help4yourfamily

Create the family you want to have

How to know when you or your child need a therapist

“I’ve thought about coming in for a long time but it just didn’t seem that bad.”  How many times have I heard these words?  They are usually soon followed by the wish that the individual or family I am seeing had come in sooner.  Many people delay going to therapy because things just don’t seem bad enough.  I would encourage families to start thinking of therapists not only as people you go to as a last resort, but also as a kind of preventative help, kind of like going to your primary care physician when you have a cold.  How often have you delayed taking yourself or your child to your physician only to find out that had you gone sooner you would have been better off- that cold was actually strep, or that cough was really asthma?  Many people delay for understandable reasons, we are all busy, but by going when the problem starts, you can often (just like in medicine) reduce the amount of time it takes to recover from whatever the issue is.  Take depression for example, a person who is in the early stages of depression takes way less time in therapy to get better than a person who has been depressed for years.

Many people worry that once you start therapy, you end up going for years.  While this is true for some people, there are many people who go only a few times and find relief.  In fact, I have had an increasing number of parents calling my practice who just want to come in for a check in and guidance in helping their child adjust to a major change such as a move, or the death or illness of a relative.  Sometimes I never actually see the child, but the parents want someone to help them tailor their response to a distressing issue for their child since, especially if you have more than one child you know every child is different and has different needs.  Once you establish a relationship with a therapist, even if it is short-term, then you can continue to refer back to that person if any issues come up in the future.

Some signs that a person needs to be seen for therapy can be subtle but if they come in groups, you would want to have yourself or your child seen.  They include:

  • a sudden change in mood or behavior that does not seem to be going away.
  • lower grades than usual on a report card.
  • comments about feeling different from other people and not fitting in.
  • excessive worrying or depression.
  • an increase in challenging behaviors and/or bad moods.
  • increasingly disrespectful attitude or tone with parents.
  • sudden interest in death and dying.

If you see two or more indicators from the above list, I would recommend you contact a therapist.

Some indicators in and of themselves that indicate therapy is warranted include:

  • a statement from someone (including young children) that they want to die.
  • any previously untreated significant childhood sexual or physical abuse or neglect.
  • anyone in a family where the parents are separated or divorcing.
  • anyone who is self-harming (self-inflicted cuts, bruises, burns, etc.).
  • anyone who intentionally starves themselves or makes themselves vomit.
  • anyone who has become increasingly agitated and starts to make less and less sense (this could indicate a manic episode and needs to be treated)
  • anyone in an abusive relationship (if you do not know if your relationship is abusive, I would recommend therapy).

When in doubt, just call a therapist in your area.  We all know it is part of our job to speak to people who are just not sure if therapy is right for them or their child.  I have had plenty of people who have called where I have told them they did not need to bring their child in (like the parents who called to ask if a young child playing doctor with another young child needed to be in therapy).  Other times, people have called who have been on the fence and I end up saying if X, Y and Z happen, call back but lets see if some of this self corrects.  For example, sadness over the passing of a grandparent is normal, however if the sadness interferes with daily activities after a few weeks then I would want to see that child.

If you are thinking your next step is to find a therapist, please stay tuned for future posts about finding the right therapist for you and your child and on therapy myths- debunked!

For more information on my practice, please feel free to look at my practice website: www.ahealingplaceincolumbia.com

March 28, 2012 - Posted by | help for parents, thinking about therapy? | , , , , , , , ,

13 Comments »

  1. […] How to know when you or your child need a therapist (help4yourfamily.com) […]

    Pingback by Two things your kids tell their therapists about you « help4yourfamily | April 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] How to know when you or your child need a therapist (help4yourfamily.com) […]

    Pingback by Parental Reframes When Things Don’t Look So Good « help4yourfamily | April 10, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] How to know when you or your child need a therapist (help4yourfamily.com) Rate this: Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintRedditPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by Finding a therapist for a traumatized and/or attachment disordered child | help4yourfamily | April 16, 2012 | Reply

  4. […] How to know when you or your child need a therapist […]

    Pingback by When your inner critic hurts your relationship with your children | help4yourfamily | May 9, 2012 | Reply

  5. […] How to know when you or your child need a therapist (help4yourfamily.com) Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintRedditPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by Who’s Who in the World of Mental Health | help4yourfamily | May 25, 2012 | Reply

  6. […] How to Know if You or Your Child Need Therapy (help4yourfamily.com) […]

    Pingback by The Spectrum of Attachment | help4yourfamily | June 8, 2012 | Reply

  7. […] you have someone you are concerned about, even if they are not suicidal, please do your best to encourage and support them in seeking therapy as soon as possible. There are mental health services available to many in the United States even if […]

    Pingback by Suicide Prevention: Determining if Someone is Suicidal « help4yourfamily | October 4, 2012 | Reply

  8. […] How to Know When You or Your Child Need a Therapist (help4yourfamily.com) […]

    Pingback by A Few Thoughts on Seasonal Affective Disorder « help4yourfamily | November 8, 2012 | Reply

  9. […] How to Know if You or Your Child Need a Therapist (help4yourfamily.com) […]

    Pingback by To Parents Who Worry Their Child Will Harm Others « help4yourfamily | December 17, 2012 | Reply

  10. […] How to know when you or your child need a therapist. […]

    Pingback by How to know when you or your child need a therapist « MadeleineMaya | January 1, 2013 | Reply

  11. […] How to Know if You or Your Child Need a Therapist (help4yourfamily.com) […]

    Pingback by Caught in the Loop: Why People Repeat the Same Bad Choices Over and Over « help4yourfamily | January 15, 2013 | Reply

  12. Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to give it a look.
    I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Exceptional blog and great design and style.

    Comment by Elva | April 4, 2014 | Reply

  13. Wow, this post is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these things, so
    I am going to tell her.

    Comment by deer hunter 2014 game blog | May 15, 2014 | Reply


What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: