We are still OPEN but due to COVID-19, all services will be provided through secure online platforms for both counselling appointments as well as presentations.

If you have booked an appointment or a presentation, we will be in touch with more information on how to connect with us online. If you want to make an appointment please contact Heather Beach, at

Wishing you and your family all the best at this challenging and unprecedented time. We will be developing a number of resources and webinars to help you with staying at home, dealing with stress, and schooling issues. Stay tuned to our social media channels or sign up for our newsletter for more information.

Dr. Deborah MacNamara and Kid’s Best Bet Associates provide counselling services to adults who are confused or upset by behavioural and/or learning problems with a child or youth. Their approach is based in developmental science integrating attachment science, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and cultural tradition.

Counselling services are available to youth who are interested in talking through issues related to the passage into adulthood.  In order to best serve the needs of the teen, counselling sessions will be held in confidence unless there is threat to self or others.

What is the goal of counselling? 

The explicit goal of counselling is to help adults get into the driver’s seat in effecting change in the home or classroom. The focus is on making sense of the underlying roots of the problem, the impediments to growth, and how adults can best intervene.

When kids get stuck, it is insight into underlying emotions, interpreting behaviour, and making sense of them overall that matters most. We cannot make headway towards lasting change when we do not first seek to consider the roots of the problem.

It is never too late to build and repair relationships with our kids. Sometimes finding the way through starts with accepting the futility in trying the same things over and over with little result.

Common Issues Addressed in Counselling 

As a developmentalists we are equipped to work with a full range of issues in children and teens. While many behaviours may appear unrelated, the pieces should fit together to reveal the child from the inside out. Making headway on problematic behaviour is most effective when you can make sense of the underlying dynamics driving it. Strategies are aimed at the root of the problem as well as in managing symptoms and behaviour.

  • Adolescence – Common challenges include technology use, drugs and alcohol, peer attachment, self harm, sexual relationships, resistance and opposition.

  • Alpha Problems – When a child or youth calls the shots and tells adults how to take care of them, the underlying issue may be an alpha problem. They can become bossy, commanding, demanding, full of resistance, alarm and frustration, which makes taking care of them a nightmare. The way through is to understand how the tables have become turned and court dependence rather than chasing symptoms.

  • Anxiety – From babies to adults, anxiety is part of the human condition. While the circumstances driving the alarm may be varied, the roots of it are not and making sense of these is the surest way to help a child rest again.

  • Attention and Agitation – Problems with attention and distraction can pose challenges at school and in the home. Making sense of how the emotional/alarm system is being activated is critical to making headway on this issue, as well as understanding how the attention system is meant to develop. 

  • Discipline – Today’s popular disciplinary approaches use separation or alarm-based strategies that are not attachment safe and developmentally friendly. Alternatives that are relationally and developmentally appropriate are important in making headway and preserving the adult/child connection.

  • Divorce, Fostering, and Adoption – When kids go through a disruption or an uprooting in their attachments, there is much we can do to help them adapt to the changes underfoot. Understanding what works with a child to help them feel rooted and cared for during these times is critical. Deborah does not do custody work but will help interested adults in building and preserving relationships with their kids and understanding the impact of separation.

  • Emotional Health– The emotional health of a child will impact overall development and maturity. If we are to make sense of their emotional well being, understanding human vulnerability is key. Knowing the difference between what is developmentally appropriate and signs that a child is stuck are key issues to consider in overall emotional and mental health.

  • Frustration/Aggression – From young children to adolescents, the expression of frustration is common but understanding what is stirring them up and moving through temper tantrums is key. When frustration turns foul, aggression can emerge with attacking energy unleashed. Making headway involves considering development, maturity, emotional health, and conditions that are exacerbating the situation.

  • Peer Orientation – Caring for kids will become difficult when they are attached to their peers more than the adults in their life. A loss of adult influence can create behavioural and attention problems in the home and at school. Reclaiming a peer attached child or adolescent is possible but must start with making sense of this phenomena.

  • Resistance and Opposition – One of the more troubling dynamics in an adult/child relationship is resistance and opposition. While it is part of natural human instinct to resist when feeling coerced, it can also become stuck, chronic and pervasive, rendering care taking a challenge.

  • School Readiness – Whether a child or adolescent is entering preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college or university, insight into school readiness can help set them up for success. Common school issues include bullying, peer relationships, as well as how to help a child who is struggling academically.

  • Sensitive Kids and Special Needs – The number of sensitive children in a North American population is estimated to be at 20%. These children can display a heightened sensorium, (e.g., touch, taste, smell, hearing, seeing), and awareness that can lead to intense reactions and/or a flight from vulnerability. Parents of special needs kids are supported in making sense of their child and in providing the conditions that will help them grow up.

  • Young Children – Children aged 0 to 6 have their own preschooler psychology and as a result, are some of the most misunderstood people around. Adults interested in making sense of a young child’s inconsiderate, impulsive, egocentric nature will learn what nature has in store developmentally, how to deal with problematic behaviour, and what parents can do to grow them up.

Who should come to a counselling session?

Counselling is aimed at helping adults involved with a child including parents, step-parents, foster parents, teachers, child care providers, nannies, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The goal is to help make sense of questions and concerns while providing strategies for making headway.

It is not recommended that you tell a child or teen you are seeking assistance as it may exacerbate underlying dynamics. The information that is required to make sense of them can be provided by their adults.

A child over the age of 12 may benefit from counselling sessions but it is important to consider whether they are willing and interested in them. Individual sessions for adolescents will be provided where appropriate.

Where do the counselling sessions take place?

Counselling sessions are available in-person at West Side Family Place at 2819 West, 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.

Sessions are also available via face to face technology for Canadian residents only.

What can I do to prepare for a counselling session? 

Please feel free to send a brief paragraph outlining your concerns and questions to Deborah ahead of your session. Email her directly at

How long are the counselling sessions? 

Counselling sessions are 50 minutes. Longer sessions can be arranged for where appropriate.

Cancellation policy 

Please provide 24 hours advance notice when cancelling or changing your appointment time.

Are counselling sessions covered by insurance?

Deborah and her associates are Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. Services offered may be covered under extended health plans that recognize the Clinical Counsellor designation.

How can I make an appointment?

Please contact Heather Beach at for counselling session fees and availability.  Please allow at least 48 hours for a reply.

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