Dr. Bourg has two primary areas of expertise: helping families embroiled in a high conflict divorce, and helping make sense of allegations of child abuse.
Dr. Bourg’s work in child abuse began at CARES NW, where she worked as a child interviewer for 10 years and was the primary author of the first edition of the Oregon Interview Guidelines. The Guidelines also were published nationally and internationally as a scientific and pragmatic training guide, “A Child Interviewer’s Guidebook.” She continues that work as an expert witness throughout the state of Oregon. In her trainings, she promotes her philosophy that these allegations need to be approached rationally rather than emotionally, and that a focus on repairing the child’s attachment while maintaining safety is more helpful than a focus on punishment and retribution.
Dr. Bourg began her work on helping children and parents manage high conflict divorce in graduate school when she helped run a clinic for children of divorce. Her master’s thesis examined families experiencing domestic violence while her dissertation research studied children’s behavioral and physiological responses to adult anger. In her current practice she conducts about 2 custody and parenting studies a month and maintains a very busy clinical schedule focused on parent coordination, reunification therapy, mediation and divorce coaching. Dr. Bourg’s philosophy is that a good evaluation helps families solve problems in a rational manner, thereby reducing conflict and helping the children and family through this very difficult time. Her clear and consistent focus is on problem-solving in the context of a strong respect for the importance of healthy attachment relationships to both child and adult functioning. While the work is very challenging, both intellectually and emotionally, Dr. Bourg embraces the challenge, “going where angels fear to tread” and devoting her life to doing everything in her power to help these families travel through this period of crisis and get to a better place.
In her reunification therapy, many times unresolved allegations of abuse are the focus, and Dr. Bourg’s two lines of practice come together. The focus on developing a plan to foster and support attachment, while honoring the need for emotional and physical safety, is key to her interventions on behalf of these troubled families.