Therapy for Children

Kids deserve to grow up to be healthy, confident, thriving adults.

Is your child setup to thrive?

Growing up isn’t easy. In childhood, emotions can run high and children don’t always have the skills to articulate what they are feeling. Regulating emotions and understanding why they think and feel the way they do is often challenging for kids, especially as they navigate new experiences and developmental milestones. These challenges may manifest in various aspects of their lives, such as relationships with family members, peers, and teachers, social experiences, learning and growth, and overall well-being.

Therapy provides children with a consistent and secure space where they can openly discuss their experiences with a trusted adult. At River Oaks Psychology, our therapists create a non-judgmental environment where children can freely express themselves and explore their thoughts and feelings. Through meaningful conversations and age-appropriate therapeutic techniques, we help children develop emotional awareness and regulation skills

Having a safe outlet to speak openly about their experiences and frustrations helps children de-escalate the intensity of difficult feelings and also enhances their ability to communicate effectively. Therapy also allows children to learn healthy coping skills which they can directly use in their everyday life. These strategies may include techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, problem-solving skills, cognitive restructuring, and self-care activities. By learning and practicing these coping skills in therapy, children gain the tools necessary to face various situations and stressors outside of the therapy setting.

Further, it’s important to remember that childhood experiences are often the foundational building blocks for one’s future development. The beliefs and perceptions children form about themselves and the world during their early years can significantly impact their mental health and well-being in adulthood. For example, low self-image and confidence during childhood can create a negative internal dialogue that persists into adulthood, potentially leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. By addressing any concerns early on through therapy, we can proactively support children’s mental well-being and help them build a solid framework for their future development. Our therapists work collaboratively with children, helping them challenge negative beliefs, foster self-compassion, and develop a positive sense of self that can contribute to their long-term emotional health.

Above all, we prioritize early intervention and prevention. We approach each child with empathy, patience, and a genuine desire to help them navigate their world successfully. We believe that every child has the potential for growth, and we are committed to unlocking their strengths and supporting their journey towards positive change. It is our passion and privilege to be part of their lives and help them discover what helps them feel their best. Our goal is to empower children with the skills and strategies they need to navigate life’s ups and downs, fostering their emotional growth, building healthy relationships, and cultivating a strong foundation for their future wellness.

FAQ about Children’s Therapy

For most parents or guardians, it can be confusing to understand how or why your child may benefit from counseling. Most parents wonder, is therapy really necessary? We recognize that making a decision about therapy for a child can be daunting, but we are here to help.

At River Oaks Psychology, we firmly believe that every child can benefit from therapy, even in the absence of a specific “problem” that you may be noticing. In other words, therapy can be helpful for every child simply because it increases their support system and provides another adult role model in their life.

Therapy offers a unique opportunity for children to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It provides a dedicated space where they can explore their emotions, develop coping skills, and foster emotional resilience. Therapy serves as a valuable support system for children, enhancing their overall well-being and growth.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no need for your child to have an identifiable behavior problem or emotional disorder to benefit from counseling. Just as physical check-ups are essential for maintaining physical health, therapy can be viewed as a mental and emotional check-up for your child. It allows them to develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and the tools necessary to navigate life’s challenges.

By engaging in therapy, your child gains an additional trusted adult in their life who can offer guidance, support, and provide a different perspective. This can be particularly beneficial during critical stages of development, helping children build resilience, self-confidence, and healthy coping strategies.

We understand that as a parent or guardian, you want the best for your child. If you have any concerns or questions about whether your child could benefit from therapy, we encourage you to reach out to our compassionate team at River Oaks Psychology. Together, we can determine the most appropriate support for your child’s unique needs and provide them with the tools to thrive emotionally and psychologically.

