Child psychologists are taught and equipped to help kids make sense of their thoughts, physique, and experiences. They adopt a treatment approach that’s easy for children to understand.
Defining Child Counseling
Child counseling/ therapy refers to a form of treatment meant for kids, teenagers, and adolescents battling one or many mental problems. It offers assistance to young people struggling with trauma or distress at home or problematic families.
Several problems that kids face are similar to those that grown-ups battle. These include depression, anxiety, and grief. Child therapy/ counseling aims to reduce any mental health issue into a smaller, manageable part. This way, a child can get a better idea of their situation and know how to cope effectively.
Who Are Child Counselors?
A child counselor is a mental health specialist who provides useful insight into a child’s emotional and social growth. It helps to appreciate that the people around the child might not readily identify an issue in them. Given this, the need for a child counselor arises.
A child counselor has all the information and experience to recognize, assess, diagnose, and treat an array of mental health issues. Besides, they offer useful counsel and treatment for adjustment issues, including divorce, change of learning institution, bullying. A child counselor also helps those with one or more forms of psychological distress.
Depending on the license and education pursued, some professionals are called a child counselor, child therapist, or child psychologist. These mental health experts are taught how to enter the mind of a child in order to aid them in making sense of their thoughts, physical developments, and experiences.
What Is the Role of a Child Counselor?
A child counselor has an array of responsibilities, all limited to the young population. They have the right mental health knowledge that allows them to offer your child the support they require to address their underlying issue. At this point, it helps to understand that a child battling mental health problems and psychological distress might not open up to their guardians readily. And this is not because they do not love you as a person. Instead, it is because they fear that you might be like they’ve let you down.
As such, a child counselor’s objective is to help a child better interpret the issue they are battling or the trauma that torments them. They offer necessary counseling in a way that is easy for the child to digest and comprehend. If a kid’s emotional or psychological distress is not addressed, it might impact their educational aspirations and overall development.
Still, an unresolved issue can cause some delays that stay on into maturity. However, note that’s kids of any age, from toddlers to adolescents, can benefit from therapy.
Importantly, counseling intends to help a child manage their emotions. This way, they can live normal healthy lifestyles without battle fear, anxiety, and other forms of mental distress stemming from past incidents. For parents and guardians, the great news is that they can play an active and essential role in their children’s mental health development rather than merely being bystanders.
When you discover that your child has changed their behavior out of the blue or feel that something is wrong, make an appointment with an expert. It could be a child pediatrician or counselor, but the point is to ensure that you give your child an excellent evaluation. Good judgment can see to it that your kid gets excellent counseling and therapy for their issue.
When to Get Your Child the Right Counseling
Coping with things as your child battles mental, emotional, social, and psychological distress can be daunting. It is especially the case when everything you try or do does not seem to work. Luckily, a child counselor can step in to help things normalize, and more importantly, treat your child’s mental problems.
A child counselor can determine the cause of any issues plaguing your kid’s mental health. This way, they can quickly counsel or get them on the right treatment. On this issue, it helps to understand a child cannot synthesize the intricacies of emotional or psychological distress. Therefore, getting them necessary therapy from a child counselor helps bring them back to a healthy mental state.
Moreover, child counseling can be vital to kids struggling with obsessive-compulsive or general anxiety disorder. It is expected of guardians, child care professionals, and educators to look for children therapy services if they feel there is a need. Doing this is necessary since kid experts can check for signs, evaluate, and determine the cause of your kid’s distress.
Note that child counseling’s vital objective is to leverage the know-how and experience of qualified counselors to address your concerns and aid your child in getting the necessary support. A child counselor can suggest resources for you and your child. You can use them to treat and support your child as they battle a mental health issue. Furthermore, a child counselor can offer guidance for tricky, scary, anxiety-inducing, and difficult moments more manageably.
Being a guardian, you want perfect health and joy for your child. However, things and situations arise, and unfortunately, you cannot always handle all of them. It is particularly the case if you are emotionally attached to the event. In light of this, it’s easy to see why bringing in a child counselor is sensible.
Make a point of seeking therapy for your child whenever to discover that they are displaying uncharacteristic habits. A child mental health expert will offer the kid useful strategies and resources to restore or improve their mental health. Each child will access a unique treatment to ensure the most success. Nonetheless, it helps to appreciate that all the therapy strategies used are tried-and-proven.
What Problems Do Child Counselors Help With?
