About Mark Loewen

Mark is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist in Richmond, VA. He is the founder of LaunchPad Counseling, a private practice that helps children and adults find happiness and peace of mind by discovering strength inside themselves to improve their lives. Mark is also the author of the children's book What Does a Princess Really Look Like?

When Your Child Comes Out as Gay: What I tell parents whose child comes out

Times have a-changed! And although it sometimes looks like the world is getting worse, some things are definitely getting better.

Maybe you remember Dan Savage’s wide-reaching anti-suicide campaign, It Gets Better. Thousands of LGBT people and allies created Youtube videos with encouraging messages that said just that, “hold on, don’t give up – life will get better.

Today, I have the same message for you – if your child just came out as LGBT.

(For the purpose of this post, I address parents whose children came out as gay or lesbian. Most of it applies to kids who come out as bi or trans, but I hope to write a different post to address trans kids more specifically, since other social and cultural aspects come into play. To simplify, I am using […]

2018-08-31T09:00:24-05:00By |0 Comments

Don’t Let Depression Hold You Back – Take These Steps to Break Free

Depression makes you feel like the whole world is on your shoulders, dragging you down. It feels like gravity gets the best of you most days. All you want to do is lay down. Sleep. Escape.

Depression makes you feel powerless. But there is hope. You can break free from the grasp of depression. If you feel like the task is too overwhelming, remember this: Every. Little. Step. Counts. You don’t need to go from the worst you ever felt to feeling ecstatic. You are not moving from valley to mountain top. You can, however, take firm steps towards balancing your mood.

These are the steps my clients took to get rid of depression:

Break Free from Depression Step #1:  Recognize the Signs 

Have you lost your enthusiasm for activities that you once enjoyed? Does it seem like you just don’t […]

2017-10-13T15:27:38-05:00By |0 Comments

When Leaving the Past Behind Ain’t Easy

Like the maw of a monster from a horror movie, your past suddenly and unexpectedly grabs a hold of you, ready to suck you down and drown you. Anguish, frustration, resentment, and pain swamp you and drag you to the depths of despair. It’s a struggle of life and death – at least that’s how it feels.

Your unresolved issues can weigh you down like a ten-ton weight. You sink deeper and deeper into the muck of past regrets.

“Oh, if only I could turn back the clock and handle things differently,’” you think. “If only I would have known then what I know now. Maybe I could have avoided this pain. I could have spared myself many tears if only…”

The truth is, you can spare yourself many tears and a lot of pain, if you […]

2017-10-13T15:29:22-05:00By |0 Comments

Am I a Good Parent?

Maybe not perfect. But at least a good parent? Every parent asks this question at least once, more likely every day. Your child’s answer may vary widely depending on when you last let her have dessert. Your best friend will likely give you a positive answer but the stranger who witnesses your child’s meltdown at the store may be less assuring.

The answer also depends on your definition of a good parent. All too often parents give me the disclaimer, “I’m not a perfect parent, but…”

So to clear things up from the start, the term “perfect parent” means nothing to me. I mistrust that term just as much as the “one size fits all” labels (Really? All? That is just impossible).

Good parents come in all shapes and sizes, and I get to meet quite a […]

2017-09-22T15:04:07-05:00By |2 Comments

Make Coming Out Easier on Yourself (and Everyone Else)


Coming out as LGBTQ  to family or friends may seem daunting

What will their reaction be? Will I be accepted for who I am? Will they be disappointed? How will I respond to their reactions? These are very valid before coming out. You may not know the answer if you don’t make that terrifying move. Yet, the rewards of being open and honest with who you are can mean a world of difference. And, in my experience as a counselor for LGBTQ clients of all ages, it usually goes better than expected. Here are some tips to make this experience the most successful.

