A Proven Blueprint for Raising Happy, Healthy Kids.

"A marvelous combination of wisdom, science, common sense, and practical advice from a truly trusted source."

-Art Ulene, MD


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About The Book

RAISING A CHILD TO BE LOVING, RESILIENT, AND RESPECTFUL is a tough endeavor in the best of circumstanc­es. But what if the child is emotionally scarred from early experiences of loss, betrayal, or harm? Those early interactions change the way a child sees the world and what he expects in relation­ships, even those intended to be loving. The distressed child can trigger hopeless, helpless, and frightening feelings in even the most solid and secure of parents. Parenting a distressed child takes special understanding—of yourself, of the child, of relationships, and of child development. Be Child Wise compiles the wisdom and insight of Intermountain’s thoroughly tested and nationally recognized therapeutic approach with emotionally distressed children and families. Thirty-five years in the making, this handbook provides specific interventions based on an understanding of child and relational development so that what is harmed by relationship can be healed by relationship. Intended for parents to read before, during, and after adopting or becom­ing foster parents, Be Child Wise is also useful for any parent or grandparent seeking to understand the meaning of a child’s behavior. With the experts of Intermountain at your side, discover how to become the healing parent in your child’s life.

Workbook Also Available!

Across Montana children are waiting to experience a place called home. Understanding child and relationship development is the key to Intermountain’s therapeutic approach with children and families. The Be ChildWise Workbook provides parents with the opportunity to review concepts and practice skills in order to build strong, resilient families.


It's Personal!

This book is about you, and you-and-your-child.

It’s simple, and it’s complicated!

Love is the key to healthy relationships. That’s simple. But the developing brain of a child, and what can effect it, is not so simple. This guide can help you put the two together in a new and successful way!

Connections for Reflections

A healthy and successful connection between you and your child is essential; but connections with a supportive group, friend or peer is critical. Surround yourself with a team on a personal and professional level.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Be Child Wise offers a marvelous combination of wisdom, science, common sense, and practical advice from a truly trusted source.

- Art Ulene, MD., guardian to a struggling child

This book is incredibly complete; a fabulous guide to making families wise and healthy. The book should be in every therapist’s, social worker’s and family’s hands.

- Sharon Kaplan Roszia, MS, adoption expert

As a parent or professional working with a child, you have come upon an approach that will help you understand the hidden pain and needs that a child simply can’t articulate

- Dr. Kent T. Hoffman

The relational treatment program outlined in this book literally saved my family. I am a far better parent and my child is far healthier thanks to this program.

- Adoptive Parent

What's Inside (The Table of Contents)

1. Who Are You?

Understanding your desires, your hopes, and your Achille's Heel in parenting.

2. Who Is Your Child?

To parent and heal a child, you must first understand him.

3. Seeing The World Through Your Child's Frightened Eyes

Experiences during early brain development impact how your child sees the world.

4. Thinking Like A Five-Year-Old

What happened and when impacts your child's view of relationships.

5. One Moment He's Two, the Next He's Fifteen

Understanding your child's developmental skews.

6. It Goes Both Ways - Attachment

Creating a secure "umbilical cord" between your child and you.

7. Discovering The Meaning of Your Child's Actions

Making sense of the need beneath your child's behavior.

8. Creating and Emotional Connection with Your Child

How to "tune in" to what your child is feeling and "get" him.

9. Speaking the Language of Hope

Saying what you want your child to hear.

10. What Do I Do When?

Structure, discipline, and relationship interventions.

11. The Process of Healing

The dance of relationship and healing.

12. Nobody Really Wants Me

Impacts of core issues - shame, loss, identity, sexual reactivity, and psychiatric disorders.

13. Choosing Your Team

How to form a constellation of support.

Read the first chapter for free


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About Us

Intermountain is a visionary non-profit agency that has been impacting the lives of children and families in Montana for more than 100 years. With holistic, integrated psychological and behavioral health services and a relationship-based approach, Intermountain helps families create and sustain nurturing, healthy environments where children can thrive and grow.

ChildWise Institute Working collaboratively with others, we are elevating the well-being of our children and families. ChildWise Institute is driven by more than thirty years of experience from its founding organization (Intermountain) healing young children who’ve suffered complex emotional trauma from abuse, neglect and chaotic environments. ChildWise Institute was created with a dedicated focus to address this public health crisis and be a catalyst for social change. ChildWise exists for impact, measurable outcomes, and societal change, because clarity about what truly matters and being abhorred by the maltreatment of children changes nothing. It requires action. Action that is passionate, competent and focused with a vision to make a total difference in the life of one child, and then another, and then another… Together we can act. We can create a more family-centered culture where every child is emotionally & physically healthy, and has a healthy permanent home. Together, we can do what truly matters.


Elizabeth Kohlstaedt, PhD
Clinical Director

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Education, Purdue University; Master of Science, Education, Indiana University; Master of Arts, Experimental Psychology, Arizona State University; Doctor of Philosophy, Clinical Psychology, University of Montana.

Dr. Kohlstaedt is a licensed psychologist and has been the clinical director of Intermountain for 25 years. She has served as adjunct faculty at Syracuse University and has trained medical interns from Upstate New York Medical Center, and psychology, social work, and counseling interns from across Montana. Dr. Kohlstaedt has appeared on Prime Time Live, National Public Radio, and in the Los Angeles Times to discuss attachment disorders and has trained staff, parents, and professionals across Montana.  Licensed Psychologist, Montana and New York. Intermountain employee since 1990.



Jim FitzGerald

Intermountain Chief Executive Officer

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of California; Master of Public Administration, University of Montana.

Jim FitzGerald, Chief Executive Officer, joined Intermountain in 1978, working as a cottage counselor in the residential services program. Prior to becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2001, Jim was Director of Operations, working in all facets of program development, training, policy, and finance. Throughout his career, Jim has focused the agency upon strengthening families and improving society’s ability to provide prevention, protection, treatment, and permanency for all vulnerable youth. A dedicated leader in youth advocacy, he has played a vital role in the state and national forum of child welfare, mental health, and public policy. Working with a dynamic Board and staff, he is responsible for guiding the vision and mission of Intermountain, and transforming Intermountain into a nationally recognized children’s mental health agency. Jim is also the CEO of ChildWise Institute, a Montana not-for-profit 501c (3) organization established by Intermountain. The mission of ChildWise is to elevate the well-being of vulnerable children through advancing awareness, accelerating knowledge, and advocating for positive societal change. ChildWise has garnered attention across the State of Montana and at the national level. Jim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of California, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Montana. Intermountain employee since 1978.

Kate Cremer-Vogel

Kate Cremer-Vogel is a licensed professional counselor specializing in children who have been abandoned, abused and neglected, especially those children who have been adopted. She has been working with children and families since 1994 and is the co-author of “What Every Adoptive Parent Needs to Know: Healing Your Child’s Wounded Heart.”  Cremer-Vogel has completed more than 300 hundred hours of training with Daniel A. Hughes, a globally recognized expert in bonding and attachment. Her approach to working with children and families is grounded in the work of current research in relational neurobiology.


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