All parents dream of happy, contented lives for their children; yet life is seldom simple, and parents and children find themselves being pulled into events such as illnesses, divorce, loss of pet, accidents etc. Such changes transform the child; overnight the parents might find the child becoming lonely and withdrawn, surly to the point of being snappy, unable to concentrate, disobedient and impolite. This negativity is overwhelming; most of the times the parents are unable to deal with it in an objective, detached manner.
Signs that Your Child needs Therapy
A competent therapist helps your teen to tide over troubled waters, without attaching the label of “victim-hood” upon her. Your child might need therapy if you see some of these signs:
- excessive school absenteeism or tardiness
- mood swings (e.g., happy one minute, upset the next)
- development or an increase in physical complaints (such as headache, stomach ache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical examination by your doctor
- management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness
- signs of alcohol, drug, or other substance use (such as solvents or prescription drug abuse)
- problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
- bereavement issues
- custody evaluations
- therapy following sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
- overly aggressive behavior (such as biting, kicking, or hitting)
- sudden changes in appetite (particularly in adolescents)
- insomnia or increased sleepiness
Finding the Right Therapist for Your Child
A right therapist does wonders to your child’s morale and confidence. Towards the end of therapy sessions, your child would have regained the spark and happiness.
However, for all this you need a therapist who is not only competent, but also sensitive; a person who will not confine your child according to her problems, but who will see her as a person with unlimited potential. Hence, before you finalize on a therapist for your child, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the therapist carry a license to practice?
- Is the therapist covered by your health insurance plan's mental health benefits? If so, how many sessions are covered by your plan? What will your co-pay be?
- What are the therapist’s qualifications/credentials?
- What type of experience does the therapist have?
- How long has the therapist been working with children and adolescents?
- Would your child be able to connect with the therapist?
- What is the cancellation policy of the therapist if you're unable to keep an appointment?
- Is the therapist available by phone during an emergency?
- Who will be available to see your child during the therapist's vacation, illness or during off-hours?
- What type of therapy does the therapist specialize in?
- Is the therapist willing to meet with you in addition to working with your child?
Finally, remember to assure your child that therapy doesn’t mean that she is helpless and incapable. It only means that she needs a little bit of outside help to regain her mental and emotional strength.