I Love What I Do: A glimpse into O’Neill Tutoring


{Disclaimer: BurlingtonVT Moms Blog has partnered with O’Neill Tutoring for this sponsored post, to bring families relevant information about her tutoring and therapy services.}

I love what I do: I offer emotional and academic support to children and families at O’Neill Tutoring.

My work with children involves supporting them developmentally. All children strive to be an inward authority of themselves and to move through the world and accumulate experience, which allows them to trust their experience and develop a sense of continuity in emotional life. In my work, I aim to support children in building a cohesive and stable sense of who they are. I am a big fan of the Socratic idea, “know thyself”. I value the human mind. The human mind is constantly undergoing creative revisions, and I am quite convinced that it is as elaborate and complex as any universe per say. The mind is what the brain does. It is an elaborate structural entity that utilizes sensation, thought and emotion to build mental models for understanding and adapting to the world. Self-preservation is key to adaptation. I am interested in a child’s self-preservation and emotional maturation. I believe all learning is emotional in nature.

o'neil tutoring 4

My work with children involves three primary elements.


A therapeutic play environment allows a child to scaffold his existence by becoming aware of his inherent freedom to choose his attitudes toward situations and his acts of will. By understanding the play enactment, I begin to understand the private, subjective world of the child, and I can help the child come to new understandings and options. Play allows the child to build connections and manage distance in the physical, emotional and social world. Play is a creative act, and it is how a child builds theories about his world. Play is mastery, it is industriousness, it is initiative, it is desire. My play environments include thematic (dollhouse, castle…), Lego, wooden blocks and animals, and hundreds of visual spatial puzzle games.

o'neil tutoring 1

o'neil tutoring 2


I consider the nature and strength of the relationship between myself and the child as a working model from which the child can explore her world. It is a model of therapeutic developmental change. I am interested in supporting a child in managing self-awareness. Self-awareness comprises a private (inner) and a public (outer) level of awareness. A child’s self-awareness can be focused in one of two directions. Private self-awareness is focusing psychic energy inward, toward the inner world of the individual, whereas public self-awareness is focusing psychic energy outward, toward the external world and how an individual is perceived by others. I am interested in supporting a child in feeling authentic in the self-other exchange, and feeling connected to all of her self-states.

Language and Emotion:

Language allows for reflective capacity. In my work with children, children are allowed to say everything. Within the developing child, anxiety is central to personality development in its ability to motivate, inhibit or influence behavior. Anxiety emerges out of the child’s inability to cope with the “givens” of existence (conflicts pertaining to separation, for example). Anxiety is viewed as typical and crucial to the child’s continual development. The individual is never complete but always unfolding. Children feel feelings and say everything. I am interested in supporting children in integrating their thoughts and feelings into self-awareness and into the relational space. I provide a containing function, allowing children to tolerate tension states. Moving a child from emotional impulse to emotional language is emotional maturation. All children have a tendency to balance an interest in engaging in and organizing new experiences, while maintaining self-regulation and control. Language becomes a crucial link in the expression of feelings. I also use literature to support children in reflecting in language about the characters and conflicts in books. Fiction is a wonderful way to understand ourselves from a distance.

A typical day in my program is between three and five hours. This allows time for children to settle and get comfortable, play and address goals. Children participate in goal work. This is when they address reading, math, visual spatial skills and other areas of interest prioritized by parents and the child. Children receive points, which allow them to acquire purchasing power, thereby putting them in the position of choosing what incentive they might like to acquire. Essentially, this is a bartering system in which children make acquisitions (the Lego they built, an important plastic animal or figurine, a book they love). In my programs, I pair working hard with autonomy and choice. I support children in building self-efficacy and getting comfortable with the learning process. All progress is monitored in a goal book.

Children also look forward to doing what inspires them. This is different for every child. I support children by providing environments that are creative and industrious. I want children to look forward to coming each week and to build off their imagination, to generate new ideas, and to feel the freedoms inherent in the creative process. I provide nutritious snacks and meals as necessary. I believe in working with the whole child. Providing a nutritive environment and supporting children in their daily lives is a natural approach to addressing therapeutic change.

o'neil tutoring 3

Interested in learning more about O’Neill Tutoring?

Contact Andrea at [email protected] or by phone at 802-3731075.


Written by Andrea O’Neill

Andrea guest bio picAndrea O’Neill is an educator, psychotherapist, and owner of O’Neill Tutoring, who lives and works in South Burlington, Vermont. She has been working with children in mental health and education for over 25 years. She has been in private practice for the last 12 years. She supports children in natural environments in affect regulation. Her training is developmentally based with an emphasis on emotional development.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here