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Therapy for Children and Adolescents

Often kids, like adults, may benefit from therapy.  Therapy can help kids develop problem-solving skills and also teach them the value of seeking help. Therapists can help kids and families cope with stress and a variety of behavioral and emotional issues.

Many kids need help dealing with school stress, such as homework, test anxiety, bullying, or peer pressure.  Others need help to discuss their feelings about family issues, particularly if there is a major transition such as a divorce, move, or serious illness.

Should My Child See a Therapist? 

Major life events - such as death of a family member, friend, or pet; divorce or a move; abuse; trauma; a parent leaving on a military deployment; or a major illness in the family may lead to problems with behavior, mood, sleep, appetite, and academic or social functioning.

In some cases, it's not clear what's caused a child to suddenly seem withdrawn, worried, stressed, sulky, or tearful.  But if you feel your child might have an emotional or behavioral problem or needs help coping with a difficult life event, trust your instincts.

Signs that a child might benefit from seeing a psychologist or licensed therapist include:
  • Developmental delay in speech, language, or toilet training
  • Learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
  • Behavioral problems (such as excessive anger, acting out, bedwetting or eating disorders)
  • A significant drop in grades, particularly if your child normally maintains high grades
  • Episodes of sadness, tearfulness, or depression
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Being the victim of bullying or bullying other children
  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Overly aggressive behavior (such as biting, kicking, or hitting)
  • Sudden changes in appetite (particularly in adolescence)
  • Insomnia or increased sleepiness
  • Excessive school absenteeism or tardiness
  • Mood swings (e.g.happy one minute upset the next)
  • Development of or an increase in physical complaints (such as headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor
  • Management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness
  • Signs of alcohol, drug, or other substance use (such as solvents or prescription drug abuse)
  • Problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
  • Bereavement issues
  • Custody evaluations
  • Therapy following sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events

Family therapy can be helpful in many cases, such as when family members are not getting along; disagree or argue often; or when a child or teen is having behavior problems.  Family therapy involves counseling sessions with some, or all, family members, helping to improve communication skills among them.  Treatment focuses on problem-solving techniques and can help parents re-establish their role as authority figures.
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