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Families Find Mental Health Solutions with Child Guidance Resource Center

For parents struggling with a child’s mental health issue, CGRC offers evidence-based, therapeutic interventions.

One Family’s Struggle

When Amanda* found herself struggling with her four-year-old daughter’s behavior, she turned to the Child Guidance Resource Center (CGRC) for behavioral health services. Her child was angry a lot, and was hitting and kicking her. This caused Amanda to become frustrated and angry in response, and she just didn’t know how to change the dynamic. She also suspected that her career as a correctional officer, where she was required to be a serious and stern enforcer of rules, played a role in the difficulties she was having with her child. 

For this mother and daughter, the solution was to play together! Working with a clinical psychologist, Amanda was guided through Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), one of CGRC’s many evidence-based, behavioral health services. In this program, the clinician supported Amanda in finding ways to get on the same level as her child and connect with her through play.

*This is a pseudonym to protect the individual’s privacy.  

A Positive Outcome

Aimee Salas, LPCC, NCC and Chief Innovations Officer at CGRC explains how the therapy made all the difference for this family. “Amanda and her daughter became closer through those unsolicited play experiences and allowed mom to see her daughter through different eyes.” 

Using the coaching techniques of PCIT, the clinician also supported mom in de-escalating the angry behavior, instead of escalating it. “The focus of the work is helping a parent and child strengthen their bond and develop appropriate lines of communication,” says Salas. As her relationship with her child improved, “Amanda was so relieved and much more confident in her mom persona—and separating it from her work persona.” 

This kind of positive outcome is what CGRC strives to achieve through all its evidence-based programs. For 65 years, the organization has been helping children and families address mental health challenges. In fact, it’s one of the largest providers of children’s mental health services in Southeastern PA with programs in autism services, play therapy, community-based services, family therapy, and more. 

Specialized for Children

In the field of behavioral health services in the Philadelphia area, CGRC is known as an organization that is highly specialized for children. It does offer traditional outpatient services, but a majority of its services are done within the child’s community. This means that CGRC therapists meet children where they live and go to school. Accordingly, it enables a therapist to truly understand an individual’s struggles and to support them on their path to healing and success. 

One of their signature programs is Family First, an 8-month therapy, from 2–5 hours a week for children with significant needs. Colleen McNichol, CEO, calls this a “whatever it takes” kind of program. 

“You just can’t look at the child and their mental health needs,” says McNichol. You have to address the child’s environment, too. We work with the entire family on coping skills and hold family sessions, individual sessions, and siblings sessions. It requires a lot of latitude.”

That holistic approach to child’s mental health care is a best practice, which is part of all of CGRC’s behavioral health services. 

A Continuum of Care

Colleen McNichol believes it’s “the breadth and continuum of their services” that distinguishes CGRC as a behavioral health provider for children. That wide breadth of care ranges from traditional, outpatient services at the lowest level, up to their Family First program. And with a team of 550+ therapists and experts, CGRC is able to provide the tools, support, and solutions to families that don’t know where to turn. 

Says McNichol, “Whatever the challenge, we are able to accurately and appropriately diagnose a child and address their needs at any given point.” 

Parents who are seeking behavioral health services, can contact CGRC at one of their four locations: Havertown, Karabots Center at CHOP, Southwest Philadelphia, or Coatesville.

This Sponsored Story for the Main Line Parent Community was written by Beth Gilbert-Crowell.

Child Guidance Resource Centers promotes the well-being of children, families, and adults throughout the five county Philadelphia region by delivering evidence-informed behavioral health services and community-wide wellness programs.