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Children and Teens

Children, teens and their families face a number of challenges:

  • children_teensChildhood disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, ADHD, eating disorders) are very common.  In fact, over 20% of children will experience a seriously debilitating mental disorder at some point in their lives
  • According to research, half of all lifetime struggles with mental illness begin by age 14
  • An adult’s odds of developing a psychological disorder are doubled and, according to some studies, tripled if they had a disorder in childhood
  • Family stress, including significant transitions such as residential moves or parental divorce, can influence a child’s mental health
  • Having a mental disorder in childhood or adolescence can negatively impact academic performance and social functioning

As noted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): 

Not all problems are serious.  Children are changing as they grow and develop.  Many everyday stresses can lead to changes in a child’s behavior.  For example, a child might temporarily change his or her behavior and act much younger than he or she is in response to the birth of a new sibling.  It is important to be able to identify the difference between typical, and often temporary, behavior changes and those that may be more serious.  Behaviors that include the following, may require special attention:

  • Changes in sleep patterns or appetite
  • Problems that occur across a variety of settings: home, school, with friends, with teachers
  • Sadness or tearfulness that is not temporary or in response to an identified stressor
  • Social withdrawal or fear towards things/people your child is not typically afraid of
  • Destructive behavior towards others or self-destructive behavior, such as getting hurt often or head-banging
  • Repeated thoughts of death

Treatment of disorders in children and adolescents is effective !  We provide specialized treatments to pediatric populations and their parents, including:

  • Conduct problems and aggression
  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Problems in the school setting and at home
  • Social functioning issues and peer relationships
  • Tic disorders and Trichotillomania
  • Non-suicidal self injury

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been widely studied as an intervention for adults and children, alike.  CBT can be adapted to fit the individual needs of each child or teen and is effective in treating a number of conditions of childhood, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety disorders.  Through CBT, a child or teen works to change unhelpful thinking patterns and unhealthy behaviors.  Family Systems Therapy (FST) has also been effective in helping children and their parents cope with a wide variety of problems.  Problem-Solving Therapy (PST) is especially well suited to treating adolescents who generally work with their parents to change problematic interactions.

A combination of different psychosocial approaches may better benefit some children, teens and their families.  Parent Management Training, which teaches parents to shape their child’s behavior through positive reinforcement, along with teaching parents Targeted Discipline Strategies may provide further support while a child or teen is being treated with CBT.  Parent Management Training is also effective in managing symptoms of ADHD in children.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a behavioral parent training program for families with young children. In this intervention, therapists coach parents on skills to enhance the parent-child relationship, improve child compliance with commands, and decrease child disruptive behavior.

At the KPC, we are fortunate to have a number of psychology faculty supervisors who are international experts in childhood issues, including the impact of early childhood adversity on psychological, neurological and behavioral functioning, evidence-based parenting interventions, effective behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders, effective behavioral interventions for children with ADHD, and effective interventions for children with severe behavioral problems such as Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

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