Behavioral Health

At Emerge, we know the struggles parents face, and our expert staff is equipped to guide you along the path that is right for your child. Our Behavioral Health Department offers psychological evaluations, behavior therapy, counseling, and consulting services which allows us to treat each child more completely and provide a true continuity of care.

Parents are typically referred to The Emerge Center because of concerns involving behavior, social interaction, or school performance. At Emerge, we offer behavioral and psychological services for children ages 18 months to 18 years, depending on the need.

Our passionate team of clinicians consists of licensed psychologists and licensed clinical social workers who take a behavioral approach to providing comprehensive evaluative, therapeutic and follow-up services. Having both testing and intervention available in one center affords you the confidence that we have a full understanding of your child’s needs. Our Social Work and Intake Coordinator also ensure access to local community resources, and provide parent support, education, and guidance navigating the system.

Signs that your child may benefit from behavioral services include:

In young children:

  • -Trouble with feeding or toilet training
  • -Speech delays
  • -Inability to make eye contact or remain engaged in activities


In older children/teens:

  • -Aggressive, disruptive, or destructive behavior
  • -Self-injury
  • -Problems interacting with peers
  • -Issues with boundaries or obeying directions
  • -Difficulty in school
  • -Social skill issues, like trouble making friends
  • -Difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep
  • -Difficulty with self-care skills or problematic personal habits
  • -Mood and anxiety issues

Our team provides psychological testing services which provides valuable insights for identifying and diagnosing a number of delays and disorders. The Pediatric Behavioral Health Assessment Team offers assessment services for a variety of concerns, including Autism Spectrum Disorder for children up to 5 years and 11 months of age.

Initially, we will meet with the parent(s) to gather a thorough background history and better understand your concerns. A separate appointment(s) will then be scheduled to complete the testing. Depending on your child’s needs, our team will perform some or all of the following: observing your child with family or at play; interviewing parents, family members, educators, or therapists; and administering standardized tests to collect quantitative data. After the assessment has been completed, the tests will be scored and interpreted by the evaluator. Once the results are summarized into a report, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to review the results and recommendations with the parent(s). The specific tests and assessment tools used will depend on the nature of your child’s presenting problem.

Please bring any records related to your child’s condition, including previous evaluations, with you at the time of his or her evaluation.

We provide community resources and refer out patients for which the primary concern includes: suicidal or homicidal ideation/attempts; grief counseling; severe anxiety or depression; eating disorders; severe inappropriate sexual behavior; medication management; severe or medically complex feeding difficulties; and/or when the child is too young/old for the requested testing.  We are also unable to accept court ordered/related cases or conduct custody evaluations, which need to be completed by a psychologist with specialized training in this area.

Therapy in our Behavioral Health Department may come in different formats (e.g., individual, group, family counseling), depending on the needs of the child and your family. Clinicians use a team based approach consulting with families, educators, doctors, and other therapists to create a comprehensive treatment plan. These services may last from a couple a weeks to a number of months, depending on your child’s needs.

Our clinic emphasizes a behavioral and/or cognitive-behavioral approach to treatment to address a variety of concerns, including:

  • -Aggression
  • -Anger
  • -Defiant Behavior
  • -Disruptive or Destructive Behavior
  • -Emotion Regulation Difficulties
  • -Impulse Control Issues
  • -Noncompliance at home or school
  • -Picky Eating
  • -Self-Injurious Behavior
  • -Sleeping Difficulties
  • -Social Skill Deficits
  • -Tantrums
  • -Toileting Difficulties

Our therapists will provide parents and their child with strategies to manage behavior, perform better in school, or improve social skills if needed.

We are not able to treat children for which the primary concern includes: suicidal or homicidal ideation/attempts; grief counseling; severe anxiety or depression; eating disorders; severe inappropriate sexual behavior; medication management; or severe or medically complex feeding difficulties. We are also unable to accept court ordered/related cases or conduct custody evaluations, which need to be completed by a psychologist with specialized training in this area.

Eating is important to the social and physical development of a child. Meal time provide an opportunity for families and friends to sit together and and socialize while sharing a meal. For families with a child with a significant feeding disorder, meal times can be very stressful and disruptive. Significant feeding problems can isolate a child and family from quality time together and can lead to isolation from the community due to disruptive behaviors associated with meals.

The Emerge Center’s Pediatric Feeding Therapy Program is designed to help parents or caregivers identify the core challenges with feeding. The program provides systematic, evidence based treatment for the child to start making progress towards more successful mealtime experiences.

Our Pediatric Feeding Therapy Program is designed for children up to age 12 with significant food selectivity, often including meal time problem behaviors and poor nutritional health.  Children with a Pediatric Feeding Disorder may be over, under, or average weight, and may not be able to receive all nutrients needed with without additional supplementation such as vitamins. As part of  The Emerge Center’s Behavioral Health Department, therapy in this program is based in principles of behavioral analysis and is heavily focused on reinforcement and motivation, along with antecedent manipulations to increase the likelihood of success at mealtimes.

Typical referral reasons include:

  • -Complete refusal of a type of food (fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.)
  • -Complete refusal of a texture of food (crunch, smooth, lumpy)
  • -Significant food selectivity defined as eating only 12 or fewer foods
  • -Only eating on a certain plate or drinking from a certain cup
  • -Liquid supplementation such as Pediasure
  • -Tantrums when new foods are presented
  • -Disruptive meal time behaviors such as throwing foods
  • -Difficulty to progress with self-feeding


Feeding Therapy Intake Process:

  1. Request a referral from your child’s physician for Behavioral Health: Feeding Therapy. Referrals should be faxed to 225-343-4233 to the attention of Behavioral Services: Feeding Therapy.
  2. Once the referral is received, our Intake Coordinator will contact you to complete a phone screen.
  3. You will be scheduled for the next Feeding Intake opening with the Psychologist. Please remember to bring all evaluations and reports related to your child for review.
  4. The Feeding Intake appointment will be a one hour appointment. You should bring both preferred and non-preferred foods so that the Psychologist can observe a typical meal.
  5. If therapy is recommended, you will be scheduled for regularly occurring sessions with the psychologist. Typically, feeding sessions are one hour, once a week. However, the frequency of sessions will differ depending on your child’s therapeutic needs.

Lizzy has been attending Emerge since she was five years old. She is now twelve. Over the years she has received speech, occupational, behavioral, and social-group therapy, and we are beyond pleased with the results. Emerge has helped her start and carry on conversations with other children, understand her homework, and practice riding a bike.

Lizzy was diagnosed as having a form of autism when she was two. Her father and I had noticed that from a young age, she always preferred to play alone. She would have trouble making eye contact with others and she hated loud noises. Beginning in preschool, she would memorize and then recite, from start to finish, a favorite book, song, or video. She still uses this echolalia as a source of comfort, but once her therapists realize what she is scripting, they often incorporate it in conversations with her.

For as much as the Emerge team has helped Lizzy in the past seven years, they have also helped us, her parents. Whenever we need advice, such as when Lizzy exhibits a new behavior, they are always available via e-mail or an in-person meeting. As Lizzy approaches her teenage years, with adolescence’s new set of challenges, her therapists continue to be there for us, providing the help and support we need.