3 Powerful Therapeutic Options That Can Help Your Kids

Children and adolescents undergo a great deal of tumult just from the everyday process of growing up, so it's no wonder that emotional or behavioral disturbances can take on dangerous proportions during this formative period. If you have reason to fear for your child's well-being, it's imperative that you discuss the problem with a trained, experienced psychologist, who can then recommend specific therapeutic approaches. Here are three therapies that could help free your child from excessive fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and the negative behaviors these emotions fuel.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the basic principles of modern psychology is helping patients understand difficult or overwhelming emotions so they can gain a measure of control over them. This is especially crucial for younger patients who are still learning how to cope with the world, and for teens whose hormones may be causing new levels of agitation and confusion. School-related stress is another source of anguish associated with this period of life. A trained child psychologist knows how to recognize and address such issues.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a popular form of treatment based on the notion of controlling thoughts before those thoughts gain control of the emotions. Your child's therapist can train him to notice unreasonable, unrealistic, or exaggerated negative thoughts in time to counter them with more rational and positive ideas. For instance, a child racked with anxiety over his report card may be demanding impossibly high standards from his performance. by reminding himself that no one is perfect and that mistakes represent an opportunity to learn and grow, he can put his emotions back on an even keel.

2. "Nature" Therapy

The pressures and influences of urban life can propel kids into a very dark place indeed. Children learn from their peers and their surroundings, so if your kids have never known anything other than a tense, noisy, crime-ridden environment, they may come to view that way of life as the only option and adopt the negative behaviors they see around them. Uninterrupted exposure to a "disposable" culture, in which thoughtless actions never seem to carry consequences, can also cause kids to live irresponsibly, with painful or even tragic results.

For these kids, sometimes the most effective therapy is one that takes them completely out of their old environment into a new one. That's why you'll find many programs across the U.S. focuses on what you might call "nature" therapy. These facilities are based on farms, providing children with a quiet, peaceful place to reorient their perspective of what's possible in life. In addition to traditional therapeutic programs, your child might also benefit from features such as equine therapy (caring for and bonding with horses) and other routine responsibilities and achievements of farm life.

3. Therapy for (and Including) Parents 

If communication has broken down between parent and child, serious behavioral disturbances can result. Psychological or behavioral problems that stem from an unhappy household may mean that your family has to become equal partners in therapy. Family therapy is an intimate form of group therapy in which the members of the family can openly share their feelings, not only toward each other but concerning their own roles in the family unit. The practitioner you choose should be accredited by the AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy) in addition to the usual state licensing and credentialing required for therapeutic work in your state. 

Your own mental and emotional state can have a powerful effect on your children. If you're struggling with chemical abuse, uncontrolled anger, depression, anxiety, unresolved issues between your spouse and yourself, that tension and upset can transfer itself to your kids. Parenting therapists can work directly with you on an individual basis, or in conjunction with couples therapy sessions, to help you iron out these issues before they hurt your entire family. For additional info on parenting therapy, look for a clinic in your area that offers different therapy services.

It is important to realize that many psychological issues in both children and adults may stem from a biochemical imbalance, not external circumstances. In such a case, your therapist will refer you to a psychiatrist qualified to prescribe the appropriate medications. But whatever the root of your child's unhappiness, rest assured that the right combination of skilled medical care and dedicated parenting can make all the difference in the world.