How to know when to get help for your child

The medical field, including the mental health field, typically addresses curative problems as opposed to preventative. Curative refers to problems only after they have reached a diagnosable clinical level. Oftentimes, people wait for their problems to reach the clinic/curative level before coming in for treatment. This can result in longer, more intensive and expensive treatment. What can you look out for when it comes to knowing when to come in?

  1. Has your child’s problem become too frequent (i.e., more than 2x a week)?
  2. Has your child’s problem become severe (i.e., even if not occurring frequently, when it comes, does it come with a very high intensity)?
  3. Do you find your child’s self-report is inconsistent with the school’s report?
  4. Does your child ask for outside help?
  5. Pay attention to your parental intuition. Clinical psychologists/mental health providers may be the experts in anxiety, depression and behavior, but you are the expert in your child. If your alarms go off (even in the slightest bit), it’s time to pay attention now, and not wait until the alarm is glaring.
  6. Has school mentioned more than 1x that your child demonstrates anxious, depressed or behavioral problems?
  7. Has school asked for a meeting with you about your child’s behavior or anxiety/depression?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to seek professional help. Remember that if you get help sooner rather than later you can reduce expense, duration, and intensity of treatment.



I am a clinical psychologist with approximately 15 years of experience assessing and treating anxiety and depressive disorders in young children, adolescents, young adults, adults and geriatric populations. I completed a 6-year predoctoral training award at the National Institute of Mental Health, and postdoctoral training at the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. From my clinical and research experiences, I have come to see the struggles of many families deciding when to pursue professional help and feeling very lost in the process. I will address several mental health issues that will help educate and empower my readers to make better mental health decisions for themselves. Welcome to my blog! Johanna Kaplan, Ph.D. Disclaimer-This blog is not and cannot be used in replace of formal therapy. This blog is used to inform and educate and is not a form of informal or formal advice.

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