“We are all born with a natural ability to grow, flourish and create rich, meaningful lives”
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Child Mental Health Specialist with 18 years of training and experience in addressing the concerns and challenges of children, adolescents and families. I am certified as a School Social Worker and have worked in the school system for many years helping youth, parents and educators identify and overcome barriers to social and academic success. I will partner with you and your child to build on your family's natural strengths. We will work together to decide what your concerns are and make improvements in the areas most important to you.
I use a variety of evidence-based approaches in my work with children and families. Because children are limited in their ability to express themselves verbally, expressive therapies such as art, sand tray, play therapy, imagery, and story-telling encourage them to access their inner resources and describe to the therapist and parent/caregiver their experience and understanding of the world around them. Just as adults "talk things out", children "play things out". Therapies that build on normal communication and learning processes, as well nonverbal methods of creative expression, are most effective in treating children. I often let the child lead the session and choose the method that works best for them in their healing process.
The therapeutic power of art and imaginative play can be used with children in many ways:
- To identify and express thoughts and feelings when they do not have the language to do so
- To help them work through difficult emotions
- To help children feel seen and heard and supported
- To promote cognitive development and correct dysfunctional thinking
- To empower children to address and resolve their own problems appropriate to their development
- To become more responsible for their behaviors and practice more successful coping strategies
- To develop empathy, respect and acceptance of self and others
Children who experience troubling emotions and lack problem-solving skills may misbehave at home or in school. By being supported in counseling to confront problems, children can learn new ways of thinking and master more adaptive behaviors. Working through underlying issues often results in improved behavior, increased self-esteem, better communication and a reduction of anxiety. Weekly therapy sessions can vary in length, but usually last from 30 to 50 minutes. Positive results can often be seen in as little as 10 sessions.
I will first meet with you, as caregiver, to get a clear picture of your concerns about problem behaviors and define a few goals for treatment. I can answer your questions and provide information about the various techniques. I will ask you to join in some of the sessions, either as a participate or an observer. In this way, you will learn skills to improve communication with your child, reduce problem behaviors and increase compliance at home. Together we can explore tools and strategies for effective behavior management. I will communicate regularly with you to monitor the progress of treatment. We can also collaborate with your child's teacher and primary care provider to address any academic and/or medical concerns.
The play room is a warm, open, nurturing environment, where I want to give children the message of: "Adults are here to help you describe and understand your fears and emotions. You are not alone; you are safe and loved and can be yourself". I also want to provide caregivers with supportive messages of: "You and your child's needs are important. Together we can find the tools and strategies for you to help your child adjust to challenges, develop a solid sense of self and learn new constructive behaviors".
Teenagers are in the developmental process of defining and exploring their own identity, yet they still need and want safe, nurturing adults to help them identify and effectively solve problem situations in their life. Self-esteem, relationships, trauma, peer pressure, sexuality, making healthy choices and forming a healthy self-image and identity are key issues for teens that can underlie problems like depression, suicidality, anxiety, substance abuse and other unhealthy behaviors.
Teens decide for themselves how they want to work in counseling, and whether or not they want to involve their parent/caregiver. Using cognitive-behavioral methods, relaxation, motivational interviewing, art, music and writing, I work to support youth to define their challenges, access their strengths, and clarify their values in order to find their own solutions. I empower them to grow in self-confidence, and better understand and accept themselves. If the youth desires, I provide conjoint sessions with parents or siblings to improve communication, understanding and reduce conflict.