Kathryn is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Parent Educator http://child.tcu.edu/about-us/tbri, a Registered Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator http://circleofsecurity.net, and a Certified Beyond Consequences Instructor www.beyondconsequences.com. She periodically provides parent consultation groups and parent training. She also works with parents on an individual basis regarding the challenges they are experiencing within their home. Her work with parents can be part of the family therapy process or separate from a therapy relationship.
Kathryn’s work with parents centers around the widely accepted knowledge that children who have experienced early childhood trauma or have neurosensory issues usually have underdeveloped emotional regulatory systems.
This means they typically have more behavior problems because it is very difficult for them to handle situations that are highly stimulating, disappointing, frustrating, confusing, or otherwise emotionally intense. When these children surpass their level of stress tolerance, they will become dysregulated, and their behavior regresses to that of a much younger child. When this happens, it is imperative that the stress be interrupted by providing a calm, regulated environment with a calm, regulated adult.
More punitive measures (i.e., yelling, threatening, removing privileges, etc.) will only make the child more dysregulated because these interventions increase the child’s fear. The parent must do their best to “connect” with the child even during these periods of emotional dysregulation. This does NOT mean that the parent backs down and “gives in” to the child’s demands. But it does mean that the parent stays with the child and works to regulate him/her through their presence.
Discipline Strategies that Work
Discipline Strategies that do NOT Work
Kathryn provides parent coaching and/or guidance for parents based on her experiences of putting various parenting modalities (TBRI, Beyond Consequences, Circle of Security) into practice.
Much focus is placed on understanding the individual and relationship needs of each child within the family system. Individual therapy for parents is also available for parents who are interested in looking at how their own past or belief systems may be affecting their parenting.
Both Kathryn and Mark work with adult clients and approach their work from a collaborative and supportive mindset.
We most frequently work with adults who are coping with issues such as:
We view therapy as a co-constructed process, with the focus being on the creating an affirming and nurturing space where clients can explore their concerns, reflect on aspects of themselves and their lives, and expect to be treated with kindness, respect, and honesty.
As professionals we have a strong commitment to diversity in a broad sense, and strive to stay multiculturally-informed, so we can bring cultural humility into our personal and professional connections with others.
In addition to being in private practice since 2002, Mark has also been employed at the University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center since 1997. Because of his employment at UT-Austin, he is unable to see current UT-Austin students in his private practice.
“Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”
Child & Adolescent Therapy
Children and adolescents are referred for therapy for a variety of reasons: anger, aggression, fears, phobias, depression, ADHD, learning issues, perfectionism, developmental delays, impulsivity, social concerns, attachment challenges, excessive worrying, over-reactive emotional responses, adjustment issues, anxiety, and/or other problematic behaviors.Therapy and/or changing how the child is parented usually decreases these symptoms significantly.
Life circumstances that may challenge the parent/child relationship include prolonged adult or child illness, multiple family moves/caregivers, high stress in the family or community, death or divorce of parents, history of adoption/foster care, premature birth, child abuse, or neglect, developmental delays, parent drug or alcohol abuse, parents who have difficulty controlling their anger or anxieties, and/or child with a strong-willed temperament.
As a child and family therapist, Kathryn believes that parents play a vital role in addressing their child's underlying anxiety.Almost all of her work with children includes the parents, with separate parent coaching sessions scheduled as needed.
Services provided include:
Kathryn believes that healing comes from exploring our relationships with others and within ourselves through the mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, she has sought training in the experiential psychotherapy modalities of Theraplay www.theraplay.org and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org. She is a Certified Theraplay Therapist, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Parent Educator, a Registered Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator, and a Certified Beyond Consequences Instructor. Her parent coaching utilizes concepts from Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) http://child.tcu.edu/about-us/tbri), Circle of Security Parenting http://circleofsecurity.net, and Beyond Consequences www.beyondconsequences.com.Each provides ways to explore how our attachment systems can help us regulate our emotions and heal from past trauma.
