Child & Family Therapy

Working with children and families has been a major focus of my practice. Children, like adults, can suffer from stress and depression relating to significant life events, such as divorce, a move, trauma, or a major illness or death of a loved one. The stress of such events can lead to changes in your child’s mood, behavior and academic or social functioning. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, your child may become suddenly more withdrawn, worried, aggressive or oppositional. Children and teens often display withdrawn or difficult behaviors rather than verbally expressing what is bothering them.

When should your child see a therapist?

Trust your instincts. If you are concerned about changes in your child’s mood or behavior, your child may need support in coping with life events or understanding his or her inner experience. Here are some of the signs that your child could benefit from therapy:

  • Social withdrawal, decreased interest in activities, episodes of sadness or tearfulness
  • Excessive worry, shyness or fearfulness (e.g. about going to school, sleeping alone, parents leaving)
  • Behavioral problems, including excessive anger, tantrums, defiance, disrespect, aggressiveness
  • Sudden changes in sleep or appetite
  • Problems concentrating, learning and completing tasks at school or home
  • Sudden academic decline or refusal to attend school
  • Increase in physical problems such as headaches and stomach aches, despite a normal physical exam
  • Mood swings (e.g. being happy one moment, tearful or angry the next)
  • Being bullied by peers or bullying others
  • For preschoolers, delays in achieving developmental milestones such as speech or toilet training

Play-Family Therapy

Trained extensively in both family therapy and child play therapy, I offer a comprehensive treatment approach which is tailored to the needs of each child and family. My approach integrates play therapy, family therapy and parent supportive therapy.

A typical play-family therapy session starts with family “talk time” to discuss both strengths and difficulties the child or family may be experiencing. The child then spends a half hour in the imaginative realm of play therapy, where the child can process feelings that are difficult to put into words. My office in West Palm Beach has a play area with sand tray equipment and a multitude of figurines, which are symbols for the elements of the child’s inner experience. The play room is also full of other toys that allow play themes to unfold.

Play therapy creates a safe space for children to explore and express their inner emotional world. This approach assists children in better understanding their experience and communicating their emotions. In the family portion of the session, parents and children are encouraged to discuss “things that are hard to talk about”. Both the child and parents are able to see how their emotions and behaviors affect their relationships with each other.

Longer family therapy sessions are scheduled as needed to improve relationships between family members. Using Emotionally Focused Therapy, I help family members understand how their emotions and behaviors are affecting their relationships with each other. When family members learn to communicate their deeper fears and needs, they are able to change negative patterns of interaction and achieve secure attachments.

West Palm Beach Therapy

Parent consultations are an important part of the child and family therapy process. I meet with you regularly to provide support in handling your child’s behavioral challenges. In the parent meetings, I listen closely and analyze the problem situations that you are struggling with. Having been a parent, I can fully understand the frustrations and difficulties involved. My approach to addressing these difficulties is called Mindful Parenting, an extremely helpful way of fostering well-being in both parent and child.