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The team’s assessment was most helpful in confirming our desire to not medicate our son but rather to recognize his gifts and abilities.

- MCYAF Client Parent

How to know if your child needs help

Childhood and adolescence are periods of development, and all children will experience challenges as they grow and transition into new life phases. It can sometimes be difficult for parents and other loved ones to determine if a child’s struggles are the result of a “growing phase” or if they could benefit from the support of a mental health professional.

Academic Difficulties:

  • Struggles with reading, spelling, writing, and/or math

  • Struggles with peers and social relationships

  • Intellectual potential does not match academic performance

  • A marked difference or decline in performance at school

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Problems with memory and retaining information

  • Difficulty processing or organizing information

  • Inability to manage homework or meet deadlines

  • Problems with attention and staying focused in class

Emotional Difficulties

  • Sadness and hopelessness for no obvious reason

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other important relationships and activities

  • Frequently angry or irritable

  • Cries frequently or overreacts to typical experiences

  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or anxiety

  • Unable to come to terms with a loss

  • Fearful or having unexplained fears

  • Excessive concerns about physical problems or appearance

  • Frightened that his/her mind is controlled or is out of control

  • Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or doing something “bad”

  • Feeling life is too hard to handle

Behavioral Signs

  • Difficulty controlling or containing impulses

  • Inability to sit still or focus attention

  • Losing interest in things once enjoyed

  • Racing thoughts that are nearly too fast to follow

  • Unexplained changes in sleeping or eating patterns

  • Persistent nightmares

  • Avoiding friends or family; frequently wanting to be alone

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Alcohol and other drug use

  • Cutting; self-harm

  • Engaging in physical fights

  • Eating excessive amounts of food and then purging; abusing laxatives; or restricting food intake

  • Unnecessary dieting and/or exercising obsessively

  • Engaging in risky, life threatening activities

  • Washing, cleaning, or performing certain routines numerous times per day

What To Expect

Our work together begins with the first phone call. We listen carefully to your concerns and will partner with you to determine the best approach for your family. Treatment is not a “one size fits all” approach. MCYAF offers an array of services to meet each family’s unique needs.

We look forward to working with your family to help you return to doing the things you love and enjoy.

Initial Phone Consultation

The first step to initiating services is a phone consultation with an experienced MCYAF coordinated care specialist. The coordinated care specialist will gather information about your areas of concern, current needs, and desired outcomes. Next, the coordinated care specialist will schedule an in-person session with one of our clinicians or will provide you with a referral to a provider who can best address your identified needs.

In-Person Intake

Following your phone consultation, a time will be arranged for a clinician to meet in person with you and your family. During this face-to-face session, a clinician will discuss your present concerns and what you would like help with. To help ensure that all family members are supported during the initial session and throughout the MCYAF treatment process, clinicians will typically meet with your family members together and individually.

After the in-person consultation, our multidisciplinary team will meet to share our findings and recommend a course of action for your family. This may include family therapy, a comprehensive psychological assessment, a targeted assessment, individual or group therapeutic services, or a referral to an external provider who is best suited to handle your child and family’s needs.

Comprehensive Assessment

During the course of three consecutive mornings, our assessment psychologists will ask your child to complete various tests, which are designed to explore the areas of need that have been identified. These assessments evaluate learning, cognition, social-emotional functioning, coping operations, behavior, and neuropsychological functioning. Nearly all tests and methods involve standardized procedures. The test selection will be tailored specifically to your child’s age, abilities, challenges, and any additional information you have indicated. These evaluations might include games, story telling, structured conversations, or written tests.

It is not uncommon for children and adolescents to feel nervous about the assessment process; however, many find it to be interesting and helpful. Some feel a sense of relief afterward.

Parents will meet with the assessment psychologist, who, with your permission, will interview other people in your child’s life, such as their teachers, pediatricians, and others deemed appropriate by our team. The information gathered in these interviews will give us a broader understanding about how your child functions in various settings. This approach allows our team to get to know your child and family from multiple perspectives.

Targeted Assessment

MCYAF also offers a targeted assessment that is focused on addressing a specific area of concern and is shorter in duration than a comprehensive assessment (three hours). Examples of when a targeted assessment might be beneficial include:

  • To evaluate a child’s academic progress if they have been previously assessed and are receiving learning interventions.
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of ADHD medication in improving a child’s neuropsychological functioning.
  • To address specific behavioral concerns, such as whether a child is experiencing excessive worry, sadness, or distress.
  • To help determine if a child could benefit from psychotherapy or to evaluate progress if the child is already in therapy.

If you have questions about any part of the assessment process, our team is available to speak with you.

Following an assessment, MCYAF’s multidisciplinary team will review our findings. We will collaboratively formulate a treatment proposal to address the unique needs of your child and family.

Your family will then meet with our clinical team for a feedback session. During this session, we will explain what we have learned through the assessments and interviews, and will provide treatment recommendations. Examples of recommendations include family therapy, individual therapy at MCYAF, or a referral to a more appropriate external resource or provider. Afterwards, we will provide you with a written report detailing the assessment and treatment recommendations. If you’d like, we can also provide a complete or modified copy of this report to your child’s school.

MCYAF’s multidisciplinary team offers a range of therapies. In order to offer integrated care, our therapists work with your child and family together or individually, sometimes in combination with outside therapists.

Family work – Family work can take the form of family therapy, couples’ therapy, or parenting support. Our family therapists use a family systems approach in order to identify and amplify strengths, as well as to address unhelpful patterns. Goals of family work can include improved communication, better confidence in the family’s ability to work together, and stronger bonds between family members.

Individual youth therapy – Our approach to child therapy is based on a desire for understanding – for us to understand the child, for the parents to understand the child, and for the child to gain better personal understanding. With the utmost respect for the complexity and integrity of every young mind, we strive to explore thoughts, fantasies, and feelings together in a way that allows young people to both appreciate the way in which their minds work and to become better able to handle their emotional lives.

Educational therapy – If your child is struggling with a learning disability or experiencing other learning challenges, we may ask them to meet with an educational therapist. The educational therapist will talk to you, your child, your child’s teachers, and other influential people in your child’s life to identify the types of learning challenges they are experiencing, as well as possible causes for these challenges. Once the educational therapist has a deeper understanding of your child’s emotional and academic needs, they will work with you and your child to create an individualized instructional plan to help your child succeed in their educational goals. Our educational therapists help clients draw upon their existing strengths to make learning experiences more positive and rewarding.

Individual adult therapy – We understand that no child is raised without a supportive caregiver or family members, and often tensions and anxieties in youth can be expressions of pain and/or dysfunction elsewhere in the family. For this reason, we may recommend therapy for other family members, even though the presenting problem may appear to be exclusively that of the child.

Ideally, treatment will end when both the client and the therapist feel it is appropriate. Treatment lengths vary, and can range from six months to several years depending on what is needed.

Upon termination, we may ask your child to retake some of the assessments that were administered during the intake process to track the progress that has been achieved. A follow up will be scheduled with your family one year after treatment is terminated. This allows us to evaluate any changes and helps to ensure that your child and family have received the help you need.