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Dr. Gerald Brown
May 10, 2019

When your child may need therapy…

Have you ever played Chess?  It is a wonderful game that deals with risk, strategy, acumen, and of course the blind side.  Chess is a great representation of life in that it teaches us not to be too complacent and risk averse and at the same time not too jeopardous.  Every choice we make in the game has consequences both positive and negative.  Even the lowest position on the board has the opportunity to traverse the board and become knighted or elevate them in some way. 

Chess like life will throw you curveballs and when it comes to parenting we as parents have to come to accept that our kids will deliver some doozies once in a while.  However, at times the issue is so complex and intricate that you may need to bring in an outsider’s perspective into the room to help you sort through the triviality and confront the crux of the issue(s).   The question many parents juggle is when is the right time for our child to see a therapist?  The following 5 situations may signal the need for counseling services for your child and even for the family as a whole…

1. Divorce

When a marriage disintegrates so does the world of the child[ren] involved.  Some kids are more psychologically and emotionally resilient than others but even if your child says they are fine it is highly recommended to seek out a professional.  The therapist can outline a strategy for coping with the immediate aftermath and managing the transition as difficult decisions are being made [visitation, child support, holiday time, etc.].

2. Mental Issues

Many kids struggle with high anxiety, social anxiety, depression, self-harming thoughts, and addictions to technology/video games.  In my work I see more and more adolescents/teens escaping life with video games and technology.  Unfortunately, this becomes a go to response especially when things are difficult and thus kids are learning to Fortnite their troubles away instead of engaging and confronting them.  An effective counselor can help solidify a diagnosis and work with your child[ren] to give them tools to manage their mental struggles and reinvigorate them to return to a higher level of daily functioning. 

3. Learning Issues

Learning disabilities are best caught as early as possible. But even an attentive parent can miss some of the clues. If you suspect your child may have difficulties with dyslexia [learning issue that involves difficulty with reading] or dyscalculia [learning issue with difficulty making sense of numbers or math concepts]. Many times these two learning disabilities are co-morbid [happening at same time] so it is important to have your child tested for both when agreeing to seek professional help.  If your child has learning disabilities, address the impact they are having on your child’s academics, but also address the effect they might have on his/her self-image and self-esteem.

4. Social Issues

I am currently working with a 13 year old teen girl who recently moved to the US from Morocco with her family.  When she was in Morocco she was a vibrant, social, intelligent, and engaged young lady.  She has only been in the US for 2 years and more recently has become more and more withdrawn at school and at home.  Her parents moved for better opportunities after finally receiving residency but she resents them for removing her from her idyllic life back in Morocco.  Although there are a lot of familial issues at play her social anxiety is preventing her from better grades, making friends, not feeling like an outsider, and keeping her from living her best life as a teenager in the US.

5. Traumatic Issues

Issues like physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as well as domestic violence often requires professional help.  These traumas can burn holes in the emotional, social, cultural, spiritual, and psychological compositions of all involved but especially your kids.  The traumas left untreated will only worsen and tear at the fabric of the family’s wellbeing and propel kids/teens into adulthood full of insecurity, fear, loathing, uncertainty, and cynicism.  Make sure to check your child’s social media frequently and be on the lookout for any bullying behaviors [either as victim or perpetrator].  Bullying [especially with social media and Youtube] can also fall into the traumatic issues category. If bullying is identified as an issue call a conference to meet with your child’s guidance counselor at school and your child’s teacher[s] in order to address the seriousness of the situation and possibly begin treatment for your child with a mental health professional if warranted.

These are all important considerations to reflect on when you are inevitably blind-sided by life and its many twists and turns. I hope that you too as a dad will see the value in seeking outside help when needing to address any unpredictable elements that crop up in daily family life.  I also recommend family therapy concurrently with your child’s therapy so that all family members are being heard and validated as they need to be…

Also see

Always remember to tell your child (and yourself) the following each day:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Love yourself
  3. You were born for special reasons
  4. Look for ways to help others today
  5. Your primary purpose is to discover what your unique talents are (that no one else in the world has)


Doc Brown

If you would like to learn more about me or my practice Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, PLLC and have questions feel free to visit my website as well as read my Inner Compass Blog.  My new book Abandoned to PhD: Integrating meaning and resilience in everyday life has been recently published and if you would like to review and purchase please visit


Dr. Gerald Brown (Doc Brown) is owner of Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting PLLC in Cornelius, NC and Statesville, NC.  He is passionate about fatherhood issues, immigrant concerns, and specializes in trauma work.  Doc Brown has presented at various conferences and has a multitude of experience training organizations and corporations in diversity and multicultural resilience.  He believes in helping individuals, couples, and families find meaning and integrate that meaning with various resiliencies in order to live purposefully and vibrantly.  He is married with two daughters ages 16 and 7. 


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