Q&A with LaTonia Simmons, Yellow Umbrella

LaTonia Simmons, Therapist/Educator, Yellow Umbrella

Yellow Umbrella is a Family Counseling and Child Safety Center servicing Brevard County, Florida that offers a variety of programs including Parenting, Anger Management, Youth Programs, Domestic Violence, Divorce Counseling, Individual and Group Counseling, and Supervised Visitation. In light of the issues the world is currently facing with COVID-19 and incidents of racism and a general increase in fear and anxiety, EmpowHERto asked Yellow Umbrella therapist and educator, LaTonia Simmons, to answer some questions regarding the programs they offer and how they may help those seeking assistance with their own personal struggles.

What’s the most common area of counseling that your clients seek?

Primarily Family and Individual Counseling are our most common areas of service. We also assist with instructing Parenting, Anger Management, and Divorce classes as needed.

We work with teens and young adults, what ages do you work with?

We work with all ages and families and we can work with clients remotely.

What’s the smartest thing a parent or guardian can do to help their child(ren) cope with a crisis?

The smartest thing a parent or guardian can do is to check-in. Mentally our thoughts can be all over the place (at any age) and the fear of uncertainty surfaces. In our Parenting class, we conduct a session that reflects on “Handling Stress.” We talk about how stress can be good or bad, how it is self-induced, and so it is each person’s responsibility to manage their own stress. We review appropriate ways stress can be managed. 

There are no “bad” emotions, as all emotions occur for a reason and are experienced by all people, and how everyone experiences the emotion of anger, which in itself is not “bad,” but rather it is how one chooses to express it that can make it “bad.” We talk about the importance of parents being able to model the appropriate ways of expressing high-energy emotions, such as anger, for their children, explore where anger comes from, discuss the relationship between anger and violence, and talk about the importance of parents not pairing the emotion of anger with the behavior of hitting, especially when disciplining their children.

What’s a good tip to remember when talking with teens?

Understanding feelings is crucial at this time. We assist our parents with understanding the importance for children to have emotional competence, which includes learning how to recognize and express their own feelings appropriately, as well as being able to identify feelings that others are experiencing. We recommend discussing the importance of being able to model the appropriate expressions of the feelings they are experiencing, especially the higher-intensity emotions such as anger.

At what age should a parent/guardian begin to talk with their child about their feelings?

As early as their child starts to understand their words. There is no specific age for that as some children tend to develop this concept earlier than others. We recommend teens see a therapist to cope with issues at school because a school counselor may not be enough. Most times school counselors are limited with time in terms of checking in with those students who require that reassurance throughout their school year.

I see you deal with anger management. What behaviors warrant a professional therapist for anger management?

We recommend anger management therapy for those who have a difficult time with coping mechanisms and managing emotions of their own in stressful times. There are three types of anger that help shape how we react in a situation that makes us angry. These are passive aggression, open aggression, and assertive anger.

Feelings of anger or violent acting out can be related to many different underlying difficulties including depression, anxiety, addictions, and other mental health problems. Many individuals can have underlying difficulties with severely low self-esteem, as well as problems with mistrust. Some people may also have a history of past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. There may be many interlocking features that have led someone to develop anger management difficulties.

For more on Yellow Umbrella check out their website or e-mail latonia.simmons@yellowumbrella.org

EmpowHERto

Founded in 2015, EmpowHERto is a Toronto-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping 14-21 year-old women and girls reach their fullest potential.

EmpowHERto is as strong as the community that holds it up. Together, we can do more than we can do alone. Let’s bring our abilities and passions together to affect real change.

partner@empowherto.org

Toronto, Ontario