We are excited to be working with you and your child/ren. As we begin this process, here are a few tips and reminders about how parents can help their children get the most out of therapy sessions. Please address any questions you have to your child’s therapist.
- Talking about therapy with your child: It helps to talk about therapy in positive ways, focusing on the goals (such as “Learning how to be happier at school” or “Figuring out how to enjoy time spent with family”) rather than the problems. It helps your child develop a strong bond with their therapist if you do not ask any questions about how the session went, what did they discuss, etc. If your child brings it up to you, by all means, feel free to discuss it with them, but let them bring the topic up.
- Confidentiality: Your child, in the first or second session, will hear from their therapist about the limits of confidentiality in an age-appropriate manner. Typically, that goes something like “Anything you tell me here I will keep completely confidential, but with a couple of exceptions. If someone is hurting or scaring you, or you are feeling like hurting yourself or others, I will have to tell someone so that we can get you help and make it better.”
Therapists honor the child’s confidentiality by not giving specific details of what was discussed without getting permission from the child (with the above-mentioned exceptions). We will, however, give you useful information about themes and issues the child is dealing with, along with guidance about how you can support those processes at home.
- Communicating with your child’s therapist: Please do not try to check in with your child’s therapist immediately before or after the session, while you are in the office. Doing so can cause difficulty in the relationship between the child and the therapist, as it may undermine their belief that what they tell their therapist is confidential. It also creates practical difficulties for the therapist as they may be needing to prepare for seeing your child, or their next client. Please make arrangements with your child’s therapist to do your communicating outside the therapy hour. This can be via phone, email, or in person appointment. If anything comes up that is critical for you to know, of course we will take the initiative and tell you, but please also note that therapists do not typically provide any kind of summary on a session-by-session basis. When there are no urgent issues, most parents check in with their child’s therapist every 4-6 weeks.
- Sick kid policy: Please do not bring your child to therapy if they are sick. It’s so very easy to share germs in a play therapy setting, and we also sometimes work with clients who have depressed immune systems. If you cancel, even at the last minute, because your child is ill, there is no charge for the missed appointment.
- Supervision of children: Children, whether they are clients, or siblings, may not be left alone in the office under any circumstances, including going to the bathroom. Please take your younger children with you if you need to use the facilities. On a case-by-case basis, and with the agreement of your child’s therapist, it may be possible for you to leave and run an errand or get coffee etc. while your child is in therapy.
Although it might seem mean, please also prevent your other children from entering the play therapy room unless they are scheduled for a joint session. It can be difficult when they hear about all the fun things in the room, but it’s very important for the space to feel like it “belongs” to the child in therapy.
- The phrase “It might get worse before it gets better” applies especially to children. It’s not uncommon to see a flare up of difficult behavior or symptoms after the initial “getting to know you” stage of therapy is passed. Please do let your child’s therapist know if this happens, and also feel free to ask for support for yourself – raising kids like ours is hard work!
Let your child’s therapist know if you wish to discuss any of the guidelines listed here. We look forward to getting to know, and helping, you and your family.