A child counselor can help your child with any issue. They can offer treatment to a child who has had a traumatic experience or has faced other tumultuous happenings. It could be the loss of a dear one or the failure to achieve a specific goal. Besides, a child counselor can also offer support to a child who has experience with abuse or threat.
Fundamentally, child counselors offer counsel and treatment for problems that cause social, mental, or emotional distress in kids. The guiding objective for these experts is to help a child determine and cope with any issue they are facing healthily.
Below are the typical problems that child therapists treat:
- Grief after losing a dear one or thing;
- Traumatic happenings;
- Psychological and mental health distress;
- Abuse (sexual, physical, etc.);
- Adjustment issues (moving to another place);
- Familial substance and alcohol abuse/ dependency.
How to Know Whether Your Child Requires Counseling?
There is an array of symptoms that can tell you whether your child needs counseling. If your child starts acting uncharacteristically or displaying sudden developmental issues of rebellion, it’s time to act. Any habit that is out of their norm should warrant a call to the child counselor.
Besides, if the child has experience with a traumatic event, either presently or in the past, and has not had any treatment, getting them necessary counsel is vital.
Does my child need counseling? Here is what to look out for when checking for distress in your child:
- Unwarranted aggressiveness;
- Urine leaks;
- Trouble conforming in social settings or new scenarios;
- Persistent nightmares and troubled sleeping;
- A drop in or subpar academic performance;
- Frequent worrying and anxiousness;
- Withdrawal from once-favorite activities;
- A remarkable change in appetite and unexplained weight loss;
- Performing rituals repetitively and new routines;
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts;
- Responding to voices in the head;
- Segregation and isolation;
- Alcohol and substance abuse;
- Complaining about physical discomfort despite reassurance from the doctor;
- Self-harm and risky behavior.
If your child displays one or more of these symptoms, it helps to find the right therapy timely. This way, they can commence treatment fast and be on their way to recovery. Remember, even if the child does not specifically ask for therapy, they need it. So, be sure to get the assistance your child needs no matter what. The point is to offer help, not to give them what they want or ask for. It is the point of therapy.
What Are the Typical Objectives of Child Therapy?
The typical objectives of child therapy vary, contingent upon the kid’s issue. Nonetheless, counseling generally intends to address the issue that is impacting a kid’s mental health and development. Ultimately, the point is to help the child discover resources and strategies that prepare them for anything in the present and the future.
As such, a common objective of child therapy is assisting your child in coping with challenging events that lead to feelings such as:
One of the pluses of child therapy is that it shows them how to deal with emotional, mental, and psychological distress. Better yet, it teaches them ways of preventing panic attacks and dealing with anxiety in healthy and reasonable ways.
A child with this issue may learn breathing exercises, stress management/ relaxing strategies. Besides, they might also be introduced to muscle control to keep them from tensing and uplifting self-talk. Still, they will get ideas on the significance of conversing with others whenever they feel mentally drained, confused, and so forth.
A child counselor can help your child know that hiding what they feel inside is bound to make things worse in the end. When they share their issue with an expert, parent, or acquaintance, a child can access necessary assistance. This way, they can manage any issue that is causing them mental turmoil. Besides, sharing the issue makes the emotional or mental burden more manageable.
The most important thing to note here is that therapy offers an essential resource for managing anxiety. From coping strategies to even medication, therapy is always more than a reliable solution for this issue.
The fact remains that some kids come across troubling scenarios, which lead to trauma. This issue is known to trigger an array of adverse effects, including shock, detachment, numbness, depression, and so forth. Worse still, it can go on to lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some of the tell-tale signs of this condition are an overwhelming desire to stay away from some people or locations, extremely upsetting thoughts, and nightmares. It can also be evidenced by a lack of sleep, aggressiveness, and restlessness. Luckily, child counseling offers kids an opportunity to disclose how they feel, enabling the therapist to devise the best treatment or counsel.
Therapy gives kids a voice, allowing them to relay their experience and its impact on their present lives. Besides, child counseling urges them to share how they feel, no matter their location or circumstance. This way, they release any negative experience instead of keeping it on the inside.
Lastly, counseling can aid these kids to comprehend that they are not responsible for whatever happened to them. Understandably and logically, they are only survivors, not victims or perpetrators.
