Counseling for Children:
Children face many of the same
stressors that adults do, but don't
possess the cognitive skills or
life experience to take difficult
situations in stride. Often they
express their struggles through
acting out, regressive behaviors,
nightmares, isolating or constant
activity. It's very difficult for children to "use their words" when they don't have the vocabularly to communicate their frustration.
Life events such as divorce, death, sexual or physical assault, bullying, or relationship conflicts are very real in the lives of children. I have chosen to specialize in helping children heal from
struggles of all types.
My family systems training and twenty years of experience as a child and family therapist, have taught me that it’s often most helpful to work with children in close connection with parents or with the entire family. For struggling children who are unable to express themselves with words, individual play therapy and sand tray therapy are excellent tools to help them address inner thoughts and concerns in a soothing, protective space. Untrained therapists often treat children as mini-adults expecting a child to reason and communicate at a mature level. Children are unable to perform complex mental processes like this and use play (and drawing or stories) as a way of bringing their experiences to the surface.
Children respond well to my warmth and humor as well as my ability to work with them on their level as this helps them resolve their troubles in their own way. Parents appreciate their child’s excitement to come to therapy as well as the feedback and coaching provided to them. This results in children who have a better understanding of themselves and their own value, while the entire family becomes capable of interacting in healthier ways.
Here's a helpful link on how to talk to your child about coming to therapy and other great topics written for children: KidsHealth
About therapy for children, adolescents and adults
Counseling for Adults:
While there are a multitude of reasons why one would seek counseling, we are all essentially looking for a way to improve our lives and to grow into the best version of ourselves. Perhaps you are seeking to manage a life transition, reduce stress or unhappiness, clarify your goals, or improve your relationships. Through acceptance and supportive therapeutic skills, I can help you effectively express your experience, challenge your barriers (both real or imagined) and help you make the choices and changes necessary to enjoy your life in a more healthy and fulfilling way.
I respect that each of us are doing the best we can with the tools we possess at the time. Coming from a perspective that seeks to clarify your strengths rather than your deficits, I will help you build on what is already working well in your life and help you find your own best solutions to what challenges you. I will work as a partner with you, progressing at your pace, to release pain, gain insight, grow and change as you are ready. Through the work of identifying and challenging internal barriers and through the use of relaxation and "in the moment” focus, I will help you gain greater awareness of your feelings, thoughts, meaning and motivations.
Please give me a call, or an email. I'd love to assist you in the process of growth and healing. 253-445-2441
There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.
Counseling for Adolescents:
Teenagers also face many of the same social stressors as adults but some aren't yet able to respond to them with healthy solutions. Teens may suffer emotional disorders (depression, anxiety, mood swings) or may exhibit their distress through unhealthy behaviors and choices (drugs/alcohol, oppositional behavior, stealing, failing classes or missing school, self-injury, suicidal gestures or attempts). Many parents find it very difficult to talk with their children at this age and feel rejected and defensive as their teens lash out at them with blame and anger. Teens, as well, are in the painful bind of wanting to be on their own/breaking free from parents and feeling abandoned if the parent complies. Adolescents often still want understanding and guidance but find it hard to communicate with parents due to their need to separate from them and become their own person. A therapist can help bridge that gap.
It's important for parents to understand that at age 13, children can authorize their own mental health treatment. What this means is that they can refuse therapy, or if they do participate they have confidentiality from their parents. Therefore, the therapist cannot disclose to the parents the discussion within session without a signed consent from the teen. This, of course, excludes the mandatory reporting of safety concerns (suicide, homicide or abuse). However, there are many gray areas that might arise between a teen client and therapist such as drug use, sexual activity, eating disorders or cutting. As a therapist, my choice is to assure the teen of my commitment to their privacy since their ability to trust me is key to being any help to them but I balance this with clearly stating my need to advocate for their safety and not collude with them against their parents. I clarify that we must, in time, include their parents in the solution and not maintain dangerous secrets..
Here's a link with useful information for adolescents: TeensHealth