Kara began working with children in the mid-1990’s through the public education system. She completed Bachelor’s degrees in Developmental Psychology and Elementary Education and worked as a Certified Public School teacher in the state of Washington for several years after her graduation. Along the way to her teaching credentials, she also spent considerable time working with Children in outdoor recreation settings. Later, she received additional therapeutic training and experience working with young children in a Children’s Long Term Inpatient Program (CLIP) in Western Washington. Having experienced CLIP to be one of her most rewarding and energizing work experiences yet, Kara went on to get a Masters of Arts in Existential-Phenomenological Psychology from Seattle University and interned in a Child and Family Therapy program. She became a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Washington with a focus on young children, parents, and co-parenting constellations.
Kara has attended numerous workshops and training events on topics related to parenting and building positive alliances with young people. Her work with children and parents is most heavily influenced by the philosophy of Alfred Adler, Dan Siegel’s writing on attachment theory, and her training in Children Focusing. Children Focusing is a gentle, open approach to engaging with young people that provides respect, creative reflection, and voice to wordless places. Kara began learning Children Focusing in 2015 when introduced to her mentor and friend René Veugelers of Focusing Centre Zeeland at an international conference. She continues to enjoy and grow from ongoing work and consultation with him today. Kara is also a Positive Discipline Educator. Positive Discipline is a parenting approach based on the work of Dr. Alfred Adler. Paramount to Adler’s approach is the need for mutual respect in our interactions, along with an emphasis on the universal human need for belonging with others and feeling a sense of significance.
One of the potential challenges in working with very young children is finding a way for them to communicate about feelings and experiences they may not yet have words for. Modeling how I can be with my own bodily felt experience, while teaching children to slow down and sense inside themselves, creates a bridge between words and experience that allows children to carry forward from stuck places. Often children know something, but struggle to convey what is felt inside. It can feel extremely frustrating for both child and adult. Children Focusing honors the child’s inner experience, validating their knowing even before the words are formed. Focusing helps the therapist (and parent/educator) connect with and deeply understand the child’s experience while simultaneously helping the child feel grounded, safe, and understood. This deep trust and connecting creates a healing interaction through which the child’s stuck feelings are able to release and their inner process to move forward.
Last, but certainly not least, Kara takes a trauma informed approach to working with children and teaching parenting. She completed a two-year post graduate certification program in working with complex trauma. She teaches on the topics of intergenerational and vicarious trauma and how it impacts parenting, Focusing with children, attachment, trauma, the importance of relationship in therapy, and other topics on request.
“Being able to tell or show our story always helps us to re-connect freshly, if we can keep listening/watching while we share it.” ~René Veugelers