There are many ways to mend the rips and tears we create over time in our relationships.  Having been in private practice since 1978 I have studied a multitude of modalities that attempt to create, maintain and restore healthy relationships.  Never have I been so excited with my new learning of ECCT, Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy.  Hedy Schliefer, the founder of ECCT offered her first 3 year Master Class when I turned 72 years old.  Now, three years later at the age of 75, I graduated from one of the most profound learnings I have ever had in my professional career.

  So, what is ECCT?  Why do I sound so excited about this new, innovative approach to help couples clean up their relational space that has become polluted over time?  The answer is simple.  It works!  It works like no other I have ever used and where I have more success in helping couples than the entire thirty-seven years I have been in practice.

 Why does it work so well?  To begin with, the couples are self-selective.  Both partners want change and connection.  When I get a big fat YES from both, the green light goes on and we move forward.

  What makes ECCT so distinctive than other approaches and modalities?  First, it is not about communication!  Yes you read that correctly. It’s about a visit.  There is a huge difference between communication and a visit.  In communication there is dialogue. In a visit there is presence and seeing your partner with a new set of eyes, an open heart and a deep, profound curiosity and appreciation.  It’s about crossing the bridge to their side and visiting a neighborhood you know little or nothing about.  It’s about listening with a third ear.  It’s about learning something you may never have known.  It’s about exploring deeper into their world, learning about their feelings, their needs, their desires, their fears and their language.  Yes, it’s discovering, perhaps for the first time who your partner really is.  It’s an exciting journey that will sweep you off your feet more than when you both first began.  And most importantly, it is perhaps having a deep level of connection with one another that you could never possibly imagine.  It has a lasting effect because when you “cross the bridge”, you are no longer in your survival self; you are in your authenticity, something that you may never even have known before. 

In order to create and maintain true intimacy, “IN TO ME SEE”, both partners must be truly authentic.  When they are, they can step out of the survival dance which has high jacked their true selves and step into the world authenticity, where they can achieve a healthy, vibrant, exciting and very sexy space between them.  Crossing the bridge to each other, cleans up the polluted space that so often causes couples to lose the joy that first brought them together.  It ‘s like a spring cleaning that lasts forever as long as you keep the space clean as you would a garden that grows too many weeds.  When we pluck the weeds in our relational garden, we grow more beautiful flowers that never stop blooming.  Our soil becomes rich for more flowers to grow and we tend it as we do the garden in our yard.  A relationship is a living thing that needs nurturing, love, understanding, respect, consideration as much as a garden needs sunlight, weeding, fertilizer and water.  Too much or too little will limit or destroy the garden we want. 

When couples get together they don’t even know they are in a survival dance.  Everyone puts their best foot forward in the beginning.  It’s the sustainance, maintenaince, management and effort that’s the glue that will keep them together.  No one knows how to achieve this.  Most of us came from families where there was little or no role modeling of conflict resolution.  Our parents often fought about the same things all their lives, never learning how to negotiate, appreciate and resolve conflict.  How were we to know?  We only know what we know.  So it takes knowledge to learn how to behave in ways that bring us benefits we yearn for. 

ECCT is what I offer my clients who want a beautiful relational space where their children play and where their pets live.  I lend them my wisdom, experience and help them reach a new level of intimacy.  After all, we are hard wired for connection, and when we disconnect, we go into crisis.  If you can gain the resources, tools and skills to reconnect and use them as an opportunity for adventure and growth, why would you not want them? Isn’t connection what we all want and need?

“Joan E. Childs at the Miami International Book Fair”


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Nov 22


5:00 p.m. Nancy Sharp on A True Story of Love, Loss and Bold Living and Joan Childs on My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder Add to Schedule

Why Did She Jump_Book cover

Joan E. Childs, LCSW, has maintained a private clinical practice specializing in individual, couple, family and group therapy since 1978. She was the first affiliate of the John Bradshaw Center in the U.S. trained in the use of The Transformation Model for Original Pain Work and Inner Child Work. In addition, she is a certified hypnotherapist, master level Neuro-linguistic practitioner, and presently works with couples in Encounter Centered Couples Therapy. Joan has appeared before live audiences and on many national television shows, including Oprah. She presents workshops, seminars and lectures for both corporations and the public. She is the author of Why Did She Jump? My Daughter’s Battle with Biploar Disease (HCI; $14.95). There is one day in Joan Child’s life that she wishes she could do over: the day her daughter Pam, a brilliant psychotherapist, plunged from a fifteen-story building to her death. Despite the coroner’s report of a suicide, Childs explains why her daughter’s life was taken by the most unforgiving of executioners: bipolar disorder. It was the delusions, not her daughter, who made the final decision. Why Did She Jump? is an intimate, uncompromising delve into one mother’s search for peace amid the chaos surrounding her daughter’s tragic death, and a masterful recounting of the events leading up to the fateful day, lifting the veil of shame and secrecy to forge a path to understand bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.


