Talk therapy, also called psychotherapy, can help a child who has been abused learn to trust again, as well as teach the child about normal behavior and relationships. Therapy can also teach children conflict management and boost self-esteem. Several different types of therapy may be effective, such as:
- Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps an abused child to better manage distressing feelings and to deal with trauma-related memories. Eventually, the nonabusing parent and the child are seen together so the child can let the nonabusing parent know exactly what happened.
- Child-parent psychotherapy. This treatment focuses on improving the parent-child relationship and on building a stronger attachment between the two.
Psychotherapy can help parents discover the roots of abuse, learn effective ways to cope with life's inevitable frustrations and learn healthy parenting strategies. If the child is still in the home, social services may schedule home visits and make sure essential needs, such as food, are available.
Children who are placed in foster care because their home situation is too dangerous will also need mental health services and therapies.
Places to turn for help
If you need help because you're at risk of abusing a child or you think someone else has abused or neglected a child, there are organizations that can provide you with information and referrals, such as:
Oct. 23, 2012
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)
- Prevent Child Abuse America: 800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373)
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- Strengthening families and communities: 2011 Resource guide. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/guide2011/guide.pdf. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012
- National child abuse statistics. Childhelp. http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics#abuse-conseq. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 22, 2012.
- Billings ML (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 18, 2102.
- Frequently asked questions. Childhelp. http://www.childhelp.org/pages/faq. Accessed Oct. 19, 2012
- Contact us. Prevent Child Abuse America. http://www.preventchildabuse.org/contact_us.shtml. Accessed Oct. 19, 2012