Debbie Svobodny, LCSW

Welcome! I am so excited you’re here contemplating mental health therapy.

Tricare, BCBS - MN and ND accepted, Sanford Health Plans accepted
Insurances accepted - please contact your insurance plans if you have questions about coverage.

Operating as usual


Wishing you the Merriest Christmas this year ❤️
Grateful for each of you. From our family to yours.


Elvis once crooned about feeling blue at Christmas time – and I’m here to tell you: It’s perfectly normal to feel that way too.

There are many reasons your days may not be so merry and bright around the holiday season – it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. Your social calendar is jam-packed, deadlines at work, the loss of loved ones, sunless winter days, or all the above. The holiday contributes to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction. It is also a time of financial strain, an overwhelming sense of pressure, a season where happier times contrast the present, and many are unable to spend the holiday season with loved ones.

Here are a few common issues that come up during this time of year + ways I encourage you or your loved ones to address them.

1. Depression – you’re not feeling the “Holiday Spirit”

The pressure to be socializing and gather around merry and bright can be overwhelming.
• Recognize that you don’t need to force yourself to be happy. Remember that you are not alone in feeling this way.
• Avoiding numbing or avoiding by using alcohol or other substances which worsen anxiety and depression
• Surround yourself with people who will celebrate your traditions with you or help to create new ones!

2. Grief and Loss – It can be easy to compare your situation with others. This leads to feelings of loneliness and sadness. Take time to check with yourself and your feelings, have realistic expectations for how the holiday season will go and allow yourself to take time to check in with your support group/therapist/faith community/or friends who understand.

3. Gift Giving – the stress of expectations and worry about letting others down
• Giving to others is not about spending money. Setting realistic expectations is maintaining a budget and being transparent. The beauty of gift-giving is that it’s selfless and thoughtful. This can be handcrafted, a written card, a coupon to spend quality time together, or a homemade treat everyone knows is your secret niche.

4. Loneliness and Isolated
• This is a good time to follow up with your physician to discuss your vitamin D – especially if you live where the sun rises hours after you’re awake and sets hours before you’re nestled in bed!
• Schedule to see your therapist/faith community/friend to chat weekly or bi-weekly so you don’t have to think twice about making an effort. You’re not alone.
• Engage in activities that are calming; reading, meditating, and gratitude journaling can be helpful.
• Eat a balanced diet, moderate exercise (youtube has great videos for yoga/light exercise for free), drink plenty of water, and sleep hygiene (go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time each day).

-- 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Su***de Prevention Lifeline
-- (701)235-7335 SEEK Helpline
-- text 898-211 with your ZIPCODE for support available.
-- call your local physician or therapist


Today we get the opportunity to recognize and respect the service of those who keep us safe, not just on Veterans Day, but every day. There are approximately twenty-two million veterans in America to whom our debt can n e v e r be re-paid. These are the men and women who define LOVE for our country enough to sacrifice their lives if necessary. Veterans are defending our freedom 365 days a year.

My super heroes don’t wear a red cape, move faster than a speeding bullet, or have the power to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The super heroes I celebrate answered a call to duty to protect and defend the United States of America.


Ever feel like you're losing control?
It is such a helpless feeling, but a feeling we may find ourselves in more often than we would like. When we feel like we have no control over our lives we can start to develop a 'lack mindset' - slowly starting to fill ourselves with negative thoughts and then we start to have feelings of sadness, loneliness, and worry.

I would argue we have all been there.

The only way to get out of the rut is to change our thinking. Once we change our thinking we start to recognize how powerful our thoughts are. We realize that we are in control of our reality and actively stop letting people and situations dictate us.

First, when we feel like life is out of control, take a moment to STOP, take a deep breath, and sit in the moment for a second. What am I grateful for? What am I in control of? This helps us to redirect our thoughts and take captive our life again.
Making a list of all the things we are thankful for helps remind us of how fortunate we are and all the moments when things have worked out.
Making a list of what we can control is a necessity for me. There is a lot that we have the power to control in our life. Often we let one situation make us feel bad, it becomes a spiral and everything starts to feel bad. Often times we need to think of the little things we can control because it will build us up to take charge of the larger ones.

Here's a little list of things we can control.

What I am in control of - "My Control List"
1. How I react to people & situations
2. What I eat
3. How I treat my body
4. How I treat myself
5. Who I give my energy to - spend time with
6. How clean my house is
7. When I sleep
8. M Y T H O U G H T S


Ever notice the small voice inside your head? The one that says "You've got this!" when you're facing a challenging circumstance. Or, the one that causes you to feel insecure, causing you to feel further doubt about yourself - "What is wrong with you?"

