LOVE PROTECTS

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

Diane Ackerman’s review of advances in the study of the neurochemistry of relationships * beautifully illuminates the importance of our earliest relationships on the formation of subsequent relationships. Her synthesis of research across many fields — from the lap to the therapist’s couch — reminds us that if we don’t attend to the infants’ earliest…

FRIENDSHIPS MATTER

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

Recent research confirms what common sense tells us: loneliness hurts. Not only does it hurt, it can make us sick. In short, without the protection of social relationships, people tend to feel besieged and respond with the predictable “fight, flight, or freeze” response that prompts us to react appropriately in the face of danger. The problem…

CONTINUITY

By Toni Heineman | April 11, 2015

Yesterday I had a call from “Ann”, a woman I have known for over fifteen years. I first met Ann when she came to me for psychotherapy in her mid-twenties. After about three years of therapy we agreed that she was on emotionally solid ground. She was better able to manage and grow her relationships,…

TAX DAY

By Toni Heineman | March 29, 2015

While April 15th is far from a national holiday, it is an occasion that brings together millions of Americans, often for complaining and commiserating rather than celebrating. Indeed, in 2014 the IRS received 136,887,000 tax returns, some eligible for refunds and others accompanied by a payment to make up a shortfall in money owed. Some…

LOVE THAT LASTS

By Toni Heineman | March 3, 2015

It was 1995, and we had just started A Home Within. Seven-year-old Kelsey was one of the first foster children referred for open-ended therapy, but she was NOT happy about it. She routinely and loudly told her therapist, Dr. B, that he was dumb and didn’t understand anything at all about kids. She didn’t like…

NOWHERE TO TURN

By Toni Heineman | February 7, 2015

A recent story out of Florida is among the more glaring examples of our failure to meet the mental health needs of America’s most vulnerable children—those in foster care. A sixteen-year-old girl who had been sexually molested by her father and then her grandfather was denied mental health services and, instead, referred for treatment of substance…

HATS OFF TO FOSTER YOUTH

By Toni Heineman | January 3, 2015

Thanks to the determined efforts of young people in the foster care system, President Obama recently signed into law a bi-partisan, bi-cameral bill, H.R. 4980, The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. This act brought together several initiatives aimed at improving the lives of children in the child welfare system. The provisions include giving…

MEMORIES THAT GROUND US

By Toni Heineman | November 3, 2014

Very young children do not know who they are. They learn about themselves from those who care for them—those who narrate their days for them, who describe their likes and dislikes, who tell them what makes them laugh and what makes them cry.  Photo credit: rcvnl / Foter Parents hold children’s memories for them until…

FAILURE TO PROTECT

By Toni Heineman | October 3, 2014

The child welfare system is mandated to ensure the safety of the children in its care. For a variety of complex reasons, this is not an easy task, with sobering potentially horrific consequences if and when the system fails to meet this responsibility. Although statistics are elusive, some estimates suggest that children in foster care…

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

By Toni Heineman | January 1, 2014

“I’m not a therapist, but I’d like to help.” When we get calls and emails like this throughout the year, I often find myself stumped, not wanting to give the lame response, “Well, you could make a donation,” figuring that most people didn’t reach out in order to be told that they could give money. To…