The Children’s Committee began in 2017 to advocate for the thoughtful, relationship-based implementation of Illinois’ new law requiring social-emotional screening of school-age children. Since then, we have expanded our mission to bring an understanding of the value of treatments of depth, insight and relationship for children and their families, including the particular ways they can be integrated into educational and health care systems. We create and compile materials helpful to children and their families, as well as clinicians, educators, health care professionals, and policymakers. We partner with groups working to bring these treatments and approaches to treatment into broader use.
Statement of Values
Psychotherapy Action Network takes a special interest in the welfare of children. In their lives, we see most clearly the effects of the psychological, the social and the biological that shape us all. Our efforts to nurture their healthy development hold the greatest promise for us, for them, for future generations.
Children need safe environments and safe relationships in which to grow. Within those spaces, creativity, play, and reverie—the exploration of what’s inside of them as well as what’s outside of them—can flourish. Children need to be able to communicate their feelings and to feel that others are with them in their struggles, to get involved in the world around them and to feel valued by their community and society. They need help to regulate their feelings, by adults who not only provide structure but understand that even the most aggressive or difficult behavior in a child is a communication. And caregivers themselves need supports that allow them to be the best they can be, so that they can provide better than they had.
We advocate for a system of care that views the emotional well-being of children as being as important as their physical health, and helps families to address the emotional challenges, big and small, that arise as children grow. Because strong community is an antidote to potentially damaging stress, we value all the structures and activities that weave children and families into emotional villages.
When a child or their family is finding it difficult to navigate rough waters, we value treatments that heal through therapeutic relationships, through understanding of internal experience, and through an appreciation of their developmental, cultural and social contexts. These treatments align with the factors that facilitate normal development. In contrast, we recognize that diagnosis, isolated behavioral intervention, and medication, when used as first-line or solo interventions, can interfere with normal development as well as create stigma. Psychotherapy can create a safe space for the whole family in which difficulties can be understood and worked through and innate strengths can be developed or recovered. It can contribute in crucial ways to the development and maintenance of resilience in growing children, because it doesn’t just address their symptoms, but actually helps them grow.
PsiAN believes that the accessibility of psychotherapies guided by these principles is a social justice issue. It’s the very families needing safety the most who often have the least access to these resources. To this end, we work to educate parents, teachers, childcare workers, legislators and policymakers to see the grave costs to both children and society when help isn’t available, and to use their varied roles in children’s lives to offer emotional containment, sensitivity, and safety and opportunities to flourish.