Prepare for Child Counseling:
3 Tips for Parents
Gearing up for therapy can be an exciting and nervous experience, for both children and parents. Whether your kid is excited to meet with a therapist or they are begrudgingly coming along, there are a lot of conversations leading up to child counseling to get everyone prepared.
Child therapists help with academics, behavioral issues, school and social issues, mental health issues, and more. It’s important for all family members to have an open mind and feel prepared when they come to their first few sessions of child counseling.
We’ve put together some of our top resources to help parents get their child ready for teen or child therapy. With these three tips, you can feel more empowered and confident in helping your kid feel excited, accepting, and willing to participate.
3 Tips to Help Parents Prepare Their Child for Therapy
1) Set Clear Expectations
It’s important to be clear with your child about what they can expect at child therapy. It can be nerve-racking walking into a new situation with unclear expectations and this can make many children reluctant to attend. To help with this, familiarize yourself with what your child will do and work on at therapy so you can help them feel prepared.
Talk openly with your child about what to expect and how they feel about it. Outline that they will talk about different topics but nothing that makes them uncomfortable; they may do activities with their child counselor; they will work on new skills; they will solve problems they may be facing internally, with family, with friends, or at school.
Let your child know how therapy works, how long they may be in therapy, and get them familiar with the process and routine of it.
2) Find a Child Therapist You and Your Child Are Comfortable With
Child therapy is the most effective when your child is comfortable. They are more willing to open up, take the advice, and show up with attention vs sullenly and withdrawn. If you or your child don’t resonate with the therapist, it is likely you will not see results or improve mental health roadblocks.
Talk with your local child mental health service’s therapy center about how they structure consults, first sessions, and more. Discuss options for working with different therapists in the office if your child does not get along with their initial counselor.
Remember, there is a difference between being withdrawn in therapy vs being withdrawn due to the counselor. For many different reasons, kids or families may not get along so find someone your child respects, looks up to, and feels comfortable talking with. Let your child know they have the option to work with someone they like.
3) Be Patient and Consistent Throughout Child Therapy
You are your child’s role model in all aspects of life and child counseling is no different. It is important to show up to each appointment, be patient during the process, and talk about therapy as they feel open to do so.
Be sure to drop your child off at every appointment, without letting other errands get in the way (except for emergency situations). You want to be consistent so your child is expectant and used to the routine. Missing too many child therapy appointments can stunt their advancement, show them it is not a priority, and create a pattern of not attending or not taking it seriously.
After therapy, show up for your child as they need. Be patient if your kid is not yet ready to discuss their therapy. Make time together that is focused on other activities and hobbies. You want normalcy and bonding that creates a comfortable environment. It may take a while to see results or feel your child is open to therapy, but this is normal and not something to put pressure on them for.
Always Find a Child Counselor You Are Excited to Work With
At the end of the day, the best way to get your child prepared for their child counseling sessions is to work with an office you trust for child mental health services. Both you and your child should feel comfortable and excited about the therapy process. There should be clear communication, a willingness to make a personal therapy plan, and goals you can clearly work towards together.
The Family Center in Ellicott City, Maryland is used to working with many kids facing various roadblocks. We believe in community to help both children and families work towards resolutions. We help you prepare, communicate with your child, and move toward your resolutions with ease and confidence.
Talk to us today about academic pressure, social connections, behavioral issues, changing family structure, mental health issues, and more. We talk positively and openly to help everyone feel prepared to begin counseling together.