• During a Divorce, When Does Your Child Need a Therapist and Who Should You Choose?
  • May 29, 2014
  • Law Firm: The Micklin Law Group - Nutley Office
  • Even in the most amicable of divorces, there is a termination of one of the most important relationships in a child’s life. Therefore, it is not surprising that many children need some form of therapy to adjust to their new "post-divorce" reality. Otherwise stated, it is important to recognize the circumstances in which these children do require the assistance of a professional counselor.

    Sometimes, the most important thing is to provide an opportunity for the child to discuss the situation with one or both parents. Encouraging a dialogue can allow the child to talk about his or her feelings. However, it is important to keep an open mind about the possible need for therapy. Many times, a parent does not want to acknowledge the impact that the divorce will have on the children or believes that the child’s difficulty in coping with the divorce is the result of the behavior of the other parent and places the blame on him or her.

    Divorces often involve escalating emotions through the decision to get a divorce and then during the divorce process itself. There are many indications that your child needs help getting through the process, which include:
    Refusal to interact with friends and peers;

    An inability to concentrate;

    Poor academic performance;

    Aggressive behavior and outbursts of anger;

    Refusing to follow the established rules;

    Risky or dangerous behavior;

    Anxiety, including separation anxiety;

    Problems with sleeping or eating;

    Unusual fatigue;

    The development of compulsive or obsessive behaviors, such as hand-washing;

    Depression;

    Substance abuse;

    Eating disorders;

    Conflicts with one or both parents;

    Refusal to visit one parent; or

    Any unusual or unidentifiable health problems.

    A parent knows what behavior is normal for his or her child and deviation from that norm should lead to an analysis of whether therapy would be beneficial under the totality of circumstances. It is important to look at this from a broad perspective, rather than taking one or two incidents and making a determination about whether or not your child would benefit from therapy. However, if the child indicates any type of suicidal behavior, getting them help immediately is critical.

    Some of the things that a parent should think about in addition to the behavior of the child in deciding whether or not to find a therapist for his or her child include:

    The parent’s reaction to the child - anger or extreme frustration may indicate a problem;

    The longevity of the behavior - some symptoms may appear and disappear quickly, but if they persist, counseling may be necessary;

    The inability to do the things the family used to do - if the child’s behavior prevents normal activities, there could be a serious problem; and

    Close friends and family members have expressed concern about the behavior.

    Although there may be some rough moments, by focusing on the needs of the child and working for positive solutions, the divorce will have no long-term negative effects on the emotional wellbeing of the child. Therapy can have a wide range of benefits, such as:

    Providing the child with the tools necessary to manage his reaction to difficult situations;

    Empowering the child to take action to resolve problems rather than feeling like he has no ability to affect the outcome; and

    Revealing a different way to look at why the divorce has happened and what it means for him.

    In selecting a therapist, it is important to consider the following:

    Does the therapist specialize in treating children?

    What is the therapist’s approach to treatment?

    How often does the therapist want to see the child?

    Are family members included in the therapy process?

    What help will the therapist provide the parent in understanding the behavior of the child?

    How will the therapist adapt if the child does not respond to treatment?

    What advice will the therapist provide the parent in creating an environment that works best for the child?

    What is the fee schedule?

    Does the therapist accept your insurance plan?

    Does the child have a positive reaction to the therapist?

    Making the decision to find the right therapist for your child may be the best way to help him through the divorce.

    The Micklin Law Group Advocates on Behalf of Individuals and Families

    A divorce involves the dissolution of a relationship, but it does not have to negatively impact the lives of the parents and children moving forward. The compassionate and knowledgeable New Jersey divorce attorneys at The Micklin Law Group are ready to provide you with the legal support that you and your family need to get through the process.