Child & Adolescent Therapy

Children and adolescents are often referred to therapy to address significant issues that are negatively affecting them, their parents, family relationships, peer/social relationships, or academic performance. These issues can be overt (anger, anxiety, defiance, disordered eating, irrational fears, panic) or covert (anhedonia, dysphoria, peer difficulties, secrecy, social withdrawal).

A child’s motivation to participate and cooperate with the treatment process depends, to some extent, on the degree to which therapy addresses their greatest need.  It also depends on the child’s internal and external environments, information processing style, temperament, and emotional experiences, among other characterological traits.

Dr. Sellwood’s therapeutic philosophy represents an integration of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and socially focused strategies for change.  Parents often ask for their child to learn “tools” in therapy, which translates to pragmatic and logistical skills such as learning to manage their anger, problem solving skills, understanding social perspectives, self management, goal setting, self care, developing an internal locus of control, knowing when to elicit help from others, and understanding the intra and inter personal aspects of coping with difficult situations.

Therapeutic treatment strives to achieve specific goals or types of change through communication, which is at the core of all relationships.  Therapy aims to change maladaptive behaviors and attitudes, and by changing these, a child’s sense of self, sense of responsibility, and general philosophy on life becomes more positive and emotionally insightful.

There are four guiding principals of therapy with children and adolescents that help the therapeutic process:

1).  The idea of a close relationship:  All treatment strives for a close, trusting relationship between the therapist and the child. 

2).  Emotional release: Children are encouraged to release and express their feelings, as a form of communication.

3).  Cognitive and experiential learning:  Therapeutic interventions, directly and indirectly, try to teach children different and more adaptive ways of thinking and behaving. 

4).  The principal of practice: The child is encouraged to use their new ways of thinking, behaving, and feeling as therapy generalizes into their everyday life and activities.

When troubles outweigh the protective factors in a child’s life, even the most resilient children can develop problems.  In order for them to bounce back, it is essential to have a close relationship with at least one healthy adult in or outside the family, and it is up to that person to help the child gain the belief that the child has everything necessary to be overcome adversity.  Children given responsibility at home and at school learn firsthand that they are worthy and capable.  If you challenge without overwhelming your child, the result is behavioral health resiliency.