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Debra Kessler, PsyD, RN, MN
License #19100

Services Offered by Dr. Debra Kessler

Dr. Kessler provides a wide range of services in numerous areas.
To read more about each topic, click the topic to open it as well as close it.

Developmental and Learning Issues
Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger's, ADHD, ADD, Learning Disorders

Dr. Kessler Treats Autism, ADHD, and Learning Disorders

Each of us comes with unique gifts and attributes. Unfortunately some differences cause confusion, low self-esteem, poor academic performance and social difficulties.  On the schoolyard children with these challenges can experience painful bullying and frustration meeting expectations in the classroom. At home they can be disorganized, defiant and have meltdowns or outbursts, which make them difficult to parent.

The goal of treatment is to embrace and value the uniqueness of each individual such that strengths can be expressed and weaknesses do not become roadblocks. Therapy helps parents learn skills to facilitate warm relationships with their child that provide emotional support and help for the child to reach his/her potential.

Approach to therapy includes:

Assessment starts with learning about the child's unique development (including motor, language, social and emotional) and the dynamic of the interactions between the child and others including parents, siblings and peers. My approach may include individual work with the child or work with the child and parent together, and typically, includes work with the parent(s). Referral for medication is made based on a risk/benefit evaluation.
Grief
Dr. Debra Kessler Treat Grief Issues

The loss of someone in an individual's life is a painful and often confusing experience, as it is brings home the reality that life is precious and fragile. As we are all in connection, whether it is a warm and loving connection or one mired in conflict, pain or disappointment, death can pose challenges. When a child experiences the loss of a parent or parents experience the loss of a child the confusion about how to move forward is complicated by multiple needs.

The goal of treatment is to help you and/or your child honor the loss and reinvest in life. Loss is a personal journey, unique to each individual and yet, in a family it is a shared experience. The therapeutic relationship offers support, space and consideration of how to make this journey together and create a foundation that is deep, respectful and supportive going forward.

Approach to therapy:

My approach is determined by the unique needs and circumstances of each adult individual or child/family and may include individual work, work the child and parent together and may or may not include parent work.

Attachment/Adoption
Dr. Debra Kessler Addresses Adoption and Attachment Issues

Relationships are essential to our survival as infants and become templates for how me manage our emotional lives and what we learn to expect from others. While most early relationships proceed well, some become challenged leading to painful, disrupted and disturbed patterns of interaction. Symptoms of a disturbed pattern of interaction may include a high need for control, violence, aversion to touch or affection, and lack of empathy for others. These challenges can arise from adoption as well as from difficulties in the relationship between the child and a biological parent, especially if the parent has had troubled relationships in their own childhood. These challenges can also be accompanied by developmental, social and academic difficulties, thereby requiring a comprehensive approach to treatment.

The goal of treatment is to build the bridges to connection in a manner that honors the child's or adult individual's traumatic response pattern. Therapy considers the whole child or adult individual and facilitates a deep understanding of the isolated and self-protective stance the individual has adopted to survive. This therapeutic work in turn opens the door to greater understanding and trust, which allows the attachment to grow.

Approach to therapy:

Assessment starts with learning about the individual's unique development and the specifics of the individual's history and early relationships with caregivers. As determined by the unique needs and circumstances of each child/family my approach may include individual work with the child or work with the child and parent together, and typically, includes work with the parent(s). Referral for medication is made based on a risk/benefit evaluation.

Anxiety/Regulatory Issues
Generalized Anxiety, Acute Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia

Dr. Kessler Treats Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a protective response that can become dysfunctional if it is interfering with your child's daily life activities such as going to school, parties, amusement parks etc. When faced with something the child is uncomfortable with, the anxious child often becomes resistant, argumentative and melts down for no apparent reason. Sometimes anxiety is manifested in obsessive and compulsive behaviors, or difficulty separating from a preferred activity (e.g., video games). Often this is bewildering to a parent as a child typically has little insight or capacity to describe their experiences or the skills to navigate through them.

The goal of treatment is to help individuals to take comfort and support from relationships and find the inner resources to self-soothe in times of distress. Through a safe and warm therapeutic relationship, these skills can be experienced and this capacity grown.

Approach to therapy includes:

Assessment starts with learning about the child's unique development and the dynamic of the interactions between the child and others including parents, siblings and peers. As determined by the unique needs and circumstances of each child/family my approach may include individual work with the child or work with the child and parent together, and typically, includes work with the parent(s). Referral for medication is made based on a risk/benefit evaluation.

Trauma and PTSD
Dr. Kessler Treats Trauma Issues and PTSD

Psychological trauma in children may result from life threatening events such as a horrible accident, experiencing a natural disaster such as an earthquake or witnessing a crime. But less dramatic events can also cause psychological trauma, especially in a child whose coping resources can be easily overwhelmed and is feeling helpless. Bullying, humiliation, exposure to domestic violence, living in an unstable or unsafe environment, intrusive medical procedures and misattunements can all lead to symptoms of trauma including shock, denial, disbelief, emotional numbing, withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings.

The goal of treatment is to make sense of the experience and to get unstuck. Through a therapeutic relationship trust in self and others can be experienced, so the joy of relationships and a sense of effectiveness can be attained or reestablished.

Approach to therapy includes:

Assessment starts with learning about the child's unique development and the dynamic of the interactions between the child and others including parents, siblings and peers. As determined by the unique needs and circumstances of each child/family my approach may include individual work with the child or work with the child and parent together, and typically, includes work with the parent(s). Referral for medication is made based on a risk/benefit evaluation.

Mood Issues: Depression, Bipolar Disorder
Dr. Debra Kessler Treats Mood Disorders Including Depression and Bipolar Disorder

As kids develop, their moods can be confusing. Symptoms often look different at different ages. Furthermore, symptoms can easily be confused for other disorders leading to misdiagnosis. It is vital to seek assessment and treatment as early as possible if your child has sleep issues, irritability, poor performance at school/work, distractibility, agitation, suicidal thoughts, is taking undue risks, seems to be withdrawing from enjoying what life has to offer, has cutting or other self harming behavior and/or an eating disorder.

The goal of treatment is to return your child to a state where there is emotional balance and life can be enjoyed. The therapeutic relationship facilitates this process by providing a supportive relationship, resources and insight.

Approach to therapy includes:

Assessment starts with learning about the child's unique development and the specifics of child's history and early relationships with caregivers. As determined by the unique needs and circumstances of each child/family my approach may include individual work with the child or work with the child and parent together, and typically, includes work with the parent(s). Referral for medication is made based on a risk/benefit evaluation.