Should I Take My Child to Therapy After Divorce?
Divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved, especially children. It can be hard to see your child struggling with the emotions and changes that come along with divorce and child custody battles. As a parent, it’s normal to feel uncertain about what to do or how to help your child cope with substantial life changes like divorce.
Child counseling is a popular option for many parents. Not only can therapy offer children an opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment and receive needed emotional and psychological support during this difficult life season, but it can also offer valuable parental insights into underlying issues and ultimately help both the parent and their child better understand each other.
Keep reading to learn the potential benefits of taking your child to therapy after divorce and common signs that your child may benefit from professional help after parents separate.
Types of Child Counseling in California
Divorce can be an incredibly difficult experience for the entire family, making it even more crucial for parents to provide children with the necessary support during this time. Fortunately, there are a number of different types of child counseling available in California that can help children cope with the emotional and psychological effects of divorce.
From individual therapy sessions to group counseling programs, parents in California have many options when it comes to finding professional help for their children who are going through a tough period after their parents' separation. Child counseling services come in many forms, depending on the particular needs of the child.
For California parents in search of child counseling services, some of the most common forms of therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), play therapy, family therapy, and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of talk therapy that helps children identify and rework negative thinking patterns, as it can teach them how to replace harmful misbeliefs and perceptions (such as internalizing toxic guilt or shame) with more positive, affirmative, and self-compassionate beliefs about themselves.
Studies show that CBT can be especially helpful for children dealing with:
- Low self-esteem
- Behavioral issues (such as problems managing anger or aggression)
- Any other emotions related to the divorce process
Play therapy is another type of child counseling geared specifically toward young kids. This type of therapy uses activities like drawing and storytelling as a way for kids to act out their emotions instead of talking about them directly. Play therapists can help children understand difficult concepts in terms they can more easily understand while allowing them to express themselves without feeling judged.
Unlike other forms of child counseling, family therapy is an option available for both parents and children. This type of counseling empowers families to adjust to major life changes and can offer the opportunity to gain greater insight into each other’s feelings and perspectives surrounding the divorce, ultimately allowing families to heal together while still maintaining healthy boundaries between each other.
Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
Lastly, trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is designed specifically for children who have experienced a traumatic event. Trauma is defined as an emotional response to a distressing event or experience.
While many traumatized individuals can undergo traumatic events firsthand, the fallout isn’t limited to personal experiences. Children and adults who witness a traumatic experience can also develop a wide range of emotional and psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autoimmune diseases, and other health issues.
Trauma can take many forms. Child abuse, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, is a common source of childhood trauma for children. However, major life changes like divorce can have an equal or greater impact on a child’s wellbeing.
TF-CBT employs an evidence-based approach that combines traditional CBT methods with additional stress management techniques like mindfulness and relaxation strategies, empowering traumatized children to better manage their symptoms while learning healthier coping skills.
Benefits of Taking Your Child to Therapy After Divorce
Children can benefit from child counseling after divorce in various ways. It can help them process their emotions and adjust to the changes that come with divorce, allowing them to develop healthy coping skills and build resilience for the future. Therapy can also provide children with an unbiased professional who can offer support and guidance as they navigate their feelings about their parent’s separation.
For example, a therapist can help children recognize underlying issues triggered by the divorce, such as anger, fear, shame, guilt, and sadness. This understanding can be beneficial in helping them safely express these emotions in a supportive environment instead of bottling them up or acting out inappropriately. With the support of a licensed professional, children are better able to accept and move forward through difficult life transitions without developing long-term psychological problems.
Child counseling is also beneficial for helping children maintain positive relationships with both parents after the separation. Because divorce often brings up challenging issues between parents and their children, therapy can be an opportunity for kids to learn how to communicate effectively with both parents while setting boundaries when necessary.
Research shows that parental involvement in child counseling after divorce is crucial for a successful outcome. A therapist can offer helpful advice for parents on how best to support their child during this time and provide valuable insights into any potential parenting issues that may need addressing.
Working together with a qualified professional ensures everyone involved gets the most out of the therapeutic experience while creating strong foundations for healthy family dynamics in years to come.
Common Signs for Parents to Consider Child Counseling
It’s important for California parents to provide children with sufficient emotional support after divorce to prioritize their emotional wellbeing and keep them safe from harm—even if the harm in question is not easily discerned.
The lasting repercussions of trauma and psychological distress can significantly impair your child’s quality of life well into adulthood. Because trauma and post-traumatic stress are often invisible, it’s crucial for parents to know and identify warning signs that their child may require professional care from a licensed mental health professional.
What are some common “red flags” that your child may benefit from professional psychological care after divorce? Consider the following signs:
- Atypical behavior. More often than not, parents understand their children best. If your child starts displaying behavior that seems out of the ordinary—such as a typically reserved child lashing out at teachers, or a normally extroverted child withdrawing from social circles—this is likely a sign that additional care is needed.
- Impaired daily functioning. If your child’s symptoms worsen to the point where they can no longer perform routine tasks, such as paying attention in class or doing their homework on time, this is a strong indicator that your child may require professional help.
- Changes in eating or appetite. If your child experiences significant changes in eating habits or a reduced appetite without medical cause for an extended period of time, this could indicate the need for psychological support.
- Lack of interest in favorite activities, hobbies, or friends. If your child no longer seems interested in social activities (such as hanging out with friends) or their favorite hobbies (such as playing their favorite sport or watching their favorite movie), parents may want to consider child counseling.
- Medical issues with no known cause. Frequent complaints of certain physical ailments with no known medical cause, such as stomachaches or headaches, may indicate that your child is experiencing physiological distress. Child counseling can help determine the root of the problem and hopefully alleviate your child’s emotional pain and physical discomfort.
Our Family Lawyers Can Help Restore Your Family’s Peace
At Family Law San Diego, we understand that divorce can be costly to families in more ways than one. Deciding to end a marriage can be a massive drain on your time, financial energy, financial resources, and emotional wellbeing. That’s why our compassionate family lawyers are here to make the legal proceedings as efficient and pain-free as possible for you and your loved ones.
Our award-winning legal team takes great pride in serving families throughout San Diego and the surrounding areas. We have a successful track record of empowering California residents to make the most informed decisions pertaining to their personal situations. Because family law disputes entail both emotional and logistical elements, we know that obtaining a favorable outcome in court is just one part of the process.
The way family matters are handled in court can have long-term impacts on your family's future wellbeing. Fortunately, our team is committed to prioritizing your family's physical, emotional, and mental health instead of solely focusing on winning your case. If you're preparing for a child custody battle, divorce, or other family law dispute in California, turn to a trusted attorney you can trust to keep your family's best interests at heart.
With more than 200 years of combined experience, our family lawyers are well-equipped to serve San Diego families. Call (619) 577-4900 to request a free consultation.