Yes, there are childhood signs that may indicate a need for therapy. While it is important to remember that every child is unique and may have different needs, there are common indicators that suggest therapy could be beneficial. Here are some signs to consider:

Intense Emotions: If your child consistently displays intense and prolonged emotions such as sadness, anger, anxiety, or irritability that interfere with their daily functioning, it could be a sign that they need professional support.

Excessive Worry or Anxiety: If a child frequently experiences excessive worry, irrational fears, panic attacks, or struggles with anxiety that interferes with their daily life and functioning, therapy can help them learn effective coping strategies and manage anxiety symptoms.

Depression or Persistent Sadness: If a child consistently exhibits signs of sadness, tearfulness, or a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, therapy can help explore and address underlying emotional factors, provide emotional support, and foster resilience.

Behavioral Changes: Significant changes in behavior, such as acting out, withdrawal, aggression, excessive tantrums, or difficulty concentrating, can be signals that your child may benefit from therapy. These changes may indicate underlying emotional or psychological challenges that require attention.

Social or Peer Relationship Issues: Children may encounter challenges in developing and maintaining healthy relationships with peers, such as difficulty making friends, being a target of bullying, or experiencing social anxiety. Therapy can provide guidance in developing social skills, building self-confidence, and addressing underlying emotional issues.

Family Transitions or Disruptions: Changes in family dynamics, such as parental separation, divorce, blending of families, or significant conflicts within the family, can be challenging for children to navigate. Therapy can provide support and guidance during these transitions.

Academic or School-related Difficulties: If your child is experiencing persistent academic struggles, learning difficulties, or a sudden decline in performance, it might be helpful to explore therapy options. Emotional or behavioral challenges can sometimes manifest as academic issues.

Impulse Control Issues: Children who consistently struggle with impulse control, have difficulty following rules, display oppositional behavior, or engage in aggressive behaviors may benefit from therapy to develop appropriate coping strategies, emotional regulation skills, and improved behavioral management.

Traumatic Events or Major Life Changes: Children may require therapy to cope with traumatic experiences like the loss of a loved one, divorce, relocation, or exposure to abuse. Therapy can help them process their emotions, build resilience, and develop healthy coping strategies.

Self-Esteem Issues: Children who consistently exhibit low self-esteem, negative self-talk, feelings of inadequacy, or excessive self-criticism may benefit from therapy to build a healthy sense of self-worth and develop confidence.

Self-Harm or Suicidal Thoughts: Any signs of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or expressions of hopelessness and despair should be taken seriously and addressed promptly through therapy. A mental health professional can provide a safe space for teens to express their emotions and work towards finding healthier ways to cope.

Attention and Concentration Problems: Children who have persistent difficulty with attention, concentration, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or meeting developmental milestones in these areas may benefit from therapy to address attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other related concerns.

Obsessive Thoughts or Compulsive Behaviors: If a child experiences intrusive thoughts, uncontrollable worries, or engages in repetitive behaviors (e.g., excessive hand-washing, counting rituals), therapy can assist in managing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and reducing the impact on daily life.

Sleep Problems: Persistent difficulties with sleep, such as frequent nightmares, night terrors, insomnia, bedwetting, or excessive daytime sleepiness, can be indicative of underlying emotional or psychological challenges that may benefit from therapy.

Regression or Developmental Delays: If your child experiences significant regression in their development, such as loss of previously acquired skills or delays in milestones, therapy can help assess and address these concerns.

Physical Complaints without Medical Cause: Some children express emotional distress through physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained physical complaints. If these symptoms persist despite medical evaluations, therapy can address the underlying emotional causes.

Therapy can be highly beneficial for children in numerous ways. Here are some ways in which therapy can help children:

Providing a consistent, non-judgmental space:  Therapy offers a safe and confidential environment where children can express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgment. This space allows them to explore their emotions and concerns openly.

Creating a positive connection to a trusted adult:  The therapeutic relationship formed between a child and a therapist serves as a positive and supportive connection. This bond can enhance a child’s sense of security and trust, providing a foundation for growth and healing.

