Psychotherapy in
Petaluma and San Rafael



My Approach to Child Therapy

Is your child timid, sad, anxious, or fearful? Or do you feel stressed by your child’s angry outbursts, lack of impulse control, whining, or oppositional behavior? Has your child experienced trauma or loss? Child psychotherapy can help. It is possible to heal deep wounds, restore you child’s self-confidence and joy in life, and bring more harmony and peace to your parent-child relationship and your family.

With children my approach to therapy is child-centered and, for the most part, non-directive. This methodology is grounded in my experience that the deepest healing comes from within. When given the chance in an emotionally supportive and non-judgmental context, and with appropriate expressive media at hand, the inherent healing forces which lie within all of us naturally move into action. Sandplay Therapy, Play Therapy, and Expressive Arts Therapy provide excellent stimulus for these natural healing energies within children, who often find it difficult or impossible to verbally articulate their deeper experiences.

Each of these media has the ability to allow the unconscious to express itself in external imagery:

• In Sandplay Therapy, through the creation of miniature worlds with small figures in a tray of sand.
• In Play Therapy, by acting out various scenes and experiences with toys, play houses, puppets, games, etc. 
• In Expressive Arts Therapy, through drawing, painting, sculpting, making collages, etc.

This externalization process allows the unconscious to emerge into consciousness where it can be seen both by the client and the therapist, catalyzing a natural internal healing process.

I also often introduce children to simple exercises designed to cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness is a powerful complement for these image-evoking modalities. By reducing stress, increasing emotional and bodily awareness, and strengthening impulse control, mindfulness supports the deepening of the therapeutic process while providing tools to help children meet everyday challenges. For more about mindfulness and its use with children, click here.

My work with children and adolescents always also involves collateral sessions with their parents every 4-8 weeks. Collateral sessions are used to mutually share information and discuss the progress of therapy, as well as to explore issues of parenting and those that arise in school. In addition, with parents’ permission, I also consult from time to time with my clients’ teachers and other relevant school staff, as well as with their medical care providers.

Call now to schedule a free 20 minute phone consultation about your child.

Social Skills Groups for Children

I also offer social skills groups for elementary school children. For information on these groups, click here.





Social Skills Groups for Children

In addition to my individual work with children, I also offer social skills groups for elementary school children at my offices in San Rafael and Petaluma, both during the summer and during the school year. I integrate the practice of mindfulness as and important part of the teaching approach to social skills building.

Ages: These groups are for students in grades 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the fall. Groups formed will include students from no more than two consecutive grade levels.

Class size: 4-6 students per class

Composition: All boys, all girls or mixed (at least two of each gender)

Appropriate for children who:


• have difficulty making and keeping friendships.
• are shy or lack social confidence.
• have difficulty dealing with the emotional dimension of friendships (hurt feelings, jealousy, conflict resolution, sadness at being left out, frustration).

Not appropriate for children with:


• Autism Spectrum diagnoses. These children need a different focus than this group offers. (I do work individually with these children. I can also refer to appropriate Social Skills groups for these students. Contact me if interested.)
• strong oppositional/defiant behavior or anger/impulse control issues (I do work with these issues individually, and am considering developing a group format for these issues for future groups. Contact me if interested.)

During the summer: Six 1-hour sessions, 2x/week for 3 weeks plus initial intake with parent(s).

During the school year: Weekly sessions plus initial intake with parent(s).

Exact dates will be determined in consultation with parents regarding schedule of family vacations, etc.

Cost: Sliding scale, total $175-$280/child (Including intake/screening session with parent. See below) to be paid in full in advance. Fee determined by family income and the number of persons supported by that income.



• Initial phone conversation with parent.
• Parent/child interview for evaluation and screening purposes (50 minute session, half with parent and child, half with child). No charge if the child is not accepted. If the child is accepted, the cost of the class series includes this interview.
• (If possible) Recommendation from a Teacher or School Counselor (I will provide a referral form.)

Objectives: Objectives will be chosen from among the following according to the ages and needs of the group


• Appropriate group behavior

• What is a friend?

• What helps to build friendships?

• Friendship DOs and DON'Ts

• Rights and responsibilities in the context of friendship

• Dealing with the challenging emotions of friendship


• Envy

• Jealousy

• Hurt feelings

• Sadness

• Being left out

• Annoyance/frustration Anger

• Social decision-making


• Speaking your truth, asserting your needs and wants

• Listening to others needs and wants

• The art of compromise

• Peer pressure: when to say ‘no.’

• Conflict resolution with friends

Teaching techniques: The following is a list of possible teaching techniques that will be used:


• Mindfulness
• Brainstorming
• Story writing and telling
• Artwork
• Puppetry
• Role playing
• Games
• Group discussion

Contact Gary Buck at (415) 755-5742. Leave a message and I'll return your call within a day or so..

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