It is a challenge to help children overcome negative behavioral patterns. Children may express their emotional discomfort with symptoms of depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, severe mood swings, etc. My approach is to encourage active parental participation during therapeutic interventions with the child. We focus on educating empowering children, as well as their parents.
Unlike child therapy, adolescent therapy honors confidentiality of the client. 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.
I treat 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.
Children under the age of 12 or 13 have their own set of problems. Most require the assistance and encouragement of parents to solve them. Thus, the prerequisite of child therapy is the 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 autistic disorders, bipolar disorders and childhood schizophrenia.
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 both 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. This requires the participation of adults responsible for supervising the child and the environment in which the symptoms occur.