Behavioral Health and Wellness has a new psychologist. Lauren Johnson, Psy.M., joined the team in June. Trained as a child-parent psychologist, she brings to the group deep experience working with children and parents. Prior to joining CHLSV, Johnson was a therapist in private practice in Morrisville and a child-parent psychotherapist for the Safe Babies program in St. Johnsbury.
Johnson’s focus is working with children who have experienced trauma of any type, as well as parents who have experienced trauma and need help in the family environment. As a Behavioral Health and Wellness psychotherapist housed at Appleseed Pediatrics, she will be seeing children ages 0 to 18, as well as parents.
“The goal with anyone who has experienced trauma is to get them back on their developmental track,” Johnson says. “With parents, trauma can affect their parenting. I am committed to making life better for children, parents, and families.” She is a trainer in the Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency model for treating trauma, and was an assessor and consultant for a family services program for sexually abused and sexually reactive children.
Sometimes children and adults don’t realize that a bad experience can affect them traumatically, so Johnson uses a trauma checklist with kids and their parents and with parents only. The list helps determine the type of trauma and the triggers that could cause them to relive the trauma. Johnson says the key is reaching trauma patients sooner, notafter they have lost confidence or developed more serious emotional and behavioral problems.
“I’m very interested in working with parents and teaching therapeutic parenting,” Johnson says. “It’s different than regular parenting, so I have to reassure them that it’s not because they are doing it wrong, but that it’s just a different skill set that they wouldn’t automatically know. I’m an optimist and I like people. If there is a chance to reach someone and help them help their child, I want to do it. For the most part, parents want what is best for their children.”
Johnson’s main objective is to intervene by teaming up with parents and preventing the worst kind of suffering she has seen as a therapist. “It makes sense to work from a systems approach and to teach parents how to provide good support for their children. Attachment is so important for children and sometimes a parent is unable to respond. I can teach a parent suffering from depression how to act in a caring way, which includes proximity to a child, eye contact, and touch. If they can do these things they will create attachment in a child.”
Born and raised in Vermont, Johnson received an associate’s degree in human services from Vermont College, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Johnson State College and Antioch College, respectively. She lives in Craftsbury with her husband and has raised three biological children and three stepchildren. “I can connect with parents out of compassion for the doubts and insecurities that they feel.”