Rebecca Hill

Effective Treatment For Young Children With Co-Occurring Anxiety And Speech, Language, And/Or Communication Needs

Rebecca Akers-Hill earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Eastern Kentucky University in 2000, a Master of Social Work from the University of Kentucky in 2009, and is currently a Doctor of Social Work Candidate at the University of Kentucky (with an expected graduation date of May 2023). She also holds postgraduate certificates in School Social Work from the University of Kentucky and Play Therapy from Eastern Kentucky University. Rebecca has held a Kentucky social work license since 2002, including being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2019.

Rebecca has been teaching graduate social work classes at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work for several years. She is dedicated to helping students understand the importance of macro-level social work and how to engage effectively in policy work. She also has a passion for helping students and new social work practitioners understand and utilize meaningful self-care.

Rebecca is currently a mental health therapist at Southland Child, Adult, and Family Counseling. She specializes in the use of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) with children experiencing a variety of mental health and behavioral challenges. She has a clinical interest in children who have experience with the foster care system and/or adoption, as well as young children with co-occurring mental health disorders and developmental delays.

While working in a multidisciplinary clinic, Rebecca developed a particular interest in children with co-occurring anxiety and speech, language, and communication needs. After recognizing the typical therapeutic approaches (both to address anxiety and speech, language, and communication needs) were largely ineffective, she was inspired to focus her Capstone research on how best to support this population. This led to the creation of a new therapeutic modality, integrating CCPT with Polyvagal Theory (PVT). The framework combines the skills used in CCPT and the exercises employed in PVT to provide experiences of co-regulation while exposing children to safe opportunities to encounter and practice language, ultimately improving children’s speech, language, and/or communication and anxiety outcomes.