As a church counselor I often have kids in my office who were sent in by parents wanting them “fixed.” In reality, counseling for kids just doesn’t work that way. One such situation was a teenage girl dealing with depression. After a divorce, and for more than a decade, the mom and daughter only had each other. Mom remarried and her attention was now divided. I repeatedly talked to the mom about having more focused time with her daughter, but she was caught up in her new life and the daughter was living out the effects of the emotional neglect.
What I typically see is the result of parents who don’t know how to handle their kids’ behaviors, and kids who wish their parents could really see them. Here’s what parents need to know when deciding if counseling is right for their child.
It’s difficult to help a family solve problems if the child is resistant to getting help. It’s more difficult to help a family when a child’s behavioral issues are a result of issues within the family. More times than not, there are things going on at home that the adults in the family should resolve. The parents are stressed out, too busy, fighting with each other, or addicted. The kids are often just manifesting these dynamics in their behavior.
Occasionally, there will be a child who has experienced a traumatic event and they need help processing it. They usually get through it pretty well and gain tools and healing in my office. Even in these cases, the parents still have the primary role in helping their child.
Parents Need the Counseling
The other day someone overheard that I was a counselor. Upon learning that I see children, she asked how to set up an appointment for her son whose father had recently died. I told her I would be happy to see her son. I then asked how she was processing her husband’s death. She sheepishly admitted she had not emotionally dealt with it but was keeping busy to avoid the pain. I told her that the best thing she could do for her son is to work on her own healing. He will respond to her leadership in that. I recommended that she see me first.
Children benefit the most by having healthy and equipped parents. If you are struggling with a child with behavioral issues, depression, anxiety, or trauma, it’s important that you also seek professional help. Therapists and counselors will help you identify any contributing factors at home. They will guide you to overcome your own lack of confidence and need for tools. You’ll see things you haven’t been able to see before. They will help you know how best to help your children.
If you are struggling with a child with behavioral issues, depression, anxiety, or trauma, it’s important that you also seek professional help.
What benefits could counseling have for your life?