Create the family you want to have

Upcoming Trainings

Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

In my work life, next to being in the office with families, and writing, I love, love, love teaching others how to feel better, love better, and live happier lives. I am always looking for new opportunities to present and share my knowledge with other and I am so excited to share a couple of upcoming opportunities I have been given to do just that.

For quick links to the programs, you can click below, or keep reading for the full descriptions:

March 22, 2013:

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the Honeymoon: What the Recent Passing of the Civil Marriage Protection Act Really Means for Maryland’s LGBT Families

April 29, 2013:

Micah in Bodegraven  (Parents in law)

Micah in Bodegraven (Parents in law) (Photo credit: Johan Koolwaaij)

A Clinician’s Guide to Attachment and Attachment Related Interventions for Foster and Adopted Children

First, I was invited by the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to conduct a workshop at their statewide conference to look at the impact of Maryland’s new equal marriage legislation on gay and lesbian couples and families. Since many of my readers have probably figured out I am all about connecting people together, I figured rather than doing a workshop all by myself, I would make a panel and include a few amazing people I have gotten to know along the way via my own advocacy for equal marriage rights for all couples. Joining me on the panel are Susan Francis, JD, to talk about the legal changes that come with the new law, and Rachael Stern, MSW, LGSW, who was the media director for the winning Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign. For anyone interested in attending the Weaving Resiliency and Advocacy conference with the Maryland National Association of Social Workers from March 21st-22nd, (I am presenting on the 22nd) you can follow the link below:

Workshop I
After the Honeymoon: What the Recent Passing of the Civil Marriage Protection Act Really Means for Maryland’s LGBT Families

Presenters: Rachael Stern, MSW, LMSW, LGSW, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C, and Susan Francis, JD

Synopsis:  While many social workers are celebrating the result of the recent popular vote in Maryland to enact the Civil Marriage Protection Act, what does the law mean in everyday terms for LGBT couples and their children in light of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other state, federal and international limitations? In this panel discussion including a clinical social worker, an attorney and an advocate who work with the LGBT community, learn a brief history of the work that went into passing the measure, the legal implications of the law (what it does and does not protect for families), issues you may see in a clinical setting, and the next steps for full equality for the LGBT community in terms of marriage and beyond.  Participants will have ample opportunity to participate in a question and answer session following the panel.

Second, I had such a great time presenting for Lisa Ferentz’s Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education when I taught a basic course on attachment that the only thing I wished I had for that training was more time! Lisa was gracious enough to offer me just that  and now, instead of a three-hour course, I am offering a six-hour course to teach other clinicians about the importance of attachment and how to address working with children with insecure attachment styles. You can register for this training by clicking the link below:

A Clinician’s Guide to Understanding Attachment and Attachment-Related Interventions for Foster and Adopted Children

We know from research that attachment styles form the foundation for the ways people look at the world and that a healthy attachment style is essential in forming a happy, healthy adult. We know too as clinicians that many of the children and adolescents who come through our doors have not formed a healthy attachment style due to trauma, parental addiction or mental health issues. John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth laid the foundation of the research which describes healthy versus unhealthy attachment styles, but what is a clinician to do when a child comes to you with a pre-formed, unhealthy attachment style? Therapists such as Dan Hughes and Art Becker-Weidman have more recently built upon the early research to teach clinicians how to address attachment related issues in treatment in a way that understands the root causes of attachment disturbance and treats these issues from the root causes.

In this workshop, Kate Oliver, LCSW-C will train child and family therapists and adoption and foster care workers about the basics of attachment, how to spot attachment related issues in children, and she will provide a framework for working with children and foster or adoptive parents in therapy to repair a disrupted attachment style. Based on her years of experience working with traumatized and attachment disturbed children, Ms. Oliver will provide clinicians with techniques to engage parents and children in re-patterning attachment styles using lecture, videos and role plays.

