When first deciding to take your child or adolescent to a therapist, there are a million and one emotions and thoughts that go through your mind. To go one step further, this is another thing altogether but today we have some information that will hopefully calm your nerves about psychotherapy. If you are currently undecided on what to do, we have some simple steps that you will follow after contacting this professional.
To kick things off, your child will have around four sessions with the therapist so they can assess the extent of the issue and the history of the child in their family life as well as in school and outside of school in the social scene. At the beginning, these simple sessions will allow the therapist to better understand the task ahead.
Depending on the therapist, this might happen before they meet your child so you can express your concerns and give the full picture. After providing a history, you might even talk with the therapist individually because this increases the chances of getting all the important information and perspectives out in the open. With some therapists, this meeting might be a simple phone conversation.
Meeting the Child
With this foundation of knowledge, the first meeting with the adolescent will occur to see their point of view. Normally, children will be coy in the first session but they soon realize that this is their opportunity to help themselves and say things they perhaps can’t to family members. Since this is all confidential, the therapist will not report back to the parents unless something comes out that would put the child in danger. With this confidentiality, the idea is that they will feel comfortable and willing to talk.
Teachers and Other Professionals
Although this will depend on the severity of the issue, other professionals who have regular contact with the child may also be contacted for more information or opinions. As well as teachers, this could include mental health professionals or social workers as they could provide a different insight.
Once the initial assessments have been made, the therapist will give their impressions to you as the parent as well as recommending the right treatment moving forward. In order to match the needs of the child in question, the recommendation will include a timeframe as well as how intense the solution should be for best results. If necessary, the therapist will also make recommendations to teachers or suggest a psychiatric or neuropsychological evaluation.
Ultimately, the process of therapy itself will differ from one therapist to the next but we should note that children perceive time in a very different way to adults. For this reason, the sessions will normally start twice a week for children because once just simply isn't enough. For teenagers and young adults, once a week will be normal but it might be more intensive if they have been hospitalized or have threatened to self-harm.
In terms of length, this will be unique once again because some children can overcome their problems in around 6 months whilst others take longer. For those who have greater emotional and social difficulties, it will take as long as it takes and this could be 18 months or more.
Involvement of Parents
Ultimately, therapists generally like to see involvement from parents because it shows they want to make things better. However, there needs to be limited to allow the therapy to work. Therefore, parents should never push for details about the therapy. When the time is right, the therapist may bring the parents in for a group session somewhere in the future.
In all cases, the treatment will only end once all parties are happy that enough progress has been made; this means the therapist, parents, and the child or adolescent themselves. This being said, it should never end abruptly so therapists will ensure that they are in a position for sustained success. Of course, returning in the future is always an option if things seem to slip.
As you can see, each child will be treated differently and the right course of action will be chosen depending on their needs above all else!