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“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglas, (1817-1895)

Childhood is not an easy time for children or parents.

Even the strongest of families can experience stress, academic concerns or family problems which can combine to impact a child’s, teenager’s or adult’s ability to cope and many problems that children experience can be beyond a parent’s ability to remedy without professional help.

Skilled Child Psychologists focus on the issues that affect children, adolescents and their families – including adults – and we consult with the people and institutions with whom they interact. This includes schools, colleges, Courts, governmental organizations and other health care and social service providers and agencies. A specialized area of practice is parenting young children and we have provided services to children as young as 7 months of age.

So just what does a child psychologist do, anyway?

kinder Well, a child psychologist is someone with specialized training that enables them to work with children of various ages and knows that kids are NOT just “small adults.” It takes different skills to work effectively with children than it does to work with adults and, while a skilled child psychologist can “trade up” and apply many of the same therapeutic techniques in successfully working with adults, the same cannot be said for clinicians who are trained just to work with adults. You cannot apply the same techniques used with adults and expect those techniques to work with kids, especially young kids, although some of the techniques may work with older teenagers. Basically, a child psychologist is a clinician who believes that it is better, as well as easier, to focus on building strong kids than just repair injured and broken adults. By doing so, our grandchildren can have a better world.

What differentiates us is that our approach to clinical, behavioral and therapeutic services takes a life-span developmental approach and is (w)holistic, family-oriented, and based on positive psychology. Because of our life-span developmental training and approach, we can also provide treatment services to adults and seniors, not just children. We also view a child as part of a family and a recognize that a child’s problem is also a family’s problem.

Consciously raising kids while balancing the demands of life, work and family relationships is challenging, rigorous, sometimes hilarious, frequently joyful and often puzzling. Our goal is to help parents and others involved in the lives of children understand what influences and drives behavior and learn what may work to increase more positive behavior and reduce problematic behavior.

Some of these problems include attention and organizational problems, separation, divorce and custody issues, disruptive behavior disorders, academic and school problems, bladder and bowel incontinence, bullying, trauma and other conditions. When addressing child and adolescent issues, the family is often a necessary part of the treatment process. With older children, of course, the family’s involvement becomes more limited.

We do this most commonly by providing psychological assessments, clinical behavioral services and professional education to parents, school and medical personnel and other agencies interacting with children and families. We address all the common and even some not-so-common problem behaviors and psychological issues. To see some of the tools and methodologies we employ in addressing issues, click on the sections below.

We Provide Both Psychological Assessment And Psychological Treatment Services

PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT?

There is often confusion around the terms “PsychologicalTtreatment” and Psychological Assessment.” We treat a wide variety of child and adolescents problems, including the problems of very young children. These include the behavioral or psychological aspects of dealing with medical issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems and chronic pain. We treat children and adolescents with Eating Disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and Self-Injurious Behaviors (SIB); and children and adolescents with special needs, including complex mental and emotional syndromes such as Prader-Willi, Autism/PDD, dual diagnosed Mental Retardation and Psychological Problems.

We also have specialized knowledge about Verbal and Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities (LD & NVLD) and Special Education issues and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs & 504s), and the transitional difficulties often faced by adolescents going to college, adults transitioning to assisted living facilities, rehab or other settings or who may have cognitive declines, competency or self-care issues while still living at home with their families.

A solid and effective treatment plan begins with an appropriate diagnostic assessment, but not all assessments involve Psychological or Neuropsychological Testing. Generally speaking, “Psychological Assessments” is a common term that can refer to clinical assessments, Functional Behavioral Observations (FBO), academic or educational assessments, formal Psychological and Neuropsychological Testing and Forensic (impacting legal issues) assessments. Psychological Assessments can often be extremely helpful in the determination of some functional and organic problems, but are not always necessary.

 

Examples Of How Psychology Is Applied To Academic, School, and Law Issues

Academic and School Applications

  • ADHD, LD & NLD evaluations.
  • Evaluations for 504 and Chapter 766/Special Education.
  • Second opinions about parent-school conflicts or behavior issues.
  • Developmental Disabilities, such as birth defects, Autism and PDD.
  • Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs).

Health and Disability Issues

  • Evaluations under the Americans with Disability Act.
  • Second opinions regarding psychological and psychiatric standard of care.
  • Parental or Child Disability and Worker’s Compensation evaluations.
  • Consultative Evaluations (CEs) for Social Security Disability Insurance claims.

Family and Law Conflicts

  • Delinquency and reckless behavior.
  • Guardianship & Competency of minors and seniors.
    Parenting evaluations and consultations.
  • Divorce issues, including high conflict and post-divorce disputes.
  • Custody/GAL and visitation issues.
  • Abuse, neglect and physical maltreatment.
  • Foster care and adoption.

Psychological Effects of Physical Violations or Injury

  • Direct Trauma Diagnosis and Remediation.
  • The effects of indirect (vicarious or bystander) trauma and abuse on children.
  • Psychological damage in children caused by medical procedures or toxicity.

