Parent Video: Effective Mental Health Treatment

you hello I'm here today with dr. William Pelham professor of psychology and psychiatry at Florida International University and director of the center for children and families thank you for being here today thank you for having me so today we're going to be discussing how parents can find effective mental health services for their children so my first question is what your parents look for in a therapist or a counselor to help their child or teen well they went to find a therapist who's qualified to offer treatment and they want to make sure that the treatment they offer is evidence-based that is has some scientific support good places to look for therapists are internet websites of professional organizations and internet websites of parents support groups and the nationís to mental health website local universities all places where you could trust the the expertise of the people who've made the recommendation that doesn't mean go to any website on the net and accept whatever they say because there's a lot of stuff out there that doesn't make sense so you want to go to one that a professional association has put up or one that that a parent advocacy association has is the first two places to look and do you have any specific websites that you could recommend yes the ni-mh website which I mentioned a minute ago some professional association websites are the Tourette's Association website for children who have tourettes disorder they have lots of really good information for parents Chad which is the children and adults with ADHD website a national parent advocacy organization has terrific information for parents effective child therapist a website that has written information that's established by the Society for child clinical and adolescent psychology the same group that's doing this website and on this website for which we're doing this talk there are lots of information for parents on many other disorders specific information great and what for so qualification specifically should parents look for in a therapist well first you look for a therapist who's licensed and you look for therapists tues who you think is likely to be able to offer you the kind of services you want so what that would mean is wouldn't go to an MD to have them provide therapy so psychiatrists are not trained to do therapy psychiatrist or trained to prescribe medications so if you want medication for a child with ADHD you go to your pediatrician or to a psychiatrist you in therapy you go to a psychologist or a school counselor or a mental health counselor or a social worker those people are all trained to provide therapy and you want to make sure that the therapy they're providing is the kind of therapy that would work for your child and what kinds of therapies should parents be looking for what should those therapies look like you would look for therapies that are evidence-based now what evidence-based means is scientifically proven just like when we all go to our doctors we go to our doctors because we are sick or we have a problem and we trust that our doctors are giving us advice that they've learned based on their education and their continuing education that is that they're telling us things that really do make sense we wouldn't go to our doctor and ask him for treatment for a problem if we knew that he was saying to us but he was making a recommended if we knew that he was making a recommendation that was based on what his next door neighbor had told him the night before right we go to doctors because we trust that they have been trained the same is true for therapists so you want to make sure that therapists have been trained in what they're telling you should be done and that the intervention is scientifically proven and you can find that out from any of the websites that i mentioned earlier okay great and what are some common features of these evidence-based treatments so evidence-based treatments are generally specific first of all for therapies they're almost always based on what's called behavior therapy sometimes it might be cognitive behavior therapy often initialized a cbt or regular behavior therapy behavior therapies focus on the children's real problems in daily life functioning they're not a therapist would not say to the parent well we're going to be working on emotional issues so bring him into my office drop them off once a week I'll spend an hour with them and we'll work through issues there aren't any scientifically evidence-based treatments that are structured to work generically unemotional issues in a doctor's office they're structured to work on the specific problems in life that children are having so if you take ADHD for example what are some of the specifics you look for in ADHD you look for somebody who's going to be working with you as a parent and teaching you skills that you can use at home someone is going to go out to the school and work with the teacher to teach the teacher things they can be doing to adapt the classroom to the child or a specific intervention design that teach the child better social skills so specific teaching of the kinds of problems that made apparent in the first place want to take their child for treatment great and how would a parent know whether or not that treatment is working for their child well when they we think about that second they know because it gets better or not so the best way to decide if treatments working is are the problems for which you took your child in for therapy getting better if they're not getting better don't listen to a therapist who says well it takes time or well I'm working on the deep side deep-seated emotional issues and once we have those resolved then his behavior will change you don't want it to think that way you want to say okay I brought him in because he's getting into trouble in school every day that's what I want changed so you mentioned parents do parents have a role in these evidence-based treatments that's a very good question actually for almost all childhood mental health problems getting the parents involved is a key part of what happens in treatment so a therapist should be getting the parent involved it should not be the case that the parent drops their child off once a week and a therapist does some magic in the office with the child they say is going to help emotional issues and the parent doesn't know what's happening parents should be keenly involved in treatment for disorders like ADHD and autism and aggression for example parent training actually the therapist spending most of the time with the parent teaching them skills is far more important than a therapist spending time with the individual child so that's very important to keep in mind okay great and you mentioned earlier a few things that parents should avoid when seeking mental health services what other kinds of red flags are there that parents should look out for you want to be careful of things that don't make a lot of sense there's some well-known examples of therapies the people applied to children that were simply dangerous one was involving wrapping children tightly and in blankets and holding them to try to deal with their birthing issues and so forth and in a well-known case in Colorado several years ago a child died they suffocated from that that just doesn't make sense if a therapist tells you something that doesn't make sense about resolving some birth issues don't do it focus on the here and now focus on problems in daily life functioning and a treatment that sounds to you like it will make sense for the child okay and if a parent does feel like they're getting one of these red flag treatments something that's not working what should they do about it that's a good question so last night I was talking to a parent about our Center who'd called inquire about our Center and she was telling me that her ADHD child goes to a therapist once a week to a psychiatrist once a week and the psychiatrist works with a child for an hour and I asked what the psychiatrist does and she said I don't know he says he's working through the emotional issues involved in ADHD and he also prescribes medication and she asked me about the medication that the child was taking and it's a it's an anti-psychotic medication which has almost never prescribed for ADHD children so I said to her I wouldn't give that medication to my child I think you should be very careful about it and check back with your doctor or check with your pediatrician and see what they say and as far as the treatment goes what the doctor is doing is not on any list of evidence-based treatments so if I were you I'd find another therapist and she said that sounds like a good idea so if it's not working and find another therapist go back to the school if the school was the one that made the initial referral ask them if you got the referral off of a website go to a different website and look for somebody use local expertise universities for example typically have lots of experts and almost all universities have a psychological services center or a psychology department or a psychiatry department where you can go and ask for assistance or advice in locating a therapist great and is there anything else that you think parents should know about seeking mental health for their child one of the main issues a parent should keep in mind is that you want the treatment to work how do you know if the treatment works so the therapist should be having the parent involved in ways of measuring and monitoring whether the child is actually getting better some therapists do that by having parents fill out rating scales once a week or once every two weeks could ask about specific questions the child is having others have parents keep records about the number of times the child has misbehaved for example and what you want to see is that those records that you're keeping or getting better and that if it's not that the therapist is changing things based on the results of the tracking and the monitoring if a therapist is not doing any tracking or monitoring of what's going on they're not doing good treatment period one of the important things is that most of the studies that have looked at evidence-based treatments and how well they work emphasized that starting younger is better than delaying so early intervention is going to be better than waiting I was talking to a parent another parent the other night you said they didn't think they were going to enroll in a program that we were doing because they thought they'd wait a year or two to see if things got better well typically things are not going to go away over time unless there's good intervention so parents shouldn't be thinking I'll wait and see if things get better they should instead be saying i want to start early and i want to take care of things soon rather than later it's going to work better if they do it that way okay great well thank you so much for being here with us today thank you for having me

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