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: chico counseling

How parents can help kids through their separation.

One motivation for a parent to bring a child to talk to a counselor or therapist is when the parents are going through a separation or a divorce.  Parents, aware of the conflict between them are often sensitive to the need of the child to have a neutral space to talk, to put things in perspective.  It is this neutral space from which to respond to their child’s implicit or explicit questions which has been lost.  The parents are at odds with each other, feel angry and hurt.  The child picks up on these emotions no matter how good the parents try to hide it, and parents are often at a loss of how to speak about their emotions to the child without attacking the other parent whom they feel so hurt by. 

An initial step would be for the parent to be aware of this underlying emotion, and to be able to name this emotion, acknowledge it.  This will allow the parent to recognize it toward the child in a more neutral tone, without the underlying, for the child confusing affect.  The child picks up on the underlying, diffuse anger that you are trying to hide, but if you can tell him as you are aware of your feelings you can say: ‘You know, I am very angry with your dad. We have a big disagreement, we are trying to work it out. I am sorry that I have been a bit short tempered, but our dad and I are working on it.’

Parents who are caught in a heated separation also tend to forget the good aspects about the ex, and the father of the child. And they might not realize that be painting this negative picture of the child’s other parent, they are at the same time painting a very negative picture of their child. Being able to acknowledge to your child your conflict, but also maintaining a space to talk about the positive aspects of the other parent will be an enormous support to the child.

Also being aware that you and the other parent share the same goal of nurturing secure children can be a common goal that allows you to connect, and transcend a space of hate and resentment.


Contact An to schedule an appointment at (530) 321-297

Sweden steps away from CBT monopoly, opening the door to more reflective therapies.

After years of complaining that cognitive behavioral therapy receives all the public funding, it seems that therapists who work in a more reflective, less educational paradigm are about to get a break – in Sweden at least.

Sweden’s government has put substantial funds into CBT provision and CBT training. Now, it looks like the government’s National Board of Health and Welfare, has accepted that psychodynamic therapies are as effective as CBT at treating depression – might lead to the introduction of government support for psychodynamic therapies.

Also in the US substantial funds have gone into CBT, and there is a similar dispute from psychodynamic therapists who claim that practice-based research shows that all therapies work equally well in the field – therefore they should all get funding, not just CBT.

The shift in Swedish policy is in part due to the work of Rolf Holmqvist, professor of clinical psychology at Linköping University, whose research suggests that just about every form of talking therapy is equally effective when used in the field. 

In an interview Rolf Holmquist states the following: 

RH: 'In our study we used the CORE-OM system for rating therapy outcomes [as opposed to the Beck Depression Index, designed by Aaron Beck, who’s also the founder of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy]. We started by examining outcomes in primary care centers. In Sweden, there is perhaps one such centre for every 10,000 people. And at every centrer, there is one or two people providing psychological treatment. We asked therapists to ask their patients to rate their state on the CORE-OM outcome measure, so we could follow the progress of their treatment, which was typically rather short – on the average six sessions. We compared a number of things, particularly how different treatment orientations succeeded – particularly CBT and psychodynamic. We found exactly the same results, for both depression and anxiety. They all got good results, with about half of patients recovering. Even supportive therapy, which is the Cinderella of therapies because it seems too simple, got quite good results.'

One could object that the study only looked at very short therapies. It might be said that the positive effect does not have as much to do with the actual therapy, as with the well known fact among clinicians that just the fact of starting therapy leads to an improvement, has a therapeutic effect.

The study also underlines the relevance of not just randomized studies, but practice based studies.  I would add that case studies where the particularity of each patient is studied has proven great support for more reflective theories. It is impossible to grasp the particularity of this work in randomized studies, but a growing openness to these kind of studies lends support for reflective therapies. We could say that for treatment to work, the patient needs to have a choice, and the therapist needs to have a choice. There is no one size fits all. Monopolies dry op creativity, also in the world of therapy.

To schedule an appoinment contact An at (530) 231-2970


Parenting from your 'own space.'

In my clinical practice as a therapist I often see parents struggle with 'where to draw the line' with their child.  The tendency to 'give the child what he wants,' 'to give in' typically ends in a type of interaction that is 'reactive.' Because, typically after 'giving' your child what he or she 'wants' (ok, 5 more minutes, ok 5 more, 2 more....) we reach a limit where we can't take it anymore and then typically respond in a 'reactive' way by blowing up, yelling... Feelings of resentment grow as all this giving is not met with gratitude. And your child might be confused that you suddenly withdraw your love, after having given him all these extra tokens of 'love' by 'giving in.'  When these types of interactions become the typical way of interacting, the parent might feel that his or her space is 'shrinking' and the child's is 'growing' beyond their control. Something is out of balance, and neither child not parent are happy about it.

Underlying this dynamic that is confusing to both child and parent, there is often the parent's sentiment to not know where to draw the line, how to set a limit. 'What is reasonable?' There are indeed no standard rules that can be applied: each family, child, parent is different. A parent might want to distance himself from his own, more 'authoritarian,' or 'hands off' role model:  How do you draw a line without being authoritarian? There might be an implicit insecurity: Is the parent still entitled to her own space,' to a world where the child is not the ruler? The child has often become the parent's ideal: He should not lack anything, should not be 'deprived.' 

Typically, when the parent becomes clearer on claiming his or her own, separate space from the child, it becomes more natural to have the child respect that space. And the nice thing about it is that the child will feel more respected in his own space, allowing for better connection between parent and child.  

An Bulkens    |    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist    |   MFC 52746

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