Robbyn Peters Bennett, LPC, CMHS, Licensed Supervisor
Robbyn is a psychotherapist, educator, and child rights activist. She specializes in the study of traumatolgoy and clinical applications aimed to address the longterm negative effects of early childhood maltreatment, using the lens of interpersonal neurobiology. Robbyn has studied in-depth 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 Psychologyin 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 theNo-Spank-Challengethat 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. She has produced several public service announcement videos on the dangers of spanking interviewing experts in the field of neuroscience and child maltreatment.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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!