The challenges of child and adolescent counseling

child and adolescent counseling

Mental health professionals are trained to help adults identify, deal with, and express their feelings, but the challenges change abruptly when the patient is a child or a teenager. As the stigma of seeking mental therapy has diminished in our society, it is commonly accepted that children struggling with their emotions can also benefit from these therapeutic approaches.

Whether it is a problem in a family or school environment or some other traumatic event, the younger members of our community do have difficulty adapting to what life throws at them. If a child is having such problems adapting mentally to their surroundings, an appointment with a qualified therapist is in order. There may be different challenges in this arena, but there are many accepted approaches that are used to help children express their feelings, regardless of the age demographics.

Gaining qualifications in mental health counseling

For those interested in this growing field of mental health therapy, there are several ways to obtain an online master’s degree in mental health counseling. One of the best offerings for an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) is provided by the American International College. This university’s accredited curriculum of study is completely online without the commitment of onsite visitations, and post-graduation placement services are also available to help students find the opportunity that they desire when the time comes.

Online courses of study in this area are flexible and provide an excellent path for obtaining an advanced CMHC degree. One may proceed at their own pace from the convenience of their own home and find ample opportunities to assist in the development of our future generations. Is now the time to invest in the future in this exciting field of endeavor?

What differentiates child and adolescent counseling?

Challenges for today’s youth abound, whether they are emotional, behavioral, or psychological. Problems can arise from the family unit, substance addictions, bullying in and out of school, or experiencing a traumatic situation. Adults may have a hard time dealing with these issues, but children and teenagers require special attention to help them understand and cope with what is going on in their minds. What is the right time for a child therapist to participate in a child’s mental development?

There are effective approaches to help children from pre-school through high school, but each age grouping determines what approach is best. For toddlers, the issues are delays in developing acceptable behaviors and social skills, but once a school environment is at play, anxiety and learning disorders may become the focus. Lastly, concerns related to teenagers may pertain more to social pressures, anxiety and depression, or even to being bullied in a social setting.

What are the most effective approaches for helping children?

Effective approaches can vary by age group and by the mental conditions and circumstances at hand. In each case, the objective is to get the child to open up and express their emotions willingly. The three most proven methods involve play, cognitive behavior, and family therapy.

Play therapy is an excellent way for young children to express themselves in a natural setting — one that is familiar. Within safe and supportive surroundings, a child is more inclined to release what might be troubling them by revealing the tensions or emotions literally at play. Such role-playing can empower the child to control their emotions and react favorably to challenging conditions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the accepted therapeutic tool for handling anxiety and other behavioral issues in children and teenagers. The goal here is to build awareness by identifying the negative patterns at hand and then learn coping behaviors to manage what is happening in their minds. The child learns better social and problem-solving skills, but it is important that parents participate and provide positive reinforcement.

For any therapeutic process to work with children, family dynamics play a crucial role. The best results in an office setting can be immediately undone without positive support in the home. This approach involves all family members working as a group to address conflicts, get feelings into the open, and improve communication. In today’s world of divorce and blended families, the ability to cope with family transitions is paramount for good mental health. Harmony is the goal.

Why does child therapy matter?

Caring about one’s mental health in today’s fast-paced world has become essential, and even more so for the youngest members of our society. It is not the easiest of tasks to detect when a child may need to see a therapist, but parents will typically notice a behavior shift, whether it is anti-social, aggressive, or a withdrawal. Struggles in school may result in anxiety, weight loss, or even self-mutilation.

Effective therapeutic approaches for children can provide a level of emotional support necessary to cope with ongoing issues such as self-esteem, anxiety, and anger management. Awareness can lead to more resilience when situations appear. Improvement in academic studies is also possible with less focus on the surrounding negative aspects of the child’s environment. Better social interactions and communication will also occur within the family unit, as well as elsewhere.

What are job and salary trends in this profession?

The good news is that demand for child therapists is forecasted to increase by a factor of 9% per year through 2028. In the United States alone, there are in excess of 112,000 jobs in this category and nearly 70,000 active job openings in this profession.

With such demand, salary expectations can only rise to create the necessary supply of qualified candidates. Of note, compensation levels have risen 14% over the past few years, and the average range of salaries vary from $44,000 to $60,000, depending upon experience, degreed credentials, and market served.


Mental health counselors have responded to the challenges of counseling children with a host of approaches to help the youthful members of our society cope with the emotional struggles of today’s world. For those interested in participating in this exciting job field, there are several online avenues for obtaining a graduate degree in this area. These courses are flexible, and students can proceed at their own pace from the comfort of their home. Is now the time to apply?

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