Related Posts:

PLACE Parenting for Children with Attachment Disturbance (

Children Are Not Protected by Homophobic Laws (

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Groups/ trainings, resources/ book reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Chance to Do The Right Thing

Earlier this week, I had an article published in my professional newsletter for the Maryland National Association of Social Workers. Below is a copy of the article:

by Kate Oliver, LCSW-C
 As Social Workers we have an ethical obligation to support and advocate for the families and children we work with. As someone who both works with and grew up in a family headed by gay parents, and as a former board member of COLAGE (a national organization which is designed to support the millions of children with LGBT parents in the United States), I was excited at the prospect of writing an article in support of the upcoming chance to vote FOR Question 6. In Maryland, voting FOR Question 6 maintains the right for gay and lesbian Marylanders to have legally recognized marriages. NASW has long supported the notion that fairness and equality for all is an essential component in helping our clients. Voting FOR Question 6 supports this notion, that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law. In a report released last year titled, “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families,” research conducted with the help of The Movement Advancement Project, The Family Equality Council, and the Center for American Progress showed that among other issues:
While overall children in LGBT families have the same incidence of mental health issues as other children, they are more likely to have a mental health issue in states where their families are not equally recognized.
Children in LGBT families have more fear than other children that their families will be broken up.
Children with LGBT parents are more likely to be denied adequate assistance from the state, since their entire family is not legally recognized; the state does not always take all family members into account when providing assistance and may give families headed by LGBT couples less financial help.
Children with LGBT parents are not financially protected when a non-legally recognized parent is injured or killed.
Having gay parents has also exposed me to witnessing the added concerns my father and his husband have had when estate planning, obtaining health care, and worrying about having access to each other if one of them is in the hospital. Non biological parents of children born in an unrecognized union have the added stress of worrying whether they will have access to the children should the couple split.
In Maryland, we have the opportunity to become the first state ever to pass a law approving marriage equality by popular vote. We all know that marriage makes stronger families and all families ensure that everyone has a fair shot in these tough economic times. While some people worry that Question 6 will change religious freedoms or the educational curriculum in schools, Question 6 is being supported by many religious leaders and was actually designed with some of the strongest religious protections in the country, ensuring that no clergy would ever be forced to perform any ceremony for a couple they were not comfortable joining in marriage. Additionally, there are no changes suggested to any school curriculum, nor do schools tend to teach about families or family structure anyway. As Social Workers, we cannot deny that LGBT families are here. In order to protect and advocate for all families in Maryland, voting FOR Question 6 is the only way to go. To find out more about Question 6, you can go to: and to join Social Workers for Question 6, visit: .

Kate Oliver, LCSW-C is the co-owner of A Healing Place, a private practice in Columbia, Maryland. She specializes in working with children and their families where there is a history of trauma or attachment disorders.

October 30, 2012 Posted by | parent support/ self improvement, Parenting | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Problem with Social Services- from a Social Worker’s Perspective- part I

Length of stay in U.S. foster care

Length of stay in U.S. foster care (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

I am writing this post in response to another post by Daniellesstory (I will repost so you can see it if you missed it) asking how it is that we might mobilize to make our children safer. Part of her concern was their safety when they have been entrusted to the care of social services.  I would highly recommend you read her post about her experiences with her adopted daughter and social services and her questions about how to enact meaningful legislation that would really help children rather than serve as “nice words” saying we support a safe and healthy childhood for every child.  I realize that her blog is not asking solely about Social Services but since most of the children that I see in my practice have had some interaction with social services, this is actually an issue that comes up a lot and I will focus on them for this post.  If you are interested in finding out more about my own work history that informs my thoughts here, you can read my longer professional biography on the website you will find me in the “about us” section.  While there are many aspects of Social Services we could talk about, in this post, I am going to stick with ways to change the ability of Social Services to protect children.

The issues, as I see them, are three-fold, implementation, support and funding.  I will speak to implementation first.  Right now, the individual states are in charge of the Departments of Social Services (they are not even all called that- but they all serve the same function) and within the states, sometimes Social Services are run by the counties and cities within the state.  Each area decides for example, the level of education required to call someone a social worker and that can very within a state.  In my state, Maryland, the county I live in has Child Protective Service (CPS) workers that are all Master’s level educated, while in Baltimore City, the Master’s level educated people are not in the field, they are supervising the workers in the field who may have an AA or undergraduate degree.  It’s easy to see how a CPS worker with an AA would have a different skill set for helping, coping with burnout etc. from a Master’s level worker.

