Child and Teen Therapy

How is Counseling for Children and Teens Different from Adults?

Counseling with adolescents or children requires a set of tools that is distinctly different than those used when helping adults. Younger children especially have less sophisticated verbal abilities than adults, but many of the same emotional challenges. Adolescents may be much more selective about what to communicate and with whom. Child and adolescent therapists have experience in navigating these barriers. They know how to work through a wide range of problems with these age groups.

Counseling for Children

Children often engage in nonverbal communication about the concerns they have. They may use things like imaginary play to dig into situations that they are struggling with. Child therapists use a range of specialized therapeutic tools such as “play therapy” or “expressive therapies” to engage children in a way that allows them to be heard effectively. While these interventions may look similar to games, they help the clinician sort through the child’s perception of circumstances and identify signs of emotional distress. Child therapists also study pragmatic interventions for behavioral issues. They work with parents, schools and other caregivers to help correct problematic behaviors that might be interfering with school or social activities. Psychologists are also able to perform diagnostic testing for emotional and academic issues that children struggle with. They can then assist with recommending interventions that might be needed to help support healthy social and academic development.

Counseling for Adolescents

Any parent with a teen can relate to the notion that teens might not always be easy to communicate with. Building trust and support is an integral part of the therapy process. It provides teens with a safe venue to vocalize concerns. This is a vital part of assessing how they are doing overall. Adolescent therapists specialize in stressors and issues facing the current generation of teens. They are effective at establishing a trusting relationship to be of help when difficulties arise. Like children, teens often need an advocate to work with various caregivers to communicate about needs or concerns.

When teens are anxious or depressed, the signs may not be as apparent as they are with adults. And, teens may not now how to effectively reach out for help. Counseling, along with good communication from family members, can be an effective way to identify and work through many emotional and social difficulties facing today’s teenagers. As with children, Psychologists also perform diagnostic testing with teens to help identify academic and emotional issues that may have been overlooked or misidentified.

How Much Does This Involve the Family?

Engaging family members (parent, in particular) is a crucial part of improving issues with children and adolescents. Providing support and guidance to parents is often a primary aim of this kind of counseling and clinicians can suggest various approaches and techniques that help reduce conflict and frustration, while restoring some positivity to the interactions at home. While counselors do work to build trust with children and teens, they also keep parents informed about goals, progress and any issues that arise during the process. Family therapy may also be a part of working with children, bringing parents into the sessions and working through problems as one big team.

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