Blog Section

How to Break Into an Adult Clique: Dr. Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

The word “clique” often has a negative connotation and may bring up feelings of exclusive peers in Junior High, but adult cliques exist as well. It may not be a pleasant word, but the truth is that like-minded individuals often form social groups to discuss shared values, lifestyles, and interests. These groups can be intimidating, especially if you are looking from the outside in and would like to be a part of them. Here are some strategies to break into an adult clique:

1.  Don’t Take It Personally

If you feel like you’re not in the loop with a certain group or you haven’t been invited to participate, try not to take it personally (though this is easier said than done). Remember that people often organize themselves based on commonalities (working at the same company, playing tennis, homeschooling their children, etc.), and if you don’t feel involved, it’s likely not that someone is trying to intentionally exclude you. And perhaps members of a certain clique don’t necessarily feel like they need to expand their circle, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t.


7 Rules in Shame-Based Families

Teen Family Time
Shame has been a popular psychotherapy topic in social media lately and due to its fame it is frequently on my mind.  Today I’ve been thinking specifically about shame-based families and how this toxic feeling is often handed down through generations.
Shame can be passed through a family in myriad ways.  A common path is for it to travel through family rules.  With some prompting, maybe you can recall some of your family’s rules.  What rules did your family have about touching and sexuality?  What were the rules regarding marriage, money, vacations, religion, socializing…?
In John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame That Binds You he outlines 7 rules that are maintained by shame-based families.

Is Talking About Race Just a Phase?

Family 2

As parents, the ability to talk with our kids about race can be very challenging. Over the summer,  I had a chance to talk with KSL Radio about the term “transracial” as it related to a popular story of the fallout and national conversation about race, when a white woman chose to identify as a black woman for professional and personal reasons.  In the radio interview I addressed the term transracial as an adoption term only and I discussed the history of “Passing” in a America. What I didn’t get a chance to talk about (because we only had 2 minutes) was how to help parents of children who may hear about being transracial and feel that they, too, identify with another cultural or ethnic group outside of their own.

Click the link below to listen to LaShawn Schultz talk with KSL Radio

Parents may wonder how to address it or whether to ignore it and hope it passes like a rebellious taste in music. You don’t have to be a scholar about race relations in America in order to talk to your child about racial identity. What you do have to be aware of is the relationship you have with your child and the reality of identity development in the life of an adolescent.  Adolescence can be a trying time both for the tweenager, the teenager, and their parents and caregivers. This is because identity and the ability to explore it is in a full fledged developmental process. Identity itself is a lifelong process that only begins in adolescence. Our goal in parenting through change is to help our kids navigate the questions that arise from their crises.

While racial identity development is a separate experience reserved for the lived experience from birth of a specific racial or ethnic identity, the discussion of feeling a connection and kinship to a racial group that is not part of your own and only experienced in a social interactions is different.  The ability of parents to remember and do the following 3 things will help keep your connection to your child as durable as it is flexible.

  1. Recognize that a “crisis” is not a bad thing, it is simply an unanswered question or series of questions. It’s okay to explore questions with your child because this builds critical thinking skills.
  2. Realize that your child bringing the unanswered question to you is as much a compliment as it is a hearing test. Your child wants to know if you’ll hear them and listen when they talk.
  3. While your child cannot change their racial identity, the relationship you have with them is what will change as you use your ability to talk with them as an emotional connection point.  Connection is what allows you to talk with them about race as a social construct and get underneath their questions to reach the desire for emotion and validation that is fueling the questions about their identity in the first place.

The three things are the foundation of your relational connection to your child and will make a big difference in your relationship with them all because of your willingness to understand them.


