What It Is

Social Emotional Intervention Therapy involves a ECSE therapist working with a child on their capacities for intimacy, non-verbal and verbal dialogue, pretend play, social cooperation, logical thinking and emotional reasoning. These domains of functioning and sensory processing form the basis for mature social and autonomous functioning and are crucial building blocks during early childhood development. Remember though, that most delays are not lifelong challenges when addressed proactively. Many children see dramatic improvements within short timeframes after services are initiated. Even children with serious delays can make big improvements when treatment begins as early as possible. 

How it works

Following an evaluation to assess each child’s strengths and areas of need, goals are formulated, and SEDI is initiated to assist the child in reaching these goals. Our approach to therapy strikes a delicate balance between using the child’s natural motivations in free play and planning fun semi-structured tasks to target and develop fundamental social-emotional capacities. This naturalistic and individualized approach utilizing close relationships, natural motivation, and play addresses the critical need for children’s brain development:  helping information to be processed via the emotional center of the brain and then integrate and organize sensory/perceptual inputs and behavioral responses in a much more adaptive manner.  Parents serve an essential role in using this approach throughout the day with their child.  We support parents in learning this approach via modeling, guidance and feedback.


Tisa Van Dyke, ECSE

Brooke Chmielewski, ECSE


Issues Commonly Addressed

Three to Six Months

  • Shows minimal affection towards caregivers; refuses to cuddle

  • Does not smile or laugh

  • Does not enjoy being around people

Six to Twelve Months

  • Has a lot of trouble being comforted at night

  • Shows little enjoyment around other people

  • Does not attempt to attract attention of others

  • Does not laugh

  • Has trouble with new objects or experiences

  • Does not take turns with sounds, smiles, or facial expressions

Eighteen to Twenty-four Months

  • Lacks social skills or prefers interactions only with familiar adults

  • Does not enjoy play

Two to Three Years

  • Does not respond to people outside the family

  • Continues to have great trouble separating from parents


Next Steps