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2023 VSOF Conference Open for Registration

2023 VSOF CONFERENCE NOW OPEN FOR REGISTRATION February 6, 2023 — The Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation (VSOF) is pleased to announce its next International Conference June 2-4, 2023.

February 6, 2023


January 7, 2023

Toy Guns

ASK VIOLET Question: When a child is in the middle of a bitter, hostile parental relationship, are you frank with the parents about how they are damaging their child? Answer: How I convey this message to the parents is very important. I don’t want to attack the parents since they definitely will not return. I need to be gentle and choose my words carefully. Sometimes I use statistics to move it away from being too direct, “You know, research shows that when parents argue a lot and are angry with each other, children blame themselves for what is going on.…

blue and yellow nerf gun


November 17, 2022

First Session

ASK VIOLET “You had stated that you see the parents and child together at the first session. I have been leery to do this because, when I have, the parents’ comments were hurtful for the child to hear. I thought that it was more harmful to the child than helpful. Please comment.” Answer: On the contrary, I found it most helpful to do this. If the child thinks I don’t know about his parents’ complaints, then this interferes with the relationship. A division has been set up between us. Believe me, he already knows how his parents feel about his…

A Family Sitting on the Couch Seeing a Counselor


Limited Sessions

ASK VIOLET Summer/Fall 2012 Question: How do you fit this system into a managed care treatment plan—having a limited number of sessions? Answer: With a limited of sessions I would follow a brief therapy model. This is useful not only for managed care clients, but also for other short term requirements. Some suggestions: See the situation as “crisis intervention.” Tell the child we only have a few sessions to make things better. Look at the number of sessions and plan for what you will do (without expectation that what is planned will happen.) For example, the first session would be…

black marker on notebook


November 14, 2022


ASK VIOLET How can you work with children without working with the family? Aren’t you sending them right back to an often dysfunctional situation? ANSWER: There was a time when most therapists would not work with a child unless they also worked with the family. Sometimes I felt that they did this because they really didn’t know how to work with the child! Of course I work with the family whenever possible. However, here are my thoughts of this subject: I have worked with many children who did not have families: children in foster homes, for example, especially where the…


How Did You Decide to Work with Children

ASK VIOLET How did you end up working with children and how did you know, or did you, that this was your career direction? I receive many variations of this question quite often so I thought it might be time to answer it by sharing my journey. I imagine that many of you wonder if working with children is the right path for you. The answer is actually very personal – everyone’s experience is probably very different. I did not set out to work with children. My work just evolved. I was the youngest in my family, so did not…


Grounding After

ASK VIOLET Question: How do you ground children after they have been having a really good time, or perhaps a particularly emotional time? This is very important. I feel that children must make closure since have they to go out and be in the world after a session. Here are several methods that have worked for me: Ask specific, present centered questions, such as “What do you hope you’ll have for dinner?” “Are those new sneakers? “Where are you going from here? Or I might suggest that we both take some deep breaths. Or I might say, “Wow! Look at…



ASK VIOLET 1. What kind of expectations should we have in our work with the child? I have a slogan that I often repeat to folks that were in my training programs: EXPECTATIONS BREED FAILURE This does not mean that I don’t have goals and plans to achieve those goals, but when I am with a child I need to put these on a back burner and totally be present with the child. Whatever happens is what is. For example, if I have decided that it would be valuable for the child to draw a safe place in a particular…

three pupas


The Full Nest: Working with Adolescents

The first article of this series, “Just for Now: Virtual Use of the Oaklander Model in a Time of Crisis,” discussed employing it with children and families in the context of social distancing and the unprecedented global impact of COVID-19. As a child therapist who uses the Violet Oaklander Model of Gestalt therapy with children, I dedicate this series of articles to the wonderful child and adolescent therapists in Italy whom I’ve known for the past 7 years. My heart is with them and the children they serve. I had the privilege of sharing the first of this series via…


August 8, 2022

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