Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Parents seek treatment for their child who may struggle with poor self esteem, anxieties and social struggles. Their child may have experienced a trauma or a loss. They may be trying to process the separation of parents. Other kinds of issues arise from developmental struggles such as ADHD, learning disabilities or Autism.  These issues impact a child’s self esteem but also involve primary weakness in skills such as low frustration tolerance, flexibility in attention, organizational skills and reciprocity in social interactions. 

Adolescent development presents as a unique and challenging time when there are increased feelings of anxiety and insecurities. This is the time when teens are finding their own identifies and emotionally safe ways of separating and individuating from their parents. The peer environment becomes paramount and your teens can be easily swayed.  Social media are confusing venues to navigate and are clearly so important to our teens. These influences end up by creating vulnerabilities for the adolescent who feels sad, anxious and unsure of him or herself. 

Resolving trauma and loss through play

For children struggling with parental divorce, lose of a parent, adoption, medical issues or experience of abuse, interventions such as play therapies and art activities are extremely beneficial. This allows the child or adolescent to express and symbolize feelings, conflicts and confusions in a safe way. Play and art are vehicles of communication for feelings and experiences that cannot be put into words. These processes help them to understand and resolve their feelings. While some children and most adolescents have the capacity to engage in discussion about their experiences, many benefit from this more indirect method.

Targeting specific anxieties through behavioral interventions

Once a child and adolescent has an understanding of their anxieties and worries, and how they are manifested, they can learn specific behavioral techniques to help them gain control over these bad feelings. This includes the use of various strategies such as exposure to the stimulus, relaxation and distraction. Learning issues can also underlying anxieties about school performance leading to avoidant behaviors. Separation anxiety can also lead to school refusal. 

Often children with ADHD struggle with a low frustration tolerance, and in general can become easily overwhelmed by strong feelings. Developing affect regulation so that impulsivity and frustration are better managed is also extremely important. Again specific strategies are used to help develop these skills. This is addressed through education about feelings, identifying triggers of frustration, and developing ways to reduce them. 

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often struggle with both anxiety and affect regulation. Perspective taking and empathy for others is often an issue. Both behavioral and play based interventions can be helpful to develop these areas.