Child Therapy: Does Your Child Need Therapy?

Sometimes we like to think of childhood as a carefree time full of exploration, fun, play and love. Unfortunately, it’s not true all for time for all children.

Children are susceptible to the same emotional health issues and mood problems that affect adults. According to some studies, as many as one in five children and adolescents may have an identifiable mental disorder that requires treatment. At least 1 in 10 has some serious emotional difficulties.

Many factors can contribute to children and adolescents having emotional issues. And it’s not your fault! However, getting your child intervention and learning some tools to help can make a huge difference. Early intervention is the key to most issues in children and adolescents.

Here are some warning signs your child might need some professional interventions:

Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
Constant anger and a tendency to overreact to situations
Persistent worry, anxiety, or fearfulness
Preoccupation with physical illness or their own appearance
Fear that someone is controlling his mind, or that he is "out of control"
A sudden, unexplained drop in grades at school
A loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
Changes in patterns of sleeping or eating
Reclusiveness, preferring to be alone rather than in the company of friends or family
Hearing voices that aren't there
Expressing thoughts of suicide
An inability to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions
An inability to sit still
Performing routines obsessively throughout the day, such as washing hands or cleaning things
Experiencing regular nightmares
Alcohol or drug use
Dieting obsessively, or binging followed by vomiting or taking laxatives
Taking part in violent acts such as setting fires or killing animals

If a child or adolescent shows some or many of these signs, he likely needs therapy. Therapy for kids can be very beneficial, particularly if a problem is identified before it can grow worse.

What happens in therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy- In this form of therapeutic intervention, children are taught how their own thoughts can affect their mood and behavior. Kids are shown how to identify negative or distorted thought patterns and learn how to change them. This type of therapy is helpful in addressing anxiety, depression and self esteem issues. It’s great that kids learn they are in control instead of their anger, anxiety or mood./p>

Play therapy- Toys and fun are very often in any type of therapy. Different types of play help children (and sometimes adults) figure out feelings and express them in a safe and playful environment. Play therapy can help kids who have difficulties with trauma, relational difficulties, social difficulties. It’s a Myth that therapy is boring! Most of my patients don’t want to leave the room when therapy session is over.

Behavior therapy- Therapy focuses on behavior modification. Behaviors are identified that need to be discouraged or encouraged, and then parents and therapist work together as a team to modify the environmental factors for desired or undesired behavior. It is helpful for treating children who have ADHD, anger issues, having trouble listening to adults at school or home. If your rules for your child are not working, consult a professional can be very helpful before things get worse. Please don’t wait until they are 16!

Dog therapy- Animal can be very calming for all of us, especially children. Research has shown that dogs increase our happiness, decrease our anxiety level, blood pressure and promotes trust and socializing. I’ve been using my therapy dog, Mochi, in my office for adults and children. It’s been extremely helpful in providing a safe environment. Mochi is as cute as a button and you will fall in love with her.