Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.

Childhood Disorders

The counselors at Allenmore Psychological Associates (APA) offer treatment for a variety of mental health concerns affecting children and adolescents. Most often, parents bring their children for counseling when they notice a change in their child, such as their child exhibiting problematic behavior that is leading to struggles at home or in school. For parents the underlying cause of these behaviors may be unclear. An experienced counselor can help diagnose and treat your child’s specific symptoms and problematic behaviors. Children sometimes have difficulty coping with and expressing emotions. Because of this, kids who experience depression, anxiety or trouble in school may seem irritable or angry. A skilled child therapist can work with your child to help them learn communication skills and new ways of coping with distressing emotions. By working to understand the underlying causes of your child’s concerns, a therapist make an informed choice about the best treatment approach for your child.

Diagnoses That We Treat

APA’s therapists have experience treating children who have a wide range of diagnoses. We understand that each child is unique and tailor our treatment approach to what we believe will be most beneficial to your child. At Allenmore Psychological Associates, our emphasis is on improving your child’s mental health and wellbeing. We do not focus solely on diagnostic labels, because they only capture deficits without acknowledging strengths, interests and talents of the child or adolescent. However, we do have experience treating children who have been diagnosed with:

  • Depression
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Problem Behaviors
  • Adjustment Disorders
  • Bereavement
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Asperger’s, Autistic Spectrum Disorders)
  • Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia)
  • Enuresis and Encopresis (Toileting Concerns)
  • Anxiety Disorders, including Separation Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Signs that Your Child Could Benefit from Counseling

There is a broad range of concerns that prompt parents to seek counseling for their children. At Allenmore Psychological Associates, we see parents as experts because they usually know their children better than anyone else. If a parent has the feeling that a child might need or benefit from counseling, we encourage them to pay attention to this feeling. The following is a list of a handful of the different presenting concerns that might lead a parent to seek counseling for their child:

  • Difficulty Concentrating or Performing in School – For example, children who struggle academically in relation to their peers or have trouble concentrating in a classroom. This might include problems in a specific subject area or symptoms such as poor concentration, fidgeting and restlessness that make learning difficult. Concerns related to attention and focus can be treated effectively through therapy focused on improving academic skills, capitalizing on individual strengths and compensating for weaknesses. Medication may also be an adjunctive treatment in combination with behavioral and skills-based therapy.
  • Worries or Fears – If you notice that your child has more intense fears of specific stimuli than other children (such fears of strangers, bugs, heights or germs), counseling can help your child address and overcome these fears. This can be accomplished by first teaching relaxation skills that children can use in scary situations. After these skills have been mastered, the therapist can help you child face the things that scare them in the controlled and supportive counseling environment. The child can these be helped to transfer these newly learned coping skills to the world in which they live. Children who tend to be “worriers”, dwelling on potentially negative things that could happen in the future and being preoccupied with these scenarios, can learn healthy ways of coping with their worry through therapy.
  • Aggressive Behaviors – Children who purposely act in ways that are meant to physically harm other children or adults are excellent candidates for counseling. Aggressive behavior can be a symptom of many different disorders, ranging from depression to defiance. Counseling can assist you in finding effective ways of reducing or eliminating problem behaviors. Most frequently, this is accomplished by first determining the function of the aggressive behavior, or what the child is getting from acting that way. Then by restructuring the child’s environment in a way that teaches alternative ways of getting their needs met without being aggressive and rewards more appropriate behaviors.
  • Loss of a Loved One – Children who experience the death of someone close to them, or loss due to physical distance, military deployment or divorce can benefit from counseling focused on helping them cope with the loss. Death is an abstract concept, which is difficult for young children to understand. Thus, an experienced counselor will determine the appropriate therapeutic approach for your child suffering a loss, based on their developmental level. This could include some play therapy, which allows younger children to communicate about their feelings and experiences through play. In that case, play is also the medium through which a counselor can introduce coping skill and explore feelings. For older children, loss or death can bring up intense emotions and many different concerns about their own mortality. Talk therapy can help older kids and adolescents express their feelings, learn coping skills and make meaning of difficult situations.
  • Developmental Concerns – When a parent or other adults involved in a child’s care notice that they may not be meeting the social or developmental milestones that are typical of their age, many families are understandably overwhelmed. Especially when faced with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder, parents’ may be unsure how to help their child. Counseling can provide needed support to both parent and child in coping with possible developmental delays. A therapist will work with parents to identify concerns, create goals and structure their home environment to help the child be successful. With developmental concerns, a counselor might use a behavioral approach to encourage the development of positive behaviors while decreasing the frequency of unwanted behavior. This type of therapy often involves the therapist coaching the child on appropriate social interactions and modeling appropriate behaviors.
  • Problems with Eating – It can be very scary for parents to be faced with the possibility that their child has an eating disorder. Because of the serious potential physical and emotional consequences of disordered eating, seeking the help of an experienced counselor is essential. A therapist can meet with parents to discuss their concerns prior to working with a child. They can assess the severity of the problem and help you determine whether your child is physically well enough to be treated through outpatient therapy. Counseling for children with eating disorders often focuses on learning alternative ways to cope with emotions, education about nutrition and health, building self-esteem and a sense of identity besides that based just on physical appearance.
  • Social Concerns – Building social relationships is an important skill that children develop as they mature. The basic foundation for these skills starts with the parent-child relationship and quickly expands to involve relationships with peers in school or preschool. Learning how to relate to and get along with others can be difficult at times. Parents seek counseling for children with many different concerns about social development including difficulty making friends, being bullied or bullying others, social anxiety and extreme shyness. Depending on your specific concerns, your child’s therapist will work with you to generate measurable goals for counseling. In therapy, the counselor will work with your child on building new social skills through behavioral change, role-playing, and increased social awareness.
  • Changes in Mood or Behavior – Sometimes parents bring their child to counseling because they are unsure about why their child’s behavior has suddenly shifted. This could be a normally outgoing child seeming sullen or withdrawn, or a typically reserved child who is suddenly acting out. These symptoms can indicate a variety of different issues including, depression, anxiety, trauma or adjustment problems. Especially when parents are unsure about why their child seems to have changed, seeking help from an experienced doctoral-level counselor can help you work toward identifying your child’s concerns. In these situations, the therapist will typically meet with a parent to take a thorough history, before seeing the child. Then, it is very important for the counselor to build a trusting relationship with the child, so that they can feel safe discussing their feelings. Older children and especially teens may have find it hard to discuss sensitive topics with their parents and feel more comfortable talking to a trusted counselor. Once the counselor has an understanding of your child’s concerns, they can work with you to choose the most appropriate treatment and set counseling goals.

Contact Us for Help with Your Child

The skilled counselors at APA have over 30 years of hands on experience treating a wide range of problems affecting children, adolescents and their families. We also understand how difficult it can be to find a counselor to whom you feel comfortable entrusting your child’s care. With that in mind, we are dedicated to working collaboratively with parents to develop a treatment plan and goals to best suit their child’s individual needs. The providers at Allenmore are trained in a variety of therapeutic methods that have been proven to be effective in helping children and adolescents. Parents should not have to struggle alone to figure out how to help their children. The counselors at APA are here to help. For more information about treatment for children and adolescents available at Allenmore Psychological Associates, or to schedule an initial appointment, please call us at (253)752-7320.

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