Therapy for San Francisco Children, Tweens & Teens

I use an integrative approach, drawing on varied practices and schools of therapy to optimize treatment for each child or teenager. The counseling I provide for children and adolescents is personalized, developmentally sensitive and relationship-based. It is informed by developmental and mental health research and best practices.

The therapy is tailored to promote your child's social/emotional well-being through self-expression, growth in understanding, enhancement of relationships and development of skills. Sessions may include elements of behavioral, cognitive/behavioral, psychoeducational, talk and/or play therapy. They are grounded in belief in the powers of kindness, focused attention and open awareness in promoting mental health.

Young people should feel heard, valued and respected in therapy. The counseling is adapted as children and teens grow and develop. It typically includes gentle encouragement of new ways of managing challenging situations, emotions and/or relationships. I work with parents, teachers, doctors and other providers to provide collaborative care.

Counseling to Support Your Child's Healthy Development

Counseling helps children and teens learn about themselves and others. It does so by tapping into natural human impulses to connect, communicate and to want to make sense of experiences. In therapy we leverage young people's curiosity and built-in tendencies toward growth and progress. 

Therapy reinforces many things you are likely already teaching your child, including the importance of:

  • Speaking up

  • Expressing, understanding and handling feelings

  • Communicating thoughts, ideas and needs

  • Developing healthy ways to deal with stress, conflicts and difficult social situations

  • Trying to better understand themselves and others

  • Building and sustaining strong, positive relationships with friends and family

In stressful situations children often internalize their feelings, not wanting to burden their parents or make things worse. In therapy, children and adolescents are encouraged to express themselves and problem solve. When they "name it to tame it" as Dan Siegel puts it, they experience the power of words to calm stress and defuse emotions.

Protect Your Child's Mental Health

Children and adolescents are living an active process of development, adapting to changes in demands on them as well as in their own abilities. Children and adolescents' active process of development can be helpful in therapy. Sometimes it works in our favor and the task is as simple as identifying the supports a child needs to get over a hump. Other times the therapy is more in depth.

Some experiences and environments young people encounter cause stress that not only taxes their ability to cope, but can also trigger conditions like anxiety or depression. Children and teens who have a family member or members with a psychological condition may be more vulnerable from a mental health perspective.

Don't ignore the signs your child is struggling. The longer problems simmer the more likely they are to stick. There are benefits to intervening and getting support early. Counseling can be protective of children and adolescents' well-being, helping prevent concerns from becoming problems.

Sometimes social/emotional issues overlap with school, learning, sensory or health-related concerns. With your permission and as appropriate, I'll be glad to consult with other professionals working with your child.

Therapy can help with understanding what your child is thinking and feeling. Through listening closely to the meaning behind their words and behavior we can help them to communicate what's on their minds. When it works well, family members also benefit from a child's counseling. 

Services for Tweens and Teens

Developmentally sensitive counseling services for adolescents begin with acknowledgement of their growing autonomy. When possible, involve your teenager in the therapist selection process. Some parents bring their teens in from the beginning, showing them websites or videos from potential candidates. Others offer their teens a choice between several prescreened therapist options. An initial appointment or two give your teen the chance to see if she thinks we could be a fit to work together.

Teen services at my practice respond to a range of factors unique to adolescents. Teens are highly sensitive to stress and signs of social rejection. They feel emotions very strongly and are still developing self control. Thoughts about personal identity tend to be prominent. Therapy offers your middle or high schooler opportunities to learn and practice better communication, an important stress management tool. In counseling, teens learn about and share ideas about stress reduction and wellness tools.

The combination of social and academic demands teens face combined with the fact that many psychiatric disorders emerge at this age make it important to not only tune into your teen but seek support when needed. Teens these days seem more savvy and informed about emotional health issues than we were at their ages. They seem to be requesting therapy more often. If your teen asks for therapy, be careful about dismissing or ignoring this request. Teens may be confused or worried about what is going on for them. They often prefer to keep some concerns private and may have an accurate sense that help is needed. 

Working Together

I know you want your child to be happy and do well. Your child wants these things too. I rely on both children and parents' input to help guide me. Understanding your family's perspectives, needs and strengths helps me serve you better. 

Parent consultation is a key part of child therapy, especially with younger kids. The younger your child, the more you can expect that parent consultation will be a significant part of the therapy. If your child is an adolescent, we'll talk about how to adapt this piece in light of his or her evolving autonomy and sense of privacy.  

Some things transfer from parenting to therapy and vice versa. We want to give children the feeling of being respected, heard and valued. We try to listen attentively and empathically. We consider what children are expressing through their behavior. We value loving family relationships. We acknowledge efforts, encourage positive actions and recognize successes.  

Although my work is focused on your child, your parallel reflection and follow up fuel the end goals. Having a good connection with parents helps the therapy along. And, it can lead to better results. 

Questions About Therapy for Your Child?

Contact me. I look forward to speaking with you.