Talk Therapy: Children, Adolescents, & Adults

Talk Therapy 

Talk therapy is the general term for the traditional counseling relationship. It can take the shape of a one-with-one (individual counseling), a two-with-one (couples counseling), or multiple-with-one (family counseling) setting. Underneath the physical meeting space, what takes place in the therapeutic relationship is approached from a Systemic Theraputic Model, which is referred to as Systemic Therapy.

What is Systemic Therapy?

Most of us recognize that positive and satisfying relationships aid in the development and maintenance of our overall health. In the field of psychology, this understanding is what defines and distinguishes Systemic therapeutic models such as Couples, Relational, Organizational, and Family Therapies. Individuals are viewed as a part of several greater wholes and therefore these systems need to be considered in treatment planning. These systems can be relationships, friendships, families, businesses, cultures, or any group that shapes our thoughts and behaviors as relational beings.

Systemic and Family therapist are generally more focused on what happens between individuals rather than within individuals. They expand the individual lens to view symptoms as a product of the system in its entirety- emphasizing mutual understanding of members’ values, personalities, experiences, and coping strategies as well as their origins throughout generations of families, communities, and societies as a whole. Though this therapeutic lean is useful for most mental health issues, relational and systemic thinking is especially helpful for the following topics:

  • Intergenerational issues
  • Relational and Marital Issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Alternative or Blended families
  • Immigration
  • Individual, relational, or social adjustment difficulties
  • Families with multiple racial, religious, or ethnic backgrounds
  • Divorce
  • Parenting issues
  • Child behavioral issues

How does Systemic Therapy work?

Family Therapists use a wide range of therapeutic models to treat systemic issues, including Emotionally Focused, Structural, Strategic, Narrative, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies. While the modalities of couples and family therapy are various to suit the diverse needs of clientele, communication skill building and interpersonal resolution are utilized most commonly.

Systemic Therapy LightHeart Phsycological Associates
Therapists may focus on specific conflicts or may evaluate the subtler sources of conflict, seeking to create understanding of the preverbal cogs in the wheel, clarifying and improving the dialogue and interactional patterns of clients. The therapist plays a supporting role, promoting collaboration and interactive skill building, identifying automatic and unconscious thought processes, and testing alternative cognitive, communicative, and behavioral processes to find new relational patterns. Gaining insight of these systemic issues and their impact allows all members to develop their individual awareness, productive interaction skills, and strengths as a supportive, secure, and functioning whole.

Child and Adolescent Therapy

Just like adults, children and adolescents are affected by the pressures of everyday life.  Many children and adolescents experience daily stressors at school, at home, and in social settings.

Why Might My Child Need Therapy?

Your child may need therapy if he/she/they are going through a major life transition such as parental divorce, move, death of a loved one including a family member or pet, major illness in the family, parent/caregiver military deployment, or has experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect.  Oftentimes these events lead to problems with mood, behavior, appetite, sleep, academic, and social functioning.

Other signs that your child or adolescent may benefit from therapy include:

  • Any developmental delays including speech, language, toilet training, or in gross/fine motor skills
  • Learning or attention problems
  • Behavioral problems including excessive anger, physical aggression, bedwetting, disordered eating
  • Significant drop in academic grades especially if your child or adolescent maintains high or decent grades
  • Bullying or being bullied
  • Episodes of sadness and tearfulness
  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Signs of alcohol, drug, or other substance abuse

Sometimes it is not clear what contributes to emotional or behavioral problems in children and adolescents.  If you are concerned about the emotional and behavioral well-being of your child and adolescent, trust your instincts and seek out help.  Psychotherapists will assess your child or adolescent to determine if there is a need for therapy.

How Can Therapy Help My Child?

Psychotherapists use a variety of interventions and techniques to address the specific emotional or behavioral issues unique to each child and adolescent.  After conducting an initial assessment, the Child and Adolescent Therapist will work to address mutually defined goals in treatment.

Psychotherapists who work with children and adolescents often use expressive interventions such as play, art, and experiential techniques in session.  Child and Adolescent Therapist are not limited to these interventions and often employ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Brief Solution Focused Therapy, as well as other forms of therapy to address specific treatment goals.

Therapy can support children and adolescents in learning and employing problem solving skills, coping skills, and emotion regulation skills to help them navigate life stressors as well as emotional and behavioral issues.