Today, about 22% of children in the U.S., ranging from three to 17 years old, struggle with mental, emotional and behavioral health conditions. While it’s a staggering statistic, help is available. Often, therapy can make a life-changing difference to improve these children’s lives, as well as the lives of their families. Depending on the severity of the condition and the child’s life circumstances, a professional assessment can determine if an inpatient or outpatient therapy program is ideal. Every child is different — and so the right therapeutic approach is different for each child too. For some, inpatient or residential therapy is needed. But outpatient resources may be a good fit for many children.
An Overview of Outpatient Therapy Services
For those considering an outpatient program, In-Home Therapy is highly beneficial in promoting mental health, social and emotional well-being and enhanced relationships. Let’s explore the Outpatient Therapy Program at KVC Nebraska, the key signs that a child could benefit from therapy and how to get started.
What is an Outpatient Therapy Program?
In the Outpatient Therapy Program, KVC provides an in-home therapist to help facilitate a healthy relationship between the child and their caregivers. Through their interactions with the family, the therapist might also work with the family to put new structures in place to improve the home experience.
“In our outpatient therapy program, we prioritize meeting the client at a time and in a setting that’s convenient for them,” says Larissa Dowe, Director of Clinical and Prevention Services with KVC. The child’s health and well-being come first, and that could include the help of other professionals. “This program prides itself in collaborating with other professionals,” Dowe says. Our team works with the school systems, psychiatrists and other providers to ensure a comprehensive treatment is provided.
Outpatient therapy provides a variety of advantages — especially in eliminating obstacles to treatment. Some of the most common barriers are unreliable transportation, transportation issues (like being able to afford gas), finding childcare for other children and limited availability to accompany children to therapy sessions. But when therapists can come to their client’s homes, it eliminates those barriers to treatment. The in-home therapists are talented at adapting to their client’s needs to get the family the help they need.
What Happens During a Session?
“In clinical therapy, we work to understand what’s going on in that child’s life, and how it relates to the family system,” Dowe says. Once a foundation is established, a comprehensive treatment plan is created. “The emphasis is on developing coping skills, enhancing emotional regulation and enhancing protective factors.”
With so many different kinds of therapies and treatments available, no two are alike. So what can you expect during an outpatient therapy session?
- Program timing: Typically, the first few outpatient treatments happen once a week and evolve based on the needs of the client. Depending on the type of therapy taking place each visit, sessions last 45 minutes to an hour. The length of treatment averages between four to eight months, but depends on the service. Cases with excess trauma can be in therapy for longer.
- A routine session: During outpatient therapy, a normal beginning of a session covers everything from checking in on progress to reviewing skills and processing events that may have happened since the last session. Then, the remaining time is spent teaching and doing skill-building exercises customized to the client’s treatment plan. Providers are sure to model appropriate praise for efforts made during a session.
How Can Outpatient Therapy Services Help?
Outpatient therapy provides many key advantages and has the ability to make a difference in the life of the child and the caregivers. One key advantage is in the setting itself. Because therapy happens in the home, it can make a difference beyond just the child — and across the home as a whole.
In the home setting, the therapist doesn’t always solely focus on therapy with the child, but may also work with caregivers and other family members. For example, self-regulation is a skill set where children and their caregivers can work together toward success after the sessions. In addition to skill-building and role-playing, providers can help to model appropriate behaviors during a session.
Ultimately, the in-home therapist acts as a teacher and mediator between the caregiver and the child. “Whether the child is two or 15, we know it’s essential to have a strong, supportive relationship between the child and caregiver, especially as children go through hard things,” she explains.
“It’s about helping the caregiver and the child communicate by reflecting on both sides of a situation, and helping them understand the core problem,” Dowe says, emphasizing how important the relationship is in therapy success. “Kids are most likely to obey their parents when there is a relationship between them,” she explains.
Key Signs that a Child Might Benefit from Therapy
It’s normal for children to go through changes — all do! But for some, additional support from a professional can be transformational. Children will likely show indicators when they are in distress or struggling to cope with their daily life. Here are key signs from a child that could indicate the need for additional support, like therapy:
- Sudden shifts in usual interests and habits
- Issues at school (academics decline, they are misbehaving or attendance declines)
- Changes in emotional behaviors at home (similar to tantrums for children over the age of four or five)
- Consistent negative self-talk
- Difficulties with friendships
- Excessive worrying or anxiety
- Significant changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Limited ability to self-regulate, or challenges when trying to self-regulate
- Repetitive or self-destructive behavior or mentioning self-harm or suicide
If there is any question about whether or not a child needs therapy, there’s no harm in getting an assessment.
Curious about getting your child, or a child you care about, involved?
“To get started, it’s important for the primary caregiver to give us a call,” says Taylor Doll, Administrative Supervisor of Clinical Services.
In addition to birth parents, primary caregivers may include anyone who holds custody of the child. Many children and families are connected to KVC’s In-Home Therapy program through another key adult — but that initial call is important in beginning the process.
We encourage all caregivers and family members to be present and involved during in-home therapy. “All family members are welcome! The more people who are invested in the wellbeing of the child, the more people who are involved for support, the more successful the kid will be,” Dowe explains. “We want to help create that village.”
Currently, KVC Nebraska (Lincoln) has opportunities available for children and families to begin their in-home therapy journey.
In addition, KVC specializes in multiple areas of child welfare and mental health, and a variety of services are available for your family’s success. Get connected today.