Important Update - Summer 2020
Beginning in July 2020, Happy Nest Therapy will not be accepting any new clinical patients. Shanna Donhauser will begin a year-long sabbatical to attend the Attachment Studies post-graduate program at Roehampton University in the UK and work on her book. Learn more in this post, and follow Shanna on Instagram or email for updates.
For counseling referrals in the Seattle area, please refer to this list.
"We all need someone who understands." - Magda Gerber
You're tired and feeling hopeless about being able to manage all your responsibilities, especially the most important one: raising your children.
Many parents feel as you do: challenged by difficult behaviors, heart-breaking situations, and stressful environments. You've read the right books, maybe even taken some classes, but it's not enough to feel like you're in control or to manage this stress.
Nothing seems to work and your stress is building. You're thinking: what can I do? And could therapy help?
How can therapy help?
There are a few ways therapy can help stressed-out parents:
Individual Therapy: for parents who need support processing their own experiences of becoming a parent, unresolved trauma, grief, and loss, and who want to prioritize how they relate with others, especially the people in their family.
Couples Therapy: for parents who experience conflict in parenting styles and values, or when a stressful event has caused tension or strain in the relationship. In couples counseling, you and your partner will work on communicating your needs, negotiating roles and values, and healing any hurt feelings around feeling isolated, alone, and unseen. I am a certified Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) Therapist, with extensive training in supporting couples through understanding attachment, reducing conflict, improving communication, and finding reconnection. As an early childhood specialist, I often work with couples with young children.
Play Therapy/Dyadic Therapy: for parents and their children, when children need a dedicated space to express themselves and their needs, and parents need concrete support around how to help their child.
Therapy with children looks quite different than therapy with adults. Play features heavily as a "port of entry" into the emotional life of a child. Children communicate through play in extraordinary
As a therapist who specializes in working with small children, I interpret and support children's expressions of raw feelings and traumatic experiences through play. Parents play the important role of witnessing, holding, and providing safety for their children in play. To demonstrate the incredible power of play in therapy, here are a few clinical examples, borrowed from actual and anecdotal cases. (*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.)
Penny (4.5yo) plays with the medical kit, examining the baby doll. Her movements are hurried as she undresses baby doll. "She needs her medicine." Penny grabs the play syringe and puts the 'medicine' in baby's mouth. Mom looks surprised and tells me that's what the doctors did in the hospital when Penny was very small.
Tony (7yo) constructs two houses for the same family. "This is where the mama lives, and the daddy lives in this house." The children move between the houses. When I ask about the mom and dad figures spending time together, Tony shakes his head. "This mom and dad argue too much. It makes the baby want to run away and hide." Later, Tony's parents and I meet and put together a plan for reducing tension and conflict during the transition between homes.
Ben (3yo) struggles at school and at home with disruptive behaviors and is some times unsafe (runs away, doesn't follow directions, is aggressive with peers and adults). Through assessment, observation, and therapy, Ben's parents learn about his sensory profile and sensitivities and practice new skills in therapy to manage challenging behaviors and keep him safe.