The Child and Family Therapy Clinic’s mission is to provide high-quality evidence-based treatment to children and families exhibiting a wide range of behavioral and emotional problems.
Common problems treated in our clinic include disruptive behavior problems, ADHD, executive functioning difficulties, anger-management, aggression, parent-child conflicts, parent-teen communication difficulties, depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, fears, phobias, bullying, issues related to gender and sexual identity development, tics and Tourette syndrome, impulse-control difficulties, school-related difficulties, adjustment-related problems, stress management, emotion-regulation difficulties, mild self-harm/poor coping, and family transition issues. Families may also present with many unique stressors surrounding concerns regarding their child or adolescent’s behavior that include divorce/separation, bullying, peer conflict, military deployment, transition to a new environment, or lack of social support. The clinic serves children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 20.
The Child and Family Therapy Clinic’s model involves a thorough evidence-based assessment and treatment process. At the beginning of treatment, a careful assessment is conducted that involves a semi-structured clinical interview, relevant questionnaires, and observation of family interaction. The assessment and treatment process often also involve consultation with relevant external systems such as the school or other healthcare providers (e.g., primary care doctors, psychiatrists) and a review of previous mental health records. From the onset of treatment, clear goals are developed in collaboration with the family to improve not only the functioning of the child, but also the functioning of the child’s surrounding family and support system. Families typically attend therapy sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and treatment is aimed to be as brief and time-limited as possible relative to the presenting concerns. Consultations are also provided to families who are not planning to attend on-going therapy.
Our Treatment Approach:
Our methods emphasize working with the entire family to address behavioral and emotional problems that impact the positive functioning of the person’s life as well as those of their family. We also provide individual therapy to complement family therapy. This therapy focuses on issues that may be more responsive to one-on-one therapy and can specifically target and treat concerns better addressed with the patient. For parents, we focus on behavior and stress management; solution-based strategies focusing on the family and patient strengths; developing a more “user friendly” and comprehensive understanding of the difficulties the family and patient are experiencing; and education in child and adolescent development and disorders. Our family-focused interventions further incorporate cognitive-behavioral techniques developed specifically to target parent-child conflict, working towards enhancing communication and improving the quality of parent-child relationships.
We provide various evidence-based approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help individuals learn techniques involved in appropriate communication and problem-solving; prosocial behavior; compliance with rules; anger and stress, management; and improving peer and family relationships. In addition, our approaches incorporate aspects of applied behavior analysis for a wide range of presenting concerns to help individuals replace unhealthy coping strategies with more adaptive skills for regulating their behavior and emotions. Our therapeutic approaches are applicable to a wide range of mental health diagnoses and are applied in a flexible manner in collaboration with the entire family. Because many behavioral and emotional problems or disorders affect a child’s life at school, our team also provides collaborative assistance to teachers and school systems to address the patient’s behavioral, emotional, and academic concerns.
Issues related to bullying and other peer relationship difficulties have escalated over the years. Many more children, teens, and young adults struggle with depression, anxiety, school refusal, and trauma resulting from these problems. We provide individual, family, and group therapy to empower those being bullied with the skills needed to increase self-esteem, manage peer relationships in a healthier and more positive manner, and build friendships.
Our clinic provides brief psychological assessments to improve understanding of the social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties that might interfere with a child’s success in everyday life. By identifying specific challenges, treatment can focus on improving positive outcomes, and progress can be easily monitored. These assessments also provide standardized information to better inform caregivers of their child’s individual strengths and how to use these strengths to overcome weaknesses and to adapt and thrive in the best possible ways.
We assist children and their families who have endured stressful events. These events can range from loss or change of a primary caregiver, a family member being diagnosed with a life-changing illness, witnessing the death of a loved one, witnessing community or domestic violence, being involved in a difficult/stressful separation or divorce of the child’s parents, and experiencing a neglectful or impoverished home life. Further, children in Military families face many unique stressors and our clinicians have specialized military cultural competence training to ensure our therapeutic providers understand unique aspects of military life that can be a source of both stress and resilience for families. We provide individual and family therapy as well as group therapy to assist children in navigating through these difficult times by learning to problem-solve, more effectively understand and interpret social and emotional cues, build resiliency, and overcome the emotional impact of these events.
Group Therapy is also a large component of our clinical practice. Our program consists of three groups (a pdf with a full description provided at bottom of this page):
- Social Skills Groups for Children and Adolescents
- Advanced Social Skills Groups for Children and Adolescents
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Group
Professional Training Opportunities:
The clinic's training model combines practical training with a variety of individual and group supervision methods (live, videotape, co-therapy), as well as seminars focused on family therapy. Doctoral interns and postdoctoral fellows are provided with diverse opportunities related to the assessment and treatment of childhood behavior disorders and family dysfunction. Interns and post-doctoral fellows trained on this rotation serve as family therapists and consultants to school staff and other service providers including psychiatrists, primary care physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech and language therapists. They are trained to conduct comprehensive evaluations of children in the context of their families and community environments utilizing family systems and behavioral family therapy approaches to treatment, while also working to develop and implement treatment plans based on assessment results following a scientist-practitioner model. Our trainees use a multi-modal approach to measure treatment progress and outcome including verbal report, home and school generated data and direct observation.
Tarila Abbott, PsyD
Claire-Elizabeth Agbu, Psy.D
Michelle Bubnik-Harrison, PhD
Megan Cheung, PhD
Christi Culpepper, PhD
Victoria Dahl, PhD
Tana Hope, PhD
Brian Jobe, PhD (Associate Director)
Jessica O’Brien, PhD
Chandni Patel, PhD
Kristi Phillips, PsyD
Jamila Ray, PhD
James Rutledge, PsyD
To make a referral or request an initial evaluation:
Referral: (443) 923-7508*
*Ask for an appointment in the Child and Family Therapy Clinic
Follow-up appointments are scheduled by clinicians.
Related Materials and Information:
Child and Family Therapy Clinic Factsheet (PDF)
List of Groups Available Through the Child and Family Therapy Clinic (PDF)