It can be challenging for parents to help their children overcome certain behaviors. Children can express their emotional discomfort through behaviors which can include depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, severe mood swings, and others. Our approach to helping children and a key to successful therapy is active parental participation during therapy sessions. We focus on educating and empowering children with the knowledge and skills they need to communicate and express themselves in a healthy manner.
Adolescence is considered by the majority of mental health professionals as the most difficult period of adjustment in an individual’s life. This is a time when a child struggles to be an independent, self-sufficient person casting off the security of childhood particularly their relationship with their parents for peer relationships. Many adolescents rebel or “act out” during this time causing conflict with authority figures most particularly parents or teachers. Other adolescents may be concerned with their physical appearance resulting in eating disorders, low self-esteem, or depression. Still, others may retreat into the clouded consciousness of drugs and alcohol abuse.
The therapist that treats these conditions must be able to engender trust, particularly difficult with this age group. They tend to be both moody and non-verbal with strangers. A positive therapeutic relationship is accomplished by being empathetic, sincere, having expert knowledge of the developmental issues of this age range, and by ensuring confidentiality.
Child Psychotherapy and Behavioral Management
Children before the age of 12 or 13 have their own set of problems. Most require the assistance and encouragement of parents to solve them. Thus, a prerequisite of therapy is active participation of the parents. Some of the more common difficulties in childhood are attention deficit, hyperactive disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, disruptive behavior disorder and the more serious diagnostic disorders such as Asperger and Autistic disorders. Children may also have a number of disturbing symptoms for this age range that are not attached to a particular diagnosis such as specific phobias ( fear of the dark, fear of loud music), frequent nightmares, moodiness, or ritualistic behavior such as avoiding cracks on sidewalks.
In the vast majority of cases, childhood issues are environmentally based. This means that occurrences at home or at school are responsible for their discomfort. Thus, it is essential to have parents assist the therapist in changing these situations. Also, behavioral change requires the consistent application of positive and negative consequences which can only be employed by those adults present in the troublesome environment. It is impossible to affect these changes within the context of a therapist office in a single session.
Intellectual Assessment and Gifted Testing
Gifted testing is performed on those children who might be eligible for the most intellectually challenging education for their particular grade. Only children with significantly high intelligence, specifically the upper two percent of the population, are eligible for these classes. An IQ of 130 is required. The test that is accepted by the Dade County School system is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- IV. The testing takes approximately two hours to administer in an environment free of distraction and with standardized procedures.