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In partnership with Coastal Kids Pediatric Medical Group, The Family and Child Connection utilizes a “whole-child approach” and provides comprehensive behavioral and mental health services to best support you and your child. These services include:

Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

What is PCIT?

Considered the gold-standard, PCIT is a combination of play therapy and behavioral therapy for young children and their parents or caregivers. PCIT was developed for children ages 2-7 years, and has shown to be effective in treating disruptive behavior and with children on the autism spectrum. PCIT is conducted through two treatment phases and through “coaching” sessions in which the therapist will guide you and your child while engaging in play. Desired outcomes of PCIT include: 1) increased pro-social behaviors (i.e. sharing, taking turns), child’s social skills and cooperation, 2) increased feelings of security, safety, and attachment to the primary parent or caregiver; 3) increase parental confidence; and 4) decreased frequency and severity of aggressive and/or defiant behavior.

What do parents and children learn in PCIT therapy?

This type of intervention teaches parents and caregivers specific skills and techniques to build a better relationship with their child. PCIT will teach parents how to reinforce positive child behavior, reduce negative behaviors, and encourage new ways of communication. When practiced consistently, there can be a marked increase in both the parents and child’s confidence, reduced anger and aggression, and overall increased compliance with adult requests.

How long does PCIT therapy last?

The length of PCIT treatment varies, but families remain in treatment until parents or caregivers have demonstrated mastery of the treatment skills and rate their child’s behavior as normal. The average length of treatment is 14 to 16 weeks with weekly meetings.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach used primarily in children ages 3 to 12. A play therapist strategically utilizes play to help children communicate what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991). The goal of therapeutic play is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways, modify behavior, discover problem-solving skills and ways to relate to others.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy, often referred to as psychotherapy, is a joint process through which a person works one-on-one with a therapist. Typically, the individual seeking therapy is experiencing distress that interferes with daily activities or has a strong desire to change. Individual therapy provides a confidential and safe space to explore difficult issues and learn how to effectively process emotion, make healthy decisions and increase self-awareness.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves multiple family members attending sessions together to work on improving family functioning. Family therapy may be used as the primary mode of treatment or as a complementary approach.

During times of transition, financial hardship, death or traumatic events, families may seek the professional help of a mental health professional.

Guided by one of our skilled clinicians, family therapy can help promote understanding and collaboration, improve relationships with one another, and adjust modes of communication to make healthy decisions.

Parent Coaching

Feeling overwhelmed? Frustrated? Stressed? The demands of modern-day parenting can compromise parents or caregivers’ ability to provide primary needs such as empathy, support, safety, and structure in a child’s life. In our practice, a skilled parent coach will guide both parents and caregivers to:

1) identify the unique needs of your family;

2) tailor a parenting approach to help you build a stronger relationship with your child;

3) help you parent at your best.

Other Common Concerns Include:

Behavioral Issues

We all love our kids, but as they grow, it becomes difficult to comprehend their behavior and know how to react. The number of behavioral issues may gradually or suddenly increase. Combating behavior problems, including tantrums, defiance and noncompliance can be confusing and distressing to parents. There are a variety of behavioral interventions that are effective in reducing behavior problems. Our clinicians will carefully select the appropriate approach for both you and your child.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders in youth are some of the most prominent mental health concerns. Anxiety can present itself in many ways. It may show up as poor performance in school, oppositional behavior (i.e., avoidance or refusal) or difficulties with peer relationships.

Anxiety can be around a specific event or social situation, separation from a parent, or can be around a number of domains as is the case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety can also co-occur with other disorders or present as another symptom (e.g. headaches). If left untreated, anxiety tends to become worse, as the child learns that avoidance can work in the short term.

Our skilled clinicians will use evidence-based therapy to identify your child’s anxiety causing triggers within a safe space and in incremental steps until your child becomes accustomed to each of these triggers and the anxiety fades.

Depression

Most people feel low or sad once in a while. However, if your child is unusually sad or irritable for long periods of time, they may be showing signs of depression. Oftentimes, it’s more than “moodiness” but rather impacts one’s ability to think, feel and behave appropriately.

