California Divorce Therapist
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Therapy Services
Reunification Therapy & Family Systems Therapy
In-Home Parent Coaching & Family Therapy
Play Therapy
Individual Therapy
Co-Parent Couseling & Education
Divorce Education
Parenting Plan Coordination (Special Mastering)
Brief Focused Assessment
Custody Evaluation (730)
Collaborative Law: Child Specialist
Divorce Recovery Group
Limits of Confidentiality
255 W. Central, Suite 201, Brea, CA 92821


  • Understands the child from a developmental perspective, assessing the child's behavior, perspectives, choices and needs relative to his/her stage of development, and from within the multi-variable context of divorce in which issues of concern need thorough, balanced exploration and intervention
  • Appreciates the unique relationship the child has with each parent, and related extended family and friends, and supports the child's right to a positive relationship with both parents
  • Carefully listens to and validates the child's expressed feelings, seriously acknowledges, though not necessarily agrees with, the child's perceptions, understanding that there may be multiple influences affecting the child's perceptions, and that automatically validating or reinforcing unexamined perceptions may reinforce inaccurate beliefs about a parent that could ultimately be damaging to the child
  • Provides a safe, child-friendly environment (Please see Contact the Therapist page for office tour) and therapeutic approach that encourages sharing of feelings and thoughts
  • Advocates for the family as a whole, understanding that the child's positive adjustment is most dependent upon both parents' positive adjustment
  • Facilitates (if assessed to be relevant to the child's specific situation) awareness and understanding of internal somatic warning signals and external signs of danger, and a plan for how to respond if confronted with these circumstances
  • Helps the child identify and develop effective individual coping strategies for dealing with the stress of the divorce and parental conflict, for example, the identification and development of a neutral/safe support network, at school and at home within their own family, neighborhood and/or church, and how to utilize them; " write in my journal what happened and how I felt about it, then bring my journal to my next therapy session to talk about it; go to my room and listen to my iPod; play with my dog; practice my violin," etc.
  • Helps the child distinguish between child issues/responsibilities and adult issues/responsibilities, and develop coping strategies to disengage from the latter
  • Encourages the child's development of effective and active problem-solving skills to cope with being placed in the middle of parental conflict, or feeling in a loyalty bind, that do not include the maladaptive (though not uncommon in high conflict) coping strategies of avoidance and/or: bending the truth; exaggeration, fabrication or lying to protect a parent or oneself; or telling a parent what s/he believes a parent wants to hear (even when completely untrue)--often unconsciously motivated and not intentional--in an efforts to feel secure and reduce tension with a parent upon reuniting after time with the other parent (Such false reports from a child upon reuniting with a parent generally mirrors this parent's negative feelings and perspective of the other parent. It is not uncommon that neither parent is fully aware, if aware at all, of the extent to which this process in the child may be contributing to the ongoing parental conflict)
  • Assesses for symptoms of stress, indications that the child may be overwhelmed by parental grief, stress or anger, and helps the child identify specific actions parents can take or things they could say to help diminish this stress for him/herself- eventually to verbalize to parents when feeling prepared to do so (i.e. if the parent is assessed by the therapist to have the capacity to constructively cope with the child's assertiveness), emphasizing to parents the importance of the child finding and developing his/her own voice in communicating with themselves and others
  • Assesses for feelings of internalized guilt for the parent's divorce, and for loyalty conflicts; normalizes and facilitates processing of these feelings
  • Facilitates development of an increasing ability to tune in to his/her own internal somatic signals and identify associated feelings with an increasingly sophisticated "feelings vocabulary" (child is provided a list of feelings to refer to at each session) so that the child becomes empowered with self-awareness and understanding of his/her own unique feelings, needs wants and perceptions, in some ways similar to others, including parents and siblings, but in other ways different and unique
  • Supports the child in the identification of his/her own independent perspective and in the development of his/her independent critical thinking (including identification of his/her own memories), as well as feelings, and to differentiate these from others' perspectives, thinking and memories/recollections, as is clinically appropriate relative to the child's ego strength and development (i.e. respects the child's adaptive ego defenses)-as for some children this can be overwhelming and can, therefore, only be addressed with projective approaches (e.g. play therapy, story-telling, discussing/telling stories other children's like circumstances, feelings, and experiences and things that helped them) that place the internal conflict outside of the conscious self to be processed and worked through as s/he is able (i.e. remaining within the therapeutic window)
  • Delicately confronts inconsistencies in the child's stated feelings, perceptions, thinking and recollections/memories
  • Emphasizes the principle of BALANCE, and works toward developing a balanced view of both parents, balanced emotions toward both parents, and balanced behavior toward both parents
  • Works, when appropriate, toward the child's development of a compassionate view of both parents, and toward and understanding of the situational nature of divorce relative to the parent(s)' current behavior
  • Supports the child in assertively voicing legitimate complaints/concerns to parents
  • Promotes flexibility in thinking, facilitating open exploration of events, motivations and perceptions and discourages "mind reading," jumping to conclusions and other cognitive distortions (e.g. labeling; all-or-nothing, black/white thinking, or splitting; overgeneralizing; catastrophizing or minimizing; personalizing, etc.), and educates the child about cognitive distortions and that we will continue to look out for and process them in detail when they occur (examples are identified and discussed, and child is provided a list of these to refer to at each session)
  • Encourages use of detailed descriptive terms in communicating about problems, people and events, verses use of the above cognitive distortions and focusing on conclusions
  • Is solution focused in developing effective problem-solving, coping and communication strategies, verses a continual focus on complaints and avoidance of the active working through of issues and problems
  • Helps the child find his/her own voice via facilitating the development of assertive communication skills and use of "I statements" (via education and role play) to relate his/her feelings, needs, and wants to parents in a respectful manner, and prepares the parents for this change in their child's communication. (If it has been assessed that a parent is currently incapable of receiving assertive statements from the child without reacting in a punitive manner or withdrawing from therapy, the child is then supported in developing his/her own adaptive coping and is helped to develop a balanced perspective of the relationship in efforts to emotionally separate from and not internalize the conflict or take emotional responsibility for the parent.)
  • Works to refocus the child from the divorce and parental conflict onto age appropriate social, academic and extra-curricular activities
  • Includes divorce education utilizing the "Children in the Middle" child's program. Chapter titles include: "Getting out of the Middle: Using 'I' Messages," "How Divorce Makes You Feel," "Changing Your Thoughts and Activities," and "Getting on with Your Life"
  • Includes each parent in therapy as the child is ready to include them, and as is developmentally and clinically appropriate
  • Emphasis is placed on parent-child dyads, as attachment is a one-to-one phenomenon, with the facilitation of the development of parental empathy and attunement with the child, including how to respond to a child's rejecting behavior in a non-reactive and empathetic manner (interventions being much the same as in working with attachment disordered children)
  • In most cases the therapist will meet with both parents individually in separate intake sessions before the initial session with the child
  • Recommends for parents the completion of the free on-line divorce education and agreement program, "Up to Parents" ( ) to bring to this initial intake session
  • In some cases individual child therapy ends up looking more like family therapy once the child has included parents, and at times other family members in session, but the process is different in getting to this point, and the primary focus remains on the individual child
  • Facilitates collaboration of treatment with other therapists working with the family
  • Is particularly appropriate for the symptomatic child experiencing mood and/or behavioral disturbance, and/or for the older child
  • Please review Family Systems Therapy for an overview of my perspective of family treatment, which applies to individual therapy as well and becomes more relevant as parents and other family members are included in the child's sessions

