It’s not easy being a kid (or a teen) these days. It’s hard enough for adults (read: parents) to handle all the stresses of life, let alone kids. Kids frequently experience all kinds of hardships as part of growing up, from more obvious trauma to difficulties like anxiety, depression, being bullied, difficulty with transitions, divorce, and many other challenging events. Fortunately, therapy can help kids and adolescents with all of these challenges. If you think your child could use some support in dealing with the difficulties they are encountering, therapy for children and teens can really help.
How can therapy help kids and teens?
Therapy can help kids and teens with many of the mental health difficulties and behavioral problems that get in the way of them living healthy, happy lives. Therapy involves having a psychologist or other mental health professional conduct an assessment and build a tailored plan to help the child learn the skills and habits needed to help them to be more successful in school, at home, and in the community.
Not all mental health care for kids is equally effective. Therapy that is compassionate, evidence-based, and personalized can make all the difference. At Portland Psychotherapy, we focus on providing caring and knowledgeable therapists who use evidence-based techniques that have been studied and shown to work for kids and teens.
Below are some of the common problems addressed in therapy for kids or teens:
- Anxiety or depression
- Behavioral issues
- Abuse or neglect (sexual, emotional, physical, mental)
- Parent’s divorce or break up
- Conflict inside the family
- Deaths or losses
- LGBTQIA concerns
- Problems related to developmental delays or autism
- Bullying and Friendship concerns
- Academic problems
- Attention and executive functioning
- Traumatic events
- Problems with food or eating
- Moves or transitions
If your child is facing any of these problems, it’s likely a therapist can help.
What do you do when working with different aged children or teens?
There’s no age limit on when children (and their families) can benefit from psychotherapy. We welcome toddlers all the way up to teenagers in high school.
Here are some examples of the kinds of things a therapist might work with children and adolescents around at different ages:
- Toddlers (1-3 years): Feeding, sleep, and toileting problems, disruptive behaviors, or managing developmental delays . Usually involves parent participation in play therapy or learning new parenting skills.
- Kids (4-12 years): Common concerns include anxiety, friendship difficulties, and behavior problems. Talk therapy often involves hands-on activities. Parents usually participate as well so they can help support their kids in using skills learned at home.
- Teens (13-18 years): Common concerns include anxiety, depression, social difficulties, stress, being bullied and much more. Often the parent is less involved at this age and the therapy focuses more on talk therapy and learning specific emotion and behavior regulation skills.
When should a child or teen see a therapist?
It’s not always easy to know when your child or teen should seek therapy, even if they are dealing with the issues listed above. When a child’s thinking or behavior interferes with their ability to function well and the problem isn’t going away, it’s usually time to seek help. Here are some signs that suggest it’s time to find a therapist for your child or teen:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unwarranted aggression
- Persistent anxiety and worry
- Social isolation
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Suicidal thinking
- Persistent changes in appetite
A therapist can be an ally in dealing with these kinds of problems, problems that can often be scary or overwhelming for parents. It can often be hard to know how to help and having an objective observer can be really valuable in supporting you and your child as you find your way.
What kinds of treatments do you offer?
We offer treatments based in cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), such as behavioral therapy, parenting training, acceptance and commitment therapy, and exposure and response prevention. We focus on approaches that have been proven to work in research. We work with the child and family to set goals, track progress toward those goals, and adjust as needed. We also collaborate with psychiatrists to offer medication treatment, alone or in combination with therapy when appropriate. Our goal is to help each child or adolescent get back to a happy and healthy life as soon as possible.
In addition to treatment, we do thorough assessments of each child or teen. Treatment plans are tied to that assessment and treatment is personalized to each kid. If you contact us, we’ll do an assessment to see if your child is a good fit for the kinds of specialists we currently have on staff. If we don’t have the right person to help, we’ll do our best to refer you to competent colleagues we know.