Child Therapy – Teen Therapy – Youth Therapy
Children, just like adults, can participate in and benefit from counseling. Counseling can help children and adolescents learn how to identify causes of their distress, develop their skills in asking for help and expressing emotions; and improve their problem-solving abilities.
We offer immediate scheduling for child-teen-youth counseling in Naperville and surrounding communities.
Signs that a child may benefit from seeing a psychologist or licensed therapist include:
- developmental delay in speech, language, or toilet training
- learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
- behavioral problems (such as excessive anger, acting out, bedwetting or eating disorders)
- a significant drop in grades, particularly if your child normally maintains high grades
- episodes of sadness, tearfulness, or depression
- social withdrawal or isolation
- being the victim of bullying or bullying other children
- decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
- overly aggressive behavior (such as biting, kicking, or hitting)
- sudden changes in appetite (particularly in adolescents)
- insomnia or increased sleepiness
- excessive school absenteeism or tardiness
- mood swings (e.g., happy one minute, upset the next)
- development of, or an increase in physical complaints (such as headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor
- management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness
- signs of alcohol, drug, or other substance use (such as solvents or prescription drug abuse)
- problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
- bereavement issues
- custody evaluations
- therapy following sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
Preparing for the First Visit
You may be concerned that your child will become upset when told of an upcoming visit with a therapist. Although this is sometimes the case, it’s essential to be honest about the session and why your child (or family) will be going. The issue will come up during the session, but it’s important for you to prepare your child for it.
If your child is 12 or under, the therapist will meet with you and/or your spouse alone first. The therapist will gather information necessary to understand the nature of the problem. Your therapist will most likely ask questions from very early on in your child/teen’s life, concerns for your child/teen, and attempts at helping your child.
It is often helpful to describe your therapist as a “feelings helper” to a young child. You may want to stress that this type of feelings helper talks and plays with kids and families to help them solve problems and feel better. Kids might feel reassured to learn that the therapist will be helping the parents and other family members too.
Older kids and teens may be reassured to hear that anything they say to the therapist is confidential and cannot be shared with anyone else, including parents or other doctors, without their permission — the exception is if they indicate that they’re having thoughts of suicide or otherwise hurting themselves or others.
Giving kids this kind of information before the first appointment can help set the tone, prevent your child from feeling singled out or isolated, and provide reassurance that the family will be working together on the problem.
Q. What Are the Types of Therapy for Kids/Teens?
A. Psychotherapy helps children and adolescents in a variety of ways. They receive emotional support, resolve conflicts with people, understand feelings and problems, and try out new solutions to old problems. Goals for therapy may be specific (change in behavior, improved relations with friends or family), or more general (less anxiety, better self-esteem). The length of psychotherapy depends on the complexity and severity of problems.
Psychotherapy is a form of psychiatric treatment that involves therapeutic conversations and interactions between a therapist and a child or family. It can help children and families understand and resolve problems, modify behavior, and make positive changes in their lives. There are several types of psychotherapy that involve different approaches, techniques and interventions. At times, a combination of different psychotherapy approaches may be helpful. In some cases, a combination of medication with psychotherapy may be more effective.
Different types of psychotherapy: (alphabetical order)
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behavior by examining confused or distorted patterns of thinking. CBT therapists teach children that thoughts cause feelings and moods which can influence behavior. During CBT, a child learns to identify harmful thought patterns. The therapist then helps the child replace this thinking with thoughts that result in more appropriate feelings and behaviors. Research shows that CBT can be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including depression and anxiety. Specialized forms of CBT have also been developed to help children coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can be used to treat older adolescents who have chronic suicidal feelings/thoughts, engage in intentionally self-harmful behaviors, and/or have borderline personality disorder. DBT emphasizes taking responsibility for one’s problems and helps the person examine how they deal with conflict and intense negative emotions. This often involves a combination of group and individual sessions.
Family Therapy focuses on helping the family function in more positive and constructive ways by exploring patterns of communication and providing support and education. Family therapy sessions can include the child or adolescent along with parents, siblings, and grandparents.
Group Therapy is a form of psychotherapy where there are multiple patients led by one or more therapists. It uses the power of group dynamics and peer interactions to increase understanding of mental illness and/or improve social skills. There are many different types of group therapy (e.g. psychodynamic, social skills, substance abuse, multi-family, parent support, etc.).
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a brief treatment specifically developed and tested for depression, but also used to treat a variety of other clinical conditions. IPT therapists focus on how interpersonal events affect an individual’s emotional state. Individual difficulties are framed in interpersonal terms, and then problematic relationships are addressed.
Play Therapy involves the use of toys, blocks, dolls, puppets, drawings and games to help the child recognize, identify, and verbalize feelings. The psychotherapist observes how the child uses play materials and identifies themes or patterns to understand the child’s problems. Through a combination of talk and play, the child has an opportunity to better understand and manage their conflicts, feelings, and behavior.
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy emphasizes understanding the issues that motivate and influence a child’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings. It can help identify a child’s typical behavior patterns, defenses, and responses to inner conflicts and struggles. Psychodynamic psychotherapies are based on the assumption that a child’s behavior and feelings will improve once the inner struggles are brought to light.
Q. What is the goal of child/adolescent therapy?
A. Specific therapy goals are customized to meet the needs of the child and their family. The overall goal of our child and adolescent therapy program is to alleviate symptoms of distress; improve the child’s social and emotional resources; increase their use of effective communication skills; and strengthen family, community, and peer relationships.
Q. How do you accomplish goals?
A. We strive to create an environment where a child/adolescent feels safe and protected from real or perceived threats to their sense of control. We then work collaboratively with the child/adolescent to identify their areas of distress, examine and express their feelings by expanding their emotional vocabulary, and develop positive ways to cope and thrive in their environments.
Q. Do you just talk with my child/adolescent, like in therapy with adults?
A. Yes and no. There is talking involved in the therapy process, however with children and adolescents the therapy incorporates many activities, play and games. It is important for us to engage and interact with the child/adolescent, versus “talking at” them, as the language they are most familiar with at this stage in life is more nonverbal and interactive.
Q. If you are playing games with my child/adolescent, how does that help?
A. It can be difficult for children/adolescents to identify the sources of their distress and/or verbally express their feelings. Instead of forcing the child/adolescent into our adult world of discussion, we join them in their world of communication through play and activities. Through the process of play, we work on problem identification, problem solving, and communication skills. The focus is on creating a safe space for the child/adolescent to gain a better understanding of themselves and improve their communication and relationships with family and others.
Q. Does the therapist solve my child’s/teenager’s problems?
A. Therapy is helpful if the individual works hard with the therapist. The therapist supports the individual, and suggests helpful ways to work on problems. But if the individual doesn’t work at solving the problem, the therapy won’t work.
It can be overwhelming as a parent, guardian, or care-taker, to know how to help your child. You are not alone and hope can be found. At Fox Valley Institute we have several therapists on our team who specialize in child and teen-related issues. Our therapists understand that each child and family unit is unique, so therapy will be customized to best fit your needs. In addition, for your convenience we offer after school and weekend appointments.
Child Counseling – Teen Counseling – Youth Counseling Services by Fox Valley Institute