Does Your Child Need Therapy? How to Know It’s the Right Time

As a child therapist in San Diego, people frequently ask me how to know whether or not their child needs therapy.

It’s not an easy question to answer. Every child is different. That said, if you have concerns as a parent then it’s wise to trust your gut. If you think that your child might benefit from therapy, then there’s a good chance that they will.

After all, therapy is there to support people of any age who are going through a tough time. Furthermore, therapy can provide children with skills that will be useful all throughout their lives.

Of course, this answer isn’t what most people are seeking when they ask if their child needs therapy. Therefore, I’ve put together a list of questions to help you make the determination for yourself.

Has Your Child Experienced Trauma?

Trauma is one of the most common reasons that children need therapy.

Trauma can be a single event such as a car accident, an act of violence, or even an abduction. However, trauma can also be made up of smaller incidents.

For example, a child who is repeatedly bullied at school may experience that as trauma. Similarly, a child who witnesses domestic violence in the home is a victim of trauma.

Trauma can impact children in many different ways. If your child has experienced any type of trauma then you might want to seek a child therapist to help them process what they have gone through.

Has Your Child Gone Through a Difficult Transition?

Sometimes a child goes through an experience that isn’t exactly traumatic but is still challenging. This often occurs during times of transition.

For example, when a child’s parents divorce, the child often goes through many changes. They may move to a new location, have to adjust to seeing one or both parents less frequently, and eventually may have to transition to having new stepparents and siblings in the mix.

Any type of transition can be difficult for a child to process, and it’s okay if your child needs therapy to work through that.

Is Your Child Exhibiting Distressing Symptoms?

Sometimes you can’t identify a cause for why your child needs therapy. However, you notice behavioral, physical, emotional, or cognitive changes in them that make you realize that something is wrong.

As a child therapist in San Diego, some of the signs I would look for include:

  • Changes in eating, sleeping and/or school performance
  • Complaints of headaches, stomachaches, and other ailments that appear to have no medical cause
  • Frequent outbursts, tantrums, or crying spells
  • Inability to focus, concentrate, make decisions and/or recall memories
  • Loss of interest in activities and people they previously enjoyed
  • Regressive behavior such as suddenly wetting the bed
  • Repeatedly performing routine-like behavior such as lining up toys in a specific way
  • Restlessness, inability to sit still, and/or racing thoughts
  • Persistent intense emotions including sadness, anger, and worry
  • Separation anxiety when it’s time to be apart from a parent
  • Signs of substance use
  • Withdrawn, sullen behavior and a desire to always be alone

These are just some of the signs that a child needs therapy. In general, if you notice changes in their behavior over time, then something is probably going on. Therapy can help you figure out what it is and how to help.

What Will a Child Therapist in San Diego Be Able to Do?

A child therapist can assess what is going on with your child. They can help you figure out if indeed your child can benefit from therapy.

Moreover, a therapist can provide the help necessary to meet your child’s exact needs.

For example, your child might benefit most from learning skills and tools to overcome specific challenges. On the other hand, your child may benefit from family therapy that focuses on improving family relationships, thereby improving functioning inside and outside the home.

Your therapist will work with you and your child to figure out the best way to build upon existing strengths while helping your child shore up resources to overcome what’s challenging.