My work with children is wrapped around the philosophy that in our society it takes a whole village to raise a child. When a child or adolescent is referred to me I take that opportunity to work with the child and the people in his or her natrual support system as the highest priviledge and honor of my profession.
Through the years I have developed an effective system of Child Therapy that uniquely incorporates some of the most evidence based, statistically proven effective theories of our time.
The core of my Child Therapy system is integrated in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model. Which involves teaching children and adolescents the power of being able to choose rational thinking, the ability to identify faulty thinking and the freedom of positive emotions and productive meaningful behaviors that this gives them. In essence this system teaches children and adolescents from an early age the ability to be psychologically self aware, which in turn empowers them to create the amazing lives they deserve.
"I think the future of psychotherapy and psychology is in the school system. We need to teach every child how to rarely seriosly disturb himself or herself and how to overcome disturbance when it occurs." -Albert Ellis
The initial stages of my Child Therapy system involve getting a complete picture of what the child's needs are, what the parent's needs are, and what school and community resources are available to meet these needs.
I work extensively with both parents and teachers to help them identify their own behaviors in reaction to the child's difficulties, and then teach them the difference between empowering and enabling the child's behaviors. This system is based on the idea that for many of the children and adolescents that I work with the traditional parenting skills are ineffective, not because they are bad skills, but because these children are wired differently, uniquely, in amazing ways, and so a different parenting and teaching paradigm is required for them. For example, one set of parents, and I see this often, has two children. One child who was born with anxiety and one who was born without it. This particular set of parents is going to have to adapt their parenting style into two different ways so as to encourage and support and motivate each child in the way that the child will respond positively to. Also my Child Therapy system is based on the fact that it would be impossible for any parent to automatically know how to modify their parenting for their anxious child, in the same way that it would be impossible for a parent to know automatically what to do if their child had asthma or diabetis. My role is to educate and work with parents so that they are better equipped to empower their child towards greatness.
I work every week with the child and/or teenager, teaching them through the process of play or structured activities for teenagers how to identify damaging thoughts, modify them and behave in a way that will help them feel happier. Each child has his or her own driving force which constantly shifts, so by tapping into that driving force we set up a series of goals that are monitored by the parent or teacher via a Success Chart, and the child is motivated to work hard towards these goals by external individually tailored positive consequences and or rewards. Then in time as the child becomes more practiced in the positive behaviors these behaviors become second nature and the motivators are removed, allowing the child's self motivation to become the driving force.
My system incorporates the Nurtured Heart Approach developed by Howard Glasser. It operates under the philosophy that we need to hijack our children towards greatness by putting most of our relationship energy with them into positive responses, sincerity and praise, and eliminating any negative reinforcement energy. This is done by learning to be quick and neutral when redirecting, and then just as quickly defaulting back to parent/child interactions that are based on positive reinforcement.
Other contemporary theories of treatment I base my work on are Dr. John March's system of treating OCD in children and adolescents from Duke University. And some ofJonathan Berent's (LMSW) ideas regarding social anxiety. Both of these approaches operate under the same premise, that we must help children and adolescents who suffer with severe anxiety overcome, manage, and supersede their fears rather than tailoring their world to accomodate their anxieties, which in the longterm can have severe consquenses.
Last of all, when I work with children and adolescents I make myself available for their IEP meetings, I communicate with school social workers, teachers and administration. I advocate on their behalf. I see my role as your child's Play Therapist as an essential part in helping him or her do great things in school, and with friends, in extra-curricular activities, and at home with you.