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When to put my child in therapy


Should I put my child in therapy?

A parent wants the best for their children, which includes making sure they are developing properly. It is sometimes the case that children are not receiving the support they need at school or at home in order to thrive. It doesn't mean they're neglected, but they do need additional support for a variety of reasons, such as behavioral issues, sensory issues, and learning delays.

You should consult your doctor and school faculty (if your child is enrolled in school) when you notice your child needs additional support. If your child's teacher has commented on your child having increased melt downs in class, struggling with making friends, difficulty concentrating in class, or being withdrawn and isolating and after some classroom modifications or routine modifications and nothing is changing it might be time to see a professional for your child. This could include consulting with a licensed therapist qualified to provide child therapy.

child therapy in Campbell, CA

Putting your child in therapy is not always an easy decision but there are many benefits to your child doing therapy. Children don't always possess the communication skills to articulate when they struggle emotionally. We tend to see behavioral outbursts as ways children communicate with us without direct words. When children do speak it can be extreme communication such as "I hate you," "I don't want to return to school," "no one loves me," and so forth. Most of these dramatic statements children make are in the moment of frustration with little thought put into them.

One of the benefits of child therapy is that your child will learn how to calmly communicate their thoughts and emotions. According to the Center of Disease Control on child therapy, "mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in childhood can cause long-term problems that may affect the health and well-being of children, families, and communities. Treating a child’s mental health problems as soon as possible can help children reduce problems at home, at school, and in forming friendships. It can also help with healthy development into adulthood." Children who participate in child therapy have improved coping skills for life stressors that can be utilized in adulthood.

Mental Health Disorders in Children and Other Challenges:

It is easy to assume that children behave badly because they want to and they can easily snap out of it, but there are also clinical explanations as to why parents are observing such concerning behavior in their children. The Child Mind Institute states that children can also suffer from mental health disorders other than behavioral problems and these could include the following:

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD children have a difficult time concentrating on tasks, paying attention, sitting still, and controlling impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD are often faced with difficulty completing tasks, waiting for their turn, listening, and struggle with retaining information provided by teachers. If your child has ADHD you might have already experienced a number of calls or emails regarding their behavior and academic performance. ADHS could also be observed in the home with behaviors such as messiness, disorganization, forgetting to complete tasks, irritability, high levels of energy, disrupting, and issues listening.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Children with this disorder have identified behavioral problems that make it challenging to get along with teachers, parents, and people in authority. The present symptoms of ODD in a child can be observed as arguing, refusing to follow rules, being rebellious, lacking accountability, being easily angry and irritated, lacking emotional regulation, being vindictive, and being physically aggressive towards others. Children with ODD struggle with dealing with changes and when experiencing lack of control can spiral into verbal or physical outbursts. According to John Hopskins of Medicine children with ODD appear to create more difficulties and challenges for those around them than themselves. If your child is struggling with ODD it would be imperative to get professional help from a licensed therapist to get to the root of the behaviors and assist your child in other ways of coping.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD)

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a newer mental health disorder in the DSM-V. This mood disorder has some similarities to Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) but the mental health symptoms tend to be more severe with a significant mood component. DMDD disorder usually begins before 10 years old and consists of severe temper outburts, irritable moods, and issues with daily functioning. These temper outburts occur weekly and persist for at least one year. The National Institute of Mental Health has found that psychotherapy is an effective treatment, with psychotropic medication being a second option.

child misbehaving


Anxiety can manifest in children as easily angered or irritated. Children who are anxious tend to overthink, frequently worry, struggle with changes in routine, are easily irritated, and are restless. Children with anxiety tend to avoid tasks out of fear of worry or uncomfortable emotions or thoughts being triggered. They might experience temporary relief from anxiety when they avoid it, only to have it create long-term issues. Anxiety therapy is helpful for children who struggle with anxiety because it helps them identify their triggers, anxious thoughts, and learn how to cope with anxiety. Adults who struggle with anxiety have also suffered from untreated anxiety as children.


Children who have experienced traumatic events will struggle with behavioral issues or isolate themselves from others. If a child has a history of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse, these behaviors will usually appear. With children being victims of sexual abuse you might see loss of appetite, bed wetting, issues with sleep, sexuallyinappropriate behaviors towards other children, mimicking adult sexual and inappropriate behaviors towards toys. Child abuse should be reported and any child who is a victim of abuse should be treated and assessed by a professional. Traumatic events can also be witnessing triggering events such as domestic violence, death, or crime. Another way child trauma could be caused is by a child being in an accident such as a car accident, fire in the home, etc. A licensed therapist experienced in treating traumatized individuals would be able to assist your child in coping with the hardships they have endured. Children who have experienced trauma need care, love, and support.

