There can be a lot of mystery surrounding child therapy, as well as fear and apprehension for parents and/or caregivers. Below, are 4 myths about child therapy that cause concern for parents/caregivers, and the truth about them:
1. Child therapy is only for children who get in trouble all the time.
Children from ages 3 and up (though some therapists work with younger ages) can benefit from therapy when the following concerns arise:
• referrals, FYI’s, and suspensions from school
•ADD/ADHD symptoms, having a hard time with transitions or a new change in their life, having a hard time making friends
• tantrums, meltdowns, fits, or outbursts that occur one or more times a day (for ages 3 and 4 the tantrums, etc. last longer than 10 minutes), especially if they tend to be aggressive.
•experienced trauma (prolonged separation from parent(s), medical trauma, abuse, witness of a terrifying event, etc.) and is experiencing nightmares, frequent worries, easily cries, and/or physical symptoms of anxiety (stomach aches, headaches, wetting or soiling themselves, etc.).
•Has a hard time being apart from parent(s) or primary caregiver(s) at night and during the day.
•making negative statements about themselves a few times a week or more (“I’m stupid,” “I can’t do anything,” “no one wants to be my friend,” etc.)
•and most importantly if they have any of the follow symptoms or behavior: stating they wish they were dead, hurting themselves (head-banging, hitting or slapping themselves), rapid changes in mood that are extreme (i.e. happy to deeply sad to very angry), and seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there.
2. Children meet with the therapist alone.
Children make the best progress when their parents/caregivers are involved in therapy sessions, learning and practicing with their child, and then guiding their child in practicing at home. Children learn best when surrounded and supported by family. That isn’t to say that there are not times that children may benefit from a few minutes one-on-one with a therapist, but children also need family involvement.
3. Child therapy is all talk.
Children naturally communicate through movement, art, and stories, and struggle with expressing their inner world and thoughts through talk. Child therapy meets children where they are at, using movement, art, stories, and sometimes even song, to help children express themselves and learn tools and skills.
4. Child therapy is all about parenting.
Most of child therapy is working with the child, though parents and caregivers may also need some support in how to approach their child’s needs differently. Typical parenting approaches do not work with all children and a child therapist may have some different approaches. However, focus is always on the child’s needs in therapy.
Live in the Vancouver/Portland area and want to discuss your child’s needs? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can set up a free 30-minute phone consultation.