The first session in the treatment of your child is an assessment session. The goal of the session is to get a complete description of your concerns regarding your child, some background information that includes a family history, and questions regarding other behaviors, emotions or thoughts your CDCW clinician may feel relevant to understanding your child. You may complete standardized questionnaires to put your child’s behaviors in the context of other children his or her age. This usually can provide some preliminary sense of the nature of your child’s and/or family’s concern(s).
In many instances, due to the complexity of understanding and properly diagnosing children, the assessment will continue beyond the first session. Your clinician will keep you and any referring bodies, such as physicians, informed regarding thoughts and concerns (with your written permission). In some cases, we may suggest contact and coordination with your child’s school. This not only provides more information for the clinician, but may help the school help your child more effectively. Again, this is only with your agreement and signed consent. A more formal assessment may be suggested if questions arise that may require more specific exploration (see Psychological/Neuropsychological Evaluations section below).
Even with younger children, having an appropriately trained clinician spend at least some time individually with them will be part of the treatment. This not only allows the clinician to better know and understand your child, but it also helps your child see therapy as a special place to communicate openly about any problems in their lives. The younger your child, the more time likely will be spent with parent(s) and the child(ren) together. Please note that individual therapists will proceed in different ways and find success using their preferred approach. Also, different issues may call for varied therapeutic techniques, such as more play based therapy for younger childre. Feel free to ask questions and express concerns as they arise.
Children often express themselves through play, and sometimes art, music and writing. Our clinicians are trained in using various modes of communication with your child. During therapy, children are encouraged to utilize preferred means of communication to express themselves in order to maximize treatment effectiveness.
For children, family time and interactions are significant in their lives. As a result, enhancing the good interactions and minimizing the occurrence of detrimental interactions is essential. This frequently requires meeting with family members together in therapy session to discuss areas of concern and celebrate things that are going well. Often through the individual meetings with your child, they will learn to more effectively communicate with you, even in times of distress or disagreement.
Children spend much of their lives in social situations with their peers. If they are comfortable with this, group therapy is a natural therapeutic use of this skill. If your child struggles with their peers (i.e., not getting along, getting picked on, poor social skills, etc.), group is the perfect forum in which to work on these concerns. We offer many of groups to address a variety of concerns. Groups are typically 8-weeks but new members are always welcome. Please inquire with us regarding the specifics on groups currently running and visit our Group Therapy page.
Health professionals who work with children realize how difficult it can be to accurately assess and diagnose. Children often have not yet developed the ability to understand and articulate their emotional states as do adults. For example, children frequently will not acknowledge feeling sad or depressed. Instead, they may be irritable, angry or not experience joy and enthusiasm while participating in pleasurable activities. Emotionally, it can be difficult to differentiate between anxiety, sadness, oppositional behavior, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and mania. Psychological evaluations can often aid in sorting out such issues.
The following issues can often be effectively clarified through formal assessment:
- Academic Achievement
- Adaptive Behavior
- ADD/ADHD/Attention Difficulties
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Cognitive Functioning
- Developmental Disorders
- Emotional Dysregulation
- Executive Functioning such as planning, problem solving, memory, forethought, etc.
Comprehensive evaluations are most often suggested by physicians (family doctors, pediatricians, psychiatrists, and neurologists), mental health professionals and school personnel. However, if you have some questions you feel may benefit from a formal assessment, please ask to speak to one of our clinical psychologists or assessment specialists.