October 19, 2013 – Amber Willis was recognized as a recipient of the 2013 Dissertation Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The award is given to recognize scholarly achievement by recent graduates whose research study relates couples and family therapy.

Dr. Willis’ study, “Assessing Therapeutic Activities, Child Talk, and Session Outcome in Family Therapy with Young Children,” was conducted through her program at the University of Georgia.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is the professional association for the field of marriage and family therapy. We represent the professional interests of more than 50,000 marriage and family therapists throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. For more information, visit

Valley Mental Health Medicaid Transition

Silverado Counseling Services is a provider of Medicaid-funded mental health services to residents of Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit Counties. In light of recent changes with Valley Mental Health, we have been responsive in assisting some of the clients being transitioned out of the care of Valley Mental Health. We stand ready to accept referrals and to make the adjustment a better experience for Medicaid clients.

If you have Medicaid coverage and you are a resident of Salt Lake, Tooele or Summit County, we may be able to assist you with your mental health care needs. We have a skilled staff with extensive experience with the Seriously and Persistently Mentally Ill (SPMI) population. You will find that our office environment is calm and our staff approachable. We will make every effort to respond to your needs.

If you, or someone you know need help with mental health issues, please call our office (801) 983-5540. If we do not have the service you need, we will refer you to someone who can best serve your individual needs. As always, you can call OptumHealth (1-877-370-8953) and they can assist you as well.

You have Options for Medicaid Treatment

This past year, local news has covered the evolving status of Valley Mental Health and its Medicaid-based services for those in our community with mental health issues. For over 20 years, Valley Mental Health was the model of mental health care and widely recognized for its innovative programming, its staff and its model of client care. More recently, the news about Valley Mental Health has centered on the various changes with a more negative portrayal. Being a former employee, I know personally that many individuals and their families have benefitted from the support and services provided by Valley Mental Health and I hope this history will not be ignored. Change is inevitable in all things and while this can raise anxiety, change can also yield positive results. During this time of change, I would hope that professionals in the community would continue collaboration rather than competition and remain focused on how best to serve clients and their families. If you are a Medicaid consumer and you need mental health counseling, there are resources available in Salt Lake County in addition to those still being provided by Valley Mental Health, some of which are listed on the OptumHealth website or can be accessed by calling the phone number on your Medicaid card. Let’s work together for good mental health.

Mark A. Weisbender, LCSW
Silverado Counseling Services, LLC


(this comment was posted on the City Weekly website in response to an article posted 11/07/12 “Valley Mental Health program freezes access to new Optum client”)

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that tends to follow with the changing of the seasons. Typically, this refers to an increase of depressive symptoms experienced during the fall and into the winter months. Researchers suggest that this form of depression tends to be more prominent during winter months due to the shorter days which mean less exposure to the sun. The sun provides us a natural way of affecting vitamin D and serotonin levels, which influence our mood. Treatment for SAD may include spending more time outdoors to increase exposure to the sun or “Light Therapy” which involves exposure to a special light source that simulates sun exposure. Light therapy should only be used under the direction and supervision of a qualified physician. If you think you experience symptoms of depression, you should speak to your mental health provider.

Start of the Holiday Season

The approaching holiday season soon kicks-off with Thanksgiving. The next few months bring the potential for added stress of family obligations, added expenses, cultural and social expectations as well as many wonderful tempting treats that can make counting calories a challenging task. However, this was probably not the intent when seasonal holidays were created.

In the field of psychology, “Stress is Stress”. Whether it is a welcomed stress (such as a wedding or job promotion) or a dreaded stress (such as losses) it creates the same stress response. Likewise, holidays can be stressful even if we look forward to them so the issue of stress management is important.

Here are a few ways that you might better manage the holiday stress and increase enjoyment:

  • Set a firm budget. If you do not have the money to do something for everyone on your list consider something homemade or a simple handwritten letter with photos describing how that person is meaningful in your life.
  • When you are considering budgeting, be sure to include ways to “budget” calories and don’t neglect your exercise routine.
  • Plan your giving, whether it is gifts or time. Consider your own needs and the needs of those close to you first, then allocate your time and resources as you choose to make your experience enjoyable.
  • Be sure that you teach your children the meaning that YOU want them to associate with the holidays, whether it is a religious component or a spiritual one (such as thankfulness or gratitude). Help your family avoid getting caught-up in the commercial definitions of the holidays, believe me, they will understand if the luxury car with a large bow is not in the driveway. Consider volunteering with your children during the holidays to teach giving. Consider volunteering for one of the agencies that provide free meals or one of the care centers for the elderly.

Regardless of your religious, cultural or personal beliefs for the holidays, find a way to make them meaningful and centered on the meaning that you and your loved ones want them to be.

Welcome to our Blog

Welcome to the Silverado Counseling blog. We hope that you will find our topics both timely and helpful. Silverado Counseling Services advocates for the families in our community and we strive to raise awareness of issues affecting those families. We feel that knowledge and education can help you to be a better consumer and helps us to be a better provider. We welcome your feedback, requests or recommendations on any of the postings on our blog. Enjoy!