Children's Therapy 101

Types of Therapy

There are many types of therapy that may be helpful for children. Therapy can help with stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, severe mental illness and more.

  • Applied Behavioral Analysis is an early form of therapy for children with autism. It focuses on rewarding positive behaviors to increase their frequency. It teaches behaviors in real-life settings and addresses learning, self-management and communication.
  • Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) lets children explore issues and process feelings using toys and the play environment, allowing them to lead their own healing. It can support healing and positive change, decrease negative behaviors, and improve overall functioning.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on addressing the problems you are facing in the moment. Little time is spent thinking or talking about the past. It’s generally a short-term 12-week approach. Through daily homework you learn to identify and change your thinking and patterns of behavior that negatively impact on your life.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) teaches practical skills to manage emotions, strengthen and maintain personal relationships, and increase patience for stressful times. Radical DBT is a type of therapy that helps people whose thinking is rigid and overly perfectionistic.
  • Family Therapy’s goal is to understand the family’s interaction and communication styles. It is designed to provide support and education to help the family function more positively.
  • Group Therapy uses group dynamics and peer interaction to improve skills and focus on specific behaviors depending on the group type. Sessions may be led by one or more therapists.
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) helps parents interact with their children and manage their behaviors. During a session, parents receive in-the-moment coaching from a therapist. PCIT can help improve the parent-child bond.

Finding a Therapist for your Child

If you decide to go to therapy, you’ll need to find a therapist who is a good fit for your child. NAMI has an excellent guide for finding a mental health professional for your child.


Here are a few more tips on finding a provider:

  • Ask Around. Do you know someone who loves their therapist? Ask for a recommendation. You can also go to your insurance company’s website for a list of providers covered by your insurance.
  • Don’t be afraid to shop around. You don’t have to stick with the first therapist you try. If their style doesn’t work for your child, look for someone else.
  • Don’t get too caught up in the letters after a name. LPC, LCSW, LMSW, PhD, LMFT – any of these folks are trained mental health professionals who may be a good fit for your child.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Most therapists offer a free consultation so you can meet them before setting up an entire session with your child. You can ask what types of therapy they use and anything else you may be curious about.

Once you have some therapists in mind, here are a few questions to think about when choosing someone.

  • Do they accept your insurance, or do they require self-pay? Do they offer a sliding scale fee?
  • Is their physical location convenient for you, or do they offer remote or teletherapy?
  • Are they culturally competent? For example, you may prefer to work with someone who looks like you or has a similar background.

NAMI Central Texas has a list of low-cost or sliding scale counseling options in our area, including Integral Care.

For free 24/7 emotional support, call Integral Care at 512-472-4357.
Visit NAMI Central Texas to check out support groups for adults, family members, and more.