I’ve worked with children as a psychotherapist for near a decade before having my own, and now wear both hats—mother and therapist. As a therapist (and I hope as a mother, too!), I beam unconditional interest and acceptance towards a child who struggles with emotions, behaviours, relationships. In my practice, I’ve seen profound resolution of big problems. My passion is to jam with parents about which knobs and dials that I turn as a therapist to amplify healing and growth in a child. I like to host or guest-speak live conversations to get really specific about technique when jamming on specific parenting snafus! I’m including links below for upcoming events.
Therapy, like parenting, works from no equation, no rules: it starts with the individual child. Just like we are different mothers or fathers to different children, even in the same family, I am a different therapist for each child or family. It is an act of creativity to sidle through emotional snafus (how many unsung masterpieces have mothers and fathers pulled off in getting a cranky child out the door and to school on time?); to celebrate the never before named milestone (perhaps the spontaneous honour we give the moment when little one can say “I’m going to hit you!” instead of just winding up for a whack). *We are all creative!* My first training as an art therapist gives me plenty more on this I’ll share another time.
2. The whole person
Science has helped us better understand children’s special needs and the neurological and psychological problems they may suffer. But whether we are caring for our baby, our child with autism, with ADHD, or the many transient behaviours and feelings that have yet to be self-regulated in every single child, there is a whole person, as big and complex as any “grown-up,” in every body, no matter how small, how non-verbal, how wild. Being a therapist has honed my reflex and my interest to look inside every child I have the pleasure to meet, to see how they see things, including my own!
3. Valuing the gems
Parents and therapists take the same pleasure in the unique glitter of a life lived. We can see looking back on our own how, say, 15 years of baseball with dad as a coach, sculpted our own sense of self. So too, do we revel in what is beautiful about the young life of our children, the precious continuities of camping every summer, or a loving relationship with a pet. Every child has something that has me stop to appreciate its value. Life is so tricky, in therapy or not, I’m always interested in what keeps us resilient, creative, healthy.
There are so many moments that both parents and therapists are absolutely helpless in the face of a child’s existential crisis. Think of the universal battle of will in toddlerhood, when a child waivers painfully between feeling superhuman and supremely vulnerable. We know we have to draw the line, say no, enforce a rule only a parent can see, and then we have to agonize with the kid, reliving our own two or three year old existential crisis. It’s humbling.
5. Life long learning
I admit I peek at all the long think-y parenting journalism that circulates my social networks (maybe you too if you’re reading this :), and I admit too that I’m currently training further, advancing my specialization in child therapy. Am I a mom nerd? A merd? But actually I don’t believe in doing much homework as parents. We have enough housework! Best is to joining in good solid communities with other families, where we can have good open conversations and real support (like momstown!). This is where I learn the most. We’re all in it for the long haul, and some of us have mastered some moments that the others of us are heading for after the next milestone. In the end, the work is this: learning to love better. What else could we aspire to? I’d love to hear from you, field questions and comments.
You can find me at: sarah-brodie.com
Look for upcoming workshops for children, for adults, including some freebies this spring!
Email Sarah: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Brodie, M.A., has graduate training as an art therapist, and is currently working towards advanced specialization in child and adolescent psychotherapy. She has worked in children’s hospitals, for school boards, in community services, and in private practice for a dozen years. Sarah’s private practice is currently open for business in Burlington Ontario.