Marilee Ruebsamen, Ph.D., M.S., M.A.
Children's Mental Health; Assess.-informed Treatment - Child Trauma, Psych. Assess., Refugee Psychology
A Ph.D. Clinical Child Psychologist in CA (PSY 15068) I specialize in precision Children’s Mental Health at Clinics I founded and direct, Abbey Psychological Services (Abbey – Saratoga; Abbey – Monterey) with husband, Dr. James “Jay” Livingston, Ph.D. Psychologist, Trauma, Assessment, Refugee Psychology. We offer a rich range of Psychological Consultation, Psychological Assessment, Trauma Assessment, and personalized precision treatment for children, youth, adults; families.
We offer quality, timely, state of the art psychological services, collaborate with local physicians and educators, and are an intentional, committed, safe and inclusive holding and healing space for children, youth, families, refugees, shattered families, individuals exposed to conflict, violence, symbolic violence, oppression, migrating, asylum-seekers and survivors of torture, postconflict children and youth; homeless, indigent kids on the streets. Our Abbey Blue Canoe services are a conduit for connecting with emergent homeless youth for no fee, assisting with their stabilization, then move them into longer term settings that can better meet their cyclical homelessness, vocational, educational needs.
We invite you to connect! We are embracing clinicians, providing generous precision services in Monterey Bay, Silicon Valley, and, by telemental health, internationally.
We offer linkage to nearby supports that are safe: for any and all children we meet – and “all means all.”. All of our interventions are precision, personalized, treatment as per Obama: “the right treatment for the right person at the right time”
We are also global humanitarians, founding directors of Always Be Listening Global Initiative, a thoughtfully formed nonprofit in the US created to promote urgent, conversational, evidence-based assessment-informed treatment for forcibly-displaced, unaccompanied war/armed-conflict affected children and youth fleeing for their lives at the borders of twelve geopolitically unstable countries . . . children whom the UN calls the world’s ‘traveling children’ . . and who now comprise over half of the world’s refugees. All the direct work is conducted by volunteer indigenous workers.
Similarly, we concentrate on humanitarian issues for vulnerable children and families here in the US – often working at low to no fee, along with generous other clinicians.
as an example:
– chronic unresolved high interparental conflict or direct exposure to DV endangers children/youth (as an example, many runaways and street kids are endangering themselves on the streets because they have been kicked out of families, abused in families, or believed they were in danger in their home due to physical abuse of others in their families. We work with these children and youth, and find colleagues who also do so.
We also work with children and youth who
– need reconnection, reunification therapy, private or court-referred
– are gender creative or LGBTQAI
– have been/are being harassed, bullied, or are gender-based violence affected
– are neglected, shunned, hungry, indigent, impoverished
– are maltreated, threatened, harmed, violence/suicide/homicide exposed
– are migrant, refugee, asylee status; need an interpreter
– need medical or law enforcement attention
– have other, urgent needs; food, clothing, urgent advice/direction, housing
After many years as a Child and Family Psychologist, I love this work more than ever – for its expanding possibilities, continual new research findings, challenges, but mostly for the connectedness and hopefulness it makes possible, for opportunities to foster sensitivity and engagement between children and families, enhance their responsiveness and trust at times by asking questions a bit differently, suggesting or demonstrating ways to listen more accurately, approach situations differently, shift the burden of responsibility from child to adult in some instances, and, with some families.
It’s deeply rewarding to work with the input of my gifted husband, Dr. James “Jay” Livingston, Ph.D., also a psychologist. It is priceless to have trusted other perspectives on critical issues – we have long complemented each other in numerous strands of our careers as professors, clinicians, assessment psychologists, global refugee/asylum psychologists and trainers, providing child, adult and family psychology services, teaching/supervising doctoral students together. We’ve been blessed to have working together supervising, teaching, and learning from interns from “countries and global regions whose names we often could not pronounce!”, gaining a wealth of knowledge from these young immigrant students, many of whom fled for their lives, leaving family behind, from conflict-laden countries.
We’ve now spent decades developing expertise, uniquely intermingling our knowledge of child/lifespan development and trauma effects with other variables – linguistic/cultural aspects, psycho-spiritual contexts and the marks that various trauma experiences leave in the lives of asylum seekers and torture survivors, we’re learned how it is carried forward into ensuing generations – in doing so, we have come to specialize in using Performance Testing, such as the Rorschach, to accurately elicit and understand the inner experience of shattered, wounded individuals in time and place – and emotional space – that would have been almost impossible for them to speak, to articulate, put into words, or accurately depict in art.
So then, as scientist-practitioners, we began concentrating clinically in the same manner, using performance testing to researched the devastating effects of other kinds of woundedness, the effects of exposure to overt domestic/family violence on children and, most recently, the effects on children of more subtle, silent, chronic UNRESOLVED HIGH CONFLICT that often subtly exists within families – – .
Incredibly, we are now finding the same dreadful negative quality of disturbing, hopeless images/representations in the results of (high-conflict family) children’s testing — their representations of Themselves, Others, were hopeless and negative — similar to the those disastrous, deadly distortions we were used to seeing in children’s internal representations of Themselves, Others, Relationships, the World, and their Future when they had been directly exposed to explicit domestic violence.
