Dr. Debra Dayton, Licensed Psychologist (Clinical Psychology) Dr. Debra Dayton, Licensed Psychologist (Clinical Psychology) About Dr. Dayton's practice Contact Dr. Dayton


Dr. Debra Dayton
I am a clinical psychologist working with families, children, and adults. I am a short term therapist, meaning that I work with people to define a specific set of goals and generally set a limit of 16 sessions or less to reach those goals.

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Having extensive experience in play therapy, I see children as young as 2 years of age. Play therapy is an approach that allows children to work out their fears and resolve their anxieties in a safe environment through the natural medium of play. I work with children to give them a language for what they are feeling and work on new ways of dealing with those feelings. This is often a very effective treatment for children with depression, anxiety, school phobias, or trauma. However, sometimes children demonstrate acting out behaviors at home or in the classroom. Some children I see are dealing with Aspergers Disorder, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorders, Mood Disorders, or other behaviors resulting in temper outbursts or explosive behavior. In these cases I can provide parent education. I never see any child without working with the parent as well. I see the parents alone before each session with their child, or alternate sessions between parent and child. With older children and adolescents I sometimes do family therapy. I tailor my approach to the age of the child as well as needs of the child and the family.

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Adolescents are usually hesitant and nervous about coming to therapy. Often therapy is not their idea, but something their parents have decided for them. Because of this, gaining the teenager's trust (though always important in therapy) is critical. Therefore, when I see adolescents I am particularly careful to respect their privacy. What this means for parents is that, after the first session, I will not see the parent without the child being present as well. I make this very clear at the start of therapy, and have both parent and child sign a contract stating this, as well as outlining my expectation that parents may not look over their child's therapy records without the express permission of the child. While some parents may at first be surprised by this, most quickly come to understand that such steps help ensure the adolescent feels free to talk about what they may not otherwise. Without such trust, therapy with teenagers is rarely effective, and effective therapy is what everyone is working for. Of course, situations in which the child's safety is imminently threatened cannot be kept secret, and this, too, is outlined at the beginning of therapy.

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My approach with adults is a combination of systemic and cognitive therapy. The systemic approach involves understanding that, even as individuals, we are all shaped by systems, family, community, culture, and generational, that form our lives. These systems biologically and environmentally influence us, and we in turn have an influence on them. Understanding these patterns of influence can help us change them when they become destructive or painful. Cognitive work involves, put simply, changing the way we feel by changing the way we think. Much of our emotional lives are a product of faulty though patterns, or cognitions. All of us are prone to negative, anxious, or self-defeating talk we direct inward. Sometimes we're not even aware of this near-constant stream of negative self-talk. If we can learn to recognize these thoughts, and be taught ways to counteract them, we can become happier and more self-confident. Using systemic and cognitive therapy approaches, my goal for my adult clients is to help them take control of the things that they can change, and stop trying to control the things they cannot.

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I have always enjoyed, and have a special interest in, working with women. Women are often the caretakers and the backbone of their family, and at times this can become a burden. Issues of childbirth, single parenthood, harassment, bullying in the workplace and martial problems are just a few of the issues of which so many women have to deal. Women tend to be multi-taskers, which also leads to anxiety and stress. In my practice, not only do I work with women individually and as part of marital couples, but I run a group for women who are dealing with major transitions in their life. These transitions consist of issues such as change in career, marital status, divorce, parenthood or empty nest. These women have the power to heal themselves and each other by providing support and wisdom.

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