Therapy for San Francisco Children & Teens

My approach to counseling children and adolescents is positive and personalized. It is informed by developmental and mental health research and best practices. The therapy is carefully tailored to promote your child's social/emotional well-being, through self-expression, growth in understanding, strengthened relationships and development of new skills. 

I use an integrative approach, drawing on various practices and schools of therapy to optimize treatment for each child or teenager. The counseling may include components of behavioral, cognitive/behavioral, talk and/or play therapy. It includes gentle encouragement of new ways of managing challenging situations, emotions and/or relationships. 

The therapy is adapted as children and teens grow and develop. I try to keep it practical, with a focus on what matters most to you and your child. I'll be curious about your child's personality, interests, friendships and opinions.

Helping Bay Area Children and Adolescents Be Happier and Healthier

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

Children and adolescents are encouraged to express themselves and problem solve. They they gain knowledge and build life skills, such as:

  • Better understanding their feelings and those of others
  • Dealing with their own emotions
  • Responding appropriately to the emotions of others
  • Communicating effectively
  • Resolving conflicts 
  • Navigating difficult or uncomfortable social situations
  • Using their strengths 
  • Building and maintaining positive relationships with friends and family

Therapy is a form a learning. When children "name it to tame it" as Dan Siegel puts it, they experience how words can help calm stress and strong emotions. They also enable problem-solving and can strengthen relationships.

In particular with younger children we often do activities when we meet, whether it be games, drawing, therapy exercises, writing or art work. Interesting activities facilitate communication, give a window into a child's thought processes and make therapy more fun. 

Let's Catch it Early

Working together early in life can have its benefits. Some child and adolescent counseling services are preventive, in that they help prevent concerns from becoming problems. 

Children are in a process of development. Sometimes this works in our favor and our 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 your child's pediatrician, psychiatrist, occupational therapist, principal, teacher, school counselor or tutor.

When we set up supports, build skills, and strengthen relationships, often stress is reduced and understanding gained. With many issues there are benefits to intervening and getting support early on. When it works well, family members also benefit from a child's counseling.

Supporting Your Child's Well-Being, Together

It's not easy to see your child having trouble. I know you want your child to be happy and do well. Your child wants these things too. Therapy reinforces many things you are likely already teaching your child, including the importance of:

  • Speaking up
  • Expressing and dealing with feelings
  • Reaching out when one has a lot on one's mind
  • Figuring out healthy ways to deal with stress
  • Communicating thoughts, ideas and needs
  • Getting along with people
  • Knowing oneself
  • Trying to  better understand others
  • Building healthy friendships
  • Enjoying close, positive relationships

Parent consultation is a key part of child therapy, especially with younger kids.   The younger the child, the more you can expect that parent consultation will be a significant part of the therapy. I regularly schedule parent meetings to receive and provide feedback. If your child is an adolescent, we'll talk about how to adapt the consultation piece to suit your child's growing autonomy and sense of privacy.  

Parents are experts on their children and family. I bring knowledge of psychology and child development. We share ideas in order to support their child's well-being and healthy development. Both in therapy and at home, we try to jointly offer children the benefit of a feeling of being respected, heard and valued. 

We consider the parts played by the environments your child spends time in (school or home), important relationships and your child's routines. We keep in mind that behavior has meaning. We encourage children to express their feelings in positive ways. We recognize the benefits for children of caring, responsive relationships with the adults who care for them. Small changes often help nudge things in the right direction. 

Parent Reflection

I rely on parent input to help guide me. Understanding your family's perspectives, strengths, needs and hopes helps me serve you better. 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.