You’re Already Good Enough: Embracing Imperfection & Cultivating Confidence

Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks

Utah Women & Leadership Project

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015   6:30 – 8:30 PM

Event being held at Utah Valley University

This event is titled, “You’re Already Good Enough: How Embracing Imperfection and Cultivating Confidence Frees You to Influence & Lead.” Perfectionism, depression, anxiety, and feeling “not good enough” can halt your positive growth and development. Dr. Susan R. Madsen, founder of the Utah Women & Leadership Project, will moderate a lively and engaging panel of therapists, authors, and experts on this topic. The panel will discuss how embracing imperfection can increase self-worth, improve academic achievement, and inspire you to be engaged in your community (locally, nationally, globally) as a resource to other women and girls. Panelists will also discuss how to increase confidence, find your unique voice, and develop leadership skills in order to expand your positive influence. Come and learn how you can be a positive influence on others who may struggle with feeling “never good enough.” Women and those who influence them are invited (this means men are welcome too)!

This event, held on November 3, 2015 from 6:30-8:30 pm, will be in the Ragan Theater in the Sorensen Center at Utah Valley University. Panelists for this TV talk show type event will include: Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks (PhD, LCSW), Dr. Kris Doty (PhD, LCSW), Dr. Julie Clark (PhD), and Dr. Ruth Terrison-McKane (PhD, LCSW). It is hosted by the Utah Women & Leadership Projects and sponsored by the following: Woodbury School of Business, UVU Women’s Success Center, Squire, Utah Community Credit Union, Jeffery & Katie Nelson, Crandall Corporate Dietitians, Utah Education Network, Women’s Leadership Institute, and the Women’s Business Center at the Salt Lake Chamber.

This event will conclude with light refreshments as attendees move into dialogue groups. The event will live stream as well (more info to come). Video recordings of the event will also be available at and also rebroadcast on UEN-TV channel 9.1. Come listen, ask questions, and learn!


How to Avoid Getting Trapped Inside Your Own Head

Common Therapy Questions
One common trap that I’ve noticed many people fall into is “black and white” or “all or nothing” thinking.  This is the type of thinking where you think in extremes, and have very few options available to you.  For example, “I’m either smart or I’m stupid”, “I succeeded or I totally failed”.  This type of thinking can prevent you from having a full, realistic view of yourself, your values and beliefs, and from making well-informed decisions.
Visit the link below to learn more about this common pitfall, and how to avoid it!

The Most Important Part of Any Story Is…


As a licensed therapist, I have the privilege of hearing incredibly powerful stories on a daily basis. Everyone has come from a different set of circumstances and experiences and has a unique story to tell. Although there are many parts of our lives that are worth examining, the most important aspect of any story told in a therapy office is the person who is telling it.

The reasons and circumstances that lead to someone coming to therapy are as vast. However, one of the most common needs in therapy is some aspect of self discovery and understanding that was not there prior to coming into a therapist’s office.

For example, many clients will come into therapy due to some perceived “weakness,” whether that is an individual struggle or perceived relational shortcoming. However, as is often the case, the client ends up seeing themselves as courageous and strong, rather than weak, after sharing their story. This is particularly noticeable in cases of abuse and addiction.

To use a fictional example, Harry Potter may have felt that he was a common, unimportant, ordinary child. Although I was reluctant to admit it at first, the Harry Potter series is full of exciting adventures: quidditch, magic, flying, and battles with Voldemort. Although the series is packed with thrilling moments, the most important part of the books/movies is “the boy who lived.” It is what he was able to accomplish and find out about himself. The most important thing he learned was that he was courageous and loved. He was anything but ordinary!

This transformation of seeing oneself as “weak” to recognizing their own inner strength is a process. To be honest, sometimes it is not easy. However, I have seen it enough times to convince me that it is worth the effort. Sometimes it is the challenge in and of itself that allows someone to come to the realization of their own inner strength and worth.

Therapy can be a scary place to go. However, sometimes the scariest places are the ones that can teach us the most about ourselves. Remember, even more important than someone’s life history, is honoring the value of their own life. There are a lot of interesting topics and facets of psychology, but the most fascinating and important subject is the person who is sharing.


NEW DBT Women’s Group Begins Sept. 8th!


Next Group Begins Sept. 8th, 2015!


6 weeks / Sept. 8 – Oct. 13

Tuesdays 6:00-7:30 pm

Led by Monette Cash, LCSW

Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.

Please contact us to register for the group!


