Seeking Refuge Through Counseling

What Do Therapists Do For Kids In Child Mental Health Therapy?

Therapy can benefit kids as well as adults, especially if children experience mental health problems or learning disabilities. Therapy for kids is designed with child psychology in mind and is distinctly different from therapy for adults. Here are four things that mental health professionals can do for kids during child therapy.

1. Establish a rapport.

It's common for kids to feel shy, especially when meeting unfamiliar adults for the first time. The therapeutic relationship is predicated on trust, which is not formed overnight. Instead, trust needs to develop over time. Child therapists can foster trust with children by establishing a rapport. During your child's first few therapy sessions, their therapist may ask simple questions about their favorite subjects in school and what they like to do for fun. The answers to these questions can be very revealing, and they also lay the groundwork for deeper therapeutic work in the future.

2. Explain the limits of therapeutic confidentiality and privacy to kids.

Therapists are bound by doctor-patient confidentiality, which means they can't reveal the things their patients discuss in therapy except under certain conditions. Child therapy is a little different because therapists can share information with kids' parents. At the start of your child's therapy treatment, their therapist will let kids know what kind of privacy they can expect. This can help kids figure out what they want to share in therapy.

3. Help kids identify and name their emotions.

People feel a range of emotions throughout their lives. Kids may be annoyed when their siblings do things they don't like or sad when a pet dies. Some kids who have difficulty regulating their emotions also struggle to identify their feelings. Child therapists can work with kids to identify their emotions, which is the first step in learning to manage them.

4. Teach kids ways of coping with big emotions.

Everyone experiences negative emotions sometimes. For kids, especially kids with mental health challenges, some emotions can feel big and overwhelming. In these cases, it might be natural for kids to meltdown or act out as a way of coping with those emotions. However, these actions usually lead to negative consequences. It's important for kids to learn healthier ways of dealing with their feelings, and child therapists can help. In therapy, counselors can teach kids how to count to ten, take deep breaths, or focus on things that make them happy. These small, alternative actions can help kids when they start to feel overwhelmed.

For more information on child therapy, contact a professional near you.