Therapy That Works...

Children & Teens


What We Believe:

Our children are the key to the future. Unfortunately, kids don’t come with directions and many of us see our kids struggling despite our best efforts. Depression strikes a full decade sooner than it did a generation ago and our kids are growing up in a world that has never been more challenging and complex.

Since 1985, we’ve been in the business of helping thousands of kids find their way back to a normal and successful life. As the directors of clinics and inpatient programs for kids and adolescents, we learned the best methods to help children and teens succeed. We are dedicated to helping kids and parents communicate, to empower parents to relate effectively and compassionately to their kids and to equip our children with the best emotional resilience skills for a long and successful life.

Problems We Treat:

Our talented counseling staff treats kids with a variety of difficult challenges including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, Asperger disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, separation anxiety disorders, school avoidance and eating disorders. We offer individual therapy for children and teens, family therapy for kids and their parents and play therapy for kids under ten. In addition, we offer parenting instruction and family therapy to remedy family miscommunications and conflict.

How We Work with You and Your Child:

We’ll teach your child the best tools to defeat depression and stress while equipping him with the essential coping strategies for a lifetime. She will overcome her current problems while learning how to deal with stress effectively the future. Your child’s ability to effectively cope with adversity, to deal well with disappointment and setbacks, to maintain high self esteem and to demonstrate excellent emotional self management will make the decisive difference in her success throughout her life.

We work centrally with our parents to ensure that your child stays on track while under our care and once therapy has ended. Parents are encouraged to remain centrally involved with our therapists and receive regular updates on their child’s progress. As a team, parents and the therapist can work for the common goal of helping the child maximize his success.

Our Child, Adolescent and Parenting Classes:

Dr. Sylvia Gearing is leading our acclaimed “Growing Girls Strong” program for adolescent girls and their mothers. She teaches resilience skills, emotional self care and self esteem skills for teens and moms (please see our Groups and Classes).

Jenifer Ware, M.S. Ed. leads an innovative social skills training group for children (please see Groups and Classes) in which she teaches key communication and social skills for peer and adult interaction. Melissa Woods, M.A., L. P.C.-S offers Scream Free Parenting in either individual and group formats (please see Groups and Classes). She teaches the vital skills to effectively parenting without raising your voice or your temper.

Individual Therapy for Children and Adolescents

Overcoming Depression in Children

A depressed child may not show typical symptoms of depression. Instead, he may pretend to be sick, refuse to attend school, become clingy and anxious or obsess over possible dangers or losses. Older kids sulk, struggle at school, respond with irritability and combativeness at home, evidence mood swings, claim alienation from the parents and family, struggle with anger management, and suffer from sleeping and eating problems. Depression strikes a full decade sooner than it did a generation ago and it is now at epidemic rates among kids.

We have highly experienced and compassionate play therapists on our staff who have mastered the art of helping kids resolve adult sized problems such as depression and anxiety through the science of play therapy. By utilizing therapeutic play techniques, the child is able to express, reframe and resolve the challenges he faces and to learn more effective strategies for handling adversity and change. Our play therapists work closely with our parents to sustain the child’s therapeutic gains and to educate our parents on coaching the child to more effective solutions in handling emotions and behavior.

Overcoming Depression and Anxiety in Adolescents

Depression in adolescence is at epidemic rates and frequently co-occurs with other disorders such as anxiety, social anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, eating disorders and substance abuse issues. Studies consistently find that for cognitive behavioral based therapies are the most effective approaches in alleviating common adolescent emotional disorders including depression, divorce stress, anxiety, low self esteem, eating disorders, pathological cutting behaviors and much more.

We work closely with our parents and families to rebuild family communication, to unravel emotional blocks and to reinstate a sense of trust and support between family members. Parents have a direct communication path to their child’s therapist to assure that the therapist knows exactly how the teen is doing between sessions, what problems have impeded success and how to reinforce the therapeutic goals from the sessions.

Both Genders Are Struggling

Girls and boys have equal rates of depression until puberty and by age fifteen, girls are twice as likely as boys to have experienced a major depressive disorder. However, boys have higher rates of completed suicide and their early twenties, in particular, are challenging years for our nation’s young men. Both genders are struggling to contend with a narcissistic society that values performance, appearance and money over core values of loyalty, perseverance and hard work.

At Gearing Up, we believe that suffering in young adulthood can be avoided if the teen is taught key skills in emotional self-management. We are dedicated to educating your teen about emotional resilience, effective and positive thinking and emotional self- control. By learning how to manage their thoughts and emotions effectively, your teen will be able to withstand adversity capably in adolescence and to accomplish their goals in college and in early adulthood.

Bullying and Cyber-Bullying

Bullying has become a serious mental health issue for millions of American families with up to 30% of students reporting their involvement in bullying as either the bully, the victim or bystander. The devastating consequences of bullying can be deadly with 2/3 of school shooters report being chronically bullied in school.

At Gearing Up, we are committed to the treatment of both bullies and victims to stop this devastating pattern.

