Parenting a Sensitive Child

What does it mean when I say “Is your child sensitive?” Our first thought, because of the way this word “sensitive” is often used, is that we’re referring to a sweet and thoughtful, empathetic and kind child, tuned into other people and their needs. . . What I’m referring to is more about how much the world outside seems to impact a child – how much noises, smells, strong tastes, scratchy fabrics, highly emotional people effect a child. It has to do with, for lack of a better word, the “filter” we all come with . For some of us, we filter out so much in our environment, just the right amount of information reaches us. For others, the filter lets through too much – more than we can digest, and too much information feels overwhelming or irritating. If this is how our child has been from the beginning, the sooner we understand this as parents, the better. As a child this sensitive to the environment grows old enough to be at school, it is often the case that the child appears to others as “insensitive” or “nothing seems to effect them”. There are a number of ways a child may cope with this heightened sensitivity, including the involuntary shutting down of emotions and perceptions, just to cope. As parents, we want to provide what our children need. A colleague, Deborah MacNamara, has written an article with more on this topic. Dr. Gordon Neufeld has also been helping parents understand this phenomenon for some time. The one-on-one approach to making sense of your child, and finding your way through as a parent is best done in private consultation (call or text to set up an appointment). If you are just exploring this idea, please enjoy this article by Deborah.

What Sensitive Kids Would like You to Know About Them

Posted in Families, Parenting, Parenting Help for Young Children, Resilience, Sensitive Kids

Power to Parent Course

The Vital Connection (Part 1 in 3-part Series)

A Video Course and Discussion Group facilitated by Michele Maurer

Dates: Times and dates to be announced. Gordon NeufeldThis video-course has been developed by internationally renowned developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld, a best-selling and award-winning author. His revolutionary yet scientific approach turns parenting right-side up, restoring natural intuition to parenting and putting parents back in the d.river`s seat. His book, Hold On To Your Kids is causing an international stir and is now available in eight languages. This video-course takes the best that science has to offer and renders it readily accessible to parents of children of all ages. Dr. Neufeld’s approach has won powerful endorsements from such luminaries as Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Mary Pipher, Raffi, Dr. Peter Levine and Robert Bly. For more information about Dr. Neufeld or his approach, visit his website.
Location: 21561 Old Yale Road, Langley (upstairs)
Fees: $200

Details: This course includes 8 Hours of video with Dr. Neufeld that participants view, one hour each week, online (when it suits your schedule). Course includes three-month access to the Neufeld Institute Virtual Campus, which is rich with supplemental learning resources. Each week, participants will meet in person with Michele for one hour of in-depth discussion of the week’s material, and opportunities for questions and answers. See more details.

This course is Part I of the Power to Parent series, and focuses on the child-adult relationship as the context for raising children. Parents and professionals learn how this relationship is meant to develop, what can go wrong, why parents must matter more than peers, how to cultivate a context of connection even when apart, how to win back one`s child if need be, and more. Parents and professionals are also introduced to discipline strategies that are attachment-safe and developmentally friendly.


Dr. Neufeld’s approach has the power to change, if not save, the lives of our children….                  – National Post 

Michele Maurer

Michele Maurer has been working professionally with parents and children for 25+ years. She is a counsellor working in private practice in Langley. Michele is a sought-after presenter, providing training to parents and professionals across the province since 2005. Michele has been engaged in studies with Dr. Neufeld and the Neufeld Institute, starting in 2001, and now is pleased to offer this introductory offer as she embarks on facilitating the first course in Dr. Neufeld’s Power to Parent series.

Registration TBA
Questions: PH: 604-367-3060 | E:

Posted in Courses, Families, Parenting, Parenting Help for Young Children Tagged with: , , , , ,

Anxiety in Children

Check out this video – Dr. Gordon Neufeld provides answers to anxiety in children and youth. As the holidays approach, many children start to experience escalating anxiety. The school year is well under way, report cards are soon to be distributed, and families become busier. If anxiety has been impacting a child in your life, for parents, it can feel quite frustrating and worrying to see them in such distress. Few parents feel comfortable being asked to sit on a wait list for months on end to ease a child or youth’s suffering. You, as parent and/or caregiver, can start to turn the tide on anxiety by understanding what is going on from the inside out, and making sense of what your child or youth is experiencing.

