Does my child need therapy?

I see you – you are overwhelmed, stressed, and worried about your child. You are wondering if therapy is right for your child? Can therapy help your child? 

How do I know if my child needs therapy?

This is a question I am asked weekly by parents seeking out services. Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer to this question. It will vary by individual basis. However, I can tell you some common things to watch out for and situations where therapy can be helpful. 

Common Issues Addressed in Play Therapy:

  1. Anger Management or Emotional Regulation

    • These parents are exhausted because their child is defiant, throwing temper tantrums, and often aggressive. 
    • The thing to keep in mind is that kids will not always follow directions. It is developmentally appropriate for children at times to back talk, yell, and refuse to do what you ask. 
    • The concern for me as a therapist is when this behavior becomes aggressive. 
    • In addition, if the disrespectful behavior happens more often- for examples goes from weekly to daily, it is a sign that support may be needed.
    • Another sign to watch out for is if the behavior lasts longer- tantrums that used to be 5 minutes suddenly last an hour. 
  1. Coping with Life Transitions

    • This may be a divorce, a death, blending families, birth of a sibling, moving or starting a new school. 
    • Signs a child may be having difficulty coping include changes in sleeping or eating habits, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, or on the flip side frequent outbursts of strong emotions.
    • Again, keep in mind that some period of adjustment is normal and varies for each child. 
    • Reflecting feelings to children is always a good place to start the conversation to see how much this transition is affecting your child.
  1. Traditional Mental Health Concerns

    • Anxiety, ADHD, or depression 

  2. Abuse, Neglect, or Other Forms of Trauma

    •  As with the other issues, trauma symptoms fall on a spectrum. Some kids act out by being physically and/or verbally aggressive others shutdown and collapse into a world of their own, some kids fall in the middle or alternate their emotional reactions. Not all kids who have experienced trauma require extensive therapy, but I would encourage at least an evaluation by a mental health provider. 

I hope this has given you some insight into when it might be appropriate to seek out therapeutic support for your child or adolescent. 

Please CONTACT us if you would like to discuss more about your individual situation or ways we can help.

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