May 20, 2022 Healthy Living

Virtual therapy: Is it right for your child?

Childhood mental health has become a top concern among parents—and for good reason. For more than two years, COVID-19 has affected every part of our lives. The ongoing stress and uncertainty our kids have experienced has been so profound that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have declared a national state of emergency in child and adolescent mental health.  Children continue to suffer multiple losses, including the loss of a parent or caregiver, recreation, socialization, education, and the disruption of daily routines. These losses have left them feeling anxious, confused, and at times, angry.

According to data from the Children’s Hospital Association, there were more than 47,000 mental health emergency room visits with children/adolescents during the first three quarters of 2021, marking a 40% increase over the same period in 2020.

Today, there are additional options for mental health treatment, beyond in-person therapy, as virtual mental health platforms are booming in popularity. This growing availability has made the process to access mental health treatment easier for families previously limited by location and cost.

Do you have a child that would benefit from therapy? When deciding between in-person and virtual options, consider the following:

  • Age of your child: Virtual therapy can be helpful to children of various ages. However, it is usually not recommended for children under age 6. Often, very young children are unable to fully engage in virtual therapy. It’s also necessary to have a private space available for virtual therapy. The ability to focus for an extended period and communicate verbally with an adult who is not a family member is important in virtual therapy with children.
  • Behavior of your child: Studies show that virtual therapy can be just as helpful in treating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma to peer relationship concerns as in-person therapy. Yet, virtual therapy may not be appropriate for children or adolescents with severe ADHD, school refusal/avoidance, and aggressive behavior towards others. In those cases, in-person treatment via a school-based mental health program or community mental health clinic might be a better fit.
  • Availability of skilled child and adolescent therapists: Clinicians that specialize in or have experience working with children/adolescents with a range of symptoms can make all the difference in the effectiveness of therapy.
  • Parental/Caregiver support: Any child/adolescent virtual therapy platform should include, encourage, and prioritize caregiver/parental support and involvement in treatment. Studies show that positive outcomes increase for children in therapy with parental involvement.
  • Availability of child psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners: It is critical to make sure your chosen virtual therapy platform has psychiatrists who specialize in treating children and adolescents who might benefit from medication. Prescribing medication for children is very distinct from prescribing medication for adults.
  • Types of medications prescribed for your child: The child psychiatrist or nurse practitioner working with your family may recommend medications that require regular monitoring of your child’s vital signs and/or blood work. In these situations, it may be best to see a child psychiatrist or nurse practitioner at an in-person clinic, where these services are routinely provided.

Virtual therapy through Valera Health is available to all CDPHP members ages 6 and above. Valera Health has a growing Child and Adolescent (CAP) program. The Valera Health CAP providers and prescribers have extensive experience and training with children and adolescents. Book a free consult with Valera Health and see if virtual therapy would be a good fit for your child or adolescent’s needs.

It can be tough to ask for help, and you may not know where to turn. If you’re ready to take the first step, CDPHP is here for you. The CDPHP Behavioral Health Access Center is made up of a team of mental health care experts who understand what you’re going through and can point you in the right direction. To speak to a CDPHP representative about all the mental health care services available to you and your children, contact the CDPHP Behavioral Health Access Center at 1 (888) 320-9584.

About the coauthors

Christine Rambert, LCSW, Valera Health

Christine Rambert, LCSW
Associate Director, Inclusive Care
Valera Health

Christine Rambert, LCSW, has over 10 years of clinical experience providing psychotherapeutic services to culturally diverse and bilingual populations with a specialization in child and adolescent therapy. Bilingual in Spanish, Christine has worked collaboratively within multidisciplinary teams in various outpatient settings to deliver integrative behavioral health care. Christine has extensive training in therapeutic modalities which include CBT, DBT, ACT and TF-CBT. She earned a Masters in Sociology/Anthropology from Northeastern University and a Masters in Social Work from NYU Silver School of Social Work. Christine is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) with Yoga Alliance.

Victoria Johnson, MD, Valera Health

Victoria Johnson, MD
Associate Clinical Director
Valera Health

Dr. Johnson is a Georgia native now living in New York City with a passion for providing patient-centered, recovery-oriented care. She holds board certifications in both Adult Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and enjoys working with patients ranging from school age youth to young adulthood. Dr. Johnson received her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta, GA) and completed her specialty training in Psychiatry at the University of Alabama- Birmingham (UAB) Medical Center and Columbia University. In her free time, Dr. Johnson enjoys spending time with her partner, exploring NYC’s hidden gems, reading, and traveling.

Valera Health
About Author

Valera Health is a high performing mental health company providing comprehensive longitudinal service using a team-based care model of coaches, therapists and medication prescribers augmented by proprietary digital technology and analytics. From meditation to therapy to medications, patients with mild depression to severe schizophrenia are treated with expert care. Valera Health treats adults, children, and adolescents ages 6 and up. A focus on quality has achieved high HEDIS scores and produced significant outcomes. For more information go to: www.valerahealth.com.

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