The Specific Characteristics of Bullying:

Intentional Harm: Bullying in childhood is an aggressive form of intimidation that marginalizes the best of children while deeply scarring them psychologically. It is a repeated attempt to harm and to emphasize a humiliating imbalance of power and influence.

Bullying Begins Early: Research reports that almost 34% of elementary school students reported being frequently bullied at school.

Middle School Peaks: Bullying increases during transition periods such as moving from elementary to middle school. This behavior peaks in middle school.

Group Bullying: Bullying is usually a group activity. Studies show that a single child does not usually victimize kids. Bullying involves both active and passive participation by a group. The kids adopt a mob mentality as they team together to ridicule or emotionally torture another child.

Why Children Start to Bully Others:

Giving What They Have Gotten: Bullies are usually kids who have been bullied somewhere along the way. Moving in and out of the two roles (bullies to victims and visa versa) seems to be the most typical pattern.

Children in Pain: They are often victims of bullying at home and have parents who have problems with anger. They identify with the aggressor and inflict pain to establish internal self-control. However, lots of kids have difficult parents and don’t go out in the world hurting others. Bullies are choosing their heinous behavior out of their own pain. These kids are in deep psychological trouble.

Bullies Know Difference Between Right and Wrong: The research about these kids suggests that these kids know exactly what they are doing. They understand the differences between right and wrong and commit the act anyway. They will lie, steal and cheat to avoid punishment and are sneaky around others.

Conscience in Some Kids: Although some studies suggest that around 40% of them have some mild empathy, another 40% are indifferent to the suffering of their victims and 20% actively enjoy the intimidation and control.

Cyber-Bullying: The Hidden Horror of the Internet

Anonymous Bullies: The common denominator of all bullying is the intentional act to inflict pain on another person. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet is ideal for such vicious behavior. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2006, one third of students are targets at some point.

Cyber Bullying Turns Dangerous: Most of the time, cyber bullying involves gossip and rude comments that do not express direct intent to harm. Around 50% of online bullies report that they inflict such cruelty “for fun” and to “teach the target a lesson.” However, a study published in 2006 reported that 12% of teens were physically threatened online and 5% actually feared for their physical safety.

The Terrible Long-Term Effects of Bullying:

Three Victims: Words are weapons and psychological harm is as severe as a broken bone. Bullying involves three victims—the bully, the recipient of the bullying and the witnesses to such cruelty. Victims report more internal problems such as depression and anxiety while bullies have more conduct problems, anger and alienation from school and the community. Witnesses become desensitized to the suffering of others. The long-term effects of bullying for all groups can be severe with protracted trauma, depression and resentment stretching into the adult years.

Increased Suicidal Ideation: Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found a significant connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in a review of 37 studies from 13 countries. Bullying victims were much more likely to think about suicide.

Here's What You Can Do At Home About Bullying

Stop Denying: Many adults prefer to view bullying as a normal “rite of passage” through childhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are millions of victims who no longer believe that adults are going to protect them and they suffer in silence.

Bystanders Are Key: Research now argues that the bystanders of bullying are one of the vital keys to decreasing this growing problem. Teaching non-bullied kids to speak up, to refuse to be an audience, to label bullying publicly and to go and get help when the situation is out of control are essential steps for parents and teachers.

Empower the Victims: Believe your child about bullying. Victims are renowned for responding ineffectively through withdrawal, denial, silence and passivity. Such behaviors “feed” the bully’s control. We need to develop the victim’s talents, social skills, physical coordination and assertive abilities. He needs to be reassured that adults will take his complaints seriously and that he must report harassment. These are teachable skills and they increase self-confidence exponentially.

If You Need Professional Assistance, Here Is A Quick Description of Gearing Up’s Program:

We work as a team to stop bullying behavior and to help children recover from the effects of bullying. Our child and adolescent counselors meet with your child and your family to assess the level and type of bullying behavior. We assess the psychological strengths and challenges of your child including any mood disorder, self-esteem issues, and anger issues. We meet with you to discuss any family changes, challenges, or history with bullying.

Whether your child is the bully, the victim, or a combination of both types, we design a program to help your child develop key anger management techniques, increase self-confidence and decrease negative thinking. Our therapy results with kids are effective, based on the latest scientific research, and can inoculate your child against any kind of bullying in the future.

Please Either Call Or Contact Our Offices For More Information Regarding Our Bullying Prevention Program


American Academy of Pediatrics

Bullying and Teasing: Social Power in Children’s Groups, Gayle Macklem, Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, New York, 2003.Cowie and Wallace (2006)

Patchin, J.W., and Hinduja, S (2006)

Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyber bullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148-169. Swearer, S., Espeleage, D. Napolitano,S. Bullying: Prevention and Intervention, 2009

Vossekuil, B., Fein, R.A., Reddy, M., Borum, R and Modzeleski, W (2002) The final report and findings of the safe school initiative: Implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Washington, D.C: U.S. Secret Services and U.S. Department of Education.

