What types of services may be provided to my child and/or adolescent?
Providing therapy and services to children and adolescents is my area of expertise. I believe that youth must develop trust and confidence in the therapist in order to make progress in therapy. It is an honor and a privilege when a youth invites a therapist into their world. I invest the time and skill that is needed to develop the therapy relationship with the youth. Art therapy such as drawing, social media (i.e. a discussion or review of media that is important to the young client), play therapy such as using a sand tray, and therapeutic games may be used in developing the rapport process and at times throughout the therapy process.
As part of the initial assessment, parent and child/adolescent will be screened to determine the identified problem and well as the type of psychotherapy(s) that may benefit them. Such factors as the current concern(s), history, ability of the youth to cooperate with treatment, and level of development will be considered.
How can therapy benefit my child or adolescent?
Psychotherapy helps children and adolescents in a variety of ways. They receive emotional support, develop a better ability to articulate their thoughts and feelings, develop the ability to self-regulate in emotionally challenging situations, and learn how to try out new solutions to old problems. Goals for therapy may be specific (change in behavior, better study habits, improve friendships, get along better with parents or other family members) or more general (less sadness, less anxiety, better self-esteem). The length of psychotherapy depends on the complexity and severity of problems. If it is a learning difficulty or emotional difficulty the child or adolescent struggles with, research based strategies as provided by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) will be used. My goal is to provide youth and their families with skills an strategies that can be used now and for a lifetime.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is particularly useful with adolescents. It provides specific tools that help them to manage stress and difficult emotions. Mindfulness as part of DBT helps increase the pause between thinking and acting. The approach has been found useful with ADHD, Aspergers, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mood Disorders, and Anxiety Disorders.
Some of the issues addressed in therapy for children, adolescents and their parents may include:
- Behavioral Difficulties - Oppositional behaviors, school truancy, fighting at school/home, bullying, anger management, not listening to adults or parent/child conflicts, substance abuse, teenage sex, teen pregnancies, self injurious behaviors, bedwetting, etc.
- Learning Difficulties: School is very challenging for all students. However, it is possible that a child may have a learning disability if they experience difficulty retaining previously learned information, completing tasks that involve multiple steps, and applying information that has been learned.
- Mood Disregulation/Depression - In childhood and adolescence depression can manifest with acting out behaviors, moodiness, anger or a sudden lack of interest or participation in previously enjoyable activities or withdrawing from friends and family.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Difficulty sustaining attention or focus, excessive movement; school discipline referrals for incomplete work, and acting out behaviors in the classroom are often experienced by individuals that have ADHD.
- Anxiety - Panic attacks, continuous worry about safety of self or others, school truancy, anxiety around school peformance, difficulty performing tasks independently, compulsive behaviors, poor self esteem, indecisiveness or fearfulness.
- Bullying or social dificulties: Children and adolescents may experience bullying as a victim, bystander, or bully. The experience of bullying has become more intense today with cyberbullying and other misuses of social media. Whatever the child's role in the experience, it is critical that the difficulties expereinced socially are addressed so that the child feels competent in their ability to effectively handle social relationships in a safe and respectful manner.
- Autism Spectrum Conditions - The Autism spectrum is a "spectrum" of behaviors that are variable in each individual. High functioning individuals with Autism may experience difficulty making friends,sensory sensitivity, bullying, difficulty tolerating change in routine, and difficulty completing tasks. It is important to understand symptomatic behavior as it pertains to that individual.
- Trauma - Children that are current or past victims of abuse or neglect. A participant in the foster care system. Individuals that directly experience trauma are most affected. However, "secondary trauma" is present for individuals that witness a traumatic event. Sometimes a child/adolescent may be mistaken to have attention problems when in fact that are experiencing dissociative symptoms.
- Grief and Loss - Many things in life involve grief and loss. Grief reactions that persist for six months or longer may indicate that an individual's mental health is impacting their daily functioning. Death of family members or friends, death of a pet, chronic illness in self, family member or friend, military deployment of parents, and divorce/separation of parents or caregivers can trigger grief reactions.
* Please know that I require all legal documents pertaining to custody arrangements prior to a scheduled therapy session for children and adolescents under age 18 in the event of divorce by biological parents, foster care placement, and/or adoption. Also, I do not make custody determinations and refer cases out that involve legal proceedings. In addition, please be aware that I do not evaluate whether trauma has occurred. If trauma or new custody arrangements take place or are being considered, my role is to help the child or adolescent work through the traumatic event (s) and/or adjustment issues, not make evaluations whether the event actually happened or to make determinations of terms of possession or visitation of children with caregivers.
TIP OF THE MONTH: RESPONDING TO CYBERBULLING:
1. Block the sender of IM or text messaging
2. Log off the computer and spend time letting the situation cool down
3. Do not respond to hurtful messages
4. Youth who are at higher risk have poor social skills and other conditions such as learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and Aspergers/Autism.