World Contraception Day 2020

Happy World Contraception Day! Part of the international Your Life campaign, World Contraception Day takes place every year on September 26. It was launched with the aim of helping young people around the world make safe and educated decisions about sex.

Why This Matters to Teens

This is especially important for teens, who often don’t receive education about contraception in school. Just “16 states require instruction on condoms or contraception when sex education or HIV/STI instruction is provided,” according to SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. Plus, “35 require schools to stress abstinence when sex education or HIV/STI instruction is provided.”

But, the reality is that there are teens who choose to have sex and not remain abstinent, and this lack of information has an effect on them. “By the time they are in twelfth grade, the majority of high school students have had sexual intercourse,” says a report done by the Guttmacher Institute using data from the U.S. Youth Risk Behavior Surveys done in 2013, 2015 and 2017, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contraceptive Choices

World Contraception Day seeks to educate teens about the importance of safer sex. When it comes to preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the campaign introduces teens to information and resources about their contraceptive choices.

Currently, there are numerous forms of contraception available and finding one that works for you can seem like a daunting task. This campaign can help teens decide which method is best for them and what steps to take to access different contraceptive methods, including finding a health care provider if needed.

A Great Resource

The Your Life website guides teens on the usage and function of various contraceptive methods, teaching them things like which methods prevent STDs in addition to unintended pregnancy and the effectiveness of each. In addition, the website includes answers to commonly asked questions in order to enable teens to make decisions that benefit them most.

For many teens, high school is the time they begin to consider having sex for the first time. That’s why it’s so important to have campaigns like World Contraception Day that raise awareness and give them the opportunity they deserve to make informed decisions about their bodies and sexual health.

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Talking to Your Partner about Sex When You Suffer from Chronic Pain

When sex hurts, communication is key.

The post Talking to Your Partner about Sex When You Suffer from Chronic Pain appeared first on The Gottman Institute.



How Do I Tell If Someone Is Into Me?

You can read a book. You can read a map. But reading people, that’s difficult in any situation. Reading people to figure out if they’re actually into you romantically or sexually is even more difficult. Douglas Laman is here to give fellow autistic readers a little help.

You can read a book. You can read a map. But reading people, that’s difficult in any situation.

Reading people to figure out if they’re actually into you romantically or sexually is even more difficult. It’s a harrowing part of developing any sort of crush on another person. That sensation of your mind ping-ponging back and forth between the ideas that your crush is infatuated with you and that your crush probably doesn’t even know you exist. The difficulty of navigating this scenario is only exacerbated for many autistic people. After all, it plays into a struggle found among many of us, myself included, dealing with reading people’s subtle social cues.

If somebody is trying to let you know if they “like” you or not, they’re often going to communicate those feelings through hand movements, raised eyebrows or vocal tone. Trying to navigate those signals has brought me plenty of frustration in the past. I’m surely not the only autistic person to feel that struggle.

There are ways to cut through all the confusion and get some clarity on if someone you like feels the same way about you. But first, let’s clarify if the water is safe to swim in before you go jumping in that pool. In other words, let’s examine why you think a person might like you back. What circumstances have led you to think a person feels this way about you? Is it just because they have been nice to you? Is there a deeper connection between you two? What kind of conversations have you shared in the past?

There is a great deal of difference between a person exhibiting basic kindness and exhibiting indicators of feeling something more passionate. Contemplate your past interactions with this person to figure out if there’s anything in their body language and vocals to even examine.

Once you’re sure there’s something deeper, then there are ways to figure out if your suspicions are correct. These subtle signals can appear anywhere and at anytime through subtle pieces of body language. Some people may explicitly say “I like you” or “I don’t like you like that,” but many people won’t be so direct. Particularly with the latter phrase, people tend to convey their interior desires through gestures.

Now, sometimes, a stretch is just a stretch. It’s important to not lapse into self-absorbed territory and think every move a person makes is a signal to you. But other times, what a person does with their bodies can indicate something greater. This is especially true when a person is trying to convey whether they like you or not. For example, a person may indicate they feel closer to you through means like frequently getting closer to you. Conversely, a person looking always looking off or moving further away when engaging with you is trying to indicate they’re uncomfortable in this social situation and don’t want to be closer to you.

Of course, not every piece of body language is as simple as looking away or moving closer. If you’re still struggling to figure out what their body language means, you can use context clues to help you figure it out.  An example of this could be if the person you’re attached to looks at the floor. Did you recently say something that would cause the other person to turn downwards? Did they indicate they wanted to look at the floor? Did behavior from another person cause this? There are all kinds of things all around you that can help lead you to the meaning behind body language. In the process, you can figure out how the other person is subtly communicating their feelings about you.

