About Stephanie Dodge, PHD
“Psychology is my second career, one I started into after having already lived on the Big Island since 1999 I always knew that I wanted to be able to help as many people as possible, but when I entered graduate school, I was told I had to specialize in either children or adults. I chose adults (and I still love working with adults), but was saddened to not be able to be the generalist that I wanted to be here in Hilo where resources can be so sparse. Fortunately, during my internship (last step before becoming a psychologist), I was given the opportunity to do a rotation in Child and Family psychology, and fell in love working with kids, teens, and parents. I was very fortunate in that I was able to do my post-doctoral work in Child and Adolescent Psychology, and so now I have finally reached the goal that I set for myself so many years ago.
I love working with children, teens, and parents and believe strongly that creating healthy kids and families is not only the best way to prevent more serious mental health issues in adulthood, but is also the future for our community as well. I also believe that my knowledge and experience with the different ways that trauma affects children and youth at various developmental stages helps me better serve adults who have experienced childhood trauma.
My approach is very straightforward and down-to-earth, with a good dose of understanding, gentleness, and humor thrown in. I specialize in helping young children (2-7 years old) who have problems with attention, focus, following instructions, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disobedience, and their parents overcome these problems so that they can succeed academically and socially. I also specialize in helping teens who are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma-related symptoms, or other problems that are interfering with them meeting their goals and creating good futures for themselves. Finally I specialize in helping people of all ages overcome difficulties relating to their having experienced traumatic events in their lives.
I like to use evidence based therapy to help people (including little people) learn skills to meet their goals and to grow to their best potential. In particular, I specialize in:
- Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT): a treatment for young children (2-7 years old) with acting out behaviors (aggression, destructive behaviors, disobedience, disruptive behaviors, and problems that threaten their ability to succeed in pre-school, kindergarten, or early elementary school). This is also a promising therapy (research ongoing) for the treatment of trauma-related behavioral problems in young children
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a category of treatments for depression, anxiety, and many other problems that has been shown to be effective for children, teens and adults. In CBT, clients are taught various skills for managing symptoms. Which particular skills depend on the presenting problems and the age of the client.
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): a treatment of trauma-related symptoms in school age children and teens. In TF-CBT, patient are taught skills for coping with day-to-day trauma related symptoms, and are then led through the writing of a trauma narrative that both allows for them to experience the emotions that are related to the trauma in a safe and understanding environment, and then to begin to challenge some of the beliefs that they may have come to hold as a result of having experienced this trauma, particularly if the beliefs are holding them back from living life to the fullest. Includes a parent component to help protective parents (or other adults) help children overcome the effects of past traumatic events.
- Assertiveness and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and other Mindfulness Based interventions: The “fourth wave” of psychology, these interventions include mindfulness and the idea of moving towards your values in spite of psychological symptoms.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Cognitive Processing Therapy for Couples (CPT-C): an evidence based treatment for PTSD in adults. This therapy has the advantage over the other evidence based treatments for PTSD of specifically targeting unhelpful beliefs that were either adopted during traumatic events, or that were strengthened by traumatic events.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE): an evidence based treatment for PTSD in adults. Focuses on direct exposure to traumatic memories and emotions in session) with out-of-session exercises to decrease reactivity to people/places/things that trigger strong trauma reactions.
- Modified “Seeking Safety” intervention. Seeking Safety is an evidence supported group treatment for women who suffer from both post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and substance abuse problems. I use a modified version of this treatment in individual therapy with women who are still currently involved in unsafe behaviors or situations (most other treatments for PTSD require that the traumatic events have been in the past and not currently ongoing).
I also use a variety of assessment tools to help clients clarify the issues they would like to address, and to guide treatment recommendations. Although I use clinically valid assessment in adults also, I specialize in assessment of children, adolescents, and young adults in the following areas:
- Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome: Assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children with pervasive developmental disorders (Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, etc.) I am able to administer a variety of psychological tests, including the “gold standard” measures for diagnosis of Autism/Asperger’s (ADI-R and ADOS).
- Learning Disorders and Executive Control Function Deficits: On a case-by-case basis (only one intake per month), I can also offer psychological testing, including cognitive testing, academic achievement testing, and various other tests as warranted to assist in the diagnosis of learning disorders and other problems. (e.g. executive functioning, memory, etc.). Note that not all insurances will cover this type of psychological testing.
I completed my PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My clinical psychology internship was at Tripler Army Medical Center, where I completed rotations in Child and Adolescent Psychology, Adult Psychology, Pain Psychology, Behavioral Health support of the Bariatric Surgery Program, and Community Health Psychology (the latter was at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center).
I also completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychology at Tripler Army Medical Center, with sub-rotations in Pediatric Psychology and Community Health Psychology (the latter at West Hawaii Community Health Center in Kona).
“I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Stephanie Dodge for nearly two years. As a primary care provider, I have come to rely heavily upon Dr. Dodge’s expertise with children. I have referred many children to her and I, as well as the patients’ families, have been grateful for her services. Her work with parent and child interactions has been a remarkable thing to watch in the clinic. I can see the differences in both the children and the parents in my exam rooms after. Her skills in pediatric psychology are invaluable.” –Anjalie Graham, APRN
“Dr. Dodge has quietly built and developed our integrative approach to behavioral health specifically focused on our keiki and their families. Dr. Dodge has improved collaboration not only within WHCHC, but has been the lead on a community integration project in collaboration with the Family Guidance Center (CAMHD) and HPCA. Through her leadership, CAMHD is looking to replicate the model throughout the state to improve the health and wellness of families in all our communities. Her expertise is a great loss, especially her unique style in working with families struggling with parenting skills and dealing with trauma. Dr. Dodge has helped so many of the families in our community learn to live in harmony, love, and fun.
“Dr. Dodge has a solid reputation in the community as being one of the best Psychologists, specifically child Psychologists, on the island and probably in the State. Her commitment to vulnerable populations (kids, DV survivors, survivors of trauma) is apparent, and we are lucky to have a provider of Dr. Dodge’s caliber on our team and in our community as a disposition option for our patients.” Victoria Haynes, Behavioral Health Department Head, West Hawaii Community Health Center
HMSA PPO, HMSA HMO, HMA, HMAA/HWMG, UHA, Out of State Blue Cross/Blue Shield, HMSA Quest, Alohacare Quest, Medicare, Kaiser Permanente
Hourly rate (for those paying cash): $170.009