Kids’ Couch, Inc. Healing The Child Within Us All
By Olga Yatzus, LPCMH, CSP, RPT
When Kids’ Couch, Inc. first came into being in 2003, the focus was on helping and healing children. Olga Yatzus, LPCMH, CSP, RPT wanted to utilize her training as a psychotherapist along with her 27 years of experience as a school psychologist to improve the lives of school age children. It became apparent, however, that in order to be effective in helping children, we had to be able to help grown-ups, too.
Within school settings, she had the opportunity to work with the children themselves, but found that she was cut off from their greatest resource – their parents! It is well understood that children can improve only when they are getting the support they need from their parents and/or primary caregivers. For example, a boy who was a stellar student in second grade becomes a third grader who has trouble staying on task long enough to complete a classroom assignment. He often starts “clowning around” in class to the point that his behavior becomes a distraction to other children in the classroom. His teacher might send him to the school counselor with the expectation that she can somehow teach him to sit still and finish his work. What he tells the psychologist indicates that he can’t do the work because he doesn’t understand the lesson; further investigation shows that he also has not been completing his homework sheets. This child has fallen seriously behind in his learning.
Perhaps he has a previously undiagnosed Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder; perhaps there has been some severe stressor at home such as the death of a loved one which is making him too sad to focus well. These issues would certainly require the parents to be closely involved in finding a way to support him and get him back on track. Perhaps, however, the problem could be resolved if his parents were just to review his homework sheets with him before and after he does them. This could help in several ways: 1. it gives him the chance to ask for help twice; 2. it shows him that his parents are available to help him; and 3. it gives his parents a daily opportunity to praise him for his efforts. How many of us could have and would have done better in school had we only been given a little more attention from our parents!
We see variations of this scenario on a daily basis, where the answer can be as simple as parents or caregivers making themselves more readily available. We also see kids whose lives are very complicated by conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities, or who have experienced serious life events themselves or within their families. Regardless of the situation, we find that kids need their parents to be involved in finding solutions.
Seems like a “no-brainer,” huh? Here comes the heart of the matter: we have also found that parents and/or caregivers can provide support for their kids only when their own needs are being met. And that can seem like an impossible task. How many parents knew how hectic life was going to get, how hard it was going to be to juggle the contradictory needs of their kids, their jobs, and themselves? Finding an extra ten or fifteen minutes to help a third grader with his homework can be a monumental task in and of itself.
At Kids’ Couch, Inc. we have made it our first priority to support the needs of the entire family. We understand that parents and caregivers are people who often have very complicated lives. When a child has mental health or behavioral problems, parents and caregivers suffer in a variety of ways, and we work to address that suffering. We know that our relationships with parents and caregivers will make all the difference in a child’s well-being.