Most child victims of abuse benefit from a thorough mental health assessment to determine counseling needs. Abused children may or may not exhibit problem behaviors or signs of distress. A lack of problem behaviors should not be the basis for deciding for or against counseling. A belief (actually a hope) of many caregivers is that their child will forget about the abuse and, therefore, counseling is unnecessary.
Some caregivers believe that counseling may even remind their child of memories that would normally fade away without intervention. The hope that memory of abuse will fade is common. However, some memories are stored through the senses and may not be cognitive (within the child’s awareness), with the possibility of causing problems in the future.
Counselors treating young children use a variety of methods to assist children in bringing worries, false beliefs, and traumatic events to the surface in a safe environment. Counselors that work with children and youth usually include caregivers when setting goals and determining when milestones are met. Caregivers can also expect to receive education and support from the counselor in learning how to assist their child toward healing.
Children are amazingly resilient. If caregivers are able to meet their needs and give them support, children can heal and prosper. With your love and encouragement, and support from professionals when needed, you and your child can recover from child abuse.
You know your child better than anyone else and you are the consumer. It is your funds or your insurance that will pay for the counselor’s services. A good fit for you and your child really matters. It is helpful to meet alone with the counselor prior to him/her seeing your child. Plan ahead with questions or concerns that you can ask the first time you meet. Continue with the counselor only if you think s/he is the right person to help your child.