Additionally, different states have different laws about the implementation of protective services.  In Maryland we have a law that states that Social Services must respond to an abuse report where a child may be in danger within 24 hours.  That law and a law requiring workers to see any child who is a ward of the state routinely was the result of a child death while the child was in care and a subsequent re-haul of the system (via the Maryland state legislature).  We also have a “mandatory reporter” law where people that routinely work with children, such as people in the school system, health care workers, social workers, etc.  are required to report any suspicion of abuse.  Other states have other laws governing (or not governing) social services.  Consequently, when we talk about protecting children, we really must look to the laws of the state.  In the daniellesstory post, the author suggested a lawsuit.  I would suggest laws are easier changed by speaking to politicians about actual measures they can take.  It is not my intent at all to minimize or excuse the awful things that happened to that author’s daughter or her daughter’s biological brother, only to better explain where the gaps and disservice comes from.

The question I think I get most often from people first bringing in their traumatized children to me has to do with why social workers do or do not remove children from a home.  Here’s the deal… when we have a legal system that presumes innocence until guilt is proven, we create a reactive rather than proactive society.  This means that social workers cannot just waltz into a home and remove children unless they have concerns that the child is in iminate harm of abuse.  Each state has different laws about what constitutes abuse or neglect.  In my state abuse means that a person left a physical mark on a child, used a child in a sexually exploitative manner, neglected to meet a child’s basic needs for health and welfare by not dressing them appropriately for the weather, neglecting to follow through on medical recommendations involving health issues, etc.  Also included in my state’s laws related to abuse is mental harm- wherein a child has been emotionally abused by a parent, however, I do not know of a single case where a child has been removed for this alone.  To break this down into the parts people seem most interested in, no, you cannot remove a child solely because they have drug addicted or alcoholic parent, or their house is messy all the time (unless the mess creates certain harm to the child), or because you think they are overly punative and mean.  Children can be removed if the parents are drug abusers who have taken the child in the car while they were driving drunk or high, the mess in the house constitutes danger to a child, or the punative, mean nature of the parent translates into actual physical harm to the child.  Because of the reactive nature of our system, children cannot be removed before harm is done.  Child Protective Service (CPS) workers are trained to work to keep children in the home since we do not have a large pool of willing foster parents who are excited to take children into their home.  Kinship care (where a child is placed with a relative) is the next step, and foster care is the last resort  a worker looks for.  Again, implementation of these decisions over whether a child stays or does not stay will have a lot to do with the training and support given to people in local departments and can vary widely.

In 1997, Congress enacted a law making a timeline where social services are required to work toward reunification of the child with their parent, except for some extreme cases, for 15 months.  After those months are completed, they are to switch to permanency planning where they work toward the termination of parental rights so a child is free to be adopted.  This law is in effect to avoid having children lingering in care for years and years while the system waits for a child’s parent to get it together.  The belief behind the law is that children are best served by being in a family.  Because this is a federal law- it is the same in every state.

As I mentioned before, not all states have the same laws and you definitely want to look up the laws in your individual state.  The laws directly impact the way services are implemented so if you are looking for a different implementation of services, I would suggest you look at the wording of the laws about what constitutes abuse, who is a mandatory reporter and what they would be required to report, and look at the timeline for services for a child outside of the federal timeline like how quickly a child needs to be seen etc.  I would not try to change the law to be pro-active (removing children before harm is done), not only is it asking to change a fundamental principle of our legal system, it is a slippery slope.   Take, for example, when people say you should need a license to be a parent.  Who would implement that law?  Who would decide who gets to be a parent?  What would the requirements be? When you look at it that way, you can see this is not a road we want to go down.  We can’t even agree if a grown woman should be allowed to have birth control covered by her insurance for goodness sake- how in the world would anyone begin to decide who would get the parenting license, etc?  I would also point out that I have met many parents who are “licensed”- they are foster parents and while they are required to take classes and pass basic requirements, they continue to have the same spectrum of parenting ability as the general population- anywhere from abhorrent to fantastic.  To conclude this portion, I would say that the laws generally protect parents to raise children in the ways we see fit with limits set for the minimum standard of care and the maximum amount of physical force and exploitation.  Within those parameters, we are all free to “mess up” our children as much as we would like and the system does not get to take them.

