Kids of all ages, especially teens, often desire an emotionally neutral place to express their feelings. More importantly, kids typically want to share with someone whom they believe will not judge what is said and is not personally affected by the outcomes of their decisions. Although many parents try to provide that “unbiased” space for their children, it is often very difficult to play both the role of an impartial adult and the naturally concerned parent.
Children have an amazing capacity for emotional growth and healing. My work with them follows a play therapy framework, allowing them to "work" in a natural way. According to Jean Piaget, the Swiss Developmental Psychologist, “Play is a child’s work.” Valuable techniques such as Sandtray, play therapy, and CBT can help to assist children learn to manage the regulation and expression of their emotions. These different forms of play assist in teaching coping skills, increasing their emotional awareness, and in working towards their goals. Centered around your child’s age and developmental level, we will use more play therapy, talk therapy, or a combination of both modalities.
Unlike working with younger children, the work with adolescents typically requires more listening, normalizing, validating, and assistance with various challenges. Additionally, we will also strive to come up with coping strategies that fit your teen’s particular circumstances.
In addition to the more common growing pains of adolescence, divorce has become a more common experience in our culture. As we consistently hear, this kind of life transition affects all family members, often in different ways. Unfortunately, anxiety and stress have become much more prevalent for children and adolescents in our society. Establishing goals and working together for your child's familial, personal, or social growth and satisfaction best describes the healing journey we will take together.
I believe it goes without saying that throughout the therapeutic process, your positive support and loving intention in your child’s treatment process is essential.
The family atmosphere is defined as the climate of relationships that exist between people as each member exerts an influence on every other member. In other words, the atmosphere of the family system is said to characterize how the family relates to one another.* For example, various members of a family system often unintentionally contribute to “the problem” at hand. Therefore, it is very important that all family members intentionally participate in resolution of the problem.
Research shows that it is from these core relationships, that the family provides a primary context (framework) for understanding how individuals function in relationship to others outside the family. This is how our children learn communication patterns, how to handle conflict, how to treat loved ones, and how to get their needs met from the people around them.
Unfortunately, parents and children can become locked in repetitive and negative (dysfunctional) interactions. In family therapy sessions, we will re-frame the problem as a negative pattern within the whole family system that needs to be adjusted. This perspective shift can help to reduce the blame on a particular person (whether child or adult) and increase the understanding that all family members contribute to "the problem" in their own unique way.
Using a systems approach, I will educate and support parents to reestablish their leadership role within the family. Through interactive activities, family members will learn about their current roles (positions within the family) and experiment with role changes. This can help to raise awareness of each other's roles, understanding of the resulting expectations or desires of each member, and increase appreciation for each other's unique qualities. Ideally, this can lead to all family members creating healthy boundaries, integrating more effective communication patterns, and rebuilding connection.
* The safety of each person in my room is of utmost importance to me. I will use my discretion to ensure a safe and supportive environment as appropriate. Issues of safety include: substance abuse, physical or verbal abuse, or severe mental illness.