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Atlanta Divorce Attorney > Blog > Divorce > Do I Need to Hire a Mental Health Professional for My Child During a Divorce?

Do I Need to Hire a Mental Health Professional for My Child During a Divorce?


If you are concerned about your child’s mental health during a divorce, you might be considering whether to hire a mental health professional. It’s an understandable idea – especially considering the potential negative impacts children experience during a divorce. Determining whether and when to start a child with a mental health professional can sometimes be difficult decisions if you and the child’s parent do not agree.

Does My Child Need Mental Health Support During a Divorce? 

Generally speaking, a child may necessitate mental health services regardless of whether parents are going through a family law matter. Children need mental health support for myriad reasons – divorce is just one of them.  For example, children seek mental health services to help with social anxiety, school performance issues, adjusting to middle school or high school, learning challenges, friendships, family relationships, peer pressure, confusion about what to do in the future/after high school and depression.  It is difficult to determine when a child requires support from a mental health professional because children are constantly evolving into older versions of themselves (which brings upon mood changes, exhaustion, acting out, etc.) and there are no textbook signs of being mentally unhealthy (unless someone is very mentally unhealthy) since every child is different. If your child is acting out of character for your child, your child may need some assistance from a mental health provider. Some out of character behaviors might be defined as acting out at school, sleeping more, sleeping less, refusing to eat, eating much more than usual, refusing to spend time with friends, refusing to engage in activities he or she used to enjoy, violence, self-harm, sadness and taking on more responsibility; this is not an exhaustive list.

What Happens if my Child Needs Mental Health Support?

If you think your child would benefit from working with a mental health professional, discuss the idea with the child’s parent to, hopefully, get that parent on-board as well. Explain the behaviors you are observing and your concerns. It is best for your child if both parents agree that the child will benefit from mental health services. Next, mention the idea of therapy to your child. It is best to refrain from telling your child that something is “wrong” with him or her, instead explain something like:  “We take care of our bodies with the pediatrician, we take care of our teeth with the dentist, we take care of our minds and emotions with a therapist and we (your parents) think it best that you have the opportunity to talk to someone in case you need it in the future.” Having a positive message that is simple and not accusatory will help the child and normalize therapy. A great place to get recommendations for referrals to providers is the pediatrician office.

What Should I Expect from my Child’s Therapy?

An important thing to know up front is that the overwhelming majority of mental health providers do not accept insurance so you must be prepared to pay for it out of pocket.  Additionally, finding a therapist can take a few tries – it is okay to schedule meetings with several of them to see which one your child likes best. It is important to have a “good fit” – someone your child feels comfortable with – because if your child is not comfortable, the therapy will not be fruitful.  Therapy is not an instant fix or cure – it is something that takes a long time to work; first the child needs to build a rapport with the therapist and then the therapist can start working on the issues with the child. Frequently, children are slow to open up and it is more difficult for children to describe what they are feeling because they lack the knowledge and perspective to describe it due to their age. It is important, as a parent, to have patience.

Should I Be in Therapy?

As mentioned above, it is important to check in on your mental health as it is to check in on your child or children’s mental health. It is best to have a therapist in place in the event of a crisis event or emergency, rather than trying to find one during a crisis event or emergency.

Find a Qualified, Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Georgia 

While working with a mental health professional may be helpful, you may also consider working alongside a qualified Atlanta child custody attorney to pursue positive outcomes for your whole family. These legal professionals can help you determine the most appropriate course of action based on your child’s best interests. Book your consultation today with Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French to develop an action plan.




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