Can Your Child Benefit From Counseling?
by Amy Scholten, MPH
These children are struggling with mental health issues. Child therapy may help.
Unresolved problems or disorders can affect a child’s development. They can also affect the parents and the family. If not treated, the effects of problems can last a long time. They can even shape future work and social relationships.
There are many problems that can affect children's mental health. Examples are divorce, bullying, illness, or any type of trauma. Therapy can help children resolve current problems and cope with challenges later on.
When Does Your Child Need a Therapist?
You may be the first to notice changes in your child's behavior. Here are some signs that your child may benefit from therapy:
What Happens In Therapy?
For children ages 4 to 11, therapists may offer play therapy. In play therapy, children use dolls, art, and games to express their thoughts, experiences, and feelings. The therapist may watch and/or interact with the child during play. They will use talk or play objects to communicate.
For older children talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy may be used. It depends on the child's abilities and maturity.
How Should You Prepare Your Child?
If you have decided on child therapy, here are some ways to prepare for the first visit:
What If Medicine Is Needed?
Some mental health problems also need to be treated with medicine. Examples are:
Any medicines should be used with care. Medicine should be prescribed by a mental health doctor. The doctor should have experience treating children and teens. Discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with the doctor. You and the doctor need to monitor the effects of the medicines.
How Should You Choose a Therapist?
There are many things to consider when choosing a therapist. Examples are cost, insurance, schedule, and location. You and the child should also be comfortable with the therapist. You may find a referral to therapy from:
Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Depression in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/depression-in-children-and-adolescents. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Oppositional defiant disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/oppositional-defiant-disorder. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Taking your child to a therapist. KidsHealth—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidshealth.org/en/parents/finding-therapist.html. Accessed November 2, 2021.
When to seek help for your child. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/When-To-Seek-Help-For-Your-Child-024.aspx. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 11/2/2021
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