Photo by Michelle Kaye
Before You Seek Therapy for Your Child*
10 Helpful Tips!
- Cut out 20% of the TV watching (100% of the shows depicting violence, disrespect of parents, dummying down of fathers/husbands, and those that portray women as sex objects).
- Reduce “electronic time” (computers, texting and internet phones, video games) by 40% (100% of games depicting graphic violence or any level of sex).
- Clean out 60% of the sweets and processed foods in your house.
- Find a way to stop 80% of the strife between the adults in the home. Seek professional help if necessary.
- Fill these voids with “family time.” Get your children interested in the hoards of toys they have that are buried in a closet or under their bed.
- Wait one month. If you are still concerned about your child, consider what you (the adults) need help with to build a stronger family and support the child you are concerned about.
- If you are still concerned about your child, interview therapists. Always consult with the therapist prior to bringing your child in for a session.
- Gain as clear of an understanding as you are able about how the therapist works;
- What is the therapist’s experience with issues that you are concerned about?
- To what degree does the therapist involve parents? There is a large spectrum of views, from the therapist meeting behind closed doors with the child, wherein everything is confidential between therapist and child, to family sessions where parents are present during all sessions.
- What is the plan? Is it a “let’s get started and see what happens” approach, or are there goals and a review date set at the first session.
- Just what does the therapist do with the child in sessions? Do they play games? Draw? Free Play? Role Play? Work on worksheets and specific skill development? Meditation? Music? In a recent case, I began working with a child who came from a therapist who “played games” during all of the sessions. Upon further inquiry, the games were on a Wii. Therapeutic? Maybe. Therapy? hmmm.
- Be sure to understand what will be required of you as the parent or guardian. Will there be homework? How exactly are you support the progress?
- Ensure that you, as the parent or guardian, know some of the background of the therapist. There are many controversial issues in our culture today. Some believe the therapist is supposed to be a “blank slate.” Some therapists belief they are a “blank slate.” No one is a blank slate. Some therapists are able to be very professional in the way in which they approach issues that are in conflict with their own beliefs. Some are also very honest in letting prospective clients know that there may be a conflict, wherein their child may be better served by a colleague or another therapist. I could present many different scenarios here, however, let me just say, you must not assume, for example, that a therapist is not, under any circumstances, going to talk to your child about a sexual issue, or a political issue, or any other controversial issue. In the event that there is a degree of difference between your family view of the topic and the therapist’s view of the topic, you may be creating more of an issue for your child.
*In circumstances where something sudden or out of the ordinary has come to light with a child, particularly if the child has experienced a trauma, demonstrated serious emotional symptoms, made statements indicating that they may be thinking of hurting themselves or someone else, or there are suspicions of abuse, a parent or guardian should consult with a professional immediately.