breath while repeating your mantra (mine is, This Too Shall Pass)

7. Slowly exhale through pursed lips.

8. Repeat for at least 2 – 5 minutes, 3 times a day.

Give yourself grace.  You can do this.  This too shall pass…..

Now offering Telehealth sessions.

Stacie Boyar LMHC, MSed



Valentine’s Day = Express Your Love to Those Who Love You

What if Valentine’s day wasn’t just for romantic love? That would definitely change the way it’s marketed in our society. I believe that Valentine’s day should be about those we love whether it’s romantic or non-romantic. Parents, children, friends, everyone in our life who loves us should be celebrated by us on this day. It is human to want to be loved and know that you are loved. However, the romantic part of this day can be accompanied with a lot of pressure. 

Anxious thoughts come over us like a wave such as what to get, what to do, will it be reciprocated, will I get something……. It is always best to be true to yourself. Rejection is part of the process, however; when we are celebrating those who love us the risk of rejection is removed. If you choose to take a risk with someone new in your life, try to eliminate all expectations. Trust me, you will be much happier no matter what the outcome. And if the romantic component of this holiday is missing for you this year, celebrate your family, give them a gift expressing your love for them. 

One more thing, don’t forget about those who are still struggling with this day in our community as this day is also a reminder of what was lost. If we can love our neighbors a little more intentionally around this time of the year, it may help those who are hurting. A wave, a smile, a knowing glance could all be expressions of kindness and forms of love. 

 Rachel Rowitt, Ed.D., LMHC, CAP | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog in Coral Springs  

Healing Therapy, EMDR, Grief and Loss, Depression, Anxiety, Relationship Conflict

Embracing Vulnerability

It is difficult to stay positive in the face of adversity. One of the main reasons is because adversity can trigger a vulnerable emotion. Many times we don’t recognize when we are feeling vulnerable because we have mastered coping through detachment. But there are those days that too many triggers happen back to back, which can lead to vulnerable emotions such as sadness, anger, and despair. Typically these types of emotions come with negative thoughts such as I am not good enough, this is never going to end and I should have done it differently. 

How do you know when you are vulnerable? One thing that I can tell you is that you will most likely notice changes in your body first. It can show up in a variety of ways such as sudden stomach cramps, tension in your neck and shoulders, sweating, or your eyes well up with tears. You may think that this has come upon you out of nowhere; however, if you think about those times, I am certain that you got bombarded with triggers that led to a vulnerable state. And our body never forgets those times when you have felt the same discomfort in the past, which only compounds what you feel in the present. 

Learning how to recognize when you are vulnerable is important because it helps us figure out how to positively manage our emotions rather than dismiss them. Second, by validating how we are feeling in the moment, we can respond better, decreasing our chances of becoming defensive, aggressive or dismissive in our thoughts and actions towards ourselves and others. Lastly, it helps us to reframe interactions that may have been less painful if we weren't already in a vulnerable state. 

 Rachel Rowitt, Ed.D., LMHC, CAP | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog in Coral Springs  


The Toxic Relationship Self Help Solution

Healing from a toxic relationship is possible!  With the proper support, guidance, and tools you can free yourself from unhealthy relationships.  Many times this pattern of toxicity spills over from childhood, which ultimately impacts our current relationships and styles of communication.  Behaviors that once protected you as a child, may no longer serve you.  Breaking free from these destructive patterns is the truest form of self-love. 

As malleable children, we adapt to our emotionally harmful, unsafe, and sometimes dangerous home lives because we have no other choice.  To a typically developing egocentric child, it make sense to them that every child grows up the same way as they are being raised.  They do not yet have the ability to fully understand their predicament.  This child develops maladaptive coping mechanisms in order to survive within the toxicity surrounding them.  The maladaptive behaviors or coping mechanisms could include anything that distracts the child from his or her reality or makes them feel safe.

What we learned as children in order to survive in a toxic household ultimately is carried over into adulthood.  These adults may experience anxiety and depression, doubt their intuitions, doubt their emotions, and doubt their reality.  For some adults it is imperative to break contact with their toxic past in order to move forward.  When there is no other choice and all other routes have been exhausted, cutting ties may be the only way to foster and nurture your mental health.

Stacie Boyar MS, MHC | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog Coral Springs 

Instagram @namastacie_boyar | Direct Line: 954-298-7899



I went to get coffee one morning before work, and the Dunkin Doughnuts lady handed me my coffee and bagel and said, “here you go beautiful.” I left thinking that was so kind of her to compliment me, but I was skeptical. I wanted to see if she was consistent with her compliments. I went back, but this time not dressed for work, I had rolled straight out of bed. “Hi beautiful, have a nice day.” I thought to myself, thank you, I will have a good day. I went back a third time, and she continued to have positive words of affirmation. Her kindness felt more than just good customer service, it felt genuine. 

