Robbyn Peters Bennett, LPC, CMHS, Licensed Supervisor
Robbyn is a Jungian-oriented depth psychotherapist who also specializes in the study of traumatology and therapies aimed to relieve the longterm negative effects of early childhood maltreatment using the lens of interpersonal neurobiology. Robbyn has built the foundation of her therapeutic perspective on the concept of individuation understanding that psyche contains the seed to its own cure. She believes our relationship to the unconscious can deepen our sense of security and safety, and also help us access a greater sense of vitality. She has also studied in-depth the kind of early developmental ruptures that can disrupt our ability to feel embodied and fully present in life. She is an expert on the relationship between harsh discipline, child development and long-term health. She is a leader in the growing movement to end sanctioned hitting of children, corporal punishment, in the US.
Robbyn has practiced as a psychotherapist since 1998 after earning a Masters degree in Counseling Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Carpinteria, CA. Her therapeutic foundation is grounded in the depth tradition with sensitivity to dream, the unconscious, and the regenerative power of the imagination. Robbyn studied for several years with the North Pacific Institute for Analytical Psychology in an effort to better understand the work of Carl Jung and the intersection of trauma, pathos and the soul. This investigation illuminated the importance of active imagination and other “right brain” therapeutic modalities and strengthened her devotion to caring for the soul of the world as poetically expressed by her alma mater, “animae mundi colendae gratis.”
Robbyn has always had an interest understanding and responding to the needs of those who suffer with chronic mental illness. While living in Albuquerque, NM, she served as Clinical Director of Presbyterian Hospital’s inpatient psychiatric program. During that time, she opened an outpatient psychotherapy clinic to support patients during the transition from the hospital to the community. She also worked to develop the Parental-Child Foundations Program providing education and services supporting healthy parent-child attachment. Her devotion to supporting early attachment is based in the analytic tradition that recognizes how our ability to thrive in relationship is engineered by our earliest experiences and continues to influence our threshold for intimacy and trust well into the future.
Robbyn served as Clinical Director of Catholic Community Services’ residential treatment center for mentally ill children. She was privileged as a Child Mental Health Specialist. Her private practice consisted largely of disadvantaged children and adults suffering from the effects of poverty and early childhood trauma and neglect. She worked extensively with Child Protective Services and the Department of Families and Children providing both direct care and parenting evaluations. In an effort to better understand the chronic distress of those who have suffered early abuse and neglect, Robbyn studied with the ChildTrauma Academybecoming a Phase II trainer in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, a neurodevelopmental lens for assessing and treating traumatized children. The neurodevelopmental model opened her eyes to the central significance of lower brain dysregulation on functioning and prognosis. She was able to recognize the need for educating parents on a neurodevelopmentally-informed parenting model that is born from and inextricably aligned with the principles of nonviolence. Robbyn then became a certified trainer in Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting.
Robbyn is devoted to ending child abuse. Toward that effort, she speaks nationally on child maltreatment and harsh discipline to raise awareness of cultural acceptance of violence against children. Her TED TALK links spanking with family violence, bullying, and child abuse. Robbyn founded StopSpanking.org, an online neurodevelopmentally informed parenting resource to educate parents and clinicians on the dangers of spanking and provide empirically-based positive parenting alternatives. She and her colleagues offer a free online parenting resource and sponsor an annual free event called the No-Spank-Challenge that includes dozens of well-known positive parenting educators and reaches over a thousand parents each year. Robbyn worked with the Oregon Post Adoption Center and 14 other local government and child advocacy organizations to host the first ever Portland “NoSpankChallenge” to offer parents brain savvy alternatives to hitting and punishing children. Robbyn is on the board of the US Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, a non-profit organization that brings together individuals, groups, and organizations to create a unified voice calling for and working toward the end of all forms of physical and emotional punishment against children. Robbyn co-published with Dr. Afifi and the Centers for Disease Control research on Adverse Childhood Experiences and Spanking, which was awarded the Article of the Year Award in the International Child Abuse & Neglect Journal. She has produced a variety public service announcement videos on the dangers of spanking, interviewing experts in the field of neuroscience and child maltreatment.
