If your child has recently experienced a traumatic event -- the death of a loved one, the divorce of you and your spouse, or violence in the local community -- he or she may be acting out in normal but upsetting ways. In some situations, these new behaviors can even have implications for your child's health. Stool hoarding and self-mutilation are two potential manifestations of the complex emotions your child may be experiencing. Fortunately, child psychologists are experienced in helping children process these feelings and deal with future anxiety or depression. Read on to learn more about the different types of counseling and therapy designed to help children cope with recent trauma.
Children who are already experiencing stress related to trauma can thrive in a comfortable, pressure-free environment. This often means that play therapy is most effective in building a relationship of trust between your child and his or her therapist. During the first few appointments, your child will be free to play with toys of his or her choosing, color in coloring books, or read without intervention or re-direction from the therapist. Once trust has been gained, your child and the therapist can play together while the therapist talks through some of the scenarios your child is creating with toys or play-acting.
If your child is a tween or teen, he or she could benefit from talk therapy. This is one of the most traditional forms of therapy, and allows your child to express his or her gamut of emotions in a confidential, judgment-free environment. Talk therapy may be difficult for younger children who aren't as skilled at directly identifying or expressing emotions, but it can sometimes be more effective than play therapy for older children.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Older children can also reap lifelong benefits by learning ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions. Often when children or teens experience trauma, they may internalize it -- acting out in negative ways without really knowing why. CBT helps the patient identify potential triggers for harmful behavior and work out more helpful and constructive ways of dealing with these triggers. Having CBT as a child or teen who has dealt with trauma can help reduce the effects of this trauma in adulthood, and continue to provide positive alternatives for harmful behavior and decreasing the likelihood that your child will wind up with a substance abuse problem or other addiction.
For more information, contact a professional like those at Bock Belisle & Associates.