Coming Out Tip #1:  Make a Plan

The Human Rights Campaign recommends making a plan to weigh your options and make the process as smooth as possible. Some suggested questions include:

  • What will you […]
2017-09-22T15:50:47-05:00By |0 Comments

Is It More Than Stress? 10 Signs to Watch For

Everyone experiences stress in their life. But have you wondered if your feelings of anxiety or sadness are more than just stress? Knowing the signs can be helpful to getting the help you need. In this post, you’ll find a checklist therapists use to assess if you are more than just stressed.

Sign #1:  Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is important for our bodies and minds to recharge and operate at peak performance.  The optimal amount of sleep for an adult 18-64 years old is 7 to 9 hours each night. If you don’t get enough sleep, you operate at a less efficient level and incur a “sleep debt.” This type of debt, however, is not that easily paid off. Your body does not recover from say, six hours of sleep, with an extra six hours […]

2017-09-22T15:13:03-05:00By |0 Comments

7 Powerful Ways to Manage Anxiety

Anxiety affects nearly twenty percent of the U.S. population. Yet, as common as it is, anxiety also highly treatable. In fact, there are many simple ways for you to feel more relaxed, starting now. Try these tried-and-true methods for a calmer life:

1. Get Up, Stand Up

Research shows that sitting can increase anxiety. Sedentary activities such as watching television, using a computer, and playing electronic games can make you particularly vulnerable. The more you sit, the more likely you are to feel anxious.

Disturbed sleep patterns, social withdrawal, and poor metabolic health that result from sedentary behavior may seriously impact anxiety. Researchers suspect that the rise in sedentary behavior may be in part to blame for the high rates of anxiety in our society .

Reducing the time you spend sitting can help […]

2017-09-22T15:14:05-05:00By |1 Comment

#WeAreOrlando: Trauma in the LGBT Community

The recent violent events in Orlando highlight an important issue for the LGBT community. Namely, that so many in the community experience trauma, whether large or small. When triggered, it can bring up all kinds of emotions. It is important, therefore, that you talk about these feelings instead of bottling them up inside. Otherwise, they can come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

Microaggressions towards LGBT individuals Trigger Trauma

The Human Rights Campaign reports that over half of LGBT youth experience verbal harassment. These are called microaggressions, wherein you experience low-level bullying on a daily basis. Perhaps you have been a victim of microaggressions such as:

  • Name-calling
  • Being ignored
  • Staring
  • Slurs
  • Snubs
  • Indirect negative remarks
  • Not being able to associate with others (like at a lunch table).

Over time, these slights build up and leave you […]

2017-09-22T15:14:48-05:00By |0 Comments

A Test for Kids with ADHD?

Many parents, confronted with their child’s high levels of impulsivity and general inability to stay focused, are concerned about the possibility of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. At LaunchPad Counseling in Richmond VA, we use the Conners 3 assessment. It is an effective way to test for this disorder, as well as other problem behavior, in children and adolescents. Not only can the Connors 3 help with screening and support for diagnosis, it can also be used to monitor a child’s ongoing progress.

The test is given in three parts: written observations by a parent, a teacher and a self-report from the child. It measures several different areas of potential concern, including inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, learning problems and executive functioning.

Children struggling with ADHD have trouble organizing and completing tasks, as well as difficulty […]

2017-09-22T15:20:17-05:00By |0 Comments

First steps when you suspect ADHD

ADHD-blog-postConfronting the possibility that your child is struggling with ADHD can be upsetting. Knowing what to look for, and what you can do, puts things into greater perspective. In addition, it helps to know that children with ADHD have specific strengths that help them overcome their diagnosis.

What to Look For

The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) fall into three major categories, which include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. These categories are fluid and the different traits associated with each of them typically occur in combination. For example, a child who has trouble staying on task, which is associated with inattention, may also have difficulty sitting still or waiting his turn, traits associated with hyperactivity and impulsivity, respectively.

More specifically, in addition to difficulty staying on task, […]

2017-04-05T10:00:30-05:00By |0 Comments