Child and Adolescent Therapy

Child and Adolescent Therapy

Every parent knows the feeling of caring more about another life than one’s own.

Your child means everything to you.  Your heart soars when they are happy, healthy, and successful, and it breaks when you see them struggle.  Many parents feel alone when their kids face issues like anxiety, depression, anger, and trouble with school.  Some feel overwhelmed and stuck and unsure where to turn for help.

No matter what you and your child are going through, we are here to help.

Contact us today to get started, or read on to learn more about how we can help.

Does my child need therapy?

This is a question we get all the time at WMPS.  Does my child really need therapy?  Are their issues “normal,” or is there something else going on?  Can therapy help with my child’s challenges?

In short, Child and Adolescent therapy is advised if you are seeing one or more of the following:

Dysfunction means that something isn’t working.  They might be having trouble at school, difficulties taking care of themselves, or behaviors that get in the way of living well.  Dysfunction can be caused in many different ways – emotional issues, communication problems, learning challenges, and more.

Distress isn’t just about their discomfort or suffering, but also the impact on the family.  For example, a teen might struggle with depression, which is distressing to them, but then it also makes them not want to spend time with family.  Or, a child might be defiant or rude, which doesn’t cause them distress per se but is highly distressing to the parent.

Deviance is about rulebreaking.  Some children struggle with understanding and following rules in the home and the classroom, while others might break the law (e.g., stealing, lighting fires, violent acts, etc.).

Danger is self-explanatory.  Any risk of bodily harm to oneself or others represents not only a danger but also a symptom of deeper issues.  If your child or teen is struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or other harmful behaviors, seek immediate professional help and/or call 911.

Although these four categories of issues represent the most common reasons why families seek treatment for their children, therapy isn’t just about “fixing” a problem.  Kids and teens are in a critical stage of development, which means that therapy can also be about augmenting their growth and preparing them for the next stage in life.

Some other reasons you might consider therapy for your child might include:

  • Divorce, separation, or remarriage
  • Bullying and other peer issues
  • Experiencing abuse or neglect
  • Moving to a new city or changing schools
  • Academic pressure or drop in performance
  • Death of a loved one or pet
  • Transition readiness (e.g., middle school to high school, high school to college)

Therapy can help your child overcome personal challenges and live well.  No matter what your child is facing, no matter how bad things might seem, therapy can make a difference.

How can therapy help?

Therapy for kids and teens is designed to do three main things.

First, therapy provides insight into the problem.  The most effective therapy begins with an accurate assessment and diagnosis so that treatment can be calibrated directly to your child’s needs.  That’s why our initial therapy session includes a psychological evaluation, which then allows the clinician to provide answers about what your child is experiencing.  In addition to this initial psychological evaluation, WMPS also offers full psychological assessments for people who want more in-depth information or may require differential diagnostics.

Second, therapy provides a safe space to learn and grow.  Some children feel uncomfortable talking about their struggles to family members.  Teenagers especially prefer the privacy of a non-parent confidant as they begin to learn what it means to be a young adult.  Therapy offers an opportunity for kids to express themselves openly without worrying about what mom or dad or siblings might think.  And as they progress, your child can begin to feel more confident in opening up with you and other family members.

And third, therapy implements interventions for the individual and family.   As your child meets for individual therapy, they will develop new insights, become mindful and aware of their thoughts and feelings, and learn to solve and cope with their difficulties.  Additionally, therapists provide recommendations to parents and families to use to augment their child’s progress.  We work together as a team to ensure your child continues to meet their goals and thrive.

You don’t have to do this alone.  Let our team become your team.

What does child therapy look like at West Michigan Psychological Services?

Let’s work together!

Each of our sessions is covered by confidentiality and specifically designed to meet your goals.  Our first meeting (called an intake interview) is all about helping you, your child, and your child therapist get to know each other and put together a game plan for treatment.  We will work together to identify the issues your child might be struggling with, and define the focus of treatment, discuss initial recommendations, and answer any questions you might have.  We may also recommend a psychological assessment in addition to therapy if need be.

Our therapy for kids is designed to help your child:

  • Understand and express their thoughts and feelings
  • Cope with difficult emotions (e.g., anger)
  • Change unhealthy habits
  • Overcome loss of motivation
  • Boost academic performance
  • Navigate bullying and other peer-related issues
  • Work through the stress of divorce and family conflict
  • Make progress towards their goals

You don’t have to wait and hope that things will get better on their own.  You shouldn’t have to fear for your child’s safety, wellbeing, and future.  You want what’s best for your child, and we want to help make that happen.