Does My Child Need Therapy?
Parents seek out our services for several reasons. Sometimes parents know that a big family change or stressor is in the child’s future and they want to proactively provide their child with a resource (a trusted therapist) which will help them through that transition. For these parents, helping and encouraging their children to manage the emotions related to that transition/change in healthy ways is their priority. Other times, parents are concerned or worried about an event that has already happened. A traumatic event or social stressor has impacted their child and they want to provide their child with a healthy outlet to cope. Most often, parents have observed a change in their child’s behavior or the way their child is interacting with others and are seeking to understand how to help them and resolve that problem.
Children and teens most often show they’re having a hard time through their behaviors, not necessarily their words.
Sometimes these behaviors are “internalized” and may include
- shutting down
- not engaging in activities they once enjoyed
- “spacing out”
- poor academic achievement
- distracted and off task
- stomach-aches or headaches
- becoming apathetic
Other times changes in behaviors are “externalized” and may include
- panic attacks
- lack of cooperation
- crying spells, or
- other behavioral challenges
If your child has experienced a change in their behaviors, it’s a good sign they will benefit from therapy, even if it is short term.
Our approach to working with clients under the age of 18 is informed by our expertise in this population. Research tells us which types of therapies are most effective in treating specific childhood-related mental and emotional health concerns. The development of the brain responsible for cognitive reflection, problem solving, and the ability to adjust behavior to reach certain goals continues until people are in their early 20s! We can’t expect for children and teens to come in and sit on a couch and TELL us what’s wrong or why they’re behaving the way they are – it’s not physiologically possible for many children and teens. Most times, parents have already tried this at home and since it didn’t eliminate their concerns, the family comes to visit us. We take a different approach to meeting therapeutic needs and goals.
Young children communicate through play. It is through play that children learn to solve problems, recover from traumatic events, regulate emotions, develop coping skills, resolve conflict, and overcome challenges and transitions. For this reason, therapy for children at Creative Family Counseling involves a wide array of expressive therapies. Expressive therapies include many creative therapeutic interventions such as using toys, activities, games, art, drama, dance, and music just to name a few. Our practice Therapy Dogs provide animal-assisted therapy with clients. By experiencing these creative interventions with a skilled and caring therapist, children are able to express themselves in their own developmentally appropriate ways.
While some teens may not be interested in play therapies, they still benefit from other expressive therapies. Our therapists are trained in and have a passion to specifically work with children, teens, parents, and families. Whether a pre-teen, teen, or emerging adult, our clinicians can help your teen and family meet your therapeutic goals. Because many adolescents have an interest in the creative expression of emotions, expressive therapies can be utilized in sessions with them. Therapists may provide activity therapy such as the use of a therapeutic game, art techniques, and additional creative interventions. Our Therapy Dogs are a big hit with teenage clients, connecting with them in a way only an animal could by providing animal-assisted therapies.
Common issues addressed through expressive therapies are:
- behavioral problems
- anxiety and panic
- mood instability
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- low self-esteem and self-image
- issues with explosive anger or irritability
- performance issues
- peer relationship challenges
- self-injurious behaviors
- suicidal ideation
- issues related to a history of trauma, abuse, neglect or abandonment
Therapists at Creative Family Counseling are also trained in other child-appropriate trauma treatment modalities, such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). These treatment tools are utilized in a way that is developmentally appropriate for children with special attention to each client’s individual needs.
Creative Family Counseling takes a systemic and integrative approach to work with children. Oftentimes, a child’s behaviors can serve as a warning signal that the family system isn’t functioning as best as it could.
With both individual therapy and family therapy, clients are able to develop healthier ways of interacting and connecting with one another, which meets a child’s underlying behavioral needs.
It is typical for families of young children to participate in a wide array of services at Creative Family Counseling, which is tailored to each family’s specific needs. These services can include individual therapy, family therapy, parent support, co-parenting support, and group therapy.
If your child is demonstrating behavioral changes and you have concerns about stressors they have or are currently experiencing, our team would be honored to walk along your family’s journey and help you find ways to better interact and manage those stressors. Give us a call today!