Types Of Psychotherapy For Children & Teens

Growing up is not without its challenges. Between massive hormonal, physical and social changes sometimes it can all start to feel like too much and in those cases it’s often a good idea to ask for help.

Engaging the right help can be hugely beneficial to the wellbeing of your child or teenager and can help them to manage mental illness, trauma or complex concerns. Children’s counselling services are a great way that parents can support their children. Life can be hard sometimes and having someone to talk to can make all the difference in the world.

What is child psychology?

Child Psychology like Traditional Psychology is aimed at providing professional help to individuals as they navigate life’s challenges. Child Psychologists can provide counselling to a young person as they face challenges including grief, trauma, relationship or family issues.

This is particularly important as when young children are faced with adult problems such as the loss of a parent, physical or sexual trauma. Young people do not have the same coping mechanisms that adults have and thus are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges they are faced with.

Psychologists can also help with learning problems, ADHD or social and behavioural difficulties. They are also commonly used to treat mental health problems commonly diagnosed in young people such as depression, anxiety and stress disorders. 

Child Psychologists can help children learn coping skills and to deal with the trauma and triggers they are facing in their everyday lives. Even if there is not a specific problem or trigger, kids and teens can often benefit from talking to adults outside of their family or community network in order to gain a different perspective. Mental Health Professionals can also provide support to parents struggling to connect with their children and help find appropriate ways for the whole family to move forward as a cohesive and supportive unit.

What are some signs that my child might need psychological support?

As parents, all you want in life is for your children to be happy and healthy. Most parents tend to be pretty clued into changes in their children’s mood and behaviours however there are some specific signs that you should be monitoring for that may indicate that your child is in need of professional psychological help:

  • Sudden withdrawal or indifference towards friendships or extra-curricular activities that they used to love;
  • Negative self-talk. Expressing feeling bad about themselves and their abilities;
  • Constant stress and worry without a clear trigger;
  • Expressing a feeling of hopelessness or indicating they would like to give up;
  • Isolating themselves. Spending time in their room and not wanting to interact with family or friends;
  • Noticeable changes in their sleeping or eating habits;
  • Sudden irritability or an increase in angry outbursts;
  • Talking about self-harm or exhibiting self-harming behaviours (anything from cutting themselves to pulling their hair); 
  • Saying they hate their life, ‘I wish I wasn’t here.,’ I wish I had never been born,’ or something similar;
  • Suicidal ideation, talking about suicide or researching suicide. 

What are the different types of psychotherapy for children and teens?

There are many different types of psychotherapy and one of the main jobs of a child psychologist is to identify which type of therapy is right for each individual child and family. Once you’ve found a form of psychotherapy that suits the specific situation then a treatment plan can be put into action.

Here are some different types of psychotherapy commonly used to support children and teens:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: This therapy helps young people to accept and understand their inner emotions and gives them the coping mechanisms that they need to face emotions and move forward in a positive way.
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps to improve behaviour, anxiety and emotions in young people by examining their confused or distorted patterns of thinking. These therapists teach patients that their thoughts influence their emotions and, in turn, that can influence their behaviour. In this therapy, children learn to identify harmful thought patterns and a therapist works with them to retrain these chains of thoughts and helps them to move on with more appropriate feelings and behaviour. This is particularly helpful for young people dealing with depression, anxiety or struggling to cope with traumatic experiences. 
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: This therapy is particularly suited for older adolescents who are dealing with chronic thoughts of suicide and self-harmful behaviours or those who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This therapy focuses on teaching patients how to deal with conflict and how to take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and actions. 
  • Family Therapy: Similarly to couples therapy, this therapy focuses on improving the function of relationships within a family unit by providing support and education and teaching family members how to effectively communicate, deal with stressors and handle conflict. 
  • Play Therapy: This therapy is particularly well suited to younger children. Play therapy involves the use of toys, blocks, puppets, art and games to help the child recognise their own feelings and verbalise their experiences. Play often reveals deeper issues and can also be used as a vehicle to teach a child how to understand and manage their conflicts, feelings, past trauma and behaviour. 
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: This therapy emphasises the importance of understanding the motivations behind a child’s behaviour, thoughts and feelings. This helps to identify patterns in behaviour. This often involves several sessions per week.
  • Diagnostic Therapy: Diagnostic therapy helps to support children and diagnose common mental illnesses that many children and young people suffer from.

Recommended reading: ‘How to know if your child’s misbehaviour is normal or abnormal’

Looking For A Child Psychologist Near You?

If your child is struggling and you think psychotherapy might be a way to help, you may book an appointment with one of our experienced mental health practitioners. New Vision Psychology has 5 locations across the Sydney region near you.