Helping Children Be Their Best Selves Through Support and Therapy
Acute Child Psychiatric Services at Seven Counties Services is a small team of passionate mental health professionals who meet kids and families at some of their most trying times to help with behavior needs. Our clients, children and youth ages 3-18, are dealing with an imminent risk and crisis. We may not know its cause immediately, but what we do know is it is a red flag. A distress signal in the darkness, the child navigating their world, their traumas, the onslaught of stressors (2020, right?) the best way their brains and bodies know how. It may take the form of harmful behavior, physical or emotional, to themselves and others, behavior that may be considered oppositional, uncooperative, attention seeking, or manipulative. These frames can be limiting. It can pigeonhole a parent into correction and anger instead of connection and guidance.
This work may sound daunting and heavy, but honestly, we can all be called to do such work. Times of crisis can be agents of change. How can you help? First, take a deep breath. Then, allow us to support you in being the person your child or the children in your life need you to be. We’ll assist you in honoring their emotional space, supporting them and guiding them in navigating those areas, and be an unconditional fallback.
Children and youth brains and emotional regulation are still developing. With all the challenges 2020 brought us, at this point most of us running on fumes with far fewer resources and natural supports, it’s easy to react impulsively, to rush to problem solve, or fix, or correct, when it really works better for us and our families when we start with connection. Take opportunities to join with your child, to honor and name both their emotions and yours, to normalize and give space for its presence. Emotions can teach us so much. Honoring them and guiding our children through them can create much stronger bonds that insulate us from future harms. We can provide a therapeutic space for normalizing the experience and, in turn, lessening their intensity and the fear or avoidance of them.
Even with this skill intact, you don’t have to, nor should you, feel like you must help them alone. At any age, risk of suicide is significant and not to be presumed otherwise. If you notice your child isolating more, being increasingly irritable, finding less joy in their interests, loosening connections with friends or family, or in any way seeming hopeless or significantly dejected in behavior or words, contact Seven Counties Services on our 24/7 child crisis line at (502) 589-8070. If your child experiences the loss of a significant relationship or a major disappointment, if they have few outlets to cope with these things, are increasingly impulsive or showing poor judgment, reach out to us. It’s important to not let symptoms snowball.
Our crisis team is available 24 hours every single day. Yes, that means middle of the night and holidays. Our skilled crisis hotline team members can guide you over the phone. Our therapists can meet you – even virtually – for a crisis evaluation and safety planning session and guide you through all your options, including ongoing therapy for your child and your family. Our mission is for child(ren) to remain safe and supported in their home and community, where their best healing will occur. Nothing is too small. Trust your gut. Let our team prop you up, support you, and walk with you to the other side. Help is here.
Written by Erica Adams, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Supervisor, Nationally Board-Certified Art Therapist, Seven Counties Services