Prepare your child for therapy in terms he can understand.

 

Parents often ask us what they should tell their child before their first session. Our recommendation is simple: tell your child the truth, in simple language that they can understand. It is our experience that your child will utilize the sessions best if they know exactly why they are here. If they are told it is an art class or a play group, they will not know what they are supposed to be working on and will make less effective use of the time with their therapist. Here's a simple script that works for most children:

"We have noticed that you have been having a hard time with ___________ . Fill in the blank: mom and dad splitting up; getting along with your friends; focusing at school; keeping your cool when you get upset. We are going see a person called a therapist who will help us make that better. You will meet with the therapist once a week. They know how to use art, playing, and talking to help you understand what is making you upset, and what to do when you feel that way. The therapist is going to meet with us too, to teach us how to help you better and be there for you. Anything you want to talk about or work on in session is ok. You can work on the things that bother you, but you can also spend time on the things that make you feel good!"

We also recommend that you leave it up to your child how much they want to share with you about the sessions. You are welcome to ask gently about them, but do not press them if they do not wish to discuss what happened at length. Your child will open up about it when they feel ready, and especially older children may enjoy the privacy that the therapy affords them. This is one of the reasons why we schedule regular meetings with parents: to keep you updated of what is happening in the sessions and how your child is progressing, even if they are not quite ready to communicate what is going on!