Contact:  Heather Chamberlain, PsyD 

101 Lucas Valley Dr #267 San Rafael CA 94903

Phone:  415-524-7882  

e-mail:  heather@mmt.sprucecare.com   

Marin Meaningful Therapy & Assessment Center

© 2019 Heather Chamberlain, PsyD

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Zero to Five Services

Young children birth to five are unique.  When they are dealing with scary situations or intense emotions, a child therapist needs to take into account their developmental stage as well.  A solid understanding of children is paramount in order to support kids and parents when things are difficult.

Issues in this age group can vary.  Young children can experience grief when they lose parent or a loved one.  Young children can experience sadness and issues around self-esteem.  They can also experience anxiety, from a general hypervigilance to separation anxiety.  Some children may also struggle with selective mutism, a form of anxiety in which children are unable to communicate in stressful or anxiety provoking situations such as school or with new people.  

Children in this phase can also struggle with managing big emotions.  This can lead to intense tantrums or aggressive behaviors, such as hitting, biting, or screaming.  At preschool, this can cause difficulties with friendships and teachers and, if too intense, can lead to a child being expelled from childcare or preschool.  Therapy for this age group can help your child learn new skills to manage big feelings, can help you learn how best to support your child, and can support your child's preschool teachers in developing a plan that meets and supports your unique child's needs and decreases challenging behaviors.

Parents and children around this age can have difficulties with attachment at times.  This can be for a variety of reasons, from temperament of parent or child, impact of trauma, medical issues, or prolonged separation.  Therapy can help identify why attachment challenges may be developing and support you and your child build a stronger attachment and connection.

 

Young children can experience trauma as well.  While we wish that children are not impacted by scary things, unfortunately some children are affected.  Things that could be traumatizing can include accidents, disasters, loss of a loved one or pet, or other events that are scary for children.  Individual play therapy can be used for children three and up (for more information, click here) and child-parent psychotherapy (CPP) can be used to manage traumatic experiences as well (for more information, click here).

Children this age can benefit from therapy, either with their caregiver or individually after the age of three.  Dr. Chamberlain specializes with this age group and has extensive training and experience supporting parents and young children who are struggling with a variety of difficulties.  Using evidenced based methods in a warm and compassionate environment, Dr. Chamberlain helps you find ways to support your unique and amazing child.

Play Therapy

 

 Play is the language of the child and some children may benefit from engage in therapy in this manner.  Play therapy helps children play through difficult situations such as divorce, accidents, friendship issues, etc can help your child feel a sense of control.  While play therapy can look like regular play from the outside, Dr. Chamberlain skillfully helps your child express their emotions and worries through play and introduces ways to manage these experiences and emotions.

Play can be especially effective when a child experienced something scary.  From witnessing violence to car accidents, dog bites or medical trauma such as an allergic reaction or broken bones, play allows a child to feel a sense of master over the scary event and create a new narrative that can decrease anxiety, avoidance, and improve coping.

Young children can experience depression, anxiety, and difficulty regulating their big emotions. In a safe and supportive environment, Dr. Chamberlain helps your child learn about their feelings as well as helping you as a parent understand and support their needs at home.  Play therapy can be used with children alone or with parents.  

Highly Sensitive Children

 

Some child are very sensitive to their environment.  Levels of sensitivity can be mild to very intense.  It can include a high level of sensitivity to things such as sounds, light, touch, crowds, smell, or clothing.  Examples of sensitive children are the kids that refuse to wear socks unless the seam is in just the right place.  The children that refuse to wear jeans or wool sweaters because they are "uncomfortable" or "itchy."  Or the ones that cover their ears when jet planes fly overhead or avert their eyes with bright lights.  

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Other children may be more sensitive to their internal experiences.  This could include sensitivity to temperature, hunger, changes in routines, surprise, or emotional discomfort.  These are the kids that can sense small fluctuations or subtle changes.  

The beautiful aspects of this sensitivity is that your child will see the subtleties in the world that many people overlook.  They will see the small things that many people miss and can notice small differences.  Their life will likely have a richness that others may struggle to see.  

However, this level of sensitivity can also come with challenges as well.  The world is not built for those who are highly sensitive.  Things can be loud and chaotic and unexpected.  This can cause anxiety or melt-downs if these sensory needs are not adequately addressed.  And we as parents may struggle with how to support our children who get overwhelmed by sensory overload.  Your child may have tantrums that appear to come out of nowhere.

Understanding your child's sensory profile can be very helpful in developing routines and managing your child's sensory needs.  This can decrease anxiety, agitation, and melt-downs that are tied to being overwhelmed on a sensory level.  Dr. Chamberlain can help you understand your child's temperament as well as their sensory profile and help you find ways to support their needs.  However, there may be a time when your child's sensory needs require more intensive services.  Dr. Chamberlain will refer you to an Occupational Therapist who works with sensory needs if she feels that this is appropriate.  

Temperament Differences

 

Temperament is usually understood as our general nature, how we are born and our general makeup.  This can be divided into nine different categories:  Level of activity, biological rhythms, sensitivity, intensity of reactions, adaptability, persistence, approach/withdrawl tendency, distractibility, and general mood.​ 

 

All people are combinations of different temperaments.  Sometimes our temperament and our child's come together beautifully.  But sometimes, our temperamental differences can cause difficulties.  For example, if your child is very active and you are not, this may cause conflict and arguments based on our general nature.  

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Understanding our different temperaments is the first step to finding ways to manage.  Dr. Chamberlain helps you understand the temperaments of your entire family and look at where the difficult points could be.  She supports you in coming up with ideas and plans to manage all temperaments in order to create less arguments and challenges.  While temperaments do not readily change, when we plan and create opportunities for easy interactions, things tend to go better.