The difference in mental health services for youth and adults.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Children

Children’s mental health.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

One size does not fit all.

Children

Children.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

When it comes to mental health services what’s needed and what’s actually provided can vary tremendously. Treatment for each client should be individualized.

Therapy for children needs to be appropriate for both their age and their developmental stage. There are also some differences in the way the counselor or therapist may need to approach treatment. In selecting a therapist, it’s important to find someone with both the training and experience required to work with the person receiving services. Here are some of the differences between mental health services for youth and adults.

The therapist needs to speak the same “language” as the child.

Children don’t have the vocabulary to describe feelings. Children often express themselves by actions rather than words. For very young children therapy is best done through speaking the language of “play.” How a child expresses themselves through action will change as they age.

What’s appropriate for a baby to say at age six months will be very different from what they should be saying at five years. The same is true of their behaviors and the way in which they play.

The therapist needs to consider “who is the client?”

Children are usually referred to therapy because an adult has either recognized the problem or is afraid the child may develop a problem. The counselor must consider whether the reason this child is in therapy is because the child is doing something an adult doesn’t want them to do or because they aren’t doing something the adult wants them to do.

More than one female single parent has brought their male offspring in for counseling because they did not want that child to “be just like their father.” In these cases, often the father was either physically abusive, drug-addicted, or engaged in criminal activity. Unfortunately, being told repeatedly that you are “just like your father” can be extremely damaging to the child’s development.

A similar problem happens when male parents are raising female children and, in their effort, to prevent their daughters developing sexuality, they continually accuse the daughter of promiscuity “just like your mother.”

In cases like these, where a parent is projecting their own issues and negative life experiences on to their children, the counselor tries to help the child develop the skills to make their own healthy choices. Frequently, what needs to happen is for the parent to get into therapy for their issues and for help in becoming a more effective parent.

The counselor will at most see the child for an hour a week, while the parent will provide the care for that child for 167 other hours each week.

Lifespan development issues are important.

If a child isn’t hitting their developmental milestones, walking, talking, learning schoolwork and appropriate behavior on time, this warrants a referral to medical or mental health professionals. Unfortunately, many parents have unrealistic expectations for their child. Parents often push their children to do things that they are not developmentally ready for. I’ve had parents request that their child be assessed for ADHD because the child was getting B grades instead of straight A’s.

Children may be afraid to tell the truth.

While the child is often the one identified as having the problem, it’s entirely possible the problem is with the home situation. Children who grow up in a home where parents have frequent violent fights may be awake all night. When they go to school, they can’t concentrate because of their lack of sleep and their fears about what is going on at home while they’re at school. If they witnessed domestic violence, they might learn to use hitting as a way to get what they want.

While the child is referred for assessment for attention problems the real issue may lie with the parents. Children are afraid to report problems at home for fear that their parents will punish them or that they may be taken away from their parents.

Many children are taught not to talk to strangers and to never talk about families “business” outside the family. Children from lower socioeconomic status homes may be embarrassed. Children may have been instructed not to talk about parents who are engaged in illegal activity, or they may be reluctant to talk about having a parent or caregiver who is incarcerated.

Many problems are not identified until the child gets older.

I see many files for teenagers in which they were treated in the early grades for developmental issues. Later they were treated for attention deficits. In middle school and high school, they may have been treated for bad behavior. It’s not until late high school or college that some of these clients are diagnosed with severe depression.

It’s important that anyone working with children not write off poor attention and behavioral problems as a result of “bad child” diagnoses. A specialist in child developmental issues should be looking for serious mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression.

Children may need help in developing life skills.

Counselors working the children must be careful not to think that it’s the child who has the problem. Sometimes what the child needs are the skills to cope with a dysfunctional family and a challenging world. Social skills are tough for some children to develop. The majority of adults who develop anxiety disorders had the symptoms by the end of middle school.

Counselors may need to normalize the challenges of growing up. Most children go through a stage of feeling insecure and worrying about whether they measure up. Helping the young client through the transition periods can reduce or possibly even prevent the development of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and other mental health problems that are the result of judging themselves in overly negative ways.

