Debra Roelke, Ph.D.




Fee and Appointment Information




Most psychologists have a practice philosophy that guides their work, which they have developed through their education, training and experience. Dr. Roelke's approach to psychotherapy with both adults and children combines psychoanalytic, family systems and existential points of view. A psychoanalytic perspective values the role of individual development throughout the lifespan, and examines patterns of thinking, feeling and relating that are often outside of our awareness, yet affecting our lives nonetheless. Individual development takes place within a family system. The impact of what happens in the family, whether in the past or present for an adult, or currently for a child, needs to be understood in addressing the pattern of difficulties. Existential ideas form a background of concern about meaning in one's life and individual choice.

Work with adults: With adults seeking individual psychotherapy, sessions focus on discussing the nature and background of the presenting concerns. This process builds an understanding of a person's particular way of living in the world. Such an understanding opens up new choices and possibilities for change in order to remedy things that are causing distress or to improve functioning in important areas of a person's life like work or significant relationships. Dr. Roelke has training and experience in working with a full range of adult psychological difficulties, including anxiety, depression and mood disturbances, difficulties with intimacy and relationships, identity issues, understanding responses to anger and stress, parenting relationships and major life transitions.

Work with children: Dr. Roelke typically works with children who are between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. Consultation involves a first meeting with the parents and follow-up meetings with the child to work out an approach that will best address the areas of difficulty. With young children, Dr. Roelke often uses play therapy. This type of therapy uses play to communicate with children and encourage their self-expression, and to work on issues that are giving them trouble in a fun, safe manner. Older children may be more comfortable using play, drawing and/or talking together, depending on their individual style.

Early childhood consultation and training: The main focus of Dr. Roelke's work in consulting and training in early childhood care settings is on understanding the internal experience of very young children. The most effective interventions for emotional and behavioral difficulties are built on understanding the child's experience of the family and care environments they live in. Dr. Roelke has presented on topics such as Understanding and Dealing with Challenging Behavior; Understanding ADHD; The Power of Play in the Lives of Young Children; Attachment, Boundaries and Consequences: Parent-Child Relationships; and Observing and Reporting Young Children's Behavior. Dr. Roelke is an Approved Master Instructor for the New Jersey Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education.

Debra Roelke, Ph.D.
N.J. Licensed Psychologist #3870