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In mental health sciences, Positive Psychology explains that engagement “denotes all the efforts made during therapy, right from the intake sessions, to achieve the desired results.” Client engagement reflects the quality of the interaction, the collaborative nature of developing tasks and treatment goals, and the therapeutic alliance between young client and therapist. There are a variety of therapeutic interventions used with preteenagers that promote engagement, some of which include the following: 

  • Animal-assisted therapy: Psychology Today explains that animal-assisted therapy “incorporates animals…into the treatment plans [and] is used to enhance and compliment the benefits of traditional therapy.” For example, a study published in 2019 found that use of trained dogs helped to boost the effectiveness of therapy in adolescent children. Animal-assisted therapy is common in many children’s hospitals as it is known to encourage children to improve interactions with family and staff, take their medication more easily, calm nerves during or prior to painful or frightening procedures, etc. 
  • Family therapy: The American Psychological Association (APA) defines family therapy as “a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the improvement of interfamilial relationships and behavioral patterns of the family unit as a whole, as well as among individual members and groupings, or subsystems, within the family.”
  • Art therapy: The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Art therapy can serve as a language for those who need another way to identify, express, process, and work though challenges, difficult to navigate thoughts, and big feelings. Findings from a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, indicate that less than an hour of creative activity can reduce stress and have a positive effect on one’s mental health, regardless of one’s artistic experience or talent.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Positive Psychology explains CBT as a “psycho-social intervention that focuses on changing unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, improve emotional regulation and create a suite of coping strategies to solve problematic issues.”
  • Exposure therapy: According to the APA exposure therapy “is a psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears.” It is a highly effective, evidence-based treatment technique for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. Research has shown the more exposure is disseminated is directly linked to treatment outcome and improved mental health.

When beginning the search for a mental health clinician for your preteen the best place to start is to consult your child’s pediatrician. Most pediatricians will be able to point you in the right direction and connect you with a mental health specialist that is within their professional network to provide further assistance. Additionally, word of mouth recommendations can yield positive results, so it may behoove you to check with your family and friends and see if anyone has any recommendations. There are also a variety of online resources that can help you locate a mental health provider that specializes in working with preteenagers.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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