Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

July 15, 2020

Virtual Counseling for Children & Teens

By: Shavonda Bean, LPA

The world as we knew it seemed to come to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, however the need to care for our mental health continues and is even more important during times like these. Adults aren’t the only ones facing increases in stress and anxiety. Our children have experienced many sudden and drastic changes in their lives related to the virus and many are connected to, witnessing or are a part of the current uprising against racism. In addition to these major issues facing the world, children might also be experiencing some grief associated with the loss of graduation, changes in college plans, missed summer experiences or even the loss of loved ones. While stress and emotional reactions to these situations is normal and children are often resilient, parents are watching for warning signs that they should seek professional help for their children.

Recognizing the difference between a normal reactions to stress versus changes that indicate a more serious problem can be a bit tricky. It can help to consider any additional changes in your child’s behavior or mood and how many of these changes are occurring at once. If your child is experiencing new problems falling asleep, has new and significant changes in their mood, trouble focusing or expresses an increase in worrying, sadness or other mental health concerns, a mental health professional can help.

Many treatment providers offer virtual or telehealth visits to help make treatment more accessible during these times. Having a virtual therapy session means meeting with a therapist face-to-face via secure video conference.  Most children are already accustomed to technology and virtual communication, making the transition to virtual treatment more familiar. This modality of treatment is most appropriate for a child or teenager who does well sustaining their attention and might not be as effective for those who lose interest or focus easily, those who have weaknesses in their ability to express themselves or when mental health conditions are severe. Don’t worry, the therapist will help you determine if virtual sessions are appropriate for your child and will offer other alternatives like in office visits or treatment referrals when necessary.

Many people find it easier to open up and share during therapy while on their own couch or in the comfort of their own homes. Plus, there’s something calming about your child having their pet close by or sharing their favorite stuffed animal with their therapist. For some parents, the barriers of travel are minimized and virtual visits can be more convenient.

To prepare to meet with the therapist for a virtual session, it’s best to have a private room or office to talk. Your child’s therapist will make sure they are also in a private office or room to protect your confidentiality. Try your best to minimize distractions like others walking into the room, watching television or other screen activities. Also, test out the equipment and sound to get prepared. Taking these steps in advance can help your child get the most out of their treatment time. Know that you don’t have to do it all alone. Psychologists at Child and Family Development are pleased to be able to offer virtual care to families and can assist you in helping you and your child navigate these challenging times.