A pair of Baton Rouge counselors are encouraging young women to find their self-worth beyond social media
Emily Kern Hebert
June 8, 2016 | Business
Licensed professional counselors Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer are going beyond the office to make a big impact with young women struggling with body image and self-esteem issues.
Rodrigue and Fetzer, co-owners of The Wellness Studio, recently organized workshops for young women in both high school and college to address these issues and others, as well as the challenges that have emerged in an age when social media plays such a large role in their lives. The workshops are intended to empower young women to stop defining themselves by their physical appearance while also encouraging responsible social media usage.
Fetzer and Rodrigue hope more organizations will reach out to them for help.
“So many girls define themselves by their social media accounts,” Fetzer says. “We wanted to give them the tools to make it be something positive.”
The pro-bono presentation to St. Scholastica Academy, an all-girls high school in Covington, was entitled, “Define Your Selfie: A Girl’s Guide To Positive Body Image, Empowerment … And Their Inner Beyoncé.” The counselors teamed up with a photographer, a social media expert and others to be as relevant and credible as possible.
Rodrigue and Fetzer prepared a similar workshop entitled “MISS-guided” for incoming freshmen at LSU’s Tri-Delta sorority. It was so well received that the sorority asked the counselors to present again to the entire chapter.
Initially, Fetzer and Rodrigue planned to offer a “Define Your Selfie” workshop to the sorority. But the counselors later decided to broaden the talk to include advice on finding one’s passion, as well as address some of the obstacles that can derail an individual along life’s journey.
“We’ve always let it happen organically—where the need is, where we can be effective,” Rodrigue says of the presentations.
Social media can impact a young woman’s self-dialogue, Fetzer says. For example, she says, when a friend’s post gets more likes on Facebook, that can affect how a person defines their self-worth or self-esteem.
“Some girls are more mentally strong or healthy, so it may not affect them in that way,” she says. “But it certainly can.”
Rodrigue says one of the goals of the presentations is for young women to be able to look at social media with that awareness in mind. In the presentation to the college-aged women, Fetzer says she and Rodrigue talked about the end of adolescence, changes in family and friend relationships, choosing a college major, entering the workforce after graduation and marriage. Another goal of the presentations is to remove stigmas surrounding mental health issues.
“Things pull you in different directions, and all of a sudden you’re on a dark path,” Fetzer says. “Are you going to major in this because all of your friends are? Are you holding on to a relationship because you’re afraid of letting go?”
Rodrigue and Fetzer also want to give back to the community. The pair enjoys customizing their presentations, and the goal is always to create something meaningful for the audience, Rodrigue says.
“We know as counselors, it’s up to us to get the message out—we’re here to help,” Fetzer says.
For more information, visit The Wellness Studio online at www.surprisinglywell.com.
—Emily Kern Hebert
By Nick BeJeaux
When the idea of mental illness crosses your mind, you may think of schizophrenia, PTSD, or psychosis; but what about anxiety, depression, and even grief?
The Wellness Studio has been helping Baton Rouge, Covington and New Orleans cope with these issues and more since it opened its doors in January 2013. Co-owners and licensed professional counselors Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer use an inviting space to offer their patients counseling and therapy in a relaxed, and creatively decorated, space.
In an interview with DIG, Fetzer discussed the five most common mental illnesses in Baton Rouge: anxiety, depression, mood disorders, adjustment disorders, and grief.
Anxiety is by far the most common illness on this list. Some anxiety is actually good for you; It pushes us to meet deadlines and uphold responsibilities. But for some, it can be completely debilitating.
“Generally speaking, anxiety is a buildup of stress,” said Fetzer. “It’s when life starts to feel unmanageable—it’s a fear-based disorder. It’s driven by irrationally-based thinking.”
In addition to being the most common, anxiety is also the most easily treated illness on this list. The biggest obstacle for treatment is usually the reluctance of the patient to seek help.
“The best way that someone can cope with anxiety is to seek help and to not be afraid of seeking help,” said Fetzer. “One can try to deal with things themselves, but why do that when you don’t have to? There are so many resources out there that can help empower someone to work through the anxiety that they are experiencing.”
In many ways, depression is a lot like anxiety. Some people are mentally predisposed to it, but outside external factors can lead to the disease.
“There are many external things that can lead to and worsen depression,” said Fetzer. “Very big triggers that I see are relationship issues, work demands, family conflict, and grief. People began to feel like they’ve lost control and can’t really manage the external world around them, like with anxiety.”
Treatment for depression depends on the severity of the case, and can involve medication, psychotherapy, counseling, or any combination of the three.
“We follow what is called ‘evidence-based guidelines’ which are whatever the research shows to be effective,” said Fetzer. “Treatment depends on the severity of the depression. If someone is depressed only at home because of family issues, then counseling and psychotherapy alone may be able to treat the depression. But if a person’s depression is inhibiting all areas of their life, then medication would become involved.”