Children with depression may display the following symptoms:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Change in grades and/or behavior (i.e., getting into trouble) at school
  • Change in eating habits
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Loss of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

At first, it may be hard to distinguish if your child is experiencing depression or if the changes are attributable to some other cause. When symptoms last for more than two weeks AND interfere with regular daily activities including school and family life, your child may have a depressive disorder. The earlier you seek out help, the better. There are many types of evidence-based therapies used to treat depression. Our clinicians are trained to select the most appropriate type of therapy for your child and encourage the involvement of the child’s family throughout the process.

Emotion Dysregulation

Do you or your child overreact and end up regretting words or actions later? On the other hand, you may find yourself underreacting because you were unable to access the needed emotion in a given situation. Either way, over and underreacting may lead to disconnect, frustration, and pain.

An inability to regulate emotion can feel like a “rollercoaster” with highs and lows. This is sometimes referred to as emotional dysregulation.

Adults may find themselves engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as:

  • Reacting aggressively either physically or verbally to a situation
  • Self-harm
  • Abusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • Avoiding difficult situations altogether

Children are not born with the ability to regulate their emotions. This means that caregivers, family members, teachers, and coaches are responsible for preparing children to effectively cope with the spectrum of emotion that is universal to all human beings.

 Emotion Regulation is a fancy way of saying that you have an ability to adjust your actions or reactions to situations that occur in everyday life. Effectively regulating may include:

  • Talking a situation out
  • Exercising regularly to reduce stress
  • Reflective writing such as journaling or video diary
  • Mediating
  • Participating in psychotherapy or counseling

 The Child and Family Connection is here to help you and your child better handle these actions and reactions to challenging situations.

ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and can continue into adulthood. Children with ADHD have an unusually difficult time concentrating, sitting still, paying attention or controlling impulsive behavior. Symptoms are divided into two groups: inattentive behaviors and hyperactive or impulsive behaviors. Generally, children with ADHD diagnosis have a combination of both types of symptoms.

Inattentive symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Forgetful or losing things
  • Doesn’t seem to be listening, even when spoken directly to

Hyperactive or Impulsive symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Extreme impatience
  • Trouble staying in place or waiting their turn
  • Excessive talking or interrupting

There is not a singular diagnostic test for ADHD, however, psychological evaluation can assist in determining if a child has ADHD. Children with ADHD may present with other challenges such as anxiety, depression or disruptive sleep patterns.

ADHD can be managed with the right treatment. There are many types of therapy available and the treatment plan will depend on the individual child and their family. Our clinicians will oftentimes work with parents or caregivers, healthcare providers, teachers and coaches to ensure holistic support for you and your child.

Transitions

With each change that occurs in our lives, we go through a period of transition, which can be challenging or at times painful. Here at The Child and Family Connection we recognize the importance of the change process, and are here to guide you and your child through the emotions and experiences.

According to Kate Berardo (2012) there are “5 R’s of Culture Change”:

 

  • Routines: Even during a time of transition, keeping a routine can be fundamental to reducing stress. For children this can be sticking to a bedtime ritual or for adults keeping continuity in daily habits such as exercise. 
  • Reactions: Reactions to a new environment, culture or language may impact one’s self-esteem, confidence and social skills. Planning, educating yourself and talking openly about the new environment can help you better manage this transition. 
  • Roles: When taking on a new role such as single parent or new sibling, there can be a grief period. Thinking about the change of your role ahead of time within the framework of a “new you” can help reduce the anxiety and stress related to this transition. 
  • Relationships: Healthy relationships, parent to parent, parent to child, or sibling to sibling can cause healthy stress. In times of transition, healthy stress may turn to unhealthy or negative stress. Communicating openly, feeling safe and secure, and building rapport within a relationship can reduce or avoid negative stress. 
  • Reflections: When in a transition, reflective thinking may seem unimportant, however the ability to reflect on any situation and evaluate positive and negative outcomes can help improve individual reaction in the future. Knowing transitions are stressful, reflections can create a healthy pathway for future transitions.