Increasing feelings of interpersonal trust and protection:  Through therapy, children can develop trust in others, learn to establish healthy boundaries, and gain a sense of protection. This can positively impact their relationships and overall well-being.

Building confidence and self-esteem as kids grow up:  Therapy can help children develop a positive self-image and build self-esteem. It encourages them to recognize their strengths, cope with challenges, and develop a sense of self-worth as they navigate their developmental journey.

Helping to understand challenges within a family:  Family therapy or involving parents in the therapeutic process can help address family dynamics, improve communication, and strengthen relationships. This can lead to a more supportive and nurturing family environment for a child.

Exploring friendships or learning skills for making friends:  Therapy can support children in developing social skills, navigating friendships, and addressing any difficulties they may be facing in their social interactions. It provides a space to practice and learn effective communication and relationship-building skills.

Developing skills and strategies for handling school challenges:  Therapy can assist children in managing academic challenges, such as improving study skills, time management, and organizational strategies. It can also address issues like test anxiety, perfectionism, and motivation to enhance their academic performance.

Confronting issues such as bullying or peer pressure:  Therapy can provide guidance and support to help children navigate challenging situations like bullying, peer pressure, or conflicts with peers. It equips them with coping strategies, assertiveness skills, and self-advocacy techniques.

Talking about sensitive issues like puberty in a safe space:  Therapy can create a safe and supportive space for children to discuss sensitive topics like puberty, body changes, sexuality, and other age-appropriate concerns. It offers a platform for open dialogue and accurate information.

Overcoming school challenges such as academic concerns:  Therapy can address academic concerns by identifying and addressing underlying issues that may be impacting a child’s learning or performance. It can help them develop strategies to overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.

Fostering a healthy grieving process after experiencing a loss:  Therapy can provide support and guidance to children who have experienced loss or grief. It helps them navigate the grieving process, express their emotions, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Addressing emotional challenges such as temper tantrums:  Therapy can assist children in understanding and managing their emotions effectively. It provides them with tools and techniques to regulate their emotions, cope with frustration, and express themselves in healthier ways.

Creating behavior plans to help a child control behavioral impulses:  Therapy can help children develop behavior plans tailored to their specific needs. It supports them in understanding and managing their impulses, developing self-control, and making positive choices.

Assessing for early signs of anxiety or depression:  Therapy can help identify early signs of anxiety or depression in children and provide appropriate interventions. It offers a platform to address and manage these challenges, promoting emotional well-being.

Improving communication skills and learning how to speak up:  Therapy can enhance a child’s communication skills, enabling them to express themselves assertively and effectively. It helps them develop the confidence and ability to advocate for their needs.

Confronting shyness, insecurities, or difficulty in social settings:  Therapy can support children in overcoming shyness, building social skills, and addressing insecurities. It provides a nurturing space to explore and develop self-confidence in social settings.

Adjusting to changes in routine, such as after a family divorce:  Therapy can assist children in navigating significant life changes such as family divorce or other disruptions in routine. It helps them process their emotions, adjust to the changes, and develop coping strategies.

Therapy for children is a collaborative and individualized process, tailored to meet their unique needs and developmental stage. It offers support, guidance, and tools to help children thrive emotionally, mentally, and socially.

Yes, therapy can definitely help your child with big questions. These questions often involve complex emotions and experiences that children may struggle to understand or navigate on their own. In therapy, a skilled and compassionate therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment for your child to explore these questions and find answers that are meaningful to them.

For example, therapy might help your child work through confusing questions such as:

  • Why are my parents fighting?
  • Why is it so hard to get along with my siblings?
  • Why is it so hard to make friends?
  • Why does it feel like I don’t fit in?
  • Why are there bullies at school?
  • Why don’t I get along with my teacher?
  • How can I find more fun activities?
  • Why do adults tell me I’m too young to understand?
  • Why don’t I get to stay up late like my older siblings?
  • Why don’t my parents understand me?
  • Why am I not interested in things I used to like?
  • How can I be more social and less shy?
  • Why is it so hard to trust people?
  • How can I like myself and my body more?
  • Why did someone I love leave me?
  • Why did someone hurt me?
  • Why do I have to go to school?
  • How come growing up is so confusing?

