Working with Children in Therapy
I see children in my office as young as five years old. For young children, a combination of BEHAVIOR THERAPY and PLAY THERAPY is used. Unlike adults and older children, youngsters may encounter difficulty expressing their emotions through "talk therapy".
A common complaint parents have for bringing their child in for therapy is BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS. Many of these children are also identified as having OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER.
I help parents develop BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION PLANS to make effective behavior changes in the home and at school. A reward system may be developed to encourage positive behavior. I also help parents develop different methods of dealing with negative behaviors.
I work with children who may be experiencing ANXIETY or DEPRESSION. Often, this is associated with the break-up of their parents' relationship. Parents may be so involved with their own feelings at this time that they fail to see that their child is suffering just as much.
When a child is sad, they may act out in inappropriate ways to help them deal with their feelings. I've often seen extreme anger and behavior problems in children who have trouble coping with their sadness.
SEPARATION ANXIETY mirrors some of the same symptoms as ADD. I've worked with children who were thought to have ADHD due to their impulsive behaviors; however after psychological testing and obtaining a detailed history, anxiety was shown to be the cause of some of these children's problems.
Children with LEARNING PROBLEMS and/or ADHD may be so frustrated by their lack of ability to achieve in school that they exhibit BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS. In my experience these conditions go hand in hand with other symptoms such as depression and behavior problems.
Today's children seem to live a life of ENTITLEMENT. They work under the assumption that they get whatever they want without having to work for it.
To be judged as an unfit parent, one must be physically abusive or withhold shelter, food, or clothing to their children. There is nothing that says to deprive them of a car, cell phone, or cash on demand makes one a bad parent.
My three were often reminded that they had all the perks because they earned them through helping in the home and on our farm, making good grades, and exhibiting good behavior. They knew the flip side was to live with the basics of life if they didn't follow the rules. I often share this same philosophy with parents today when they come into my office wondering why their child is misbehaving, making poor grades, and won't do what they are asked to do.
Kids today often know just how far they can push their parents. They learn early whether their parents make idle threats or whether they will do what they said when they act out. One of the best things a parent can give his/her child is to follow through with anything that is promised; whether it is for a reward or consequences for bad behavior/poor grades.
Teens and Tweens in Therapy
Older children and teens have the same issues that bring younger children into therapy, plus other problems related to age, family issues, and peer pressure. BEHAVIOR THERAPY is still a large part of the therapeutic process with this age group. TALK THERAPY can replace PLAY THERAPY as they are able to express feelings and problems to work toward solutions for their problems.
Teachers and parents alike are often so focused on defiant behaviors of teens that they fail to see that there may be a wounded, hurt individual inside. Unfortunately, this age group
may turn to substance abuse to medicate their feelings. Self-mutilating behavior and suicide are also a concern for this age group.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,SUICIDE is the third leading cause of death in the 15 to 24 year age group, and the sixth leading cause of death for those 5 to 14 years of age.
Children and teens may experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, and to fit in with their peers. For some in this age group, divorce, step-parents, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and intensify these feelings. Bullying is a growing problem, both in schools and on the Internet.
Two out of every one thousand girls ages 12-17 report being raped or sexually assaulted. The attacker may be boyfriend, family member, or stranger. If left untreated, these young women may experience long term depression, anxiety, or difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.
In 2010, Mississippi had the highest rate of teen pregnancy
with a rate of 65.7 per 1000. Emotionally, these young women are often not able to cope with the changes pregnancy brings to their life. Family problems may arise as this affects the whole family. School and relationship issues are often a concern. Depression in teen moms is not uncommon. Therapy can provide support as well as healing during this difficult time.
Substance abuse is a growing problem with teens. Peer pressure is very strong for this age group. Twelve Step Programs, combined with outpatient therapy work well together to help teens and their families who are experiencing problems in these areas.
Many parents can identify with the problem of teenagers thinking that their parents are wrong, outdated, and don't understand them. Bringing in an outsider such as a psychologist can often bridge the gap with parents and teens.
If you have a child or teenager in need of psychological services, I will be happy to work with you.
Nona Owens, Ph.D.
580 Springridge Rd.
Clinton, Ms. 39056
Child, Adult, and Family Therapist | Psychologist | Clinton | Jackson| Vicksburg | Brandon | Magee | Depression | Anxiety | ADHD | ADHD Testing | Divorce Recovery | Children in Divorce | Relationship Problems | ACOA| Co-Dependence | Grief Recovery | Oppositional Defiant Disorder | Medicaid