Types of Therapy
"Play is the answer to how anything new comes about." - Jean Piaget
It is important for children to use the language of play. I like to use toys, games, and art supplies to facilitate the play process. The children I work with often need a safe place to explore and work through their feelings with an objective adult. Children coming in for therapy are often struggling with feelings related to an impending or recent divorce; they may also be experiencing difficulties in school, making and keeping friends, or knowing how to manage strong feelings. During sessions, your child and I may spend our time playing games, acting out stories, role-playing, and drawing together. I see children as young as age 5, both with and without the parent(s) or caregivers present. Since successful play therapy necessitates parent contact, it’s important that we schedule regular family and/or parent sessions or find other ways to stay in touch such as phone calls or emails. During the first session, I invite parents/caregivers into my office so I can gather information, gain your perception of the problem, and develop treatment goals.
Adolescence is a creative, critical time in human development. Prefrontal brain growth kicks into gear which is responsible for the extreme highs and lows in the emotional lives of teens. Many adolescents enter therapy to deal with overwhelming moods and feelings; unsatisfying or difficult peer relationships; social uncertainty; pressure to perform in school, sports or extracurricular activities; difficult or high-conflict divorce; use of alcohol and drugs; authority issues; and the family dynamics that often result. My passion is working with teens and helping them to navigate these challenges of adolescence. My approach with teens is starting where they are and building a strong rapport in the client-therapist relationship. It is important to me that adolescents who enter my office feel free to share thoughts and feelings in a safe, trusting environment, without the fear that what they say will be shared with their parents, teachers, or peers. I take confidentiality seriously with all of my clients and I want my teenage clients to understand this concept. My teen clients say they feel listened to and supported. I give teens control over their treatment. In doing so, I leave it up to each teenager whether they would like to participate in the initial session where I gather information, gain both the parent's and adolescent's perception of the issue and develop goals for treatment. After the initial session, I will meet with clients individually. Regular contact with parents through email, phone calls, and/or family therapy with and without the client is instrumental to an adolescent's treatment.
Family Therapy/Parent Coaching
My goal is to help strengthen all family members so they can work together on their problems. I am flexible and work in whatever way makes sense with each individual family to solve the problem quickly and effectively. One of the basic techniques in family therapy is the notion of "joining." "Joining" means that, as the therapist, I respect and listen carefully to each member of the family. For family therapy to be successful, a good relationship, not only with the child in treatment, but with the child's parents is vital.
As a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, one of my specialties is partnering with parents to help them achieve a happy and productive home life. I assist parents in the challenges of parenthood and difficulties with setting limits, consistency, routines, and logical consequences. In sessions, we may discuss and practice new ways to handle challenging behavior using different forms of communication or viewing the situation in a different way. I may ask parents to work on certain parenting skills at home, such as being consistent about rules and consequences. I may suggest that parents alter particular aspects of their communication with one another, such as not arguing or yelling in front of their child. In addition to my professional training, I am also a parent facing the joys and tribulations of parenting!
The adults I see deal with all kinds of internal and external stressors. Many have depressive symptoms, anxiety, panic attacks or attention problems. Some adult clients are dealing with a life change, demanding career, or mentally ill family member. Most have problems expressing their emotions and tend to rely on strategies that cause more harm than good, such as isolating, avoiding feelings, engaging in excessive self-blame, compulsively pleasing others, over or underworking, and indulging destructive or addictive behaviors. I believe that knowledge is power. Therefore, education can be an intregal part of the therapeutic process. In simple terms, thoughts can influence how we feel and behave. My approach with adults involves cognitive behavioral therapy combined with solution-focused and dialectical behavioral therapies. In partnership with my adult clients, we develop and achieve individual goals and most importantly, help them feel better. Since we will usually meet weekly for 50 minutes, what clients do outside of the therapy session is beneficial to growth. Homework assignments, such as reading, journaling, and other thought-provoking tasks, are helpful in developing insight and effecting change.