Does my child need therapy?
As parents, we often wonder whether our child’s behaviors are “normal.” We may find ourselves watching other children, reading relevant articles, or asking friends for feedback. Despite our best efforts, the answers remain perplexing, so we become increasingly reluctant to move forward towards a resolution. There are many things that may prevent us as parents from seeking treatment for our children. Some parents become afraid because of past negative experiences with therapy. While other parents struggle with the idea of feeling like a failure. On the other hand, there are families grappling over the stigma of participating in therapy. All of these factors leave some parents wondering, “Is it really that bad?” In other situations, parents may simply not know where to start for help. It is important to thoughtfully consider possible underlying barriers to treatment. Exploring the source of each obstacle can help you see more clearly, and confidently make the best decision for your family.
What are reasons my child may require therapy?
While there is not a set protocol for seeking therapy, the following may provide possible reasons for mental health intervention. Consider seeking therapy for your child if he/she:
- Shows extremes or peculiarity of behavior for the age and gender of the child, such as being significantly more hyper, aggressive, or withdrawn.
- Has experienced a traumatic life event.
- Frequently experiences temper tantrums.
- Exhibits excessive fears, worrying, or crying.
- Displays sudden, hard-to explain negative changes in behaviors, such as a drastic drop in grades.
- Has trouble maintaining positive peer relationships.
- Experiences sudden changes in sleeping habits.
- Persistently shows difficulty separating from a parent/caregiver.
Your child may be experiencing some or all of the above challenges. As a parent, you are in the best position to determine if the severity of your child’s reaction or behaviors warrants treatment.
Can my child be fixed?
Many parents seek treatment because they want the therapist to “fix” the child in the family who is the most tedious to manage. Often parents have the idea that they will take their child to therapy and the child will be immediately “fixed.” Children do not live in isolation, rather they’re a part of many systems. However, the most important system is the family. Sometimes the child displaying the most symptoms is merely a reflection of a broken family system. This child usually becomes the “identified patient” when in fact the foundational problem is systemic. Typically, the treating therapist finds that there are underlying issues related to communication, methods of discipline, or parenting strategies.
How do I pick a therapist?
This can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Once you have decided that your child and family would benefit from therapy, the task of selecting a psychologist that will connect well with your family begins. Word of mouth is likely your best resource, as you can hear specific feedback. If you intend to use your insurance, you can request a list of paneled providers in your area. Alternatively, you can conduct an internet search to find a psychologists near you. Psychology Today, American Psychological Association, and National Registry for Psychologists are websites that offer a search tool assisting you find a qualified psychologist in your area.