Tomorrow, I am going to post about two other issues, support for Social Workers and others who aid in protecting children and barriers to prevention.

What do you think would be a good law to implement to protect children?

April 17, 2012 Posted by | social services | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Finding the right counselor/therapist for you and your family decided that you want to find a therapist for you or your child.  How in the world are you supposed to know how to do that?  What an intimidating thing to do, and, like any other doctor you see, who you pick can have a strong influence on your outcomes.  While your first instinct might be to go through your insurance to find a provider, this is actually not the path I would suggest for the majority of people (even if money is an issue).

My first suggestion is that you identify the reason you are seeking a therapist.  Is it for marital issues?  Are you looking for a social skills group for your child who has a diagnosis of ADHD?  Have you had a history of trauma and are you seeking to heal from it?  If you know anyone who has had similar experiences and you are close enough to them to ask, check with them if they have found a good mental health provider.  Even if you do not want to see their provider because that might feel weird, if their person is good, you can call them and ask for referrals. Similarly, do not be afraid to ask a mental health provider that you know personally about referrals as long as you trust their opinion.  While someone you know personally can not see you for ethical reasons, they may know of a referral for your specific issue.  If you do not have a resource like this, look up local groups in your area that specialize in the issue for which you are seeking treatment. They may have some providers they commonly refer to.   School counselors also typically have referral resources.  If you are attending a college or university, you may also be able to see a therapist on campus.

On a side note, if you are not clear on the specifics of who you are looking for, think of mental health professionals being like other health providers.  There are specialists and general practitioners.  If you are unsure, go to a general practitioner.  If you work for a large company, there may be an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider who will see you for a few sessions and steer you in the right direction (with the understanding that then your work has a record you saw someone), or there are many good, general mental health practitioners out there that you can find using your personal network.  If you find a good one and they identify that you need a specialist, they may refer you out for more specialized treatment.

Now that you have identified possibilities, it’s time to make some calls.  I would encourage you not to be put off by someone if you can not find them on-line, you may find that in my profession, there are not as many technologically savvy people out there so there are tons of wonderful professionals who may not have a website- or even email!  Call the professional directly.  Try to speak with them on the phone to get an idea of availability and whether they specialize in the area for which you are seeking help.  Ask about what insurance they take, if any.  Those lists you find on line from your insurance company can be hopelessly out of date so always ask.

Pay attention to how you feel when you are speaking to the provider on the phone.  Do you feel they listened to you?  Do they have availability to see you at times that work for you?  If you are uncertain, do not be afraid to say that.

Now is the time to check with your insurance.  If the provider you want is in-network for your insurance, great- skip this paragraph!  If not, call your insurance and see what your out-of-network benefits are.  For instructions on how to do this, you can look under the insurance button on my practice website:  Do not give up if you do not have out-of-network benefits and your selected provider does not take your insurance.  Call your insurance, ask them to find someone in-network who works with the specialty you are looking for.  If they can not locate someone in-network with the specialty you need and who has openings to see you- they must offer you an option to reimburse the person of your choice.  There is a law that says insurance companies cannot deny you coverage simply because they do not have an in-network provider that provides that specialty.

If all else fails, ask your chosen provider if they are willing to give you a sliding scale for payment up front- you would be surprised how many providers are willing to negotiate.  Finding someone that you work well with and trust, while it may cost more up front, you will also probably get better quicker so you do the math- say you go to see someone 10 times for $75/ week sliding scale vs. seeing someone who takes your insurance with a $40 copay but since they don’t specialize, let’s estimate it takes twice as many sessions- 20 for you to feel better.  That’s a total of $750 for the first treatment and $800 for the second (plus the extra time in your life you spent in treatment).  When you look at it that way, it’s a no-brain-er.  And, don’t forget, if you have a health spending account through your work, mental health care is covered and reimburseable.

