In individual therapy, I work to ensure your child feels safe and comfortable. I connect to your child in his or her level and work to understand the underlying concerns. Once a trusting rapport is established, I frequently use a "skills focused" approach, where I introduce life skills which your child can use to help face their challenges. Each client is unique and we work to choose the most beneficial interventions that will work for them. At times I will recommend some family sessions and possibly group session as well. In my 10+ years of experience, I have gotten terrific feedback on how the "skills focused" approach made real lasting change. The greatest outcomes have been with dedicated parents such as yourselves who are committed to supporting the process and encouraging carryover at home.
Social Skills Groups: In these groups, we work together to role play and practice important life skills in a fun, engaging and interactive manner. The immediate real life practice makes the new skills more ingrained and effective. Social conflicts can be addressed in a way that teaches children how to face these challenges elsewhere as well. Feedback I have gotten from these groups has been highly positive. The children are excited to participate and enjoy the special activities and attention they get.
Emotion Regulation groups: In these groups, we work together to address certain emotion regulation skills that are relevant to the entire group. I explain that we are developing a "toolbox" and the same tool will not always work for everyone or even for the same person in different situations. The value of learning these skills in a group is that it normalizes these struggles and lets the children recognize that these are important skills for everyone. They can let their defenses down and enjoy while gaining from the process.
Please note that continued parent involvement via phone sessions, e-mails and in person meetings, are crucial to ensure carryover.
Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that can cause children to freeze up and be unable to speak in certain settings (ex: school) even when their speech is normal in other, more familiar settings (ex: home.)
Selective mutism is frequently accompanied by social anxiety, which means a general feeling of anxiety related to social situations.
When left untreated, children are likely to develop avoidance habits so they won't need to speak up. Unfortunately the avoidance behavior can get continually reinforced over time when others assume they will not speak and begin to speak for them. It can get harder to break out of this cycle when the child becomes concerned that beginning to speak may attract undue attention, which they have been trying so hard to avoid. For these reasons, early intervention is highly recommended.
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