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Vancouver WA & Portland OR

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Vancouver Integrative Counseling Blog

When Something Scary Happens – Part 1: How to Know When to Seek Therapy For Your Child

It is likely that most people will experience at least one scary situation in their lifetime. For some, these events roll off their back and they continue on with their life with few to no effects. For others, they will have a hard time moving past it – for those in this category such events are no longer scary but traumatic. They often experience a variety of unsettling symptoms that can pop up immediately after or months/years later.

Children can experience trauma like adults, but children do not often have the words to tell adults about it or the skills that adults have to cope with it. Child therapy is a safe and effective way for children to work through their trauma and move on with their lives.
As parents/caregivers, it is helpful to be aware of the signs and symptoms that a child may exhibit after a traumatic event. If these symptoms go untreated by a child therapist they can become exacerbated. The following is a list of common symptoms, but is by no means exhaustive or exclusive to trauma symptoms:

• a change in how your child handles everyday life (i.e. Things no longer roll off their back, every change/stressor is difficult to navigate and may cause crying outbursts or angry outbursts)
• easily frightened, when previously showed fearlessness
• difficulty falling asleep, refusal to sleep by themselves, and waking up in the night
•wetting/soiling themselves though they were previously and successfully potty-trained (NOTE: parents should always seek medical help for children if this start occurring before seeking counseling for their child)
• increased frequency of nightmares
• more angry, aggressive, whiny, argumentative, or increased lying behavior

It is important to note that some children cannot remember their trauma event, even though the parent is aware that it happened, but still experience these and other symptoms.

If your child has experienced a scary event and you are concerned about new behaviors or symptoms, therapy can help relieve those symptoms and get your child back on track.

Therapists with experience working with children and have a trauma-informed practice can provide the best care for your child.
If you are unsure whether you should seek out therapy for your child, consider having a conversation with a pediatrician.

Live in the Vancouver/Portland area and want to discuss your child’s needs? Please contact me at kristin.ray.lmhc@gmail.com, and we can set up a free 30-minute phone consultation.