Early childhood mental health is reflected in appropriate cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. For very young children, it’s the ability to develop trusting relationships, express appropriate emotions, and interact well with others. It is as fundamental as playing. Our early childhood therapists can help very young children and their caregivers develop these abilities.
Importance of Relationships
Children are wired to form relationships. Establishing sensitive interactions with adults is crucial for their development of trust, empathy, and conscience. Nurturing relationships also help children develop curiosity, self-direction, persistence, cooperation, caring, and conflict-resolution skills.
- Establishing a close bond with a primary caregiver is a major developmental task for infants and toddlers and begins in pregnancy
- From their first moments of life children rely on adults for their physical and emotional needs and begin to develop trust and a sense of security in order to take risks, explore their worlds, and try new things
- As they grow, children form relationships with caregivers that shape their self-image and provide the resilience needed to face new challenges
- Supportive relationships have a long-term influence on a child’s healthy development
Need for Early Intervention
Because emotional problems tend to impact a young child’s ability to regulate behavior, mental health problems can negatively affect a child’s relationships and social development.
- Children who experience serious emotional difficulty also face risks of early school difficulty, while children who are emotionally well adjusted have a greater chance of early school success
- There is a natural advantage to interventions that happen during early childhood while a child’s brain is still developing; unfortunately, many young children do not receive needed interventions due to the stigma associated with mental health care, a parent’s fear their child will be labeled, the belief that the child can control the behavior, and a parent’s feelings of guilt and responsibility for their child’s problems
- Learning about the disorder, knowing how to get help and what strategies to pursue will help ensure a child receives appropriate and timely care
Family Innovations specializes in young children and has had great success achieving the most important early-childhood goals:
- Effective Communication
- Improved Self-regulation
- Positive Relationships
- Secure Attachments
- Social Competence
Family Innovations uses a relationship-based reflective practice model to help treat children in the home or office. Our innovative and proven therapy focuses on a nurturing environment.
- Understanding the importance of the parent-child relationship
- Paying attention to the parents’ experiences with the child and the child’s social-emotional world
- Establishing a respectful, collaborative alliance with families
- Emphasizing parallel process, i.e. simultaneously processing incoming stimuli
- Encouraging reflection at all levels
The assessment process
A mental health diagnostic assessment is available for children by age.
- DC:0-3R: Diagnostic Classification System for children birth to three years
- DSM-V: Diagnostic Statistical Manual, fifth edition, children four and above
Results are used to identify the type and extent of a child’s mental health disorder and appropriate treatment recommendations. Family Innovations strives for a mutually trusting working relationship with the child and family to help assess multiple factors that impact diagnosis.
Family Innovations is enhancing its early childhood mental health services and is or will soon be offering four research-supported therapies for very young children and their caregivers. These include Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Attachment & Bio-Behavioral Catch-up (ABC). Please call for more information about our child therapists in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Kid’s Place
Office Based Early Childhood Mental Health Therapists
Lisa Helgeson – MEd; MA LPC (WI) LPCC (MN)
Therapist - Hudson
Lisa completed her Master of Arts Professional Counseling degree from Liberty University in 2013 and her Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2000. She taught early childhood, kindergarten, and elementary school for over 14 years. Lisa is working toward becoming a registered play therapist and she has dedicated most of her life helping young people and their families. Lisa uses a strengths-based relationship approach that is rooted in developmental theory when working with individuals across the lifespan. Lisa has a passion for working with individuals who have been exposed to trauma and loss. She has a passion for counseling young people and their parents as well as women. Lisa strives to create a caring and supportive environment that supports all individuals on their journey toward healing.
Tammy Janke - MA, LMFT
Clinical Supervisor & Therapist - Maplewood
Tammy received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin River Falls and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Minnesota Saint Mary's. She is licensed through the state of Minnesota as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Tammy has over 20 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of settings. She has a particular interest in working with children, adolescents, couples, and families work through parenting, trauma, abuse and neglect, depression, grief and loss, anxiety, early childhood development, and addiction.
Amy completed her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at Bethel University in 2008 and is licensed through the state of Minnesota as a professional counselor. Amy has also completed an extensive, three year certificate program in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health through the University of Minnesota, and is highly skilled in providing mental health services to very young children and their families, including diagnostic assessments using the Diagnostic Classification: 0-3 R (DC:0-3R), a best practice model for early childhood mental health. She is available to provide reflective consultation to staff and agencies desiring to enhance their ability to provide services to very young children. She uses a relationship based approach when working with children and their caregivers, grounded in developmental theory with understanding of the effects of trauma on children.
