While I previously worked with younger children, I am currently only taking clients age 8 and up. Working with children looks different from therapy with teens or adults, because they process through play and creative expression more than words. A motto I often tell parents is, “Look for the meaning behind the behavior.” I explain my approach as a “side door/back door” therapy which can be great for youth who are not comfortable with just sitting and talking. For many kids, when their hands are busy they feel more calm and open, which creates a window for the work to happen.
It is also important to follow a child’s pace and not push too hard in the process to allow them to truly embody what they are learning in therapy. In my work with kids, I emphasize new understanding and language to communicate their feelings and needs, as well as new ways of coping with feelings. I always have an eye on building confidence and tolerance of frustration so they can make mistakes, learn from them, and grow.
Many of my kids are highly intelligent and highly sensitive people who suffer with anxiety. Everyone has anxiety at times, and some people experience it at low or high levels chronically due to many factors: biology, social and physical environment, etc. Anxiety can look like worry, but it can also look like irritability and anger. Some kids externalize it and have tantrums or bully others; some internalize it and are hard on themselves, leading them to either shut down or hyperfocus on performance. My job is to help you and your child understand their experience and then come up with healthier ways to think and behave. You can read more on my specific specialties and interventions here.
Because children live in various systems at home, school, and with friends, I also work with parents on learning new strategies and communication styles at home through parent coaching. I try to give resources and education as much as possible on development and the issues at hand. Part of my goal is to give tangible suggestions for kids and parents to create change, like this post. I also feel dedicated to making therapy a positive experience for children, especially so that they will have a good association with asking for professional help and be willing to do so again later in life.
Below are some examples of art made in my office. I have been given permission by specific clients to show their work, and I can say that many kids leave with a sense of pride about what they have created and learned.
Creatively Cultivating Courage & Compassion