How do I seek help for my child or family?

You can always begin by getting a recommendation for a child therapist from your pediatrician or primary care physician.  Ask school counselors for a list of community providers. Consult friends or family members who work in the field.  If your child is experiencing issues in school whether learning or behavior related, you have the right to ask for an evaluation.  The public school system is responsible for the cost of the evaluation.  Please read the following information from the U.S. Department of Education about Individualized Education Plans.  The site walks you through the process. (http://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#process)  Also, be aware of the strengths and limitations of a school conducted psychology test versus a community conducted psychology test. Stay informed and stay involved.

What do I look for in a good therapist?

It is important to find a therapist that fits with your family.  You will find an array of therapists with different approaches.  The approach isn’t nearly as significant as the ability of the therapist to connect and engage your child and family in the healing process.  Look for a therapist who is willing to take the time to build a relationship and help your child work through the complex feelings and behaviors that brought them to the office in the first place.  Your child is not a list of symptoms.  If I observed a therapist pulling out a DSM-5 (a diagnostic tool for clinicians) in the first session; I would walk right out the door.  Politely, of course.

How long does the typical therapy process last?

It truly depends on the individual and the family.  Some children only need 4 to 5 sessions and they are able to work through their issues.  Others need a minimum of 6 months to a year.  Many people once they begin therapy find that they will periodically revisit their therapist over the years to address new issues or recurring stressors.  Heading back to therapy doesn’t mean therapy didn’t work initially or that the individual failed.  It means the person has found a healthy way to cope with their feelings and it should be utilized.

How do you feed your family?

I feed my family a whole foods diet. We eat meat, seafood, dairy, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lots of fruit and piles of vegetables.  Do we fall short sometimes? Yes! Do we eat too much chocolate sometimes? Ummm…guilty as charged.  We all enjoy food and sometimes we enjoy it a little too much. However, the majority of time we try to fill our plates with organic plant-based foods and when we do have animal products (this happens weekly) we buy organic and grass-fed.  We live in a processed world.  I am well aware.  I try to balance.  I want my children to eat as much homemade food as possible while allowing my children the opportunity to have the occasional prepackaged food item, school hot lunch or fun outing to get their favorite gelato (really, it might just be me that wants that double scoop of dark chocolate in a waffle cone the size of my head but lets go with the kids…yeah the kids really want it!)  We do go out to eat about once or twice a month and we rarely ever eat fast food.  Is this the way I started my journey? Heck, no! I didn’t know how to cook anything except for frozen tortellini and scrambled eggs for most of my adult life.  But my priorities changed and suddenly I found time to create healthy meals from scratch at home.  Isn’t funny how we always find time for what we find is important?  Ohhhh…that was deep. I just got real on you.  Think about that one for a minute.

Where do you shop for food?

I am lucky to have several health food stores within a few miles of my home. I shop primarily at Natural Grocers, Green Acres, Costco and Whole Foods. I keep to a fairly tight budget for my family of five.  According to the USDA, I fall between the thrifty and low-cost weekly meal plan budget for a family of 4 yet I am a family of 5 and 95% of my food purchases would be categorized as organic!  So I don’t know what the USDA is doing but I think they may be a little off.  Compare your family’s spending habits here (https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodOct2016.pdf) and see what you think.