I specialize in treating school age children and teens with the following issues:
Kids and teens with these issues often have it pretty hard. First, they often feel different than their peers because of their psychological condition. They often have trouble fitting in, and may have difficulty with social interaction. How can you best help your child?
Healthy Mind Sacramento Child/Teen Therapy
I take a family systems approach to therapy. This means that I believe it is important to address how the adolescent or teen is functioning within the entire family system. People do not function in life in isolation, but within the context of their family. It is important for parents to take an active role in their child’s treatment. As a therapist, I typically ask a parent to join us for the full session the first session or two. Thereafter, it is helpful for parents to join for part of the session. How much time I spend working with the child alone vs. with the child and parent together depends on the age of the child or teen.
What will my child/teen do during sessions?
The focus of sessions can differ depending on why your child is coming in for therapy. Here are some of the techniques and therapeutic approaches I use most often:
- social skills training: for kids and teens with difficulty interacting with peers and “fitting in,” I work on development of social skills. Part of this includes role-playing appropriate social skills.
- cognitive behavioral therapy: for kids and teens with depression and anxiety, this approach is great. It involves helping them access their thoughts. Oftentimes, patterns of thinking that are not quite based in reality will emerge (e.g. “I can’t read well so everyone thinks I’m dumb and I will never have any friends my whole life”). These thoughts can be pretty catastrophic! I work with your adolescent to replace the thoughts with more realistic and affirmative ones (“yes, I have trouble reading, but I have had a friend before and I will probably have a friend again”).
- Exposure therapy: for kids who have anxiety issues and are fearful or avoidant of certain things, I do graded exposure therapy. This involves creating a “fear ladder” of scary things. First, we learn coping thoughts and breathing exercises to help deal with scary/anxiety-provoking situations. When ready, it is time to try the easiest (bottom rung) situations on the fear ladder. Gradually, together, we work our way to the top of the fear ladder. The child learns that nothing bad really happens when confronting a scary situation.
What if my child or teen won’t talk?!
This happens. Don’t worry, it’s pretty common and natural. If you were a tween or teen and were brought to a total stranger and told you were supposed to talk to them for an hour, would you say, “Sure!” Maybe not. Oftentimes the first few sessions the child does not wish to participate or feels uncomfortable. When this happens, we usually try something like taking a walk while we chat or playing a game (I have games for varying energy levels!) Typically, as an adolescent grows more comfortable, he or she will begin participating.
Feel free to get in touch to determine if I am a good therapist fit for work with your child or teen.