Much of Kathryn’s work with younger children and their families is based on a short-term, intensive, structured type of family therapy called Theraplay® www.theraplay.org Theraplay is a treatment approach that focuses on enhancing attachment between parent and child, and in that process helps the child develop a sense of belonging, trust in others, self-awareness and self-esteem.
Attachment-based play therapy such as Theraplay uses playful, attuned responsiveness of caregivers to facilitate a more secure attachment. Because the roots of the development of the self, of self-esteem, and of trust lie in the early years, Theraplay uses engaging play activities to return to earlier stages of development and “re-do” some of those experiences. These activities help restart the healthy cycle of interaction, leading the child to the capacity for emotional regulation, the capacity to understand and empathize with others, and feelings of self-worth.
Many of the activities used in Theraplay are typical “baby games.” Theraplay divides these playful activities into four categories. In general, children who are more aggressive and controlling need to experience more nurturing and structuring play. Children who tend to be withdrawn need more engaging and challenging play. However, all children benefit from play in all four categories.
It is important to remember that attachment is a reciprocal dance between the parent and the child. Both have certain behaviors and roles that make the attachment process work smoothly.
Our hope is to provide for the child’s needs in all areas (physically, socially, emotionally). Theraplay helps parents know how to respond to the child’s resistance to receiving the care they need. The goal is to help the child experience the “felt safety” that is the foundation of a secure attachment.
Due to the interactive nature of Theraplay, it can be particularly helpful during the pandemic. Even though Kathryn is providing services via online therapy, the parent and child interacting in their own home has particular benefits. During the therapy sessions, Kathryn is a very active presence in structuring and guiding the parent and child through activities.
Additionally, individual parent sessions help keep the parent informed about the purpose of the activities and how to adjust them for optimum benefit.
Through this process, the parent learns how to become a more therapeutic presence for their child, and the child experiences their parent as a better source of comfort and care, as well as enjoyment and fun!
Is Theraplay an "evidenced based practice?" It has been evaluated and rated a “promising practice” by the California Evidence Based Practice Clearinghouse for Child Welfare: https://www.cebc4cw.org/program/theraplay/
Kathryn has been providing family therapy based on Theraplay principles since 2005. She became a Certified Theraplay Therapist in April 2013.
Online Therapy Considerations for children
Online therapy is suitable for many children. The goal is to provide whatever assistance we can during this unprecedented time. It is normal for children to have worries about themselves, their families, friends, and other areas of their lives during the pandemic. Therefore, families should take the time to assess what is needed…to consider what is happening at home and where they could use support. How well is the family functioning? How are the kids adjusting to all the changes in their lives? Do the kids have questions parents don’t know how to answer? How stressed are the parents feeling (because the parent’s functioning plays a big role in how the kids'function). This article (from a different child therapist) has good information regarding what to consider as our kids and families go through traumatic events:
How we talk with children about challenging situations matters. Here are some stories that might help ease the anxiety children have around COVID-19:
If you would like to consider play therapy via online sessions, of course, it will look different and feel different than what would be provided in an office setting, though it still may be very helpful. Given the current crisis and heightened anxieties, along with drastic changes of routine for children and families, play sessions can be very important for both children and parents in maintaining connection and support.
There are various approaches Kathryn can use with parents and children, including directive and interactive activities that will both strengthen the parent/child relationship and calm the nervous system (utilizing Theraplay principles). Parent coaching regarding how to structure your time at home with your child might also be beneficial for many families, especially if your child has not been easy to parent.
In addition to parents and children, it is important to consider the impact of the pandemic on our teenagers and young adults. They also need time to adjust to this new way of living. Older children often benefit from having someone to talk to as they process the disappointment and anger that all of the restrictions bring.
And parents may benefit from some ideas in how to help provide an empathetic environment for their adolescents. Disaster mental health research clearly shows that if we can strengthen the family, we help all members within it, whether you are a parent, child, or adolescent.