After working and studying in the field of counselling for more than 25 years, there are a few teachers and mentors who stand out from the crowd. Dr. Gordon Neufeld is one of those people. Dr. Neufeld has a solid and grounded wisdom family problemsabout children, and about the path to reaching our full potential (even as adults). I first came across his work in the early 1990’s. I found it fresh, and reassuring – the relationship between parents and children is important; really foundational to good outcomes. Parents caring for children, so they grow up and mature is the natural way of things, and it’s how our species has evolved. This seems obvious, yet, as Dr. Neufeld observes, we have more parenting advice books and courses than our Great-Grandparents ever had, we understand more about the brain and development, but parenting is getting harder and seems less “intuitive” than ever before. Thankfully, many people over the centuries have spent their lives documenting and studying the subtle and critical elements of parent-child relationships, and others have advanced brain science so that we now have so much information about the emotions, child development and the brain, it would take a lifetime to take it all in. Distilling centuries of accumulated research to make sense of children and youth to their parents and caregivers has been Gordon Neufeld’s contribution to the field.

After opening my practice and meeting several parents who were puzzled about how to support their children or adolescents with anxiety, I  returned to Dr. Neufeld’s teachings. Having attended his first ever “Intensive” training in 2001, and leaning heavily on this body of knowledge through my own children’s early years, I knew there were ways through a host of common problems parents and children face. I have re-aquainted myself with his work, and I am now part of a small international cohort of “Advanced Studies” students with the Neufeld Institute. For me, it feels like coming home to “common sense” and a deep sense of things feeling “right”. I am struck how critical the job of parenting is to the future generation(s). I want parents, teachers and caregivers to have access to this knowledge. With pleasure, I will pass on this video of Gordon Neufeld’s May 2012 address, “Making Sense of Anxiety in Children and Youth”, courtesy of the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace, who have uploaded this video at no cost.

I hope you enjoy this talk, and that you find the material useful.  I counsel many parents and youth about coping with and recovering from anxiety using Dr. Neufeld’s approach. I welcome your requests to discuss your particular situation, and I am happy to work with a range of common parent-child concerns. Call or email and I will make time to speak with you at my earliest convenience.

Posted in Families, Mood / Anxiety, Parenting, Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

Evidence Supports Couple and Family Therapy

More than twenty years of research has led to an extensive body of evidence about the significant advantage of treating problems by working with relationships. This is the basis for the field of Couple and Family Therapy, and the learning gained forms the foundation skills and knowledge for Registered Couple and Family Therapists.

We've come a long way from Freudian psychoanalysis . . .

We’ve come a long way from Freudian psychoanalysis.

What does this mean for me if I am looking for a counsellor?

The field of counselling can be puzzling for people when they start looking for help. Many people I see in my practice share that the credentials and approaches advertised by counsellors are unfamiliar to them. Making sense of the differences between counselling options is difficult. While this post will attempt to clarify some of this confusion, I recognize there are some questions better asked of a third-party who can be counted on to be neutral and unbiased. This is why, at the bottom of this post, I reference an article that reviewed a decade worth of research on the subject of couple and family therapy. As a former supervisor who hired and trained clinicians, I have a sense of what various credentials mean, and how that translates into the experience people seeking counselling might be able to expect.

Whereas the earliest approach to helping people with distress was to analyze and prescribe interventions that were focused on the individual, current researchers can state with confidence that working with people while also considering and/or including their family or couple relationships adds value and improves results across many concerns that bring people to counselling (Sprenkle, 2012). The old ‘treatment as usual’ where an individual is psychoanalyzed in isolation is still featured in popular media, and maintains some popularity as a therapy modality among some clinicians in the field.  A growing body of evidence favors a couple and family therapy approach. Some of the areas with strong  evidence supporting couple and family therapy include:

