Sheila Wright, LMFT
Psychotherapy for adults,
    teens, children and families 

Parents, Caregivers and Children              (offices in Santa Cruz and Monterey)                         831-251-0408

(Watch for trainings and camps posted here)

Raising children can be fun, wonderful, and challenging, but sometimes the challenges can outweigh the fun. I can help individuals, children, teens, couples and families who may need a bit more support through difficult times. I have offices in Santa Cruz and Monterey and am available to speak by phone at 831-251-0408.

It is normal for relationships to change throughout our lives,  but when it is a significant relationship that is lost or interrupted, then big adjustments are called for. Whether it's divorce, deployment, re-marriage, death, adoption or foster care, or even moving homes or schools, families and relationships change.  Providing support to adults, teens, children, couples and families through these changes can make for greater resiliency and coping abilities. When the support is missing, or is not quite focused in the right way, then individuals or families can become stuck in self-defeating patterns, or have less capacity to tolerate life's ups and downs. When I work with a client I help the client and caregiver to:

• Self regulate or co-regulate to build resiliency and tolerance for change;
• Manage behaviors in a positive, structured and supportive manner;
• Work to reduce the effects of trauma through EMDR and sensory-focused therapies, such as sand tray, art, music , somatic and movement therapies; 
• Build relational skills and deepen attachment;
• Caregiver/client interaction to reduce conflict;

Teens and children

Teens: The teen years are confusing for everyone. Parents are unsure how much control they should exert as they lead their teen toward adulthood, and teens may simultaneously assert their independence while being unsure how to do it, thus turning to their peer group for help. Additionally, if there have been significant relationship changes in the teen's life--such as happens in divorce, death of a loved one, deployment, adoption and foster care--then the issues surrounding what some call "attachment" may also be a concern. (See below for a description of attachment.) Issues of depression, anxiety, anger, struggles with sexuality and risk-taking behaviors, among other issues, may present themselves in the psychology of the teen and the family. Therapy can help the individual find support and build toward healthier choices and coping skills as well as strengthen relationships within the family.

Children: It is difficult for children to put into words what their experiences have been with trauma and loss. Often, the emotional struggles or traumas may get stuck in a feedback loop of negative behaviors and negative reactions from adults who don't understand there is an underlying problem. Children have not developed the capacity for perspective, reflection, insight or connecting traumatic causes to effects in their behaviors and feelings. Their brains are most often not mature enough to use language to express deep experience like adults and some teens can. Or, more basically, the trauma is stored in the brain and body in a manner that is simply not easily accessible. That is why other forms of therapy are so successful with children--sand tray, art therapy, movement and music are all avenues to help the child (and all ages, really) to access, express and potentially resolve the material they cannot verbally express. Behavioral modification and cognitive therapies are interwoven in these processes and are particularly helpful for obsessive and compulsive behaviors.

Attachment: Is that quality of connection experienced in close relationships. We most often think of infancy as where attachment is formed, and built upon throughout childhood. When speaking of attachment and children, there are words for describing the types of attachment they can experience. Children with secure attachments, who  believe and trust their caregiver will be available to them if they need help and can be  vulnerable with their caregiver when they are in need or in pain, tend to show more resiliency and flexibility to the challenges they face in life (though this is influenced by their innate temperament).  Attachment is learned both by the parents' or caregivers' own attachment styles as well as learned through life circumstances. Insecure, avoidant, and disorganized are commonly used words to describe other attachment styles (these concepts arise from the work of research psychologists such as Mary Ainsworth and Donald Winnicott, to name but two. For more detailed discussions on attachment, visit,, or watch the videos of Holly Van Gulden on youtube or read her document on attachment at this address:

As Van Gulden states, the ideal in any relationship is that the individual experience in the relationship safety, security, warmth, comfort, 
value, and joy. These are the building blocks to self esteem, to relationship building and ultimately to social success. It is never too late to strengthen attachment and enhance the relational skills of children, teens and adults because attachment can be learned or grown stronger at any age!

Veterans and their families: When the military is part of the individual and family experience, then the family really has two families: their biological/adoptive family, and their military family. The culture of the military is strong and pervasive and can have a powerful influence on how individuals and families function and succeed. And because relational loss is interwoven during service in the military, the veterans and their families are often struggling to come to grips with loss and trauma in many forms—not only from war, but from separation and the effects of those separations. Finding a way to talk about these experiences and putting them in perspective is important to creating positive change for the adults, teens and children in a veteran's family.

Other highlights of my practice include:

            • Certification in EMDR; I use this powerful tool to build on the client’s strengths  and resilience and to address trauma when and where appropriate;

     • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level I graduate. This somatic therapy is another powerful tool to address trauma;

            • Trained in or have practiced the trauma-reduction, relationship-enhancing work of Bruce Perry, Heather Forbes, and Holly Van GuldenDan Siegel.

            • Coach parents in practical concerns, such as how to apply for an IEP/504 to support the child at elementary, high school or college, as well as help them address social challenges and conflicts.

            • Referral to support services that can help the client and family in areas such as occupational therapy or evaluations;

            • I provide a warm, accepting therapeutic environment where the client and caregiver can feel safe to explore what has brought them into therapy.




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