Licensed therapists Abbie Kelley and Julianne Neely recently marked a year as partners in their private practice in Chicago, Individual and Family Connection. They specialize in treating children with behavioral problems and other issues, as well their families. They've answered some questions about their practice and the types of problems they see most often. Read on to learn more.
Q: Tell me about your practice? Is it new?
A: After having the opportunity to practice counseling in a variety of settings, including schools, groups, overseas orphanages and clinics, Abbie and I decided in January 2012 to compile our knowledge and experience into one practice. Our practice focuses on treating children and teens, while also incorporating their families and environment.
Q: What made you decide to go into practice?
A: While working in a variety of settings with families who were either in crisis or struggling on some level, we found there were not enough resources for families when they started to reach out for help. We wanted to create not only a counseling practice, but a resource for families to utilize in times of need. Our hope when establishing IFC was to be not only an immediate support for families during those times of need, but to also educate them and give them the resources going forward to proactively prevent crisis in the future. We saw a need for quality family services and wanted to fill it.
Q: What is the biggest problem you are seeing right now at your practice?
A: There are two main struggles we are seeing right now that often go hand-in-hand. The first being self-regulation, for example, when kids and teens feel really intense emotions (anger, anxiety, excitement, etc.) and can't calm back down or effectively manage their emotions. The other being negative self-talk; which often presents as kids/teens who are really self-critical and might say things like “I am a bad kid,” “No one likes me,” or “I am never going to get this!”
Q: What kind of solutions can you offer to help with this problem?
A: We incorporate both behavioral and cognitive techniques. As a means to strengthen self-regulation, we do activities that follow a self-regulating rhythm and promote internal regulation. We want our clients to internalize new skills. One technique involves doing an exciting and challenging activity and following it up with a relaxing and soothing activity. Additionally, we work to shift their negative self-talk and refocus their energy toward working on solutions to define realistic expectations for themselves.
Q: Name one thing you think is most important for parents to know.
A: Trust your gut! Too often parents are expected to follow the "expert" without question. You know your child better than anyone. When seeking out assistance from professionals, parents should be seen as a crucial part of the team. At IFC we demonstrate our belief in this by including parents in treatment and by featuring "expert parents" on our blog.