Mental health is paramount to developing a well-rounded and functional human being. Sadly, too many children with mental health conditions do not get the support they need because of a lack of adult education or bias. Thankfully, public perception is changing, and advancements in psychotherapy practices and technology are improving accessibility.
Types of Therapy for Kids
Many therapy options exist for children. Consider psychodynamic therapy, behavior therapy, humanistic therapy, and cognitive therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy observes the connections between a person's unconscious thoughts and behavior. The primary focus of the therapist is to uncover, diagnose, and correct negative recurring behavior and thought patterns that likely developed as coping mechanisms. The therapist aims to help the patient gain insight into experiences and control over emotions.
Behavior therapy exists on the premise that all behaviors are learned and, to an extent, modifiable. Behavior therapists believe that whether a behavior is desirable or undesirable, if rewarded, it is reinforced. The point of this type of therapy, then, is to encourage and reward new desirable behaviors and reduce others.
Humanistic therapy is a person-centered approach to therapy. In this therapy, the therapist is more of a supportive actor and less of a driving force. Primarily, the therapist provides a safe environment for self-expression and reflection.
Finally, cognitive therapy focuses on how a person's experiences may produce distorted thinking, including self-image. The result of these distortions includes negative emotions and maladaptive behaviors. A therapist strives to help patients examine their thoughts and behaviors and develop approaches for meeting objectives.
Different Therapy Techniques for Kids
The therapist's therapeutic techniques will often depend on a child's age, family relationships, and other factors. Most child therapies will involve one or more of eight different therapeutic models:
- Child-centered play therapy
- Parent-child interaction therapy
- Family therapy
- Play therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Applied behavioral analysis
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Group therapy
Each technique improves a therapist's understanding of a child's environment, emotions, experiences, and behaviors. Some therapeutic approaches focus on more high-risk cases; for instance, dialectical behavior therapy is a behavior therapy for teenagers with suicidal ideation. You can talk to a medical professional to learn more about each technique and which suits your child's needs.
Alternative Therapy Treatments
Depending on your financial situation and your child's condition, there may be better options than traditional forms of therapy. For example, some children with anxiety disorders may feel uncomfortable leaving their homes to visit a therapist in their office. Because of technological advancements and recognition for accessibility, many services now exist, allowing online or remote sessions with therapists and counselors. Some of the more popular online services include:
- 7 Cups
When Does a Child Need Therapy?
Occasional outbursts and challenging behaviors are typical for children. Determining when therapy is necessary can be a struggle; however, there are some signs to watch for:
- Persistent sadness
- Excessive worry
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive fearfulness
How To Find a Child Therapist
The easiest way to find a child therapist is by asking a pediatrician for a referral. You can also speak with a school counselor or social worker. Other options for finding a therapist include professional directories or government services, such as:
- American Psychological Association
- The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration
Your little one's mental health and well-being are paramount to healthy development. If you suspect your child needs therapy, talk to their pediatrician or another advocate for assistance.