A child counselor can show a child that talking about their experience is okay. Doing this is even better since it promotes a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, a child counselor can reveal various coping strategies that can help the child during tough times. This way, when your child recalls a traumatic experience, they can tap into their mental resources and deal with it head-on.
These mechanisms can incorporate deep breathing exercises, having a break to rethink, sharing feelings with a close person (friend or family). The child can also be taught stress management strategies, thinking positively, and seeing experiences or happenings in a new light.
When a marriage falls apart, the child often suffers emotional distress. In many cases, kids can feel like they are the reason their parents divorced. If a child feels like they caused the parents to separate, they may believe that they cannot be loved.
Also, divorce brings about another issue, which is child custody complications. There are times when custody is agreed upon amicably. But then, there are instances when things don’t go so well, and a custody battle ensues between the two parents.
When a child is forced to pick which parent to live with, they can feel anxious, troubled, and guilty. And if the choice doesn’t go well with the guardians or siblings, sadness, confusion, and stress can set in.
Luckily, a child counselor can guide kids who are passing through or have undergone a divorce in coping with the confusion and conflict of emotions they feel. Such a professional uses various strategies, including deep breathing exercises, music/ art, positive self-talk, journals, and workouts. He/she can also help the child open up to a trusted person, whether it’s a family member or friend.
The loss of a loved one, animal, friend, house, or school can bring a child significant grief. Loss is painful enough for a grown-up. But it is worse for a child, as they don’t possess the same experience, maturity, or coping abilities as a grown-up. In reality, children who go through grief find it really hard to understand or accept what has happened.
They are often caught up in jumbled, conflicted, and shifting emotions. Some of these feelings include denial, anger, anguish, hopelessness, melancholy, anxiety, depression, shock, etc. Such a child longs for the individual, animal, item, or place dear to them. However, they lack the capability of directing that pain to something healthy.
The consequence of such feelings is that children can begin to have unfounded thoughts that they, too, will pass away. Or that they will lose another loved one. The child may come to think that their actions or lack of caused the loss. Additionally, they can experience immense regret for not having done anything to stop the loss from happening.
A child counselor can assist children undergoing grief to comprehend what they are feeling. He/she can also reassure them that the mixed emotions that they are experiencing are alright. These mental health professionals counsel children to understand that grief is a common feeling after loss and occurs in ripples. They also make kids understand the importance of feeling such emotions in the healing process.
Counselors can also help a child to acquire the courage to talk about the loss. By talking about it several times, a child can process what they are experiencing to make sense. Grief has no time limitations, and neither can one dictate the correct or incorrect way of doing it. Nonetheless, as the parent/guardian, check on your child, and if they don’t get better one year down, consult a counselor.
A child therapist will expose your kid to coping mechanisms for their grief. It could be talking out their thoughts and feelings with someone they trust. The child may also direct the grief to creative interests such as music, journal writing, or art. The child can also learn to deal with grief by sharing memories of the person, thing, or pet they have lost.
A mental health specialist can counsel a grieving child on the several phases of grieving. The child can understand each stage’s value and why they must go through it to achieve healing.
Change can be traumatizing for the majority of children. Change can be in the form of moving schools, relocating to a new area, joining foster care/ adoption. It can also be divorce, one parent remarrying, losing someone close, or moving to stay with another family member.
Unlike an adult, who is developed to handle and adapt to such changes, a child is vulnerable in most cases. While some changes may not affect your ability to live normally, the impact may be the opposite in a child.
But what impact is that? Kids who have gone through major changes in their lives may find it challenging to share their feelings concerning it. A considerable shift in a child’s life can cause anxiety, self-doubting, self-confidence issues, depression, anger issues, skepticism, or phobias. Although most of these reactions are typical of change, many kids don’t have an easy time moving on without help.
At this point, a child counselor can offer support. Child therapists educate kids on dealing with changes successfully by looking at the positive things in their lives. They also counsel kids on practicing positive self-affirmation whenever they begin feeling inundated by such modifications.
Child counselors also train kids on taking deep breaths whenever they are experiencing overwhelming feelings of being in a new environment. The overall objective of counseling is to assist your child come to terms change and understand their feelings aren’t forever. With time, they will get used to the new surroundings, and the awful feelings will go away.
Low Self-Esteem and Confidence
Kids may struggle with self-esteem and confidence issues at some point in their growth. This issue may bring about depression, drug abuse, anxiety, depressive disorder, suicidal thoughts, self-injury, anorexia, bulimia, etc. Children with experiencing self-hate might feel unworthy, unloved, and hollow inside.
