How Can I Tell if I Need Help From a Child Behavioral Therapist?

Parenting is not easy even under the best of circumstances. Sometimes it is downright hard. It can be so hard, in fact, that a parent could start wondering whether they need the help of a child behavioral therapist. But how would a parent know for sure?

To begin with, working with a child behavioral therapist is nothing to be ashamed of. We all struggle at times. If therapy can help you and your child through those struggles, you will both be better off for it.

As for knowing whether you need help, there is no black-and-white standard of measurement. Parents are different. So are their kids. What you might be struggling to deal with could seem fairly routine to another parent. The best suggestion we could offer is to carefully consider the five scenarios described below. If any of them are typical of your day-to-day experience, enlisting the help of a child behavioral therapist might be in your best interests.

1. Sudden Behavioral Changes

Every child goes through behavioral changes during the growing process. However, there may be cause for concern if such changes occur suddenly and dramatically. Likewise, sudden and dramatic behavioral shifts that persist for an extended amount of time could indicate an underlying mental or emotional concern.

Things to look for include aggression, anxiety, developmental regression (like bed wetting), withdrawing from social activities, and a sudden disinterest in previously enjoyed activities.

2. Daily Behavioral Impact

Not all behavioral changes are serious enough to require professional intervention. Those that are tend to have a daily impact on the child’s life. For example, perhaps your child is demonstrating disruptive behavior that is ultimately causing them to struggle in school. Or maybe the behavioral changes you have noticed have led to your child losing friends. Perhaps you might have even noticed an increase in family arguments at home. These are all reasons for concern.

3. Developmental Inconsistencies

You might be alarmed by behavioral changes that do not seem to be consistent with your child’s development. For example, you would expect temper tantrums from a 2-year-old. You would not expect them from your teenager. Regular tantrums from a teenage child could be a sign of an underlying problem. A child behavioral therapist could help uncover that problem.

4. Discipline Is No Longer Effective

Something else that could indicate you need the help of a child behavioral therapist is ineffective discipline. Perhaps all of the disciplinary strategies you have relied on in the past are no longer working. A therapist can help identify issues and work out new avenues for discipline.

5. Concerns About Emotional Wellbeing

Certain types of behavioral issues can contribute to poor emotional wellbeing. Perhaps your child seems more sad, anxious, or angry than normal. Moreover, you have noticed that your child’s negative emotional state has persisted for quite some time. You could be looking at an underlying mental health issue that is best addressed by a child behavioral therapist.

It Never Hurts to Ask

The five scenarios described in this post are intended only as a guide. Ultimately, any decision about working with a child behavioral therapist is between you and the therapist alone. We want to encourage you to at least reach out if you are concerned about your child’s mental health. It never hurts to ask a therapist whether or not he or she can help.

Working with a therapist could ultimately be the best thing for your child. But you might never know if you do not take that first step to reach out.

Dr. Aryeh Berlin is a New Jersey licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Aspire Psychological Group. Dr. Berlin has vast clinical training experiences including a residential adolescent addiction treatment center in Israel, community mental health centers, and youth detention centers. Dr. Berlin has lectured on parenting children with emotional and behavioral difficulties, child development, helping children with school-related challenges and trauma. Audiences included attorneys, mental health professionals, parents, and educators.

How Can I Tell if I Need Help From a Child Behavioral Therapist?