This is a very common and appropriate question that parents ask me when scheduling the first session for their child. They might state concerns such as “I don’t want him/her to feel like something is wrong with him/her.” While this is understandable, therapy is usually a lot more anxiety-producing for parents than it is for their child. In fact, most children who come to see me appear relieved to be in my office, and quickly understand my role in helping him/her/their family feel better about whatever it is they are struggling with. Nonetheless, at times children and teens may resist therapy, and these suggestions for how to talk to children about starting therapy can be helpful:
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This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
Couples and family members who enter therapy to improve their relationships have usually endured long periods of harsh conflict. Couples might be caught in repetitive cycles of criticism and defensiveness; parents and teens might be trapped in power struggles; siblings may find themselves in escalating rivalries. Anguished to stop destructive arguments, people usually begin therapy focused on containing their conflicts. Therapists can help clients to manage their conflicts by helping them engage in respectful communication focused on thoughts and feelings, and avoiding excessive blame, criticism, and stonewalling. With improved communication, power struggles can become more manageable, and conflicts can more easily resolve.
Losing someone we love is a painful experience for anyone. For parents, it can be difficult to know how to best support children after the loss of a loved one. This can be an especially challenging task with teenagers, as their quests to prove independence can lead them to present façades of composure. Educating yourself about grief in teens can help you recognize appropriate grief in your teenager and offer support. The following questions and answers offer some clarity. [Read more…]
You might have heard of the task where a candy bar is placed in front of a child to see if he or she can refrain from eating it for a period of time in order to obtain a better reward later on. How do children develop the skills needed to regulate themselves so that they can delay their satisfaction? The ability to regulate emotions is influenced by biological processes (e.g., temperament) as well as social learning. Regulating emotions is a process in which children monitor, evaluate, and change their emotional experience in order to meet their goals. If a child has a goal of eating a candy bar immediately, and believes that delaying eating it will cause pain, he or she may eat the candy bar in order to avoid the anticipated feeling of being upset. Alternatively, if the child believes that the anticipated reward might cause greater joy, then he or she may implement strategies to control an immediate response. [Read more…]
Much has been written over the ages about the nature of love. Romantic stories with fairy-tale endings abound in the mass media as well as in classic literature. But what is love? Recently, the fields of psychology and evolutionary biology have been coming up with a new way of looking at the bonds of love between mates. They are learning that love is a key survival mechanism, hard-wired into human beings from the moment we are born. Adult attachments are a response for our need for emotional safety and connection. We weather life’s storms by reaching for our partner, our safe haven in time of need.