Michaela Gordon

Michaela Gordon

My interest is becoming a therapist originated from my experiences as a child. I had great difficulty in grade school and I was diagnosed with a processing disorder. I was pulled from classes to receive special education services. Paying attention was a challenge for me. Although I put great effort into learning, over time my self-esteem was consumed by the arduous task of learning and a desperate act of fitting in with my peers. My parents exposed me to a variety of sports and performing art activities, which initially was also a struggle. I again had trouble paying attention, coordinating my body, and understanding verbal directions. Over time, I figured out that I was strong at memorizing and that if I practiced motor tasks frequently, I could eventually perform the activities well. Although I excelled at sports and dance, academics continued to be a struggle through high school. I became overwhelmed quickly in my school environment. I noticed over time that I developed perfection-like behaviors and I would put myself on a highly regimented schedule as a means to control my environments as much as possible so that I could “achieve”. When I expressed to my high school counselor that I wanted to be a physical therapist, he suggested that I choose a different career because I would not get into any therapy programs because my SAT scores were too low. I applied for 12 schools and although I got accepted into all of them, I did not get into the therapy programs.

While completing my undergraduate coursework in Rehabilitation and Disabilities Studies at Springfield College, I was asked to take an I.Q. test. I did well on the test and I realized that my whole childhood I labeled myself as unintelligent based on my processing disorder, which was far from the truth. I just needed to understand how I learned best. Through my studies, I started to learn about the disabilities right movement that created equal opportunities and rights for people with disabilities. Laws were eventually passed that created access to the community as well as work and educational opportunities to people with disabilities.  The professors that taught me provided consistent reinforcement that each person has a purpose and endless potential, which is something that I strongly believe in to this day. I started to take all the prerequisites for physical therapy and passed all the classes. I was determined to get into a physical therapy program. However, my original misfortune of not getting into these programs ended up being good fortune as I fell in love with occupational therapy. I completed my undergraduate degree my junior year of college and entered into an advance placement program at Springfield College to earn my master’s degree in occupational therapy. It was at Springfield College that I was introduced to the connection of spirit, mind, and body through purposeful activity. I continue to learn and explore the interconnectedness of these entities and the role they play in the quality of human experience.

Michaela Gordon - AboutOnce I completed my degree, I worked in all types of settings. I was eager to understand how all humans functioned from infancy to the older person. I worked in mental health facilities, a burn hospital, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and homes. My passion was to work with children and I was offered a position at a private school for children with autism in Southport, CT. I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a team of professionals to help each child through a multi-system approach. These children were provided with occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, play therapy, music therapy, behavioral therapy, and one-on-one educational instruction. This is where I learned about sensory integration and began my journey into neuro-based treatment. I then worked for a contracting agency and held a position as a school-based therapist. I was given the opportunity to work with children in their educational environment. I was able to see how children with disabilities interacted with their “typical peers” and to provide them with services that would support their education. In 2006, I moved to California and worked for a hospital treating children in the clinic and home-based settings. I began to work with toddlers and developed a better sense of the nervous system as well as global play and learning. In 2007, I was hired to do contracting work in Ventura, CA. I began to do more home-based treatments. This opportunity provided me with the perspective of the child in relation to their family. I began to develop a deeper understanding of working with children along with the parents and that therapy encompasses the whole family unit. I have primarily worked in the home setting and community settings with families until recently. In March 2018, I decided to open an office in Santa Barbara, CA, which has allowed me to provide more types of therapies to children and their families.

I provide direct services to children and I provide education and support to the family as well as other community members involved with the child. I collaborate with parents so I can understand their concerns and what they would like their child to gain from the therapy services. The trend that I hear when listening to parents is that ultimately they are looking for their child to be happy and healthy. They would like to help their child find ways to be more independent and find more success in the home, community, and school settings. They are looking for their child to be able to pay better attention in class, organize themselves and their materials, and produce more legible written work. Parents are wanting their children to have better self-esteem and to be able to connect better with their family and their peers.

Michaela Gordon - AboutI offer a collection of therapeutic options. I look at the whole child and the whole family. I take the theories and treatment concepts that I have learned over the years and I utilize these tools in a way that is unique to each individual. I believe in going right to the source of the issue, which is why I choose neuro-based treatments to address the core of the difficulties with everyday skills. I also pull in the mental-health piece. I break down how the child thinks and perceives himself/herself based on his/her interactions in their environment. As the treatment begins to change their functioning, I help them perceive themselves in their new way of being. Parent, siblings, family members, friends, and teachers also perceive the child in a certain way so I act as a support to help others adjust to the positive changes being created within the child. I feel that this is something that I offer that is unique. I feel this is why my treatments are effective. My mission is to support children and their families through the therapeutic process so the child develops skills that create enriching and purposeful life experiences. My hope is that the development of these skills will help them proceed forward with confidence and comfort being the wonderful, unique person they have been all along!