3. Mood Disorders
Mood disorder sounds similar to depression on the surface, but they are actually quite different. Depression (and anxiety) are linked to a feeling of losing control of the external world. Mood disorders are symptoms of losing control in the internal world.
“They are an instability of one’s mood, or one’s inability to control one’s mood,” said Fetzer. “A good example of a mood disorder would be bipolar disorder. People with this go from very depressed to very manic very quickly.”
Fetzer also said that treatment for mood disorders tends to be very nuanced to the particulars of each individual case.
“Like all mental health issues, there is no blood test to tell us who has what mood disorder and what treatment to pursue; it goes case by case,” she said.
4. Adjustment Disorders
Think back to your freshman year in college, or when you were living alone for the first time ever. Some people take to their newfound freedom very well. Others, not so much. People who find being thrust into new circumstances debilitating may suffer from an adjustment disorder, which you may have guessed are very similar to anxiety.
“Adjustment issues are without a doubt related to anxiety,” said Fetzer. “It’s any time you find yourself having trouble with a life transition. For kids with divorcing parents, breakups, etc., they can experience a lot of anxiety or sadness.”
Fetzer said that cause for adjustment issues are typically rooted in the physical world, and treat ment usually consists of helping the patient deal with the trigger change.
“In terms of coping with the actual change, it really comes down to psychotherapy,” she said. “You’re helping the person over time in very structured sessions to adapt to new perspectives and change their ways of thinking into something that is more positive and realistic. It sounds like brainwashing, but all it is correcting factually incorrect or irrational ways of thinking.”
Grief is often associated with death, but Fetzer would say it is more correct to associate it with loss. In fact, she most often sees it in the aftermath of breakups.
“Break ups are a big deal,” she said. “You, I, and everyone can relate. It really shakes up everything. It’s very difficult for some people to cope with.”
You may have heard of the Five Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) in a movie or TV show. Fetzer says that model is correct, but with some slight differences in every case.
“It seems to be the best way to understand and describe what a grieving person is going through, but I wouldn’t say it’s cookie cutter. Not everyone will go through the stages in the same order, or for the same amount of time.”
Entrepreneur: Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer
GABRIELLE BRAUD | @GABRIELLEBRAUD
MARCH 4, 2015 | BUSINESS
Position: Co-owners and licensed professional counselors
Company:The Wellness Studio
What they do: A mental health counseling private practice that offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy services for children, adolescents, and adults.
Addresses: 7472 Highland Road, with locations in Covington and New Orleans as well
Next goals: Destigmatize mental health and counseling through more outreach efforts both locally and internationally
After spending five years working as a hospital clinician, Mary Kathryn Rodrigue decided the time was right for something new. “I think for any clinician, to have a private practice is the dream job,” Rodrigue says. So after much research into the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Northshore area markets, Rodrigue set out to create a counseling center that felt intriguing and inviting, with aesthetics playing a large role. She opened The Wellness Studio in Baton Rouge in January of 2013 and in the summer of 2013, met Katie Fetzer, who became co-owner of the business by the end of the year. This meeting of kindred spirits turned into a business partnership, with both women proactively trying to change the face of mental health and therapy because of the negative stigma associated with it.
GLASS HALF FULL
In their 13 years of combined experience as wellness counselors, Rodrigue says her favorite feedback they’ve received from a client is that they left feeling a little bit lighter. “We can’t change life,” Fetzer says. “But it is about teaching people the skills they need to empower them to handle life’s crises.” Fetzer believes counseling can empower people to flip their glass-half-empty to a glass-half-full outlook. The duo is dedicated to constantly learning and researching strides being made in mental health not only locally, but internationally. In May, Fetzer and Rodrigue will travel to Europe visiting professors, teaching and attending conferences to bring back information about how the arena is changing globally and how the community can be part of that change. “It is part of a worldwide effort to help globalize the idea of therapy,” Fetzer says.
Rodrigue has found her life’s work in The Wellness Studio counseling others through the grief, trauma and the hardships of life. In the months and years following her husband passing from cancer, Rodrigue says she would always get “that pity ask of how are you doing? And I would always say, ‘You know, surprisingly well.’ ” Although she recognized that she should probably be in a darker place, she sought out the proper resource and people to help her cope. “We’ve all been there when we’ve had to find and seek out our own resources,” Rodrigue says. For Rodrigue and Fetzer, their goal is to be that saving grace for others. “When you are at the lowest point in your life and you don’t know what the solution is, the solution is counseling,” Fetzer says.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
What sets the offices of The Wellness Studio apart from other counseling environments is Fetzer and Rodrigue’s attention to the aesthetic detail. “All the senses are intrigued from how it looks to the ways it feels and how it sounds,” Rodrigue says. “We are very sensitive to that.” The studio’s unique use of common objects creates a homey but meaningful atmosphere. Everything from the furniture, to the wall hangings, to trinkets on a coffee table is carefully placed with an intentional significance and purpose. “Most healing environments are medicinal and sterile,” Fetzer says. “They are not as aesthetically pleasing, inviting or comforting.” Rodrigue says patients will often ask questions about objects in the room, giving her and Fetzer the opportunity to use them as therapeutic tools, creating a relatable meaning in a common object.
