Children, teens, or young adults may feel they need help navigating difficult life situations, education on particular topics, and/or need help coping with symptoms such as depression and/or anxiety. Counseling aims to alleviate symptoms, help the individual realize their potential, and feel positive again. Counseling sessions may utilize a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach which focuses on thoughts, behaviors, and emotions and how they affect each other. A person’s perception of an event causes a reaction, and to change the resultant emotional state, the perception of the event must be modified. CBT also involves techniques that help an individual relax when in a heightened emotional state. Specific techniques are taught directly to the individual and are practiced outside the session to promote generalization across settings. CBT is a collaborative approach to therapy where the therapist and client work together in order to effectively establish treatment goals and plans. At times, symptoms of a mental illness can negatively impact quality of life functioning. When symptoms cannot be managed, this is when counseling will be most effective. Counseling can enhance coping skills, facilitate behavior change, promote decision making, improve relationships, and facilitate client potential. Research shows that CBT is effective in treating those who are suffering from Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Insomnia, Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorders, ADHD, Autism, and marital/familial distress.
Different Modalities- There are many different modalities to utilize with counseling. Some of the other modalities, other than CBT, that may be incorporated are Mindfulness, Eclectic Therapy, and Family/Marital Therapy.
Family and martial counseling can help to combat symptoms relating to family dynamics for the children and the adults involved, including grief counseling, divorce, and other obstacles related to families. The current divorce rate is between 40-60% and the majority of divorces occur in families with children under the age of 18. Divorce results in numerous challenges and adjustments within the parents and the children. 25% of children whose parents are divorced will develop persistent emotional and behavioral difficulties. If there is ongoing conflict with the parents, this can deter the children from adjusting appropriately to the situation.
Mindfulness is the process of bringing one’s attention into the present moment and being present in experiences whether they are positive or negative. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, deep breathing, and results in an overall more happy and positive experience. Research has found that practicing mindfulness with children has shown to increase attention and emotional awareness, while regulating behaviors and emotions. Mindfulness in children has shown to alleviate test anxiety, improvements with classroom management, impulse control, interpersonal skills, and an increase in executive functioning which is correlated with academic success.
Eclectic Therapy is an approach that incorporates many different therapeutic modalities in order to create the ideal and most effective treatment plan for each individual client. Any mental illness can benefit from eclectic therapy.
Examples of Treatment (DEPRESSION/ANXIETY) - Depression is more common than most people think and can have a drastic impact on an individual’s quality of life. Depression can also affect interpersonal relationships with others. Not all cases are the same, and not everyone experiences all symptoms. Some symptoms may be present due to major life changes, biological or genetic factors, or may be a combination of both. Therapy will help an individual gain control of negative thoughts and maladaptive behaviors, and change these to positive thoughts and experiences. When an individual is depressed, their thoughts lean towards negativity and end up affecting their behavioral functioning, and can cause physical/medical issues. This is why receiving counseling is beneficial. Sessions are individualized and will focus on the child, teen, or adults’, short and long term goals. Individual’s practice skills taught in session at home to generalize skills to other settings.
Childhood anxiety is especially overlooked since symptoms are experienced internally. Parents can look for particular symptoms in children that may present as anxiety: avoidance of school, avoidance of social situations, refusal to go to bed, excessive worry about harm coming to a caregiver, physical symptoms as a result of worry including stomach and headaches, and avoidance of particular environments or objects.
Therapy is beneficial because it teaches an individual how to deal with their anxiety. The connection between particular situations that cause anxiety and the resultant thoughts are examined to determine faulty thinking patterns. Specifically, perceptions or thoughts of events affect emotions and behaviors. By challenging and changing negative thought patterns and creating a more positive outlook, positive emotional reactions tend to follow. Therapy will also focus on how to relax when the body is in a state of fear caused by anxiety. Due to the debilitating nature of anxiety, children, teens, and adults should seek treatment for symptoms of anxiety, no matter the severity.