Child abuse is any intentional harm or mistreatment to a child under the age of 18. There are many types of child abuse—physical, sexual and emotional. Every year, the U.S. reports more than 3 million cases of child abuse. Abused children ultimately end up feeling fearful, isolated, and distrustful, which can lead to long-term psychological consequences: trouble in school, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and interpersonal challenges.
Counseling for child abuse helps abused children process their traumatic experiences through safe and familiar methods, such as play. Counseling can help children who have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse. How do you know if your child has been abused? Here are common forms of child abuse that our therapists help children with:
Physical child abuse: Physical abuse is when a child is physically harmed or injured by another person with cruel or malicious intent.
Sexual child abuse: Sexual abuse is when a minor is involved in sexual activity. No matter what, a child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity. Some forms of child sexual abuse include:
- Exposing oneself to a minor
- Fondling & intercourse
- Masturbation in the presence of a minor
- Sexual phone calls or text messages
Emotional child abuse: Emotional abuse, also known as psychological or verbal abuse, is when a child is frequently made to feel worthless, alone, or scared. This can include some form of rejection, yelling, hostility, or criticism. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. It includes:
- Continually ignoring or rejecting a child
- Physically or socially isolating a child
- Forcing a child to do things by scaring them
- Constantly swearing or screaming at a child
- Telling a child that they are worthless and not loved
To determine whether child abuse has occurred, a social worker may need to do a physical exam and/or observe a child’s behavior, and have discussions with both the parents and child.
Even after the abuse has stopped, survivors can suffer some form of distress as they grow into adulthood. Abuse victims can suffer from anxieties, fear of intimacy, develop anger issues, depression, dissociation and/or develop mood disorders.
For treatment, it is important for the parent to bring the child to a mental health professional immediately. Counseling for child abuse will be one of the most effective ways to help a child heal from their experiences.
Through play or talk therapy, a child can learn to trust adults again. The child can learn what a healthy relationship looks like by experiencing and witnessing it through other people. Since the child will most likely suffer from low self-esteem, therapy can teach him or her how to navigate conflict and develop self-confidence. Two types of therapy often practiced with children who have been abused include:
Play therapy. Through the familiar act of play, children are gently guided to subconsciously identify and process psychological issues.
Trauma-based cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy will help a child manage feelings related to their trauma. The parent and child may eventually be seen together to remedy the trauma that has happened.
Child-parent therapy. This therapy works on repairing and building the relationship between parent and child after the abuse.
Counseling can also help parents identify the root cause of the abuse in addition to learning new ways to deal with frustrations and developing a healthier style of parenting.
Creative Counseling Center is here for you for your and your family. If your child is exhibiting any signs of depression or anxiety, our counselors can help. Whether you or your family are overcoming past abuse or neglect, or simply managing stress, anxiety or depression, request a free phone consultation today. We’ll listen and learn what’s going on in your life and partner you with the best therapist equipped to support you on your journey to joy and fulfillment.