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What Do You Think About the Response to Bullying and Violence in HCPSS?

September 17, 2019

If you are a parent with a child in Howard County Public Schools, I hope you will take this online survey (5-10 minutes of your time) as well as ask your friends to take the survey also.  This is an exploratory survey to start collecting information about parental concerns the response to mental and physical violence at school.

Last week, I posted on my neighborhood’s Next Door social media platform asking parents to respond to a survey about HCPSS response to bullying and violence at school.  I had quite a few responses within the first day of that post, so it seems there is definitely parental concern about the lack of response to violent behavior and bullying by students within HCPSS.

Many parents are surprised when they do not get a helpful response to bullying or reports of violence given that Howard County schools are generally considered among the best in Maryland in terms of academic standards for its students.

I imagine that there is work to do in all of the local Counties on the issue of violence and bullying, but right now I am focused on an initiative within HCPSS.

As a psychotherapist working with children and families here in Howard County, I have been shocked in recent years at how many parents are having trouble getting a helpful response to complaints about teasing, bullying, and even physical violence towards their child in school.

This creates mental health symptoms for the victim and then the child has at times needed mental health therapy at my private practice. I am concerned about the lack of response, so I have started a private survey to better determine if this is a wider problem that is occurring more frequently and how concerned other parents and citizens are.

I will be going to a school board meeting on Thursday September 19 to discuss the initial results coming in on the survey that I started last week. I would like to get wider parental input to find out how many parents are concerned about the response to violence and bullying … and what the viewpoints are of parents throughout the County.

I am also interested in the positive experience that some parents may have had as well.  It is important to get an accurate perspective on parental and community experiences and opinions.

So far, from the 34 survey responses initially collected,  only 15% of parents believed that they received a helpful response after a report.  In the other 85% of cases, the children were suffering from some kind of mental health symptoms and it was creating a family disturbance.  There were many comments made that HCPSS is more concerned about protecting the rights and confidentiality of the perpetrator of violence that assisting the victim or the family to feel safe and cared for.

If you are having any problems with your child’s adjustment to school, including concerns about school violence, please Reach Out to one of our Relationship Repair Associates for support.


We Still Have Room In Schedule For A Client In Need Of Free Therapy

September 16, 2019

Sessions are with Domenica Carrese at the Laurel Office, and Dr. Stephanie will be supervising the clinical progress of Domenica’s clients.

Sessions are available on Fridays between 10am – 4pm.

If you would like to be one of these clients, please submit a Scheduling Request through the portal for Domenica on Friday, September 20 or Friday, September 27 at the Laurel Location.

Please note in the scheduling request that you are looking for free therapy and Domenica will reach out to confirm.

We Are Hiring a New Therapist for Upper Marlboro Location

September 14, 2019

LGPC, LCPC, LCMFT or LCSW Private Practice (Upper Marlboro, MD)

Compensation: 60/40 Split
Employment type: Contract

Private Practice location in Upper Marlboro, MD looking for LCPC, LCMFT or LCSW for contract therapist position. Will also accept LGPC or LGMFT if you can provide your own outside supervision.

This is a part-time contract position, looking to fill at minimum 10 hours between Mondays, Wednesday, Friday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays (you can choose days/hours you work).

Must have at least 1 year experience providing counseling therapy (this can include an internship) to individuals, couples and families. Work with clients who are affected by difficulties such as depression, phobias, stress, anxiety, emotional issues, couples/marital issues, grief etc.

Counselors may be responsible for one, multiple, or all of the following duties:

Assessing mental health conditions and disorders
Providing psychotherapy and group therapy sessions
Creating treatment plans and goals
Familiar with electronic progress note writing and treatment planning
Diagnosing mental disorders
Providing counseling to a wide variety of groups
Helping people improve their lives, careers and family situations
Managing paperwork

Work with a team of clinicians to improve our Mental Health Care practice.

If you are interested, please submit a resume to Tyra Berger at


We Were Nominated for Best Of Howard County Therapist

September 12, 2019

It’s that time of year when the Baltimore Sun hosts voting for the Best of Howard County for various businesses!

