Therapy for children and families

A child’s reactions to abuse will vary from mild to more serious effects. Some children show signs immediately while others may have delayed symptoms. Even if your child is not showing any symptoms at this time, it is best to let a professional therapist evaluate your child. Many parents feel that a child should just forget about the abuse and are reluctant to let the child talk about the abuse. Unfortunately, denial will not make it go away. Most children do not just forget about abuse and need help to recover from their trauma. The purpose of counseling is not to dwell on the details of the abuse, but to help your child deal with the feelings that he/she is experiencing and to help your child heal. Counseling is extremely beneficial to children because it helps the child to:

  • Develop a healthy self-image
  • Learn to trust again
  • Identify ways to stay safe
  • Find ways to feel more in control

Your child may need continued counseling after the initial therapy visit. This does not mean that your child has been affected for life. After completing treatment do not be alarmed if at a later date your child needs additional therapeutic services. At different stages of life there are different concerns with which your child may need help. As a parent, you may also need help in dealing with your feelings. In most instances, when a child is sexually abused, all family members will be affected. If you were a victim of sexual abuse, your child’s abuse may bring back difficult memories. A therapist may be able to help you as well since your response to the abuse will play a large part in your child’s healing. In all situations, it is important to assess if the child and the family can benefit from counseling.

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Won’t therapy make it worse for my child?

Therapy will not make it worse if you are going to an experienced clinician who understands victimization and child treatment. Your child’s clinician should have experience in treating children you child’s age and training in trauma treatments.

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How do I know if I’ve chosen a qualified therapist?

Ask questions. Find out how much experience the person has, ask about the age ranges they serve, ask if they are licensed in this state. Ask any questions that you feel would put your mind at ease. Your child’s clinician should not have any problems answering these questions. If the clinician has problems with these questions, consider contacting another therapist.

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Doesn’t therapy stir up bad memories for my child?

The purpose of therapy is not to stir up memories or even to focus on the actual events of the abuse. The purpose and focus of the treatment should be healing, coping, safety, and learning to express feelings in an appropriate manner.

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Aren’t therapists just looking for problems?

During the course of therapy it is not uncommon for other issues to present themselves. Don’t be alarmed if your child’s therapist suggests working on issues other than the presenting problem of abuse. It is sometimes necessary to work and resolve older existing issues before addressing the issue of abuse or address them simultaneously.

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My child is so young; what possible benefit could he/she get from therapy?

Children as young as 2 ½ – 3 years old can benefit greatly from therapy. It is important to have a therapist experienced in working with children this age.

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Isn’t it possible for my child to just forget about the abuse if we don’t talk about it and don’t take our child to therapy?

No. Children, like adults, don’t just forget about the abuse. Often times if children are not treated, the problems will only become worse and behaviors can become problematic.

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How long will therapy last?

The duration of therapy can depend on a variety of factors. Some of those factors include: the severity of the issue, the readiness of the child for therapy, progression of therapy, and scheduling or regularity of therapy.

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We’re a very close-knit family and I don’t want this information shared with others. How do I know the therapist won’t talk with others?

The therapist is bound by law to keep sessions confidential. When you attend therapy, you should be informed of your rights as a client and the duties of the therapist as it relates to those rights. A therapist cannot keep information confidential when there is a risk of someone being harmed.

Financial help is available for victims of crime, specifically for therapy needed as a result of the reported crime.  The Sunflower House Family Advocate will provide you with an application or you may call the Kansas Crime Victims’ Compensation Board for more information.

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Download these referral lists:

Johnson & Wyandotte County
Johnson and Wyandotte County (Spanish)
Jackson County