Young children (ages 3-early elementary) usually relate best with the therapist when given the opportunity to play with toys and games. To the trained eye, play is a window into the life of the emotions and concerns of the child, and is a vehicle for learning relationship skills, for expressing emotional concerns, for developing skills in emotional regulation, for becoming more self aware and confident, and for working through stressful situations and transitions. Older children can take part in more direct verbal discussion of issues and concerns, and can work directly on skills that may be applied to overcoming difficulties.
Adolescence is a time of rapid and exciting change, as young people begin to rely more on their developing sense of identity and their peer group for support and direction. It is a time that they can be very productively engaged in conversations that focus on what they value; what choices are available in daily life; what goals they want to pursue long term; how to manage the social, academic and internal pressures they feel; how to understand and express their emotions; and how to relate positively to their families given the conflicts and varied perspectives that naturally arise.
Family therapy brings together all family members or smaller groupings to talk about what may be causing conflict or be difficult to talk about openly. My role is to create a space that feels respectful and where it’s safe for everyone to talk. The process involves sharing, deep listening, problem solving, empathy for emotions expressed, developing goals, understanding others, trying new strategies and making possible more positive, cooperative dynamics.
I typically work with these issues: anxiety, self esteem, depression, learning/attention/school functioning problems, grief and loss, peer relationships, emotional volatility or withdrawal, improving family functioning, abuse and trauma history, autistic spectrum disorders.