Westmont Magazine Paying Attention to Children
Grant Martin ’64 has a tough job. As a child psychologist and marriage and family therapist, he sees patients whose parents have abused them sexually or physically or subjected them to a brutal divorce. Other problems he treats include extreme anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Grant gets many calls from desperate parents, and he’d like some help. “There is a huge need for Christian psychologists who work with children,” he says.
Too many therapists focus on adults and adolescents. “But if we stop problems by treating children, we won’t have to do as much work with adults,” he says.
Material about children’s psychological issues is also sparse, particularly from a Christian perspective. To fill this need, Grant has written 13 books, including “The Attention Deficit Child,” “Help! My Child Isn’t Learning,” “Counseling for Family Violence and Abuse,” and “When Good Things Become Addictions.”
Addressing the deficits in his field keeps Grant busy. In addition to writing, he speaks frequently at workshops, conferences and churches and appears on radio and television programs such as “Focus on the Family.” He formerly taught graduate students at Seattle Pacific University, encouraging them to work with children. He sees clients in private practice in Edmonds, Wash., and gets calls from concerned parents around the country.
Grant intended to study engineering in college — until he took his first math class. He likes figuring things out, so he turned to psychology to better understand human behavior. Becoming a therapist also gave him an opportunity to help people, which was important to him as a Christian. After graduating from Westmont, he earned a master’s degree at the University of Idaho and a doctorate at the University of Washington.
Many of Grant’s patients have ADHD, a disorder that is often inherited. His counseling incorporates the entire family, and he takes a holistic approach.
“People with ADHD need professional help — and more than just medication,” he says. “They need help with social skills, how to make and keep friends, how to manage anger. They also need to learn study habits. I often involve parents because they may need some of the same skills.”
While ADHD is a permanent condition, people can learn to manage and overcome it. Grant relishes the success stories. One patient was flunking out of college, but, after being diagnosed with ADHD, has graduated and enrolled in a doctoral program. A parent close to committing suicide received help with an ADHD child, who has graduated from high school with good grades.
Grant has been active in the Christian Association for Psychological Studies and served as president of the organization. After 36 years as a psychologist, he says he has attended enough meetings and seminars.
“These days I choose fishing over conferences,” he says. While he may scale back his hours, he plans to keep working. “I like the balance of my life working, spending time seeing grandchildren and fishing.” He and his wife, Jane, have two sons and two grandsons.
Pursuing hobbies such as playing basketball, building furniture and taking photographs, Grant seeks the holistic approach to life he applies in his practice.