Center Stage with Parenting Counselor Cheryl Sundheim Center Stage with Parenting Counselor Cheryl Sundheim

Center Stage with Parenting Counselor Cheryl Sundheim

July 1, 2014

Strengthening families is at the heart of our mission. So, we are excited to kick off National Positive Parenting Month by shining a spotlight on Epiphany Center Parenting Counselor Cheryl Sundheim.  Throughout July, we will be sharing the latest science-backed parenting tips and expert interviews to help build strong, positive families.

How long have you worked at Epiphany Center? I have been working with Epiphany Center’s children and their mothers for nearly three years. Initially, I came to the agency as an intern while completing my master’s in the Infant Mental Health program at Mills College. (After sending my own two sons to college, I decided to send myself, starting off with an AA in Spanish and a BA in Psychology!).  Once I earned my MA, I joined the Epiphany team as the parenting counselor.

When did your interest begin in working in this field, particularly with regard to helping Epiphany Center’s at-risk women and children? I became interested in early intervention while working with children with moderate to severe autism at the Morgan Autism Center in San Jose.  Seeing the positive effects that early intervention has on a child’s life was the catalyst to return to school.  After coming to Epiphany as an intern, I was very motivated by the positive work being done by the children, the clients, and the staff, and I didn’t want to leave!

Photo found here.

What do you most enjoy about your work? I especially enjoy being able to interact directly with both the women and the children to help to support the parent-child relationship.  I also appreciate the variety of my work: teaching parenting groups, conducting developmental assessment with the children, meeting individually with the mothers, and working as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Are you a parent? How does your experience parenting inform your work? Yes, I have two sons who are now in their twenties.  My experience of being a mom helps me empathize with some of the things that our clients are dealing with in their parenting.  Being a parent is a really hard job; it is also a really rewarding one!

Can you offer helpful book recommendations for parents? My personal favorite is Parenting from the Inside Out by Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell.  This book addresses the parent-child relationship through a reflective lens, draws from both neurobiology and attachment research, and it is reader-friendly.  I try to incorporate many of the concepts from this book into my work on a regular basis.  Epiphany Center’s Dr. Linda Perez introduced this book to me while studying with her at Mills College.

Photo found here.

Of the five major Vincentian Values of Respect, Compassionate Service, Simplicity, Advocacy for the Poor, and Creativity, which one is your favorite to practice and why? Respect – I think it all starts with respect for each individual.  The part of the Epiphany Center mission statement that I find particularly compelling is “…each person is created by God, is endowed with unique gifts, and is worthy of respect.”  Our Executive Director, Sister Estela really models that for us in her interactions with the clients and the staff.

Where were you born? I was born and grew up in a suburb of Chicago.  I still have family there, and my oldest son just relocated to Chicago, so I plan to visit often!

Learn more about Epiphany Center's Parent-Child Center here.

Top photo found here.