The power of our words is sometimes overlooked in our everyday communication exchanges. We can use our words to build each other up or tear each other down. There were two non-spoken components that I experienced in my interactions with the Dunkin Doughnuts lady. One, she didn’t know my experience or any hardships that I may be facing in that moment. Her words reminded me of my value when it seemed to be lost in life’s responsibilities. Second, she was giving her compliments for free. She wasn’t looking for something in return for her kindness. It is rare that we encounter this unconditional type of communication with no expectation. This was a nice reminder that our motivation to share words of affirmation should not be self-rewarding. 

I decided I should go back and tell this Dunkin Doughnuts lady of the impact her compliments had on me. I wanted to thank her for reminding me of the power of words. Unfortunately, I went back a few weeks later and she was no longer there. One way that I can return her kindness is to pay it forward by using my words of affirmation to help others remember their worth and value. 

 Rachel Rowitt, Ed.D., LMHC, CAP | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog in Coral Springs 


Social Media Addiction


The internet has significantly changed the way we communicate and perceive our social environment. With social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, people can share photos and videos, converse in group forums and post messages and status updates. Go to any retail store checkout line or office lobby, and one can observe countless people posting messages or scrolling through their feed on social media apps. With the increasing usage of social media applications, the risk of social media addiction increases. 

Social media addiction is defined as the excessive use of social media to the point where the individual’s daily life, responsibilities, work, relationships or health are interfered with and jeopardized.  For example, development may occur with people who are insecure or anxious because they may use their social media apps to stay connected socially while allowing them to avoid actual face-to-face interaction. An underlying characteristic  associated with social media addiction is the “fear of missing out.”  This is the fear of exclusion or missing something fun within the person’s social sphere. 

The use of social media may seem harmless. However, for those who have developed an addiction, harmful consequences will result. Social media addiction takes away from the opportunities to engage in enriching real-life interactions and experiences outside of the limitations of a mobile device. The addiction can also be disruptive to academic or work performance. Lastly, feelings of depression and lower self-esteem commonly accompany social media addiction. 


To remedy the problem of social media addiction, there are support groups and cognitive behavioral therapies that can help establish and maintain healthy social media usage. Additionally, it is important for individuals to maintain a level of awareness regarding their use of social media applications.

ClinTech Systems



 This February 14 will forever be changed for the communities of Parkland and Coral Springs. Counseling is effective for coping with loss, but it does not lessen the permanent pain of losing loved ones. While the Douglas shooting was very prominent in the media, there are several people that will also be dealing with loss for the first time this Valentine’s Day. During this holiday of love, I can’t help but think about losses that I have experienced, and how the loved ones in my family have been adversely impacted.

Life is precious and unpredictable. We make decisions to take care of our mental and physical health; however, somethings cannot be anticipated. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to continue living life without your loved ones. Courage to continue being around family, friends and celebrating events while you know that part of you is still grieving. 

For me, courage gives the ability to have faith that it will hurt less over time.  It is also equally as important to be able to talk about the pain of loss and allow yourself to grieve. There is no time limit to grief, and we shouldn’t enforce one, but we should allow the process to unfold as it should. This Valentine’s Day let’s cherish our loved ones that are still present and honor the memory of those whom we have lost. 

Rachel Rowitt, Ed.D., LMHC, CAP | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog in Coral Springs

Stacie Boyar, Teen Counseling, Women's Counseling, Anxiety, Depression Counseling


‘I just want to be happy’, is a phrase I hear in my practice quite often.  My best tip for happiness is always the same thing, gratitude!  By changing your mindset to focus on what you are grateful for, your feelings will automatically shift towards happiness. Here are 4 steps to find your happiness!

Begin each morning by telling yourself one thing you are grateful for.  The moment your alarm goes off, perhaps even before you open your eyes, certainly before you swing your legs off the side of the bed, most definitely before you splash water on your face, tell yourself one thing you are grateful for.  Do this every day, no excuses!  Of course, some mornings may be harder than others, but find something, anything to be grateful for...I am alive, I hear birds chirping, coffee...anything works.  Try changing what you are grateful for each morning.  Do this for one month.

Now it’s time to add ending each day with gratitude.  When your day is complete, teeth are brushed, you are in bed cozy and comfortable with your eyes closed, tell yourself one thing you are grateful for.  Do this every day, no excuses!  Of course, some nights are harder than others, but find something, anything to be grateful for...I’m alive, I hear leaves rustling, food...anything works.  Try changing what you are grateful for each evening.  Do these for one month.

Let’s add on...a gratitude mantra is a wonderful technique to use when you find yourself feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, sad, tired, frustrated throughout the day.  Choose your mantra and play it on an ongoing loop in your mind.   It must be positive, affirming, and meaningful to you.

Finally...a gratitude journal is a beautiful gift for yourself.  You deserve it!  Grab a journal and the writing utensils of your choosing and go for it.  You don’t have to be prolific or a literary genius!  Start by coloring if you must or writing one word.  Then write a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph that expresses gratitude.

Stacie Boyar MS, MHC | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog Coral Springs  

Instagram @namastacie_boyar | Direct Line: 954-298-7899

Grief and Loss, Christian Counseling, Depression Counseling, Inspirational Music

Intentional Faith

Choosing to trust and have faith in God is intentional. This may be one of the hardest skills to practice in the Christian faith. Onlookers will criticize you for continuing to show faith and trust in God despite horrible tragedy in your life. Do not become upset, they don't understand your relationship with God. 

