Melanie Epp earned a Master's degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Play Therapy - Supervisor. She has worked in private practice, community mental health and private school settings over the last 25 years. Melanie loves working with women and men on coping with all of life's stresses, clarifying needs, improving relationships and solving problems. She uses a practical, solution-focused approach with a creative bent that studying art fostered. During her 15 year tenure in private schools, she gained a great deal of experience with learning differences and educational accommodation issues. She received School's Attuned training from the All Kinds of Minds Institute, training in the Gesell Developmental Observation; as well as play therapy and sandtray. Developing social skills in kids, teens and adults has been a focus of her work. She often uses group counseling to teach and process social interaction difficulties. She is a past President of the Texas Association for Play Therapy, a workshop presenter, and the mother of a boy who reminds her every day that love and life are both joyous and exasperating - all at the same time! She would be honored to work with you.

...Connecting the Dots...

Counseling

I provide solution-focused counseling for adults, teens and children as young as 4. I use a variety of methods to help you arrive at your desired goals. They may include cognitive-behavioral, experiential, play therapy, teaching, sandtray or practical problem-solving. In all things, a healthy, therapeutic relationship is crucial. I want to really understand you and value the trust you place in me.

Groups

It's important to find a balance between being who you are and fitting in.

 

Adolescent Groups:

Whether a tween or almost ready to launch, adolescence is really hard. It's always been a difficult time, but social media and pop culture has had an enormous impact on the expectations and fragile self-esteem of this age group. Adolescent groups focus on self-confidence, normalizing experiences, coping with conflict and support.

 

Social Skills Groups:

Some individuals long for friends, but have a hard time knowing what to do and when to do it. I process social interactions as they occur during age appropriate, therapeutic activities and games. I teach skills directly and experientially, process poor interactions in the moment while attending to emotional safety, model effective social interactions and reinforce progress. The group will focus on a different skill each week and will provide opportunities to practice. Improving self-esteem and normalizing challenges underscore everything. Learning while doing, understanding social cues and experiencing success are the goals.

Groups are formed by age and issues. Skills that will be addressed are tailored to the needs of the young people in each group. They may include:

  • practical strategies for dealing with bullies or mean girls
  • personal space
  • starting & maintaining a conversation
  • coping with intense feelings, like anger
  • knowing what to talk about
  • manners
  • having a two-way conversation
  • projecting confidence without bragging
  • relating appropriately to the opposite sex
  • knowing when to stop talking about an interest
  • code switching (using different voice tone for your audience; for example, you would talk differently to a policeman than to a puppy)

Additional benefits to group counseling include a lower fee than that for individual counseling, as well as being with others who struggle in similar ways. Knowing you are not the only one can be powerful!

Play Therapy

Play therapy uses the natural language of children - play - in a therapeutic way to help them. With a trained play therapist, kids can express difficult and confusing feelings, cope with trauma or turmoil, and greatly increase their self-esteem and confidence. Toys are intentionally chosen and are used to help children process their circumstances and feelings. There are toys that facilitate creativity, sensory experiences, aggression, nurturing, story-telling, mastery and social skills.

 

Testing

While I do not do comprehensive educational or psychological testing, I do provide screenings for ADHD in all ages. 

 

The Gessell Developmental Observation-Revised (GDO-R) is an assessment tool that determines a child's developmental age vs. chronological age in kids aged

2-6. It is excellent for understanding the skills of visual/spacial/motor, memory, expressive/receptive language, attention, cognitive organization, number sense, etc. The Gessell Institute at Yale University was pivotal in identifing the stages of normal child development. 

 

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