The term “special needs” may cause you to visualize a child with a physical need, one that can easily be detected. But special needs that we cannot see, could be overlooked.
Assisting children through visualization therapy
Michelle Sunny, a clinical psychologist, works with children with those needs that are more difficult to observe, specializing in children in the midst of their parents’ divorce. As an advocate, she spends half of her time in the courtroom and the other half working directly with children and their parents. “It usually starts with some play therapy for the child,” says Sunny.” “It’s amazing what you unearth, through a visual aide like a drawing. For example, where the parents are positioned in the picture, if at all, and what order have they placed them in?” Pictures drawn to show the child’s feelings are helpful too. Sunny works with children as young as two years old, which means that visualization is a huge part of her work.
Because Sunny mostly works with the courts and families experiencing divorce, she uses a program called S.M.I.L.E., an acronym for Start Making It Livable for Everyone. The three hour program, held every three months, is geared towards helping the whole family deal with the emotional aspects of divorce. “Whether the parents play an active role in their children’s lives or not, it is very easy during a divorce to forget about the child’s needs,” Sunny says. “It’s like a triangle, the child should be the top point and the parents at either corner on the bottom points of the triangle. During a divorce, sometimes the parents are concentrating more on each other and the most important person gets forgotten.”
As a clinical psychologist for the past 15 years, a mother and a woman whose parents divorced while she was a child, Sunny is empathic and compassionate to all sides of this equation. “The parents need counseling to address how best to handle the situations that arise for their children, as well as themselves. While the children need to be able to express the feelings they may be having as well.”
Children are our future
And while Sunny provides counseling for children undergoing custody issues, or who have experienced mental and/or sexual abuse, her ultimate goal is to help the child to live a happy and full life. She works tirelessly for her patients and while some may need only a few sessions, there are those she has worked with for years. “I love what I do,” says Sunny. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.” Thank goodness for people like her. After all as the Whitney Houston song, Greatest Love of All, says “I believe the children are our future”.
Michelle Sunny’s offices are located at;
1086 Charles Orndorf Drive, Brighton
To contact Michelle Sunny or
to find out more about the S.M.I.L.E. program call
(734) 377-1124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org