Welcome to Reisner Counseling Services

The Therapeutic Experience:
    In working with people I strive to develop a collaborative process, tailoring the experience of therapy to truly meet each of my clients' unique needs, supporting, guiding, exploring, and providing boundaries, a safe space, and challenges when needed. All this helps move the clients into a better space where true, long-lasting help takes root and grows.

    Above all I strive to create an open and honest space where people feel safe to explore the parts of their lives that might be too frightening to go on one's own: a place where we can shovel out all the muck that has built up and together figure out how to get to all the goodness underneath.

Play Therapy
     Children speak their own language in therapy, the language of play. Crayons, blocks, dolls, board games and puppets allow kids to communicate about their worlds and the monsters, heroes and adventures that happen within them.
    The kind of play that occurs in session is different than what happens out on the play ground. The clinician acts in three key ways, witness, container, and agitator, that make it therapeutic. It's parallel to what occurs in talk therapy with older children and adults, just in a slightly different form.

  • Witness
    All people have experienced the "witness" aspect, although they may not know it. It's the difference between singing a song alone in a room, and singing it to someone. It's the difference between practicing a sport in the back yard, and playing a game in front of the crowd. It's the difference between watching the sunset, and sharing that sunset with the person next to you. Having the other person there adds a much greater import to the experience.

  • Containing
    When "Containing" the play, the therapist acts like a safety net, and a bio-hazard bag.  We keep kids grounded so the play does not become too intense and overwhelming. By essentially providing an anchor line, children feel safe to keep testing the limits in the stories they tell that might otherwise be too scary or threatening to let out. Therapists can also "hold" emotions that may be to big for a kid to handle. Anger, sadness and fear can be huge when you're small.

  • Agitating
    Last clinician's will "agitate" the works if there's too much of the same. If the monster always eats the hero, someone says "HAHA! I always win!," holes are being forever dug in a sandtray, the clinician may choose to intervene and disrupt the repetition. This is possible by suggesting a way to do in the monster, introducing a new figure, winning the game, anything that changes the pattern.

But what exactly happens in session?
    By and large, a clinician will work hard to make an inviting, engaging, safe space. Forming a "therapeutic bond" with a client is always the first goal. The easiest way to think of this is a very particular form of friendship. In this friendship, the therapist provides the client focused attention, and responds to the client in a non-judgmental and empathetic manner and does not "demand" anything of them, such as good grades, to sit and pay attention, to be nice to their sibling, to loan out their toys (the only caveat is that they must act in a safe manor). This, in turn, lets the client feel free to express their core selves as opposed to the selves that are put on for interacting with people day to day.   

From here it is a big mix, and differes greatly from person to person. Some examples of what might happen during play therapy are:

  • Some children "play out" their challenges. For example a child who's parent is not in the picture may play out "quests" hunting for a special animal/jewel/villain/hero.
  • Lonely kids sometimes make islands, or cities of walls, or wear a monster mask and "scare everyone away."
  • Other times asking a child if they ever feel like people in their life are like the gremlins figures they beat up with may let them open up and speak directly about the bullies that wait behind the gym.
  • Where as board and card games are often about planning and using social skills allowing people to try out new tactics and develop better interaction styles.

So how does this help?

    Again, this is a big mix. Just talking about a problem with a safe person can be a big help. Think back to when you were young. Do your remember having a bad nightmare, but when you told someone you trusted about it, it seemed so much smaller? Often fears and worries are much bigger inside one's mind.

    Playing can also let kids work with their own constructed, shrunk down worlds that they can manipulate, examine, and work through on their own terms.

    Getting direct, concrete, feedback about how your actions are perceived by other can let people learn where their attempts to connect to others goes awry and give them a laboratory to experiment on how to do things in different or better ways to get their needs met.

        I have experience working with a wide range of people with all forms of psycho-social challenges, of different ethnicities, sexual identities, ability levels and have worked with people from ages 3 to 81. I have also been a active clinician with "A Home Within" also known as "The children's Psychotherapy Project" for a number of years.

  • Children, Adolescents, Young Adults
  • People identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender/sexual, Queer and Questioning
  • People on the Autism - Aspergers spectrum
  • People with Intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Children, Young Adults and Families involved with the foster care system
  • Other under-served populations