Kids are people too! by Shaquana Smith
Hello again, Shaquana (she/her) here and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on providing therapy for children, one of my favorite populations!
I have provided therapy, crisis intervention, and behavioral interventions for children for approximately 6 years, ages 4-18 years old. Something I learned early in my career is that trauma and pain in children are almost always manifested as a behavioral concern. The “problem child,” or the “bad,” child is just a kiddo who’s struggling to verbalize their emotions and is unable to cope effectively. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an effective treatment utilized for such instances. TF-CBT not only assists with verbalizing emotions and developing healthy coping skills, but it also addresses cognitive distortions that may have developed due to said traumatic event(s). Cognitive distortions, such as unrealistic shame and guilt, contribute to "problematic" behaviors.
Another significant realization that I'd like to share is that no matter how many interventions and therapy sessions a child has, if they are returning to the same traumatic, painful, or chaotic environment, progress will be harder to attain. This is why the entire family/household is involved in treatment and family sessions may take place. Psychoeducation is provided to the child and their family so that everyone understands the current diagnosis, symptoms, the purpose of treatment, and what may negatively impact treatment. Family sessions also enhance communication and create opportunities for discussion in a safe and therapeutic environment.
I encourage everyone to remember these three things;
Children are people too!
Children deserve the same love, attention and patience that adults require
Children are truly our future *hits Whitney Houston high note* :)