  • Treatment of marital / couple discord
  • Treatment of depression in adults also facing couple discord
  • Treatment of bipolar disorder
  • Treatment of couple violence associated with alcoholism and drug abuse
  • Treatment of situational couple violence
  • Treatment of anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence
  • Treatment of anorexia nervosa in adolescents
  • Treatment of type 1 diabetes for adolescents and children
  • Treatment of depression in adolescents
  • Treatment of adolescent delinquency and oppositional defiant disorder
  • Mobilizing alcohol and substance abusers to seek treatment
  • Treatment of Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Family management of schizophrenia
  • Coping for family members of alcoholics who are unwilling to seek help

* This list is not exhaustive. It represents a substantive overview of 12 topics reviewed in couple and family therapy research from about 2001 to 2011. Sprenkle, D.H. (2012) Intervention Research in Couple and Family Therapy: A methodological and substantive review and an introduction to the special issue. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38 (1), 3-29.

Posted in Couples, Evidence, Families

Parenting Help for Young Children- Series Part 1

Parenting Help for Young ChildrenMother and Son Playing

The age between one and seven is one of rapid emotional and brain development accompanied by behavior that sometimes confuses, or dare I say, frustrates those of us who care for them.

They are impulsive, delightful, resistant, aggressive, unhampered by logic, generous, unstable and really anything but consistent. (They) resemble grown-ups and this fools us into thinking they are much more like us than they really are. Projecting adult psychology onto them is a typical mistake many adults make. . . (we need) insight into their shyness, separation anxieties, aggression, resistance, oppositional behaviours and more. Making sense of these confusing yet wonderful little people lays the foundation for intuitive and rewarding interaction with them.” – The Neufeld Institute

This series will be of interest to parents, prospective parents, daycare providers, teachers, and anyone else who provides care for this age group. The characteristics of the young child are meant to happen, as illogical and “crazy-making” as they are for the adults around them, and when healthy development is supported, and the growth is allowed to unfold, this phase opens the door to achieving our child’s potential.


Just as nature starts with “one-at-a-time” in the realm of development, so it is with children. When an infant is born, each eye works independent of the other. Each eye must develop and calibrate vision on its own before the infant brain grows the connector that mixes the incoming information from the two eyes, and we develop depth perception. There are countless other ways that nature develops in this manner – calibrating one thing independent of the other, and then joining to make something more complex and better. For young children, this is how it is with their senses and emotions. In order to develop the pathways and know each emotion, the child will experience only one at a time. Generally, adults are able to hold two or more thoughts, emotions, sensations at a time, which allows us the complex decision-making that we require in order to delay gratification, cope with frustration, be truly socially appropriate etc. We can look at the cookie on the plate, desire the cookie, and also consider another family member who hasn’t had a cookie yet. We have the capacity to consider both our own desire AND our sense of how a decision will impact another person. Young children do not have that capacity yet. Here’s an example of how this plays out –

Parenting Young Children; Scenario A

Picture a child enjoying the bathtub, and as bath time is over, you pick the child up out of the tub, and the sound of crying fills the bathroom. Quick as you can, you cuddle the child in a towel and eventually the crying subsides when you succeed in focusing the child on something else. The child cannot anticipate or prepare for the reality that the comfort and warmth of the bath will end. The child does not feel consoled in advance, knowing that the warm towel and hugs are coming. The child registers the pleasurable sensation of the warmth, and then registers the unpleasant sensation of the relative cold. The tears and crying are the automatic response to this change; I feel cold. The attention is on one thing at a time. The attention is on the present moment. It’s all black and white, and there is no grey. There is no future reward that helps the child accept the sacrifice of leaving the warm bath.

Help for Parenting Young Children; Scenario B

Now picture the same scenario, after you as parent have figured out that the child can attend to only one thing at a time and you will use this knowledge. The bath time is over. Before you pick the child up, you collect them with eye contact, and when you have the child’s attention, you begin an engaging song, perhaps one that involves touching toes and nose (you know the type). While singing the song, you pull the child from the tub and into the towel. The song continues throughout, and the child’s attention stays on the song. The attention can only be on one thing, one sensation, one emotion at a time.

