When does a child need therapy?

If your child is experiencing difficulty coping, is exhibiting concerning behaviors at home or at school, has experienced a loss, or been through a traumatic event, therapy may be the best way to support your child and family.

A child is never too young to be seen. Often, younger children do not have the words to express their feelings about loss or trauma, so one of our infant or early childhood mental health professionals can help support you. We have Infant Mental Health Therapists, trained to work with parents, caregivers and infants from birth, focusing on attachment and the parent-child relationship.

Children and teens who need therapy or support may exhibit:

  • Defiant Behaviors: A common sign that your child may need therapy is if they are having behavior problems at home and/or school. You may find your child more inclined to argue, complain, and become defensive, even over the smallest request or conversation.
  • Sudden Shift in Usual Habits or Behaviors: Changes in your child’s day to day interests and habits can signal a need for therapy, including changes in eating, sleeping, or personal interests.
  • Regressions: Reverting to previous behaviors like bedwetting when already trained, temper tantrums, separation anxiety and clinginess, excessive anxiety or fearfulness, and/or language regression – i.e. “baby talk.”
  • Social Isolation: Sometimes, when children are sad or anxious, they will withdraw from social situations and turn inwards. When they begin to regularly withdraw from family and friends, this can be a signal that therapy is needed.
  • Talking About Self-Harm: If your child or teen expresses any feelings or ideas of self harm, it is important that you seek help for them right away. Sometimes this can present itself subtly with hints of hopelessness and feeling alone. However, other times it is much more direct and can be acknowledged through the presence of suicidal thoughts and cutting.

While suicidal thoughts and cutting may seem excessive for younger children, it is important to note that feelings of self-harm can be expressed in a number of different ways. Hitting oneself, banging one’s head against something and digging nails into skin are all signs of self harm in young children. If you are noticing any self-harm behaviors, take note of them and get help for your child right away.

Need effective ways to talk to your child or teenager about tough topics like suicide? Visit our Ways to Talk to Children resource page.

Suicide Crisis Resources:

  • Call 911 in the event of an emergency.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    • Call 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255)
    • Text HOME to 741741
  • Call 211 for resources or mobile crisis unit
  • BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s campaign which has resources and support. 
  • Lifeline Chat is a web chat service that connects individuals with counselors for emotional support.
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