The University of Kentucky Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications offers a weekly health column that can be used and reprinted by the media. This week’s column is by Meghan L. Marsac, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 31, 2022) — Have you wondered if therapy could be helpful for your child? Have you wondered, “Are these struggles or ‘normal’ behaviors?” or “Does my child need more help with stress or feelings?”
In the past, going to therapy could be seen as a failure or something seriously wrong with someone who needed “professional help”. Fortunately, these perceptions are changing. Our society is beginning to recognize the value of going to therapy to develop skills and strategies to overcome life’s challenges.
Check out these five reasons to consider therapy for your child.
The therapy works.
For children, there are a few types of therapy that are particularly helpful, including (but not limited to) cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, and parent-child interaction therapy. The type of therapy that is best for your child depends on the challenges they are facing.
Learning adaptive coping skills can help children deal with adversity over time.
As our children grow, we teach them new skills (eg, sleep training, toilet training, riding a bike, navigating social relationships). They also learn to deal with difficult things – for example, not wanting to share, not being included with their friends or family challenges. If children learn to cope adaptively with these challenges at a young age, they can enter adulthood with more tools to be resilient and deal with challenges later in life. Therapy can help with this.
Children can learn to ask for help when they need it.
It can be difficult to ask for help, even as an adult. If your child has stress and/or mental health issues, teaching them that there are professionals who can help them manage their stress and mental health helps them learn to seek help whenever they need it. ‘he needs it.
A therapist can add another team member to your child’s team.
Adding supports to your child’s life can help you and your child. A therapist can be part of your child’s team and help him (and you) navigate difficult situations.
You can leave it if you don’t like it.
If you are trying therapy for your child and child or you don’t like it, you can change therapists or stop therapy and try something else.
So, does my child need a therapist?
You don’t have to make this decision on your own. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or find a mental health specialist to have your child assessed. These professionals can help identify if there are certain skills your child would benefit from learning in therapy or if there are other support options to help your child.