Is Therapy Really Helpful For A Child?
Author: Nikki P. Woods, MSW, LCSW
“Does my child really need to go to therapy? Isn’t he a little young for that?”
It can sometimes be a difficult concept to embrace as a parent - placing your child in therapy when they are so seemingly young and naïve to the world around them. What problems could they really be experiencing that require professional help?
Well, the truth of the matter is that therapy can be invaluable for children at such a young age. We unfortunately at times place a negative connotation to the idea of entering into therapy, when in fact, its an amazing opportunity for children to gain a greater understanding of themselves - establishing the ability to identify emotions, understand how those feelings impact their behaviors, and ultimately how best to self regulate when triggered.
This can be done through the utilization of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT). CBT works to strengthen a child’s ability to change perspectives. Where they may have once accepted their own anxious thoughts as truth, CBT helps them to break those thoughts down into a more rational, realistic understanding of the situation. This is achieved by making connections between their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Helping them to begin analyzing what the root issue is behind their actions and gaining a greater understanding of the ‘whys’. Overtime, children become more equipped to respond with a non-anxious and well thought out interpretation rather than an emotionally driven and impulsive reaction.
The benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are endless, and for children specifically, they can provide so many wonderful, lifelong skills:
Establish self awareness and self acceptance
Begin to understand the connection between thoughts and habits
A greater ability to tolerate stressful situations
More positive experience in group activities and competitive play
A more mature and advanced ability to self regulate
Increased sense of self worth and self esteem
Improved performance in school and other extracurricular activities
Greater ability to connect with others and establish more meaningful interactions
If a child fails to master these skills, they fall vulnerable to their own anxieties. They continue to validate their anxious thoughts by avoiding situations that may trigger discomfort. In the words of Robert Frost, “the only way out is through”, and it is imperative that our children gain the ability to do just that - to work through their emotions - gain full understanding of their presence, their purpose and their potential consequences so that each child has control of themselves and their behavior.
The beauty of taking a proactive step in your child’s life is that through this work, they can acquire skills that will ultimately improve their future. We all strive to be better able to self regulate when we are faced with adversity - why not provide our children the opportunity to learn such an invaluable skill early on so that they can tackle any obstacle they face, with all the necessary equipment.
For more information about CBT and whether or not it could benefit your child, please give us a call at 732-533-4224.