Child & Family Therapy
Young children may become very clingy, tantrum and cry for a long time at drop-offs, or avoid going to school complaining they are sick or something hurts. Older children and teens may stay at home much more or actively avoid certain situations. Big changes in appetitive, sleep, and socializing are also signs of a child or teen struggling to manage stress.
In some specific cases younger children (late preschool to mid-elementary grades) benefit from one-on-one therapy. Problems with anxiety, some sibling conflicts, traumatic experiences, and some losses and death of close family members are some examples. Older adolescents and teens often benefit from individual therapy similar to adults to help them cope with stressful events, anxiety, and depression. In almost all cases, I also integrate the parent or guardian into the treatment so they can learn ways to support their child or teen at home and in the community.
Conflict can come up in a family for many reasons. Blending families after a divorce and remarriage or coping with the separation that results from parents divorcing are common ones. Chronic disease of a parent or child can stress the whole family to the breaking point and may affect siblings or the spouse. Siblings of a child with very intense special needs often feel left behind or a second priority. The care experiences of adults may have left them with no good examples on how to bring up their own child. Multiple generations of a family living together may struggle to assert who has the final say in rules - grandparents (who may be giving daily care) or parents (who may be away at work during the day). Some parents know exactly what they DON'T want to do, but don't have many constructive ideas on how to manage their child's behavior. I use techniques from Structural Family Therapy and behavioral parenting to help families find ways to work together better. If the parent or grandparents grew up in another culture or country, expectations about children versus general American culture may need to examined and discussed at length to develop a unified family parenting style.
Children with special needs like autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, language disorders, nonverbal learning disorder, and other developmental delays often need parenting techniques tailored to them and their current level. Kids with ADHD can be especially exhausting to parent and raise. You may find yourself thinking (or yelling), "Are you kidding me?" as your child does something unbelievable just after you told them not to. In other cases, as mentioned above in family therapy, a parent may not want to use the discipline techniques passed down to them from their own family and childhood. Also, parents may have tried and true methods from older siblings that just aren't working with a younger sibling. Parent coaching helps to analyze the problematic situations and suggest strategies for the specific behaviors of concern. Sometimes parents are concerned about behaviors that may seem a bit unusual, but are in fact fairly typical for a child's age or ability level. Reassurance and watchful waiting with a plan to specifically seek more help is often useful in these situations.