When it comes to children and teens, many parents feel uncomfortable about the idea of sending their child to an unfamiliar therapist's office. Some parents may even be conflicted about whether therapy is necessary at all. However, there are many reasons why therapy might be helpful for a child. As a psychologist who also works with children, here are some common questions parents typically ask when considering accessing therapy for their child:
How many sessions will my child need?
It's hard to say how many sessions will be needed, because it depends on the severity of their difficulties and how long they've been experiencing them. In general, though, most therapists recommend between 6-18 sessions.
You should also know that therapy is not a quick fix - it takes time to see results from therapy.
What should I expect in the first session?
The first session is an introductory meeting. It's a chance for your child to get to know the therapist, and it's also an opportunity for the therapist to get a sense of who your child is as an individual. The therapist will ask your child questions about their life; their schooling, friendship groups and home life. Depending on your child's age you might be asked to join all or part of this initial session, where you will be asked to provide a brief history of your child's difficulties and when you first noticed them arising.
Will I be involved in the sessions?
The extent of your involvement depends on the therapist and your child, but during the course of therapy, you may be asked to have a phone call with the therapist or join a session or two, to give feedback on how your child is doing, or even help with homework assignments during therapy.
Will I know what is said in the sessions?
The therapist respects your child's right to privacy and confidentiality, which means that they will not talk about the things your child says or does in therapy with anyone outside of the therapy room (without your child's consent). This includes you, as well as other family members and friends. In some cases, though, the therapist is required to report certain information - if your child is at risk of serious harm (e.g., suicide) - the therapist may need to inform you first so that together, with your help they could assess the situation to ensure your child is fully supported and safe.
Will I be judged or blamed?
The answer to this question is “No” .
Many parents are fearful of this, but don't worry - the therapist doesn't want to blame or judge you or your parenting skills. They just want to get a good idea of what's going on with your child, which may mean they may ask a lot of questions about your family situation, that may make you feel uncomfortable. However this is done to understand your child's challenges in order to provide the best possible support.
How can I know that the therapist is good?
The first thing to do is ask around. Try and find out if anyone you know has been to see this particular therapist before, or if they have any recommendations for someone else. If not, then do some research online about the therapy methods used by different therapists in your area. There are lots of resources available online which will give you an idea of what kind of approach each therapist uses and whether it's effective or not.
I hope this article has been able to provide you with some insight into what to expect from therapy. I understand that thinking of getting professional support for your child can be a scary experience, but if your child is suffering with their mental health then it's important to get them some support as soon as possible.
Dr Rachel Graham
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