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- Individual Therapy: Most people are familiar with the idea of individual therapy that is talk-based, and this can certainly be very helpful for many adults. However, therapy for kids and teens is often multi-modal and involves the use of hands-on activities. Younger children often express their thoughts and feelings through play when provided with a therapeutic environment; and school-aged children are often receptive to learning coping skills and challenging unhelpful thoughts through game-based activities.
- Dyadic Therapy: Dyadic therapy is particularly helpful for infants and toddlers who present with clear signs of distress or nervous system dysregulation, and their caregivers. The focus in this type of therapy is typically on helping the caregiver accurately read and respond to their infant or young child’s sensory and psychological needs, and enhancing parent-child attachment and attunement.
- Collateral Therapy: Collateral therapy typically consists of meeting with caregivers to assist them in meeting their child’s mental health or behavioral needs. For example, this might mean teaching a caregiver the same coping skills the child is learning in individual therapy, so they can support the child to use the skills between sessions. Collateral therapy is usually provided as an adjunct to individual therapy for the child, adolescent, or young adult.
- Behavior Therapy & Parent Behavioral Training: Behavior therapy can be helpful for children with disruptive and/or destructive behaviors, or with attentional/impulse-control disorders, such as AD/HD. While some behavior therapy might include individual therapy with a child, the vast majority of behavior modification programs for children with AD/HD and other disruptive behavior disorders involve parent behavioral training and environmental modification.
- Family Therapy: Family therapy is indicated when a problem exists between members in a family and persists to the point of causing significant distress or harm. It is helpful in these cases to think of the family as a whole system, rather than a group of independent, two-person relationships. Family therapy will require the attendance of all members identified as part of the system (typically those living in the same household, but sometimes including family members who live separately).
Psychological Testing and Assessment
Sometimes as a parent, you know something is wrong for your child, and you just can’t quite get a handle on it. Whether you are worried about your child’s overall development, their academic performance, their mental health, or their lack of progress in therapy, psychological testing can be helpful in determining (a) the source of the problem and (b) making recommendations for the best next steps. Different types of testing and assessment may include:
- A Developmental Evaluation may be useful if you are concerned about your infant or toddler’s development in cognitive, communication, motor, or social skills. These evaluations are often helpful in identifying early warning signs for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or global developmental delay. Please note that many developmental evaluations can be obtained for free through your local Regional Center.
- A Psychoeducational Evaluation or an Independent Educational Evaluation may be useful if you are concerned about your child’s academic performance. These evaluations can identify and diagnose specific learning disorders and processing problems that may help your child obtain needed services in their school setting. If you are unwilling to wait for the school to assess your child, a private psychoeducational evaluation may be indicated. Alternatively, you may disagree with the school’s findings and be seeking a second opinion (an IEE). These types of evaluations are focused on a child’s functioning in the school setting, not on their cognitive abilities or skills more broadly. If a due process complaint is filed, many families are successful in having the cost of their psychoeducational evaluation or independent educational evaluation reimbursed by their school district.
- Neuropsychological Evaluations focus on assessing how well someone’s brain is working in terms of the primary domains of cognition: language, attention, learning, processing speed, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, and executive functioning. This type of assessment is often comprehensive and can provide an in-depth understanding of you or your child’s abilities and skills—both strengths and weaknesses, so that you can better understand current challenges and plan for future success.
- Clinical/Personality Evaluations can be helpful when you or a loved one are feeling “stuck,” and aren’t sure of the best next steps. These evaluations typically focus on psychiatric symptoms and causes, and provide clarity for the treating therapist or provider, as well as the family, as to the best treatment options available for the client’s unique set of concerns.