Child and Family Counseling
Y our home should be a safe, nurturing, supportive place where you and your children can escape a sometimes harsh world, to recharge and to grow. But family life can have serious stresses, too. Left unaddressed, these issues can lead to life-long damage to life’s most important and formative relationships.
Younger children under the age of about 12 generally require some parental involvement for a successful outcome in counseling. Parents are invited to meet with counselors that will be caring for your children in this age range, prior to your child actually starting the therapy process. Meeting with parents of children of this younger age allows your counselor to better understand the circumstances and environment that your child is living through, and attempting to understand and process.
Children and families may find themselves in need of counseling, coaching, or psychotherapy for many reasons. For example, a child may take a prescribed medication for ADHD to stay focused in school. He or she may first be evaluated by the school psychologist for educational concerns and then seek diagnosis and treatment from a doctor. A child may require initial counseling and continue to see a therapist for medication management. In other situations, children enter counseling to cope with losing a loved one or to handle emotions related to their parents’ divorce. Getting children and families into counseling is an important first step in helping them feel more control over their thoughts and emotions. In therapy, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists provide patients with tools to handle issues impacting their psychological well-being. A psychotherapist may recommend medication as part of a treatment plan, but this varies widely from patient to patient. Many patients can successfully address their needs through counseling and avoid taking any medications.
The Facts on Child and Family Counseling
Child and family therapy is a clinical practice that aids patients of all ages. Recent reports have estimated between 4 and 6 percent of all teens ages 12 to 17 have mental health problems, and two-thirds of them receive treatment. Many patients get counseling and other non-medication services. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most commonly diagnosed disorders in children are ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression. The following are the latest diagnosis rates from the CDC:
9.4% of children aged 2-17 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis.
7.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem.
7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.
3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression.
Your child may have one of these conditions or need counseling to handle the stress of a one-time event or a series of events. Alternatively, counseling could be indicated for another mental health condition or family situation.
Types of Counseling Services
At OptiMindHealth, we provide many types of counseling and treatment to help patients become mentally and emotionally stronger. It is part of our practice to assist children and families with their specialized needs. If your child is having an acute or chronic psychological issue, such as an emotional or behavioral disorder, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, or other problem, we can help. We provide diagnostics and treatment for a full range of mental health disorders.
When Your Child Needs Counseling
A child may need to seek counseling to improve relationships with parents and other family members. This may include establishing better communication and resolving conflicts. Parents also need tools to support their child in growing and developing for life beyond the home.
When Parents Need Counseling
Parents often find themselves in situations that challenge them to help their child in unexpected ways. The best parents don’t always possess the tools or skills to support their child. It’s advisable to seek professional help from a counselor before the situation with your child spirals out of control. Accepting outside help does not mean there is something wrong with your parenting ability. Seeking mental health counseling signifies that you, the parent or guardian, want what is best for your child’s mental well-being. When you try counseling, you will be adding tools to your parenting toolbox that will come in handy in the future, especially to address problems with other children in your household.
Child and Parent Counseling
If you and your child are considering going to therapy, it helps to know there are different types of professionals who are qualified to help you. A counseling practice may include licensed psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, psychiatrists, and advanced nurse practitioners. Each type of mental health professional has a different level of training, ranging from a master’s degree to a doctorate (i.e. a PhD or MD). Only psychiatrists have the background of medical school and a four to six year residency in psychiatry which prepares them to prescribe medicine for psychological disorders. Some states have advanced practice nurses who also prescribe medication for mental health disorders. At OptiMindHealth, we have fully trained and licensed professionals ready to help you and your child with a range of issues. We can counsel you and your child separately or in joint sessions to improve relationships in your family. We can also involve siblings and other family members as needed to assist with your child’s comprehensive treatment program. Whether your child has recently suffered a trauma or has a diagnosed disorder such as anxiety, we can help!
What to Expect in a Counseling Session
When you sit down in a child and family counseling session, we believe that your child’s health and well-being are of the greatest concern. We can sit down and discuss the goals for our service. However, goals are really a combination of what will help the child, what the parent wants for the child, and what the therapist recommends for the child. Typically, we set goals in child therapy that are different than goals for adults. Children certainly don’t function at the same level as adults in many ways. A therapist may use techniques such as play therapy or storytelling to get a child to discuss issues important to them. The basic goals of therapy will target your child’s growth in different areas such as:
- Addressing emotional issues, which may be painful or difficult to revisit.
- Improving self-esteem.
- Achieving developmental goals and learning to function in society (i.e. school, work, home, playtime).
- Accepting his/her strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.
- Changing negative behaviors.
It is common for parents of children with mental health concerns to feel judged because they cannot control their child’s behaviors. We understand that you are the expert on your child, and you aren’t alone. In therapy, we help you stabilize your child’s mental and emotional state, with or without medication, and address the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that created the need for treatment. At OptiMindHealth, you can obtain tools for raising the child whom you love very much. At each counseling session, you and your child will be treated with respect and dignity. You should expect to feel safe and trust that everything discussed in therapy will remain confidential. We will set a goal for each counseling session and work through the topic of the session. Some counseling sessions will go better than others. If one session is not enough, we can address the same topic in the next session. Some sessions will require you to sit in, and other sessions will require you to wait in the lobby.
Let us focus on improving your child as a whole person with specific mental and emotional needs. To schedule your child and family counseling service today, please contact us or request an appointment today!
Staff Offering This Service
Deborah Felio, LPC
Jerome Myerson, LPC
Long Hin "Jacky" Siu, LMHC
Kenneth Kavanagh, PMHNP-BC
Staff Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Kari Lavin, LMHC
Lori Allen, LCSW
Mark O'Laughlin, LPC, CAC II
Susan Butler, LPC
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