Children do not talk about their feelings and thoughts. Rather, they act them out through their behaviors. Every child has some difficulties and struggles in growing up and all parents have their struggles in parenting. To determine whether you and your child could benefit from the help of a therapist, it can help to consider the following:
- Does your child exhibit behaviors that concern to you that seem more severe or prolonged than you think they should? Does your child’s behaviors create havoc for the rest of the family, prevent you from doing the things you all enjoy as a family or leaving you feeling exhausted and/or at a loss for how to help him or her?
- Does your child seem to have a difficult time making and maintaining friendships and other relationships? Do you feel disconnected from your child and wonder how you can gain a closer relationship that would allow you to guide him or her through life?
- Have you tried various consequences and behavioral plans that either did nothing to help or perhaps even seemed to make things worse? Are you tired of yelling at and nagging your child? Do you react to your child in ways that you later wish you would not have?
- Does your child seem to be more anxious or inflexible than other children? Does your child have what seem like unreasonable fears or sensitivities? Does your child react more strongly than other children?
- Do you wish you knew how you support your child in reaching his or her full potential? Do you want your child to become an emotionally healthy and happy person who grows into a secure, happy and joyful adult that creates a meaningful and productive life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, a therapist who specializes in working with children and their parents would be helpful in bringing the calm and joy back to your family.
Children are not good at—nor are their brain equipped yet—having the insight and understanding of themselves that would allow them to express their feelings and thoughts in a calm manner and process difficulties so as to create the healing that they need. Instead, they act out their feelings, worries, anxieties, stresses, struggles and traumas via their behaviors.
How I can help your child and family…
I work with children in the context of their families. I see myself as the facilitator of a process in which the parents are the change agents in their family. Under most circumstances, I do not work with children individually. Instead, I start by meeting with the parent(s) or caregiver to collect a thorough developmental, social, behavioral, living situation, stress and trauma history. I will ask you about the ways you have tried to solve the issues at hand. I may also meet with your child for a complete assessment. During the first session, I try to provide at least some basic recommendations regarding your child’s behaviors and emotions, as well as my recommendation as to some possible courses of therapy.
I pride myself on helping parents take the struggle out of parenting and replace it with joy and meaningfulness in the parenting journey and role. Our children can be a gift in bringing healing and meaningfulness to our own life as well.
I will help you strengthen your relationship with your child so that you may guide him or her through childhood. It is the strong connections we make with our children, early on, that lay the foundation for their lifelong emotional regulation and well being. These strong, healthy connections also help foster positive behaviors, self confidence and healthy relationships with others, as well as leading meaningful and productive lives.
In sessions, we will work together to look underneath the behaviors, respond to and treat the root of the problem. The behaviors that the child shows is often just the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors simply give us clues as to what the child’s beliefs and feelings are as it is beliefs that direct their behaviors. Many therapist fail to create real or long term change because they focus on treating the behaviors themselves without understanding or treating the root of the problem. The real issues are underneath the behaviors and thus, those are what we need to treat. In doing so, the behaviors typically dissipate.
I specialize in working with families who have a child with severe behaviors, attachment challenges and/or who have experienced trauma (see trauma page for more information). I specialize particularly in working with children with the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder and/or PTSD, as well as other disorders of regulation including depression, various anxiety related disorders, bi-polar ADHD and ODD.
Children do not often respond well to strictly talk based therapies. Children’s language is play, thus we may use various forms of play therapy in which the parent is typically involved. Narrative therapy can also be effective because children do not often respond to lecturing and talk, but can relate to and become immersed in stories. Other forms of therapy used with children may include teaching mindfulness skills, coping skills, art therapy and movement.