Young Children Cannot Delay Gratification

“One at a time” is also the key to understanding why the young child cannot make a future oriented good decision. Offer the child one cookie now or three cookies after you finish doing the shopping. They’ll choose the one cookie now. They are very in this moment, very right now characters. One thing at a time, and right now is the time zone they live in. There is a certainty to the right now, and they are too short-sighted to make the sacrifice. The young child is unable to take more than one factor into their decision making.

One last example for this edition – as a “one-at-a-time” creature, the young child knows the rules and will be unreliable at following them. Their intentions are better than their actions. As an experiment, with a parent the child is attached to, we place the child in front of an amazing toy and the parent lets them know they must not touch it, under any circumstances. The parent can even ask them to repeat the rule, and their intentions will be clear; they know what their parent wants and expects. Then the parent leaves the room and watches. The child’s impulses will easily eclipse their good intentions. Remember, they are unable to hold someone else’s instructions and their own curiosity in mind together. They experience one or the other. They cannot hold their own intention to do as Mommy asked at the same time as they hold their own intrigue. The child will touch the toy. This is NOT intentional disobedience (for that to be the case, they would have to hold the parent’s instructions in their head AND the curiosity and desire to touch the toy, and decide between the two). It’s classic developmental “one-at-a-time” playing out. In the moment they reach out to touch the toy, it’s as if the parent did not say anything, because the adult is not present and their curiosity is. When their parent returns, asking the child if they remember the rule, they may be able to recite it word for word. Their intentions are better than their behavior. They are unreliable because of their “one-at-a-time” stage of development (the cerebral cortex where thoughts and feelings mix has not yet developed). When a parent they are attached to is in the room, their natural desire to please will eclipse their impulse to touch. If asked, “did you touch the toy?” the child’s desire to please the parent they’re attached to (or fear of losing contact if they’re displeased) will eclipse their impulse to answer the question based on the facts. Most likely, the child absolutely holds firm to their statement that they did not touch the toy (because they want to please the parent). This is the classic “hand in the cookie jar” scenario, and the child’s number one need over all else is to seek closeness with the parent they’re attached to. That adult’s approval is #1. This is not to say that we have to allow children to do whatever they want, but knowing they cannot do what we want them to reliably, without supervision, puts the onus on adults to find ways to manage their behavior differently from how we manage the behavior of older children or adults.

Do you recognize any of these scenarios with your own young children? Stay tuned for the next in this series on Parenting Help for Young Children.

Posted in Parenting Help for Young Children

Parenting Course – Sign Up Today

Making Sense of Preschoolers – Parenting Course

Preschoolers, Parenting Course in Langley

‘Dr. Neufeld’s approach has the power to change, if not save, the lives of our children.’ The National Post

Thank You for your interest

Registration for this course is now closed

November 1st -December 13th, 2014

Alternate Saturdays, 10 am to Noon


Hi – I’m excited to offer Gordon Neufeld’s “Making Sense of Preschoolers” video-based parenting course. I hope you will be able to join us for this very informative series. The course is divided into four segments, which we will view over four Saturday mornings, November 1st, 15th and 29th and December 13th. Doors will open at 9:30 am, video will start at 10:00 am and we will wrap up at 12:00 pm. If you are keen to get a start on reading the materials prior to the  first session, you are welcome to stop by (please call or email to ensure I am available) to pick up your handouts and your own copy of Dr. Neufeld’s National Bestseller, “Hold On to Your Kids”.

Langley Counselling - Parenting Course

Parenting Solutions for School Anxiety

As a new parent, I attended a Power to Parent course with Gordon Neufeld some years ago. Dr. Neufeld’s teaching has made the journey of parenting less confusing and more satisfying. This course provides a map of the preschool years, a solid understanding of what children need to reach their potential, and tools to find your way again if you feel lost. Understanding the preschooler gives you the keys to understanding older children too. Having this key helps whether you are helping your preschooler to sleep through the night, supporting your school-aged child with fears about school, or trying to make sense of your adolescent’s persistent quest to digitally connect with and be like their peers. Dr. Neufeld’s teaching is in demand across the globe. Even now (September 2014), as I am writing this, Dr. Neufeld is on a European speaking tour. This course has helped thousands of families, and you will surely find it enlightening, reassuring, and beneficial. Please feel free to invite a friend, grandparent, or your spouse – Registration Closed/ click here to receive notification of future classes . (Please arrange childcare for any mobile children. Nursing infants may attend.)

