Treatment Approach

I provide treatments that are supported by science. This means that our work together will be guided by what researchers suggest is effective for your concern. By using principles from these studies and applying them in an individualized way, each treatment is unique and as rapid and effective as possible. My treatment philosophy is cognitive-behavioral, meaning I believe that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors all relate to one another. As a result I’m active in session (I’ll tell you what I’m thinking), I focus on the here-and-now (while acknowledging the past when it is relevant), and I rely on collaboration with my clients. This collaboration means two things: 1) we work together to find what is right for you in our sessions and 2) you implement change outside of sessions to test out new approaches to challenging situations.

What to expect – Child anxiety, OCD, and related disorders

A note to children:

If you are reading this, you may be a child thinking about working with me and wondering about what coming to see me would include more exactly. After getting to know one other, we’d learn all about anxiety – like how common it is and how it shows up in our bodies. Then, we’d work on learning some skills to help you boss back your anxiety when it shows up and gets in the way of life. After you’ve learned some good skills, we would start working together to do the things that anxiety has made difficult. Doing these hard things keeps anxiety from coming back again and again but you’re in control of how fast or slow we do our bravery challenges. How much your parents are involved depends on how anxiety is showing up for you. Perhaps we will ask them to do fun things like reward you for working hard when you come to see me. Perhaps we will ask them to act in a certain way so they can support you bossing back your anxiety. Our goal would be to get you feeling better and on with your life as soon as possible!

A note to teens:

This is not the part of the website where I convince you I’m cool. This is the part of the website where I share with you that about half the people I work with are teens. This gives me a little advantage over some adults in understanding what life is like for you. The “child” part of being a child psychologist doesn’t mean I’ll talk to you in a soothing or patronizing tone.  I won’t pretend like I have all the answers. What I can offer is a really effective way of decreasing anxiety. It involves facing your fears at the outer limits of your comfort zone. It has to be a team effort to work. If you’re up for it, I would love to listen to you, support you, and challenge in ways that will get you to your goals.

A note to parents:

If you are the parent of a young child, you’ll be actively involved in treatment. Typically this is done by a parent joining the end of session to hear our session review, the plan for the week, and how they can support this plan. Sometimes parent(s) join for a significant portion of a session that is scheduled in advance. And sometimes (or at some point) we may agree that it’s important and feasible for a child to “own” their anxiety work. In these circumstances your involvement may be greatly reduced.

If you are a parent of a teen, please know that in the state of WA, teens reach the age of mental health majority and are responsible for their mental health decision making at 13. So, not only is your child responsible for completing the paperwork, they determine how much I communicate and include you. Teens vary tremendously in their preferences, which are discussed at the first appointment and revisited periodically. Of course, if I am concerned about your child’s safety or the safety of others, this confidentiality no longer applies and I get in touch with the appropriate adults.

What to expect – child behavior problems

If your child is struggling with behaving at home, it’s both instinctive and unhelpful to blame yourself. Some children come into this world as thrill seekers while others come into this world incredibly cautious. Either set of children may need a specific environments to succeed, and our work will be in equipping you on how to provide that environment. Once I understand your child, what works well for your family, and what hasn’t worked for your family, I will offer you specific parenting skills to consistently implement at home. We may practice implementing these skills in session with your child present. If your child is struggling with behavior problems elsewhere, for example at school in addition to at home, we will work to see how we can create the right environment for success in that context, too.

What to expect – medications

As a psychologist, I do not prescribe medications. Many children succeed in therapy without the use of medications. There’s even nice science showing that therapy can promote new pathways in the brain. Still, some children have symptoms that are so pronounced they interfere with treatment or achieving a good quality of life despite them working hard in therapy. I am always happy to discuss medications. For families for which medication can help, I am further happy to collaborate with and/or recommend a great psychiatrist (who does prescribe medications) in the Seattle area.