What Is Therapy?

Lots of kids have problems that affect how they feel, think, or act. Therapy is a way to get help with these problems. If you go to therapy, you'll meet with a therapist to talk and learn. Therapy helps kids learn to cope better, communicate better, and do better.

If you're dealing with a problem, your parent or doctor might suggest you go to a therapist. Or it might be your idea. You might be the one to ask your parent to take you to a therapist.

What Problems Do Therapists Help With?

Therapists are trained to help kids with all kinds of problems. They help kids going through tough times like:

They help kids with feelings like:

They help kids with conditions like:

  • ADHD
  • depression
  • OCD and anxiety
  • disruptive behavior disorders
  • trauma-related disorders 

Why Do Kids Need Therapy?

Kids need therapy when they have problems they can't cope with alone. Therapy helps them talk about their feelings and learn new skills. It helps them work out their problems. As this happens, kids start to try new skills and do better.

How Does Therapy Work?

In therapy, kids learn by talking and doing. Therapists do activities with kids that teach skills. Kids learn to use these skills to solve problems. A therapist gives praise and support as kids learn. This helps kids do their best and feel proud of the work they are doing.

What Happens in Therapy?

At first, your therapist will talk with you and your parent. Therapists ask questions and listen. This helps them learn more about you. The therapist will tell you how they can help.

When the therapist knows you better, the two of you might:

  • Talk. Talking is a healthy way to express feelings. Kids are more ready to learn when someone listens to how they feel.
  • Play and draw. Therapists use games that teach things like taking your time on schoolwork or other tasks. Some games teach kids how to try again instead of giving up. Drawing can teach about feelings.
  • Do activities. Therapists might teach lessons about feelings, coping skills, or facing fears. Activities help make these lessons more fun.
  • Practice new skills. A therapist might teach you skills like mindfulness and calm breathing. These take practice. Therapists help you practice what you're learning.
  • Solve problems. Your therapist will ask about how problems affect you at home and at school. They will talk with you about how to solve these problems.

How Long Do Kids Do Therapy?

How long therapy lasts depends on your problem and what you need. Most of the time, a therapist will want to meet with you once a week for a few months.

How Can I Help Myself?

If you're going to a therapist, here are some ways to help yourself too:

  • Be ready to grow. Tell yourself "I can" instead of "I can't." This helps you do your best.
  • Ask your family for help when you need it. Share how you feel. This helps you feel close.
  • Do things you are good at and enjoy. This gives you confidence.
  • Know your good qualities. Maybe you are funny, creative, helpful, or kind. Use at least one of these every day. This helps you be your best self.
  • Find time to play and have fun. Being active every day helps you feel happier and ready to learn.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2019 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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