Robbyn is currently collaborating with Dr. Leslie Ellis, by offering a Dream Certificate Program for understanding dreamwork in the clinical setting. This is a beautiful way to enhance one’s clinical skills in working with nightmares and trauma. She also works individually with people who wish to better understand their dreams.
Robbyn is a mother and very blessed grandmother who lives with her husband in Portland, Oregon where she has a private psychotherapy and consultation practice.
Do you find Dreams intriguing and wish you better understood them?
The DREAMWORLD is a mysterious and illuminating place! There is so much wisdom and vitality in the dream that can help us connect to our own creativity and vitality. Dreamwork can build our capacity to meet life from an enlivened and heart-centered place.
Research, Publications, & Key INterviews
2017 Article of the Year in Child Abuse & Neglect The official journal of The International Society of the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect (ISPCAN). This paper was chosen as Article of the Year out of the 238 manuscripts published in Child Abuse & Neglect in 2017. The criteria for the award are: a) novel nature of the paper, b) potential to advance the field, and c) high academic quality. Afifi, T.O., Ford, D., Gershoff, E., Merrick, M., Grogan-Kaylor, A., Ports, K.A., MacMillan, H.L., Holden, G.W., Taylor, C.A., Lee, S.J., & Peters Bennett, R. (2017). Spanking and adult mental health impairment: The case for the designation of spanking as an adverse childhood experience, Child Abuse & Neglect, 71, 24-31.
Spanking and adult mental health impairment: The case for the designation of spanking as an adverse childhood experience. January, 2017.
Seattle Times OPED, Parents are losing it on social media and shaming children.August, 2015.
- Staying Sane While Parenting While Parenting with Shelter-In-Place, Interview with Dr. Bruce Perry, April 2020
- Safe & Sound Protocol – Learning to Feel Safe, Interview with Dr. Stephen Porges, November 2019
- How We Impact Our Children’s Nervous System with Dr. Stephen Porges, Children and the Polyvagal Theory, April 2018
Intervening with a Stranger, May 2015
Pro Player Insiders, “The Culture of Spanking: Abuse or Discipline?” Nov 2014 Interview in response to NFL player Adrian Peterson beating his 4-year-old son.
- Panel Discussion on Delinquency, Trauma, and Corporal Punishment, Institute of Child Psychology, November 2021 Check out: Radio Talk Show Interview
- The Art of Co-regulation…A Brain Savvy Approach for De-escalating Outbursts and Having Fewer in the Future, Shoulder to Shoulder, Portland, OR, 2018
- Self-Regulation: Responding to Challenging Students Through the Art of Co-Regulation, Atlanta, GA Feb 2018
- Reparenting for Resiliency, A Neurodevelopmentally Informed Parenting Approach to Understanding and Healing Dysregulation Through the Art of Co-Regulation, CAMFT, May 4-7, 2017
- The Neurodevelopmental Roots of Empathy and Psychopathy/Treatment” Children’s Law Institute, January 2017
- “Building Trauma-Informed Schools & Communities” ECHO Parenting, March 2016
- “Global Scientific Summit, Academy on Violence & Abuse,” Jacksonville, Florida, November 2015
- “School-based Mental Health Conference” Calgary, Alberta Canada October 2015
- “20th International Summit & Training on Violence,” Institute on Violence, Abuse, & Trauma, San Diego, CA August 2015
- “Pulling Out the Roots of Physical Child Abuse,” APA Humanistic Psychology Annual Conference, Palo Alto, CA, March 2014
- Keynote Speaker, “Violence, A Family Tradition,” Annual LivesInTheBalance.org Conference, Portland, ME November 2013
- “Effects of Harsh Treatment on Child Development,” Head2Toe Annual Conference, ABQ, NM May 2013
Hosted Conferences & Campaigns
- No Spank Challenge Workshop (co-hosted with Amy Bryant with Parenting Beyond Punishment), 4200 parents attended, April 2021
- Annual NoSpankChallenge (co-hosted with Amy Bryant with Parenting Beyond Punishment, 2,000+ attend annually April 2015- 2019
- Discipline that Works (co-hosted with Dr. Ross Greene with Lives In the Balance), Atlanta, GA Feb 2018
- Stop Shaming Children on Facebook Campaign, July 2015
Public Service Announcements
- 2018, How We Impact Our Children’s Nervous System with Dr. Stephen Porges
- 2017, Is Spanking really an Adverse Childhood Experience? with Dr. George Davis
- 2017, Meta-analysis of the Spanking Research with Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD
- 2017, Predictable Ways to De-Escalate Children with Amy Bryant, MS
- 2018, Juvenile Delinquency and the Adverse Childhood Experience Study
- 2016, Parenting from a Neurodevelopmentally Informed Approach with Dr. George Davis Part I with George Davis and Part II with Robbyn Peters Bennett
- 2015, Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting with Amy Bryant
Long-term Goals & Providing Warmth and Structure
Understanding How Children Think & Feel
Problem Solving – Bedtime, Tantrums, Listening
Responding with Positive Discipline!
