About

Therapy begins when you commit to meaningful change for your child.

How I help children reach new heights…

For some parents, you seek therapy when your child is in crisis. Maybe they have experienced trauma, such as months of bullying by a classmate leading them to withdraw from the family conversation and no longer enjoy fun activities with friends. Or their self-esteem has taken such a hit that they’re embarrassed by their appearance and worry about how they come across to others, resulting in them avoiding school and declining grades.
Perhaps they’ve lost someone close to them and haven’t dealt with the pain.

At other times, you need to dial down your child’s pain nozzle so they can handle the emotional agony they’re experiencing. Your child is trying to figure out how to feel comfortable in their own skin. Their bodies are changing, and their minds are growing. They don’t know what to expect next.
The distress caused by family and social difficulties is hard to understand or put into words. It can be frustrating and upsetting to try to handle these problems alone. The anger and sadness are boiling and about to spill over into all aspects of their life.

Young girl in child therapy, New City, NY

Sometimes you see warning signs and want some insight into whether a storm is brewing. Is your child withdrawing from social situations, having personal relationship issues, refusing to attend school, or struggling with schoolwork? This is the pivotal moment when you notice your child is struggling, and you’re open to the idea that talking to someone who understands these subtle cues can make the difference between continued sorrow and optimism for the future. Maybe your child has been in therapy before and made progress, but now you need a tune-up or a whole new work-up. Perhaps a new personal issue or an old challenge has come to the fore.

Or maybe you get a call from the school counselor who tells you your child has shared their pain at school and needs to talk to someone now. Whether you’ve been blindsided or have had concerns of your own for a while, it’s time to call someone… and fast.

Our Testimonials

"Erica is an astute clinician utilizing the most current strategies to help your child in both individual and group settings. Her approach is warm and gentle."

- Laura O.

“I have known Erica for many years. She is a very kind and patient therapist who understands the needs of her clients. She is hard-working and dedicated to her field.”

- Jessica B.

“Erica was amazing helping us work through co-parenting issues. She was kind, patient, took her time to listen and help us come up with solution that worked for us.”

- Julia K.

At a young age, family and friends play a huge role…

… in shaping your future superstar. Children rely on their family and social influences to sort ideas in their minds and put them together in a way that makes them whole. You answer hundreds of questions, listen to harrowing stories, and give advice in spades. As they get older, children keep what’s useful and discard what doesn’t work as they find greater understanding and clarity. Therapy might be needed when there is a transition in your child’s life, such as starting a new school year or moving to a new home. Changes can bring on feelings of worry about what’s to come and how to deal with new social demands.
As a child goes through puberty, the physical changes to their body can be overwhelming. New feelings and insecurities may develop as they compare themselves to their peers. A change in family structure, such as a divorce, separation, a new baby, or a blended family may interfere with your child’s everyday routine making them uncomfortable or upset with their lack of control over the situation, causing them to lash out or keep their angst inside. These new developments and more are instances that could set your child off-kilter and require an outsider’s perspective.
Your child relies on you, whether they realize it, to intervene and take the next step to quell their inner turmoil. The ongoing and unwavering support you provide has a tremendous impact on their journey to creating a happy life…

Child and teen therapy for families, New City, NY

But even with this support, children don’t always act as we expect.
Your child might say, “everything’s ok,” but inside, they’re crying out for help. They don’t want to worry you, or they’re overpowered by what they feel and wish it away. You’re reassured because your child wants you to believe that is true. They aren’t asking for help or telling you anything’s wrong, so you’re hoping all is well. But you sense that the reverse is true. Their positivity is unconvincing.
For example, they talk about their classmates as succeeding in one way or another and assure you they are also doing well. When you speak to their teacher or you look at their report card, a different story is told. You read all the signs, but you didn’t want them to feel defeated when they were trying to seem upbeat. Maybe your child seems angry. Constant shouting matches fill the air. Or they hit their siblings and possibly even their parents. Are they just uncaring and oppositional, desiring to defy your every request? Or is there a deep sadness underlying their behavior? And the anger is a cover for feelings not yet understood.

You want to help them manage their emotions…
…but you’re not sure where to start or even what they are experiencing. Ever begin a puzzle to discover a piece that will not fit no matter how hard you try to nudge it into a space? It takes work to prod the pieces to move in the way you want them to go. The same thing happens with children. We are always encouraging children to become the best version of themselves, yet we often don’t know when to intervene. Regardless of the catalyst for change, every parent seeking therapy for their child has one goal: to provide relief for their child’s emotional pain. And I offer precisely that.

I am here to provide understanding, direction, clarity, and momentum…

When Patrick* first came to see me, he was swirling with upsetting emotions and no resolution.
Angry, embarrassed, and distraught after being assaulted by bullies on his way home from school, he couldn’t fulfill the revenge he wanted. His anger turned to rage. He punched holes in his bedroom wall, swore at his parents, and cursed on social media. He then turned inward, accepting blame for being weak and unable to defend himself. He refused to return to school and turned away friends looking to comfort him. Patrick saw no way out. He could not move past his anger at the individuals who took away his pride and made him feel small. This story has a happy ending because Patrick found help from a caring therapist (yours truly). After his defenses came down, he started talking about his feelings in a way that made sense. He recognized what happened was not his fault and accepted he couldn’t change the past. New feelings of self-worth emerged as he let go of the feelings that constrained him.
He found a way to make himself stronger, including training his body and mind through exercise and practicing ways to assert himself. With positivity and resolve, he developed the confidence to face new situations and returned to everyday activities.