Yes, we highly recommend that you attend the first appointment with your child at River Oaks Psychology. Building a strong foundation of open communication between you, your child, and their therapist is essential for the success of therapy. By being present at the initial session, you have the opportunity to meet the therapist and establish a sense of rapport and trust. Your presence demonstrates your commitment to your child’s well-being and helps create a supportive environment from the start.

As a parent or guardian, you have valuable insights and information about your child’s history, development, and current concerns. Your input can provide crucial context for the therapist and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of your child’s needs. Open communication between you and the therapist ensures that everyone is working together towards the same goals. The first appointment also provides you with a supportive space to gain insights into the therapeutic process, understand the therapist’s approach, and ask any questions or address concerns you may have. It offers an opportunity for you to discuss your observations, share goals for therapy, and receive guidance on how to support your child outside of sessions.

At River Oaks Psychology, we believe in a collaborative and inclusive therapeutic environment. We value your involvement as a parent or guardian and recognize the importance of open communication between you, your child, and the therapist. Together, we can work towards the well-being and growth of your child.

For all minors under 18 serving as “the patient” – whether for individual therapy or family therapy – we require informed consent from a designated parent/guardian with custodial rights. This means the designated parent/guardian with custody will be signing our electronic paperwork prior to the onset of treatment.

In addition, the designated parent/guardian will be listed as the patient’s Emergency Contact, and will also be considered as the one financially responsible. The credit card provided in the patient portal must belong to the parent/guardian.

If circumstances suggest that custodial rights may be in question (including but not limited to, if a minor has divorced parents/guardians, if a minor is not living with parents/guardians, if a minor is in foster care, among other circumstances), documentation of holding custodial rights must be provided (uploaded to the patient portal) prior to the onset of treatment. In a case where custody is split 50/50 between two people, consent to the minor’s therapy is required from both people. Proof of custody includes, but is not limited to: a custody order or affidavit of parenting agreements.

YES. While some children prefer to have therapy without parents/guardians present, others would like their parents/guardians to be present, and we are happy to include them. We may also ask parents/guardians or other adults responsible for a child’s welfare to become involved the treatment process with or without the child present if we feel this is necessary for effective treatment. Sometimes this is necessary to gain further information and perspectives regarding behaviors, living arrangements, parenting styles, school experiences, and other matters.

Most importantly, we want all parents/guardians to know that we are accessible and happy to communicate with you at any point during the treatment process. We recognize how important your child’s wellness is to you, and we are committed to making this process as positive as possible for your family.

If you have any questions, concerns, or general thoughts about the process, we encourage you to contact us.

YES. Parents/guardians with custodial rights are legally entitled to some information about their child’s therapy. At the same time, some children may need to discuss sensitive information with their therapist that they do not want their parents/guardians to know about. We will inform you of the information which may be provided to parents/guardians and which issues are more appropriately kept confidential between the patient and therapist.

It is common for some parents/guardians to worry about conversations happening between their child and the therapist without their knowledge and some parents/guardians fear that “secrets” will undermine their relationship with their child. However, we ask that parents/guardians remember how critical it is for a child to feel safe openly disclosing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to a therapist without fear of consequences. When children can openly share personal experiences in therapy, their relationship with others, including their parents/guardians, will likely improve.

At River Oaks Psychology, we do our very best to respect what children feel most comfortable with while simultaneously honoring parents/guardians and their right to know general information about treatment.