- 2015, Empathic Parenting with Edwin Rutsch
- 2015, The Art of Co-Regulation: a neurodevelopmentally informed approach to parenting.
- 2014, Are Permissive Parents Spoiling Their Children (with Alfie Kohn)
- 2013, What Neuroscience and Research Says About Spanking!
2 thoughts on “About Robbyn”
Since doing the safe & sound protocol with Robbyn I have noticed that I actually feel healthier, my digestion is better, my startle reflex is greatly relaxed and I am sleeping through the night. I am taking better care of myself, slowing down and resting more. In my relationships I feel I am letting go of things easier and I am more patient with my children……… I had done the protocol on my own first and there was no comparison to doing it in relationship with Robbyn …..being held by her presence and warm heart made all the difference to me ….. I have also noticed that I often now see Robbyns smiling face in my minds eye and how she looked at me during the protocol……it fills me with a warmth and a feeling of being loved ……its hard to describe how, but I took in an experience with Robbyn that I never had with another person and it feels so healing and nourishing ….I really feel that the full potential of the safe & protocol lies in having the human to human connection and Robbyn is a wonderful woman to do this with. I would highly recommend her.
I described some elements of my child’s behavior to Robbyn and she recognized that a course of SSP would help her.
My severn year old daughter did not seem to be very in tune with her body. She would eat a large meal and before we had even cleaned up she would announce that she was still hungry. She would ask for snacks constantly, I really do mean constantly, throughout the day. She would bounce around the house, using every piece of furniture like a gymnasium, she had a very low frustration tolerance and she had stopped singing and dancing. She had reached the point where she was actually wetting, and sometimes soiling, her underwear as she was not aware that her body had needed to use the toilet, she was so distracted.
As a family we had recently moved across the country, leaving all the family and friends that she had grown up with, moved to a rental house and started at a new school and then moved house again, nine months later, and finally moved schools again a year after that. She was dealing with some “girl drama” in her new school and her behaviors started to change. At one point, in the middle of a moment of intense frustration with her homework, I looked into her eyes and I could see fear, frustration and absolute confusion. She had no idea why she was acting the way she was and it was frightening her.
I spoke to Robbyn about it and that was when she advised the SSP. Robbyn guided us through the whole process. I had so many questions about the protocol and Robbyn helped us navigate our way through it safely and kindly, every step of the way.
Since the protocol my daughter has been so light-hearted, I look into her eyes and I see her in there looking back at me steadily. She stops eating at some point in her meal and says she is full. She asks for a snack once or twice a day, between meals, and sometimes she doesn’t ask at all. She dances around the house and sings at the top of her voice. She is so engaging and engaged during conversation, making great eye contact and waving her little arms around gesturing. She has not wet or soiled her underwear since starting the protocol. She can sit and relax and watch a show, instead of jumping all over the furniture. Things that she had refused to do before she now enjoys such as playing soccer, basketball and riding her bike. She is engaging with her friends and her frustration tolerance is so much higher. She really seems happy and content in herself.
My husband, who was a complete and utter sceptic about the possibility of music being able to heal the nervous system, is a total convert. He is flabbergasted at the changes we have seen in our daughter. It is all thanks to Robbyn, if she had not listened to my concerns and had not suggested the SSP this would never have been possible and we would still be so confused about how to help our little girl.