Children and Adolescents
Therapy with children should be an empowering, positive experience that allows parents to learn new, more adaptive ways to relate to their child and to themselves.
In our experience, by the time parents begin investigating treatment options, they are already feeling frustrated with or distressed about their child, and often a bit undermined in their ability to parent effectively.
We view parents as experts on their children and feel that their love, support, and knowledge of their child are crucial elements to successful treatment. Though the process of starting therapy with children and adolescents often involves some parental coaxing, we have found that once it begins kids discover that they can be remarkable students of their internal life and behaviors, and ultimately greatly value their experience in treatment.
We offer individual treatment and parent-child (dyadic) treatment for children and adolescents, as well as individual parent consultation meetings for a range of mental health concerns and life stressors detailed below:
Diagnostic specialization includes:
- - Eating Disorders
- - Emotion Regulation Difficulties
- - Substance Use Disorders
- - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- - Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- - Panic Attacks
- - Social Phobia
- - Separation Anxiety
- - Depression
- - Oppositional Defiant Disorder
(e.g. child who frequently argues with adults, often loses temper)
- - Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- - Reactive Attachment Disorder
- - Developmental Trauma Disorder to the Diagnostic Specialization
Life stressors specialization includes:
- - Academic Pressures
- - Post-Adoption Issues and Parent-Child Attachment Related Concerns
- - Bereavement
- - Divorce
- - Parenting Conflicts and Dilemmas
(e.g., conflicts with spouse or partner about how to discipline, excessive worry about how to parent your child, difficulties handling your child’s new stage of development)
- - Medical and Health Issues
(e.g., mental health issues related to or resultant from acute or chronic medical illnesses)
- - Trauma
(e.g., childhood physical or sexual abuse, car accident)
We hope that you and your child will find the summaries of the treatment models our staff uses instructive in sparking your curiosity about therapy or determining whether or not our clinician might be a good match to work with your family.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a relatively short-term, active treatment for a wide range of mental health issues including: depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness, panic attacks, perfectionism, procrastination, discomfort in social situations, and self-criticism. CBT has been found to be an effective form of treatment for children, adolescents and adults through decades of clinical trials. The focus of treatment is on identifying how you are thinking, feeling, and behaving in your daily life and then understanding how each dimension of these thoughts, emotions and behaviors impact one another. CBT helps children identify patterns of biases in their thinking, or “thinking traps”, and provides guidance on how to challenge and change these distortions that are negatively impacting their mood and/or behavior. CBT is an empowering treatment that encourages your child to test out ways to challenge negative patterns of thought or behavior in between sessions, during real-life situations and stressors, so that they can increase their competency and sense of efficacy in dealing with emotional issues on their own.
Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS)
Collaborative Problem Solving offers a new perspective on the treatment of children and teens with challenging behavior, which is that “children do well when they can”. First, CPS understands kids’ “challenging” behavior as the byproduct of lagging skills NOT the result of being manipulative, attention-seeking, or trying to drive their parents crazy (though it can certainly feel that way). Children and teens who routinely exhibit “difficult” behavior, like screaming, defying adults requests, hitting, throwing, and breaking things are displaying these behaviors because they really have no other, more effective way of expressing distress, communicating fearful feelings, or tolerating frustration. CPS focuses on resolving these lagging skills, like black and white, rigid thinking and difficulty making transitions, by proactively identifying the situations that typically trigger these lagging skills and then working collaboratively with the child to resolve the underlying problems that are setting the stage for conflict.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy was first developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD and is intended to help teens who have significant difficulty regulating their emotions and their behaviors. This approach combines behavior therapy (through skill building) and emotional validation (through fostering acceptance). Your clinician will design a treatment plan based on your teen’s needs, which includes individual and group therapy targeting pervasive emotional dysregulation and improving interpersonal relationships. Both you and your teen will be learning new skills to regulate intense emotions, tolerate stressful events, and improve
Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy © (DDP)
Loving, healthy parent-child relationships are central to DDP and its mission to remediate adopted children’s past experiences of absent, neglectful, or abusive caregivers. DDP facilitates the child’s experience of being understood and accepted unconditionally by their adoptive parents, in order to develop their ability to cope more effectively with stressful feelings and to deepen their capacity to form close relationships. In DDP sessions, both the parent and child are present in the room together, so that there is more opportunity for hugs, eye contact, laughter, tears, and touch. The emphasis is on setting the child up for success by choosing emotionally and developmentally appropriate goals instead of expressing disappointment and anger about what the child “should” be able to do. A playful, safe, accepting, curious, and empathic environment is created to explore tough topics that are often avoided, like shameful feelings about “bad” behavior or episodes of past neglect or abuse.
Mindfulness is a commonly used term with many meanings. Here we refer to mindfulness as cultivating a sense of awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Mindfulness-Based Therapies include numerous evidence-based therapies that have been adapted around mindfulness to deal with serious challenges and enhance overall well-being. These therapies are effective for all ages and include: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a range of breathing practices, acceptance strategies to work with thoughts and emotions, and practices in cultivating self-compassion. A large growing body of research shows that training our brain to be mindful, to be aware in the moment, actually remodels the structure of our brain to improve our attention, focus, problem solving, emotion regulation, self-compassion, attunement and connection to self and others, and even alters the way the brain responds to stress.