“I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings-ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else-were helping to make our world a safer, better place.”
– Mr. Rogers –
Are Behavioral Or Academic Problems Affecting Your Child And Family?
Has a recent transition in your family left your child reeling? Perhaps a move, divorce, or loss in the family has overwhelmed your child, causing them to lash out in anger, frustration, or sadness. Or maybe you’ve seen a concerning change in your child, such as an increase in shouting or a regression in behavior. If your child is older, you may worry they are depressed or anxious.
Is your child struggling to keep up in school? You may recognize that academic issues are affecting your child’s self-esteem, but you aren’t sure what you can do to help them regain their confidence. Maybe you’ve noticed your child is becoming increasingly isolated, and you worry they are spending too much time alone instead of making new friends. You know your child is capable of success, but that only makes it harder when you see how problems at school are affecting their sense of self-worth.
Has your child’s behavior started affecting your ability to be an effective parent? You may be too embarrassed by their behavior to go out as a family. Or maybe you are nervous about hiring a babysitter for fear of how your child will act when you aren’t around. In fact, you can’t remember the last time you had a worry-free night out with your spouse. Even on good days, the extra time your child needs before leaving the house may often cause you to be late to work.
You know that it’s normal for children to experience academic and behavioral problems, but you aren’t sure if this is just a phase or if you could be doing more to give your child the support, guidance, and accountability they need. You want your child to thrive now and in the future, but you aren’t sure what you can do to address their misbehavior.
Do you wish you knew how to manage your child’s behavior and address their needs in a healthy, productive way? Are you ready to foster a more loving, trusting family environment that will help your child thrive both now and as they grow older?
Every Child And Family Struggles At Times
Many parents believe that any challenges their child faces are a reflection on their parenting skills. As a result, you may feel too embarrassed to seek outside support (and the thought of coming to therapy can be downright frightening!). But the truth is that every child and family goes through developmental stages, and it’s completely normal for families to need a little help sometimes.
Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t make it easy to ask for help. Parents are expected to have all the answers, regardless of the situation. If you adopted a child, for example, or if your teen is acting out, you may feel like there isn’t a place where you can share your concerns and ask questions without being judged or shamed.
In an effort to escape criticism, many children, teens, and parents will avoid talking about their issue at all. Other times, parents aren’t sure how to read their child’s behavior, and they worry that starting a conversation will lead to fighting, shouting, or the silent treatment. But as you and your child become more isolated, it can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. And without a support system in place, the problems affecting your family aren’t likely to get better.
You may have read books or looked for solutions online—or maybe you’ve asked for advice from a trusted friend or family member—but nothing seems to work for long. That’s because every child has a different personality and needs. Trying to lump children together and do the same things or provide the same rewards and punishments for all—without considering their unique circumstances and issues—doesn’t always work.
Thankfully, an experienced child and family therapist can help you learn new skills so you can understand your child’s specific needs and communicate your own with greater clarity.
Family Therapy Can Help You And Your Child Thrive
It can be hard for parents to be at their best when they don’t have a safe space to talk about the concerns they have for their child and family. That’s why I foster a warm, compassionate space where each family member will be accepted and supported without judgment. I don’t just want to help you find short-term solutions; I want to give you the understanding, skills, and resources you need to connect with your child and start having fun again as a parent.
From our very first session, I tailor my approach to your family dynamic and each individual’s unique needs. For younger children, I typically start by meeting only with the parents. This will give you the opportunity to share your story and express your concerns openly and honestly without your child feeling guilty or ashamed. Ongoing sessions will include the parents and the child, though I may recommend separate sessions if the parents are divorced and don’t wish to meet at the same time.
For older adolescents and teens, I like to meet with the whole family so your child can see that their needs will be validated and that they are more than the sum of the problems that have troubled them. By giving everyone a safe space to talk about what is going on, we can shift the conversation from the difficulties that are keeping you stuck, to the innate strengths you have and how those can provide a path toward growth and healing.
Whether I meet with just the parents or the whole family, we’ll begin each session on a positive note. This not only sets the tone for our work together, but it also encourages your child to speak up and express their feelings and frustrations without fear of punishment. As each family member learns new ways to communicate and express their emotions, your family dynamic will begin shifting. Instead of getting caught up in arguments or conflict that shuts down conversation, each member can learn to listen with greater understanding and respond in a way that encourages trust, collaboration, and problem-solving.
Once we address your family’s most urgent needs, we can explore the core issues that may have led to these issues. I do this by drawing from a variety of scientifically supported treatment approaches, including play therapy, strength-based psychotherapy, and the practice of verbal and non-spoken communication skills. If your child is struggling to express their feelings and needs, for example, I may incorporate emotional regulation skills that can help family members calm, think and participate in a more constructive manner. My goal is for you to gain the confidence and competence you need to keep growing long after our last family therapy session. At the same time, my door is always open if you ever choose to come back.
I have been helping parents, children, teens, and families improve communication skills and overcome conflict for over 25 years. In that time—and as a mother, step-mother, and adoptee (including over 10 years doing home studies for an adoption agency)—I’ve seen that there is no “right” way to raise a family. With the appropriate guidance, you can learn to understand each other’s moods and behaviors while staying true to yourself and fostering the fun, loving, and supportive dynamic you want as a family.
You may still have questions or concerns about family therapy…
Can family counseling really help with my child’s behavior?
When therapy is tailored to the child and parent’s unique needs, it has been shown to be effective in addressing many common academic and behavioral challenges. In my years as a family therapist, I’ve seen that no issue is too big to overcome. And if you’re willing to commit to at least three sessions, I’m confident I can begin to help your family.
I’m worried we’ll be judged for needing child, teen, or family therapy.
I’ve seen and heard it all in my more than 25 years as a family therapist, and my extensive background gives me the perspective to meet you where you’re at in your journey. I’ll greet you with warmth and compassion, so you’ll never need to worry about being judged during sessions. And our work together is completely confidential—no one will know that you’re in therapy unless you choose to let them know.
Can I still get started if my family doesn’t want to attend?
Absolutely. We can start with whoever wants to be here, and we can invite your spouse or other family members to join after our first few sessions. If they want to join, that’s great. But no one is obligated. You can still learn new skills and strategies to support your child and family even if others don’t wish to attend. In my experience, many family members who are initially hesitant to come to family therapy choose to attend after they see the benefits the other members are achieving.
You Can Grow Closer As A Family
If you’re ready to work with an experienced child and family therapist, I invite you to call me at 503-927-9194. I offer a free 15-20 minute consult by phone or in person so you can ask any questions you may have and decide if we are a good fit.