Our approach to child psychotherapy is called Feelings School. Feelings School is a short-term, skill-based, family-involved psychotherapy program for school aged children. It’s composed of two curricula:
- BE A STAR: an 8-12 session psychotherapy treatment for children
- CALM: a series of 4 parental guidance session
As the therapist guides the child through BE A STAR, the therapist is working through the CALM curriculum in parallel sessions with the child’s caregivers..
When you begin to work with us, we will first gather information about your child, your family, and the presenting issue. We then use all of the information you provided us to tailor the course of Feelings School treatment and assist your child in building specific skills to improve emotional literacy, frustration tolerance, anxiety management, social skills, and inter-personal communication. Every week, the therapist will meet alone with the child to focus on a different skill. At the end of many of the sessions, the child and caregiver will share what was learned that week and you will be given exercises to practice together at home. Caregivers also participate in a series of sessions without the child present to gain parenting support and information about how to approach their child’s difficulties.
At the end of the program, we will assess whether you feel the goals have been met and will either move to the completion session or schedule further sessions to address remaining issues. In some cases, as children grow and approach new developmental milestones, they may encounter new difficulties. In these cases, we encourage you to return for “booster” sessions.
Feelings School Philosophy
We believe that school aged children can best learn about themselves and practice new ways of being in relationship with their caregivers.
We believe that many issues children struggle with can be addressed in a short-term model of treatment that guides and teaches them new skills and ways of communicating–after a few months of work, many kids can get back to the business of being children (violin lessons, playdates, and running around at the park after school).
We believe that you, as a parent, are the sun and moon of your child’s life. Caregivers have enormous power to shape the way children feel about themselves and express their feelings. Feelings School helps parents develop therapeutic skills to support and guide their child’s emotional development.
Your work with us is just the beginning of a new way of approaching and understanding feelings. We will provide you with a space to connect and communicate, to explore your relationship, to learn new techniques to address old problems, and new ways to grow together as a family.
Although the name Feelings School may connote a group setting, it is, in fact, individual psychotherapy. Your child will meet weekly for 30-35 minutes with the therapist. A parent or caregiver joins the session for the remaining time to talk about the skill that was focused on that day. Your child will connect, engage and learn about feelings through art, play, talk, writing, or drama. We suggest following the 8-12 week BE A STAR curriculum which will give your child the opportunity to:
- Become aware of the intensity of emotions and learn how to modulate them
- Develop insight around Self-States
- Acquire mindfulness/grounding skills
- Increase emotional vocabulary and communication
- Track homework and skills learned through the use of a “Passport” journal
- Understand the connection between feelings, thoughts and behaviors
- Try out new ways of thinking/behaving
- Participate in positive reward systems
- Write a narrative to consolidate knowledge about identity, family, and emotions
- Share the narrative with family members
- Celebrate gains made with a party at the end!
Throughout the course of Feelings School, parents have the opportunity to go through the CALM parental guidance curriculum. Over 4 parent sessions which can be in person or via Telehealth, you will be able to reflect on the past week, identify any concerns and strategize with the therapist about how best to help your child achieve his/her goals. You will have an opportunity to:
- Identify environmental factors that contribute to child and family distress
- Understand your child’s unique temperament, strengths, and areas of difficulty
- Identify your parenting philosophy
- Explore your current parenting strategies–what’s working and what’s not
- Set goals for your child, self and family
- Identify your own triggers and how to manage them
- Improve communication with your partner around parenting
- Develop strategies for managing challenging behaviors
- Implement new systems to positively reward your child’s progress
- Learn how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your home
- Re-connect with your child in a playful way