About us


Our mission at Gowanus Treehouse is to play, build, and grow with your child while providing best practice standards of occupational therapy (OT) treatment tapping into each child’s unique abilities. We strive to understand the whole child based on their needs and are inclusive of both neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals.

Building strong partnerships with parents, caregivers, educators and other professionals is an integral part of our process. Comprehensive OT evaluations, screenings, and evidence-based approaches are also provided to target developmental, sensory, motor, social learning, and cognitive development for optimizing sustainable outcomes.


At Gowanus Treehouse, we use an integrated approach to treatment with a strong focus on social competencies, cognitive flexibility, and emotional regulation skills. A variety of occupational therapy frames of reference (FOR) are integrated into our treatments including:

Sensory Integration: The Sensory Integration FOR, originating from Dr. Jean Ayres, an American occupational therapist and educational psychologist who became known for her work in the 1970’s on sensory integration theory, which focuses on how an individual’s sensory systems (auditory, visual, gustatory, interoceptive, tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive) interact and process environmental information. Sensory integration is divided into components such as sensory modulation, sensory discrimination, sequencing, self-regulation, postural and ocular control, and praxis. Intervention aims to enable children to engage effectively in daily tasks through a structured environment that is tailored to their sensory needs.

Developmental: The Developmental FOR suggests that human development unfolds sequentially from infancy to adulthood, with each stage building upon prior mastery. It recognizes 6 adaptive skill areas – sensory integration, cognitive skills, dyadic and group interaction, and self-identity – essential for healthy coping and relationship formation.

Model of Human Occupations (MOHO): The MOHO FOR views humans as open systems evolving through continual engagement with their surroundings, encompassing four phases: input, throughput, output, and feedback, leading to self-maintenance and transformation. Additionally, this open system comprises three subsystems: volition, habituation, and performance – essential for establishing rapport with the child.

Social Participation: The Social Participation FOR highlights the role of emotions in motivating children’s social engagement, as they learn to adopt and regulate emotions from interactions with their parents and or caregivers. Children with challenges might struggle with emotional regulation due to difficulties in modulating physical, physiological, and cognitive processes, impacting their social participation. This framework encompasses seven domains of social functioning, including temperament adaptation, emotional regulation, family routines, environmental support, school engagement, environment for peer interaction, and peer interaction itself.


Gowanus Treehouse was founded in the Fall of 2013 by OT, Cathy Reid, who had been an occupational therapist (OT) for more than a decade, working in a smaller practice that started at the request of the parents of a preschool in Brooklyn. There were a growing number of parents seeking OT services to support their child either for home or school functioning as they saw the benefits from using OT strategies and tools. The research was showing that other countries, like Finland and Japan, were creating educational ecosystems that were more flexible and Whole-Child Centered with improved outcomes in terms of quality and equity. Children also were reported to be more sedentary than previous generations around the world.

Pediatricians and schools were referring kids for OT to address strategies for keeping up with the fine and visual motor developmental demands in the classroom and dealing with behaviors related to sensory processing or motor coordination difficulties. The difficulties ranged from trouble controlling their bodies or negotiating space, coordinating their movements, emotional regulation, exhibiting “too high” or “too low” levels of arousal interfering with daily activities and routines, sensory sensitivities (hyper or hypo) preventing them from participating successfully in daily tasks, listening and attending, or participating in socially expected ways with their peers.

As a result, the team of qualified OTs grew, and so did the need for small social learning groups run by OTs evolving to meet the needs of children to support their sensory processing, social learning, and executive functioning skills through play, combined with sensory-motor activities. The best part about doing OT in a sensory gym is that it is play-based and the kids are motivated and they look forward to coming to play at the “Treehouse” with their OT. Among the many moving parts, there is a place for everyone, on a wobble stool, trapezing in the treetops, in a cozy nook, climbing the rockwall, jumping off the treehouse to the giant cushions, or getting needed down-time in a swing.


Meg Moorhouse

Gowanus treehouse has been a godsend for my 11 year old autistic daughter. She is so skittish about new situations and not usually much for physical activity. She arrived surly and refused to follow instructions. Cathy made her feel right at home during her evaluation, and she emerged from it so ebullient I was tearing up with happiness. Since then, she’s been working with Donna weekly and goes there so happily. She comes out so proud of what she’s worked on. I find the combination of physical activity and mindfulness training to be so stellar. I can’t recommend Gowanus Treehouse highly enough.

Kaira Sperduto

I can’t thank the providers and staff at Treehouse enough. We had such a lovely experience. Both my son and I have learned valuable skills and lessons to carry on with us in our everyday life. Not only did it give my son the tools he needed, the handouts and lessons provided me with the verbiage and skills to better support and parent my child. It’s a warm and welcoming place, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an OT provider that specializes in social emotional playgroups.

Melanie Smith

We’ve worked with Gowanus Treehouse for more than seven years and feel that Cathy and all the practitioners at the Treehouse are our partners in supporting our children. When my eldest started private OT at the Treehouse, Claudia quickly noted that they would benefit from group OT. Two weeks later, multiple teachers at my child’s school asked me what we had changed because their behavior had changed so quickly. When my other child’s pediatrician told me that my child just needed more exercise and return to the classroom after Covid, Cathy had seen my child in the waiting room for years and understood how we had been struggling at home. Cathy, Claudia and all the therapists at the Treehouse see your children’s needs and do their best within their capacity at the Treehouse to help your children.

Joe Palladino

Gowanus Treehouse has really helped our son’s gross and fine motor skills and his confidence at school. The staff is lovely and we highly recommend working with them.