As a parent, it can be difficult to navigate the world of therapy when your child is struggling. But with the right information and support, you can help your child get the most out of therapy and make meaningful progress.
Know what to expect before your child’s first therapy session. You and the therapist will meet without your child present. There the therapist will talk with you about your child’s challenges, what you hope to accomplish. The therapist will also collect information about your child’s medical, developmental, academic, and social history. The therapist will also ask questions about family members’ social, medical, and mental health history as well. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what the therapy process will look like. In this first meeting, you can ask your therapist about their specific methods, techniques, and what you can expect from each session.
Be an active participant. While your child is in therapy, it’s important to be an active participant in their treatment. This means attending family therapy sessions, providing feedback to your therapist, and working with your child to implement strategies at home. Parents can expect to have homework. Yes! Homework. The age of your child and diagnosis will determine how often you will attend parent and family sessions. Children do not have the maturity required to make changes on their own apart from their parents. Your participation is crucial to their success.
Set realistic goals. It’s important to have realistic expectations for your child’s therapy journey. The first few sessions are primarily to establish a trusting relationship with your child and to assess their strengths and challenges. Remember that progress can be slow, and setbacks are normal. During the treatment planning session, you can work with your therapist to set specific, measurable goals for your child’s treatment and celebrate small wins along the way. It is important to remember that children do not ask to be in therapy and the therapist must go at the child’s pace especially in cases of trauma.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s therapy, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist in your scheduled session. They are there to help you and your child and want to see the best outcome. The more you understand, the better you will be able to support your child.
As a parent, it’s important to remember you play a crucial role in your child’s therapy journey. By being an active participant, setting realistic goals, and asking questions, you can help your child make meaningful progress and improve their mental health.