My work with families rests in my desire to help parents and children come into a more satisfying relationship with themselves and each other. I look for what is working well for the family and at what isn’t. I may work with the parents, with the child directly and sometimes with the whole family. I work with children from toddlers to teens.

How to Begin

Initially I like to meet with the parent(s). In this session parents can get a sense of who I am and how I work. They can start to talk about their concerns and frustrations. I begin to get an understanding of what is happening in the family. Then, together, we will discuss if and how we want to move forward.
Does it make sense to involve the child or children directly in the play therapy giving them a chance through talk and play to express and resolve the things they are struggling with? If so, how will the parents talk about the therapy process with the child in a simple and clear way so that the child doesn’t see themselves as “The Problem” but rather a kid who, like the rest of us, is having a hard time with some things and may need help to work things through?
Sometimes the parent(s) and I decide to work without the child present to look at how they may be triggered by their child’s behaviour and  how to manage their own emotions. Together we will look for practical, do-able ways that parents can learn to respond differently to their child.

The work of parenting can be lonely. And it can be hard to find help that is really helpful. Our culture is awash in opinions, ideas, and judgments as to the right way to parent. I will certainly bring my expertise and ideas into the conversation but I am most interested in supporting parents in finding and holding on to their own knowing about what works for their child.


Kinds of Help

Here are some of the ways that I can offer my help to families:
    • I can help parents identify and manage their own fears and anxieties so that they are more able to tune into their child’s needs. From this more centered place, parents may be able to see their child more clearly for who their child is and find ways to respond to their child’s challenging behaviours and nourish their child’s spirit.
    • I can help parents strengthen the sense of their own inner authority so that they are more able to set realistic limits with their children while staying in connection with them. For example, parents of 2 – 4 year olds often find themselves locked into a “battle of wills” that is frustrating for all concerned. A child’s big display of anger and temper can be daunting indeed. Parents may need support to acknowledge and value their child’s emerging emotional fullness and power while setting limits and maintaining their own authority as parents.
    • I can help parents and kids deal with loss, deaths, and traumatic events such as car accidents, home invasions, falls or natural events such as earthquakes. Events that disturb parents will, in some way, ripple through to impact the children. Work can be done to help parents and kids find stability and balance again.
    • I can help kids understand their feelings and find ways to both  express and contain emotions such as anger, fear, or sadness.
    • I can help kids find strategies to handle their anxieties and worries.
    • I can help kids strengthen their sense of self worth and personal power.
    • I can help adoptive parents strengthen the bond with their child and work with the complexities that can be involved in the adoptive process for parents and child.
    • I can help kids and parents navigate the potential disturbance of separation and divorce.

The job of parenting; of fathering and mothering, is one of the most mundane, common place and revolutionary tasks a person can do. How we are with our children shapes the future of the world.

And although the work of parenting is important, it is not about being perfect. It is about deepening into our connection with ourselves and with our children through tough and tender times. It is about building a safe house for love.