The Clinical and Behavioral Treatment Services We Provide

Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology & Therapy

There are many types of therapy, commonly called “counseling” or “psychotherapy.” But not all psychologically based therapy is equally effective when dealing with psychological issues – and anyone can be called a “therapist,” whether licensed or not. Be sure that any psychological theray is done by a licensed clinician – and there are many to chose from, including Psychologists, Social Workers, Licensed Mental Health Counselors to name but a few.

There are also many types of therapy, commonly called “counseling” or “psychotherapy.” But not all psychologically based therapy is equally effective when dealing with psychological issues. Among the types of therapy we specialize in is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). That is, the therapy focuses on what individuals think – that’s the ‘cognitive’, or intellectual part – and how individuals behave. Thinking influences behavior and vice-versa. CBT is suitable for a wide variety of issues and is easily adapted to developmental and environmental needs.

REBT

Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy is a type of CBT that focuses on the rapid change of self-defeating or otherwise troubling and unhelpful thinking that may cause individuals to remain feeling trapped and helpless in the face of life’s difficulties. REBT is quite effective in teaching individuals to become more objective in identifying, understanding, solving and also testing solutions to problems which then can lead to improved life functioning and an improved emotional life.

Expert ADHD Information and Assessment Clinics

We provide quick, focused, accurate and helpful assessments of attention, memory and cognition. These are especially useful in assessing ADHD and similar or copycat executive functions. Our ADHD Clinics can be arranged by sponsoring organizations or may be arranged by appointment at our office. Please call our office for more information.

Non-Verbal (NVLD) and Verbal Learning Disabilities (LD) Assessment and Remediation

Learning Disabilities are found in people of any age, occupation or skill level. Even geniuses can have a learning disability – or more than one. Typically, a learning disability goes unrecognized or misdiagnosed for many years, first coming to light in high school, college or even several years into a career. It’s likely that the LD was always present in the individual, but rather was overlooked or ignored due to the individual’s ability to hide it, use other skills or abilities to compensate for it, or it was misunderstood as being something else.

Behavioral or emotional reactions to LD issues typically develop – especially in school-aged children – and it is often those behavioral or emotional reactions which may draw attention while the underlying LD is missed. This is especially true with Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD), which are quite often misunderstood and not even evaluated during the school years, but which very often can appear as social skills deficits, failure to adapt, and inflexibility which may also bring someone with NVLD into conflict with authority figures such as school personnel, job supervisors or the police.

HIPPO Therapy

No, this does NOT involve real Hippos – although that WOULD be awesome if it did – but HIPPO Therapy does involve horses. Why isn’t it just called Horse therapy? Well, I guess we’ll never know*, but sometimes it’s called Equine Therapy. Working with horses is often an incredible learning and calming experience for individuals with developmental limitations, medical problems behavioral problems and conditions such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Mental Retardation, shyness, poor self concept and other issues. Classes can be arranged on site at available locations under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and also with an Equine Therapist. The horses are experienced with a wide variety of riders and have also been conditioned for riding and appearing in parades, public appearances and Special Education riding competitions. Additional times may be scheduled at the Farm outside of class time.

>>> *Since this was originally written, one of our teen-aged students recently informed us, with a kindly but patronizing smile,“It’s called Hippo Therapy because you’re using large animals for therapy.” OK: Got it!

Performance Anxiety (Stage Fright) Coaching – For young performers, musicians and public speakers.

Children are singing, dancing, acting and playing music at increasingly younger ages. Students are routinely expected to speak up in class and failure to do so may result in a lowered grade for lack of class participation. High school and even middle school students are now called on to give oral presentations to their peers. College students – and certainly their parents – may be expected to make full multi-modal presentations, including Power Point, to enhance their college or business career. However, the same bold and self-confident child or adult at home may be quite reluctant – or even terrified – to perform in front of strangers. Stage Fright is quite common and shouldn’t be allowed to stop a child, adolescent or adult from pursuing their goals.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was discovered by Francine Shapiro, a psychologist in California who worked with trauma and trauma survivors. It is a so-called “power therapy” that has been especially helpful to individuals dealing with anxiety, panic and trauma issues. Our staff is proficient in the use of EMDR with children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Abruzzese was trained by Dr. Shapiro herself and was also a specialized trainer with Dr. Shapiro and her associates for many years.

Play Therapy

The work of childhood is play. Quite often. the best therapeutic approach with children, especially very young children, is play therapy. Play therapy differs from standard psychotherapy procedures in that therapeutic play is the central therapeutic approach, not “talking” therapy. Sometimes parents can get frustrated with the seemingly slow pace of play therapy, but make no mistake: important work is being done by children in this specialized treatment modality.

 

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Copyright 2009-2018 by Vista Health Services, Inc.

The Above Information May Be Helpful, But it's Not Therapy....

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