Uncovering your child’s inner beauty and truest self…
It’s about observing oneself from afar as you stand on a precipice and wonder where you’re going next.
Your scope will vary depending on your lens and the direction you point it toward.
Your child’s view becomes clearer and more vivid when they look upwards through their lens with optimism toward the exciting journey ahead. Children are like delicate flowers whose lives take shape in the direction of the guiding light you provide. With each new petal you nurture, they flourish and become closer to their truest and most beautiful self.

*Name changed to preserve client confidentiality.

It is a profound privilege to provide therapy for children and their families.

Every time I receive a call for help from a parent, I am humbled by their bravery and courage to open up and trust me with their story. I respect the parent who has the nerve to seek help and reveal the inner strife within their family. It’s not easy to let someone in to witness what is heart-wrenching for oneself. Once a family arrives at my office, I understand that there are secrets they are looking to guard. Getting to the root of the problem is inspiring because now I can help the family deal with the real issues and start rebuilding the family structure.

It is an honor to share in the growth and development that is uncovered through our work together. When a child finally opens up to me about their fears, I know we can begin to explore uncomfortable feelings in a place where trust is upheld. Then they can find the strength to practice facing obstacles by taking charge of situations and not letting emotions paralyze them. When they no longer need guidance to do so, I know they are ready to deal with adversity on their own. It’s uplifting to witness their internalization of what we have discussed and to generate the strength within themselves to implement the skills they’ve obtained..

Erica Smuckler, LCSW, Courageous Kids Counseling, child and teen therapist, New City, NY.

What is therapy… and how will it help?

My music theory teacher once said, “The train doesn’t stop. It just keeps on moving.” I’m sure he was referring to a project we needed to complete, but I think it applies well to therapy.

You can’t revisit the past, except in your mind. Therapy allows you to ply yourself from memories that play on a loop, so you can feel at ease with your life as it moves forward.

When your child buys into the process, they get the most done. It takes time to build trust. I also need to use all my therapy “tricks” and techniques to help your child heal from the pain they’re experiencing.

The more they practice what we learn together, the quicker they will make change happen. I strive to help children understand that taking positive steps leads to being able to take more positive steps… and this is how they can reach new heights in their journey through life.

What can I expect in the first session?

Your first visit will last 90 minutes. This is where we discuss your history, and I’ll talk with you and your child about the therapy process and your goals for future sessions. We will also go over forms that I have sent you in advance.

How long do subsequent visits last?

Individual sessions last 45 minutes and occur weekly. Intermittent family sessions are scheduled for 60 minutes.

Does my really active child need to sit the whole time during sessions?

If your child is anything like my rambunctious six-year-old, I wouldn’t possibly expect them to sit the entire time. That would just be cruel.

I incorporate a lot of movement and breathing exercises, games, activities, and play. One of my favorite activities is making slime together. I love being a little silly in session with kids.

Will therapy be “all talk”?

I believe in relating to children at their level. Depending on their level of development, children communicate in many ways that might not involve traditional “talk therapy.” This includes imaginative play with puppets or dolls, playing games, drawing, or representations in sand trays. So if it means getting a little dirty or playing on the floor, if it works for your child, it works for me!

For teens, we may still do a bit of play, but therapy will take a more conversational tone. Teens tend to have a greater ability to reflect on their thoughts, consider different perspectives, and convey problem-solving skills. If your teen hides in their hood initially and refuses to talk, that’s okay, too. They will when they are ready.

Do I come into sessions with my child?

I insist you attend at least the initial session with your child. I will do a full intake, so it’s important to get a clear understanding of why you are bringing your child to see me. I often see similar challenges come up for family members, so you can share any difficulties you might be having as well.

From there, it is beneficial to attend at least parts of future sessions. You are your child’s cheerleader and role model. In sessions, you can help encourage your child when they are having difficulty finding their voice or losing momentum. By being present in sessions, you will also be aware of homework assignments that you can help your child practice. I promise, no tests, but we will have a lot of review.

How long will it take to feel better?

It depends on the child. Even though parents usually initiate therapy, it’s a choice for the child how much effort they put in and the results they get. It’s not a race to get through, but I’ll let you know if I feel like we’re stuck at any point.

If that’s the case, we’ll talk about what we can do to build momentum and continue on a positive course. That being said, you should expect to see improvement within three months.

Do you work with other treatment providers?

Yes. During your initial session, I will ask you if you have any other providers with whom you would like me to communicate. These might be physicians, psychiatrists, school counselors, school psychologists, former therapists, treatment centers, etc. If so, I will ask you to sign a “Release of Information” form so that I may speak with these providers regarding your child’s care.

Want to know where to start?

In our work together, we will uncover what is missing from your child’s life, what’s holding them back in worry and despair, and what are the ways we can help them move toward a place of happiness and fulfillment.

We provide convenient online sessions.

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