Madeline Hawkins started out as a school-based therapist. She would work with students at school, but sometimes the problems stemmed from going back home. There wasn’t a change in the family dynamic, she says. It was the desire to make more of a lasting impact that eventually led Hawkins to learn more about the unique capabilities of the therapeutic practice of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT).
However, there were few practices in the Upstate where families could access that service and nowhere to receive training in it. Hawkins saved up some money and traveled every few months to Michigan to receive training in the practice.
PCIT is a family-centered approach in which guardians learn strategies to help their relationship with the child. The guardians also receive coaching from a therapist while interacting with the child, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The treatment, according to experts, is appropriate for children 2-7 years old with disruptive behavior.
Hawkins’ belief in the therapy model was so strong that she founded her own practice, Bloom Behavioral Therapy, in Greenville.
“It kind of runs the gamut for early intervention programs to help with the behavior, which we know if treated early really has huge impacts for improving outcomes as the child grows older,” Hawkins says.
Bloom offers various other programs as well, including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), and play therapy.
“We pretty much offer any and every type of therapy at this point for people of all ages,” says Hawkins. She says she and her team noticed that parents often needed therapy, as did siblings.
Hawkins says they try to stick to only evidence-based methods.
Bloom currently has about 10 therapists on staff to work with a current client list of about 250 families. The waitlist for Bloom is now well over 300 families. Hawkins attributes this not only to the services Bloom offers but also to the staff. A diverse group of women run the office, which also features a Spanish-speaking therapist.
“Mental health is so important right now, and so many people have been affected by the pandemic, whether it’s just homeschooling, losing their jobs, depression due to isolation, anxiety due to the virus.” – Madeline Hawkins, founder, Bloom Behavioral Therapy
Bloom is also one of the few private practices to accept Medicaid clients.
Hawkins explains that Bloom’s success is based not only on the therapy they provide but the word of mouth about their services.
“We see one child and affect change in that child’s family and life, and that child interacts with 100 other people, or professionals or family members or friends or teachers, and everyone wonders what’s changed, why is this behavior so much better?” Hawkins says.
In the spring, Bloom will open its new 7,000-square-foot facility at 205 Farrs Bridge Rd. that will allow them to provide therapy to over 750 families a week. The current office on White Horse Rd. will also remain in use.
“Mental health is so important right now, and so many people have been affected by the pandemic, whether it’s just homeschooling, losing their jobs, depression due to isolation, anxiety due to the virus,” Hawkins says. “[The community need] is really driving us to continue to grow.”