Does Your Child Need A Therapist In Divorce?
Sometimes, It is hard to tell how much someone is struggling under a specific situation. Today, we talk about the topic, if you should get a therapist for your child in Divorce and how you can choose the right one.
Niels Klement, Child of Divorce
Since several years ago, I have visited a therapist because of my parent’s divorce. I were really introverted and in addition, I never talked to someone about my feelings, which is the worst thing a child can do in this situation but I didn’t realize it at that time. Over the past weeks, I learned more about the behavior of children that should visit a therapist and it shows up in many different ways.
I would like to comment, that a therapist is never a bad solution and should totally be considered by every person on this earth. For example, I still visit a therapist weekly without even having a mental issue or illness, because if you choose them wisely, an intensive conversation with a psychologist can really open your eyes. For kids, especially in divorce, getting a therapist is also mostly a good decision, even if you do not think it is necessary. From an outside perspective, it is often really hard to say what someone is going through.
SIGNS YOUR CHILD NEEDS A THERAPIST
I would like to point out that the first five bullet points I mention in this section are the most common I witnessed in children’s behavior. Still, there are endless other reasons why a therapy would be helpful for your child.
1. Aggressive Behavior
Some children might show aggressive behavior after divorce. It is actually a really common issue single parents have with their children in this situation. When children show chronic anger, you should consider getting a therapist, because in most cases, kids try to express their overwhelming feelings by behaving this way. Because this is a such important topic to talk about, I also wrote a complete post about how you can try to help your child before getting help by a professional psychologist. Check it out here.
2. Decreasing Social Activity
This topic includes many individual things that can suffer under divorce, which shows your child should visit a therapist. For Example, losing friends, stopping an activity like sports or things of that nature. As always, you should consider talking to your child first about why they headed off certain habits before you consult a therapist.
Many children try to compensate the pain that is caused by divorce through other activities. Some may work hard for school, some may learn a new language (Yes, that exists) and others may do more sports than usual. Now, I want to state that this is not unconditionally a bad thing for your child. It creates a distraction for them, which helps them overcome the pain temporarily. Still, it shows that there’s something they deal with at the moment and you should consider visiting a therapist.
4. Being Introverted
In this case, I can reference my situation back in the day. I was a really introverted Child. By keeping all the pain I felt with me, I overthought everything and ended up hurting myself more than really necessary. This can be crucial for young kids and I want to make clear to every parent that may have a kid in this situation, that this is one of the quickest ways children face depression. The earlier you realize it, the earlier you can do something about it. So no debate, a psychologist would be a helpful solution.
5. Looking for Attention
This behavior could show up in many different ways. Commonly, children make up stuff to make their parents feel proud of them even if they didn’t really accomplish something. This comes up when they’re feeling a lack of self-esteem or self-worth, which can be extremely endangering for the further development of a child. Talk to a therapist as soon as possible.
Other common reasons:
You should note, there are practically endless reasons a child should do a therapy. Here’s a list of any emotional or psychological issue that is possibly caused by divorce and takes a therapist to treat:
• Problems with eating or sleeping with no medical basis (including nightmares that don’t go away)• Problems with eating or sleeping with no medical basis (including nightmares that don’t go away)
• Excessive difficulties with separation
• A consistently (and persistently) sad or melancholy mood
• Physical complaints with no distinguishable cause (such as headaches or stomach aches) that don’t go away with reassurance
• Disinterest in friends or trouble getting along with peers
• Deteriorating school performance
• Difficulty concentrating
• The new appearance of agitation or fidgetiness
• Extreme or unrealistic fears/phobias
• Excessive or public masturbation
• New or extreme accident proneness
• Decrease in self-esteem
• Fatigue or apathy with no medical basis
• Excessive weight loss or weight gain with no medical basis
• Aggressive behaviors toward self or others (such as biting, hitting, or scratching)
• Risky or acting out behaviors (such as lighting fires)
• Constant rudeness and “talking back”
• Heavy drinking or drug use
• Excessive lying
• The appearance of obsessive or compulsive rituals (such as hand washing or pulling out hair)
• Preoccupation with death
• The wish to die ( Important note: If your child expresses a feeling that life is not worth living, get help right away — do not take it upon yourself to determine if this is a “real” or “serious” problem.)
I know all of them
WHY YOU SHOULD TALK TO YOUR CHILD BEFORE GETTING A THERAPIST
Even if you might think that your child should visit a therapist, it is not always a good decision. There are many people out there that get along with their problems better themselves. Also, there are a few children that do not really take a therapy that serious and do not commit to it which means there is actually no reason to start it.
Furthermore, some children might just do the therapy in order to make you happy. When parents tell their children that they have to go to a psychologist because it will help them, they often just do it not to hurt the parents. In this case, they won’t engage in the treatment either.
You should talk to them in a quiet and comfortable space. Tell them that you know that they have a hard time right now and that you totally understand that.
Point out how a therapist could help them relieve the pain by being a neutral person to talk with and by giving them tips to vanquish certain problems. Also, state that nothing that your child is going to confide to the doctor will be told to you (the parent) or to someone else because this is a common worry
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN A THERAPIST
According to Michael Ungar Ph.D., a good therapist for children has five special qualities to look out for.
My approach is that you should first and foremost focus on the relationship between your child and the therapist. When your child is feeling comfortable around the doctor, then its much more likely that your child is going to fully engage with him which is an important criterion of a succeeding therapy. This works as good with young hip therapists as with more elderly ones.
Moreover, a good therapist should always stay in contact with you, the parent, to make sure there is not just the temporary support during the therapy. Who really needs to be engaged are the special people already in the children’s life. A good therapist is humble enough to understand that compared to the influence they have on your child, yours is much bigger and they should support that in every way they can. If not, consider searching for another doctor.
A really good article that has helped me on this topic is actually published by psychology today and is written by Michael Ungar Ph.D.
It goes really deep on how to find a therapist that fits you and your child and you should totally check it out here.
Furthermore, if you live in the USA, Canada, UK or Australia there is this tool I recommend on Psychology Today’s site which examines every therapist in your area ready to choose from. Find it here:
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD DOESNT WANT TO VISIT A THERAPIST
As I mentioned before, there are some people and even children that go differently about dealing with problems. For example, my older brother did visit a therapist for a few weeks before realizing he is not taking it seriously enough to really cause a change for him emotionally and psychologically. He then told my parents about it and they were totally okay with that. Today He is a healthy young man.
Even though he had to experience the same separation as me, he dealt with it better himself.
Still, my brother and I have a different personality, which plays a big role and we should take a look at it. I am the more emotional and empathic person. My brother is rather the “take life head on” person.
Both are totally fine but you should differentiate between those two when you think about your child. He may or may not be one of those who deal with problems better themselves. That’s something you should figure out first.
Now, on the other hand, some really emotional and empathetic children still do not comply with the thought of getting professional help even if it would be helpful to them. Many children fear the thought of doing a therapy because “others will think they are mad or crazy.” Again, talk to your child, to really figure out what helps them the most, because they know best what they struggle with.
Thank you for reading this!
In a nutshell, the best way to find the way they really get along with their thoughts and problems is by at least trying to convince them to do a therapy for a short time so you and your child can figure out together if it is the right way to help him through this hard times. If not it is totally okay too.
Take the time to really deeply talk with your child and think about the criteria I have mentioned above. Then you should be able to know if your child needs a psychological treatment.
If you enjoyed that post, feel free to share it. Are there still questions left? You can contact me here!
If you liked this post
Then you’ll like these too:
THE CHEAT SHEET FOR RAISING A HEALTHY CHILD OF DIVORCE