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Find Yourself. Keep Yourself.©

Groups, Classes & Programs

Losing Elizabeth has a curriculum so teachers, counselors, librarians, youth leaders, and more can have an effective tool for helping teens of all ages recognize the signs of toxic relationships and know how to help themselves or a friend when needed.

Find Yourself. Keep Yourself:
Where’s the Line between Love and Control, the Balance between Giving and Taking?©


Throughout adolescence, teens work to develop their own individual identity and sense of independence. Simultaneously, they experiment with and establish friendships as peer relationships take on greater importance. Complicating the drive for independence mixed with acceptance is the hormonal activity brought on by puberty. It can be difficult for teens to identify the line between healthy and toxic relationships, and further, to know how to handle unhealthy relationships. With the increased importance of peers and friendships, many teens are reluctant to reach out to adults in their lives.

Therefore, this group seeks to help students safely explore issues such as identity, friendship, dating, and toxic relationships through the use of the simple and realistic novel Losing Elizabeth. Students will learn how to avoid becoming trapped in a toxic relationship as well as to avoid exhibiting toxic behaviors themselves. The group allows participants to learn from each other while in the presence of a trained professional.


Upon completion of the group, participants will be able to:

  • Upon completion of the group, participants will be able to
  • Identify qualities of a healthy relationship (peer and romantic)
  • Identify qualities of a toxic relationship (peer and romantic)
  • Discuss the concept of love and contrast it with control
  • Discuss compromise vs. sacrifice and giving vs. taking
  • Identify ways to reach out for help if they begin to feel trapped in any relationship

Intended participants

  • Girls and boys (girls-only and mixed gender groups will be most effective for this particular group)
  • Ages 11-14 (grades 6-8)
  • Ages 14-18 (grades 9-12)


  • A group format using the novel Losing Elizabeth as a basis and springboard for discussion and activities
  • Six weekly meetings
  • 45-60 minute sessions
  • 10-12 participants
  • Closed format (anyone can join, but once the group begins, new people aren’t added)
  • Option: After high school students complete the group, they can take the group to the middle school level. High school students will lead the sessions under my supervision (exact method to be determined by the schools involved).
*Note: While this is ideal, it’s not rigid. The logistics will be tailored to the needs of the school or organization.

For more information on this copyrighted curriculum, contact me at:

Leader Qualifications (Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC)

Teaching and counseling experience

  • New Roads School, Eugene, OR (August, 2011 – December, 2012)
  • Watertown High School, Watertown, SD (1992-2000; 2007-2011)
  • Play therapist for a foster child, Castlewood, SD 2009

Speaking and presentation experience

  • High School Health Classes, Springfield High School, Springfield, OR (October, 2016 and March, 2016)
  • Mental Health Presentation, Eugene Public Library, Eugene, OR (September, 2016)
  • Chi Sigma Iota Induction Ceremony – Keynote Speaker; Northwest Christian University, Eugene, OR (March, 2016)
  • NAMI Lane County Holiday Dinner – Keynote Speaker (December, 2015)
  • Mental Health Presentation, The Healing Matrix, Cottage Grove, OR (October, 2015)
  • Mental Health Presentations at misc. bookstores and libraries in OR (2013-present)
  • Mothers of Incarcerated Sons Society, Inc. National Conference – featured speaker (August, 2013)
  • Numerous online and live radio interviews about my books and mental health

Writing experience

  • Four award-winning, critically acclaimed novels including the middle grade/YA novel Losing Elizabeth, which was awarded the Storytellers Campfire 2014 Marble Book Award for being “a book which makes a significant difference in the world.”
  • Weekly anxiety columnist for, America’s Mental Health Channel
  • Weekly newsletter writer for
  • Over 100 articles on miscellaneous topics on the site
  • Contributor to The Mighty, a website for disability, disease, and mental illness
  • Quoted in online and print articles
  • Miscellaneous articles appearing in online and print sources
  • Article, What Kids Need for a Mentally Healthy Summer appeared on approximately 50 websites and print sources, and I was interviewed on two radio shows about the mentally healthy kids

About Losing Elizabeth

  • High school junior Elizabeth Carter embraces life and is happy to be sharing it with boyfriend Brad Evans. Brad, though, has a different idea about life and relationships, one where Elizabeth is under his control.
  • Written simply, at a middle-grade reading level so younger adolescents can begin to learn about the effects of toxic relationships. A quick read for older adolescents, parents, teachers, counselors, etc.
  • A discussion tool for adults and teens; it gives them something realistic and something neutral (and safe) to talk about and engage with.
  • Recipient of Storytellers Campfire 2014 Marble Book Award for being “a book which makes a significant difference in the world”

A few reader/reviewer remarks:

  • “Tanya J Peterson has performed a social duty in addition to writing a fine little book.” – Grady Harp, Literary Aficionado
  • “I definitely want to share [Losing Elizabeth] with my daughters….This short but harrowing story will stay with me for a long time.” – Susan Ortlieb, Lost in Fiction’s Young Adult event
  • “This book had me from the first page….I suggest this book to everyone and anyone. It gives you an inside scoop to a controlling and abusive relationship.” – Shirleytemple,
  • “…a good read from start to finish. I feel this is an important book for all to read—teenagers, pre-teens, and even adults…Highly recommended reading.” —Marsha, reviewer on Squidoo
  • “The staff at Storytellers Campfire highly recommends this book for parents and young teens and young adults. This is a strong story and a necessary one.” —Storytellers Campfire, “Where Literary Art Comes To Life”
  • “…[T]his young adult novel quite simply grabbed me. Losing Elizabeth is a good book. But more than that, it’s an important book, especially for teenagers who are just getting into romantic relationships. Author, Tanya Peterson, handles the subject with expertise and sensitivity.” — Sue Bronson, Colonygram, the official newsletter of The Oregon Writers Colony

Wellbeing & Words

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Honors & Awards

Twenty-Four Shadows

Named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016



My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel

Named to Kirkus Reviews’ list of Best Books of 2014




U.S. Review of Books

Recommended by the US Review of Books: Nutshell & 24 Shadows


Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog

The Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog I write for won this award.


Losing Elizabeth

Recipient of the Storytellers Campfire Marble Book Award for being a “book which has made a significant difference in the world.”


Contact Tanya

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