Hi, I'm April!
I help kids, adults and families reduce overwhelm, manage big feelings, and build greater resilience.
I am a licensed psychotherapist specializing in “big feelings”: the anger, anxiety, and frustration that can overwhelm our coping abilities and leave us feeling adrift and isolated. In children, the effects of unprocessed big feelings can look like irritability, inattention, poor school performance, tantrums, fearfulness, or disrupted sleep. In adults, these big feelings can start to make life feel overwhelming: issues can pop up all over the place - with relationships, work, sleep and more. I work with young people, parents and individual adults towards understanding these feelings from a developmental and physiological perspective, uncovering the origins of challenging experiences and behaviors and providing strategies and tools rooted in the latest developments in brain science, relationship and attachment research, and mindfulness practice.
Having experienced many changes throughout my own life, I am aware of the many ways change can disrupt and enhance our lives. Children and adolescents are constantly undergoing processes of change: in their bodies, in their brains, in their social worlds, even in their own families. While some young people seem to float over these changes, seemingly unaffected, others struggle greatly and seem to find battles in every corner of life. Highly sensitive young people often possess great strengths that will serve them well throughout their lives, and it is our task as adults – parents, educators, and professionals – to help carry them through the occasionally rocky (and also often very joyful!) years of childhood and adolescence. I am committed to that journey, and work alongside parents and kids to find a more tranquil path through the busy years of change and growth.
Education and Training
With an extensive background in supporting diverse young people, adults and families since 2011, I am experienced in working with children ages 3+ and adults with issues related to anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, grief and loss, ADHD, autism, trauma, disruptive behavior, school problems, and difficulties within family relationships.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (MFT104382). I earned a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. I have received extensive training in play therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and several other research-supported approaches for improving mental health in children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.
Before launching into private practice in 2016, I worked in non-profit agencies, clinics, and school settings, and provided intensive in-home therapy for children with autism, developmental delays and severe social-emotional challenges, as well as parent coaching to support parents in enhancing their child's emotional, behavioral and cognitive functioning and improve the parent-child relationship. Most recently, I served as the Program Director at CancerPartners, where I oversaw psychosocial programming and managed a team of mental health professionals, volunteer instructors, and workshop presenters, as well as facilitated support groups for people of all ages impacted by cancer.
I believe that every behavior is communicating something, telling us what skills still need to be developed or what areas need to be processed and healed. Using this view, I am able to see a person’s actions as a starting place to ask questions that will give a better understanding of what is taking place, both within an individual and between family members.
I start by meeting children, teens and adults exactly where they are: I seek to understand them and especially how their behaviors tell me in what areas and circumstances they need support and strategies to feel competent and confident. I believe in the importance of changing more than just behavior; I work to create new connections in the brain and nervous system in order to make lasting change and promote optimal development so children, adults and families can lead happier, healthier lives.
My approach is holistic, strengths-based, and trauma-informed:
Holistic – I look at the whole picture and treat the whole person, not just a challenging behavior or other single symptom. This allows us to get to the root of issues and opens up the possibility for deeper, more long-lasting healing.
Strengths-Based – I focus on what is going well, both within the individual and between individuals, in order to bring about new ways of dealing with challenges. By emphasizing inner strengths and positive qualities, we can create a growth mindset that helps facilitate creative problem-solving and greater resilience.
Trauma-Informed – I recognize the impact that any stressful or adverse life experiences can have on children, adults and families; I incorporate appropriate therapeutic techniques to address the ways that trauma and stress affect both the mind and body.
Anxiety specialist + Parent collaborator
My clients often describe me as relatable and "down-to-earth" with a special ability to authentically connect with children and teens (and adults, too!), making sure individuals feel heard, understood and respected even when we’re working through the really tough issues. I can also be playful, light-hearted and silly at times, because we all need a little laughter and positivity in our lives!
My approach is grounded in cutting-edge research that focuses not only on behavior change but also on promoting optimal development and working deeply through issues to ensure individuals and families have the skills they need to be successful throughout their lives. In my work with children, rather than simply relying on traditional behavior management techniques like sticker charts or timeouts (which are generally not effective in the long-term as they do not build up children’s internal motivation), I provide children, parents and families with a progressive therapy approach that goes right to the heart of their struggles to heal from the inside out. Drawing on my extensive knowledge of social/emotional development, healthy relationship skills, and an understanding of how our brains and nervous systems can be positively shaped, I am able to help my clients uncover what is going on inside their minds and bodies and use this insight to change and grow.
I view parents/caregivers as the most important individuals in a child’s life; when working with children and teens, I collaborate with parents to determine the best goals for therapy, continually monitor progress, and switch gears when necessary. Throughout my work with families, I always focus on empowering parents to see where they can have the most positive impact on their child’s mental health by providing parents with concrete strategies that help them to discover the most effective ways to address concerning behaviors.
I also work closely with a child’s school and other care providers to collaborate, monitor progress, and advocate for clients’ needs so they can achieve success in all areas of their lives.