Psychological treatment for children and adolescents

Children are not just small adults. They think differently. They communicate differently. They suffer differently. It’s the same with adolescents. Their brains are growing and changing rapidly. Not to mention hormones and attitudes. So children and adolescents require specialized treatment.  That’s where we come in. We specialize in treatment for children and adolescents.  But be assured: at the NeuroDevelopment Center, parents are always included in their child’s treatment.

Many parents have concerns about putting their children on psychiatric medication.  We do too.  Medication can be helpful, but in our opinion, there is too much reliance on medication. We see young children who are taking four and five different meds.  So we make it a point to scour the scientific research to find effective treatment for children that does not require drugs. We offer several. Explore the approaches described below.  We can sit down and discuss your child’s needs to find the solution that is right for you.

You have many choices – traditional treatment for children and research-supported innovative approaches.

Individual therapy

Children and adolescents often benefit from individual psychotherapy. At the Neurodevelopment Center though, this will not be just talking about feelings and experiences, but also building skills for communication, problem-solving, managing difficult emotions, and coping with the demands of daily life. Often there will be “therapy homework” – challenges to make specific changes in daily life at home or in school. With younger children, therapy usually involves play. Parents are always included in therapy for children at the NeuroDevelopment Center.

Recommended for: Anxiety | Depression | PTSD | Autism spectrum | ADHD | Attachment | Bipolar | Behavior problems

Family therapy

Family therapy can be helpful in resolving conflicts, and in improving communication, problem solving, and relationships in the family. It also can be helpful to improve parenting skills and methods and to help parents collaborate in the tough business of raising kids.We will meet together regularly and in varying combinations. All family members will have a chance to speak and be heard and respected.  You will learn new skills and new understandings that will help you rebuild and maintain your family togetherness.

Recommended for:  Anxiety | Depression | PTSD | Autism spectrum | ADHD | Attachment | Bipolar | Behavior problems

Friendship groups

Friendship groups at the NeuroDevelopment Center are not your typical social skills groups. We do not give instructions on specific social skills.  Kids with ASD don’t actually use the skills learned this way in real life situations. The skills do not generalize. Just as important: having a skill does not mean you will choose to use it.  In our Friendship groups, we make sure the kids are having fun. Lots of it. We want to build their motivation to connect with peers. So we employ carefully planned enjoyable activities in which important social skills are needed to complete the activity. Then we coach the kids to use these skills in the course of the fun. The groups are small. Usually no more than four kids, carefully matched for level of social competence. The Friendship Groups make use of a developmental approach that includes ideas and techniques from the writings of Steve Gutstein, Stan Greenspan, Michelle Garcia-Winner, TEACCH, and other similar methods. Each group is ongoing, year round.

Recommended for: Autism spectrum disorder | Non verbal learning disability

Social coaching

autism social coachingIt is not easy to help kids with social deficits learn how to interact better with peers. But it is especially hard to give this help from a therapy office that is far removed from peer interaction. To be the most helpful, you need to be present when the social interaction is happening. To help best, you need to do it live, from the sidelines, like the coach in sports, observing as it happens. But this is not how therapy usually works. Therapists work in their quiet offices and their clients tell them about what happens outside of it.  Some professionals use groups, but the kind of lessons learned in structured groups do not always (or even often) transfer well to the confusing messiness of real life with peers.

Several years ago, we decided we would no longer accept these limitations. So we developed a social coaching program using paraprofessionals. We train and supervise the social coaches who go out with the clients into real social situations and coach them live.  We have worked with a number of adolescents and college students using this approach, and have seen faster and more substantial progress than through the usual methods.

Recommended for:  Autism spectrum disorder | Non-verbal learning disability in adolescents and young adults

ADHD kids group

Many kids diagnosed with ADHD feel alone. They may feel confused about what it means for them and for their future. Some feel ashamed, or vaguely guilty, or down. Our eight week ADHD children’s group will give your child the opportunity to learn about what ADHD is and to learn some strategies that will help. Your child will also have the chance to share thoughts and feelings with other kids with ADHD.  He or she will not feel so different, and not so alone.

Recommended for: ADHD + ADD


Cogmed working memory training is a research-supported way to increase attention by improving working memory. With this online brain training program, there are a series of engaging working memory games and challenges. The challenges, like most popular videogames, get progressively harder as your skills improve. Cogmed Working Memory Training provides scientifically designed working memory exercise and practice. Just like physical exercise, it leads to improved skill and capacity. Designed for Pre-school and up. Learn more. 