Help With Homework? Re-frame Your Approach This Year


The school year is now underway, and for most of us, that can only mean one thing. It’s just a matter of days before ‘it’ begins, ‘mom, where is my science book? I know it was in my book bag and now it’s gone!’ or ‘dad, YOU SAID you would help me with my English!’ Homework season has begun.

When did homework become so intense, so stressful? Does it have to be this way? Here are just a few ideas to re-frame the homework experience to make it easier on you and help you remember why we do it at all.

Pro or con, the homework debate has been going on for as long as most of us can remember. How much is enough? Is it worth it? Should you monitor your child? Most research leans towards yes, generally speaking, though not always in the way we might think. Overall, a good rule of thumb is approximately 10 minutes per grade, so a first grader completes about 10 minutes, and so on.


The Beautiful Game


Fall is nigh which for the devoted means football season is upon us! There is nothing quite like the sound of a roaring crowd when the football has been kicked off to signal the start of American’s version of The Beautiful Game. We wait in anticipation as our favourite players line up and explode off the line as soon as the pigskin is snapped. With curious wonder we watch as plays unfold and then we scratch our head or cheer depending upon the outcome. This isn’t all too far from how our relationships work either. You’ve heard many couples talk about how they “let this one slide” when it comes to arguments because you have to “pick your battles.” Like football, relationships have a defense and an offense. Sometimes the offense will get something by the defense and sometimes the defense will stop the offense in its tracks. This is the same way arguments work in relationships when you “pick your battles.” I have three suggestions chock full of football metaphors to help your “team” score touchdowns every time!

1) Break down the play – What went wrong that lead to an argument? How did your significant other say that certain thing that made you want to go for the jugular? What was the tone, intensity, and volume of what was being said? Like football players, we have to be willing to break down the game tape and understand how the play collapsed and fell apart. Who missed their blocking assignment? Who got lazy with their tackling and let it slip away? These are the important questions you have to ask in the relationship to really determine your strengths and weaknesses. In other words, if you can identify where you went wrong with trying to convey your point and open up dialogue with strong communication and accountability for where you went wrong you are well on your way to the next suggestion.

2) Learn from the play – Understanding how the play went wrong helps to understand what needs to be corrected for next time in order to have flawless execution in your touchdown drive to ultimately end up with the big score. Knowing what your role is in the play helps you solidify the “footwork” you need to display in order to stay in front of whatever is coming your way and adjust accordingly. In other words, if you know raising your voice in the heat of a discussion brewing into an argument is going to affect your partner – lower your voice, remain calm, and remember you’re on the same team trying to accomplish the same objective. Now on to our last suggestion.

3) Call an audible – Sometimes the quarterback may see something in the defense that doesn’t look quite right and he needs to have his team on the same page enough to call a different play to exploit the defense. This is called an audible which is basically switching up the play and doing something different. This isn’t all that different in relationships. If you start to notice that things don’t look quite right don’t be afraid to call an audible and do something different to break the cycle of the same ole same ole. In other words, if you start to notice you and your partner escalating to the point of no return don’t hesitate to switch it up and tell them how much you cherish them and appreciate them and sing your frustrations to them. Trust me, no one can stay upset for very long when their partner is singing to them in the key of Bohemian Rhapsody.

If you commit yourselves to these three suggestions you’ll not only beat the opposing team into submission but you’ll also gain the victory of a highly satisfying relationship and that’s when you can really break out your dance moves for the most epic touchdown celebration ever or not because it’s your touchdown celebration and you do whatever you want!


Back-to-School Jitters: Tips for Parents


The Back To School Jitters

For many parents, the beginning of the school year not only brings a sigh of relief, but also a feeling of panic with the emergence of the endless school supply lists, homework, and trying to get not just to bed on time but to school! For many children and teens however, the first few weeks of school are not just a struggle because they are mourning the lazy days of summer.  Many kids experience anxiety and really struggle adjusting, especially if it is one of the “firsts” – 1st grade, the start of junior high, high school, and the senior year.  These are major milestones as well as rites of passage for kids growing up into adulthood, with many hurdles and the unknown of what to expect.  Click on the link below to watch this segment for tips for parents on how to move through these first few weeks smoothly as we calm the Back To School Jitters.