Therapy for San Francisco Children, Tweens & Teens

The counseling I provide for children and adolescents is positive, 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.

I use an integrative approach, drawing on various practices and schools of therapy to optimize treatment for each child or teenager. Sessions may include elements of behavioral, cognitive/behavioral, psychoeducational, talk and/or play therapy. 

The therapy typically includes gentle encouragement of new ways of managing challenging situations, emotions and/or relationships. I work with parents, teachers, doctors and other providers with the ideal of a community of care around each child/family.

The counseling is adapted as children and teens grow and develop. I'll be curious about your child's interests, friendships and opinions. I look forward to learning about your child from you - and to hearing what your child has to say.

Counseling to Help Your Child Grow Socially and Emotionally

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 dealing with feelings
  • Communicating thoughts, ideas and needs
  • Figuring out 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.

In particular with younger children, sessions often involve activities or therapeutic play. It could be games, drawing, imaginative play, therapy exercises, writing or art work. Activities make children comfortable, facilitate communication, give a window into their thought processes and make therapy more fun. Counseling needs to be engaging to children. An element of play helps with that. 

Protect and Nurture Your Child's Well-Being

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 are particularly strong in certain respects, and also particularly vulnerable. 

Certain experiences and environments young people encounter cause stress that not only taxes their ability to cope, but can also trigger genetic vulnerabilities toward conditions like anxiety or depression. For children and adolescents common stressors include family difficulties, issues at school or with friends, traumatic experiences and life transitions.

Counseling can serve a protective function during these times. Not only will it provide your child with support, it also helps with putting words to experiences, learning skills to navigate challenges, and reducing the sense of isolation and shame that can come with trying to battle emotional challenges on ones own.  

Catch it Early

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.

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.

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 children's words and behavior we can help them communicate what's on their minds. When it works well, family members also benefit from a child's counseling. 

Working Together

I know you want your child to be happy and do well. Your child wants these things too. I rely on parent 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.