How to Know When Your Child Needs Therapy

By: Chris Hammond, M.S.

When your child struggles for a period of time, has difficulty in school, seems different at home than at school, or acts inconsistently with their personality, therapy designed specifically for children can help them overcome these challenges. Most children experience difficulties from time to time while growing up. Some of these challenges are physical (their changing bodies), some are mental (their school work), some are social (their friendships), some are environmental (their home life) and some are spiritual (their religious affiliations). For some children, these challenges are easily faced and they continue to have a positive outlook on their future. For other children, these challenges become road blocks and they seem to be stuck in a negative cycle.

As a parent, understanding your child’s challenge and how to best motivate and encourage them is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with them. Children take their cues from their parents so if a challenge is overwhelming for the parent, the child is likely to respond similarly. However, if a parent is understanding, concerned and empathetic the child is likely to respond positively. Sometimes just becoming aware of your child’s challenges and how best to deal with them will make all the difference in your relationship.

If your child has been dealing with abuse, developmental issues, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, or post traumatic stress disorder then therapy is beneficial for both the parent and the child. Other struggles include social pressure, divorce, depression, anger, eating disorders, addictions, self harm, and grief. Some of the indications that your child may need therapy are:

• change in appetite
• nervous more than usual
• difficulty concentrating
• problems at school
• aggressive or angry
• nightmares
• trouble sleeping
• mood swings
• seems depressed
• loud noises are bothersome
• regressing to younger behavior
• refusing to talk
• fears separation from parents
• change in friends
• socially withdrawn
• personality change
• problem with life transition (death in the family, divorce, move, new school)

Most of the time, therapy is not a long process for a child as they adjust and adapt more quickly than adults. The combination of therapy for the parents and the child is doubly beneficial as it helps the entire family unit to be on the same page. If therapy is not timely, some of the challenges can be so overwhelming for a child that they feel defeated and this belief can last a lifetime. It is never too late to begin the therapy process with your child; it is only too late if never started.



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"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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