Sometimes the demands on us outweigh the resources we have to cope. You don't have to do this alone. Please give me a call if you are struggling with any of the following:
Individual Counseling: You may need your safe space to work on yourself without having anyone else in the room who might judge you.
Relationship Counseling: You may need to bring in that person you want to keep in your life, but need to work on issues that keep you disconnected.
Adults are not the only ones who need a safe place to share and explore their thoughts and feelings without worry about being judged or reprisals. If you were to ask any adult today if they would go back to their middle school years, they would offer an emphatic "No." That phase of life has not improved since any of us were there. In fact it might even be more challenging which is why anxiety and depression is on the rise in the adolescent population.
See below to learn more about my approach to counseling adolescents.
Young children often have very big emotions with small tools to understand or cope with those emotions. Their vocabulary tool box struggles to keep up with those big emotions. This is where 'play therapy' becomes an effective intervention. Play is the language of children. Through play therapy they tell their own stories and they learn strategies to deal with those big emotions.
See below to learn more about my approach to counseling young children.
My approach to family counseling is often brief, always pragmatic, and from a systems perspective. In family systems counseling, everyone in the family is honored and respected. Everyone has a role and sense of worth that influences the well-being of everyone else. This means that I recognize that all people in the family are affected by each other’s actions, so interventions must be geared towards the good of the whole family, rather than just the good of one person.
See below to learn more about my approach to families.
In the grand scheme of life, I put healthy family bonds as one of the top priorities in life, second only to one’s health. The family is where we go to re-charge our batteries, to share our selves, and to grow. The family is the foundation from which we orient ourselves to the world and to future relationships. As with any relationship, family ties have their ebbs and flows, always in a continuous state of adjustment, some of it painful. Sometimes families can become stuck in unhealthy relationship patterns. If left unchecked, these patterns, like a bad family heirloom, can be handed down through the generations. This is why I become so excited when a family comes to me for family counseling. Just coming to counseling indicates that they haven’t given up on each other during those periods of painful adjustments. My approach to family counseling is often brief, always pragmatic, and from a systems perspective. In family systems counseling, everyone in the family is honored and respected. Everyone has a role and sense of worth that influences the well-being of everyone else. This means that I recognize that all people in the family are affected by each other’s actions, so interventions must be geared towards the good of the whole family, rather than just the good of one person. To me, families are much like professional sports teams. When all the players have clear roles and are valued, not only does each person individually excel, but the whole team performs better. And let’s face it, winning is fun. It’s the same thing with families. When everyone feels good about their niche in the family, everyone has more fun and is more satisfied. But if only one person feels good, or one person feels bad, the team is more susceptible to loss and unhappiness and disappointment. Family counseling, from a systems point-of-view, is thus a unique counseling experience where everyone has an important job. My goal is like that of a good coach: I get to know family members so that I know their unique strengths and growing edges; with the help of the family, I identify modifications that are likely to cause rapid change so that everyone feels better.
Today’s adolescent are dealing with problems that we adults can barely wrap our heads around. There are cyber bullies and cyber predators. We have a sexualized media culture that targets our kids with messages about the ‘right’ clothes, tattoos, and piercings, while scoffing at the time honored values of respect, responsibility, patience and persistence. Face-to-face communication has been replaced by tweeting, friending, sexting and so on. Sometimes it feels like we are losing our humanity one byte at a time. On the surface, most adolescents act as though they have a handle on it all. Scratch the surface (if you can get near them) and you’ll find a frazzled soul doing their best to cope with the frenetic pace of their techno-world. Some kids get angry. In some ways, this makes sense as a way of coping. Many of us when feeling overwhelmed or confused, will turn to the powerful emotion of anger. While this may be a false sense of power, it’s better than the helpless feeling of being acted upon and having no power at all. Other adolescents turn inward, withdraw and just basically shut down. This is the most readily recognized coping strategy for dealing with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression. When adolescents are brought into my office, I don’t just try to ‘fix them. I provide them the safe space and opportunities for them to share their unique story which then reveals the optimum solution for that individual. I work from a systemic perspective. We all operate within various systems, e.g. school, job, community, etc. Part of the adolescent’s system is found sitting in the lobby (family members). Usually, the family has a vested interest in what happens in counseling because they too will be affected. It is as inefficient to provide solutions for the adolescent that the family will not like as it is unproductive to enforce solutions on adolescents that they do not like. When all family members ‘buy-in’ on what needs to be changed, results occur faster. Thus, I solicit family members for their input when establishing goals and how they might best support the adolescent as they strive to make those changes. This helps both the adolescent and the supportive family identify where changes should be made, and support the each other as new skills are adopted and most importantly, sustained.
Despite our best efforts to protect our children, sometimes life comes at them every bit as hard as it does adults. When it does, children experience the same vast array of emotions adults feel, from sadness and anxiety to anger and confusion. And like adults, these feelings can leave kids feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed. The similarities between kids and adults end there. Unlike adults, young children do not have the important coping mechanism of “talking out” their problems with someone they trust. The vocabularies for such discussions just are not there. Lacking the words to convey their emotional distress, kids often notify us through a change in behaviors such as, frequent crying, increased irritability, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, unusual outbursts at home and in school, and lower grades. One way to help your child is to bring them to a caring professional with the skills of therapeutic play. Therapeutic play provides the appropriate interventions for the developmental level of kids. The following excerpt from the Michigan Association of Play Therapy(MIAPT) web site puts it best: Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991). In play therapy, toys are like the child's words and play is the child's language (Landreth, 2002). Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005). The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions provides a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997). Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child (O'Connor & Schaefer, 1983; Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005). Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002). Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.