Our clinical team specializes in evidenced-based treatment for both children and adolescents with a variety of difficulties. While childhood and adolescence can be a care-free time, full of wonder and exploration, it can also be punctuated with challenging events and life stressors. Therefore, our therapeutic approach focuses on the whole child and considers not only areas of weakness, but strengths and supports. We effectively collaborate with parents, and often recommend parent-work in tandem with individual child therapy, to provide the optimal level of care. This combined approach helps children experience expedited symptom relief, as well as provides both the child and parents with the tools to better manage stressful situations. Below are a few examples of common childhood disorders and the signs to assist with identification.
Children and adolescents feel worried and stressed at times. Anxiety can be useful to alert us to danger or motivate us to act and respond to difficult situations. However, when these feelings become intense, persistent and interfere with school, home or social activities, this may signal an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most frequent emotional problems affecting children and adolescents.
Anxiety disorders manifest in different ways including:
- Fear of being separated from parents (separation anxiety)
- Extreme fear of a specific thing or situation such as dogs, insects or going to the doctor (phobias)
- Fear of participating in class discussions or initiating conversation with peers (social anxiety)
- Fears focused on the future or bad things happening to themselves or family members (generalized anxiety).
While anxiety can present itself in a straightforward manner such as a fear or worry, it can also be less obvious. Often, children and adolescents present as irritable or angry. It also is typical for children and adolescents to have trouble sleeping and concentrating, as well as experience physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches.
Feelings of sadness and disappointment are appropriate in response to a negative event or loss. Learning to manage negative emotions is an important task of childhood and adolescence and helps promote resilience. However, if a child or adolescent’s feelings of sadness and hopelessness continue for an extended period this may signal depression.
Children and adolescents experiencing depression often exhibit symptoms that are similar to adult depression, and others that differ. Some important signs to note in children and adolescents include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless and helpless
- Acting irritable or “prickly”
- Disinterested in fun activities, sports and hobbies
- Change in eating habits
- Disruption in sleep
- Difficulty concentrating and performing effectively at school
- Withdrawal from peers and social activities
- Low energy and lethargy
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)/Executive Functioning Issues
ADHD is another common childhood disorder. Children and adolescents with attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder have difficulty concentrating, paying attention, and controlling impulsive behaviors. The specific symptoms vary depending on gender, the type of ADHD, and environment as well as other factors. Executive functioning refers to the cognitive skills that allow children and adolescents to analyze tasks, break them down into smaller more manageable steps, and keep them in our mind until they are complete. They also assist children and adolescents with time management, memorizing information, solving multi-step math problems and organizing writing assignments.
If your child or adolescent has ADHD, or if you suspect he/she may have ADHD or executive functioning deficits, it is important to look out for the following signs:
- Problems with peer relationships (difficulty waiting their turn or interrupting others)
- Difficulty regulating emotions (outbursts of anger/temper tantrums)
- Problems in school, particularly related to inattention and organization
- Lack of focus even if someone is speaking directly to them
- Avoidance of tasks that require extended mental effort
- Difficulty maintaining personal hygiene
- Risky/impulsive behaviors
Social Skills Deficits
Children and adolescents may demonstrate weaknesses in social skills due to many different factors. While some outgrow social skills deficits, others find their weaknesses to become more apparent as they get older. Social skills training is a way to improve strategies as well as create more positive social interactions with peers. Learning these skills in a group format is often extremely beneficial as it as it allows children and adolescents to practice their newly acquired strategies in a safe and supportive setting.
Children and adolescents with social skills deficit often exhibit the following behaviors:
- Misinterprets facial expressions or body language
- Demonstrates little interest in social interactions
- Is concrete and often misunderstands sarcasm
- Has difficulty with perspective-taking
- Interrupts or blurts out answers
- Goes off-topic or monopolizes conversations
Parenting is a multi-faceted job which can be both incredibly challenging and rewarding. The fact that you are seeking support suggests that you are a growth-minded individual, open to self-reflection, and eager to maximize your potential as a parent. We will provide you with the training and opportunity to learn the tools to effectively manage your own emotional responses to your child as well as help manage your child’s behavior.
Below are some preliminary questions to consider:
- Do you keep getting into the same dysfunctional patterns with your child?
- Are you triggered by your child’s behaviors?
- Do you want a more peaceful home?
We will help you interact and respond to your child in a manner that promotes positive behavior and helps develop a healthy and caring relationship. This process entails gaining a deeper understanding of your child, while simultaneously increasing your own self-awareness.
Through psychoeducation, parent training, and effective tools and strategies, you will learn new and optimal ways to relate to your child. We will work with you to identify specific parenting goals and help you achieve them. In addition to focusing on specific behavior patterns, we also will work on changing underlying patterns and dynamics to ensure long-term positive changes.
Psychoeducational and Neuropsychological Assessment
Assessment can be incredibly helpful and clarifying in getting information on how your child’s brain works, their strengths and weaknesses, and creating a plan that could best support them. We conduct a wide range of assessments including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Psychological Consultation and ERB evaluations. A psychoeducational assessment evaluates intellectual abilities and academic skills. Children and their families will gain insight into the cognitive and emotional functioning that underlies learning processes. The results of this test can be used to design an educational plan that best suits the individual. A neuropsychological assessment focuses on the brain-behavior relationship linking certain skill sets to specific brain functions and development. It may measure areas such as intelligence, memory, language, gross and fine motor skills, and emotional and behavioral functioning.
We regularly collaborate with your child’s school to offer the most comprehensive support. We conduct school-based observations to assess children and adolescents who are struggling in an academic setting. We also perform school consultations and staff trainings on a variety of mental health issues.