Children/Teens

Dr. Brad Piergrossi
& Associates


ANXIETY

There are many different types of anxiety disorders. They all involve persistent, intense anxiety that is disproportionate to the present situation and negatively impacts a child's daily life and happiness. It is very painful and can even cause kids to avoid important developmental experiences.  Anxiety can be experienced physically (change in sleep or eating habits, headache, dizziness, bellyache)  emotionally (irritability, panic, restlessness, worry) and in daily functioning (concentrating in school, avoiding social situations).

Anxiety is understood better than ever before and can be treated. Our therapists can look at the symptoms, diagnose the contributing factors, and create a plan to help. Through playful games kids will learn techniques that they can use immediately and for years to come. They will learn skills to identify and replace negative thinking with more helpful thinking. They will role-play new ways to act in situations. Your child will be trained in a variety of coping techniques customized to their personalty and symptoms. Parents will be coached on best ways to support their child and how to avoid doing things that make it worse.  Sometimes medication is recommended as part of the treatment for anxiety.
 


social issues

Is your child having trouble making friends?  This can be very stressful and have negative effects on a child’s self-esteem. It can be difficult identify what is contributing to the social disconnect. It can often be helpful to receive the assistance of a skilled therapist. Our approach involves a multi-step process of gathering detailed information from a child’s parents, teachers, and pediatrician. We will assess for underlying conditions such as Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD), Social Communication Disorder (SCD), Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Once there is an understanding of the reasons for the social isolation, a treatment plan will be constructed to address the issues. Therapy may involve goal setting, role-playing, and skill building. Every success between session can build self-esteem and inspire your child to keep working at it. Parents may be guided toward best ways to handle resistant kids as well as classes or clubs they may enjoy.


DEPRESSION

Is your child frequently irritable, sad, negative, lacking confidence, or withdrawn? Other symptoms of Major Depression Disorder can be lower energy, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, frequent crying, excessive guilt, change in appetite and sleep habits, difficulty focusing, and even pain without a clear cause. Major depressive disorder can negatively affect school performance, friendships, and family relationships. Some depressed kids don’t talk about their thoughts or feelings and can be labeled as lazy. The cause is a combination of psychological and behavioral habits, life events, family history, genetic disposition, and school stress.

Since the long-term effects of medication for depression has not been researched, counseling should be tried before resorting to medication. The first step in treatment is to receive a thorough evaluation of all the contributing factors. Next, a customized treatment plan will be created that works best for that child and their family. Your therapist will take a holistic approach incorporating sleep, nutrition, exercise, family environment, and stress management into the treatment plan. Kids will be trained in how to replace negative thinking and re-engage in healthy activities.


technology addiction

Does your child get fidgety, anxious, and angry when not in front of a screen. Is their screen use negative affecting their family life and school work? Are they showing less interest in any activities or hobbies outside of screen time. When kids are in front of a screen, there is a high feeling due to a level of dopamine being released. This feedback loop can eventually lead some kids to feel withdrawn, lost, and depressed without their videogames.

Our therapists will evaluate and construct an action plan regarding digital technology overuse and addiction.  We will work with your child to change addictive patterns, to learn how to better manage urges and cravings, and build self-control and confidence. We will help your child identify non-electronic passions that their mind can seek instead of the refuge of videogames. Therapists will likely collaborate with parents about the best ways to structure videogame use.


ADHD

Is your child constantly fidgeting, losing things, interrupting, getting distracted easily, having trouble organizing and finishing tasks?  ADHD can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms could have other causes such as a sudden life change, learning disability, anxiety, or depression.

Not all kids with ADHD are not overly active. Some children, classified as the inattentive type are not disruptive in the classroom or other activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed.

It is essential that treatment for ADHD is multifaceted incorporating the child, parents, and the school. Kids will play games during sessions that teach specific skills such as ‘organization’, ‘calming,’ or ‘refocusing.’  Therapists will help coordinate practice and reinforcement of this skill with parents and teachers. A skilled therapist will provide guidance to parents and school on what is helpful and what makes symptoms worse. Sometimes medication for ADHD is a helpful adjunct to therapy.

 

OPPOSITIONAL

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)  is characterized by defiant, hostile behavior that is not developmentally appropriate. Symptoms may include frequent tantrums, vindictive behavior, and refusal to listen. This behavior is both stressful for the child and family. It can make parents feel helpless and out of control. Therapy can help treat ODD and decrease the risk that other associated mental health issues (i.e., conduct disorder, depression, anxiety) develop.

When treating a defiant child, a skilled therapist must identify all the contributing factors. Most kids who are defiant on a regular basis have a difficult time with frustration tolerance and emotional expression. These kids benefit from understanding their emotions and learning how to better express them and regulate them. Fun games will be used for training in various skills including relaxation, problem solving, trigger identification, and recognition of consequences. These kids often benefit from goal setting where they can begin to build confidence in their ability to constructively get what they want. Therapist will likely work with parents to coach them in the best ways to handle the challenging behavior.