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The essence of childhood, of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic. -- Bill Cosby

 

Key points about my work with children:

~We start with safety and trust

~Get the inside perspective

~We build on strengths

~Teach important skills

~Inspire and encourage

 


How do you work with children?

My practice includes work with children, teens and their parents.

Counseling with children is often less direct than with adults. We will approach topics in a very gentle and gradual way. We will likely take a few sessions to get to know each other and build trust. We may even play some games together, and have conversations that seem to have nothing to do with the issues that brought you to counseling. Experience has taught me that meeting a child where he or she is at, and trying to understand the world from his or her point of view is vital to change.

From the start I will encourage children to build on what they already do well, and teach skills and attitudes that will help them with their difficulties. Skills may include relaxation and self-calming exercises, identifying and managing feelings, and noticing our thoughts and how they affect our feelings and our behaviors.

How much better would our childhoods have been if more people had taken the time to see us for who we really are, encouraged us, and were patient even when we were ashamed, angry? Often children with the worst behavior are not 'bad', 'unmotivated' or 'manipulative.' This difficult behavior is usually not due to 'bad parenting' either. Kids may be having difficulty; acting out, feeling anxious or depressed because the skills they need to deal with life haven't developed in a timely fashion.

If this is the case, I will work with the child (and assist the parent to work with the child) on critical processes such as:
--Executive skills (such as working memory, understanding cause and effect, organization and planning, flexibility with changing circumstances and expectations, handling frustration while working towards a goal)
--Language Processing skills (such as naming and sorting one's feelings, communicating feelings and needs to others, sorting through and choosing responses, handling feedback)
--Emotional regulation, relaxation and self-soothing skills

My work with children is guided and informed by several models, some with extensive scientific validation. Models include EMDR ("Eye Movement to Digest and Recover" in kid-speak), Trauma-focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Solution-focused Problem-solving, Nonviolent Communication, Positive Parenting, Adlerian Counseling, and Ross Greene's Collaborative Problem-Solving approach (also known as "Plan B").

I am certified as a Child Mental Health Specialist, based on my hours of specialized training and experience with youth clients.