Does My Child Need Pediatric Counseling?
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 06, 2018
Reviewer Tanya Harell
Have you noticed that your child seems more withdrawn lately, struggles to connect with other children, or simply doesn't seem like him or herself? If so they may benefit from pediatric counseling.
When people think of counseling they may immediately imagine someone in the throes of a midlife crisis trying to get their life back on track. Some may envision a couple sitting down for couples counseling to attempt to save their relationship. However, if you are a parent or caregiver for a child who appears to be struggling with mental or emotional issues it may be time to become more familiar with the lesser-known pediatric counseling as a potential source of treatment.
Pediatric counselors are specially trained and licensed to work with children facing a variety of issues and help them cope with and overcome them so that they are able to achieve their full potential at home, at school and in relationships. After all, children aren't shielded from stress, anxiety and other issues that many adults need professional help with. Pediatric counselors work with children of all ages with different problems, such as difficulty coping with a past traumatic event, adjusting to divorced parents, feeling excluded or unwanted by peers, among others.
Typically, pediatric counselors tailor their treatment to each specific child, taking into account their age, level of development, personality, behavioral issues and more to make sure that their treatment plan gives them the best chance of success. Then they'll set specific treatment goals to ensure that their strategy is truly helping the child. Depending on your child's needs their counselor may use one or more of the following techniques: talk therapy, play therapy, or group therapy. Each can be effective, but most often counselors will start with some form of talk therapy to form a connection with the child and ensure they fully understand how they're feeling.
If you are unsure if your child could benefit from pediatric counseling these list of potential risk factors or warning signs to watch out for may help.
- Increased desire to spend time alone or lack of desire to spend time with family or friends
- Sudden decline in school performance
- Difficulty concentrating at school or on other tasks
- Persistent sadness, sullenness, lack of energy, or hopelessness
- Excessive anxiety or stress
- A loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
- Extreme dependency on habitual acts, such as hand washing or making sure doors are locked
- Uncalled for anger or agitation that leads to lashing out
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Difficulty connecting with peers
- Acting withdrawn or an unwillingness to open up
This list isn't all-inclusive and doesn't necessarily mean you need to immediately start a search for a pediatric counselor. However, if your child is exhibiting multiple risk factors or has been experiencing some for an extended period of time it may be helpful to consider reaching out to a professional counselor. Online counseling sites like BetterHelp.com can be a great resource to start searching for a pediatric counselor for your child. They offer a large variety of licensed counselors to connect with in a way that's private, convenient, and affordable. Don't just hope that your child's struggles will go away. Instead, take a proactive approach and start your search for a counselor who can provide treatment.