Confidentiality for the Child in Individual Therapy

(Please first click on LIMITS OF CONFIDENTIALITY to read the limits of confidentiality for all services.)

  • The therapist maintains the privacy and confidentiality of the child to secure a sense of psychological safety for the child. Information is shared with the parents as needed, yet with the child's consent, in order to enhance therapeutic goals in the manner described below
  • Information may also be withheld from parents with the understanding that intrusion, poor boundaries or secondary agendas may be potentially harmful to the children
  • California law provides for the child's own rights to confidentiality and privilege, with the same exceptions as described in LIMITS OF CONFIDENTIALITY, as indicated above
  • There is no confidentiality between parents in their involvement with their child's therapy, as the children's needs are central to the issues addressed, and the child is informed that his/her parents may be spoken with about what took place in conjoint session with him/herself (the child) and the other parent (i.e. parents my be informed about what took place in session with the child and the other parent)
  • When the child in seen in conjoint session with a parent or in family session that is court ordered therapy, the child is informed that communication within this context is not confidential and may be reported to the court
  • Children are informed that what they tell me remains private unless I have concern that s/he is a danger to her/himself or the person or property of an identifiable other
  • When a child relates to me information I believe is important for parents to know, I will work with the child to increase her/his comfort level with relating the information to the parents him/herself with my support, or with my relating this information to the parents, depending upon whichever the child is more comfortable . If the child wants me to relate the information to the parents, I give the child the option to remain in the room or be excused for this portion of the session. I will later work with the child and parent, individually and conjointly, to address the underlying concerns in communicating about difficult issues
  • The ultimate objective is for child and parent to be able to effectively communicate, and especially over important, emotionally laden issues; however, when this is not possible due to characteristics within the parent, the child is supported in developing their own effective/adaptive coping

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