Every psychologist has a set of guiding principles to their practice. Here are mine, and I hope that they give a sense of the kind work that I do, and chance to think about whether I would be a good fit to meet your needs and expectations.
- Collaborative working
- Focusing on solutions
- Evidence based approaches
- Goodness of fit
- Parents are only part of the complex story
Collaborative working: Parents are the experts of their own child
I love the continuous learning that is required to be a psychologist. I have a constantly growing library of books that help me understand the challenges that many children and parents have and how to overcome them. But these books do not necessarily make me more of an expert than a parent for his or her child. I know classification systems and lots of theories of child development and while that gives me insight to many children’s challenges – parents are the experts of their own child. Together we can work collaboratively to help your child overcome their challenges and and help them thrive.
Focusing on solutions
Many therapists believe that is important to sort out the problems of the past to be able to live in the now and the future. Though I do not disagree with such an approach, my preference is to focus more on solutions and talk less about problems. In my experience, thinking about what has worked well in the past tends to be more constructive than talking about problems and that especially seems the case with children and adolescents.
An evidenced based approach
I love science and the empirical method, and that is the approach I take whenever possible in understanding a child or family’s needs and in how I implement interventions. I root the work I do in as much evidence as is available. When there is insufficient research to guide the child and family’s needs, I work collaboratively with the parents to find solutions that best fit their unique set of circumstances.
Goodness of Fit
This is an important idea in developmental psychology – that irrespective of a child having a specific diagnosis, the key thing to assess is the fit between the child and their school and home environments. I believe that many conflicts arise out of a poor fit between the child and their surrounding environment. The key to finding solutions is to help teachers and parents in the child’s environment to adapt to the child’s needs, as well as helping the child to adapt to his/her setting.
Parents are only one part of the complex story
A child’s personal narrative is constructed of so many more threads than just their parents and how they are parented. Genetics and the whims of biology, along with the many relationships that children form throughout their lives, are just as important threads as parents. Similarly one cannot underestimate the importance of specific dramatic situations and environments in the child’s life, both for the good and for the bad. The key thing is to consider all the threads of the child’s individual tapestry, to see the richness of the whole story – and thus the whole child -- rather than looking at individual pieces or factors in the child’s life.