These are some of the major differences between working with children and adults. The techniques and materials the counselor uses are also likely to be different. Please feel free to leave additional questions or comments.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Parenting

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Parenting.

Parenting.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

― Margaret Mead

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

― Albert Einstein

“One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.”

― Jane Goodall

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Father.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Fatherhood

Happy Father’s Day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Father.

“We never get over our fathers, and we’re not required to. (Irish Proverb)”

― Martin Sheen, Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son

“My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Free gifts your child really needs.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Being a parent is difficult, give your child what they really need.

tin box

Holiday Gift your child needs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Christmas is almost here, but then it could be any day and this principle still holds. Parents want to be good parents. Even when you are struggling you still would like to think that you are doing the best you can for your children. Many people have been out shopping the whole season trying to find the just right thing. If you could just buy them the perfect present, then that would mean you were a great parent.

Don’t try to be the perfect parent. No one has ever been both perfect and a parent. The perfect gift will not mean you have arrived as a parent. Work on being a good enough parent. The really important gifts you will give your children are ideas and values, not physical things. Concentrate on the gifts that will last a lifetime.

Here is my list of wonderful gifts you can give your children which cost nothing in terms of dollars.

The gift of love.

Make sure you give your child the gift of feeling loved.  Teach them how to love themselves and love others.  Don’t make your love conditional on anything they need to say, be or do.

Acceptance.

Make sure your children know that you accept them.  Let them know they are worthwhile just the way they are.  Don’t insist that they be stronger, faster, or smarter, in order to win your approval.

Personal Boundaries.

Teach your children to have and to respect boundaries.  A cardinal rule of parenting is that parents need to be parents and they need to allow their children to be children.  Don’t try to make your children into your best friend.  Don’t encourage them to grow up faster than they need to.

Life skills.

Teach your children life skills that are consistent with their developmental level.  Don’t expect them to do adult things when their small but don’t continue to do things for them when they’re old enough to be able to do them themselves.

Consequences.

Teach your kids the consequences of their actions for good or for bad.  It’s not healthy or good for your child to let them get out of the punishment they have coming.

Responsibilities.

Allow your children to grow into responsibilities.  Knowing your responsibilities and being able to fulfill them gives children a sense of accomplishment.  To build their self-esteem and self-efficacy children need to do things that can make them proud.

Reality.

Help your children to learn the distinction between what’s real and what’s fantasy.  Allow them to have their dreams and be creative.  Don’t encourage them to pretend that things are other than as they are.

A listener.

Give your children the gift of being a really good listener.  Having you listen to them teaches them how to listen to others.

Your time.

To a child, particularly a small child, the gift of your time and attention is far more valuable than the presents you will buy.

Happiness and Joy.

Encourage your children to become happiness experts.  Teach them to live a joyful life.  Please encourage a positive, can-do attitude.

A good example.

Be a good example for your children.  Teach them the rule do as I do. They are going to copy your behavior anyway.

The difference between their needs and their wants.

Help your children to see that happiness does not come from getting everything you want.  Not all needs are physical, material ones.

Words, reading, and writing.

Make learning an important part of your family life.  The more words your child knows the better they will do in school.  When they are small read to them.  As they grow, encourage them to read out loud.  Help them to write communications which convey what they mean.

Curiosity.

Give your children the gift of curiosity, help them to explore the physical, natural, and the mental worlds.

Knowledge about work.

Don’t leave your children unprepared for the day they become adults.  Teach them about what it is to work and the types of jobs that they might be able to do as they grow.  Encourage them to research some of the careers that they dream about doing.

A clean slate – don’t saddle them with your baggage.

Don’t give your children the job of settling old scores.  Don’t bring them into adult quarrels.  If you have baggage from the past work on unpacking your own suitcase.

The chance to be them. Individuals, not a mini-me.

Make sure your child knows that they will be different from you.  Let them explore what it means to be them.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Parenting.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Raising good children. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Raising good children.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting.

