115 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028 (212) 794-6057

One on One Therapy for Children & Young Adults

Children and young adults’ benefit from one-on-one therapy at particularly transformative times in their lives. Individual child therapy often requires a deft approach. It must recognize the child’s developmental level and needs, their attachment needs, and the impact their relationships have on their lives.

Dr. Smerling establishes a supportive relationship with younger clients, wherein her expertise allows the child to better manage difficult times and ultimately find success.

Therapy for Children

Dr. Smerling utilizes the following applications during therapy sessions with young children:

Play Therapy

Play therapy uses a variety of play and creative arts techniques to alleviate chronic, mild and moderate psychological and emotional conditions that could be the underlying cause of problems or are preventing children from realizing their potential. Sand therapy and dramatic play, for example, provide children with a variety of possible outlets with which to express themselves.

Traditional Interactive Therapy

For older children dealing with psychological and emotional conditions, illness, or suffering the impact of divorce or challenging social environments, Dr. Smerling utilizes dynamic, interactive, and collaborative therapy techniques.

Community Resources

Dr. Smerling takes pride in having an extensive knowledge of the community resources available to children, which can be used in conjunction with therapy to further support their successes.

Dr. Smerling firmly believes that parental actions affect young children, and therefore children are never treated in isolation from their parents. Dr. Smerling requires that parents be involved in their children’s therapy, as they are in their lives, but doesn’t necessarily bring them into the room during therapy.

Therapy for Teens and Young Adults


In addition to working with children, Dr. Smerling also provides therapy services for teenagers and young adults. She knows that adolescents need to feel like they are being heard and understood; they want to have a person that they can trust to reveal what they are thinking and feeling, sometimes even about their parents or home life. It may take a little time before a teen can build trust with their therapist, and this isn’t something that Dr. Smerling takes lightly, especially if the teen’s trust has been violated in the past by adults.

One way that she goes about gaining their trust is by being approachable. Rather than coming across as cold, stuffy or distant, which is the stereotypical image of a therapist, Dr. Smerling is engaging, talkative and never fake. She understands that every teen is different, and therefore you cannot use the same method of therapy for each patient.

Some of the topics that Dr. Smerling has helped young adults with include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Family feuds
  • Traumatizing experiences
  • Peer pressure
  • Sex and sexual orientation
  • Dating
  • Bullying, including cyberbullying
  • College prep and concerns
  • Problems at school
  • Troubles with siblings or family members
  • Divorce and/or separation
  • Falling out with friends
  • Struggling after a big move or relocation

Dr. Smerling has been connecting with teens for many years, and she has a knack for understanding what is really going on inside their heads. She knows that their struggles should never be pawned off as the stereotypical teenage angst and moodiness. It’s not “just a phase” or a matter of “too many hormones.” She takes them seriously, because teens have real problems – especially in a world where social media sets impossible standards. She wants to help both teens and their parents navigate these difficult waters.


Therapy Helps Parents, Too


Dr. Smerling understands that when teens are going through a hard time, parents are going through it with them. Parents often get the reputation of being disconnected from their teenagers – but more often than not, a parent simply doesn’t know how to help and is trying to connect to their adolescent.

A family is a tight knit unit – when one is going through a hard time, everyone experiences the struggle along with them. Therefore, Dr. Smerling doesn’t just offer one-on-one therapy sessions with young adults. She also offers family therapy sessions for those that want to heal together as a family.

Parents should never forget that they are an important part of their children’s therapy. While you will not always be present at the therapy sessions, your unfailing support for your child and teen matters. Your attitude towards their therapy can either make or break how seriously they take their sessions and how hard they work towards getting help they need.


Make Your First Appointment

The first step is to make that initial appointment which can be done directly from our website or by calling 212-794-6057. During this consultation visit – whether in person in our Upper East Side office or via teletherapy – Dr. Smerling can assess how best to connect with your child or adolescent and to help them see the value in coming in for another session.

It’s important that both parents and children ask Dr. Smerling any questions they may have, because she needs to be a therapist that both parties are comfortable with.

Lastly, Dr. Smerling strongly advises that parents be very serious with their kids regarding their concerns, and don’t put too much pressure on them about coming to therapy. Perhaps ask your child or teen to come in for just one session, without the added weight of needing to come in weekly. At the end of the day, their therapy must become deeply personal to them, and they need to want to come to each session.

Child & Teen Therapy FAQ


When should a child see a therapist?

These are some of the most common signs that a child may need to speak with a therapist:

  • Changes in behavior or acting out
  • Feeling sad more often
  • Not eating
  • Sleeping more often than usual
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family

As a parent, you know when your child isn’t acting like themselves. If you’re concerned about your child’s behavior at all, then they would likely benefit from coming to a therapy session.

What are the signs of anxiety in a child?

These are the most common symptoms of anxiety in children:

  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Not sleeping well
  • Waking up from nightmares
  • Fits of anger or outbursts
  • Acting fidgety or tense
  • Voicing negative thoughts
  • Constantly worrying

How do you get reluctant teens to counseling?

If your teen is reluctant to go to counseling, it might be wise to introduce them to a potential therapist or counselor before any problems worsen. You can also set the example for them by going to therapy yourself, or perhaps take them along for family therapy and express that it’s to help you and that you’d appreciate their support.

Another option is to give your teenager complete trust and ownership over their personal therapy. Express to them that you do not have any expectations or requirements for them to attend therapy, and that it’s entirely up to them how regularly they attend.

Is medication an option for my teenager?

While medications are not something that Dr. Smerling will push or reject, she understands that they can be helpful and that they do play a healing role for many adolescents. She will work closely with your teen and determine if medication would be an appropriate route to take, though it’s certainly not going to be her first suggestion right off the bat.

We brought my daughter to Dr. Smerling for anger issues that are being exacerbated by puberty. I was a little nervous about it, but she is located in a very well-regarded area, and she had great credentials, and I found her office did feel like a safe space. I’ve only been going with my daughter for a couple of sessions, and then she went on her own a couple of times, but so far, I think it’s been helping us keep the peace in the household. She’s skilled, my daughter seems calmer.

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