A Year of Exciting Growth at The Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center

September 07, 2022

A Year of Exciting Growth at The Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center

In the year since announcing the transformative gift that named the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center, it has grown into a powerhouse of impactful mental health professionals, expanding its roster of child therapists, offering new needed services, as well as shared therapists’ knowledge with parents through an informative webinar series. The goal of the center is to create a holistic approach to helping children and teens with their challenges. This was a new way of looking at therapy, so that families could receive additional support all in the same place.

When a parent comes in to discuss his/her/their child’s challenges with school or behavior, there is often more that is needed than therapy. For example, the child may suffer from an undiagnosed learning disability and could benefit from a psychoeducational assessment. Additionally, the parent may gain peace of mind from parent coaching to help manage behavior at home. Once a diagnosis has been completed, the parents may need help navigating the Georgia system and securing an IEP (individualized education plan). The child can then be served with counseling and additional supports.

Benjamin Robinson, Director of Clinical Services, joined the JF&CS clinical team in 2021 to help develop this vision, alongside Dan Arnold, LCSW, Director of Clinical Supervision, as well as the executive leadership team.

“We are bringing a modern approach to our clinical services, bringing additional and often overlooked resources together, enlisting families, schools, and community resources as part of our team. Rather rapidly, we got this center built. We have added 10 new professionals in the last year. We attract high quality people, and they stay at JF&CS. And they do great work,” said Robinson proudly.

“Each of the main components is now in place. When a family comes to the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center, we can build layers of support to assist them.

“Dr. Lori Wilson and Dr. Sarah Suria, and Lauralee Bernstein are here to conduct psychoeducational evaluations. Dr. Howard Schub, a well-known neurologist handles medication management and mental health diagnosis. We have our play therapists, our parent coach, our talk therapists, and most recently we have also added an executive functioning coach to our team,” he said.

The addition and coordination of new services has already greatly benefited families receiving services. Cari Newman, Parent Coach, has had a full caseload since she started, as there is an abundance of need in the post-covid society.

“Parent Coaching provides parents and caregivers with individualized tools to make parenting less overwhelming and family life more joyful, and serves as a non-judgmental, proactive partner,” said Newman.

Robinson was excited about our newest initiative which involves embedding Child & Adolescent Therapist, Nachman Friedman, MS, at the Torah Day School of Atlanta.

“We are looking at things differently. We now have a clinician in school and are looking to expand that initiative. We can do a lot of good. This solves our largest challenge with kids- scheduling. Since children are in school during half of our therapist’s day, offering therapy in a school setting allows them to get the help they need within the time they need it. In addition, Mr. Friedman can offer social and emotional learning lessons with the school as well,” he said.

The recent hire of an executive functioning coach has added another needed service, that is not widely available to families, to the child & family center.

“Executive functioning – it is a big deal. And we are bringing on Marlena Reese, an expert in her field, to help with this well-entrenched issue. This is part of the holistic, whole community approach.”

This fall, the Parent Workshop Series was launched with Dr. Lori Wilson’s session on How to Build Executive Functioning Skills at Home. More than 200 eager parents signed up for the webinar, a large indicator on the need for executive functioning skill building in kids.

This Friday at 12 pm, Rebecca Brown, LCSW, and Tzipporah Gerson Miller, LCSW, will lead a webinar on Healthy Teen Relationships. It will help parents identify healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors, increase awareness of dating violence, gain knowledge and skills to recognize warning signs of abuse, and intervene effectively, when it occurs. The event, co-sponsored by JumpSpark and the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta will give parents the tools to talk with their teens about healthy relationships.

The Parent Workshops are a wonderful opportunity to get the latest knowledge and tips from JF&CS therapists.

New groups and programs have also been created to support families. From Acceptance to Celebration, a group for parents of LGBTQ+ teens. Stepping Stones an educational and fun program for preschoolers that promotes play and learn therapy and provides practical parenting solutions for parents and caregivers was launched as a parent and child group.

“We are looking at many ways of reaching families, through the community, as well as the traditional ways. The next year will be about fine-tuning, better coordination, but we are off to a very strong start,” he said.

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