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. 

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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

The pleasures and benefits of having a conversation with your child

The therapeutic effect of having conversations with your child

The center of reflective parenting  mentions that among the many important roles of a parent is to make sure you provide enough time in your child’s life for family conversation, solitude and boredom. 'They are like nutrients for child development and for passing on your reflective capacity to your child. Unfortunately the lure of electronic devices & social media has infected family life and is eroding the confidence of many parents to play this role.'  

Parents often report feeling too helpless to counteract their child’s obsession with all the new technology. 

To boost your confidence that you do have a good answer about what kids can do besides electronics, and you do have the power to change the situation,  here is a list of the benefits you will provide your family through making the time for conversation, solitude and boredom, as mentioned by the Center for Reflective parenting. 

The benefits of family conversation

  • Children practice using their mind, to express themselves and to make sense of what other people have to say.
  • Children feel more enduringly connected to the their family
  • Children gain the habit of talking about feelings, so they are less likely to impulsively act on them
  • Children become less vulnerable to peer pressure and bullying
  • Children gain insight, empathy and acceptance toward other people
  • Children gain a sense of trust in others and themselves.

The benefits of solitude and boredom   

  • Children develop the strength to think for themselves.
  • Children widen the horizon of their own mind through the use of creativity and imagination
  • Out of this creativity and imagination spring the roots of your child’s attempts at innovation and exploration into what is possible.

Conversation is simply that back and forth of taking turns at sharing what is on your mind and listening to and responding to what the other person has to say. . Conversations can be brief or long and can take place anywhere. The topic doesn’t matter and there is no subject too trivial to have a conversation about. What matters is that family members have the time and the opportunity to talk about their idea, their feelings and their perspectives. If your family is out of practice, initially your child may resist. Don’t give up. In fact you can have a conversation about why conversation matters.

Solitude and boredom involve time alone with nothing in particular to do. They require you to stop loading your child up with activities and stop feeling so responsible for entertaining them. Let them discover the joy of entertaining themselves even if they complain.

It requires you to be a good role model and mentor. Turn off your electronics more often. Step up your efforts at engaging in family conversations about anything and everything. Let your child see you engage in activities that do not require a device.

It’s hard to do in this day and age but I have confidence in you! 

For more information on reflective parenting you can visit the website of reflective communities.

To schedule an appointment, contact An Bulkens at (530) 321-2970

An Bulkens    |    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist    |   MFC 52746

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