Consequently, the child starts to convince themselves that their family and friends would be better with them out of the picture. A child counselor can assist a kid to boost their self-image and confidence in several ways. One way is teaching the child to focus on the bigger picture and look deep within themselves to figure out the source of the problems.
Such a professional may counsel your child to see how destructive thoughts and self-dialogue make them feel horrible. Once a child has realized that the therapist can direct him/ her on how to engage in self-affirmation. Thus, the child can boost their self-confidence, self-image, and life as a whole.
Counseling teaches children the importance of positive self-dialogue in boosting confidence and acceptance of oneself. It also explains why it is crucial to speak with a loved or trusted acquaintance about the troubling thoughts and emotions. A child’s mental health professional can also help your child overcome low self-image from other severe issues such as eating disorders.
The Types of Child Counseling You Can Find
Child counseling comes in various forms, including cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-specific CBT, and alternative therapy.
CBT helps kids overcome negative thinking patterns and attitudes by changing the way they perceive issues and happenings. Its goal is to help kids turn negative thinking into positive thinking. That way, they can view and respond to their problems, themselves, and others in a healthy way.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy persuades a child to question their beliefs, especially concerning themselves. Such a child can then see themselves and the environment surrounding them more realistically and positively. As a whole, CBT gives your child the necessary tools to deal with challenges and problematic events as they appear.
Trauma-Focused Behavioral Therapy
Otherwise known as TF-CBT, trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to support kids when they overcome trauma. Like cognitive-behavioral therapy, this form of treatment tries to help children look at trauma realistically and not blame themselves.
This type of trauma treatment also equips kids with strategies they can utilize whenever they start experiencing flashbacks. The objective is to work through the traumatic event’s memory from a position of understanding and self-restraint. So, this form of therapy gives the child the techniques to implement any time they experience distress trauma recollections.
Alternative Therapy Options
If your child is going through mental/emotional distress or has signs of mental illness, they may need alternative therapy. The most common alternative counseling options include music/ art therapy, mobility therapy, water-based therapy, sports therapy, equine therapy, mindfulness, etc.
Tips on What to Check When Searching for a Child Counselor
There are a few things you ought to consider when searching for a kid therapist. Initially, the specialist must be a solid match for your child. Why is that? In the majority of cases, there’s the possibility that your kid will be awkward or restless. They could also be a bit (or a great deal) humiliated about visiting a kid counselor.
The thought of seeing a counselor is strange and terrifying to a kid. As the parent, you know that scheduling counseling for your child is well-intended. However, your child might not think the same. It’s therefore vital that you identify a counseling expert who will connect well with your child.
The reality is it might take some time before your kid begins to trust the counselor. So, the expert should understand how to kick it off with your child from the start. On the off chance that there is a conflict or your kid is anxious or unhappy with the specialist, you should locate another. Otherwise, the counseling experience will fail since your kid will not confide in his/her counselor.
Also, ensure that you do your own research on prospective counselors early on. Start by looking at their credentials. That is, the educational background, therapy approaches, experience, and testimonials from other customers. Checking all these aspects is vital.
Additionally, be sure that the specialist you pick is trained in child counseling specifically. Only then will you be confident that they know how to administer therapy in a style that will actually benefit your child. Remember, your kid’s mental well-being and overall health is a priority. So, assess the professional’s references and only set up a meeting if everything is stated.
Are you okay with the counselor? Is your child comfortable with them too? Consider how you and your child feel around the counselor before you hire them. If you feel that something is off, begin your search again to find the professional you are both comfortable with.
The best thing is that the majority of professionals offer first-time consultations at no charge. Therefore, you can identify a perfect fit for your child’s unique issue and persona without the inconvenience of paying first.
How Can You Find an Excellent Counselor for Your Kid?
Choosing to look for counseling for your child is not simple. But landing at the best specialist can be a more challenging experience. So, take time to ask people around you when doing your research. You’d be surprised to find good referrals from your family members, other guardians, doctors, and educators.
You will get the most valuable information on child mental health professionals from other people. However, remember that what worked for one kid may not always work for your child. Be open-minded and decide on your own.
Need help choosing an online therapy for your child? You can find detailed descriptions of therapy services and their benefits online. There are even websites that provide a library of useful information about psychology and therapy.