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Does Your Child or Family Need Professional Help?

Episode 10 of “One Day You’ll Thank Me” was another solo one with Anna and I sharing practical tips and advice for parents and families. Our topic was "Does Your Child or Family Need Professional Help?"

Do you ever wonder if your kid is just going through a phase or if your family is just not super connected OR whether it is time to get professional help? I get asked this question quite often, so today Anna and I are going to delve into this subject a little bit. My goal is for families to know if getting a counselor or clinician is right for them or not.

What are the signs that professional help would be beneficial for a family?

In general, if the family is experiencing stress and it is getting to the point where they are feeling it is too much for them, then it could be time. Here are some signs to become aware of:

  • Family members are sad, not eating, withdrawn, not eating, hygiene - sudden changes saying things that are negative, If you see these things going on for a while, it’s something to be concerned about.

  • Kids are skipping classes consistently, dropping out of a sport, adults not going to work.

  • Aggression - toward themselves or others, angry, slamming doors, getting into physical arguments with siblings.

What are the symptoms that mean that professional help is essential?

- When they are directly asking for help. They may be saying things like, “I wish I had someone to talk to you”, “I feel out of control.”

- Safety issues - when they are expressing suicidal thoughts or cutting themselves, involved in reckless behavior, and an increased use of substances.

If you are hearing or experiencing any of the types of behaviors or conversations, then know this is something that needs to be addressed immediately. Being addressed means having a conversation and talking to them about what is going with them and learning more, and letting them know that you are there for them....then offering a course of action.

In the consultation calls that I have with parents when I start working with them, there are common phrases that I hear quite often...

...I hate going home, We feel like we are walking on eggshells, I am not enjoying motherhood, I feel like my kids hate me, I yell all the time, I am ashamed of the things I say to my kid, My kid embarrasses me, My spouse and I disagree on almost all aspects of parenting, We never have any fun together...and many more.

When I am working with my clients, I like to share 3 factors to consider before getting therapy. When it comes to things like temper tantrums, or fears at bedtime, or just not listening and it turns into a power struggle or argument, take a look at it from these three ways:

- frequency - how often this behavior or symptom occurs, once a week or multiple times every day?

- intensity- how severe is the behavior on a scale of 1-10?

- duration - how long does this behavior last 5 minutes or hours at a time?

You want to think about these things to know what your tolerance is and it can guide you to know if you need professional help or not and also to be able to describe the situation better to the professional, so they can best help you.

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