With 16 years of experience as an occupational therapist, Alicia Kollmar knows one size does not fit all when it comes to children.
In August, she opened Apex Occupational Therapy with a goal of giving families individualized strategies that can be used at home.
Tucked in the rear of shared space with an insurance agency, her business does not feel like a medical office. And that’s exactly what Kollmar intended.
“We are not traditional,” she says. “We don’t look like a clinic.”
Because she has a special interest in the mental health aspect of occupational therapy, her clients often are struggling with anxiety. The setting, with an oversized teddy bear in the waiting area, is meant to be calming.
OT assists in helping a client with the ability to perform daily activities. Often, Kollmar says, this is not just a physical concern.
“It is teaching kids how to cope, making them aware of how to manage their own energy levels,” she says.
When a child has ADHD, high-functioning autism or anxiety issues, OT can provide necessary skills.
“It is making them aware that they have it and pinpointing the anxiety,” she says. “Kids that are aware can deal with it better. Self-awareness is a huge part.”
Kollmar, who also works with children in school settings, says her private practice allows more contact with parents.
“We try to be focused on what the parents want,” she says. “We help them see past the labels. When it’s marketed as ADHD, but the kids come in, and anxiety is the problem. Most parents are looking for anything that can help.
“My model is a little different than the traditional therapy model because in addition to private therapy, I offer groups for children who need to work on handwriting, social skills and managing their behavior when they have ADHD and/or anxiety.”
Kollmar’s goal is not to have long-term relationships with her clients.
“My goal is to get kids off therapy. I give them strategies they can use right now,” she says.
Many of her clients fall outside of the school “bubble.” They might not qualify for therapy at school, but still need to learn coping strategies.
“Children have to have certain labels to get services,” she says.
Apex Occupational Therapy is not bound by those restrictions.
She expects to eventually offer support groups for parents and siblings.
“It’s so fun to do things I can’t do when I’m working in the schools. This is so much more flexible,” she says. “When people are seeking services outside of school, they are looking for help.”