We would love for you to participate in the Best of Howard County voting, and we hope you will consider Dr. Stephanie’s Relationship Repair Shop for the Best Therapist!  Voting ends on September 27, and we are in the Health and Wellness Section.




Do You Carry An Unspoken Trauma In Your Heart?

September 11, 2019


This picture is of 2,977 flags.  My son is the President of Young Americans for Freedom at his high school, and he led this project for 9/11 today.  He gave a short speech commemorating that the lives lost were the lives of people’s mothers, fathers, sisters, friends, daughters, and sons.

Seeing all these flags memorializing the trauma of 9/11 makes me think about the private and personal traumas that many of my clients are currently working so hard to resolve in trauma therapy.  Including those clients who have lost a loved one to traumatic event.  They are still here on earth trying to survive PTSD.  I am thinking of you today.

And so many other clients with personal traumas of being severely abused as a child and other unspoken traumas…. the kind we do not have memorials for.

I commend all my clients who make the decision to enter treatment for PTSD and to resolve their memories.  I want you to Repair the most Relationship of All – the one you have with yourself – so you can trust yourself and learn to trust other people again.

My question to you is, how are you doing amid all the stress and trauma you hear about daily?

If you are considering trauma therapy because you keep avoiding dealing with past experiences that make you feel numb, scared, or unable to go forward in your life in a healthier way – please know that the work is difficult but the reward is great.

The type of trauma therapy that we do here at our practice is prolonged exposure therapy, sometimes using EMDR.  It is like emotional surgery.  People feel emotionally tired, tearful, and upset as they explore their memories with myself or one of my Associates.

However, after you get through the emotional surgery of digging up the memory and cleaning it out – then resetting your mind and heart to more of who you were or would have become without your trauma – well then you are finally healed.

The emotional surgery was painful… and the aftermath made you pretty darn sore… but then in the end you have less symptoms.

Less panic attacks, less OCD symptoms, the absence of phobias and rituals, less anger and emotional reactivity, less sleep disturbance.  You will no longer continue to have to try to avoid thinking about your trauma.   Your trauma will no longer catch you off guard in the middle of your day in the form of an intrusive thought that suddenly knocks the wind out of you.

Healing is available.  PTSD is very treatable, so I hope you will Reach Out For Help to resolve your own personal traumatic events.

Krista’s Relationship Repair Shop is Open for New Clients in Pikesville!!!

September 10, 2019

I am happy to announce our newest Relationship Repair Associate Krista Zerby, LGMFT.  Krista will be seeing a few clients at the Laurel office on Mondays from 9 am – 3pm in addition to other days of the week at her Repair Shop in Pikesville.

Krista received her training in Marriage and Family Therapy, and she will receive ongoing clinical supervision and mentoring by Dr. Stephanie.

If you are looking for therapy or services in the Baltimore area you can read more about Krista’s Pikesville office and her expertise.  We are happy to have her joining our team.

Is the Relationship Repair Counter a TED talk idea worth spreading?

September 9, 2019

Yippee!  I have a TED talk nomination to spread my idea about having a Relationship Repair Counter for all personal and workplace relationships…. (kind of like a customer service counter, but much cooler – because you are repairing very important relationships with the people whom you love most deeply).

Most of you know I am super passionate about teaching the steps to respond to relationship complaints at the RRC (Relationship Repair Counter).  The idea came from me simply trying to find a creative approach to help couples to NOT be defensive and instead, I started to using the metaphor of having a Customer Service Counter for your relationships.

Some of you have either seen me speak about the RRC on a stage or you have sat with me in my therapy room while we worked through the proper steps to resolve the complaints of a loved one.

Either way, a couple of other nominations couldn’t hurt… I only need one.  But, having different perspectives of how using the RRC has helped you have a breakthrough in your life – or why you think this metaphor is a novel idea worth spreading – might just help the idea spread.

Literally.  Through a TED talk, “IDEAS worth spreading”

If you have 5 minutes and would be willing to help the idea spread via an online TED talk nomination, that would be awesome!

And, if you were to send me an email with a couple of comments about your nomination, I would love to be able to personally thank you for nominating the RRC.

Free Therapy for Three People in Need

September 6, 2019


A gift to our community of families.

