Could My Child Benefit From Therapy?
Being a parent is full of making so many hard decisions. When you notice your child is struggling, it can be difficult to know where to start and how to go about finding the support they need. In fact, a lot of parents that I speak with are actually unsure of whether their child could benefit from working with a therapist. Some parents are worried that they are “blowing things out of proportion” or that their child might be “going through a phase” or that they themselves are just overreacting to their childs behaviors or big feelings.
If you have been thinking about whether your child could benefit from working with a therapist, here are a few important things to consider:
1. Trust your gut. No one knows your child better than you. If you find yourself frequently worried about your child’s behaviors or emotional wellbeing and you have already tried sooooo many things that haven't been successful in solving the problem or creating long-term change in your child's behaviors, then it probably means they could benefit from some extra support.
2. Ask yourself these two questions:
“Does this issue cause my child distress?”
“Does this issue impact my child’s functioning at home, school, or with friends?”
If you answered “yes” to either or both of the above questions, it is likely that your child could benefit from some extra support. Children (and adults!) don't need to unnecessarily struggle when there are so many supports available in your community.
3. Talk to trusted professionals in your child’s life. Your child’s pediatrician or teachers are great places to start. I highly recommend talking with your child’s school counselor, previously known as guidance counselors. School counselors are master’s level professionals that can provide you with guidance on whether a behavior or issue that your child is experiencing is within a “normal” range for their age and developmental level. Oftentimes, school counselors can also provide short term counseling, especially when it is related to social issues or behaviors that are occurring during school hours. When I was an elementary school counselor, I would work with a child either in individual or group counseling for about six sessions, then help the parent get their child connected to a therapist if I felt they could benefit from additional support.
4. Please keep in mind that we could all use a little extra support sometimes. With the stigma our culture can place on mental health treatment, some parents worry that taking their child to see a therapist will communicate that there is something wrong with them or that it might negatively impact their self esteem. In reality, therapy is an empowering space for your child to celebrate and explore their strengths, as well as a safe place to develop a better understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Connecting your child with a therapist early on can help set them up for success as they grow. Learning at a young age that it’s okay to talk about difficult feelings and that they have the skills within them to cope with daily stressors creates a strong foundation for life-long emotional literacy and growth.
If this has piqued your interest and you'd like to know more about what therapy for your child could look like, please check out our next post in this blog series titled "I Think My Child Could Benefit From Therapy ... Now What?" (linked here) and be on the lookout for new posts in upcoming weeks.
Kelly Jean Tucker is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and child therapist in Asheville, NC. She is formerly a school counselor and enjoys working with children struggling with anxiety, behavioral issues, and recovering from trauma. Kelly Jean provides individual and family counseling to children ages 3-11. You can learn more about her here.