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Learning to love from a place of gratitude helps you look past the pain until you reach a state of grace.
I want to take this opportunity to share with you the reason why Equinox exists and why we approach helping youth, and families the way we do. You may be visiting our website because you have a child or young adult experiencing complex mental health issues in combination with emotional and behavioral problems. This can present many challenges, create turmoil within your whole family, and be very painful. You’re looking for help, and we’re glad that you found us. If you read nothing else on our website, we truly hope you will read this.
My name is Mary Marcantonio and I founded Equinox Counseling and Wellness Center, or EQ as people call us. When I first started to write this letter, I began with my professional experiences almost 28 years ago. But I soon realized that for me, the seed that became Equinox was planted when I was in elementary school.
I attended an average school with average kids in Boulder, Colorado, where I grew up. Each morning I’d rise, have breakfast, connect with my parents, get ready for the day and then head down the street to my school at the end of the block. Not a care in the world. Life was good. On my way, and outside of my school, I’d quickly catch up with friends to get my initial dose of social interaction. We’d enjoy laughing, joking and looking at boys, and set a plan for how we would reconvene at recess and then again at lunch. I have many great memories of elementary school—teachers I adored, established friends, recess, field day, invitations to birthday parties, sleepovers, Wheels Roller Rink, bell choir, art class, being in the lunchroom swapping food with my best friends, gym class, learning the Hustle and having to hold hands with boys when square dancing. All these amazing memories are instilled in my brain, my heart and my soul. I loved elementary school, and to this day, maintain friendships that were established at this early age.
Unfortunately, I also have other memories about elementary school that are quite different. These memories, albeit uncomfortable, are equally etched into my being. They are not of my own experiences but rather about other kids at school—the kids that were on the periphery. These kids were not like me or the group of friends I so easily connected with. I remember that they were often by themselves at recess and at lunch, that they went to different classrooms, and that when school was over, they would get on a different bus or mill around in isolation. These were the kids that were never at the group sleepover, the birthday party on Friday night or Wheels on Saturday night. They were the kids who were different. I knew they were different for one reason or another, but never really got why. However, I did know that I felt uncomfortable with the teasing they endured, that they were rarely included by other kids their own age, and that coming to school each day must have been really hard for them. To this day, thinking about those kids brings up a myriad of emotions for me.
Looking back as a therapist, I now know what was going on for those kids. They were the kids that either had special needs related to their autism or intellectual disability, which made it difficult for them to get involved socially, manage their emotions, know how to build friendships, enter into reciprocal conversation, take care of their hygiene and generally go about life with the ease of acceptance that neuro-typical kids enjoy. I also know that some of the kids at my school were different in other ways. These kids had emotional problems, were chronically angry, difficult to get along with, depressed, sad, and agitated and had difficulty performing academically. They had behavior problems that lead to them getting in trouble, acting out, being aggressive, talking back to teachers, and eventually getting involved in problems such as using drugs, stealing, lying, and having a hard time following rules and getting along with their parents. Equinox Counseling and Wellness Center is here and helping people because of these kids and the thousands of other kids that experience the same problems as my peripheral classmates did 37 years ago.
I entered my professional career not really knowing what I was doing. Yes, I had gone to school, learned valuable information, experienced the intellectual rigors that help me today in life, studied psychology and other subjects, did practicums and internships, and followed the usual course. The reality, however, is that I was young, naïve, and really just following in the footsteps of my mother who had dedicated her life to helping people. I thought it must be that simple.
As you may have guessed, it was not that simple. My professional career has afforded me life-changing experiences all of which have come through learning to work with kids, families and people of all kinds from all walks of life. I am fortunate to have had professional teachers and mentors who gave me the freedom and flexibility to be creative, innovative and courageous in finding ways to help kids and families overcome challenges. I learned a long time ago that creating and providing therapeutic experiences that are active, away from the office, and in an environment that is less emotionally demanding gives kids and adults the emotional space necessary to accept help, get busy dealing with the things they need to deal with, learn the things they need to learn, and practice the skills that will allow them to experience the safety and confidence to become the people they truly can be.
I am a parent and would never pretend to understand what it feels like to entrust your child into the care of other people. What I can personally guarantee is that your child will be treated with same dignity, respect, care and nurture with which I have raised my own children.
On this website, you will find a wealth of information about our programs, services and the many different ways we go about helping youth, young adults, and families. This information should address many of the questions you may have and give you guidance for getting the help you need—for your son, daughter, and your family. We encourage you to call us anytime as we understand that selecting the right treatment program is very difficult. There is hope and you can find the help you need. For thousands of families we have been there, and we are here for you and you child as well.