We find ourselves evaluating and treating child after child with high expressed distress and hopelessness, even suicidality, within families that are, on the surface, intact, not divorced, not overtly/physically violent, but rather chronically at least one of them is communicating a frightening state of high discontent, tension and deadly anger such that these powerful negative mood states are seared into the minds of their children (who are naive to the literal, real life marital crisis, which remain unexplained). The tone, tenor of the ongoing strife, however, is clearly ever present in the household and in the childrens’ psyche.
The Very Good News is that children – and often parents – seem eager to receive clarity and help – they are eager, responsive, more often than not willing to work as a team, and step by step, “twig by twig”, and when that happens, working together, we are able to help each other grow, and at times, we see healing, insight, and repair, hope.
Emerging research (see Dr. Bruce Perry!) assures us that Adverse Childhood Experiences, though known to be powerful early negative determinants of later childhood behavior and misfortune, can be overcome and transformed by strong, consistent, connectedness with a warm parent figure, one who provides healthy, predictable, honest and sturdy relationship-based relationships.
What we offer is integrative across theory and method, precision (“personalized” – “the right treatment for the right person at the right time” per Obama) assessment-informed treatment; generous consulting, referral and and coordinating as feasible, with parents, schools, agencies, social workers, physicians, courts as each situation requires, at our two locations, Abbey – Monterey and Abbey – Saratoga, CA (abbeypsychservices.com) (phone 831.275.8260).
We do our best to collaborate with all those who hold meaning for the child and family effectively, and honor the child and parents’ “social cradle” (valued support system).
Our focus, and greatest strength, however, is on knowing and supporting you or your child, youth, well.
We assist, protect and empower children and youth first by removing as much of what at times is an immense daily burden of care, a kind of parentification (role reversal) that parents and caregivers may have become used to, and may not see as psychologically burdensome, freeing the child or teen to be children and youth, so kids can develop efficacy of their own, healing and growth on their own, learn to cultivate their inner reserves and the awareness and judgment to request and utilize (external) assistance from select adults how to discern and select peers and adults who will not exploit, victimize, revictimize, retraumatize them.
By locating and preserving safe spaces within themselves and without, recognizing their needs for consistency, finding predictable kindness and care, learning to listen deeply to both trusted peers and caregivers, daring to recognize and name terrifying feelings and memories, coming together with friends in safe, trusted ways that allow them to preserve their identities, children and young people can learn to “try their wings” and safely “fly” but still use friends and adults appropriately, find healing, growth, and develop amazing strengths.
Our research and the assessment-informed-treatment programs we have developed in high risk schools and agencies and with high (unresolved) conflict parent families over twenty plus years — consistently reveals the profound internal damage unresolved parental conflict wreaks in children.
Their suffering is most apparent in their negative, distorted perceptions/internal representations of Themselves, Others, Relationships, the wider World, and the Future.
What we do is informed by research, expertise, learning, and everyday experience — as clinical researchers, assessment psychologists, therapists, supervisors, professors, program developers, and includes the wealth of learning gained over many years as an instructor and supervisor of amazing doctoral students, teaching child development, child psychopathology, treatment, and psychological assessment as clinical researchers and trainers.
We’ve developed numerous school-based assessment informed trauma therapy programs for marginalized, impoverished, vulnerable and traumatized children and youth in many settings, staffed by practicum students and interns.
Being a Mother and Nana has probably taught me more than any academic learning about the primacy of being focused, poised, and predictable, observing and listening deeply with an accepting and nurturing presence to kids, attentively absorbing their expressed and symbolic communications without judgment or imposing adult sensibilities, including allowing for what they do not disclose.
Dr. Jay and I, or either of us would love to meet you for a brief, no fee chat to see if our services are appropriate for your child, youth and family. We are also open to a scheduled phone conversation.
Please call 831.274.8260 to arrange to reach either of us at either location.
Thank you so very much!
Global Reach: Always Be Listening Global Initiative
I also serve as a global humanitarian through our global nonprofit for forcibly displaced, war/armed-conflict affected (unaccompanied) children and youth at the borders of twelve geopolitically unstable regions/countries, Always Be Listening Global Initiative, a deeply thoughtful, caring, independent nonprofit in the US since 2014, 501(c)(3)(see always be listening global.com).
I love every aspect of my life and work, wife and mother, Nana, scholar, doctoral professor, clinical director, developer of training/programs, collaborator with committed others who care for children around the world. And I’m grateful for the time spent with children expressing themselves in safe spaces, verbally and symbolically, in art and play and story and movement, grateful for the challenges and meaningfulness of global humanitarian work – especially that focused on the youngest and most vulnerable of the world’s ”traveling children” — who now comprise over half of the world’s refugees, per the UN.
Skills and Expertise
Abuse / Survivors of Abuse
Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions
Adjustment to College
Adoption / Foster Care Issues
Blended Family Issues
Caregiver Issues or Stress
Child or Adolescent
Chronic Illness or Disability
Divorce and Divorce Adjustment
Health Illness and Medical Issues
Helplessness and Victimhood
HIV / AIDS
Loss or Grief
Mindfulness based therapy
Testing and Evaluation
Trauma and PTSD
Child Parent Psychotherapy
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Person Centered Therapy
Psychological Testing and Evaluation
Therapy unique to each client
Trauma Focused Therapy