Our practice specializes in treating children. We currently have three therapists whose focus is on the treatment of children of all ages, up through adolescence. They are Joe Kaine, Ph.D., Jeff Sheggrud, Psy.D and Anna Maciel, LCPC. As in other types of therapy, there are individual schools of thought regarding the theoretical and strategic approach in the therapy for children.
Behavioral Therapy for Children
Behavioral therapy is often called behavior modification. The focus of this approach is to target particular forms of disruptive or unfavorable behavior and the goal is to try to modify these behaviors. Positive reinforcement is used and the child attempts behavioral change of the undesirable behavior with the hope of getting a reward. This behavior modification needs to be consistent until new habits are formed.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CCBT) is often helpful, as well. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the focus is on the child’s thoughts, beliefs and perceptions that trigger certain behaviors. For example,if a child thinks that they are unlovable, ugly or unworthy and angry, oppositional behavior may be triggered by the painful self perceptions. The goal of the therapy is to help the child understand these destructive thinking patterns that may lead to undesirable behavior.
Play Therapy for Children
Play therapy is also a well known, strategic approach. This is particularly effective with very young children or those who have undeveloped verbal skills. Through the use of play, either with dolls or games played with the therapist, the child’s emotions, perceptions and actions can be observed and discussed. Bringing the element of play into the therapy picture often loosens the child’s apprehensions and fears.
Even though the aforementioned approaches have different techniques, there is one common thread in all of the therapeutic procedures. This is participation by the parents. Participation with the parents is vital, both to obtain an accurate history of the child’s difficulties, as well as for the parents to reinforce the changes that are being promoted in the actual therapy. On occasion, both parents and child can be seen together.
Often, in family therapy, diagnostic testing is useful. This is particularly cogent when there is some question whether the child is suffering from some sort of diagnostic disorder. Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD), Dyslexia or learning problems, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or development disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome and various levels of Autism can be clarified through the diagnostic testing. The results of the diagnostic testing are invaluable to the therapist. Often, recommendations are made to the school in order to have the youth’s teachers be consistent with the therapeutic strategies that have been found successful in working with the youth.
If you are looking for a child psychologist in Baltimore area, please contact us today.