Mental health is important to overall health. The body’s physical health is interconnected and cannot be separated from the body’s mental health. Mental stress can have a negative effect on physical health, and chronic health conditions and/or disabilities can contribute to mental stress resulting in anxiety and depression. While as many as one in five American children under the age of 17 has a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, children with a chronic health condition or disability are at greater risk of developing psychological difficulties than children without a chronic health condition or disability.
As a pediatric psychologist and an individual with cerebral palsy (CP), I am passionate about helping to improve the lives of individuals affected by chronic health conditions and disabilities. I offer supportive psychotherapeutic treatments to children, adolescents and family members to address a variety of issues including anxiety and depression. Each treatment plan is tailored to fit the needs of the individual. I work in collaboration with other health care providers to promote optimal well-being of children and families.
I provide evidence-based psychological treatments which target the psychological stress caused by chronic health conditions and disabilities. One of these is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that helps change negative thinking styles and behaviors that contribute to anxiety and depression. CBT can be tailored to address physical pain and to help improve communication skills, adherence to medical regimens, adjustment to disability and body image. CBT interventions facilitate increased quality of life by restoring activities that boost self-confidence and promote positive changes in the way children and adolescents think and behave. CBT is also helpful for parents. Through this intervention, parents can be trained to become CBT coaches to assist their children in developing a range of effective coping skills. The clear, structured and proactive strategies taught in short-term CBT can be empowering for the child and improve emotional, behavioral and social functioning.
May 7th is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. If you have a child with a chronic health condition and/or disability who you think may benefit from receiving psychological support, early diagnosis and treatment is effective. Psychological treatments can be adapted to fit the needs of each child and family. Mental health intervention in childhood and adolescence can help facilitate healthy development and optimal well-being.
Andrea Konig, M.A., Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a specialty in Behavioral Medicine.
Bon Secours Developemental & Special Needs Pediatrics
5875 Bremo Road, MOB South, Suite 104
Richmond, VA 23226