Empowered Child and Teen Program

This program teaches essential coping and emotional resilience skills.

It will inoculate your child against future depression by teaching him that failure and adversity are a part of life along with success and winning.

We will teach your child to cope effectively with stress, change and challenge. He will learn how to reject harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk. We will teach him to effectively manage his anxiety, anger, fear, frustration and failures.

>He will learn to regard his setbacks as challenges that are temporary, limited in scope, not always due to their personal failure, and surmountable. They will learn how to be self reliant, committed to personal excellence without becoming self-centered and self- important.

The empowered child program teaches him how to deal with bullies, peer pressure and conflict with parents and siblings. Armed with a new set of tools, his performance in school will improve enormously.

Parents are taught these coping skills along with their child to reinforce his gains and to coach him to sustain these skills once therapy has ended.

The emotional intelligence of both the child and the parent will thrive when adversity does not take such a psychological toll.

Emotional closeness between family members thrive when children have more emotional control.

Defiant Teen Program

As parents we know that child rearing can be baffling and frustrating.

The Defiant Teen Program is one of the best-researched, most effective programs in the country.

Our 18-step program is designed to teach you how to make your home a cooperative, respectful and compassionate environment. You child will contain his oppositional behavior while learning more effective ways of handling disagreements and family conflict.

We begin by assessing the reasons your child is defiant and disrespectful. We increase your confidence in setting limits since you know exactly what the problems are.

You will learn limit setting from the ground up with your therapist-coach demonstrating parental interventions in the sessions. You will discover how problem solving and objective communication increases emotional accuracy and effectiveness with your child.

You will learn:

  • How to eradicate gridlock with your child immediately
  • Emotional repair techniques to diffuse anger and tension
  • How to recognize the emotional expressions of your child as opportunities for teaching
  • The top five communication errors parents make and how to instill trust and openness in your child
  • How to provide emotional mentoring and model the appropriate expression of conflict and criticism

Growing Girls Strong

Adolescent Girls Group Therapy

We believe that our daughters deserve to be confident and happy young women. But today, depression strikes a full decade earlier than it did fifty years ago and occurs twice as often in girls. Tragically, it typically strikes again fifty percent of the time.

At Gearing Up, we offer the best adolescent girls groups in Dallas with some of the most gifted therapists in the industry. With our curriculum written by CBS/TXA 21 News Medical Expert ( and author, Dr. Sylvia Gearing, your daughter will achieve the personal effectiveness and empowerment necessary to succeed in our competitive world.

She will master strategic coping skills, communication techniques and new, effective ways to handle challenges and stress by establishing a strong sense of herself. Her self-confidence will help her to withstand the pressures of peers and to define her own path without anxiety.

Our group curriculum includes:

  • Handling Failure, Disappointments and Setbacks: The Vital Keys to Emotional Strength and Accurate Perspective Taking
  • The Seven “R’s” of Success for Girls: Resourcefulness, Reliance (Self versus Others), Realism (Emotional Accuracy), Respect (For Self and Others), Relaxing (Calming & Focusing Skills), Re-Connection (With Family & Community), Resilience (Courage Under Fire)
  • The Secrets to Eliminating Self-Sabotage
  • How to Improve Self-Esteem through Eliminating Negative Self-Talk & Thinking Traps
  • Managing Your Anger Before It Manages You
  • Mean Girls: Combating Negative Peer Influences
  • “Thinness Doesn’t Equal Perfection!”: Celebrating How We Look (Habits of Positive Body and Self-Image)
  • “We are Family!” Enhancing Our Family Relationship Strategies and Preventing Disconnecting with Our Moms & Dads
  • Increasing Social Skills and Boundaries
  • Effective Communication Techniques (Diplomacy for Teens in Dealing with Family, Teachers and Community)
  • Great Choices: How to Make the “Right Call” Every Time (Problem Solving and “Taking Perspective” Skills)
  • Valuing Ourselves as Females and as Emerging Leaders

Children of Divorce

When parents divorce, the child is often thrust into an emotional world of change, instability and ambiguity. The agony of parents and kids in divorce can lead to long- term depression and emotional instability for kids. Divorce trauma is a subjective experience and each child will react differently depending on her temperament and maturity. The level of parental conflict, effective communication with the child and between the parents, and the support of the extended family will all contribute to how the child copes with the vast changes of divorce.

At Gearing Up!, we specialize in teaching your child how to deal with that change effectively. We also teach him how to weather adversity and how to cope with the inevitable conflicts between his divorced parents. We teach her how to view challenges as surmountable and adversity as an inevitable part of life that she can handle.

Most importantly, we work with parents to diffuse the emotional tension and to function consistently in the “best interests of the child.” Parental alienation is to be avoided at all costs and we work hard to convince both partners to remember their child’s welfare when reacting to conflict. Divorce counseling for parents is recommended to assure your child the best transition to her new family living at separate addresses.

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome


Play Therapy

Play Therapy