Click here for a course preview.

Other Winter 2015 courses:
  • Gordon Neufeld’s “Making Sense of Discipline” video course,
  • Gottman’s “Bringing Baby Home” (helping your relationship thrive in the transition to parenthood), and
  • Gottman’s “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” (learn what 40 years of research teaches us about the keys to your successful relationship).
Posted in Courses, Families, Parenting, Parenting Help for Young Children

Great news! Perinatal Depression – some new insights

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation published results of some new and enlightening research. (see link below)

Perinatal Depression can be a frightening experience for women, as well as for those who are closest to them – it doesn’t feel right to be so out of sorts during pregnancy and early parenthood, and sometimes this is the first time a couple encounters a concern like this. They may not know where to turn for help. If this sounds like your experience, or that of someone close to you, there is reason for hope. This is a more common experience than most people would expect, and with good support from healthcare and counselling professionals, it is a condition that responds well to treatment.

While this study confirms something that intuitively, we already kind of knew (moms experiencing postpartum depression and their babies are linked, and their mental health is mutually impacted by the experience) – we haven’t really known what would be helpful to lessen the impact. We now have a better and more specific understanding of what’s going on, which opens the door to specific and helpful interventions. Researchers, led by Ruth Feldman, Ph.D. found that the brain chemical (Oxytocin) is found in reduced volumes in the babies and the moms  experiencing postpartum depression. So you ask yourself, now what? What do we do with this information?

Fortunately, we also know there are natural, accessible ways to increase this brain chemical for women and babies, and in doing so, they can effectively bond, and restore essential levels of this naturally occurring brain chemical for their mutual well-being. And there’s the golden nugget. We can do something proactive that helps . . . phew.

Click the link below to see the whole article.


Posted in Evidence, Reproductive Health

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder

As I talk with people in my office, I hear two dominant themes when it comes to the Fall weather.

Some people love the return of the rain, ‘cus it means the fall leaves with their glorious reds and oranges are on their way, and it means people can pull out their favorite cozy sweaters, scarves, and boots, and the cooler temperatures give a good excuse for some cuddle time on the sofa with a good movie or book.

Some people dread the loss of sunshine and find the damp and cool weather means they have to really work to drag themselves out of the blues. Some people tell me it gets so bad they wonder if they might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

If this sounds like you or someone you care about, check out the links below:

Posted in Mood / Anxiety

The Secret to Desire in a Long-term Relationship

I came across this excellent Ted Talk by Esther Perel – worth your 19 minutes to watch?

You be the judge!

You’ll find the link to the talk on my Facebook Page timeline, dated Sept 26th, 2013.
While you’re there, if you like the post and want to keep up on new gems I share
there, please “Like” my page.



Posted in Couples

Relationship Help – not such a mystery after all . . .

Insights from the Johnson-Gottman Summit, July 2013

I recently had the pleasure of attending a conference with 1200 other couple and family therapists, where the developers of the two leading  approaches for helping relationships, Sue Johnson (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy – EFT) and John and Julie Gottman (Gottman Couples Therapy) shared insights about love, relationships, and keys to success in couples therapy:

  • how love grows (turns out it’s not such a mystery – there’s science behind our attraction and connection)
  • how loving relationships sometimes go off track (20+ years of up-close examination of couples reveals critical information about what happens, why it happens, and helps make sense about how to help couples move back to closeness, trust, and loving relationships)
  • how to recognize and offer relationship help that will shift communication habits that erode trust and connection
  • how to guide couples to recognize these in themselves, so they can sustain the progress they gain in counselling
  • and how to help couples rejuvenate and enrich the connection between them, to build a loving relationship that will see couples through the tough times, and enable couples to grow even closer through the process

So much gained, it’s more than I can convey in one post; the summit was inspiring, and re-ignited my passion and clarity to assist couples who want to re-kindle the joy and connection in their relationships. Relationships CAN be helped.


Posted in Couples