We all know that children can be quite vulnerable, even more so than adults. The world can be a terrifying place, and many things which we take for granted may not make sense to a child, especially one who is going through a difficult phase. And while, as adults, we may like to think that our children should be happy and carefree, this isn’t always the case. Children can go through the same emotional issues and disorders which plague us as adults, and this is where counseling and therapy can be of immense help. Therapy can also be highly beneficial for children who have specific issues such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), or problems with conduct. But how do you know if your child needs therapy? Here’s how you can properly determine if your child can benefit from therapy and counseling.
The signs and symptoms to look out for
There are some early warning signs and symptoms you can look out for if you think your child needs counseling or therapy. If your child has a persistent feeling of hopelessness or sadness or if your child is continuously angry and tends to overreact to certain situations, he or she may need counseling. If your child has a constant feeling of worry, fearfulness, or anxiety, they may benefit from therapy as well. Some children may also show signs of being preoccupied with their appearance or with physical illness, and others may show a sudden and unexpected drop in their school grades.
Other signs and symptoms include a lack of interest in various activities which they previously liked or enjoyed, or a lack of appetite, or a change in sleeping patterns. Children who may suddenly become reclusive may be exhibiting a sign or symptom of a deeper problem as well. Other signs your child may need counseling and therapy include an inability to think clearly or concentrate, or an inability to listen or sit still. There are also more serious signs such as hurting animals or setting fires, or drug or alcohol use, where your child could very well benefit from therapy and counseling.
Types of therapy for children
There are different types of therapy for children today, and these are a few of the more common ones:
- Play therapy – play therapy is when children are encouraged to play with toys, as a psychotherapist or other professional watches their behavior and how they are playing to have a better understanding of their mental or emotional health. Different methods of play can help your child express their feelings or figure out what they are feeling as well. Play therapy is also beneficial for children who are depressed or anxious, especially if they are having difficulty dealing with a specific life issue such as the death of a parent or divorce.
- Behavior therapy – this kind of therapy focuses on the modification of a child’s behavior, and various negative or positive behaviors can be identified and discouraged (or encouraged) as necessary. Parents are also encouraged to change various factors in the environment of the child which may contribute to the emergence of these behaviors, as well as provide the child with consequences for their behavior. Behavior therapy is useful for children who may be diagnosed with ADHD and other conditions where the modification of behavior is desired.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy – in cognitive behavioral therapy, a child is taught about how his or her thoughts can affect his or her behavior and mood. Children are shown how they can identify distorted or negative patterns of thought, and how to deal with or handle them as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful for those who have disorders such as depression and anxiety.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy – in psychodynamic psychotherapy, a child is encouraged to talk about their feelings, and the psychotherapist tries to figure out how these affect the way the child acts or thinks. This kind of therapy is based on the concept that the behavior of a child will improve once their inner feelings and struggles are out in the open. It is useful for children who have depression or anxiety as well as children who may have eating disorders and children who have problems with conduct.
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