A similar process can be used to decipher the underlying meaning behind someone’s voice. The way a person says a certain phrase can indicate they feel comfortable around you and may reciprocate your feelings. However, a person can also use details about their voice to convey the opposite feeling. This is especially notable in the kind of words and subjects they use in a conversation. For instance, your crush may repeatedly refer to you as a friend or change the subject when you bring up more intimate subject matter. These function as a way of a person quietly letting you know they just don’t like you in a romantic way.

If you want to figure out a persons feelings about you, it’s important to also interact with them in the right environment. For this topic, check out my recent Scarleteen column looking at ideal places for a first date.  This location should strive for a balance between intimacy and comfort for the person you’re seeing. Somewhere like a museum, a restaurant or a thrift store can provide plenty of opportunities for one-on-one interactions. However, they also have lots of other people around, which can provide comfort for the other person you’re seeing. In these locations, you can examine your crush’s body language and vocal traits to figure out whether you’re they like you back.

Of course, these tips, particularly ones regarding places to meet, are more applicable to traditional dating expectations than where we’re all at right now as I’m writing this. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything is anything but traditional. People are connecting through virtual means rather than in-person scenarios. These tips about body language and vocal tics can still be applicable over a Zoom session. Additionally, this virtual reality offers new indicators whether a person is into you or not.

Let us look at a person constantly declining your requests to have a one-on-one videochat session. Though they may always say it’s because they’re “busy”, this recurring notice can be the other person trying to gently let you know they’re not interested in you in that manner. On a more positive note, recurring prolonged one-on-one Zoom or Skype sessions with another person can be a good indicator that they may have deeper feelings for you.

If you’re getting signals that they do, in fact, feel the same way about you, then you can start to gradually incorporate the topics like seeing each other regularly or having a more romantic or sexual date into your conversations. However, it is crucial to note that, whether you’re interacting in-person or virtually, you will never be able to read another person’s body language better than that other person. If the person you’re with is expressing discomfort or lack of consent, even if it doesn’t look like that to you, that overrides your interpretation.

Similarly, if a person ends up not reciprocating your feeling of affection, that’s totally okay. You can feel disappointed, of course, but them not returning your romantic intentions does not make them a villain. This is especially an important lesson to impart for heterosexual cisgender men. As a society, men are conditioned to think they’re owed women as romantic partners. If a woman deviates from a man’s affections, well, it gets chalked up to being a conspiracy against “nice guys” or other similar expressions of entitlement. We’re not entitled to women, their attention or affection.

Those toxic ideas reduce women from being people to objects. That’s why it’s important, even if you’re disappointed that your crush isn’t into you, to not diminish the humanity of that former crush. They are a person too and one perfectly within their own rights not to be enamored with you.

Reading a person’s body language is significantly harder than reading a map or a book. However, it is an essential process. Much like not demonizing a person because they’re not into you, understanding a person’s body language is a great way to recognize somebody else’s humanity. Relationships are not built on treating people like trophies to be obtained. Taking the time to assess a person as a human being who communicates needs through body language, that is what relationships are all about.

Soft illustration of a peacock with text "how do I tell if someone is into me?"



Virtual Social Anxiety: How to Support Teens During the Unpredictable School Year

Help your teen manage their fears about learning online.

The post Virtual Social Anxiety: How to Support Teens During the Unpredictable School Year appeared first on The Gottman Institute.



Suicide Prevention Month: How to Find and Offer Support to LGBTQ Teens

It’s National Suicide Prevention Month and that got me thinking about how the world can feel brutal sometimes: mean comments, rumors, judgment. Research unfortunately has found that LGBTQ youth are at higher risk for suicide.

For their 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, the Trevor Project—an organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth—surveyed over 40,000 U.S. LGBTQ people ages 13 to 24. Among their key findings: “Forty percent of LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered suicide.” Further, LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual teens, according to the 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance from the Centers for Disease Control.

These are disheartening and discouraging statistics. But LGBTQ youth are subject to a lot of discrimination and abuse. “Six out of 10 LGBTQ youth said that someone attempted to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to the Trevor Project survey mentioned above. And “One in three LGBTQ youth report that they have been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”

But there are things you can do, whether you’re looking for support or wanting to provide it to others. For example, the Trevor Project’s survey found that transgender and nonbinary young people who reported having their pronouns respected or access to gender gender-affirming clothing had lower rates of attempted suicide. And the great news is that 86 percent of LGBTQ young people who took the survey reported high levels of support from at least one person. Let’s make that 100 percent!

Offer Your Support

1. Listen and care. Even the smallest amount of love and support can go a long way. A simple “How are you doing?” can really help with feelings of isolation and show that you care. Reach out.

2. Use your voice on social media. By sharing LGBTQ-friendly posts, you are supporting and advocating for those who are LGBTQ. This not only increases awareness but also may catch the eyes of many who need to know they have allies.

3. Get help. If you know someone who is struggling and may be contemplating suicide, let them know that they are not alone and they have many resources, such as the ones listed below.

