Questions from Readers

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Technology, sex and professional help

By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: October 25, 2010 | Topic: Questions from readers

Questions from Readers

My daughter left her Instant Messenger open and I read that her partner is pressuring her to have sex. What should I do?

Much depends upon the age of your daughter. Assuming that she is under 18 and still under your care, you should speak with her about her boyfriendís message.

Approach this issue in a sensitive manner. Find a time when no one else is around and your daughter is receptive to such a discussion. Express your concerns regarding the need for her to make her own decisions about sexual relations, rather than to be pressured by anyone else.

Focus on the question of whether a loving, caring and committed boyfriend would ever want to pressure her into such an important decision.

Be sure that your daughter is knowledgeable about her sexual health and is taking precautions to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This type of conversation, although uncomfortable for both of you, will communicate an important message about your willingness to help your daughter navigate this very important stage of her development.

If your daughter is in her early teens, or if there is a significant difference between the age of your daughter and that of her older partner, then your approach should be different. Focus much more on her protection and limiting contact with her boyfriend.

I know my son needs professional help, but Iím not sure where to go. I know there are different types of therapists, but I canít figure out if he needs a psychologist or psychiatrist. Whatís the difference?

A psychiatrist is a physician who has received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Most psychiatrists utilize medication as a way to treat mental disorders. Doctoral level psychologists do not prescribe medication (in most states) but instead utilize various therapy techniques to help children change their behaviors.

One approach does not preclude the other. I have on many occasions worked with a child in therapy, but also consulted with a child psychiatrist in instances where medication was necessary.

This can be confusing, so I would suggest first talking with your family doctor, a counselor at school and friends regarding their experiences with mental health professionals. Your childís doctor is probably the best source of information since they are typically knowledgeable about mental health resources in your community.

Be sure that the professional you select has specialized training in working with children whose problems are similar to that of your sonís. Many therapists restrict their practice to working only with youngsters of a certain age or with certain types of problems.

Finally, contact your insurance company to determine if the therapist is credentialed or approved on their panel, as that will determine how much will be paid for by your insurance policy.

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Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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