It’s normal to worry about your child’s development, health, mental state and emotions. As a parent, you learn to closely monitor your child’s behavior, read their cues and look for any signs of danger. But when it comes to mental illness or other behavioral issues, parents often become reluctant to acknowledge or address a problem by seeking professional help.
Many parents fear the big T word - Therapy. Parents worry that it means something is wrong, and that bringing their child to a therapist would either signal to the child or to others that something is wrong with them. And if something is wrong with their child, then they may be to blame. As a result, therapy is often seen as a last resort left only for serious cases.
But that’s not what therapy means, and bringing a therapist in early can help prevent an issue from becoming serious in the first place. Chances are, most children and adults could benefit from the occasional therapy session. So when it comes to the question ‘when is the right time to bring a child in to a therapist?’, the answer is whenever your child could use a safe outlet to vent.
Therapy addresses problems head-on
Children who attend therapy sessions are given the opportunity to express thoughts and concerns that they may not feel comfortable sharing with a parent, teacher or other authority figure. Children are intelligent, and they become aware at a young age that certain comments can elicit unwanted reactions from adults around them. Rather than expressing those comments to address the issue, children may learn to bottle it up and not acknowledge what’s happening in their lives.
A therapist provides a space for a child to talk without worrying about consequences or hurt feelings, as Sam Nabil of Naya Clinics explains. “Positive Existential Therapy PET is client centered and designed to give you results.” says Sam. “It is a radical departure from how therapy has come to be, and it works.” Therapists are skilled at encouraging children to express themselves, identify and articulate their emotions and thoughts, and work through issues that are troubling them. A conversation with another young friend or someone unskilled in counseling would likely not provide the same outlet and educational opportunity as a meeting with an expert in counseling would.
Prevention is better than response
Children who receive therapy from a young age also benefit from learning early how to identify and manage their emotions, which gives them valuable skills to employ as they age and mature. With healthy coping mechanisms ingrained into them from a young age, they may be able to ward off any worsening behavioral issues or address mental struggles head-on and with confidence as they grow older.
Often parents do not seek therapy until their child is in their late teens, when mental illnesses or behavioral issues often begin to show or have consequences. But by bringing a child in from a young age, parents may have a system in place to prevent issues from developing at all.
Encourage regular use of therapy
A child who knows that there is a comfortable and safe place for them to express their feelings and work through emotional issues is given a healthy outlet to express emotions, which can minimize the chances that they will begin seeking self-destructive methods of coping with emotional developments.
The best time to bring a child in to therapy if they don’t otherwise have long-term behavioral issues to work through is after an emotional upheaval. After a family members arrives or passes away, after a move, after a serious illness or even after incidents of bullying in school.
The best way to encourage a health relationship to therapy also includes making an effort to legitimize the practice. Children can benefit from early therapy, but they often will notice that their classmates do not also attend therapy. However, if you make therapy a family affair - something used liberally and by everyone in the family - they can feel less singled out about the treatment. In addition, your family can benefit as well from regular therapy sessions to work through any issues between members, at work or in life. If your child is showing signs of behavioral issues, emotional issues or mental issues, therapy should be considered. But similarly, if your child is going through a generally difficult time in her life, even if she seems fine, therapy should be considered. There’s nothing bad about the T word - therapy should be normalized. It’s good for everyone, including your children.