Next it’s time to go ahead and meet with the person you feel comfortable with on the phone and remember- you are a consumer!  As a consumer, you have the right to decide where and from whom you are going to get treatment.  If you go in and see someone and they just are not it- try someone else.  Not all therapists are a good fit for every person.  However, if you find you have gone to meet five different people in search of the right person, you might want to think about whether your expectations are realistic and give the one you found the most helpful another try.

I will be the last person to tell you that all therapists are good, or even the same.  Look for my future post on different kinds of therapists to learn about just how different we can be.  No matter who you see, what is found consistantly in studies about mental health is that it is the relationship between the therapist and the client that is more important than the choice of intervention when we look at whether therapy has been successful.  You have a right to getting what you want from treatment.

Look for future blogs to address red flags when looking for a therapist and when it might be time to move on.  Since I specialize in attachment disorders, I will also be posting about finding an attachment focused therapist.

March 30, 2012 Posted by | thinking about therapy? | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How to answer tough questions from your kids

The sex talk!  Did you ever try drugs?  How old were you when you first….?

We all dread these questions as parents but we all get them.  So, what to do?  Let me give you the quick 4 step system that I use to help navigate those sticky questions with my children and that I teach to the parents of my clients.

1.  Think through what you would want to say to your child about any things you did that you are not proud of.  Think past denial, denial- your kids know you aren’t perfect and when you lie to them you look bad and they trust you less.

2. Think about the developmental age of your child (this may be different from their chronological age).

3.  Make sure you know what the question is!  How many times have parents had a child ask where babies come from, then launched into a whole developmentally appropriate conversation about where babies come from, only to have their toddler then say they just were wondering if you got babies from the hospital or whether the stork brings them?

4.  Once you have determined the questions, answer only the question your child asked.  See my second step for part of why you want to do this, but another reason why is that with sticky questions, your child may not want to really know all of the answers.  They may ask if you ever tried drugs but they are not ready for a whole conversation about who, what, where, when and why…A simple- I did try them in college but I don’t do them anymore and hope you don’t either- will suffice, unless they ask for more and you are ready to give them more.

As you can see, I am an advocate for honesty.  Children are like little bs detectors.  Their little antennae go up when you lie (just like yours do when they lie to you).  I advocate matter-of-fact honesty with kids.  They will appreciate you for it and will listen more to the part of what you say when you say- I did that, I tried that and I’m so glad I don’t do it anymore.  Or, I never did that, I never tried that and I’m so glad I didn’t.  Be sure to watch your tone- you don’t want to glorify the behaviors or demonize them either.  In many cases your child may be gearing up to tell you something they or a friend have done, or witnessed and by telling a child all the evils, you shut down the next, most important conversation- what if I…?  You know the conversation where you tell them about how to stay safe, and how even if you were disappointed in their choices you would still love them.

Please stay tuned for more parenting tips.  To find out more about me, or my practice please visit my practice website:

March 29, 2012 Posted by | help for parents | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Does my child need medication?

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions that I get the first time I meet a parent who is planning to bring in their child for therapy.  I am a Social Worker and have a private psychotherapy practice which means I am not licensed to prescribe medication, however, many children I see have taken or are taking medication and I do refer out to psychiatrists, who do prescribe medication, if I believe a child is in need.

The short answer that I give to parents who ask this question is to do what I would do with my own children if I felt they needed medication: try everything else first!  This is just my opinion and it is not shared by everyone in my profession, however, while there was a decade or so that many parents were turning to pills to solve the problems for their children, this is not true today.  I do not mean in any way to offend any parent who has a child on medication, nor do I intend to say that all medications are bad.  I just think it is important to try everything else first.  Now, obviously, if your child is psychotic, they need medication.  More often, I have parents who bring in children who have experienced trauma and are feeling anxious or depressed.  There are many therapeutic techniques that can help with these issues outside of medication.  Before starting medication, I have a few recommendations:

