Child therapy is an important, intervention based therapy for children experiencing a range of issues and concerns related to their overall well being. A child therapist helps support families as they cope and work with behavioural, emotional and social concerns. Further, a therapist provides parents and children with strategies to overcome challenges.
A child therapist can help with a wide variety of issues including:
- Anxiety and anger management
- Challenging behaviours
- Development disorders (including Autism Spectrum Disorders)
- ADD and ADHD
- Bullying and friendship issues
- Phobias and fears
- Depression and mood disorders
- Toilet training
- Family breakdown or separation
- Learning issues or giftedness
- Social skills
- School refusal and self-esteem issues
- Grief and loss
- Distorted body image
Some mental health issues are especially prevalent in childhood and, as a result, can be incredibly damaging. These include:
Depression in children is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, negativity. and guilt. Many children cope with these feelings using anger or tantrums. They lose interest in friends and family, as well as activities they once loved. Many children suffering from depression struggle to sleep, eat, or get out of bed. They may also experience aches and pains that do not have a physical origin according to a paediatric or general physician’s report.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder:
Chronic anxiety disorders do not seem to relate to any particular thing. Generalised anxiety disorders can manifest due to bullying or abuse. Like children suffering from depression, those suffering from generalised anxiety disorder struggle to eat and sleep. They also suffer from physical symptoms of anxiety including racing heart, nausea and difficulty concentrating.
An attachment disorder impacts a child’s ability to form normal, healthy attachments to loving adults. Further, attachment disorders almost always result from abusive or neglectful treatment. This condition is especially prevalent among adopted and foster children. They struggle to feel love for caregivers and often act out against their siblings. Further, attachment disorders can cause symptoms of other mental disorders including depression.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is the reaction to traumatic events such as abuse, a life-threating accident, seeing a loved one die and violent death, etc. PTSD can cause behavioural issues and result in children who struggle with anxiety and depression. Intrusive memories, known as flashbacks, replay the traumatic event. As a result, this can cause disorientation, strange reactions to loved ones, aggression and dramatic attempts to avoid the source of anxiety.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
This is the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues in children. It is the leading contributor to learning disabilities. ADHD manifests as hyper and fidgety behaviour. Children with ADHD have difficulty sitting, listening and concentrating. Further, it can undermine a child’s ability to make friends, empathise and feel good about themselves in general. Left untreated, children with ADD or ADHD can manifest symptoms of depression and anxiety. ADD results in similar issues with attention but does not have the hyperactivity issues of ADHD. Children with ADD are often introverted, aloof and distracted. Early intervention can stop the issue persisting into adulthood.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder manifests as defiance and rebellion that goes beyond age-appropriate norms. Children with ODD may be violent and aggressive, ignoring reasonable rules from parents. As a result, ODD often leads to criminal behaviour, educational struggles and injury to others. Children with suspected ODD should see a child therapist immediately to stop an escalation of dangerous behaviour.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorders require the fulfilment of two distinct components. Firstly, that a child experiences obsessive, anxious thoughts about a specific fear. These can include fear of a disease, a car accident, etc. Secondly, a child engages in ritualistic compulsions to banish the fear but that do not directly address the fear. These compulsions offer short term relief and become intrusive in the child’s life and in family life.
Eating Disorders are one of the most lethal mental health issues for children. Even if the child recovers from an eating disorder they can have a lifetime of issues. While 90% of sufferers are female, 10% are male and the number is rising. Eating disorders for children include:
Children who binge eat consume dangerously large quantities of food in short periods of time. This can contribute to obesity.
Bulimia nervosa manifests as bingeing and purging via vomiting or the misuse of laxatives. This process can cause dental and organ damage in later life.
Anorexia nervosa is seen in a dramatically decrease food intake. Death often results from malnutrition and/or dehydration. Children suffering from anorexia nervosa lose large quantities of weight in a short period of time. As a result, they are very susceptible to dangerous medical conditions.
Child Therapist Melbourne
Child therapy involves behavioural assessments and therapeutic interventions to uncover the underlying causes of challenging behaviours. Therapists understand that all behaviour has a meaning. They work closely with those involved with the child to identify triggers and factors that cause or exacerbate certain behaviours. As a result therapists help children reach their full potential.
Many children are not comfortable talking to adults, especially those they don’t know well. Child therapists are trained to talk to children in a way that creates trust and helpful relationships. They understand how to explain mental illness to children without them feeling bad or damaged.
It is often easier to believe that childhood is a time of ease and fun, rather than accept the fact a child might struggle with mental health issues. However, modern children face more stress than we realise from:
- Demanding academic settings
- Unspoken anxiety
- Their inability to communicate feelings to adults
As a result, many people dismiss mental illness as bad behaviour, moodiness and normal childhood challenges. But children are vulnerable to nearly every affliction adults face. Early intervention, however, means children are less likely to develop worse behaviour. Most conditions are highly treatable if acknowledged early.
Mental illness is just as complicated as physical illness and there is no single cause. Mental illness in children can develop due to a combination of biological, genetic, environmental and lifestyle issues.
If you are concerned that your child is suffering from mental illness or you are looking for a friendly, kind therapist for your child, contact Creative Healing today. Our innovative art therapy, clay fields and child-friendly treatment can help your child today.