April, 2013 

Preschool Children & Families & Play Therapy

As parents, we want our children to be happy and well-adjusted. Whether parents call on their own or are referred by their pediatrician, many wonder, "Am I doing the right things as a parent?" They may be trying to figure out the best way to prepare for or respond to life changes like divorce, death in the family, moving to a new home, the birth of a new sibling, or unusual family crisis. Some parents have a child with medical problems and need advice about helping their child with anxiety. Managing preschool adjustment problems, tantrums, sibling rivalry, eating or toileting problems are also reasons parents seek the help of a child psychologist.

A parent recently said to me, "Three-year-olds don't need therapy." Therapy is much different with the toddler crowd; they do not sit and talk like adults. Sometimes I work with both the child and the parent together. Other times, I meet the child with the parent(s), then continue meeting only with the parent(s). Young children immensely enjoy play therapy by themselves. Although I maintain a close association with their parents, toddlers enjoy this time to express thoughts and feelings in play, talking, movement and sometimes song and dance. They like it so much, they might cry when their "turn" is over, or, they leave with a smile, asking their parent(s), "When can we come back?"  

Generally, preschool problems require short-term therapy. Sometimes children return when they are older, if a new concern arises. When they come back to my office, they remember the fun we had together regardless of the problems that prompted their parents to bring them to NHPA.  

by Sally Hoyle, Ph.D. 


What is Play Therapy? Play therapy is more than just playing games with the child. It is an effective counseling intervention that meets the child at their developmental stage and allows them to communicate at their level. Through the play therapy experience, children with emotional or social skills deficits are able to learn adaptive behaviors. The supportive, therapeutic relationship that grows between the therapist and the child helps to provide the corrective emotional experience that is necessary for healing to occur.  

Why Play Therapy? "Children are not miniature adults". While adults are often able to communicate their thoughts and feelings verbally, children communicate through their play. Children generally do not have the abstract reasoning skills to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Children will express their conflicts, emotions, and experiences through their play.

Who can benefit from play therapy? Play therapy can be useful and beneficial for children with many types of emotional and behavioral difficulties. It has been shown to be effective with children with various mental health conditions and concerns, including, but not limited to, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), aggression, anger management, grief and loss, parental divorce and family discord, anxiety, autism, depression, and in particular, children who have experienced traumatic events.

by Jennifer Croyle, NCSP, LPC

Call 724-759-7500 today to schedule your child for play therapy services.  
Communication with High Conflict People
A BIFF Response is a way to give quick responses to high conflict people or in high conflict situations. Most BIFF responses are in writing. BIFF represents a response that is Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. This process often requires a delayed response in order to avoid responding emotionally.
BRIEF The response should be short, often one paragraph of 2-5 sentences. Avoid triggering defensiveness in the other person. Focus on problem-solving information. Limit your words to give less for the other person to react to. Avoid admonishments, advice and apologies.

INFORMATIVE Offer 1-2 sentences of matter of fact, useful information, or related helpful information about the subject or issue. Avoid any opinion or defensiveness about the subject. Simply give brief, straight forward information, presented in neutral terms.

FRIENDLY No matter what the other person's tone, begin with a friendly statement, such as, "Thank you for telling me your opinion on this subject." Or, "I appreciate your concerns." Or, "Thanks for your email. Let me give you some information you may not have." You can also add a friendly comment such as, "I hope you have a nice weekend."

FIRM Disengage from a potentially high conflict situation or end the conversation by letting the other person know that this is really all you are going to say on the subject. If you need a response, it often helps to set a firm reply date. If you are going to take action if the other person does not do something, then you could say, "If I don't receive the information I need by such and such date, then I will have to do such and such. I really hope that won't be necessary."

For more information see BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns by Bill Eddy.
April is National Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention Month

An estimated 1,545 children died of neglect or abuse in 2011 and some 681,000 children were victims, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Children's Bureau. Psychologists and therapists help child abuse victims recover and they are also heavily involved in raising public awareness and developing effective prevention programs. If you believe that a child is being abused or neglected call Childline at 800-932-0313.

Collaborative Divorce Coaching in Pittsburgh

We are excited to announce that our newest office located in Three Gateway Center in Pittsburgh is now officially open. This office is dedicated exclusively to offering Dispute Resolution services including Collaborative Divorce Coaching, Collaborative Coaching for other disputes and Co-Parenting Coaching.


These services are available in  our Pittsburgh & Wexford offices.


If you are Considering Divorce, call today to schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with Lori Gephart, M.A. regarding the conflict resolution options available for you for a more peaceful and respectful process.

If you are interested in any of our services please call 724-759-7500 today.

Lori Gephart, M.A.
President / Licensed Psychologist / Collaborative Coach
North Hills Psychological Associates, Inc.
In This Issue
NHPA Locations
10475 Perry Highway
Town Centre, Suite 300
Wexford, PA  15090
615 Fifth Avenue
Thornton Place, Suite 300
Coraopolis, PA  15108

6315 Forbes Avenue
Maxon Towers, Suite B13
Squirrel Hill, PA  15217
401 Liberty Avenue
Three Gateway Center
Suite 1325
Pittsburgh, PA  15222
Contact Us
NHPA Clinical Staff
Loretta A. Gephart, M.A.
Marc J. Ranalli, M.S.
Andrew Nocita, Ph.D.
Stephanie Kim Phillips, Psy.D.  
Kristi L. Musick, Ph.D.
Lisa A. Aaron, Psy.D.
Shelley Thacher, LCSW
Gail Ludwig, RN, LCSW, ACS  
Laura P. Walsh, LPC, CRC
Mary Koch Ruiz, LPC
Christine P. Rosignoli, Ph.D.
Julie Zubryd, M.A., L.P.C.
Mary Jeanne Hoover, LCSW 
Heidi Stelzig, M.S.Ed., LPC
Stephen G. Huegel, Ph.D.
Mindy Heher, Ph.D.
Thomas Koloc, LPC, NCC
Nicolene Zapach, M.A.
Neha Pandit, Ph.D., LPC
Braden Ambrose, M.S., LPC
Sally G. Hoyle, Ph.D.
Jennifer Croyle, NCSP, LPC
Michelle Metz-Foley, NCC, LPC


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