  1. Get a full physical with a doctor that is familiar with depression and anxiety.  Even mania can be attributed to physical ailments such as a thyroid issue, as are depression and anxiety.  Depression is closely linked to vitamin D deficiency and research also supports the use of fish oil to increase Omega-3.  In fact, in a recent talk training I went to, physician Andrew Weil taught us that fish oil and vitamin D, combined with regular, moderate exercise are more effective than medication for depression.  Now don’t go out and do these things because I said so please consult your or your child’s doctor before changing anything.
  2. Start exercising.  In research with a control group who changed nothing, one group that used only medication and another group that introduced moderate exercise 3x’s/week for 20 minutes or more the group that exercised had the best results in treating mood disorders.  For kids I especially love exercise that gets them focused on controlling their bodies, dance, martial arts, qui gong, and yoga are all wonderful.
  3. Look at the food you and your child eat.  I have seen more and more children developing food sensitivities.  The main culprits seem to be food dyes, sugar (you knew that), caffeine, and gluten.  I used to see a kid where you could tell if he got into the pretzels just by looking at him when he walked in the door because his sensitivity to wheat caused him all kinds of trouble.  This is the easiest (and the hardest) one to do because all you have to do (feel free to laugh here if your child is a picky eater like mine) is eliminate each category of food for about a week to see if you see a behavioral change.
  4. Learn to meditate.  Meditation is good for just about everyone.  Even kids can meditate.  Just start small and work your way up to 10-20 minutes at least 3 x’s/ week.
  5. Check out other alternatives.  Acupuncture and reiki- even with children- have both been helpful to my clients.  Don’t ask me what it does I just know it works for many people.
  6. Let’s not forget talk therapy, art therapy, and play therapy are all helpful.
  7. Learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).  I use this tapping technique with most children and adults I work with at some point.  It is easy to learn and you can find out how by contacting a therapist who knows it.  They should be able to teach you in one or two sessions.

Like I said before, medication is not all bad.  I have seen quite a few children who have been helped by it, however, more and more, I and others in my field are looking to try alternatives first and with good reason.  Dr. Weil also pointed out more recent research that points to our bodies adjusting to medication in ways we did not expect.  For example, the study he cited found that people who took SSRI’s to increase serotonin production to treat depression also had the effect that once a patient stopped taking the SSRI, their brain had adjusted to making less serotonin as it became adjusted to allowing the medication to stimulate production.  He also used the example that acid reflux medication, when given to a group of young adults who did not have issues with acid reflux, actually ended up causing acid reflux issues in a significant number of participants after they stopped taking the medication.  Why?  Because their bodies adjusted to producing more acid to counteract the medicine to try to reach “normal” for their body.  My point is, there is still a lot we don’t know about medication, especially for children and that the long-term studies on psychotropic meds for kids just isn’t there yet.  Before putting our children on these medications, please, let’s consider less extreme alternatives.

March 28, 2012 Posted by | help for parents, thinking about therapy? | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to know when you or your child need a therapist

“I’ve thought about coming in for a long time but it just didn’t seem that bad.”  How many times have I heard these words?  They are usually soon followed by the wish that the individual or family I am seeing had come in sooner.  Many people delay going to therapy because things just don’t seem bad enough.  I would encourage families to start thinking of therapists not only as people you go to as a last resort, but also as a kind of preventative help, kind of like going to your primary care physician when you have a cold.  How often have you delayed taking yourself or your child to your physician only to find out that had you gone sooner you would have been better off- that cold was actually strep, or that cough was really asthma?  Many people delay for understandable reasons, we are all busy, but by going when the problem starts, you can often (just like in medicine) reduce the amount of time it takes to recover from whatever the issue is.  Take depression for example, a person who is in the early stages of depression takes way less time in therapy to get better than a person who has been depressed for years.

Many people worry that once you start therapy, you end up going for years.  While this is true for some people, there are many people who go only a few times and find relief.  In fact, I have had an increasing number of parents calling my practice who just want to come in for a check in and guidance in helping their child adjust to a major change such as a move, or the death or illness of a relative.  Sometimes I never actually see the child, but the parents want someone to help them tailor their response to a distressing issue for their child since, especially if you have more than one child you know every child is different and has different needs.  Once you establish a relationship with a therapist, even if it is short-term, then you can continue to refer back to that person if any issues come up in the future.

