The first five years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a child’s development. A newborn’s brain is about 25% of its approximate adult weight. By age 3, it has grown exponentially by producing billions of cells and of trillions of connections between these cells. Many lifelong patterns are developed in the first 3 years of life, including our ability to face challenges, calm and regulate our full range of our emotions, as well as learning social skills to resolve conflict, form satisfying healthy relationships, learn to be reflective of the other, and communicate our needs well.When a child demonstrates challenging behaviors such as, aggression, defiance, clinginess, inconsolable crying, eating and or sleeping challenges this can disrupt the parent-child relationship. We can easily get caught up in a negative cycle that leaves both hurt and exhausted. Working through challenging moments while the brain is still developing connections in the early years will give your child the best chance to learn healthy patterns naturally.
I have concerns for my young child.
As a parent and a child therapist, I fully understand all of the emotions that can boil up when worried for your child’s success and happiness. You may be here because your child:
- Is having trouble sleeping, eating or eliminating.
- Cry’s often inconsolably, is slow to warm and clingy.
- Has been adopted and you would like to help develop a strong attachment.
- Has some developmental delays, such as isn’t saying much, gives poor eye contact, or prefers to play on their own.
- Has some sensory issues with being soothed or touched affectionately.
- Has a hard time calming and regulating behavior and emotion.
- Can be aggressive and lacks empathy.
- Is going through a parental separation or divorce.
Children who are suffering may have a hard time communicating, which can lead to conflicts.
Developmentally, young children are often unable to verbally communicate how they feel effectively. We’ve all heard it or even said it, “use your words” to encourage a child to express and communicate their needs clearly, how else can we help them if we don’t know what they need? A young child may not be able to use their words to communicate their needs well, but all children give us clues, including infants who communicate their needs non-verbally through their behavior. Melting down speaks volumes. With therapy, a parent can read a child’s behaviors to help their child develop healthy ways to communicate, and calm, often reducing conflict and strengthening their social and emotional intelligence.
How will therapy help my child?
With guidance, the relationship between a parent and child can support the child’s development during concerning or challenging behaviors. It typically take a well regulated therapist to help with the intervention and break the negative cycle a parent and child are engaging. When a child plays, they are learning school readiness concepts. They are also learning the social emotional skills that gives them self-confidence and the ability to build loving supportive relationship skills. All of these will be addressed in the therapy sessions.
Why choose Bess over all the other therapists?
Choosing the right therapist for your child is a very important decision. The “right” therapist is different for every person. Ideally there will be a true connection for therapy to be helpful. I’ve dedicated my life’s work specializing in children and families. I’ve obtained specialized training on reflective parenting from The Center for Reflective Communities, that has dedicated their research and training to helping parents develop their reflective capacities. Additionally, I have received an endorsement from the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental health organization. I’ve dedicated my learning to beyond the basic requirements for licensing as a child therapist.In addition to the Early Childhood certification and the generalized courses completed for licensure, I am in the advanced stages of completing additional coursework for a doctoral program in child and adolescent psychology. Lastly, I’m in the advanced stages of completing certification in Emotionally Focused Family Therapy that focuses on attachment based treatment for family connections. I am truly fascinated in learning all aspects of supporting the social and emotional growth for children, parents and families. I will continue to learn, because working with children and families is what I love to do most.
What do I tell my child about going to see a therapist?
Many children enjoy coming to therapy and are ready and willing. We not only tackle important issues, but also engage and play! Other children, however, are hesitant not sure what to expect. Discussing some basics, and talking about their likes and dislikes, the things they struggle with, and other such concerns, can help. Young children may be concerned that they will be getting a shot or that their peers may find out about them going to therapy. You can reassure them that neither are true, in fact going to see a therapist provides them with a very safe and private environment to talk about things. If a child is resistant, you can mention that we will try therapy three times. This is usually enough time to build an initial connection and calm any concerns the child may have about therapy. A lot will depend on how the parents feel and talk about therapy. If therapy is used as a punishment children will be hesitant. If one parent doesn’t agree with therapy or is hesitant, children will resonate with the hesitation and this could cause some resistance. If you have specific concerns, we can navigate that during an initial phone conversation to make sure that you and your child is comfortable to begin therapy.
You may still have questions about the therapeutic process:
- My child doesn’t want to go to therapy; won’t it make things worse if I force them to go?
I trust that you know your child well and know whether or not what your child is going through is a phase that will pass on its own or is a more concerning issue that the support of a therapist is important. Children want to feel good and happy, just as you want them to. I always suggest meeting with parents first to make sure I’m a good fit for your child and family, as well as gather history, along with your concerns. Between your expertise of your child and my psychological understanding of children and their development, I believe together we can help your child, even if therapy isn’t the answer. There are other options parents don’t always know about and I would be happy to direct you in those ways if they would be helpful for your child.
- My schedule is very impacted, how will I add one more thing?
One thing we all need more of, is time. My hope is that in developing a smoother relationship with your child, you will have less difficult moments and more connected moments that will free up time naturally. With that said, I do try my best to work out a schedule that will work for you. With a little flexibility on both our parts, the schedule tends to work out. Once an agreed upon time has been reached, consistency and commitment to therapy is important for a good outcome. I work Tuesday – Friday and afternoon appointments tend to fill up quickly. If my schedule cannot accommodate you, I will do my best to place you with a trusted therapist.
- Can I afford therapy?
This answer is different for every family; however with your consent I am happy to bill your mental health insurance as an out-of-network provider for you as long as it is a PPO plan. This typically works well, only being responsible for the coinsurance or copay amount. There are some insurance plans that have high deductibles, low reimbursement rates, or does not cover certain diagnostic codes that could make the cost of therapy difficult to manage. I’m happy to check into your insurance benefits for you, and with that information you can make an informed decision about seeing me, or possible going with an in-network-provider on your plan.
- This is informative, but I’d like to speak to a real person about my concerns.
It’s best to call me to discuss your specific concerns. I typically return non-urgent calls within the same day you leave a message, unless it is on a weekend or holiday. I recommend leaving a message with some good times to call you back. I’m often unable to pick up calls immediately when in session.