Therapy With Children

Why is child therapy important?

Nothing is more distressful than watching your child struggle with stress, worry, or hopelessness.  

Many parents feel lost and unsupported as they seek to find qualified help – and they are not alone.  

Recent studies estimated that 1 in every 10 children suffer from mental illness (Planczyk et al, 2015), yet most families are under-resourced and lack the access to evidence-based treatment (Borre & Kliewer, 2014, Brimblecombe et al, 2015).  

Common symptoms that emerge in childhood include (DSM-5):

  • Parent-child conflict
  • Anger outbursts or aggression
  • Decreased energy or motivation
  • Intense fear of social settings
  • Persistent worry
  • Major changes in bodyweight or appetite
  • Frustration regarding schoolwork
  • Bullying or being the victim of bullying
  • Frequent thoughts of death or dying
  • Rebelliousness or defiant behavior
  • Difficulties with attention and focus

1 in every 10 children suffer from mental illness

Left untreated, mental illness in childhood significantly increases the risk of drug and alcohol addiction, criminal activity, and unemployment in adulthood (Brimblecombe et al, 2015).  Not to mention the intense stress this can bring on the family.  

So, what can we do to help?

My mission is to help children regain control and improve their lives through specifically-designed child therapy services. 

What is child therapy?

Therapy with children can be very different than therapy with adults, although the goals are usually similar.  

Many children are brought to my office here in Newport Beach, California, because of recent changes in behavior (e.g. aggression, tearfulness, disobedience) and/or stressors in the environment (e.g. moving to a new place, bullying, divorce).  

Often, children are brought by the parent or guardian with feelings of resistance about doing therapy, and so building trust is the first step.  Depending on your child’s needs, therapy may range from discussing their struggles (traditional talk therapy) to playing games or drawing (play therapy).  Play therapy provides children with a task-oriented activity that helps them relax and speak freely with the therapist.  This also provides excellent opportunities to talk about feelings brought on by the activity, such as frustration or anger.  

Although the child is my focus as a clinician, I believe that change in child therapy also involves supporting the family.  This can range from proving information about local resources to group or family therapy.  

So, how do I run child therapy?  

How does Dr. Montgomery run child therapy?

Your child’s mental health is my priority.

As we work together to help your child, my focus will be on the child as well as the family.

My approach to therapy is grounded in the latest research.  I prioritize the needs of you and your child to carefully design a treatment plan.  This plan serves as the base for improving your child’s wellbeing over the course of our time together, with each step involving research-based interventions.  

I utilize techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on your child’s experience through their thoughts, feelings, and actions.  CBT is one of the most effective and evidence-based treatment options available for children with mental illness (Cohen, Berliner, & Mannarino, 2010; Ishikawa, Okajima, Matsuoka, & Sakano, 2007; Sze & Wood, 2008).  This style of therapy allows me to quickly identify and address the child’s problems as they move towards wellbeing. I will also utilize Family Systems, Psychodynamic and Humanistic principles into the therapy.  These methods of treatment focus on exploring deep emotional experiences, trauma, and more pervasive issues.  

As we work together, your child will learn how to:

  • Notice their emotions
  • Communicate needs and feelings
  • Identify unhelpful ways of thinking
  • Change unhealthy habits
  • Develop deeper feelings of empathy for others
  • Improve organizational skills
  • Make friends and improve social skills

In therapy, children learn healthy self-expression

My practice also includes strategies derived from Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT), which involves both parent and child.  This modality examines patterns of behavior, attachment and communication styles.  The goal is to enhance the parent-child relationship and provide parents with effective strategies for managing their child's behavior. I pay special attention to the way a child reacts around the family and provide feedback to parents.  When possible, I may coach parents about helpful ways of responding to the child’s behavior.  

Some examples of this might include:

  • Changes in vocal tone to increase child’s feelings of safety
  • Identifying triggers that evoke strong emotions
  • Increased attunement to the child’s experience
  • Adapting requests to promote feelings of autonomy
  • Over the course of treatment, I carefully record your child’s progress and adjust as needed.  I am heavily invested in improving your child’s life and the wellbeing of your family.  

Wellbeing is possible.  I believe that children have the power to make real change in their lives – and I want to help them make the first step.

Interested?  Let’s connect!

If you or your child are interested in therapy services, contact me as soon as possible. I would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have about my practice.  

It is never too late for your child to receive treatment.  I believe I can help make a difference in your child’s life.  

Together, we can help them reach their potential.  

Read about Dr. Montgomery

Dr Aaron Photo.jpeg

Dr. Montgomery holds dual certifications in Clinical Psychology (California Board of Psychology PSY28475) and Family Therapy (California Board of Behavioral Sciences MFT49608). He has dedicated his professional and academic activities to understanding and addressing psychological, behavioral and interpersonal health in children, adolescents, and families.


  • Psy.D. Clinical Psychology
  • M.A. Clinical Psychology
  • M.S. Counseling Psychology
  • B.A. Psychology

Want to learn more about me?  

Click on the About tab to find out more about my credentials and get a better sense for who I am.  

Want to learn more? 

Want to learn more about therapy, assessment, and mental illness?  

Check out the tabs above, or click on the links below:


Borre, A., & Kliewer, W. (2014). Parental strain, mental health problems, and parenting practices: A longitudinal study. Personality and individual differences, 68, 93-97.

Brimblecombe, N., Knapp, M., Murguia, S., Mbeah‐Bankas, H., Crane, S., Harris, A., ... & King, D. (2015). The role of youth mental health services in the treatment of young people with serious mental illness: 2‐year outcomes and economic implications. Early intervention in psychiatry.

Cohen, J. A., Berliner, L., & Mannarino, A. (2010). Trauma focused CBT for children with co-occurring trauma and behavior problems. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(4), 215-224.

Ishikawa, S. I., Okajima, I., Matsuoka, H., & Sakano, Y. (2007). Cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: A meta‐analysis. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 12(4), 164-172.

Polanczyk, G. V., Salum, G. A., Sugaya, L. S., Caye, A., & Rohde, L. A. (2015). Annual Research Review: A meta‐analysis of the worldwide prevalence of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(3), 345-365.

Sze, K. M., & Wood, J. J. (2008). Enhancing CBT for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders and concurrent anxiety. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36(4), 403-409.