It is not uncommon for children to feel nervous or anxious about therapy, especially if it’s their first time or they’re unsure about what to expect. At River Oaks Psychology, we understand and empathize with these concerns, and we strive to create a comfortable and supportive environment for your child. Here are some ways to address your child’s nervousness:

First, it is important to validate your child’s feelings. Let them know that it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous or unsure about therapy. Reassure them that many children feel the same way and that their therapist is here to help and support them.

Communication is key. Have an open and honest conversation with your child about why therapy can be beneficial. Explain that therapy is a safe space where they can talk about their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without judgment. Assure them that the therapist is there to listen, understand, and help them feel better.

Familiarize your child with the therapy process. Take the time to explain what typically happens in a therapy session, such as talking with the therapist, engaging in activities or play, and working together to find solutions. Emphasize that the therapist is a caring and understanding professional who is trained to help children navigate their challenges.

Address any specific worries your child may have. Take the opportunity to address their concerns and provide reassurance. Let them know that therapy is a collaborative process, and their therapist will work with them to set goals and find strategies to overcome difficulties.

If your child continues to feel nervous, encourage them to ask questions. This can help alleviate their concerns and provide them with a better understanding of what to expect. Additionally, remind your child that they have control over their therapy experience and can express their preferences and boundaries to the therapist.

Our team at River Oaks Psychology is dedicated to creating a warm, welcoming, and child-friendly environment. Our therapists are experienced in working with children and are skilled in putting them at ease. We will take the time to build rapport and establish a trusting relationship with your child, ensuring that they feel comfortable and supported throughout their therapeutic journey.

Children and Telehealth

Telehealth is often a great choice for kids age 8 and older. If your child is younger than 8, our services may not be appropriate, but we welcome an open conversation with you to determine how to proceed. Depending on social skills, attention span, communication style, attachment patterns, and other factors, some young children thrive on telehealth. We rely on parent/guardian information to help in the assessment of whether or not telehealth is suitable.

Sometimes, we may begin telehealth services with a patient and after thorough evaluation determine that the patient may not be a suitable candidate for telehealth services given their clinical needs. If this occurs, we will assist with a smooth transfer to face-to-face treatment outside of River Oaks Psychology.

For kids 8+ who are comfortable with technology and who are good candidates for telehealth, there are many reasons why telehealth can be a great choice:

  • Online therapy allows kids to feel more comfortable in therapy. For many children, going to a traditional office setting brings anxiety and discomfort. Going to an unfamiliar location, waiting in a waiting room, and then entering a small office to talk with a therapist is usually not the best way for a child to feel comfortable. In contrast, virtually bringing therapy into a child’s home environment usually makes the process easier. When kids feel comfortable online at home, we are able to gain a clearer understanding of who they are and how we can help them.
  • Online therapy allows for more flexible scheduling. Children often have busy schedules with school, extracurricular activities, and family commitments. Telehealth provides flexibility in scheduling therapy sessions, allowing families to find suitable times that work best for their child without disrupting their daily routines.
  • Online therapy allows kids to “show and tell” about their homes and lives. It can be very therapeutic for kids to show their therapist around their home or let the therapist see their special toys, bedroom posters, school projects, the family living room, Christmas tree, Halloween pumpkins, and so on. It helps to feel “seen” and “understood,” building stronger trust in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Online therapy can provide kids greater independence without having to rely on a parent or guardian to drive them to a traditional office. Many kids are tech-savvy enough to log on to a computer, tablet, or phone and access a link to their therapy appointment. This increased independence and ability to take ownership over their wellness can help improve their confidence and self-esteem. It also helps to foster a lifelong commitment to taking their mental health and wellness into their own hands.
  • Online therapy also allows kids to grab a favorite pillow, stuffed animal, cozy blanket, or any other personal comfort items. Need low-lighting or a bright-lit space? Your choice! Want to stay in pajamas? Totally fine – we never judge. This type of personalization is not possible when visiting an office. We encourage kids to gather whatever they need to make sessions feel as comfortable as possible.

Every child is capable of leading an extraordinary life.