COMMON CONCERNS OF PARENTS CONSIDERING PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR CHILDREN
How do I know if my child needs therapy?
Your child may not need therapy. That’s one key reason I always meet with parents first. If you have noticed a concerning change in behavior, school performance or signs of excessive fear, sadness or anxiety or on-going issues that seem to be getting worse, it would be important to seek professional consultation. A good child therapist would be able to determine if therapy is in order.
Children come to me with all kinds of issues. The most common are anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and ADHD which contribute to lowered self-esteem and social problems. Others have family issues where there has been illness, death, divorce, or parental discord or parental depression.
How will my child react to going to see a stranger? (Will he/she feel stigmatized?)
I rarely have a problem engaging a child or adolescent in therapy. Once I have met with parents and they have decided to entrust me with their child’s evaluation or therapy, that positive feeling is conveyed to the child. I also guide parents in how to introduce the idea to their child and what the child can expect. Then we start — in whatever way the child is most comfortable, with a parent in the room or alone with me. We are always taking the child’s lead.
In my years of experience, the overwhelming reaction of children beginning therapy is great relief.
How will I know my child's progress in therapy?
Children usually respond quickly to therapy so parents frequently notice little changes early on.
I stay in touch with parents by phone, e-mail, separate parent meetings or meetings with child and parents together. I consider my working relationship with parents, schools and other systems in the child’s life extremely important to success.
TELETHERAPY FOR CHILDREN:
Play therapy via teletherapy is a challenge but not impossible. For the very youngest children, my array of puppets is especially inviting via the screen, can be used in a multitude of ways and really helps children access feelings.
For school-age kids, we write stories, draw, share our pictures and tell stories about them. Children use any objects available to them, such as legos, light sabers, favorite dolls or action figures. Parents and I arrange particular materials or video formats of games we would otherwise play in person. All of this is relaxing and engenders fantasy or talk.
WORKING WITH ADOLESCENTS:
In working with adolescents, extra-careful attention must be paid to the issue of confidentiality. This respect for privacy is crucial for the work since these children stepping into adulthood are grappling intensely with separation and independence. I meet with parents first to get history and family background. Once I begin therapy with the older children, and unless there is a clinically dangerous situation, communication with parents is limited to joint/family meetings or speaking with parents upon the adolescent’s permission to talk to parents privately.