As The Trevor Project says on their website, “One supportive person can prevent suicide.” Sometimes, that’s all it takes to help someone.


• Call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386, where trained counselors are available 24/7. It’s a safe and judgment-free place to talk about what is on your mind.

• Not feeling like talking? Well, TrevorChat is also available online 24/7 where you can message a trained counselor from your computer. Conversations are confidential.

TrevorText is confidential and will also connect you with a trained Trevor counselor 24/7. Text START to 678-678.

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Moving Toward Black Grief

The Black community needs support. Discover how the ATTUNE method leans into the pain and builds trust.

The post Moving Toward Black Grief appeared first on The Gottman Institute.



Intern Spotlight: Meet Sara Mercier-Kennedy

M.S. Clinical Mental Health Intern

Graduated from Colorado State University with a double Bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology, where I focused on Gender Identity formation, and LGBTQIA+ issues.  Specifically those in relation to the Transgender population and access to health-care and mental health counseling by knowledgeable counseling professionals and doctors.  I then went on to my Master’s at Walden University where I continued this track and become actively involved in the ACA’s ALGBTIC division and served on a the committee for making language in documentation more accessible and gender neutral.  I picked up a specialization in Crisis & Trauma after working for Hospice and volunteering at the local LGBT center’s around my hometown and university.  Eventually I made my way to Florida from Colorado.  Gamer/Neet/Anime Weeb and all around enjoyer of life’s little self-care routines.

My main mission is to provide a safe, empathetic, and understanding environment for clients to explore who they are regardless of where they have been.  Healing begins by understanding ourselves, and through exploration of those things that have brought us joy as-well-as pain.  Understanding and acceptance of ourselves can ultimate lead us to not only the most authentic version of ourselves, but  a self that can truly accept others as well.

Sara is a great addition to our Harmony team. If you would like to set up a consult or session with Sara please contact HarmonyUS Inc by calling or text 209-867-7233.


Menstrual Discs: A Unique Option for Back to School

After a week of constant ads for menstrual discs on my Snapchat, I finally gave in and tried them. The prospect of a 12-hour, no-(or-low) leak, potentially cramp-reducing product with the option of mess-free sex on your period? Enough to get me interested!

Even though the product isn’t brand-new, most people I know haven’t heard of it. I thought it could be a great option for dealing with your period in the upcoming school year. It’s always good to have more choices!

What Is a Menstrual Disc?

A menstrual disc is a flat, flexible plastic disc that collects menstrual flow around the cervix. Unlike a menstrual cup, which sits lower in the vaginal canal, the menstrual disc goes around the cervix, sitting higher in the vagina.

Before I learned about menstrual discs, I used tampons and pads. They were OK, but even after a year of using tampons, they were still uncomfortable for me when I put them in. So, when I heard about an alternative option, I was eager to try it out.

There are a couple of different kinds. I’ve only tried the Softdisc, which has worked well for me.

Why I Love It

One of the things I love about the menstrual disc is that when you pinch it in the middle, it folds down to a size even smaller than a tampon. The plastic material slides in easier for me than a cotton/rayon tampon.

It took me a few tries to get it in correctly, but once I figured it out, it lasted around eight to 10 hours. Sometimes I forgot I was on my period at all!

There were very few leaks, no hanging string or any visible signs of the disc. And I had barely any cramps (though the jury is still out on if menstrual discs really can reduce cramps since cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus, not the vagina).

I think what draws a lot of people to discs is that they don’t block the vaginal canal, so you can have penetrative sex with one in. This is awesome, but menstrual discs don’t provide any form of protection from unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, so you should still use condoms, which prevent both.

Are They for You?

Menstrual discs are another option for dealing with your period, but they are not for everyone. They’re more expensive than tampons or menstrual cups, and aren’t very eco-friendly. You’ll also need to be comfortable handling your menstrual fluid, because you’ll have to insert and take the disc out with your fingers. Also, it collects menstrual blood, rather than absorbing it, so you’ll see more when you take it out. This took some getting used to.

Despite those potential downsides, menstrual discs are my new favorite menstrual product! They make that one dreaded week out of every month more tolerable.

There are a lot of different options for dealing with your period, but until recently I’d only heard of tampons, pads, menstrual cups and period underwear. If you’re looking for an alternative option for the upcoming school year (whether you’re going to school or doing remote learning), you might want to give menstrual discs a try!

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“Small ‘T’ trauma” and Its Effect on Dating

Want a fulfilling relationship? It all begins with knowing and healing the real you.

The post “Small ‘T’ trauma” and Its Effect on Dating appeared first on The Gottman Institute.



How To Change Your Own Contempt

You may not even be aware of how you are acting or speaking out of contempt—often it can feel like you are being genuine. Dr. John Gottman realized there needs to be a path that leads to a culture of appreciation, and that is by expressing your feelings and longings.

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