Some signs that a person needs to be seen for therapy can be subtle but if they come in groups, you would want to have yourself or your child seen.  They include:

  • a sudden change in mood or behavior that does not seem to be going away.
  • lower grades than usual on a report card.
  • comments about feeling different from other people and not fitting in.
  • excessive worrying or depression.
  • an increase in challenging behaviors and/or bad moods.
  • increasingly disrespectful attitude or tone with parents.
  • sudden interest in death and dying.

If you see two or more indicators from the above list, I would recommend you contact a therapist.

Some indicators in and of themselves that indicate therapy is warranted include:

  • a statement from someone (including young children) that they want to die.
  • any previously untreated significant childhood sexual or physical abuse or neglect.
  • anyone in a family where the parents are separated or divorcing.
  • anyone who is self-harming (self-inflicted cuts, bruises, burns, etc.).
  • anyone who intentionally starves themselves or makes themselves vomit.
  • anyone who has become increasingly agitated and starts to make less and less sense (this could indicate a manic episode and needs to be treated)
  • anyone in an abusive relationship (if you do not know if your relationship is abusive, I would recommend therapy).

When in doubt, just call a therapist in your area.  We all know it is part of our job to speak to people who are just not sure if therapy is right for them or their child.  I have had plenty of people who have called where I have told them they did not need to bring their child in (like the parents who called to ask if a young child playing doctor with another young child needed to be in therapy).  Other times, people have called who have been on the fence and I end up saying if X, Y and Z happen, call back but lets see if some of this self corrects.  For example, sadness over the passing of a grandparent is normal, however if the sadness interferes with daily activities after a few weeks then I would want to see that child.

If you are thinking your next step is to find a therapist, please stay tuned for future posts about finding the right therapist for you and your child and on therapy myths- debunked!

For more information on my practice, please feel free to look at my practice website:

March 28, 2012 Posted by | help for parents, thinking about therapy? | , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

What to expect from this blog

Are you a parent that feels guilty a lot over things you said or did with your children?  Do you feel guilty over things you didn’t say or do with your children?  Join the club.  We have all been there.  My hope is to make this blog about helping you to find resources to overcome the guilt and shame many parents come to find is a perpetual part of parenting.

My name is Kate Oliver.  I’m writing this blog not only as a parent of two myself, but also as a therapist.  I have been an LCSW-C (licensed Social Worker- Clinical) in Maryland for the past 12 years.  And have worked as a child and adult therapist with a specialization in attachment and trauma.  I am currently in private practice.  Some of the things I plan to write about are: feeling “good enough” as a parent, figuring out how to find a system of parenting that works for you, helping your children with every day issues, helping your traumatized child, caring for your attachment disordered child, parental self care, and teaching your child to love him or herself. I welcome topics people want to hear about.  I also plan on sharing good books and letting you know helpful books I like and the population I think those books would be helpful to.

I find that parents in my practice tend to come to me with similar issues all in a cluster.  For example, in one week, I had several parents find out that their children were using technology in a sneaky way.  I can only imagine that this is an issue for many parents out there.  After all, we are all connected so if your little Suzie is using her alarm to wake her up so she can talk to her boyfriend you didn’t know she had at 3am, somewhere, Bobby’s parents are finding out he was talking to Suzie and he figured out how to do that from Johnny because he was doing it with his boyfriend and so on and so on. When that happens, I will be writing to let you know about the trend and how to handle it.  I will not be writing any information about my clients that would identify them to you only about issues I see in my office, nor will I be able to diagnose or treat anyone online.  This blog is for psycho-educational purposes only. Oh yes, by the way, this blog will be inclusive of all families and all children, if you are trying to make it as a family and help your children to have a happy life, and you would like to be happier along the way as well, please stay tuned!

March 26, 2012 Posted by | Parenting | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


%d bloggers like this: