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Child and Adolescent Issues

Children and adolescents are complex, and parents are not given an instruction manual with their infants. Parents worry constantly about how they grow, develop, and what kind of person they will become. Sometimes, parents are simply facing issues with their child that they do not know how to handle. Many children and adolescents stumble as they are growing and families find that they need the help of therapy. A wide range of problems can be addressed through therapy.

Therapy for Child and Adolescent Issues

According to Kelly Sanders, a therapist, "Therapy for children and teens focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the child/adolescent as well as the family members, how they relate to each other, communicate, and individuate. Family Systems helps to look at the interactions of each member, how they communicate, and helps each individual to learn how to interact in a healthier way."


Jeffrey Gallup, a child and family therapist, elaborates, "A good therapist will work to address the concerns of the child/adolescent, while helping the family to grow and heal. Children grow through a variety of developmental milestones--physical and psychological. As they struggle to resolve their psychological development, they need the love, support, and structure provided by their parents and guardians. When you or your children are struggling with the problems of childhood or adolescence, a call to a therapist who specializes in working with children and adolescents can help you to decide if therapy is right for your family."

Physical Development and Adolescent Behavioral Issues

With the onset of puberty (which can begin by the age of 11 or in some cases even earlier) hormones are in full motion, influencing changes in the body. Since anxiety and depression can be a symptom of these changes, doctors may recommend anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. Medication may help, but it is not the total solution. Nutrition can also be addressed in growing youth because when the body is healthy with good foods and regular exercise it can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Knowing how the brain functions and grows during the adolescence stage will also help prepare the teen and the parent on how they can cope with physical changes. - Provided by Kelly Sanders

Case Examples

  • Teenage Girl Doesn't Talk to Mother: Zara, 15, and her mom Cassy, 39, begin family therapy together after communication between them reaches a breaking point. They fight daily. Zara often refuses to listen to Cassy, at times walking out of the room or leaving the house mid-conversation. Cassy frequently nags Zara about chores, school work, friends, and how much she misses spending time with her. In therapy, Zara reveals that she wants her mom to stop nagging and Cassy explains she wants Zara to communicate more effectively with her. The therapist provides the two with some education regarding Zara's stage of psychological development as well as several healthy communication strategies. Through talking together in therapy, the two are able to clear the air between them and map out different ways of relating. For example, with the help of the therapist Zara and Cassy outline rules for communication and negotiation. With each person speaking, actively listenting, and learning new ways of relating, both Cassy and Zara find their relationship to be less stressful.
  • Child Repeatedly Runs Away: Camden, 9, runs away from home each afternoon. His parents have him talk with police officers, his pastor, and teachers at his school about the dangers of running away. When his behavior does not change, Camden's parents arrange for him to meet with a child counselor. In the first session, the counselor takes a family history and learns that Camden has three older siblings who spend a lot of time away from home, his mom works throughout the day, and his dad works overnight. In ongoing conversations with Camden, the counselor learns that Camden feels as if no one pays attention to him. However, when he runs away, his parents and other adults drop everything to search for him--he gets to be at the center of attention. The counselor explains to Camden's parents that he has learned that running away is an effective way to get the attention he craves. Through continued counseling, Camden and his parents develop a stronger relationship and Camden is able to receive the attention he seeks in safer ways. The running away quickly stops.


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Last updated: 04-06-2015


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