Every child and youth is unique, and you as the parent know your child best. I will look to you, the parent/caregiver, to provide me with relevant information in order to plan treatment. I will also spend time getting to know your child/youth and assessing their unique needs to develop a treatment plan, using what I deem to be the most appropriate of the following.
Play therapy, including family play therapy:
"Children's play is not mere sport. It is full of meaning and impact". F. Froebel
Most adults are able to put their feelings, frustrations, anxieties and personal problems into words. Play is to a child what verbalization is to adults. It is a medium for expressing feelings, exploring relationships, and learning ways to regulate their nervous systems. Children express themselves through play as a way of making sense of their life experiences. Play therapy is done with a trained child-therapist who is skilled at interpreting the child's play, as well as teaching and modelling self-regulation. This approach works well for children aged 3-12, but older children can certainly benefit if it is developmentally fitting. Older children and teens can benefit from working in the sand tray (which is a special sand-box ), where a client selects from a variety of miniatures to represent real-life, and work through issues. Non-verbal therapies such as play therapy work especially well for those with communication or developmental difficulties, and provides a chance for the client to express their inner world and be accepted unconditionally. Families can play and learn together to improve communication, work through challenges, and increase closeness in the family with me as their guide.
Expressive Arts Therapy:
We as humans all are born with the drive to create and express ourselves through the arts. Unfortunately, at some point in our lives, we are told or have the experience of feeling like our art is "not good enough". I want every child/youth to experience the healing power of artistic expression. Children are naturally creative and its usually easier for them to draw a picture than answer questions posed by adults. Encouraging creativity and expression can reduce perfectionism and anxiety and help a child or youth create soothing images and sensory experiences to draw upon when needed. Art can also be a jumping-off point for discussion and other kinds of work. The expressive arts I offer may include drawing, painting, andfibre arts such as sewing.
Other approaches: Often, I will use other approaches in combination with play and expressive therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioural therapy or CBT to inform my work. CBT helps clients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. The cognitive or "thinking" goal of treatment is to teach clients that while they cannot control every part of the world around them, they can control how they interpret and deal with things/situations in their environment. The behavioural aspect for young clients can involve learning new ways of acting in a situation. For example, in CBT treatment for anger, learning calming activities or taking a step back before acting is an important first step for safety. After coping skills are established, the thoughts and feelings involved can then be examined. Looking at a child or youth's environment to discover triggers, brain-storming ways to avoid or reduce reactions to triggers, as well as finding practical strategies to cope are all ways I can help. I also offer social-skills strategies such as Social-Thinking (Michelle Garcia-Winner) and learning to my clients as needed.
Parent Coaching: I am always striving to find ways to include parents in therapy as much as possible, either in family play therapy sessions, parent coaching sessions, teaching you new strategies, and supporting you.
Consultation: When your child is struggling, you the parent may feel at a loss for what to do. I offer insight, practical strategies and ideas to you as well to other care providers, when requested by you. This may include offering my ideas to teachers/child care providers either through you, by email, in school-based meetings,or by phone consultation. Please note that my regular (pro-rated) hourly fee will apply for conversations with outside parties.
In-school visits: I am able to offer a limited amount of in-school visits/treatment or observations. For this service, my hour and a half fee per clinical hour will apply to cover travel, set-up etc.