We are currently offering six sessions of free therapy for people in need.  The sessions will be with Domenica Carrese, our intern who is finishing her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Virginia Tech University.  Dr. Stephanie will be supervising the therapeutic work for the clients who are accepted into this program.

The only availability for these sessions will be on Fridays between 10 am-4 pm.

If you are interested please send an email to Domenica Carrese at

In the email, briefly state your name and phone number, why you are seeking help, and briefly describe what your circumstances are that make it difficult for you to pay for therapy at the current time.  Please confirm your availability on Fridays.

This if first come, first serve because Domenica only has room in her schedule for three new families.  If you are one of the first families to email her and she believes she can help you, then she will contact you to schedule your first appointment!




September 4, 2019

Every client I spoke with this morning was having some sort of a problem with a parent seeing a child for who they really are.

Every parent’s responsibility is to give unconditional love and acceptance to their child, to see them for who they are.

This means not just loving your child for what they do

It means loving them even when you don’t like their behavior…

It means showing interest in what kind of music they like or what they love the most about their best friend or what makes them feel sad…

Sometimes as parents we can get so busy with our responsibilities and lives that we can get focused on whether our child is meeting our expectations for getting chores done or getting good grades in school or helping with a family project.  All of these are important to discuss and work on.  But this kind of attention is not the full picture of what love is.  It is only the part in which we want to teach our children to be responsible citizens and contributing family members because we love them and want them to have happy, successful lives.

However, we must be careful to not love our children for what they do. 

In order to see our children for who they are, I believe that there are at least two other major requirements.

The first requirement is to ask your child questions and show interest in who they are.  This means not primarily asking questions about their physical appearance, their performance in school or at work, or whether they are meeting various goals.

Instead, ask your child more questions about other stuff while refraining from making a comment of advice, criticism, or judgment.  For example,

  • How have you been feeling lately?
  • What’s going on with your friend that you were helping last weekend?
  • I like that song you are listening to, what band is that?

Pretty much, you need to focus on whatever stuff your child is thinking about or interested in that is not relating to their performance, chores, or behavior.  This is most likely their feelings, their friends, their hobbies and interests…

The second requirement is to have your Relationship Repair Counter open when your child comes to you with a complaint or a concern.  This is not easy for many people, but you know I have had lots of blog posts, videos, and examples written about this.  With many more to come 😊

When your child has a concern (whether about you or some other problem in their life), you will want to validate your child so that they feel understood.  This happens when you open your Relationship Repair Counter.

If you do not validate your child, he or she might not feel that you are there for them.  They might not feel that you understand them.  They might not feel that you SEE them for who they are and for what they are feeling.

I am convinced that humans were meant to attach to their parent/guardian/caregiver/mentor.  Attachment is about being SEEN and accepted not for what we do.

But rather for who we are.  Especially when we are sad, lonely, discouraged, and hurting. 

People with secure attachments with a parent, guardian, mentor, caregiver – or even a therapist – simply do better in life.  We are meant to be social creatures and we all need to be seen for who we are.

Our children are not so much responsible for our attachment needs as parents.  We are always responsible for our child’s attachment needs. Which is why when a parent gives their child silent treatment or will not speak to them for hours, days, months or years -it is quite simply always wrong.

If you need help with your relationships so that you can be seen or because you want to see other people more for who they are, please contact a Relationship Repair Associate today for an appointment.

My New Intern Has Friday Hours Available 10-7

September 3, 2019

I am happy to welcome my new intern, Domenica Carrese.  I will be supervising Domenica’s clinical work with clients at the Laurel Relationship Repair Shop, so clients will have the benefit of my expertise at a more affordable price.  Domenica is finishing up her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Virginia Tech University.  She will be a valuable member of our team and is considering starting her own Relationship Repair location in the Rockville area after graduation.

Domenica will be seeing clients on Fridays from 10 am – 7 pm in the Laurel office with a self-pay rate of $60 per one hour session.

For more information about Ms. Carrese go to Associate Page.  Appointments can be requested at


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Dr. Stephanie's Relationship Repair Shop
9660 Iron Leaf Trail Laurel, Maryland 20723
Phone: (301) 490-1011 URL of Map