Blog: Benefit of Structure

Achieving structure can be very difficult, and taxing as a parent/ caregiver. Adding structure to a child child’s life, often takes hundreds of times of redirection before the structure is truly accepted. The good news is- YOU CAN DO IT!!!! You do have enough love, patience, energy, and compassion to work through the difficult part!


“STRUCTURE allows us to invest in the things that are important to use but don’t exist inside of us yet.” –  Dr. H. Cloud

Here are some helpful ways to help you begin to add structure into your children’s lives.

1. Start simple- pick 2-3 items areas that you’d like to work on versus trying to change everything at once.

2. Communicate change change to child – and reason for change. Example: ” If we get to bed earlier, our brain will be able to have more sound sleep. More sound sleep helps you grow strong and have more energy!”

3. Communicate change to partner- begin to dialogue about the goals you’d like to see as co-parents.

4. Communicate change to additional caregivers and or 2nd household: This can be very difficult and touchy. Remember to communicate using only “I” statements.  Example: “I am noticing that Junior is more cranky after weekend visits. What time does he go to sleep?”  Be open to hearing about the reason the other caregiver(s) have different routines.  Be open to potentially flexing on an area at your home too! Remember- these changes are in the best interest of your child!

5. Reward positive behavior! This can be verbal or through incentive. Making it a team effort is the best way to gain everyone’s buy in!

6. For younger children consider using picture charts to help speak about the change. Websites such as:

7. Read a children’s story about routine and structure!

By helping add structure to your children’s lives you are helping them:

  • Feel safer
  • Understand unpredictable change
  • Explore in a safer manner
  • Fall asleep faster / cycle through more REM patterns



Book Review! ” Was It the Chocolate Pudding?”



“Was It the Chocolate Pudding?” By: Sandra Levins Illustrated By: Bryan Langdo

“Was It the Chocolate Pudding?” is the story of two brothers and their experience with chocolate pudding. After the brothers have a little too much fun with their chocolate pudding, they see and hear their parents arguing. Shortly after, their parents separate and divorce. This story is about the perception of the brother’s chocolate pudding experience causing the divorce. At the end of the story, the brother’s learn that divorce is not caused by the children, but rather because of grown-up difficulties.


Stephanie Heitkemper, MA, LPC


Stephanie specializes in working with children and family around change. Since 2009, Stephanie has actively worked throughout the nation supporting grieving children and their families. Stephanie’s ability to work with multiple people in the room, can make difficult and sensitive topics easier to work through.

Stephanie is trained as a Marriage Family Therapist (MFT) from Regis University. In addition to Marriage Family Therapy work, Stephanie practices as a Play Therapist. Stephanie utilizes play therapy and expressive therapy to help children express themselves in their natural language. Stephanie is a certified as a Trauma and Loss Specialist and Trauma Informed Assessment Specialist through the National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children. Stephanie also practices EMDR.

As a third culture child, Stephanie attended nine schools before graduating high school. Stephanie attributes her experience as a military child, paired with being sister to a brother with Cystic Fibrosis for fostering her compassion, and patience for working with children, families, couples and individuals.

To set up a free 15 minute phone consultation please call: (303) 578-9312.

Blog: What is a Third Culture Kid?

In my bio statement I proudly mention that I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK)… You’re probably reading this wondering ” What is a Third Culture Kid?!” ” Could I be a Third Culture Kid?”Let me explain the definition of ” Third Culture Kid ” and the impact on life and therapy.

Definition of Third Culture Kids:

A TCK is a person who has spent a significant part of their developmental years outside of their parents culture

What are the three cultures?

1) Birth Culture

2) New Culture

3) Process of creating a new culture

Typical TCKs:

  • Military/ Army “Brats”
  • Non-Military Government
  • Religious/ Missionary Kids
  • Business Kids
  • Other

Lifestyles, Customs, Rituals & Traditions:

  • Suggested benefits:
  • Linguistic ability
  • Cross-cultural skills
  • Expanded worldview
  • Expanded spiritual view

Famous TCKs:

  • Priscilla Presley
  • Bruce Willis
  • Barack Obama
  • Sean Lennon

How does being a TCK affect Partnering, Coupling, Marriage & Family?:

  • Typically TCKs marry older (25+)
  • Military TCKs marry earlier
  • Lower divorce rates

TCK’s and Education Impact: 

  • Missionary Kids (MK): At one point the majority of their education was from boarding schools, this is beginning to change.
  • 4 x more likely to earn a Bachelor’s Degree than Non-TCK
  • 40% earn an advanced degree
  • 45% attended 3 universities before completing their undergrad degree
  • 44% earned an undergrad degree after the age of 22
  • Educators, medicine, professional positions , and self employment are the most popular professions

Themes TCKs Experience Regarding: Oppression, Discrimination, Prejudice, and Marginalization:

  • Life Transitions
  • Involvement
  • Leaving
  • Transition
  • Entering
  • Re-involvement

Themes in Therapy:

  • Identity
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors
  • influences
  • Grief & loss
  • Depression, anxiety & stress
  • Separation
  • Transition
  • Feeling different
  • Feeling like they have no control



  • 16 Celebrities Who Came from Military Families: Veteran’s Day. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from
  • Davis, P., Suarez, E., Crawford, N., & Rehfuss, M. (2013). Reentry program impact on missionary kid depression, anxiety, and stress: A three-year study. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 41(2), 128-140.
  • Fletcher, A. (2001, March 5). The Homeless VIPs. Christianity Today, 80-82.
  • Gould, J. (2001). Always Saying Goodbye. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 6, 75-81.
  • Third culture kid. (2014, October 31). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from
  • TCKID: What is a Third Culture Kid? (TCKs). (2008, January 1). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from
  • Walters, K., & Auton-Cuff, F. (2009). A Story To Tell: The Identity Development Of Women Growing Up As Third Culture Kids. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 12(7), 755-772.

Blog: How Can Play Therapy Help?

I have often been told that Play Therapy sounds to fun to be effective! Here are some ways that Play Therapy can be used to help children and their families.

Play therapy can help children and their families:

  • Process and begin work towards healing around past stressful or traumatic experiences
  • Create a healthy and safe way to express emotions
  • Encouraging communication around creative thoughts and ideas
  • Foster development of healthy decision making skills
  • Create boundaries to increase communication around concerns and problems
  • Create an understanding and meaning around grief, loss, and change (separation, divorce, dating, remarriage, moving, natural disaster, job deployment etc.)
  • Develop positive coping skills to develop new thoughts and behaviors.