Child Counseling & Therapy
Childhood is a time of tremendous growth and change and oftentimes it can be quite difficult to determine whether or not a child’s behavior is “normal” or if it is an indication that the child has strayed from a healthy developmental path.
Mental health difficulties in children most often manifest as behavioral issues in the form of defiance, aggression and/or other “disruptive behaviors” or as avoidance and passivity in the form of anxiety and withdrawal. In both cases, a major impediment to growth and well-being is the impact that a child’s behavior has on the environment in which he/she exists (e.g., home, school, peer group, etc.). For example, a child exhibiting defiance often contributes to an environment rife with conflict, while a child experiencing anxiety might create an environment of isolation that is devoid of social support and learning opportunities.
Common Signs of Mental Health Issues in Children
- difficulties in school
- avoiding friends and family
- frequent mood swings
- frequent anger (e.g., temper tantrums)
- loss of appetite
- difficulty sleeping
- low energy or motivation
- defiant with parents and/or teachers
- not doing the things he or she used to enjoy
- worrying and anxiety
- changes in hygiene
- overly concerned with appearance or weight
- physical aggression
- bullying other children
- attempting to injure him or her self
Our Approach to Counseling & Psychotherapy with Children
Our counselors and therapists focus first on finding ways to promote change within the child’s environment as we believe that given the right environment and opportunity to learn, children will do just that. It is amazing how quickly children will learn new behaviors and self-correct when their environment allows and encourages them to do so!
While we do not view parents as the “problem” (we actually don’t think anyone is the problem…only the problem is the problem) we believe that parents undoubtedly have the greatest impact, directly and indirectly, on a child’s functioning. We want to mobilize those forces that will produce the greatest growth and change and in almost every case that involves a parent. Our mental health treatment approach aims to empower parents at time when they often feel powerless and help them re-establish a healthy, growth-oriented relationship with their child.
Our counseling approach at Mindly encourages parents to actively participate in their child’s emotional, psychological, and/or behavioral treatment. We don’t “fix” kids or problems, but rather aim to empower our clients and their families in developing the knowledge and skills to overcome both current and future difficulties. We believe that we have a responsibility to focus on what “works,” and that means including parents in treatment process.
At Mindly, we utilize several approaches to children’s mental health treatment
While this approach may not be best suited for all mental health concerns in children, research shows that for the most common child mental health issues (e.g., ADHD, defiance/aggression, mood dysregulation, and anxiety) the most effective treatments utilize behaviorally focused interventions that involve the active participation of parents/caregivers in the treatment process.
Play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults. Play therapy utilizes play, children’s natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words. Play is a child’s language and toys are the child’s words. Though children lack the cognitive skills to express themselves with words, they are fluent in the language of play. Play therapy allows them to express themselves in the way in which they are most comfortable.
The aim of family therapy is to develop insight and understanding into relationship dynamics and family structures that may be contributing to dysfunction for one or several family members and ultimately identify develop healthier, more adaptive means of resolving conflict within the family system. Family therapy is an effective stand-alone treatment and can often be complementary to individual therapy, especially when working with children and adolescents.