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”  Abigail Van Buren

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  James Baldwin

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why you should talk to yourself.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Talking to yourself, especially out loud has some benefits.

Girl talking out loud.

Girl Talking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People who talk to themselves out loud can make people around them very nervous.  When we think about somebody who is talking out loud many people are likely to think of the psychotic person who was speaking to the voices or the disturbed person who is rambling on and on for no particular reason.  There can be some very definite positive benefits to talking to yourself.

Children are particularly likely to be talking to themselves out loud.  They have not yet developed the skills to self-monitoring and only speaking out loud when they are alone.  If you find that you are still talking out loud to yourself, this does not necessarily mean that are losing your mind.  But it may mean is that you have something very important on your mind and are forgetting to self-monitoring for other people around.  Below are some reasons that speaking to yourself out loud may be helpful.

You become a better public speaker.

Many famous public speakers began by practicing their speeches out loud.  If you know that you’re going to need to make a presentation, it can really improve your performance to practice that speech out loud.

Talking to yourself out loud reinforces memories.

If you just heard something and you need to remember it, saying it over and over again to yourself can help.  Going over a chain of events A happened and then B can help you to remember those events in sequence.

Talking allows you to practice what you are going to say.

Sometimes we know we’re going to have to have one of those difficult talks with someone.  It’s important to get the words just right.  Practicing what you’re going to say can help you identify things that may come out other than the way you want them to.  Listening to what you have to say can help you find just the right way to a convey that information.

Talking to yourself helps you learn the step of a process.

When you’re trying to learn a new procedure and there are several steps, it can help you to remember this process if you repeat each step as you do it.  In skills training, the trainer may initially repeat the steps out loud to the client.  They will then have the client do the process while repeating the steps out loud.  Finally, the client repeats the process while saying the steps silently in their head.

Talking aloud helps to clear a crowded mind.

People with very active, busy minds find that it can be helpful to clear that mind by going ahead and saying the things that are bothering them.  Sometimes this can be an automatic unconscious behavior.  While this is helpful to the person with a busy crowded mind it can be upsetting to others who might accidentally overhear.

You develop storytelling skills.

Good storytellers practice telling their story over and over.  If you’re going to be telling that story out loud to others it’s best to practice the story out loud.  Highly creative people often tell themselves stories. Sometimes when they’re alone they tell them out loud.  As you develop your storytelling and your self-monitoring skills you are likely to learn to tell the stories with your mouth closed and the words retained in your head.

You develop a supportive of relationship with yourself.

You’re going to spend a lot of time with yourself.  Work of becoming your own best friend.  One way of becoming supportive of yourself is to have those self-talks that you wish you could have with other people.  The more you practice these self-talks the better you will be able to contain them within your head instead of having them leak out and others hear them.

It helps you to focus on a task or conversation at hand.

Sometimes we repeat things out loud during a conversation with another person.  It can help to confirm that we’ve heard things accurately.  You can also use talking aloud to help you focus your attention on what is being discussed or what you need to do.

It improves self-monitoring skills.

People who are working on their self-monitoring skills may find it useful to comment on their activities as they do them.

Self-talk helps you self-sooth.

When you’re feeling upset or on edge talking to yourself can be helpful.  Remind yourself that you are safe.

You improve your creativity by exploring possibilities.

Creative people may find it useful to have these conversations out loud to explore possible conversations.

So if you or someone in your life makes a habit of talking out loud consider whether this is a helpful skill or a lack of self-monitoring.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Closeness.

Sunday Inspiration.          Post by David Joel Miller.

Closeness.

Family Closeness.

Closeness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Closeness means you get hurt; closeness means letting down your defenses and letting people see the tender skin under the carapace.”

― Cathy Kelly, Never Too Late

I tried to put things in perspective but sometimes you’re just too close to it.

Cormac McCarthy

You can’t find any true closeness in Hollywood because everybody does the fake closeness so well.

Carrie Fisher

If your relationship with someone is based on your desire for them to change into something radically different, there’s no real closeness there, no real communication.

Patrick Califia

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.