Reveiw / Testomonial – Stacy

Joan is an extremely knowledgeable and experienced therapist who works as a team with her client toward creating awareness and understanding of the client’s relationship with themselves and those around them. As a team, she warmly concentrated on me as a whole person seeing the process of therapy as a life-changing event. Focusing on seeking a meaningful life and setting purposeful goals helped to define a way of thinking that has given way to a whole new thought paradigm that allows for my growth, processing,  and problem solving skills to begin to be a part of my normal behavior.  All of this was done in an environment of positive regard, empathy and unconditional acceptance.


Why Did She Jump – Book Review By Hedy Schleifer, MA, LMHC

Why Did She Jump_Book cover

5.0 out of 5 stars What she finds at the core is the life-affirming love she has and will always have for her child, September 30, 2014
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This review is from: Why Did She Jump?: My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder (Paperback)
With piercing honesty, Joan Childs peels away the layers of anguish, despair and bereavement as she mourns the death by suicide of her daughter Pam. What she finds at the core is the life-affirming love she has and will always have for her child. Her book is a must for parents and professionals alike. It is a both a manifesto and a manual.

Why Did She Jump – Book Review By Leslie G Nelson

Why Did She Jump_Book cover

4.0 out of 5 stars A very touching story, August 30, 2014
This book is a story of a young woman’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder, and her family’s efforts first to support her, and then their grief at losing her to suicide. Joan Child’s writing allows the reader to walk beside her as she works through the memories, pain, the what if and the what could I have done differently.Readers will learn more about Bipolar I Disorder, which thankfully, not every family has to deal with, but also about the grieving process, which we do all deal with. Despite being a heart-breaking story about illness, death and grief, Joan skillfully leaves you feeling more better and actually hopeful at the end.It’s a very touching story that will make you want to reach out more to others with mental illness.

Why Did She Jump – Book Review By Mary E

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5.0 out of 5 stars A mother’s tribute to her daughter, July 18, 2014
By Mary E (Miami) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Why Did She Jump?: My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder (Paperback)
This is a true story of how Pamela, a young, beautiful psychotherapist, lived with a chronic debilitating mental illness and how her family got caught up in the whirlwind. It is also a story of how the mental health system continually failed her in not being able to provide her with any kind of useful assistance. Joan, her mother, was desperately trying to save her daughter’s life but the HMOs slammed the door in her face with their refusals to cover even the most basic treatment for her bipolar illness. You will see that not much has changed since then.
You will feel Pamela’s terror as she fights her demons, Joan’s desperation and frustration as she searches for help for Pamela and
watch as her father and siblings stand helplessly by.
This is a book for anyone who is contemplating a career in the health care field to make them aware of the challenges ahead.

Why Did She Jump – Book Review By Rhonda Elkins

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A very moving, powerful, important and beautifully written book on the tragic loss of a daughter by suicide.,July 10, 2014

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I happened across this book as I was looking at the category of suicide on amazon this morning. Having made the decision to read no more books on suicide (I’ve read so many I’ve lost count), I came across this book and felt an urge to purchase it. There was something about it. I only very briefly scanned the preview section before I purchased the Kindle version, which is rare for me. I usually get a sample first.I purchased this book this morning and read it in one sitting (except for one meal and a few bathroom breaks) because I could not put it down. I’m an avid reader, but I have never read any book in one sitting in my life.I lost my 23 year old daughter Kaitlyn to suicide 4-11-13. She was just starting her 3rd year of medical school. Unlike the author’s daughter, my daughter never gave us one single sign that she had any depression whatsoever. One day I thought she was the happiest person on earth, fulfilling her dreams, the next day she was dead from her own hands. She wrote in her note that she had been depressed all her life, hid it from us, but could no longer bear the weight of it. She never sought help.

The author’s daughter Pamela suffered from Bipolar Type I and it was very obvious the last years of her life. Her parents did all they could possibly do to help their daughter by taking her to psychiatrists, counselors, and she was on medications, but the disease took her in the end.

Though my daughter never showed signs and her daughter did, I could relate to so many things in this book. I cried several times during the reading of it. The author has suffered all the whys and what ifs and guilt and gut wrenching pain that I have and still am experiencing.

Her daughter was gifted, bright and full of love for life, just like mine was, but as she writes, mental illness can touch the life of anyone no matter their intelligence, upbringing, race, gender or anything else.

This book was heartbreaking but it should be read because it lets one see the devastation that mental illness can have on someone and the people that love them. Also, it makes one know that these illnesses can take their lives by their own hands.

Mental illness has many forms. There are many types. Some people are able to hide it, some may not. And I’ve often (so very often) wondered had I known of my own daughter’s illness, and could have gotten her help, would she still be here? The answer is maybe yes, maybe no.

I’d like to thank Joan E. Childs for pouring her heart out in this book. I have come to know her daughter through her eyes and memories and she was a beautiful person and was so loved. Her book has truly touched my heart.