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Can Your Child Benefit From Counseling?
- Lydia was diagnosed with bone cancer after her eighth birthday. After three years of cancer treatments, she is sad that her classmates avoid her, fearing that her cancer was contagious.
- Paul is six years old, and he became withdrawn after his parents separated. Struggling with a learning disability, he seldom speaks, but expresses his feelings through vivid crayon drawings.
- At age nine, Danny complains that he cannot get rid of “bad thoughts” in his head. Every night, he compulsively counts all his toys before going to sleep.
When Does Your Child Need a Therapist?
- Changes in school performance, such as dropping grades, missed homework, and skipping school
- Excessive worry or anxiety
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Change in sleeping habits or frequent nightmares
- Mood changes, including temper tantrums, depression, anger, and aggression
- Dangerous and/or illegal behavior, including:
What Happens Inside the Therapist’s Office?
- Be honest with your child about why the session is needed
- Explain that the session does not involve a physical examination or shots
- Tell your child the he or she may play during therapy to help solve problems and feel better
- Explain that the therapist will be helping you and your family members as well as your child
- Reassure older children and teens that anything said in therapy is confidential and cannot be shared without their permission
What If Medication Is Needed?
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar disorder
How Should You Choose a Therapist?
- Word of mouth from a doctor, trusted friend, or family member
- Regional or local mental health centers
- Human service organizations
Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net
National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org
Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca
Taking your child to a therapist. KidsHealth—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/finding%5Ftherapist.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed July 27, 2012.
When to seek help for your child. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: http://aacap.org/cs/root/facts%5Ffor%5Ffamilies/when%5Fto%5Fseek%5Fhelp%5Ffor%5Fyour%5Fchild. Updated March 2011. Accessed July 15, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 07/2014
- Update Date: 07/15/2014