“Connect the dots.” “Stop, think, and act.” “Plan how this will play out.” These are simple phrases that help children govern challenging behaviors and emotions. At LifeWork Counseling, we blend counseling knowledge with creativity as an ‘art’. So, simple phrases, redefining problems, using graphics, and developing props as symbols, often prove to be the cornerstone of child learning and change.
Children, teens, and their families seek us for counseling with impulse control difficulties, poor attention skills, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and esteem problems. Fortunately today, we have parents that are more knowledgeable about their child’s mental health and the importance of counseling.
There seems to be an increased frequency of diagnosed disorders whether coming from professionals, parents, or peers. For example, the diagnosis of attention, bipolar, or autistic disorders seems quite prevalent. The most recent shock was the report that autism symptoms are found in 1 of 150-165 children! Yet, actual epidemiological studies
(DSM-IV) report the number of autism cases at 2-5 per 10,000. Perhaps it is a way to explain behaviors that are difficult to amend, or there is greater clarity in diagnosing the disorder. Therefore, we make special effort to provide a thorough assessment of every child.
Clinically, disorders of childhood are often times categorized to help professionals understand the primary difficulty that a child may be experiencing. For instance, ADHD, child disruptive disorder, and impulse control disorder are classified as disorders of ‘under control’. Anxiety, phobia, and obsessive compulsive disorders are seen as disorders of ‘over control’. Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder are seen as disorders of ‘social integration’. Depression and Bipolar Disorder are seen as disorders of ‘mood regulation’. These classifications are important because they suggest the causes and symptoms of the problem. This also helps us in choosing a sound treatment approach.
Multiple causality is a term indicating that disorders have several causes. It is human nature to seek one factor, or explanation, for problems or disorders. For instance, with ADHD, of which there are three types, children are frequently medicated to improve attention and decrease hyperactivity. This single intervention suggests that ADHD has a neurological basis. But what about other contributing factors? Neurology is the single and most significant factor. However, problem solving, self-appraisal, and family and social environments may be influential as well. In counseling children and teens, we provide education about these factors and how each must be addressed. This is always done respectful of the child’s age and abilities.
In counseling children and adolescents we use several interventions, or modes of treatment. To appropriately compliment individual counseling, there should be child and family education about the problem, family support, family therapy (as needed), social/recreational/church activities, physician consultation (as needed), networking with school professionals, and making use of the child’s or teens individual talents and strengths. This is referred to as multi-modal planning, a model for providing quality care.
As we use the concepts of multiple causality and multi-modal planning, evidence-based standards are applied to insure the quality of care. This means that we use the most recent and accepted interventions that are professionally researched and practiced. It is of great value to insure that children, teens, and their families receive the most up-to-date and clinically researched care. We provide counseling that is time-framed, meaning that we estimate the number of sessions and the frequency of sessions to bring about change creatively, efficiently, and ethically.