JIM ANDERSON, MFT
LICENSED MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPIST
Working with Kids:
Kids enjoy the creative process and are often eager to try new skills. Many kids and teens also struggle to deal with their own emotions. Being a kid shouldn't be a stressful job, but unfortunately in today's world . . . it often is.
Many kids are faced with real life stressors including peer pressure, school stress, parents divorce, sibling conflicts and blended family issues. All of these can add up, affecting mood, attitude, self confidence and overall life motivation.
Learning to verbalize and process emotions is no easy task. Often times with no other means of expression, we see children acting out their emotional distress in a variety of negative behaviors that end up getting them into trouble.
I teach kids how to understand their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and perceptions from a creative objective lens. Kids are sponges for new ideas, tools and positive coping strategies. As resistance is released, learning is processed as a positive, fun and rewarding experience.
I start where your child's strengths lie and build out from there. For one kid it might be about academics, for another it's all about sports, and still for others it may be about music. Once identified, these creative unconscious strengths and resources are utilized in the context where they are most needed. New skills and learnings are then reinforced thru indirection and tied back to real world challenges for growth and change.
Working with Parents:
Put simply - yelling at your kids is not going to help anything. When I work with parents, the first goal is to understand the child's symptom language, rather than joining it. Getting angry or emotionally reactive to your child's behaviors will get you nowhere, and clearly gives kids all the power.
Clinically, all behavior is purposeful. I teach families a model based on process awareness, to notice what is going on by developing an observers lens. As insights expand negative behaviors are seen more as purposeful communications that are seeking new solutions and support.
There are many forms of strategic intervention. Educating with talk therapy is great for some family situations. For others, a more creative approach can be utilized to break thru the resistance and help kids and parents collectively find new answers to change.
The key is to engage the creative component to redefine both problems and solutions. Reframing issues creates a new positive context for change to occur. It's a great feeling when families begin to think clinically and outsmart old negative patterns of behavior with a new psychology of seeing things. Symptoms are soon replaced by awareness, insight, support, encouragement and connection!