Matthew Varley, Ph.D.

Dr. Varley has worked with children and families in diverse settings, including an intensive outpatient program for young people with developmental disorders and a clinic for adjudicated juveniles. Like adults, children often begin therapy with the basic needs to feel connected to a clinician, heard, and understood. Compared to grown-ups, children typically have fewer skills in verbal expression, so they rely more on play and other behaviors to communicate. Children may require time and experience to understand what therapy is and how it may be helpful for them.

In his work with children, Dr. Varley carefully considers the personal and environmental dynamics influencing development. These include a child’s age, life experiences, and emerging personality traits as well as family, educational and cultural factors. In the early stages of treatment, Dr. Varley typically gives children room to express themselves organically while assessing their interests and needs. As treatment progresses, he incorporates more targeted interventions to teach skills, such as how to manage fears, cope with stress, build relationships, and develop self-esteem, to name a few.

Regarding children and families, Dr. Varley takes a systems approach to treatment, recognizing the unique contributions of each member to a larger dynamic. Although families may initiate therapy to address a specific problem – such a separation or divorce, or a child’s problematic behavior – effective treatment often means identifying and addressing underlying patterns. Through family therapy, members may gain insight into their role within a family system and practice relating more effectively with one another.

Dr. Varley’s theoretical orientation with children and families is especially influenced by the work of Jean Piaget, John Bowlby, Virginia Satir, and Murray Bowen.