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)
- Set rules for Internet use. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Set-the-Rules-for-Internet-Use.aspx. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- Position statement regarding physical punishment. American Psychological Association. http://apsa.org/About_APsaA/Position_Statements/Physical_Punishment.aspx. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- What to know about child abuse. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/What-to-Know-about-Child-Abuse.aspx. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- Kolko DJ, et al. Evaluation of the sustainability and clinical outcome of alternatives for families: A cognitive-behavioral therapy (AF-CBT) in a child protection center. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2011;35:105.
- Recognizing child abuse and neglect: Signs and symptoms. Child Welfare Information Gateway. http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/signs.cfm. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- Understanding child maltreatment: Fact sheet 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/CM-factsheet-a.pdf. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- Nanni V, et al. Meta-analysis of childhood maltreatment and outcome in depression. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2012;169:141.
- King DC, et al. Childhood maltreatment and psychiatric disorders among detained youths. Psychiatric Services. 2011;62:1430.
- Schechter DS. The developmental neuroscience of emotional neglect: Its consequences, and the psychosocial interventions that can reverse them. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2012;169:452.
- Thompson R, et al. Predictors of engagement with mental health services among mothers of children at risk of maltreatment. In press. Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
- Putnam FW. Beyond sticks and stones. Psychiatry. 2010;167:1422.
- 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
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