Depression, Low Mood and Sadness
It is entirely normal for children and teenagers to feel sad sometimes, but if low mood persists for more than a few weeks or becomes more severe it is a concern. Negative thinking can act as a cycle that reinforces low mood. Early intervention can prevent escalation of these negative cycles. CBT is an evidenced-based treatment for depression that focuses on understanding how the way we think impacts on our mood, behaviour and body. It is a collaborative approach that teaches young people to understand their experience and develop more positive coping strategies. In cases of severe depression Lydia will advise you if she feels that additional help is required, for example, if antidepressant medication may be helpful in conjunction with CBT.
Anxiety, Phobias and Panic
Many children experience anxiety. It is a normal part of life that children usually cope with. However, for some children, the level of anxiety they experience is intense and distressing. Anxiety can be experienced in a range of ways, it can lead to avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety which, while providing short term relief, leaves the problem unresolved and can create more problems. Consulting a clinical psychologist for assessment will provide a thorough understanding of your child’s difficulties. Treatment may include CBT which is an evidenced-based approach to treating a range of anxiety based problems. EMDR may also be considered as a treatment approach. For younger children treatment will often be adapted to combine play and creative therapeutic approaches, with close involvement of parents.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Many children experience traumatic events during their childhood and recover well with time. However, some children go on to develop symptoms including high levels of anxiety that are triggered by situations that link in some way to the trauma. Flashbacks, avoidance, nightmares and emotional numbness are all symptoms associated with PTSD. Consulting a clinical psychologist for assessment will provide a thorough understanding of your child’s difficulties. Sometimes the event that has triggered the distress may not seem on the scale of a Trauma such as a car crash or earthquake, but can be usefully understood in this way. Treatment may include EMDR or CBT which are both evidenced-based approaches to treating trauma. For younger children this will often be adapted to combine play and creative therapeutic approaches, with close involvement of parents.
Obsessive and Compulsive Problems (OCD)
Many children have special routines when they are little and they do not cause any problems. However, when children experience strong levels of anxiety that compel them to complete compulsive behaviour, such as repeated hand washing or checking routines, this can be distressing for them and can interfere with everyday activities. OCD can take many different forms but most commonly consists of repetitive thoughts and actions. Symptoms often have a fluctuating pattern with an increase in symptoms at times of stress. Help from an experienced child clinical psychologist will help you and your child understand how OCD operates and develop a treatment plan that gradually builds your child’s confidence in breaking the OCD cycles.
Many young people become focused on their body image or weight and some will experiment with dieting. However, if you are concerned about your child becoming unhappy about their shape and weight and notice that they have lost weight or are restricting what they eat, I would recommend that you consult your GP. Early intervention can prevent these issues developing into an eating disorder. Therapy helps the young person address the issues underlying the unhappiness and helps them develop confidence in their body image. Therapy needs to be combined with practical management that includes advice on meal planning and weight monitoring with the aim of restoring or maintaining a healthy weight. Lydia is experienced in this field. In cases of severe weight loss she will advise you if she feels your child requires more intensive help.
Health Psychology: Adjustment to medical conditions and their treatment
Adjustment to medical diagnosis and treatment can be challenging for children, adolescents and young people living with a long term medical condition such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis or chronic fatigue syndrome. As children grow up their understanding of their condition develops, and during teenage years they start to become more independent of their parents. This can effect how they cope with their treatment. Seeing a clinical psychologist can be helpful in supporting the young person and their parents through this process.
Separation, Loss and Bereavement
When a family experiences separation of parents, loss or a bereavement, there can be particular concerns for the children involved. It is common for members of a family to react differently, and grief is an entirely normal response. However, if you are concerned that your child is struggling to cope then help from outside the family to support children at this difficult time can be valuable, providing a space for your child to express their feelings without worrying about upsetting their parents. Consultation and advice for parents can also be valuable at this difficult time.
Sometimes it is difficult for a parent to know how to help their child. It may be difficult to talk with teenagers or hard to know how to manage difficulties with very young children who can’t easily tell you what is wrong. This can be stressful for parents and it can be useful for them to discuss their concerns with a child clinical psychologist on their own. This can help them work out how to support their child.
There can be many reasons why a child has difficulty sleeping, including separation anxiety, night-time fears or problems establishing a good bedtime routine. This can be stressful for both the child and parents. A clinical psychologist can help work out what the problem is and develop a treatment plan with you and your child.
Anxiety About School, School Avoidance and Exam Stress
Education is an essential part of a child’s life, so if they are experiencing distress related to their schooling it is important to try and understand and deal with it as quickly as possible. There can be various types of stress, including being bullied, work or exam worries, or difficulties with friends. Occasionally, children become reluctant to go to school. A clinical psychologist can assess the problem and develop a treatment plan with you and your child. Lydia is experienced at working with schools and may suggest involving your child’s school, providing consultation and advice.