Recommended for: ADHD | Learning Disabilities | Traumatic Brain Injury

Preschool LEAP

Has your preschooler been diagnosed with ADHD? Or is it suspected? Many parents are reluctant to put their young children on stimulant medications. You may have questions and concerns: At such a young age?  For the rest of their lives?  Is it really safe? Early research has suggested another natural option – a family based treatment for children that involves very intensive practice of self-control and attention and related mental skills through enjoyable games you would play with your child on a daily basis.  Learn more.

Recommended for:ADHD in preschoolers

“Our son is a 13 year old with Asperger’s Syndrome.  The Friendship Groups of  the NeuroDevelopment Center have been no less than a miracle for him.  He learned that it is possible for him to make and keep friends. He learned what it means to be a friend, how friends communicate with one another and how to be a part of a group.  These simple joys had eluded him all his life until now. We are thrilled to see him so happy. Dinner time is now a pleasure in our household since we can actually have a real family conversation.  Amazing!”
R.H., East Providence, RI
“It is hard to believe that a year ago my family was living in Hell. My daughter was so scared of everything in life and my husband and I didn’t know what else to do for her. The level of stress, fear, and sadness was unbearable. Her anxieties and panics were becoming mine. It is unbelievable the change which has occurred. The confidence she has built in herself and in facing her fears is remarkable.”
F.P., East Providence, RI
“My son has attention issues as well as social pragmatic deficits and sensory integration dysfunction.  Neurofeedback has helped him make incredible progress in his ability to organize himself. He is now able to get himself dressed with little or no management. He is coping successfully in a regular education classroom setting. He is exercising judgment and is not as easily led into disruptive or confrontational situations. He is calmer and has even been known to sit through an entire dinner with little movement. We are very pleased with his progress and plan to continue the therapy.”
C.Z., Barrington, RI

Heart rate variability biofeedback

heart rate variabilityYour heart beat is a great “stress-o-meter”. When you are stressed or “revved up” or in a negative emotional state, and your nervous system arousal is high, your heart beats in lockstep. The amount of time between heart beats changes very little. When you are calm and stable, and nervous system arousal is lower, the beat to beat interval becomes more flexible. Heart rate variability biofeedback training provides an easy and very concrete way to learn how to reshape these heart rate rhythms for increased calm and stability. A simple sensor on your ear or finger picks up your heart beat. The computer analyzes the interval between heart beats.   During Heart rate variability biofeedback sessions we will help you learn to relax your muscles and your mind, and learn to slow and regulate your breathing. Once you learn the techniques in sessions in our office, you can also use inexpensive software at home to build your ability to recognize when you are bothered and rapidly regain your calm. This image shows a session in progress, with the more regular signal on the right half of the top section showing increased heart rate variability. Research has shown effectiveness for anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress related difficulties such as abdominal pain and headaches, chronic pain, and other problems.

 Recommended for: Anxiety | Depression | PTSD | Autism spectrum | ADHD | Attachment | Bipolar | Behavior problems


Neurofeedback, also called EEG biofeedback or neurotherapy, is a research proven way to help you sharpen attention, relieve anxiety, enhance mood, behavior, and learning without medication. Neurofeedback reshapes brain activity through intensive brain training exercises. Research support is strongest for ADHD, but early research shows this approach to be promising for other difficulties as well. Learn more.

Recommended for:  Anxiety | Depression | PTSD | Autism spectrum | ADHD | Attachment | Bipolar | Behavior problems

School consultation

If your child is struggling to learn, behave, and or connect socially at school,  a school consultation can help.  Our psychologists can observe your child in school and sit down with his educational team to make a comprehensive plan to help your child learn, make and maintain friends, and develop his coping and self control skills. Sometimes we are engaged by the school, sometime by parents. Our goal is to help build a strong collaboration between parents, students, and staff.

Recommended for:  Anxiety | Depression | PTSD | Autism spectrum | ADHD | Attachment | Bipolar | Behavior problems

Interactive metronome

Interactive Metronome (IM) is an innovative brain training tool that is increasingly being used by professionals who work with child and adult patients with neurological conditions that affect cognitive and motor functioning. IM training involves feedback guided practice to hone and fine tune motor timing at increasingly precise levels.  The IM tool provides an objective method for measuring timing deficits and for tracking improvement. Although much more research needs to be done, there is early but growing evidence that IM can result in improvement in attention, coordination, language processing, reading and math fluency, control of impulsivity/aggression. With IM, you can see your progress grow as you train. You can see your timing improve from session to session. Learn more. 

Recommended for: ADHD | Behavior problems | Motor coordination problems | Learning disabilities

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