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Sometimes children, like adults, can feel bad and need therapy. It is also not uncommon for parents to need support in their parenting. Then it can be good to see a child psychologist. Here we explain what they do and how they can help.

What does a child psychologist do?

A child psychologist is a licensed professional who has knowledge and experience of children’s psychological, emotional and behavioural challenges. They help children from early childhood to adolescence deal with issues such as anxiety, depression, behavioural problems, and school-related difficulties. By providing a safe place for the child to express themselves, child psychologists use therapeutic techniques to promote the child’s well-being and development.

Child psychologists offer therapy and counselling, but also work with families in parental support and the whole family when needed. They also collaborate with schools to create good conditions for the child. At Lavendla, we have experienced child psychologists who can help.

According to the Mental Health Commission (Australia) 50% of all adult mental health issues emerge before the age of 14.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

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What are the signs that a child is unwell?

Detecting signs that a child is unwell is crucial to providing the right support and help. Children often show subtle changes in behaviour and emotional expression when dealing with psychological difficulties. Here is a summary of signs to look out for:

Behaviour

  • Mood swings: Rapid changes in mood.
  • Irritability or aggressiveness: acting out behaviours.
  • Social withdrawal: Loss of interest in friends and activities.

Emotional signs

  • Anxiety or worry: Excessive worrying about various things.
  • Sadness or depression: Prolonged sadness or loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Low self-esteem: Feelings of worthlessness.

School and concentration

  • Difficulty concentrating: Difficulty focusing on school work.
  • Falling grades: Sudden drop in school performance.

Physical signs

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits: Irregular or changing habits.
  • Unexplained physical symptoms: Headaches or stomach aches with no clear cause.

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Social signs

  • Problems with peers: Difficulty maintaining friendships.
  • Avoidance of social activities: Reluctance to participate in group activities.

Risk behaviors

  • Risk-taking: Dangerous activities without regard to consequences.
  • Substance abuse: Use of drugs or alcohol.

Thoughts and feelings

  • Hopelessness: Negative statements about the future.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide: Such statements should be taken very seriously.

If these signs are observed, start by talking to the child and acknowledging their feelings. Seek professional help from a child psychologist if necessary.

What can I do if my child is unwell?

Dealing with situations where your child is unwell can be challenging and emotionally demanding. It is important to approach the situation with understanding, patience and support. Here are some steps you can take to help your child:

Listen and validate: Start by listening to your child without judgment. Validate their feelings to show that you take them seriously.

Seek professional help: Do not hesitate to contact a psychologist or therapist if your child continues to feel bad.

Open communication: Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and reassure them that you are always there to listen.

Joint activities: Spend time together doing activities that strengthen your bond and provide positive experiences.

Healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet, regular exercise and enough sleep are important for mental health.

Pay attention: Notice changes in behaviour or mood and act if you see signs that your child needs more support.

Create a safety network: Make sure your child knows who they can turn to besides you, such as other family members or teachers.

Remember: you are not alone. Support is available and we make the hard things easier, together. For emergencies, call emergency services on 000 or LIfeline Australia on 13 11 14 (24 hour service).

This summary offers a practical guide to supporting your child through difficult times with a focus on being responsive, active and supportive.


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Treatment with a child psychologist

Seeking help from a child psychologist is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties. Depending on the age of the child, different services are available. According to Health Direct about 1 in 10 Australian children aged 4-11 have a mental health disorder. The most common disorders are attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety.

Treatment with a child psychologist is adapted to the child’s individual needs and may include methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy, play therapy, family therapy and group therapy. The aim is to improve the child’s emotional well-being and develop coping strategies. The child psychologist works closely with the child and his or her family, and sometimes also with the school, to create a safe environment where the child can learn to manage emotions and behaviours effectively.

It is important to remember that each child is unique, so treatment may vary. Working with a child psychologist can give your child the tools they need to manage their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way.


12 frequently asked questions about child psychologists

What is a child psychologist?

A child psychologist is a licensed professional with knowledge and experience in promoting the well-being and mental health of children and parents.

What does a child psychologist do?

Child psychologists offer therapy and counselling, but also work with families in parental support and the whole family when needed. They also work with schools to create good conditions for the child.

What are the signs that a child is not well?

There are several signs that a child is not doing well, which can be manifested in behaviours and emotional expressions such as anxiety. It can show up in social relationships or in physical symptoms. It can affect school performance and lead to risky behaviours. It can affect the thoughts and feelings of the child in different ways.

My child is unwell, what to do?

Dealing with situations where your child is unwell can be challenging and emotionally demanding. It is important to approach the situation with understanding, patience and support. If necessary, you can seek professional help.

I am having difficulties in my parenting, how can I get help?

Child psychologists also work with parents in parental support. If you are having difficulties, you can seek professional help to get more support.

Can children receive psychological treatment?

It is possible for children to receive psychological treatment, but it is adapted to the child’s age and the problems that need to be addressed. Common methods are talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to ill health.

How can young people get help?

If you are over 13 years old, you can get help through the youth clinic, school counsellor or child and adolescent psychiatry. At Lavendla, we also have experienced psychologists who can help.

Can I see a child psychologist privately?

It is possible to see a child psychologist privately. At Lavendla we have several psychologists who have extensive experience of working with children and young people.

How long is a treatment?

The treatment is adapted to the problems the child or parent has. It can be anything from a few sessions to a longer treatment over a couple of years.

Can I see a child psychologist online?

It is possible to receive treatment online via video. We have several child psychologists who work digitally at Lavendla.

Where can I go if I or my child needs help from a child psychologist?

Depending on how old your child is, you can turn to different services. You can contact The Australian Psychological Society Limited or at Lavendla we have experienced child psychologists who can also help.

How does treatment with a child psychologist work?

Seeking help from a child psychologist is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties or if you are having difficulties as a parent. Here is a brief overview of what treatment can look like:

First step: Initial consultation where the psychologist assesses needs through conversations with the child and parents.

Treatment plan: An individualized plan is developed, based on the child’s specific situation and needs.

Types of therapy: Common approaches include play therapy for younger children, where play is used as a tool for expression and processing, and talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for older children, which focus on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. Other methods such as family therapy can also be helpful.

Parental counselling: Parents receive guidance and support to better help their child at home.

Monitoring and adjustment: The treatment plan is continuously evaluated and adjusted as needed to ensure the best possible outcome.

It is important to remember that each child is unique, and therefore treatment may vary. Working together with a child psychologist can give you and your child the tools they need to manage their emotions and behaviours in a healthy way. At Lavendla, we have child psychologists who can help make the hard stuff easier.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by melissa

Melissa is a Certified Kinesiologist who focusses on a client-centred, holistic and integrative approach to health and wellness. She has extensive experience in managing stress, anxiety, fears, phobias and trauma in her clients. Melissa uses visual and auditory feedback to directly access and solve the cause of psychological stressors in the body so that optimal well-being and balance is achieved.