Chico Center for Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy and Counseling services for Children & Adults | Support for Parents


Chico therapist An Bulkens, LMFT is psychotherapist and counselor in Chico, California.  An Bulkens specializes in psychotherapy and counseling for young children  (toddlers, preschoolers, adolescents) and support for parents, with a special emphasis on  early childhood psychotherapy, and counseling  for preschoolers and Kindergarten aged child.  She also offers parenting skills support. She offers psychoanalytic psychotherapy for adults.  Her approach is grounded in  Lacanian Psychoanalysis. She was also trained as a clinical psychologist in Europe, Belgium.  Her education emphasized developmental psychology and psychoanalytic therapy. 

Filtering by Tag: Therapy and divorce

How psychotherapy can help children through divorce.

As a therapist working with children I often get phone calls from parents who are concerned about their child as they are moving through a divorce. For young children the experience of the parents splitting up is a radical overturn of their world. They have been born into the world, seeing those two parents as majestic pillars on which they could count. These friendly giants made them feel safe and comfortable. 

As parents go through a divorce, there is so much pain and suffering involved, and each parent goes through this process in their own way. It is rare when the pain does not go along with accusations, resentment... It is especially hard for the child when he feels that the two trusted pillars of his world start attacking each other, disparaging each other. Even, when parents feel like they are not explicitly critiquing the other person, there are often implicit subtle messages that do not go unperceived by the child. These are very puzzling to the child. As he feels that an attack on the other parent, is actually an attack on the child. 

These very subtle messages are often interpreted by the child as the parents telling the child: the other parents is as good as I am, you should love me more than the other parent. I think of a little boy who feels that whenever one of his family members asks about the things that happen at the other house, he feels that this person is asking the boy to say bad things about the other house (as he feels that this is how is communicated about the other house.) To satisfy the demand for bad things, he then tends to tell negative things about the other house in order to satisfy them. In a situation like this the boy cannot be free to speak what he wants, he wants to please the negative appetite of each house. Each house wants to hear: we are the best, you love us more than mom, or dad... The child becomes this way the victim of the childish rivalry between the mother and the father. 

Hence, the importance of being able to differentiate between your being hurt as a partner, and recognizing the enormous importance or role that your ex has for your child. When you are putting down, resenting this other person, your child will feel it as a personal attack on him or her. 

In my experience in work with children who are going through divorce it is important to also meet with the parents, so that they can feel validated in their role as parents. 

To schedule an appointment call An at (530) 321-2970

For Therapy to succeed...

For therapy with a child to succeed it is important that certain parameters are in place. The child needs to understand that the counseling session is confidential, that the therapy room is a place where her feels safe.  The child has to come out of his or her own desire to the counseling session, and not to please the parent or the therapist.  In case the parents are the ones that are suffering from the child, but the child is not suffereing from his symptoms, it would be more indicated to work with the parents.  It can take several sessions to establish this, and for the child to get a full understanding about the working of the therapy. 

But there are certain issues that if not put in place right from the beginning can already immediately predict the failing of therapy.  One common case is when a parent asks for therapy for a child, without telling the other parent with whom they share legal custod  about it. This becomes a very difficult circumstance to work under. The other parent will find out eventually, might become upset, and when the child feels that one of its parents are not in favor of it, the therapist's office stops being a safe place, and the work is jeopardized. As a therapist, for the sake of the child, I typically only work with the child when both parents are consenting to it.  Excluding one parent, would make it impossible for me to talk to this parent, who is equally important to the child as the other parent. Parents often do not fully realize this, as they are hurt by the other parent, and might not consider them a good husband or wife. This might be the case, but still each of the parents, no matter what their human flaws and limitations are need to be genuinely recognized and respected if the work with the child will be successful. 

This became again very clear to me through my work with a foster child. Unable to work with the parents, due to the state funding, as they were considered the 'perpetrators,' I was unable to build an alliance with the parents of the child, to connect with them. The inability to gain the trust of the parents of this child made it very difficult for this child to come to his counseling sessions. He did not experience it as a safe place, as he felt that his father was not in favor of it. 

Another typical situation that undermines the therapy work that can be done with the child is when the parents are engaged in a legal battle.  When the child feels that saying certain things might jeopardize the position of one of the parents, as there is no trust in confidentiality, the child then is torn between parents and therapy is not a safe place for her anymore. 

To schedule an appointment with An call (530) 321-2970


An Bulkens    |    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist    |   MFC 52746

Tel. (530) 321- 2970    |   186 E 12th ST,  Chico, CA 95928