“How beautiful is this book room at The Wellness Studio in downtown Covington. I recently had a collaborative/creative meeting with the owners, Mary Kathryn and Katie at their Covington studio and I absolutely fell in love with the unique vintage decor of the place. So naturally I brought Kaela back with me to snap a few photos to show you! I mean who would ever think to make a coffee table out of an old bathtub and on top of that, come up with the idea to make an accent wall by covering half the room with old books. I’ll tell you who…Louisiana’s own Anthony Ryan Auld! For more on The Wellness Studio and what their team offers, check out their site here–> http://surprisinglywell.com
Who suddenly feels inspired to paint their fire place light blue and put old books to use?! Me! Stay tuned for more photos of the gorgeous Wellness Studio!” – Haute off the Rack’s Jennifer Palpallatoc
See her full write up here: http://hauteofftherack.com/the-wellness-studio/
May 20, 2014
BATON ROUGE—Local photographer Tate Tullier is partnering with The Wellness Studio, LLC for a special Tub Time with Tate art show on May 29 from 7-9 p.m. at the Wellness Studio Baton Rouge.
“Tub Time with Tate is the dream project I’ve needed in my life, something to ignite my inner Andy Warhol,” Tullier said. He prints the black and white photographs of subjects in bath tubs onto metal canvases.
The Gonzales resident recently showed his work at the Dyer Arts Center in Rochester, N.Y. After his pieces returned home, he started looking for a place to show his work locally. “With most of my current Tub Time with Tate subjects being local, I knew I wanted to do a show soon so everyone could check out the latest metal print artwork in person.”
When Wellness Studio owner Dr. Mary Kathryn Rodrigue approached Tullier about showing in the Studio’s Baton Rouge space, he jumped at the opportunity. Rodrigue partners with various boutiques, artists and other local businesses in an effort to change the perception of mental health wellness and break down stigmas associated with mental illness. She thought this kind of art show might be the perfect fit. “The correlation between counseling and photography is the exposure of one’s inner vulnerability. The creativity of The Wellness Studio and Tate Tullier lends itself to expressing matters of both mind and body,” Rodrigue explained.
Items in the art show are available for purchase with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Drew Rodrigue and Bella Bowman foundations. Both 501(c)3 foundations work to raise funds and awareness for the fight against cancer.
The Wellness Studio Baton Rouge is located at 7472 Highland Rd. The event is free and open to the public. Tullier and The Wellness Studio Baton Rouge team invites the Baton Rouge community to come enjoy snacks by Country Table, refreshments and live music by Jodi James while viewing some of Tullier’s signature pieces. To view Tullier’s Tub Time work online, visit www.tubtimewithtate.com. For any other questions, please contact The Wellness Studio Baton Rouge at (225) 448-3359.
I loved learning more about this educational workshop presented by The Wellness Studio. Watch the video and read below to learn more from Counselors, Dr. Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer!
Right before the academic school year came to a close on April 20th, Licensed Professional Counselors, Dr. Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer of The Wellness Studio, LLC, created and conducted an educational and interactive workshop along with 4 additional panelists for SSA senior girls in Covington, LA. The Wellness Studio, LLC teamed up with Gayle Reuling of AIR salon, Heidi Bowers of Heidi Bowers Photography, Laura Miles of Socy’all Media, and Jennifer Pallpalotoc, fashion blogger of Hautte off the Rack.
Titled by The Wellness Studio Counselors as, “Define your Selfie; A Girls Guide to Positive Body Image, Empowerment… and their Inner BEYONCE, “the workshop aimed to empower young girls to start defining themselves by things other than just their outer and physical appearance while also encouraging responsible social media usage.
“We wanted to collaborate with the professionals who could offer accurate and fresh perspectives regarding social media, fashion, and photography to make our workshop more credible and relevant for the girls; we are licensed mental health professionals, but we are not experts on social media, fashion, or photography.”—Rodrigue
“In practice we are too often seeing youth girls with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and somehow the topic of social media usage always comes up. Social media is used in so many great and inspirational ways, however as a counselor I have also seen how it can be easily used in a negative way if not used responsibly—such as cyber bullying, and sharing harmful content.”—Fetzer
“Having worked with so many young girls who struggle with body image and self esteem, it has motivated us as counselors to go beyond the counseling office to make a larger impact. Our goal with this workshop is not to bash social media but to encourage appropriate social media usage and most importantly to challenge the inner dialogue that a young girl might be having with herself as she scrolls through her social media news feed; is she feeling less than if she didn’t get as many likes as her peer? How does that make her feel? And so forth…”—Fetzer
“We also want the girls to know that counseling is a solution. If just one girl left feeling more positive and hopeful than this is a success, and if just one girl leaves here considering counseling as a possible solution when they are struggling then it’s a homerun.”—Rodrigue
So informative and inspiring! Thank you for sharing Dr. Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer!