What folks are asking
Frequently Asked Questions
These questions and answers were submitted by
M.L. Rosenberg of Upstate New York.
What is Dr Federici’s personality like?
Dr. Federici stands out as a person of high integrity and a role model for what a doctor and a human being should be. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have his advice will undergo a challenging process, but one that is of the utmost importance for family preservation and sanity. When we first considered calling on him, we had our doubts: we had heard that Dr. Federici’s approach was unconventional. However, I feel only the most profound gratitude that we did call on him; it is no exaggeration to say that he has saved our family and our son.
Dr. Federici made us feel comfortable from the very first moment he walked into our house. He was available by phone and email even before he visited us, as he understands well that the problems faced by families with complex, post-institutionalized children can be serious and don’t limit themselves to office hours. This, we felt, was the primary difference between his approach and that of many other therapists/doctors: he has *lived with* children similar to our son. During the visit, he spent significant time observing our son in situ. His knowledge is not confined to academic study. He is extremely bright, but he is a *people person*—it is his job to quickly read people’s motives and personalities, and he does this in a friendly, non-intimidating way. We found him to be down-to-earth, and he got along well with the team we already had in place.
How does he handle families in distress/ kind, empathetic, positive, etc? is he good to work with vs other types of therapists/Drs?
See above—Dr. Federici is professional but kind and warm. He is direct but compassionate, and above all, we felt that he recognized our distress and had our son’s interests at heart. He understands the devastation and stress parents of difficult post-institutionalized children experience and he will tell you about his own experiences as a father of post-institutionalized children. He understands the neurological deficits at the root of so much aggressive behavior and does not blame, but re-teaches/re-trains both parents and children.
How are his neuropsychological evaluations compared to what you have experienced from others in the past?
We have had three neuropsychological or psychological evaluations, and we’ve seen two developmental pediatricians and a child psychiatrist. In hindsight we wish that we had called Dr. Federici earlier. Other evaluations used vague terms or tried to fit our son into cookie-cutter diagnoses like ADHD-ODD. None of them recognized the severity of our situation or prioritized what we should do. They took a conservative, “wait-and-see” approach. Meanwhile, our son’s behaviors were cries for a specific type of help. Dr. Federici’s evaluation gave us a comprehensive picture of what our son was struggling with and, more importantly, gave us a concrete plan. He helped us access other important resources for family support that we had not even known about prior to his visit.
How helpful is the ” Starting Over” Family Intervention Program?”
“Starting Over”—the Family Intervention Program—has been nothing short of a lifesaver. When we initially contacted Dr. Federici, we were considering hospitalization or residential treatment for our eight-year-old son, and now we are living a peaceful home life in gratitude that we did not have to take those potentially traumatizing steps. I believe that if every family of difficult/complex children had the ability and resources to devote the kind of 1:1 practices modeled by Dr. Federici, we’d live in a much better world.
Is his ” home based model” better than any other out patient treatment, hospitals, or residential care that you experienced or thought about?
We’ve been in and out of many therapists’ offices. But when a child exhibits repeated, disturbed behavior, once or even twice a week just doesn’t cut it. While medication has certainly been helpful in our case, it was only one part of the structured day and direct teaching/re-teaching work that our son really needed.
The attachment-informed family/play therapy we tried did almost nothing, as our son was not regulated or emotionally aware enough to access it. RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) therapy taught us some strategies we have continued to use, but it was not enough as time went on. Dr. Federici taught us how to deal effectively with problems as they came up.
We needed the intensive home-based model because home and family are the areas of our son’s most challenged behavior and needs. The core of the Family Intervention Program was giving our son a felt sense of security at home and in himself. School, extracurricular activities, or any other external distraction were, we learned at a profound level, just that distractions. They would have to wait until we solidified our son’s basic sense of safety and self and lay the groundwork for a more hopeful future. Dr. Federici was adept at helping us transition into activities of regular childhood as well.