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Sabra Starnes LICSW, LCSW-C, RPT-S, M.ED

Sabra Starnes is trained to support adoptive and foster families on the following areas

  • Adoption, foster care, and kinship care

  • Parenting or marital issues

  • Sibling challenges

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Trauma

  • Maladaptive behavior

  • Attachment barriers and difficulties

  • Older child adjustment

  • Adolescence challenges

  • Infertility and related care

  • Birthparent issues

  • Search and reunion

Sabra Starnes is trained in the following treatment modalities to work with families.

  • Dyadic developmental psychotherapy (DDP) is an attachment-focused therapy developed by Drs. Daniel Hughes and Arthur Becker-Weidman. It is an evidence-based treatment for complex trauma, reactive attachment issues (RAD), and other issues with attachment. It is often used to treat children in foster care and adoptive families, especially those who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. DDP is a family-focused approach to therapy that incorporates well-researched principles such as a focus on relationships, attunement, intersubjectivity, and sensitive responsiveness.

  • Theraplay  is an approach to child and family therapy that aims to address behavioral, emotional, or developmental issues and improve the parent-child relationship through play and healthy interaction.

Typically, this approach is used in treatment with children up to age 12. However, Theraplay techniques may be combined with other modalities and can be adapted for use with teenagers and adults seeking therapy for these same concerns.

  • Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) is an evidence-based parenting and intervention model developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. TBRI® has been built on a solid foundation of neuropsychological theory and research, tempered by humanitarian principles. It is a family-based intervention, designed for children who have experienced relationship-based traumas such as institutionalization, multiple foster placements, maltreatment, abuse, and/or neglect.

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative therapy originally developed by Francine Shapiro to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. When a traumatic event occurs or something happens that is perceived as traumatic, the associated memories may become stored in the brain and nervous system in a maladaptive way—frozen rather than processed. Current reactions are fueled by negative beliefs stemming from events that occurred in the past. People become stuck. In some cases, the trauma that happened years ago continues to feel like it’s happening in the present.

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Therapy for Children
(2-14 Years Old)

What Is Play Therapy?
“Play Therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self-expression... It is an opportunity which is given to the child to ‘play out’ his feelings and problems just as in certain types of adult therapy an individual ‘talks out’ his difficulties.” Virginia Axline

Play Therapy, a modality of child therapy, is a powerful tool for addressing cognitive, behavioral, and emotional challenges. Licensed professionals use play therapeutically to help clients better process their experiences and develop more effective strategies for managing their worlds.


Does My Child Need Play Therapy?

Deciding whether or not to take your child to a play therapist for child and/or family therapy is a personal choice. Children are seen in therapy for an array of reasons, such as behavioral issues (caused by bullying, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, and crisis and trauma) and mental health disorders (i.e.: anxiety, depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity or ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, academic and social impairment, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders).

Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.

What does a Play Therapy Session look like?
Play therapy sessions are as unique as the individuals who seek them. Although it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen due to an array of factors (such as the child's presenting problem, therapist professional orientation, parental involvement, financial constraints, etc.) there are commonalities most share


What Is Sand Tray Therapy?

Sand tray therapy is a technique which can be used to facilitate healing in adults, adolescents, and children, allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings when words alone are not enough. In addition to its therapeutic use, sand tray can be a tool for personal growth and the development of creativity.

A sand tray therapist's office is equipped with a specially proportioned sand tray with a blue interior, water and a large collection of miniatures, including human figures, fantasy and folklore figures, animals, buildings, objects from nature, vehicles, and others. The miniatures represent all of the elements of life-the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the comforting, the frightening, the happy and the sad. The therapist, who has been specially trained in the use of the sand tray, provides an accepting environment in which the client is invited to create a world in the tray using the sand and miniatures.

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Family Therapy

An attachment-based approach can be used with both children and adults, to help clients mend or recover from fractured family relationships. Those who can benefit from attachment-based therapy include adoptees, children in foster care, children of depressed mothers, and victims of trauma, such as children of divorce or children who have been sexually abused or otherwise mistreated, particularly at the hands of a caregiver.

I work with families to use the natural patterns of playful, healthy interactions between parent and child you will:

  1. Strengthen attachment

  2. Create joyful engagement

  3. Increase self-esteem

  4. Build trust in others


The goal of therapy is the facilitation of an attachment relationship with the child’s parents first and foremost. However, because this is such a complex achievement, involving multiple component skills, developing these skills is an integral and ongoing part of attachment work.

In sessions we will work on:

  • Providing experiences of emotional safety for all family members

  • Enhance the child’s and caregivers access to her feelings

  • Develop the child’s affective tolerance and emotional regulatory skills, thereby lowering the need to dissociate to regulate

  • Neutralize traumatic affect that may be present

  • Clarify personal boundaries and respect for others’ boundaries

  • Teach and develop attachment skills and prosocial skills

  • Teaching specialized parenting strategies

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