I am not a psychiatrist, education consultant, teacher, minister, pediatrician, family member, or a well-meaning friend. I am not trying to sell products, nor do I get a percentage from any program or professional that I recommend.
What I am is an objective and unbiased guide, with the expertise and experience to see the big picture, to connect you to resources that give you hope, to set you on a path that can profoundly help you and your family.
Thank you to the parents, groups, and mental health & other professionals who have shared their testimonials below.
testimonials from parents
"When our son’s therapist recommended Vanessa, I was quite hesitant. I was skeptical that she would say or do anything differently than the many therapists we had already spoken to over the past 10 plus years (in addition to the wilderness and therapeutic boarding school we tried). Boy was I wrong! I’m so incredibly grateful that I gave Vanessa a chance to help me! She has a vast knowledge about DBT, and has given me specific advice and suggestions I had not gotten anywhere else. She also helped me to shift my lens on my son's behavior and respond to him differently. Our relationship has improved dramatically, and I believe it is in large part due to the support I have received from Vanessa. If you are thinking about reaching out to Vanessa, I highly recommend that you stop what you are doing and call her now! You will be thankful that you did!"
"Vanessa has been an invaluable resource to me in navigating this process of how to best help my child and our family. She has real life, been there-done that experience and can empathize and offer helpful advice and insights. She immediately understood what I was going through. Vanessa helped me get past my issues in order to cut through to the core factors necessary to make the best decision for my child."
"Vanessa is a wonderful and empathetic resource who will guide you on what can be a bewildering, isolating and at times, an overwhelming journey. She’s invaluable when trying to find support for your struggling child."
"Vanessa was there for our family at a critical time in my son's early teen years. In 7th grade my son went through severe anxiety that lasted several months. It happened suddenly and was not anything he had struggled with before that time. We were at a complete loss with how to handle it and felt helpless. Vanessa really understood the challenge we were facing, how hard it was and gave me practical steps to manage it and find the help we needed. I feel like talking and getting advice from Vanessa really helped get us on the path to helping our son. He did get through that rough time and is thriving now. Thank you Vanessa for being there with such solid advice in a time that we were struggling to make sense if what he was going through and for the invaluable support and guidance you provided!"
Testimonials from Book Discussions, PTAs, and Other Groups
"We can't thank you enough for joining us tonight. The feedback has been fantastic. Parents and caregivers definitely needed permission to take care of themselves, and it was great to have clear ideas on how they can start."
Annie and Lisa, PTA Presidents, Miller-Driscoll (grades PreK-2), Wilton, CT
mental health & Other professionals
"When I first met Vanessa over three years ago, I was incredibly impressed by her dedication to the dissemination of evidence-based treatments to children and their families, both on an individual and community level- she is a do-er! Vanessa is gifted at her capacity to engage families with her compassion, warmth, and knowledge. Her involvement with the Wilton Youth Council and NAMI-CAN is evidence of her tireless efforts to support families of children coping with mental health challenges. She is extremely qualified to educate families regarding resources within the community, as well as guide them through less traditional paths to gain adequate mental health treatment. Families are often desperate, helpless, and terrified when their child is not functioning well. Vanessa’s personal and professional experience are a unique and invaluable resource to families who are navigating these uncharted territories. She has my unqualified highest recommendation!"
Liz Courtney-Seidler, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Cognitive & Behavioral Therapies of Ridgefield, PLLC
"Vanessa co-founded the Wilton Free Play Task Force, hosting speakers and events to educate parents, administrators and teachers on the benefits of free, unstructured play. We first met when they brought me to Wilton to speak to parents. Since then, Vanessa and I have joined forces many times to promote the importance of free play. We even testified together in the Connecticut state legislature in support of a bill to ensure that letting kids play or walk outside, unsupervised, is not mistaken for neglect. We also spent a lot of time being filmed for the feature documentary Chasing Childhood, about childhood independence.
Vanessa is an important advocate for redefining what it means to be a good parent -- that we need to stop letting fear drive the bus, and that when parents step back, kids step up and we all win. Thanks to her smarts, practical ideas and compassion, I have also featured Vanessa many times in my own articles. She knows what it takes to raise resilient, confident children and is exactly the person I would want coaching parents!"
Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, the non-profit making it easy, normal, and legal to give our kids some independence, and founder of the Free Range Kids movement.
"I first met Vanessa when she was the president of the Wilton Youth Council, when she and others on the front line of gauging and improving mental health, invited me to speak to parents about the unique risks of privilege and pressure in an affluent, high-achieving community.
We created a survey to get specific information regarding Wilton High School’s students’ well-being and to understand what teenagers in their community were struggling with. We would learn that they had rates of anxiety and depression that were three times the national normative rates, that their alcohol and drug use were higher than average, and that they were negatively affected by a fissure in the relationship between their parents and school.
Vanessa was proactive, focused, and highly effective in helping create awareness about these risks and in fostering a culture shift in being able to talk about these concerns. This is a woman of great integrity. I have witnessed Vanessa addressing difficult, sensitive issues head-on in her community, bringing admirable courage and candor to steadfast care and thoughtfulness to her messaging. Her ability to mobilize parents and educators is extraordinary, and it has resulted in a number of initiatives to help support students and foster resilient adaptation.
In her coaching practice, similarly, Vanessa brings deep understanding of how a parent’s well-being directly affects a child’s well-being, the importance of connection in the parent-child relationship, and the unintended health consequences of our achievement culture. As a result, she helps families build both strong foundations and authentic, strong relationships that helps them to really thrive -- both in their personal lives and at school and / or work.
I am proud to call her my friend and partner in promoting mental health wellness and thriving families!"
Dr. Suniya S. Luthar, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer of Authentic Connections, and Professor Emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College