There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.
- Graham Greene, Playwright
COLLABORATION AND PARENT INVOLVEMENT
My business model is unique in that I understand that life does not happen in a clinic. While I do much of my work with children in my office, I also work with children and families in the home or within a school environment, if that is what is needed. Also, unlike many therapists who work with children, I welcome and expect parent involvement. I am very aware that my time with a child is limited. And, the child spends much more time at school and at home. So, I approach things by looking at the child, the family system and the school environment. I have found that often, the best outcomes are achieved by collaborating with the other adults in the child's life, especially with the parents. This can include periodic parent coaching. And, at times, parents are invited into the room for family sessions. Sometimes parents are asked to join play sessions consistently, in order to be able to best support their child at home. My goal is to support parents in understanding how to help their child gain strong social emotional capacities through their interactions at home and in other places outside of my office. I also find that parents often have unique insight into their children that can speed therapeutic progress. Together, we can achieve the best outcomes.
INTEGRATIVE AND FOUNDATIONAL APPROACH
I take an integrative and foundational approach to dealing with children's challenges. While I sometimes will refer a family to psychiatrist, this is not my primary way of addressing challenges. I like to explore possible causes of the issues at hand, even outside of the mental health arena. I will, at times, recommend medical testing to ensure possible medical causes are not overlooked. I also often recommend therapies outside of my own, if I feel they will bring the best long-term outcomes. Movement-based therapies, vision therapy, neuro-feedback, biomedical intervention, and other alternative approaches may be reviewed. I have a strong belief that children are much more than their diagnoses and and that labels don't necessarily have to mean life-long challenges. My approach is not to hold too tightly to diagnoses, though they can shape our understanding of the present challenges, but to look at the whole child and incorporate strengths, as well as challenges. New understanding of neuro-plasticity, medical advances, and research in neuroscience have given us options that go beyond labels and give additional possibilities for families with children who are suffering. These are exciting times!
A primary approach I use with younger children and those with developmental challenges, is the DIR/Floortime approach. DIR® (Developmental, Individual, and Relationship-based) is a comprehensive methodology that uses attuned interactions and tailored strategies to facilitate development in all domains, including motor, sensory processing, cognitive, speech and language, and social-emotional. Because it is designed to help children grow in the ways that development naturally happens, it can be used to help children with a variety of challenges. It has been used successfully with children with difficulties with communication and relatedness (Autism Spectrum Disorders), learning or attentional problems, developmental delays, trauma histories, sensory processing challenges, social struggles, learning challenges, and emotional or behavioral difficulties.
From infancy to the age of 10 (and older if dealing with more significant developmental difficulties)
Coaching of developmental play with their children – either in-person, through Skype, or through video coaching
Coaching of paraprofessionals or other "helpers" such as grandparents, nannies, and other caregivers who want to learn how to facilitate development through play and through their interactions with the child
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DIR, click HERE.
EMDR THERAPY FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is an integrated trauma therapy that incorporates methods from a variety of trauma therapies. It is evidence-based for PTSD, complex trauma, OCD, specific phobias, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health challenges. The model on which EMDR is based, Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), posits that many of peoples' mental health challenges are due to maladaptive memory processing, that keeps people stuck and creates unwanted body reactions to current life experiences. The 8-phase process facilitates the resumption of normal information processing and integration. EMDR targets past experiences and future potential changes, resulting in a reduction of presenting symptoms and a decrease in distress that comes from difficult memories. This, in turn, creates a reduction in future triggers and anxiety responses.
1:1 TALK THERAPY FOR TWEENS AND TEENS
These years can mean lots of change and a lot of challenge for kids. And, they are critical for the development of their sense of self - who they are and who they want to be in the future. I help teens to process their emotions, problem-solve through challenges, define values, discern healthy relationships, and develop effective coping strategies.
SAFE and SOUND PROTOCOL
Developed by Stephen Porges, the Safe and Sound Protocol is an auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and emotional reactivity, while enhancing social engagement and resilience. The SSP, formerly known as "The Listening Project Protocol" is based on more than 40 years of research investigating relationships between the autonomic nervous system and social-emotional processes.
Emotional and physiological states are important to how we engage with the world. When a person has better state control, not only can they be more socially engaged, they are more responsive in therapy and outcomes are often achieved more quickly. Clients will listen to specially-filtered music that has been designed to re-tune the nervous system and to create a sense of safety so clients can feel more open, less reactive to circumstances, and more able to socially engage. The music works through auditory pathways to stimulate aspects of the ANS (autonomic nervous system) that are important for promoting states of calm, relaxation, and overall social behavior - the facial nerve and the vagus nerve. The Facial Nerve helps clients focus on human voice and tune out irrelevant frequencies, while the Vagus Nerve enables self-soothing and autonomic regulation.
This non-invasive, 5-day (1 hour each day) intervention can be a wonderful addition to more traditional therapies. The research shows participants improved in the areas of inattentiveness, anxiety and trauma-related symptoms, stressors that impact social engagement, social emotional difficulties, and auditory sensitivities.
To view the research behind this approach, click here.
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on earth. I believe most parents have a desire to parent well, and to have a strong relationship with their kids. However, so many things can get in the way – developmental challenges, emotional problems, divorce, medical issues, work and other outside demands, school battles, etc. I work with parents either 1:1 in the office or in the home, to deal with life when it’s happening and to problem-solve around difficult family dynamics, work through difficult decisions, and give strategies to deal with behaviors/power struggles. My approach is respectful and collaborative. Together we can meet these trials head on and you CAN develop a close, respectful, and connected relationship with your child.
Sometimes it takes more than 1 hour at time to work on behavioral or developmental challenges. It is often very helpful for me to spend time with the family in the home, dealing with things as they come up. Some areas for intensive support have been: sibling fighting, meltdowns, aggression, potty training, setting limits, supporting development in daily interactions, shifting the family dynamic, etc. I help parents find respectful ways to shift these challenges, while also empowering them to find their inner "gut" and follow their values.
PEER DYADIC PLAY
I use play interactions, as well as fun and creative semi-structured activities to help children learn how to read social cues, understand what other kids may be thinking or feeling, to problem-solve conflicts, and understand how enjoyable it can be to share their ideas and excitement with another kid. They learn to be successful in a safe, fun environment.
Entering into school age can often bring new or additional challenges to raising kids. I collaborate with parents and schools to ensure that the child's school environment is safe, individually appropriate, supportive of their development, and academically relevant.
Some ways I have worked with schools in the past:
Helping to ensure that IEP goals are at the appropriate developmental level and that they work on core developmental capacities
Collaborating with school personnel regarding strategies for sensory and behavioral challenges that can be successful for the child in the classroom
Communicating with school personnel about the child’s overall developmental needs, to build alignment between home and school intervention programs.
Assessing schools to make sure the environment will best position the child for success