People have been jaded by religious doctrine that tells them as long as you follow God's law nothing bad will happen to you. This message teaches that God is a puppet Master whose actions totally eclipses the concept of free will. Holding on to a distorted concept of a punishing God will prevent you from seeking Him in the storms of life. Instead, you may blame Him and this will separate you from His peace.

When your heart is broken, when you have to watch as loved ones are in pain, when there is nothing in your control to change or prevent storms; you can pray. We must make the choice to actively participate in our faith. This is especially true when things are happening that are clearly beyond our control.

Rachel Rowitt, Ed.D., LMHC, CAP | Grace Counseling, Inc. | Mental Health Blog in Coral Springs

Reducing the Stigma: Mental Illness

One of the main reasons that mental illness carries such a negative stigma is that typically our society refers to it as something severe, debilitating and causing a person to be non-functional. When we think about mental illness we assume 'crazy' due to our lack of education and awareness. For those who are not in the psychological or medical world, some clarification may be helpful to understand that mental Illness is more common than you think.

Mental Health America reports that 1 in 5 Adults have a mental health condition. That's over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined.

It is important for us to recognize that the term mental illness does not mean that one cannot get better. The very indication of the word illness means that change can occur through treatment, medications and/or behavior modifications. Depending on the severity of the mental illness outcomes for recovery will be different. 

Who gets mental illness?

There is a difference between mental illness and occasional mood swings, depressed mood, anger outbursts and so on. Mental health is like a swinging pendulum, each of the kinetic balls are representations of our feeling and thought options: sadness, happiness, anger, disorganization, grief, abandonment, rejection, etc. it’s when the motion stops and gets stuck on one characteristic that we then see mental illness being an explanation. 

Let’s examine how a person who does not suffer from mental illness experiences a death of a family dog. They may respond with grief and loss feelings for a period of time. They may have bouts of crying and depressed mood. However, the physical and psychological response lessons over time even though the pain of loss remains permanent. In this example, there is an active event that triggers a response which gets better over time.  Because mental illness is classified as a disorder, it will last longer that a usual timeline response to an activating event and sometimes there is no activating event. Mental illness can be influenced both by nature (genetics) and nurture (environment). 

The National Association of Mental Illness defines it as “a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”

Understanding Barriers to Treatment

Shame is a feeling that is common for those diagnosed with mental illness or even someone who is struggling with emotional distress triggered by an event. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines shame as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming or impropriety. By this definition, the person with mental illness is carrying around responsibility for something he or she cannot control and, therefore, could not be faulted for the development of such. It is the judgment from others, whether spoken or unspoken, that creates the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

Because of the stigma, someone may be less likely to get help at the initial development of the mental illness when things are more manageable and less damaging. It is the ongoing neglect of treatment that results in some of the deterioration of quality of life which reinforces the ignorance surrounding mental illness. Shame needs to be eliminated through education and awareness so that early interventions can be applied. This is not a guarantee for all persons with mental illness to recover. However, this is a good start. 

Changing Our Perspective

Community awareness is important in ending the stigma of mental illness. We collectively need to be less judgmental of others and ourselves regarding our emotional health. First, we must believe the mental illness is not something that someone does to themselves. Secondly, we must recognize that the majority of individuals with mental illness do not want to have it. Lastly, we should become more aware of the signs and symptoms within ourselves and others so we can be more supportive and contribute to reducing the stigma of mental illness.   

If you are or have a loved one that is suffering from mental illness finding the right support is essential to management and overall satisfaction of life. Working with a therapist who is well versed in techniques to challenge behaviors and unwanted thoughts is extremely important for behavior modification. In addition if you are on medications for your mental health it is of utmost importance that you also attend counseling sessions for the most optimal results. 

Rachel Rowitt Ed.D., LMHC, CAP | Grace Counseling, Inc | Mental Health Blog in Coral Springs

Mental Health Counseling

Mental Health Counseling



What do you say to yourself when no one is around? Thoughts have a powerful and influential effect on mood. Self-talk is one form of thought that will influence your perception of successes and failures in life.

One way our self-talk is formed is by indirect or direct messages received from authority figures in our childhood. For example, a parent who never allowed you to feel accomplished is indirectly telling you that you are not good enough. As a result, you may carry around the ‘I will be worthwhile if (fill in the blank) __________’ lie. Perpetuating these negative messages helps to confirm that you are presently not “ok” and reinforce isolative patterns.

Eliminating negative self-talk takes motivation and a desire to get better. Be patient and follow these three simple steps:

  1. Be less judgmental and critical of yourself
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others
  3. Practice positive affirmations based on characteristics not performance

If you continue to struggle with negative self-talk you may need additional support and techniques from a professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will help you reframe those negative thoughts and give you relief in your mood. Lastly, recognize that your past and performance does not define you as a person.

Rachel Rowitt | Grace Counseling, Inc.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

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