growing healthy and secure family relationships

Philosophy of Treatment

I enjoy working with children, adolescents and their families. In my clinical practice I utilize approaches that are proven effective in treating children and adolescents who may have experienced trauma due to childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment. These children have already experienced harm and I take great care not to cause them to be re-traumatized by the clinical interventions that are designed to help them heal and grow into healthy individuals.

I utilize models of treatment that holistically approach the needs of the child to form more secure and reciprocal attachment relationships with his parents or caregivers, and to reduce the negative behaviors and emotional reactivity that many children employ. I use a variety of methods that are integrated to best achieve desired treatment goals while at the same time, respect the individual needs of the family members and the uniqueness of each family experience.

The two primary models of treatment are: Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy and Theraplay®.

Depending on the situation and age of the child, therapy may utilize either of these modalities. Sometimes, I may use them in a coordinated approach.

Dyadic Development Psychotherapy

“(A) gentle, holistic, therapeutic approach designed to resolve trauma in children who have experienced abuse, neglect, loss or other extreme challenges to primary relationships…”
- Creating Capacity for Attachment, 2005

The approach utilizes the therapeutic stance described by the acronym PACE , which stands for:

This is the role utilized by the therapist when working with the child in treatment.

The parent is present for most of the sessions, either in the room with the child or sometimes observing the session via closed circuit TV. In this style of therapy, the parent is an integral part of the therapeutic process. The parent/child relationship is the focus of the treatment and it is explored, examined and experienced throughout the treatment sessions. The parent/caregiver is encouraged to utilize the stance represented by the acronym PLACE , which stands for:

While this is basically a “talk” therapy, we may also employ, psycho drama, art, music or play therapy approaches as long as these approaches promote the progress of the treatment and serve as tools to accomplish the exploration of the client’s inner psychology, the meanings they attribute to their life experiences and relationships in order to form more secure primary attachments with their caregivers/parents.

Theraplay®

Theraplay® is another form of treatment I utilize when working with younger clients, ages three through eleven. (Note: these ages are approximate as the child may be developmentally of a younger age than his/her chronological age). Theraplay© utilizes interactive play based on early childhood play activity commonly experienced between a parent and their infant through toddler age child.

These play-based activities are divided into four domains for the purposes of treatment.

Structure

Structure will serve to “relieve the child of the burden of maintaining control of interactions. The adult sets limits, defines body boundaries, keeps the child safe, and helps to complete sequences of activities.”

Engagement

Engagement helps to “establish and maintain a connection with the child, to focus on the child in an intense way and to surprise and entice the child into enjoying new experiences.”

Nuture

Nurture serves to “reinforce the message that the child is worthy of care and that adults will provide care without the child having to ask.”

Challenge

Challenge helps the child feel more competent and confident by encouraging the child to take a slight risk and to accomplish an activity with adult help.” (The Theraplay© Institute, 2003)

These therapeutic approaches are proven to be effective in reducing the behavior symptoms that are often associated with a variety of disorders including:

Additionally, this treatment approach addresses the underlying fears, misperceptions and distress from which this population of children may suffer, and which contribute to their disturbing behavior and lack of healthy attachment relationships.

- Craig W. Clark, MFT
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