Lori McDaniel - MA, LPCC
Clinical Supervisor & Therapist - Maplewood
Lori completed her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at Bethel University and is licensed through the state of Minnesota as a professional counselor. Lori enjoys working with adults, couples, families and young children. She has over twenty years of experience working with children and families and is passionate about walking with families through their healing process. Lori has been trained in Child Parent Psychotherapy, an evidence based therapy for caregivers and children ages birth to five who have trauma exposure and in experiential play therapy which provides an effective and comfortable space for children to share their feelings and experiences through play. Her goal is to create a therapeutic environment where people feel safe, cared for and accepted.
Lauren completed her Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Bethel Seminary in 2009, and has been licensed through the state of Minnesota as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2012. Lauren provides counseling services to clients of all ages, and works with very young children, school age youth and teenagers, couples, families and individuals. She has specialized experience working with children ages birth-3.
Ben Nesbitt - MSW, LICSW
Therapist - Alexandria
Ben completed his Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Cedarville University in 2002 and his Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 2005. Prior to joining Family Innovations in 2012, he worked for nine years with children and families, including refugees, asylum seekers, and individuals and families impacted by domestic and international adoption. He has been trained in working with children ages 0-5 and in diagnostic assessments using the Diagnostic Classification: 0-3 R (DC:0-3R), a best practice model for early childhood mental health assessments. He enjoys working with children and families of all ages. His areas of interest include attachment, adoption/foster care, early childhood mental health, family of origin issues, parenting, trauma, abuse and neglect, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, child and brain development, parent-child relationships, and communication.
Meghan completed her Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Mary’s University, and has been licensed through the state of Minnesota as a marriage and family therapist since 2011. She has also been working as a Registered Play Therapist since 2011. Meghan is currently finishing up a graduate certificate at the University of Minnesota in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, and will soon begin training in Child Parent Psychotherapy, an evidence based therapy for children age birth – three with traumatic exposure. Meghan enjoys working with young children and their families and has extensive experience in working with young children and their families. She utilizes a holistic approach to therapy, incorporating mind, body, and soul care. She is highly trained in early childhood mental health, and is able to provide reflective consultation to agencies and programs seeking to enhance their own ability to work with young children.
Tammy received her Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology from
. She is licensed through the state of Bethel University Wisconsinas a Licensed Professional Counselor. Tammy enjoys working with individuals, couples, families, and children of all ages. She has extensive training and experience in providing diagnostic assessments using the Diagnostic Classification System for children birth to age three (DC: 0-3R). She is also trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy. She has a special interest in working with children experiencing divorce and/or blended family issues.
Home Based Early Childhood Mental Health Therapists
Amanda McManus, MA
Amanda earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She is currently pursuing her LMFT licensure. Amanda has experience working with children and their families in a variety of settings including in-home, residential treatment, and as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is also certified in administering and facilitating the PREPARE/ENRICH marriage inventory. Amanda is passionate about working with families, focusing on the family strengths and relationships.
Special areas of interest:
Early Childhood Mental Health, Parent-child relationships, Trauma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety
Rachel Linton, MA
Rachel obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Family Ministry with an emphasis in counseling from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. She received her Master of Arts in Counseling with a dual track in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. She has experience with all ages and she has worked with children in both schools and outpatient settings; leading groups for teens and adults and working with both family units and individuals. Rachel has centered her specialization around play therapy, family systems, and group dynamics.
Special areas of interest:
Early Childhood Mental Health, Developmental Delays, Trauma, Grief and Loss, Play Therapy, and Transitional Skills Due to Chronic Illness
Dan Madsen, BS
Dan received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Northwestern St. Paul, in 2010. He is currently completing his Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at Bethel University and expects to graduate in 2015. Post-graduation Dan plans to pursue his LMFT licensure and play therapy. Dan has experience working with children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults in a variety of settings and cultural contexts.
Special areas of interest:
Early Childhood Mental Health, Parent-Child Relationships, and Educational Stresses.
- Lisa Helgeson – MEd; MA LPC (WI) LPCC (MN)
- Tammy Janke – MA, LMFT
- Amy Luebke – MA, LPCC
- Lori McDaniel – MA, LPCC
- Lauren Moberg – MA, LMFT
- Ben Nesbitt – MSW, LICSW
- Meghan Swenson – MA, LMFT, RPT
- Tammy Zarn – MA, LPC
- Amanda McManus – MA
- Julie Hormann – MA
- Rachel Linton – MA
- Dan Madsen – BS