Bringing your Child to Therapy: Tips for Parents
How to Prepare your Child for the first session
Parents who seek therapy for their children often ask how to explain therapy to children. I hope the following examples are helpful. You are welcome to adapt the one you feel is most appropriate to your child’s age and circumstance.
You’re going to see Danyale. Her job is to (help kids with their feelings) (feel better about school) (help kids whose mom/dad have died) (whose mom/dad aren’t living together anymore) (who have been sexually abused) etc. I’ve met her and she’s really nice. You can talk to her about anything. You’ll be doing some talking and some playing with her. Sometimes we will meet with her together.
I know you’ve been through a difficult time lately…We’re going to see Danyale. Her job is to help kids with their problems and worries. She helps kids by talking and playing with them.
Our family has been through a difficult time lately…We’re going to see Danyale. Her job is to help families cope better with…
IMPORTANT DO’s AND DONt’S
DO’s (depending on the situation or the age of your child some of the following may not apply)
- Tell your child that therapy is not a “test or an exam”
- Tell your child therapy will usually last 45min and will happen every week or every other week
- Bring your child therapy as scheduled and on time-children feel more secure and do better in therapy when they have consistent appointments
- Tell your child that therapy is confidential
- Tell your child she is going to therapy because she/he is “bad” or “the problem” or something is “wrong with them”
- Tell him/her to listen to the therapist and do whatever she/he is asked to do
- Give your child any pressure about being good in session
- Tell your child how much the session costs or that it is expensive
- Talk about your concerns regarding your child to me in front of your child as this usually makes children feel uncomfortable. If you would like to discuss a concern please use the parent weekly report or call prior to the session
Other Do’s and Don’ts between sessions
- Try not to force your child to come to sessions. If theres a problem bringing your child to sessions, please call me to consult.
- Do not give consequences or any punishments if your child refuses to come to sessions.
- Try not to bribe your child to go to sessions e.g. if you go you get ice cream afterwards
- If your child shows you a drawing after her sessions, try not to say any judging comments such as “it’s a beautiful picture” “how come the person isn’t smiling, or has no hands”
- After the session, DON’T ask your child if she had fun or a good time-it’s “therapy”
- Important Reminders for Each Session
- Ask your child what they did or talked about in session
- Please call me, email or text me the day prior to the session if there are significant updates so I am kept informed and can plan accordingly
- It’s best for your child to wear play clothes and “dress for mess”
- Please wait until your appointment time to enter the office and wait quietly in the reception area
- Ensure your child has a healthy snack prior to the session. Please do not send your child into session with any food or drinks.
- Please do not send your child to session with toys from home. The focus should be on the toys/materials/activities in the play room as they have been specifically designed for therapeutic value. Your child may want to bring a special toy to share with me, if so I will address this directly with your child and you may allow her to bring it. Your child may be asked to bring a special toy, if so I will let you know this.
- Take your child to the bathroom before the session.
(adapted from Liana Lowesnstein)