SERVICES FOR CHILDREN
Can My Child Benefit from Therapy?
Many people assume that therapy is only for adults and that children don't need therapy. There is also still the stigma that receiving therapy means that you're "crazy." Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from therapy, especially children. Children can develop all of the same mental health issues as adults, but their symptoms often look different. Prevention and early intervention (especially before the age of 5), are actually key to long-term happiness and success. The brains of children are extremely "plastic," meaning that they can change fairly quickly and easily, making this the perfect time for intervention.
It is typically common life events, such as transitions, that children need support with. Transitions are stressful for all children, but may be particularly difficult to navigate for others. Transitions encompass the smaller day-to-day transitions, such as moving from one activity to another, moving between home and school, or moving from a waking state into sleeping, and also the larger life transitions such as changes in the family system (i.e. - the birth of a sibling, the separation or divorce of parents, the death of a pet) and stage of life changes (i.e. - transitioning into a new grade or school, puberty, etc). We all need extra help from time-to-time, and therapy can provide that extra support that parents and children are seeking.
Signs That Therapy Might Help
Toddlers and children often manifest their emotional distress behaviorally (such as emotional and physical outbursts), and somatically (such as headaches, stomachaches, etc), which may be frequent and disproportionate to what may have triggered them. Depression may not be expressed as sadness, but rather as irritability. Other signs that your child may benefit from therapy include sudden changes in mood or behavior, or sudden decreases in functioning such as sudden social withdrawal, decrease in school functioning, or a decrease in personal hygiene. Another warning sign might be physical changes and disturbances in biorhythms, such as sudden weight or appetite changes, or changes in sleep patterns.
Infants can also suffer from mental health challenges. These can be more difficult to diagnose due to the obvious reason of them not being able to share what they are thinking or how they are feeling. However, signs that they may be risk include difficulties with sleeping or feeding, under- and over-responding to their environment, as well as failure to meet developmental milestones.
How I Work with Children
In order to determine the best treatment, I perform a thorough assessment which involves gathering information from caregivers, the child, the teacher if possible, as well as observation of the child and family. After this, I make recommendations about the best forms of treatment.
Dyadic therapy, meaning child and parent(s), is a given for children ages 5 and under. At this age, children really do not benefit from individual therapy, and as their parents are the center of their world, changes come about in the context of their caregiving relationship.
For children ages 6 and up, some combination of family therapy, work with the parents, and individual sessions is typical, though the recommendation will be informed by the assessment. Sometimes, the majority of the work is actually with the parents around ways to support their children, along with some family therapy to practice new strategies and ways of relating.
I also offer in-home sessions when working with children. This can be extremely beneficial as children are more comfortable in their home environment, and this is often the location of the impairment, making it easier to work with them. I will discuss this option with you if I think in-home sessions would be beneficial to you and your child.