When Does a Child Need therapy?

There's no absolute way of knowing when a child needs therapy, but here is a way to objectively assess your child's needs.


Begin with identifying one concern. Examples of possible concerns are:

Anger/Temper     Fighting     Sadness     Low Self-esteem     School Failure     Worry     Bed Wetting     Lack of Respect     Lack of Cooperation     Shyness     Difficulty Concentrating     Perfectionism       Problems with Friends     Cries Easily

Once you have found an area of concern, answer the following 5 questions with that concern in mind.  This will help give you a picture of the problem in more detail.  Maybe it will put your mind at ease, maybe it will reassure you that you should take the next step in helping your child.

1.  How often does this behavior occur?


     -Several times a Week

     -Once a Week

     -Several Times a Month


2.  How long does this behavior last once it has started?

     -Several Minutes

     -10 to 20 Minutes

     -20 to 60 Minutes

     -More than an Hour

     -On and Off All Day

3.  How intensely does your child experience this behavior?  That is, how aware is your child of his/her own behavior?

     -Not at All Aware

     -Somewhat Aware but Can't Control the Behavior

     -Completely Aware and in Control

4.  Is this behavior Age-Appropriate?  To determine this, think of other children the same age as yours:  Do they act in similar ways?


     -Borderline Age-Appropriate

     -Not age-Appropriate

5.  What will happen to my child if I don't seek help?

     -This is the most difficult question because we can't know the future.  But we can see the path the child is on.  Sometimes kids grow out of things on their own.  Other times a small recurring problem, over several months or years, can turn into a severe blow to a child's sense of self or the way he or she is labeled by peers or teachers. For example, difficulty containing and expressing anger today may be a small adjustment to a new social setting such as a new classroom.  Or it may be something bigger--difficulty containing anger today may help a child develop a reputation as a trouble-maker, affecting the ability to make and keep friends, and ultimately making a child feel worthless and unlikable.  Ask yourself what this behavior will look like in 5, 10 or even 20 years.

After answering these questions, how do you feel about the concern you started with?  Does it seem a bit more normal?  Or, does it seem like a bit more of a problem?

All information contained in this site is Copyright 2014, Robin Walker.  The information here is not intended as a substitute for professional care and is not to be construed as advice.  Reproduction is prohibited without the express permission of the author.