Mental Health Services

Children between the age of 2 and 18 who have experienced a trauma may be referred for therapy. In addition, siblings of those children are eligible for services. Several types of therapy are offered, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and group therapy.

What to Expect

Therapy is a unique opportunity for a child to meet with a trained professional who is willing and able to work to establish goals for treatment and to develop a pathway toward achieving those goals. For children who are coming to therapy with a history of physical or sexual abuse, this process also uses research-based treatment that has been proven to be effective in coping with trauma. Occasionally, a child may leave a session feeling temporarily worse before realizing the full healing effect. Therapy relies on the child’s willingness to be open and to participate in the process, and the family should feel welcome to voice any concerns, discomfort, and scheduling issues with the therapist.

Caregivers of children coming to therapy for the first time will meet with the Family Advocate to complete some introductory assessments about the child’s current behaviors. This helps the therapists to focus therapy on the child’s biggest concerns. After completing the assessments, the caregivers schedule their children’s intake session. At this session, the caregivers and child meet with the therapist and complete paperwork necessary to begin therapy. The meeting allows the caregiver and child a chance to tell the therapist what brings them to therapy and what they would like specifically to work on in sessions. Following the intake session, the therapist will usually schedule weekly appointments with the child with the goal of eventually decreasing the number of sessions as the child improves.
Parents and guardians will be asked to participate in the majority of a child’s sessions in order to add to the child’s sense of support in the healing process. Participation and support are a vital aspect of therapy at the Children’s Building. This may involve participation in sessions with or without the child, availability in lobby during sessions for consultation as needed, and initiation by parent of meetings with the therapist.

Children younger than 14:

Parents and guardians may feel free to telephone or ask the therapist in person about any questions or concerns regarding the child's treatment.

Children 14 and older:

Participation, questions, and concerns on the part of the parents or guardians are subject to the confidentiality rights of the child. By law, a child aged 14 or older may choose to share or limit access to personal treatment information.

Evidence-Based Treatment Models at NCAC

Several types of therapy are offered, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and group therapy. TF-CBT is a treatment focused on helping children recognize how some of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have been shaped by their trauma. TF-CBT helps children to cope with and change those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. PCIT is a treatment for parents and children who have difficulty communicating and interacting effectively together. Group therapy is an opportunity for children who have experienced trauma to meet, share their stories, and receive support and education together. The therapists using these therapies have been specially trained in these techniques.


"I believe that my NCAC counselor is an angel sent from Heaven to keep me safe from my father who did mean things to me. She helped me understand that I do not have to be scared because I have not done anything wrong. She has encouraged me by telling me that I was right to tell my mom even though my dad said that it was our special secret and that if I told my mom she would die. I love my NCAC counselor very much; she is very important to me. I look forward to seeing her and miss her when I don’t see her for a while. I feel she really cares about me and keeping me safe." - Anonymous

FAQ’s About Therapy

How long should I expect my child’s session to last?

The initial meeting with the therapist lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours. After the initial meeting with the therapist, you, and your child, therapy sessions typically last 45 to 60 minutes and may likely include your presence and input. Sessions are typically not extended beyond this time, as this might impact the scheduled appointment of other children. However, in the case of emergencies, a therapist will be present for you and your child until the emergency has been resolved.

Do I have to have insurance to obtain services?

No, the NCAC is a non-profit organization that provides services free of charge to families in and around Madison County.

How do I know if my child needs counseling?

The following concerns might need to be addressed by a professional therapist: if your child is upset or withdrawn for unknown reasons, if your child is experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety over an extended period of time, and/or if your child is acting out sexually or experiencing an overt curiosity related to sex.

Should I discuss my child’s traumatic experiences with them to aid in the therapy process?

It is best to be supportive and caring if your child initiates a discussion about his or her abuse.
Listen to what your child has to say and praise the effort your child has shown in sharing.

Is group therapy offered?

Our primary focus is on individual therapy services for children. However, there are times when the collective needs of the population of children being served allow us to offer group services.

When a group is being formed, therapists will notify the children and families who are best served by that particular group so that they may decide whether or not to participate in the group.

What are Family Advocate individual services?

It is support and education for Caregivers of children who have potentially been abused. This service is provided by the Family Advocate and is available upon request. However, it is not therapy. If, as a Caregiver, you feel that you need individual therapy, our staff will be happy to refer you to a mental health professional.

How do I find out the status of my child’s case?

You will be directed to the Victim’s Service Officer or Investigator, who will be able to update you on the status of the investigation/case.

How long can I expect to be present for a Forensic Interview?

Forensic Interviews typically last 1.5 to 2 hours. Please see our page on Forensic Interview services for more information about the process.

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