Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Psychotherapies For Children/Teenagers

Psychotherapies For Children/Teenagers

When parents or caregivers bring their children in for psychological counseling, there are a number of different psychotherapies that counselors can use in treatment. Therapy with children involves either play or having a conversation between the therapist and the child and his/her family. Psychotherapy with children involves different strategies and approaches and the therapist will use the strategy that best fits your child as well as a therapy that can best treat the particular problem/s. When choosing a therapist for your child, you may want to ask which approach they typically use in treatment as well as which particular model of psychotherapy they were trained in and are the most familiar with.

A summary of the different psychotherapies for children/adolescents are as follows:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- This type of therapy targets teaching children that their thoughts and feelings can and do influence their behaviors. CBT teaches the child to identify negative thought patterns and the therapist teaches them how to replace these thoughts with more positive ones. This treatment is usually used in treating children with anxiety disorders and mood disorders (ie.. depression).

Family Therapy-focuses on helping the entire family function in a more positive way. The target in treatment is usually on teaching the family members a better way of communicating and psychoeducation is usually involved.

Play Therapy-this type of therapy is usually used with smaller children and the therapist will incorporate using toys, games, puzzles, drawings, etc… The goal is to observe how the child plays in order to identify how to child copes and deals with everyday problems. The goal is to help the child lean how to recognize and eventually verbalize their feelings.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy-this therapy emphasizes helping a child/teen be able to understand the issues that causing them distress and how it affects their feelings, thoughts, behaviors. This type of therapy is usually used with older children and teenagers and is used with children that have a good deal of insight into their problems as it involves being able to identify behavioral patterns, how they cope with stressors, as well as how they respond to inner conflicts.

While this list of psychotherapies is by no means conclusive, these are some common psychotherapies used when treating children or adolescents in a mental health setting. When bringing your child/teen in for mental health treatment, be prepared with questions that you would like to ask your child’s therapist about how psychotherapy works and which treatment he or she will use.

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