February Newsletter

By Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC | January 28, 2020

Love is in the air and the shops are full of cards and candy.

Valentine’s Day can be fun, but it can also be a difficult time for people who might be struggling with personal relationships.

The most important relationship we have, is with ourselves.

Let’s look at how we use FAST skills with Hillside kids and practice self-love this Valentine’s Day. FAST skills are something we teach Hillside kids and can be useful when it comes to taking care of ourselves. FAST stands for:


(no) Apologies

Stick to your values


By maintaining the above during a difficult time, we can be true to ourselves when interacting with others, and this can have a positive impact on our wellbeing.

For example, 13-year-old Sophie says yes to everything. She is asked to lead a project at school, her friend wants her to help her with a problem, her mother is keen for her to take on more after-school activities. Sophie starts to feel overwhelmed and doesn’t enjoy anything. Pleasing everybody else and not taking her own feelings into account leaves her exhausted and with low mood.

Sophie can communicate how she feels to her teachers, friends and parents using FAST skills.

Fair: Sophie can say “I care about you and I’m very busy right now. I can’t see you/make it/take part

No Apologies: She doesn’t have to apologise because she isn’t doing anything wrong by setting a limit. No Apologies also means no exaggeration or making up excuses as to why she can’t be somewhere or do something.

Stick to your values: Doing the right thing for her can help Sophie to manage her schedule effectively and feel less overwhelmed.

Truthful: By being honest with herself and others she is managing the situation before it can escalate into ill health or conflict.

When Sophie starts to use FAST skills to communicate how she feels she starts to restore balance in her life and enjoy activities again.

FAST skills can transfer to almost any scenario, so whether it’s asking for a pay rise, having a difficult conversation with a neighbour or establishing boundaries with friends, anyone can benefit from learning these skills.

Hillside therapist, Laura Tapscott, advised on this blog post.

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  • Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC

    Director of Clinical Education & Outreach - Gaan has been working with children, adolescents, and families for over 10 years in various settings. In her current role, she provides education and training for mental health professionals, parents, and the community. She lives in Atlanta with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, climbing, and cooking. She is a donut aficionado and a national park enthusiast!

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