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Big practice announcement & when is it time to seek out mental health support

I often get questions about whether or not it’s time for a family to seek mental health support. There are a few guidelines that can help you make this decision. Please note, of course, that it is only a small list and if you’re unsure about whether to pursue therapy or other support, consider checking with your child’s pediatrician.

1- Is the issue persistent? Has it been present for a couple of weeks or months or longer?

2- Does the issue or concern cause impairment? Is it impacting your child’s life? Or, is it impacting your family?

3- Is the concern developmentally inappropriate? Or, is it exactly what we could expect to see at your child’s stage of development? As a caveat, lots of things that are developmentally appropriate are also really hard (so consider point number one and two here).

4- Is it the expected emotion or response? Keep in mind that having unpleasant emotions does not mean that anything is wrong. In fact, unpleasant emotions are often exactly the response we would expect. It’s normal and healthy to feel sad when something sad happens, worried when something big and important is on the horizon, angry when something you’re not okay with happens. This is healthy mental health - being able to have, experience and navigate the appropriate feeling. Feeling anxious about a test is normal and can actually be helpful. Having a panic attack about a test is not.

For younger children, we often look to their behaviors (including sleep or appetite) for guidance. Children might not be able to say “I’m really nervous about going to school” but you might notice meltdowns, stomachaches or that your child is suddenly refusing breakfast.

For teenagers, it’s typical to have some angst at home, so how can you differentiate between sadness, teenage emotions and depression? One rule of thumb here is the frequency and persistence - are they angry or down all the time? Or, do they seem happy and engaged when they are with their friends or at play rehearsal?

Here are a few other times to definitely seek out mental health support :

1- Your child or adolescent directly asks to speak to a therapist.

2- If you have concerns about safety (e.g., self-harm, suicide, thoughts of hurting someone else). It’s okay to ask your child about safety directly - it will not put ideas into their head, but will communicate that they can come to you with these really hard topics.

As an overarching guideline: early intervention can be key to a child’s success. The flexibility of a child or adolescent’s brain is a huge advantage in the early intervention game. Learning new strategies, approaches or skills can impact their wiring as well as the trajectory of their mental health.

In some ways, determining that your child would benefit from working with a mental health professional is the easy part. You’re likely already aware that it has become increasingly difficult to find a mental health provider right now, especially one that works with children and adolescents. As therapists, we are also aware of the demand for mental health services. It is very difficult to turn people away because our schedules are too full and cannot take on new patients, after all, we chose to go into a helping profession.

This leads me to the big practice announcement:

I’m thrilled to share that I have recently expanded my practice, now called the Rochester Resiliency Center. There are new therapists working with me and and they are able to take on new patients. I’ve searched hard and long for therapists that would be excellent fits in this practice and I can’t wait for new patients to get to meet them! If you’re interested, please complete the form here. If you've received this newsletter because you've already completed the New Patient Form, no need to fill it out again - I've got you on the list and will be in touch soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

Dr. Kate

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