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Child-Friendly Therapy

C. B. Gavant

Your child is having problems at home and in school — maybe it’s because a beloved grandparent just passed away, you recently moved to a new country, or there’s been a divorce in the family. Whatever the issue, when a kid’s behavior moves into a realm beyond the regular, child therapists are trained

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

KID TEDDY

In the last 50 years, the field of psychotherapy has exploded. Whereas in the past only seriously disturbed people were considered candidates for counseling, today professionally trained therapists abound. Offering tools such as stress management strategies, relaxation techniques, and communication skills, therapists are trained to help their clients — adults and juniors alike — overcome especially challenging emotional hurdles.

“If a kid needs a math tutor, the parents get him a math tutor. It’s the same with therapy. You’re seeking out someone who is trained to help,” says child psychologist Dr. Dassi Jacobson, who has a private practice in Yerushalayim and Gush Etzion. Sometimes, explains Dr. Jacobson, it’s a family event like bereavement, a major move, divorce, or remarriage that prompts parents to bring their child to a therapist. Other times it’s what she terms a “developmental bump,” such as anxiety, depression, social problems, or anything related to a learning disability.

“When daily functioning is disrupted, it’s time to seek help,” observes Dr. Nosson Solomon, a Brooklyn-based psychologist who’s been seeing adults and children for decades. Although it’s normal for a child or teenager to occasionally feel anxious, sad, or oppositional, the frequency and intensity of these symptoms are the deciding factors. If the child’s emotional difficulties are affecting his schoolwork, preventing her from getting up in the morning, leading to aggressive behavior, affecting her appetite or sleep patterns, or impairing social life, a parent would be wise to seek out a professional.

Esther took her fifth-grader for an educational evaluation because he hated school and did everything to avoid going, to the point where he was staying home two or three days a week. In the course of the evaluation, Benny was found to have both a language processing difficulty and emotional issues. Esther found Benny a speech therapist and a psychologist who could bolster his skills.

“I’d been to several years of parenting classes, and I was confident with my skills as a mother,” says Batya, another mother. “But at a certain point I felt I needed something more for one of my children. How do I parent an overly anxious child, or a child who is fearful of everything?

“I don’t have the training for this stuff, and that’s fine. That’s why I take my child to a psychologist, who helps her learn how to deal with her anxiety and helps me fine-tune my parenting for her specific situation.”

 

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