While having positive or negative self-talk is just part of being human, often times the self-talk that children develop comes from the patterns in which their parents and other loved ones speak to them. With that said, no one is perfect! We all make mistakes. We all lose our cool. The key is how we recover from such situations and how we address them with our kids

Your voice is your child's inner dialogue. Without diving into the neurodevelopmental details, negative information and unpleasant emotions tend to have more of an impact than positive ones. As such, parents tend to call more attention to our children’s misbehavior and fail to notice when they are engaging in expected or appropriate behavior. As a result, children may hear more criticism from parents rather than praise, which can affect their self-esteem and that inner voice.

Here are some tips:
1. Catch your (the) child being good! I appreciate seeing the two of you work together; Great keeping calm even though you didn’t get your way; Thank you for asking so nicely.

2. Be specific with your praise. Nice work putting your toys away; Excellent helping your brother; I like that you started your homework right after your snack

3. Praise your child 5 times for every 1 criticism. While avoiding negative talk and criticism of your child altogether is a great goal, it’s unrealistic. Aiming for a 5:1 ratio of praise to criticism is more attainable and backed by research in creating happy, healthy environments.

4. Be mindful of your nonverbal communication and practice self-care. This includes your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Even if you’re providing the most beautiful praise, certain nonverbals may suggest that you are being sarcastic or inauthentic. Practice and model your own self-care to stay cool, calm, and collected in even the most trying circumstances.

5. Model how to acknowledge and apologize for your own misbehavior. Lose your cool? It happens to all of us. If we want children to learn to take responsibility for their own misbehavior, we need to demonstrate that ourselves. I was really angry last night. And while it’s ok to be mad, it’s not ok to be disrespectful. I shouldn’t have said the things I said to you last night. I am sorry and I will try to use my words more carefully next time. I love you.



A new month, a new mindset, another opportunity to reflect on all the things you are GRATEFUL for.

What are you most thankful for?


With Halloween coming, here are a few trick-or-treat tips & tricks.
Have fun & be safe!! 🧡


October focuses on Emotional Wellness month. While taking stock of our stress levels, it’s an excellent time to make some changes, too. Emotional Wellness Month provides information and resources to help us do just that.

Stress comes into our lives in varying amounts. Depending on our demands, emotional health can take a toll. However, noting the causes of our stress helps identify the biggest offenders so we can stop them.

- Review your financial plan. Make sure your plan aligns with your savings and income with our goals. You may need to readjust for the future or change your current spending habits. Even planning for a dream vacation can improve emotional wellness when done responsibly.
- Calculate screen time. In this digital world, the amount of time we spend online impacts our emotional health. We are bombarded by data, news, and alerts constantly. Consider reducing the amount of time spent in front of the screen. Take time to unplug from technology; 1 hour, 1 day, or over the weekend. Rate your emotional wellness before and after your unplugged time.
- Assess resources available to you. Many employers offer tools and discounts for emotional wellness; Employee Assisted Programs (EAP). Checking with your human resources department is an excellent place to start. From videos to free counseling sessions, these benefits provide substantial relief when life seems upside down.
- Remember the relationships in your life. This is a big one. Friends, family, and even co-workers play a huge role in our emotional health. They improve our social and spiritual well-being by keeping us connected. Human beings thrive on social interactions.
- How’s your physical health? Keep up with routine health checks. Also, add healthy eating habits, and increase your water consumption and physical activity to reduce overall anxiety.

By identifying stressors and improving our emotional health, we are more likely to surf through the highs and lows in life more successfully.
[National Day Calendar website credited here as a reference]


H A P P Y. M O N D A Y!!

When you enter my office I will discourage you from shoulding all over yourself.


Because there is grace right where you are.
You are not your past.
You are making progress right where you are.
You are YOU, irreplaceable.



N E W L O C A T I O N!!

4955 17th Ave S #122, Fargo, ND 58103

Birchwood Therapeutic Services has opened a second site in Fargo. For those of you who have been seeing me, our new site officially opened today.

What a success!

For those of you looking to get scheduled, please don't hesitate to contact the office at 701-532-1353.

What a K I C K off to A U G U S T!!


S T A Y. T U N E D.

Exciting news to be dropped on August 1st!! 🌟

What do you think it is?? ☀️




4955 17th Avenue S #122
Fargo, ND

Opening Hours

Monday 8am - 5pm
Tuesday 8am - 5pm
Wednesday 8am - 5pm
Thursday 8am - 5pm
Friday 8am - 12pm

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