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Growing Up Powerful: Ep 3. Expert Talk! With Alexandra Vaccarro

Join BFFs Asha and Jestine as they try to figure out this wild thing called life. On this episode, Jestine interviews psychotherapist and yoga instructor, Alexandra Vaccaro! Hear Alex’s thoughts on therapy, keeping healthy boundaries for yourself, and what to do if you’re worried about a friend.

This is episode 3 of our Growing Up Powerful miniseries! These are stories about dealing with big feelings, growing up, and connecting to the world around you. And just so you know, some of these themes may be mature for our younger Rebels. We encourage listening with your grown up.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book Rebel Girls: Growing Up Powerful. This series was produced by Joy Smith, Deborah Goldstein, and Haley Dapkus, with sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. It was written and edited by Abby Sher. Fact-checking by Joe Rhatigan and sensitivity read by Schuyler Swenson. Narration by Margaret Ying Drake as Asha and Imani Parks as Jestine. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Our executive producers were Joy Smith and Jes Wolfe. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!


JESTINE: Hello! And welcome to Growing Up Powerful, the bonus episode!

I’m Jestine, your co-host on the Rebel Girls Growing Up Powerful series. And I’m here with Alexandra Vacarro, who is an expert on psychology, meditation, finding breath and calm. 

Hi there! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

ALEX: Hey, I’m Alexandra Vaccaro. You guys can call me Alex. I’m a psychotherapist and certified yoga teacher. 

JESTINE: Mmm, I already feel calmer just listening to your voice. And can you tell us, what is a psychotherapist and what do they do? 

ALEX: A psychotherapist is kind of like a feelings doctor. I try to provide a safe space to help people come learn about any difficult thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors that they’re currently experiencing in their life. 

Sometimes we all experience really, really difficult challenges that we just can’t handle on our own. And that’s when I come in, I’m kind of like a little extra helping hand. 

JESTINE: Okay, I am a big fan of therapy. But maybe for those people who’ve never been before, can you say what you love about it?

ALEX: The best thing about therapy and therapists is they are like the neutral zone. So when you come in, you are walking into a no judgment zone. It’s like that what, what’s that silly gym where it’s like, no judgment. Like that is what it is. When you walk into the therapy office, it’s not your parents, it’s not your friends. They are there as a neutral person wanting to help you. Their job is to help you become your best. You. 

JESTINE: And whatever I say stays just between me and the therapist, right?

ALEX: Typically therapists keep anything confidential. If there is something that you don’t wanna tell mom and dad right now, you know, we, we won’t force you to, we won’t tell them unless we feel like your safety is in jeopardy or someone else’s safety is in jeopardy, then we do have to tell, uh, an adult or guardian, you know, something’s going on. But we can do it together. We can do it during a session and we can make a plan. Everything is in is for your benefit, for your safety. And if there’s a big thing that maybe your parents should know about, we can use the sessions to talk about the best way to approach your parents. 

JESTINE: Thank you. I love that. And switch gears a little, sometimes my friends bring up problems that seem kinda serious to me. How do I know when I should ask an adult for help?

ALEX: So sometimes it’s not always clear how serious a friend’s problem may be. If you notice any really significant changes in your friends, like they don’t like doing the things they typically do, or they’re not dressing up like they like to, or they don’t wanna hang out or talk on the phone has much, then that means those are signs that it can be more serious and that they are struggling. : and that typically is a good time to ask an adult for help. 

JESTINE: Okay, yes. And what kind of adults could I talk to about something like this?

ALEX: So some, some examples of adults that you can ask could be maybe a coach that on a team that they’re, if they play a sport, a teacher that they really like, maybe there’s a school counselor that everyone knows is a really safe person to go talk to. Maybe you have, you know, an aunt, uncle or parent, you know, that you feel really safe going to any adult that, that feels like a safe place, definitely go talk to because they love, you know, they love you and they’re gonna wanna help. 

JESTINE: Okay, and let’s say I go to an adult to ask for help. Do I have to tell my friend that I’m doing that? 

ALEX: So even though it may be tough, yes, you should tell your friend that you’re gonna ask for help, but reassure them that you’re asking for help because you care about them and you want the best for them. And if they’re scared or worried, tell them you’ll be with them and by their side the entire time as their support. 

JESTINE: Phew, that does sound tough, but I hear you. The thing is…what if a friend makes you swear not to tell anyone that they’re struggling with something like depression or an eating disorder? I don’t want to break a promise, but I’m worried about her. What should I do?

ALEX: So it’s really tough to be in that, in that spot sometimes.

 It’s wonderful to have friends, uh, that we feel like we can confide in when we’re, especially when we’re struggling. 

You can express you care and you have concern for them.

Giving them support by listening, offering reassurance, checking in on them. Those are all really great things to do. 

But when you feel like it’s something more serious and you’re worried starting a conversation with them about how talking to an adult that you may trust like a coach, teacher, you know, a school counselor would really be a positive step for your friend and getting help so that they feel better throughout the conversation.

And if they ever feel hesitant, offering support to go with them, to talk to someone, letting them know they’re not alone.

And if you ever are concerned for your friend’s safety, do not hesitate to go talk to someone.

JESTINE: Yes, that is great advice. Okay, and what if…I mean, I want to be a good friend, but sometimes… I need to focus on myself. Is that selfish? 

ALEX: So a lot of times we think focusing ourselves is completely selfish when actually recognizing that you need to take care of yourself is great, awesome, amazing self-awareness.

I think a lot of kids, um, especially girls, worry about everyone else and they feel like they’re doing a lot when they’re helping others and then they forget to help themselves because it’s a lot easier to help everyone else. But, you know, when you’re not feeling good and you’re, you’re not feeling right, it’s not selfish and it’s important, you know, to make sure you’re good and you are important. And never, never, never be afraid to ask for help. Cuz a lot of kids nowadays feel like, you know, asking for help is, is a weakness. And, and I just like wanna scream it from like, the rooftops, you know, like, ask for help. There are people who want to help you, let them help you. We can’t do this on our own. Nobody can 

JESTINE: Thank you so much Alex! I want to scream that from the rooftops. THANK YOU ALEX!

ALEX: Thank you guys for having me. I love being, I loved being here. You guys are awesome. And anytime you need any advice, I’m here for you guys. 

[CLOSING] (30 seconds)

JESTINE: And thank YOU Rebels, for tuning in to this Growing Up Powerful Bonus episode! Take care of yourselves and we’ll see you soon! 


This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls.

This episode was narrated by ME! Imani Parks as Jestine, with special guest Alexandra Vacarro. It was produced and directed by Haley Dapkus, with Joy Smith and Deborah Goldstein. Sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. It was written and edited by Abby Sher. Our executive producers are Jes Wolfe and Joy Smith.

Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi.

A special thanks to the whole Rebel Girls team, who make this podcast possible!

Until next time, staaaay rebel!

If you like what you heard here and want to learn more, check out the newest book from Rebel Girls! Growing Up Powerful: A Guide to keeping confident when your body is changing, your mind is racing, and the world is…complicated. With stories from rebels all over the world and guidance from some brilliant experts, this book is our newest bff. Order your copy of Growing up Powerful today on Amazon or anywhere you purchase books!