Children under 12 years old process and react to the world around them differently than their adult counterparts. As a result, they experience mental health issues differently, too. Children often struggle to articulate their thoughts, memories, feelings, and emotions through words alone. They require the attention of a child counsellor trained in working with young children in a variety of capacities. Child Therapy is specially designed to work for young children who show signs of cognitive, developmental, behavioural, and emotional distress.
Along with assessing and diagnosing children, they also employ a wide range of psychological methods such as play therapy, which uses play time, imagination, puzzles, puppets and games in order to help children process and express their experiences in a safe and nurturing environment.
Studies have shown that mental health issues may present differently with boys than with girls. Boys are more likely to exhibit more externalized symptoms – such as emotional outbursts, impulsiveness, aggression, and self-harm. On the other hand, because girls tend to be more socially aware, they are more likely to hide or internalize their distress. This means that their symptoms present more subtly, which could include social withdrawal, worsening academic performance, and eating disorders. Regardless of gender, listed below are some of the signs and behaviours parents should be on the lookout for:
If your child has been neglecting their academic and extracurricular activities, there may be something wrong.
A change in diet, whether that means binge eating, purging, or under-eating could be indicative of something deeper.
Children may experience trouble falling asleep, such as insomnia, because of psychological distress.
Stomachaches, headaches, nausea, and rashes are some examples of mental health issues manifesting physically.
If your child is experiencing unusual anger outbursts and tantrums, they may be struggling with a deeper issue.
A loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, such as hobbies or sports, may be a sign of mental health issues.
Child counsellors use many different kinds of treatments and are trained to determine which one is most appropriate. Different mental illnesses and patient circumstances all warrant different treatments. While some involve extensive conversations, others require no verbal communication from the child at all. Below is a list of some of the treatments our counsellors may recommend and/or use:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective psychological treatment focused on identifying and developing strategies to challenge irrational thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, called cognitive distortions.
By combining mindfulness, an acceptance of current feelings, and a commitment to challenging unhelpful thoughts, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has been proven to be an effective counselling approach.
Play therapy allows a therapist to observe a child at play in a variety of settings which offers them invaluable insight into the child's emotional state without the need for them to actively think about and articulate their thoughts.
Using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a counsellor can help the child access, understand, and process difficult memories by activating both sides of the brain with bilateral stimulation.