Behavioral issues in children can be triggered by a variety of factors. Some of these contributing factors could be dealing with the loss of a loved one or pet, moving schools, separation of parents or parents divorcing, changes in the homeenvironment, loss of friends, increased demands, etc. The most effective thing to do to properly assess what causesbehavioral issues in your child is to consult with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist.

What skills do children learn in child therapy?

When children work with a licensed therapist or professional psychologist they can learn new ways of coping to stimuli and life stressors. Licensed therapists in Campbell, CA can support your child in improving their school and home experience. The use of psychotherapists can support parents in learning effective ways of addressing behavioral concerns. Here are some of the skills children can learn in child therapy with a licensed therapist.

  • How to identify their emotions and differentiate them from their thoughts

  • How to communicate emotions with others calmly

  • The ability to express their needs to parents, teachers, and peers (e.g. need for space, need for support, etc.).

  • Developing peer-to-peer relationships

  • The ability to regulate their emotions when faced with stressors

  • Enhance their self-esteem and confidence in decision-making

  • Establishing appropriate boundaries and respecting others' boundaries

  • Enhancing listening skills

  • Improve your ability to resolve conflicts

  • Improve concentration and organizational skills

Behavioral issues at home or at school are one of the main reasons parents take their children to see a child therapist. Most parents observe their child in the home struggling with managing their emotions and receive feedback from teachers that their child is having difficulty at school. Children with behavioral issues at school might struggle with connecting with peers and tend to shut down when faced with overwhelming stressors. If you need additional examples here are six of the common reasons your child needs counseling from the Children's Bureau.

What types of therapy are available for children

There are various types of therapy available for children when participating in child therapy. The most common one being child play therapy, but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) (ages 2-7 years old), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), and family therapy are other evidence-based treatment modalities for child therapy.

Here is a brief breakdown of each listed evidence-based mode of treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for children: CBT is an effective treatment approach for children struggling with ADHD, depression, anxiety, ODD, and PTSD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps children address negative thoughts, identify emotions, and reduce unhelpful behavior. A CBT therapist will help children identify how their thoughts impact their emotions and influence behavior.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy: Just like CBT, Acceptance Commitment Therapy is a behavioral therapy created by Dr. Steven Hays to help clients incorporate mindfulness and acceptance. Acceptance Commitment Therapy helps children sit with uncomfortable emotions and release maladaptive thoughts.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy - According to Stanford's department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry PCIT has two treatment phases. The first phase of Parent-Child Interactive therapy focuses on creating a warm and caring relationship between parent/caregiver and child through the incorporation of clinical skills taught by the therapist. The second phase of Parent-Child Interactive Therapy focuses on teaching parents how to handle problematic behaviors exhibited by the child in a calm manner.

Play therapy involves the use of toys and games to help the child identify and verbally communication emotions to therapist and parents. When a psychotherapist observes the child's use of play materials, he or she identifies themes or patterns that help the therapist understand the child's stressors, issues, and fears.

Family therapy- This therapy typically involves members of the immediate family such as parents and siblings. An experienced family therapist helps the family function positively. Conflict resolution and communication can be improved with the help of family therapy for not only the child, but also the parents and siblings.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)- This therapy is short-term and focuses on treating depression in children. Interpersonal Psychotherapy helps the child identify the main areas in which they might experience relationship difficulties. According to the Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology the main areas in which children would be experiencing relationship difficulties would be loss of a loved one, conflict in significant relationships, difficulty adapting to changes in relationships, and experiencing hardships that are rooted in social isolation.

How long should my child be in therapy

It is important to note that the length of child therapy varies depending on the issues that the child presents with. Depending on the child, some therapy sessions might be completed in as little as 6 therapy sessions. However, other children may require more child therapy sessions. It is not recommended to end child therapy the second you see reduced behaviors in a child. This is because the child would benefit from consistent therapeutic support from a child therapist. What might happen if child therapy ends too quickly is regression into past undesired behavior.

Where do I find a child therapist

Depending on the area you live in you could ask your doctor for a child therapist referral. If you are looking for a child therapist in Campbell, CA, Healing Therapy Services may be a good option for you. Healing Therapy Services offers therapy to address behavioral issues, anxiety, or depression your child might experience. Your child can meet weekly or bi-weekly with a licensed therapist. At Healing Therapy Services in Campbell, CA parents would be included in the treatment process with bi-weekly to monthly collaborations.

Parent and therapist collaborations would be available to gain additional information where the child might be struggling. This is if new issues arise while the child is in therapy. In the collaboration, the therapist can also provide parents with feedback and psychoeducation on how to address the child's behavior at home.

Overall, children struggling with mental health symptoms or behaviors would reap the benefits of professional mental health support. If children are provided with the opportunity to work with a mental health clinician, they will reap the rewards. Children will discover creative ways of coping with changes in life with licensed therapist support. The lives of many adults would have been different if they had received the help and care that they needed as children.

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