If a child suffers from any behavioral, emotional, or mental health disorder; there could be lifelong consequences on his/her social and academic progress. Such issues also affect their health and relationships with friends and family. For parents, detecting problems as soon as they arise, is the first step to help their children tackle these challenges. A public health approach to take care of children’s mental health involves providing preventive intervention and offering individual therapy for identified disorders.
Role of Individual Therapy
Individual therapy plays a crucial role in improving the mental health of children, pertaining to all ages. Such a therapy program can also combine the use of medication, according to the severity and type of the mental health issue.
The purpose of therapy is to help a child manage his/her symptoms or treat a mental health condition so they can function well at school, their home, and in their community.
Generally, parents accompany their children to the therapy sessions, especially when the kids are young. However, for children above age ten or eleven, the presence of a parent can be awkward.
In some cases, professional psychologists work with the parents alone to design a therapy program. But, older children can meet a therapist alone.
Some types of therapies may involve working with teachers, the child’s friends, or other adults in the child’s life. Many times, parents also require family therapy sessions for resolving their own stressors and/or personal issues that may be aggravating their child’s problems.
Typically, parent-focused approaches involve the parents discussing their child’s behavior and feelings with a professional and certified therapist. Individual therapy sessions with children usually include playing, talking, and introducing activities that can help them vent out their thoughts and emotions.
Sometimes, a therapist may also observe both the child and the parents together for making inferences.
Effective Types of Therapy for Treating Mental Disorders in Children
According to CDC, anxiety, ADHD, depression, and behavior problems are the most common mental disorders in children. Let’s find out about the most effective therapy types for treating these disorders.
This type of therapy teaches children and their families how to reduce or eliminate problematic behaviors. In parent training, the therapist works with parents for improving or learning skills that can help them manage their child’s behavior. Therapists encourage parents to practice these skills with their child, at home or during the therapy session. Many times, the child’s teacher also receives training in behavior management for helping the child at school or childcare center.
With adolescents or older children, a qualified therapist works directly with the children for teaching them how to choose positive behaviors. Parents may also provide support for strengthening the skills the child is learning.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
This type of therapy focuses on altering the emotions and thoughts that affect a child’s behavior negatively. Parents can team up with a certified therapist for helping the child become aware of his/her thoughts and feelings. The therapist can also guide a child to evaluate illogical or distorted feelings. That helps children change their thought process as well as the corresponding behaviors and emotional reactions.
Although cognitive-behavior therapy often involves working directly with the child, but the therapy sessions can also include parents.
When it comes to addressing common childhood disorders like ADHD or anxiety, individual therapy sessions may include cognitive-behavior therapy or behavior therapy for reducing symptoms.
According to the scientific evidence available, various types of therapies work well for different types of problems:
Cognitive-behavior therapy is best for treating:
- Disruptive behavior disorder
Parent training in behavior management is best for treating
- Disruptive behavior disorders
Child behavior therapy is best for treating
- Disruptive behavior disorders
In the case of adolescents, here are the types of therapy which can be effective.
- Adolescents who have depression respond best to interpersonal psychotherapy. In this type of therapy, professional adolescents can help the child to learn ways to manage relationship problems.
- Adolescents who have disruptive behavior disorder can significantly benefit from family therapy. In this approach, multiple members of a family focus on learning effective communications skills and techniques to resolve conflicts.
Although other therapy approaches may also be beneficial, not much evidence is present for researchers to conclude if they offer the best results. Statistics on what works best for a specific family are also limited.
How to Find the Right Therapist for your Child
Unfortunately, figuring out if a child is struggling with emotional or mental health challenges, is not as black and white as checking for other conditions such as a fever. Many families and children have their own developmental trajectories, and some struggle is normally a part of growing up.
Generally, parents talk to their child’s healthcare provider as a first step to highlight problems such as poor sleep, difficulty learning, or loss of appetite. The healthcare provider assesses and evaluates the child’s symptoms before referring him/her for therapy.
As parents, trusting your gut is important. If you feel the reason why your child is lagging in academics or avoiding social events is connected to mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Children and (even some adolescents) may lack the intrapersonal skills to identify their struggles with emotions and behaviors or to communicate their feelings well. That’s why parents, teachers, and family members must have their antennas up for detecting unusual behavioral and emotional signals exhibited by children.
Signs that Indicate Emotional and Behavioral Problems
Here are the signs that indicate if your child is having a tough time dealing with his emotions or certain behaviors.
- Displaying disruptive behaviors that affect their daily life
- Using language that references causing harm to others or themselves
- Significant changes in sleeping, eating, or other behavioral patterns
- Major life changes such as relocating to another city or losing a parent
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive irritability or anger
- Extreme sensitivities or moods
- Struggling in academics or sports at school
Bottom Line on Individual Therapy
Various mental barriers may cause parents to hesitate before reaching out to a professional therapist who can provide individual or family therapy sessions. Typically, these factors include money, time, or the stigma attached to mental health. However, as parents, the most important thing to you should be the well-being and happiness of your child.
If you are looking for the best individual therapy in Grand Rapids, Michigan then we are just a call away. Health for Life Counseling is here to provide professional and affordable individual/family therapy services to our clients. Our professional team of seasoned therapists, counselors, and consultants offer personalized and customized therapy services, according to your needs and budget. Call us today to schedule an appointment or contact us by filling a quick and easy contact form.