Dec 8, 2020
Oftentimes when a child is struggling, we seek help for them. It feels like the right thing to do and it is. But, the help isn’t only for the child; it is for the whole family. My guest today is Dr. LaFaune Gordon and she shares with us the importance of empowering families to help our children.
Dr. LaFaune Gordon is a seasoned licensed clinical psychologist with an expertise in pediatric and child clinical psychology and working with high risk and traumatized infants, toddlers, and preschool age children and their extended families. We discuss a lot of important topics today including the mental health of infants and toddlers, grief and trauma in young children, and how play is effectively used to develop a strong relationship.
The work Dr Gordon does is so important and her approach to helping families is inspiring. I am thrilled to have her here today to demonstrate the importance of the caregiver-child relationship.
[2:11] - Dr. Gordon explains why she decided on the work that she does. Originally she wanted to be a pediatrician but when she took a psychology class, she found her niche.
[3:40] - Mental health doesn’t start when a child goes to school. Dr. Gordon was very intentional when looking for training and clinical experience in the area of infant and toddler mental health.
[5:01] - LaFaune was a consultant with a child development program for 10 years. She had the opportunity there to work on mental health with small children and was able to provide training to the teachers.
[7:34] - Working with families and teachers is important to Dr. Gordon as she states that we are all a team for our children.
[8:17] - Infants and toddlers can’t tell you that they're struggling, but they can show you with certain behaviors.
[10:10] - Karen and LaFaune discuss the approach of working with the family rather than just the child.
[11:03] - Families are the change agents. The clinicians are facilitators who support and encourage the team of family members and teachers.
[12:36] - The pandemic has spotlighted a lot of problems in how we approach mental health and education. It has given us a unique opportunity to connect with children and families.
[14:01] - Because some sessions with Dr. Gordon are now virtual, they have given her a better peek into the home lives of the children she works with. Children are in their comfort zone and parents can more easily show the behaviors their children are exhibiting.
[16:58] - LaFaune discusses how one of the struggles families are facing is using technology to learn. Creating a support system in that area is a good idea.
[18:21] - Dr. Gordon has seen an increase in referrals for children experiencing grief and trauma. On top of learning difficulties, they are trying to deal with loss.
[20:48] - The work in dealing with grief, trauma, and loss begins with helping the parents address them before learning can be an expectation.
[22:09] - We can’t just treat the child that is dealing with trauma. We have to give the families and teachers the tools to support them.
[24:44] - Dr. Gordon starts with play therapy with parents and the child together. Because it is recorded, it gives the parents a different perspective and puts them in their child’s shoes.
[26:04] - When we follow the child’s lead, a lot of times we discover that we are participating in parallel play instead of actually interacting with them.
[28:24] - Having the opportunity to talk to the parent, not to tell them what to do, but to demonstrate how parents are interacting with their child.
[31:15] - When kids are struggling, we often look to others to help them, but we will have better outcomes when we work together with families.
La Faune Gordon is the executive director of Children and Families, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Dr. Gordon is endorsed by the State of California as an Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist, is certified as an Infant Massage Instructor by the World Institute for Nurturing Communication (WINC) without Borders, is a certified Effective Black Parenting Instructor, and an advanced level provider of Developmental Individual Relationship (DIR) Floortime developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan. She has formalized training (derived from accredited predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships) in assessing the development and mental health of children, ages birth to 5, as well as providing clinical services to this population. Furthermore, Dr. Gordon has conducted numerous professional trainings to parents, teaching staff, other primary caregivers (e.g., relative caregivers, legal guardians, & foster parents), and clinicians regarding the mental health and wellbeing of children at risk or have endured various traumatic experiences. In her professional career, Dr. Gordon has worked clinically with children and families involved with the Child Welfare system for over 20 years in the capacity of a clinician, clinical supervisor, and program head as a previous employee of Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (HUB Clinic at King-Drew Medical Center) and Department of Mental Health (Interagency Consultation and Assessment Team and Enhanced Specialized Foster Care Program in formal collaboration with Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and driven by the Katie A. lawsuit). Dr. Gordon represents Children’s and Families, Inc. and utilizes her expertise in providing consultation, training, and direct clinical services to these agencies.