When to Sign Your Child Up for Counseling
Written by: Erin Jones, M.A., LCMHCA, NCC
As parents, making decisions as to how to best help your child through a difficult time can be confusing. Parents often want to support their child when they notice changes such as declining grades or their child having less interest in activities that they used to enjoy. They may also notice that their child just has not seemed like themselves lately. In such cases, it can be hard to tell if the situation warrants counseling. The following are signs that parents can look out for to help them decide to sign their child up for counseling:
Changes in Behavior
Children with an increase in disruptive or dangerous behaviors may start getting into trouble at school or home more often. You may also notice repetitive, self-destructive behaviors such as skin picking or hair pulling. If your child is demonstrating undesired behaviors, it may be time to consider meeting with a counselor to learn ways to reinforce desired behaviors.
You may want to consult with a counselor if you child experiences consistent increase or decrease in their appetite or eating habits. Counselors can also work with children who have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or waking up on time. Nightmares can be common from time to time and more consistent nightmares may warrant some counseling to better understand how to improve sleep.
You may notice that your child cries more often than usual or expresses increased sadness. They may also frequently worry about the future, social situations, family, or other circumstances in their life. This is especially important if your child’s increased emotions are getting in the way of their functioning in school, family functions, or other activities. Therapy may be helpful in teaching your child how to express and regulate their emotions.
Thoughts of Suicide/Self-Harm
Another sign of recommended intervention is when children express hopelessness and/or a desire to die. If your child engages in any self-harm or expresses a desire to harm themselves, then counseling is recommended to help them form a safety plan and learn safer coping skills.
Parents can also seek additional support in helping make the decision to start counseling. For example, they can discuss their concerns with their pediatrician to see if counseling is recommended. They can also call and speak with a counselor ahead of an initial appointment to gage if therapy may be helpful. Parents should not be afraid to ask their child if they want to speak with a counselor, as their willingness may surprise them.
If you believe your child could benefit from treatment from a trained and competent therapist, please give us a call at 828-350-1177 today to get started.