CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
NOT ALL PROBLEMS WITH CHILDREN ARE THE RESULT OF POOR PARENTING SKILLS! But, of course, sometimes that is exactly the problem. Not all problems with children are the result of environment or traumatic history, but sometimes that is the problem. Sometimes the problems we observe with children can be the result of genetic or even biological problems. Our job as therapists is to sort all that out and begin to focus on the issues that are creating problem behavior in the child or teenager. [Click here for descriptions of some issues children and adolescent's experience.]
Our approach begins with a thorough biopsychosocial analysis of the child or teenager. Depending on the outcome of this analysis, our therapist may proceed to an electroencephalographic analysis or referral to a specialist who can perform a medical or a neurological examination. Once this process of analysis is completed, specific goals are set and treatment plans are designed to meet those goals.
Adults often misinterpret children’s behavior as intentional. Most of the time, what we perceive as misbehavior is the child’s immature way of trying to get some need met. Once adults can be helped to realize that this behavior is the result of poor coping skills or poor communication skills, they can stop treating the child’s behavior as an assault or just plain meanness.
Sometimes, the best approach to therapy for the child is training care-givers in more effective skills in relating to the child – getting parents to be more in control of the child by being more effective coaches and mentors for the child or adolescent.
Even for children or adolescents challenged by traumatic or biologic disorders, caregivers can learn more effective ways of dealing with chronic misbehavior. For example, for a child with ADD or ADHD, adjusting the way adults give instructions and set guidelines can improve the child’s response.
For us, therapy for children involves developing a relationship and an alliance or agreement with the child or adolescent through which he or she begins to take some responsibility for his or her success in treatment. Then, we apply age-appropriate intervention techniques. Some of these may include play therapy, insight therapy, behavioral therapy or Neurofeedback as appropriate. Sometimes therapy may involve conference with parents. Sometimes it may include working with school personnel to develop a team approach to the child’s problems.
With all therapy, improvement is tracked and reported to the parents or caregivers. Every gain, no matter how small, must be recognized and praised.
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