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Unplug To Connect

A Conversation About Digital Detox With Dr. Stacy Jagger

Known to her community as a licensed marriage and family therapist, inspirational speaker, author and transformational coach, Dr. Stacy Jagger's brand of therapy and family coaching have helped thousands of people looking to reconnect with their children and families. The key, she says, is to disconnect from screens in order to connect with one another.

Dr. Jagger’s life today is far removed from her troubled upbringing in Bellevue’s River Plantation, which was heavily influenced by an adoring but alcoholic father. Her childhood was filled with violence, financial instability, multiple evictions, physical abuse and hours upon hours of sitting in front of a television as an electronic babysitter. Seeking an escape, she found refuge with a generous
Nashville family, whom she lived with during her senior year at Hillwood High School.

In the early years of her life, true connection was rare, so she often turned to music and dance for a mental escape. 

Dr. Jagger began her education at UT Knoxville before she fell into a deep, clinical depression and began her road to healing at The Meier Clinic, an inpatient mental hospital in Atlanta. After dealing with the trauma of her childhood, she moved back to Nashville and continued her education in music at Belmont University and began teaching music and dance to children and teens.

Going back to graduate school at Trevecca Nazarene University, she explored the clinical side of marriage and family therapy, desiring to help others heal in a way she never experienced as a child.

Dr. Jagger’s personal quest for healing began at a serendipitous encounter during her early twenties. Traveling to Farmington, Tennessee, she and her husband stumbled upon a frontier cabin built in the 1850s that appeared frozen in time. The cabin had no electricity or running water. Despite, or maybe because of, those modern inconveniences, she knew it was exactly what her soul had been craving all her life: peace and stillness.

What started as a request for them to live there briefly, turned into an 18-month sabbatical from the hurried digital world. Living without modern distractions, she embraced simplicity and the harmony of a slow-paced life. It was during this time that she realized that the key to healing and reconnection was creativity that was encouraged by nature and simplicity. 

After she earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, she launched a private counseling practice in Columbia, Tennessee, where she and her husband were living in an 1878 farmhouse, and raising their homeschooled children.

Stacy’s work counseling families through trauma and children’s behavioral issues led her to realize that the overuse of screens was creating deep disconnection and behavioral problems. This work inspired her to write her book, 30-Day Blackout: How To Help Your Kids Turn Off The Screen And Turn To Their Family. Her experience in helping hundreds of families heal led her to create the
“Mountain Method.”

The “Mountain Method” is a whole-family approach that helps families climb the mountain of communication, reconnection, forgiveness, and conflict resolution. The mountain-climbing metaphor came from her experiences overcoming years
of trauma to get to the other side. This therapy treatment prescribes a 3 to 6-month timeline, where Stacy and her
team at Music City Family Therapy, guide a family along the trail, as they move from brokenness to restoration.

It starts with a digital detox — a 30-day “fast” from screens and electronics (excluding work and school). Dr. Jagger suggests connection-based activities that expose the family's troubled dynamics. During those few months, she frequently sees significant decreases in ADHD symptoms and behavioral issues. Dr. Jagger's research highlights the adverse effects of excessive screen time,
whether smartphones, tablets, computers, or television, on children's mental health, executive functioning, and overall well-being.

Notably, her work aligns with recent warnings from Dr. Vivek Murthy, United States Surgeon General, that “there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” [Source:
https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/sg-youth-mental-health-social-media-advisory.pdf] These affects include sleep deprivation, depression, and anxiety.

The treatment methods that Dr. Jagger uses today are the result of years of counseling and family intensives, where she recognized an underlying pattern. Themes of disconnection and behavioral issues in children emerged as a haunting refrain, echoing the consequences of unregulated screen time, a lack of family communication skills, and a deficit of play—especially in the realms of
creativity and nature.

Driven by a deep-rooted commitment to making a difference in the lives of children, Dr. Jagger founded "Advocate for the Creative Child," a non-profit scholarship fund for children affected by trauma.

The non-profit was launched in the aftermath of the recent Nashville school shooting, a somber reminder of the challenges faced by children in today’s society. Her hope is that generous donors will catch her vision and contribute to helping the underprivileged and traumatized children of Nashville, whose childhoods are not that different from Stacy’s.

Stacy now lives in Thompson’s Station and has a husband and four wonderful children who are active in dance, music theater, and sports. StacyJagger.com  MusicCityFamilyTherapy.com

For information about screen-free family intensives and retreats, go to LittleHouseAtSunnybrook.com.

 30-Day Blackout is available on Amazon and through her website.

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