Children, Adolescents, & Families
When working with children and adolescents, my starting point is simple – I do all that I can to make sure they feel seen, heard, and cared for. I take their ideas seriously. I create a warm, safe holding environment that communicates unconditional acceptance, nonjudgmental curiosity, and allows them the freedom to explore all aspects of themselves without criticism or shame. I guide them on becoming more present with their inner world. And I coach them on being their own problem-solver where they can be, and more accepting of things that can’t be changed.
I see my work with children and adolescents as a partnership with parents, not as a substitute for them. Consequently, counseling with minors goes hand-in-hand with regular parent meetings and/or occasional family therapy sessions. Together, we do our best to do what’s best for the child.
Young adulthood can be a phase of life that many have dreamed of since childhood - freedom to make one’s own decisions; no longer required go to school; money of one’s own to spend or save as they please; possibilities for pursuing one’s passions and career interests; potential for serious relationships, etc. This panorama of opportunities and decisions can be exciting, but for many it can also be overwhelming and consequently lead to intense feelings of stress, anxiety, confusion, self-doubt, or depression. Perhaps setbacks are accumulating and more obstacles than opportunities seem to be presenting themselves, or the pain from old hurts is no longer avoidable and the time has come to process these memories and heal in order to move forward. My work with young adults focuses on strengthening their sense of self, growing their self-awareness, and helping them heal the wounds that need healing in order for them to find relief from the symptoms that are troubling them and increase their confidence to seek the life they desire.
It’s amazing how the most confident of men and women can be humbled by the monumental task of parenting. And how could they not? It's a sacred mission entrusted to parents, a role that only they can fill. A parent’s efforts are lifelong, but especially in the early and teenage years, they lay the foundation for children to grow up to be caring, generous, responsible, contributing members of society who use their freedom well to benefit themselves, their loved ones, and the common good of their community. Unfortunately, there is no manual (though there are certainly no shortage of “How-To” books out there). My work with parents revolves around a few general principles to aide them on their journey. First, my starting point is this - parents are doing the best that they can at the given moment. My work with parents assumes this, and together, we see what else can be done or tweaked to be more effective. Second, I work with parents to become more confident in their abilities. A parent knows her/his child best, not their therapist, not their teacher, not their coach, though these people can certainly provide valuable support. A parent's insights are invaluable in providing the best possible collaborative care for their child. Third, I coach parents to make changes within themselves that are necessary before they can effectively bring about lasting changes in their children. These can range from remaining calmer during instances when their child is acting out or panicking; planning ahead for situations that predictably end up in unpleasant scenes; being more consistent in maintaining routines, spending quality time together, or setting limits; and when necessary, acknowledging and working through unresolved issues in their marriage/relationship or from their own upbringing that may be interfering with parenting their child as they would like. And lastly, together I work with parents to come up with a flexible plan for parenting that makes sense.