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Meet Dr. Tina Payne Bryson of The Center for Connection in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.

Dr. Tina Payne, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a social worker by education, and when I was in grad school, I realized where I wanted to spend my energy trying to improve people’s lives. While my classmates focused on important issues like addressing the damaging effects of poverty, helping addicts, and fighting prejudice, I became convinced that I wanted to contribute by teaching and supporting parents to care for their kids more effectively. It seemed to me (and I believe this still) that many of society’s ills and the high incidence of trauma can be greatly mitigated if parents are emotionally responsive and connected with their children. When parents provide calm, safe presence and focus on the mind behind their children’s behavior, it can radically change how a child’s brain is developing. Relationships and connection make all the difference.

In my studies I became more and more interested in understanding the brain, specifically a lens called Interpersonal Neurobiology, and I realized that many parents and educators didn”t know basics about the brain that could help them understand their kids (and themselves) better and more effectively provide their children with the skills and knowledge that can help them live happier and more meaningful lives, both in childhood and as they became adults.

So I began teaching parents, doing parenting consultations, and working with kids and, with my mentor Dan Siegel, eventually wrote The Whole Brain Child, No-Drama Discipline, and The Yes Brain (which came out just last month). Soon I began traveling all over the world, speaking to parents, educators, and fellow professionals hungry for our message.

I was gratified to see the enthusiastic response to our work, and soon I was unable to keep up with the demand from families wanting to have me see their kids in my clinical practice. At the same time, I was training like-minded clinicians who were anxious to work with their own clients from more of a Whole-Brain perspective. In response to these two realities, I created The Center for Connection, an integrative, collaborative network of independent professionals who also work from an Interpersonal Neurobiology lens, where we focus on the power of relationships and Mindsight tools to integrate the brain and build relationships.

The CFC represents a unique model in direct response to the needs expressed by families. Our interdisciplinary approach alleviates the tension of running around to far too many different locations, professionals, and specialists. By collecting the best of the best in various fields and offering them all in one location, we greatly improve the overall quality of care each person receives, while significantly reducing the stress and anxiety on the individual and family.

Current clinical models make communication among professionals difficult or nearly impossible, despite the obvious advantages of having specialists from different disciplines working together. That’s why the CFC’s connection-based model is based on providing more comprehensive services for families, with independent professionals ranging from psychotherapy to parent education to neuropsychological assessments, from physical health and educational therapy to occupational therapy, and more. Our independent therapists meet weekly to learn together and work in an integrated manner, which allows us to assimilate various approaches and better assess, understand, and address the challenges facing the whole child and the whole family. One of the things I’m most proud of about our practice is that we work to peel the layers back of symptoms and behaviors in order to find the source of the issue so that we can provide the most effective intervention. We’re not focused on managing behavior. We’re interested in building connections between people and creating experiences that change how the brain is wired so that the individual—child, adult, or couple or family—builds resilience and balance which then leads to lasting behavioral changes.

I’m proud of the way our team of experts is helping the children, adults, and families in the San Gabriel Valley through the power of relationships.

Has it been a smooth road?
The CFC is still young, under three years old, and because of our amazing team, things have run more smoothly than I ever could have imagined. We even outgrew our original building right away and had to open a second location, also in Pasadena.

My personal challenges, more than anything, are personal. I’m committed to my own family, so I have to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting my time with them, as well as taking care of myself, as I travel and speak and write, all while directing the CFC.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Center for Connection – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The Center for Connection’s integrative, collaborative network of independent professionals represents a unique model in direct response to the needs expressed by families. Our interdisciplinary approach alleviates the tension of running around to far too many different locations, professionals, and specialists. By collecting the best of the best in various fields and offering them all in one location, we greatly improve the overall quality of care each person receives, while significantly reducing the stress and anxiety on the individual and family.

Current clinical models make communication among professionals difficult or nearly impossible, despite the obvious advantages of having specialists from different disciplines working together. That’s why the CFC’s connection-based model is based on providing more comprehensive services for families, with independent professionals ranging from psychotherapy to parent education to neuropsychological assessments, from physical health and educational therapy to occupational therapy, and more. Our independent therapists meet weekly to learn together and work in an integrated manner, which allows us to assimilate various approaches and better assess, understand, and address the challenges facing the whole child and the whole family.

About Our Services:
*CHILD & ADOLESCENT PSYCHOTHERAPY
*ADULT & COUPLES PSYCHOTHERAPY
*NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL/PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL TESTING AND EVALUATIONS
*GROUP THERAPY & SKILLS GROUPS FOR KIDS AND PARENTS
*EDUCATIONAL THERAPY
*OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
*PLAY THERAPY
*DANCE AND MOVEMENT THERAPY
*COUPLES THERAPY
*PARENTING SUPPORT AND CONSULTATION
*THERAPEUTIC COMPANION PROGRAM

In addition, our professionals at the Center for Connection approach the struggles at hand with curiosity. Behavior is communication, telling us what skills still need to be developed. Because behavior has a purpose and is often a reflection of what is happening in the brain, mind, and body, we need to peel back the layers to understand the meaning of the actions. From this lens, we see a person’s actions as the beginning of understanding—a place to help us ask better questions about what is taking place in the environment, both relationally and internally, in order to start building skills and make lasting change from the inside out. In other words, we want to look deeper and offer much more than a narrowly focused behavioral approach that just seeks to extinguish a behavior or promote a new one.

Instead, we want to meet children exactly where they are, understanding them and getting clear on who they are and how their reactivity tells us in what areas they need connections, both relationally and neurologically, as well as in what circumstances they need better strategies to feel competent and confident. When we care about kids, our purpose is to change more than behavior. We work at the level of creating new connections in the brain and nervous system in order to make lasting optimal change as development unfolds.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Some of the photos are of our full sensory gym, a variety of climbing components, swings, tactile experiences, chalkboard wall, and ample space to move around. Not to mention it is surrounded by windows to give a gorgeous view of the mountains and abundant natural light.

Learn more about our OT gym here: http://www.thecenterforconnection.org/blog/2017/1/20/welcome-to-our-new-space

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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