Does My Child Need Therapy?

self-injury-therapyAs a parent, you’re only normal if you often wonder this: “Does my child need therapy?”

Your concern could be related to your child’s behavior—maybe you’ve noticed that your child is acting withdrawn. Or that he or she seems more aloof or prone to want to spend a lot of time alone. Perhaps he or she seems irritable, sad, or worried. Have you noticed changes in your child’s eating or sleeping habits? All of these behaviors are cause to consider whether counseling could help.

We all go through tough times, so not every situation requires professional intervention. The best advice you can follow is this: Trust your parental intuition. Still, there are circumstances when it’s clearer that you should indeed take your child to a psychologist. Here are the key ones:

If your child is obviously unhappy

If your child has experienced a traumatic event

If your child is acting out or being overly aggressive

If your child seems to be having difficulty handling everyday stress

If you see a significant drop in grades

If your child is complaining of stomachaches, headaches, or otherwise not feeling well, especially if doctor’s visits turn up nothing abnormal, or if these symptoms are interfering with your child’s day-to-day ability to function

If you suspect your child is using or using drugs or alcohol

If your relationship with your child has deteriorated

If you’ve tried other forms of intervention and nothing seems to work

If there is a true problem, chances are that it’s not isolated to your child. As a parent, you play a huge role in your child’s life. It’s understandable that at times, you’ll get stuck.

Even though you’ll mean well, you’ll make choices that are actually prolonging a problem—which means that you must be willing to look at yourself and become open to doing things differently.

By now, we’ve all heard Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Heed the genius’s words and, if you want something in your life to be different, including your child’s behavior or state of being, then you have to do things differently.

Therapy can help families cope with stress and a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems. You don’t have to be mentally ill to benefit from going to counseling—your therapist’s office is simply a place where you can consider what’s working in your life—and what isn’t—and get guidance to develop strategies for change.

We all need help sometimes. Counseling is there just for that.