Therapy for Children and Adolescents

As a child psychologist, my approach with children and adolescents is to help them understand what is going on with their emotions so they can enjoy life, make better decisions, and stop worrying so much. Worry, or anxiety, can cause many secondary symptoms and problems, such as behavioral problems, poor performance at school, low moods, low self-esteem, and irritability.

Some parents worry about their parenting skills. They may feel they should be able to handle all of a child’s problems themselves. In fact, parenting is a very challenging task, and it is quite normal to have difficulties and struggles with children.

I work with children and offer counseling for teens individually, and with their parents as necessary. With the parent’s permission, I consult with collateral parties, such as schools, counselors, tutors, and anyone else who might benefit from my consultation.

For children 13 and under, I usually meet with parents a few times before meeting with the child so that I have a good sense of the concerns. For kids over 13, I often meet with the teen first, then the parents afterward. Therapy sessions can be held at either Oakland or San Rafael (Marin County) office.

Psychotherapy For Children: What To Expect

Getting Started

Child and adolescent therapy usually begins with the therapist meeting a child’s parents in order to gather background information. This allows us to understand the problem and determine how best to address it. After an initial assessment, I make recommendations regarding what type and frequency of therapy would be most helpful. This may be individual therapy for the child along with collateral visits with parents to discuss parenting issues, or family therapy. Some issues may be best addressed with a combination of these interventions.

The Therapy Process

Child therapy is similar to adult therapy with one major difference. Instead of simply talking about one’s thoughts and feelings, like in adult therapy, children express their experiences through other means such as art, play, or stories. Children’s play tends to reflect their inner experiences. As a child therapist, I help children understand their inner emotional world and help them make sense of it so that they may continue their natural development.

Adolescents use a mixture of play therapy and talk therapy, depending on their age and the issues they need to work through. Whatever they bring in, it is my job to understand the meaning of what they are communicating and convey that to them. This serves to untie the knots that are causing them problems.

Help For Parents

I also often share insights with parents about what I believe the child is going through, so that parents can help their children effectively navigate their child’s struggles. Sometimes parent work involves helping parents understand how family dynamics may be contributing to a child’s difficulties. Parents have often described this as the most meaningful aspect of the work.

“Dr. John Lundin has been my colleague for many years, and he is the first person I will refer to for a child of any age and their family. Dr. Lundin has the unique combination of theoretical sophistication, clinician expertise, warmth, empathy, and acceptance that make him the superb clinical psychologist he is. Equally adept in working with children and adults, culturally sensitive, and integrating many models of treatment from a psychodynamic foundation, I would want anyone in need of psychotherapy to receive the benefit of Dr. Lundin’s care.”
~ Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D.
Developmental and Clinical Psychologist, Oakland, CA

Dr. Lundin is a licensed clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area, with offices in San Rafael (Marin County) and Oakland California, specializing in relationship therapy for adults and depression therapy for adults, teens, and children. He is an instructor, supervisor and author of numerous publications on trauma therapy, psychotherapy for depression & anxiety and what makes psychotherapy effective.