Parents of Children

Information For Parents Bringing Their Child To Therapy

I recommend preparing your child in advance to eliminate feelings of anxiety. I have had many parents "trick" their child when attending the first therapy session in order to avoid questions or protesting.  This typically leaves me with a child who feels betrayed and defensive during the first session. Describe therapy as a safe place that kids and adults go to talk about their feelings. Books and videos about therapy can be used to further explain the process. Visit my website with your child so they can see my picture and read about my therapeutic approach.  If you absolutely feel that it would create more chaos than calm to prepare your child, contact me so that we may discuss the best way to proceed with my first meeting with your child.

The first session is known as the intake session. During the intake session, I will collect information regarding the presenting problem in addition to family background, school history and other relevant information. I prefer to meet with the parent(s) alone for the intake session prior to meeting with the child. This allows the opportunity for parents to express any concerns they may have as well as ask questions without the child present. Brief intake sessions may instead be completed over the phone if it is preferable.

The first session with the child typically involves a lot of rapport building. It is during this time that I work on building a relationship with your child and begin to establish trust. This allows me to build a base for the therapeutic work that will take place in subsequent sessions. Some children may express resistance during this phase. This is not abnormal and not a sign that a positive therapeutic relationship will not be formed. A child’s initial resistance is a normal part of the process and may continue as the child learns to trust me and increase feelings of comfort regarding attending therapy sessions.

Your child may share that we play games, do artwork and play with toys during therapy. Your child may even share that we act silly during therapy. The games and activities we do in therapy are all part of the therapeutic work and are used in conjunction with talk therapy. Games, toys and artwork are utilized in order to meet the therapeutic goals in a way that is accessible for children.

There is no concrete answer for this. For some children, therapy lasts a short amount of time, for other children it is a longer process. It all depends on your child’s needs. The therapeutic process takes time and patience. Time is needed to establish trust and rapport with your child. Time is also needed for positive changes to occur and for those changes to be effective and to stay in tact once your child ends therapy.

As the parent, you are an important part of your child’s progress in therapy. As a therapist, I value your input as a parent in the treatment of your child. I encourage parents to be an active participant in the therapeutic process. I encourage parents to reach out to me whenever they have a concern or question about their child’s therapy. I expect to meet with the parent regularly throughout the therapy process to discuss progress and concerns.

Just as you would like your privacy protected if you entered therapy, a child will benefit more from treatment if they are not expected to elaborate on what they have done in therapy. Your child may share a lot or a little about what we do in our therapy time together. Allow your child to take the lead with how much he/she is willing to share. My practice is to explain some of the limits of confidentiality to both child and parent, and to emphasize to both parent and child the difference between small secrets and big secrets and why I don’t feel comfortable with holding a big secret, either for the parent, or the child.

When it’s time for therapy to end, preparing the child for this event is important in order to prevent feelings of abandonment. I will spend several sessions talking and preparing your child for the “goodbye” session. Your child will spend many sessions developing a relationship with me, sharing feelings with me and may develop a sense of security in meeting with me on a regular basis. A “goodbye” session is beneficial in order to allow the child to know that therapy is not ending because he/she did something wrong. A "goodbye" session will give the child a sense of closure. Sometimes children refuse to attend closure sessions due to a variety of reasons. If this is the case, you and I will work together to determine the best approach to take in order to make the transition as successful as possible.