Psychotherapeutic work with children, adolescents and their families comprises a
substantial portion of my practice. My professional experience with children is extensive,
including my private practice, experience in numerous clinics and at an inpatient
psychiatric hospital, and non-clinical work at Tom Sawyer Camps in Pasadena as an
Assistant Director of their Day Camp program.
Common reasons that children and teens enter therapy include academic underperformance,
social difficulties, substance abuse, behavioral problems at home or school,
or conflict within the family. Therapy for children and young adults, on the surface, can
seem substantially different than psychotherapy for adults. It is rarely conducted in
complete isolation from the rest of the family. This is because daily household routineshomework routines, and parenting styles interact with how a child thinks, feels and
There are many influences on a child from peers to school to biology that shape a child. I
see a child's negative behavior and feelings as part of a larger system in which all parties
play a role. Addressing the parts of this system that are contributing to the problem will
involve working with the child, the parents, siblings, and often other important people in
the child's life.
What therapy with younger children "looks like" is also different from adult
psychotherapy. Young children, in contrast to adults, do not always benefit the most from
the "talking cure." While talking is involved, psychotherapy with children often involves
playing games and make believe. These active interactions allow a psychologist to help the
child practice and act out new ways of handling life's problems, learn to resolve conflicts
and develop social skills in the moment, and provide the added benefit of having therapy
be something that a child will look forward to each week. All of this happens while
working toward lasting and meaningful change in their behavior at home and at school.