Getting Started With Child Therapy
Knowing a little bit about what to expect can make new experiences easier. In that spirit, here's a snapshot of the steps in the child therapy process. I am happy to answer any questions along the way.
Set up an Introductory Phone Call
Contact me to set up a no-cost 15 minute phone consultation. All you need to know for this call is what is concerning you. I am happy to speak with you about any questions you have about therapy, even if you are not 100% sure about therapy for your child.
Even if we decide not to meet in person, I may be able to help you by suggesting other resources or providers. I look forward to speaking with you.
Review the Welcome Packet
If we decide to meet in person, I will email you my Welcome Packet to orient you to my practice. Before the first appointment, please set aside some time to review it.
The Welcome Packet orients you to my practice and allows you to share some background information. Print and complete the Information Form and Consent form. To protect your and your child's privacy, please do not email me the completed forms.
It is common to feel both eager to get going and a little apprehensive about your child starting therapy. Usually after a meeting or two, people start to feel more comfortable as the setting and process become more familiar.
Come in for Parent Appointment
Please bring the completed forms with you. When you arrive, please buzz yourself in and take a seat in the second floor waiting area. I will come out to greet you.
The first appointment is with a child’s parent or parents only (without the child). It is longer (75 minutes) than usual therapy sessions (45 minutes). It gives us a chance to have a candid, private conversation about your child, and serves as a sort of orientation. It also gives you a sense of what it might be like to work with me.
We will speak about your child, your concerns, and any questions you have. I will orient you to the therapy process and my practice. I will provide some initial impressions and an overview of what next steps might look like. At the end of the meeting, we will talk about whether it seems to make sense to take the next step of bringing your child in.
Introduce Your Child
Usually a parent or parents are present for at least part of my first meeting with a child. You and I will speak with your child about the counseling and why he or she is there.
Of course, you will have spoken with your child about the counseling and the appointment beforehand. After you leave the room, I will orient your child as to who I am, my role, the therapy space and process.
Like adults, children often need a few meetings to adjust to and feel comfortable in counseling. Not surprisingly, a good relationship with their counselor helps children feel secure and is important in setting the stage for change. Once children have a sense that their counselor knows, respects and values them, they are often more motivated in therapy.
Share Impressions and Discuss Goals
I usually meet with a child or teen 2 or 3 times to gather initial impressions. This is a time for me to begin to get to know him or her, build a preliminary understanding of what might be going on, and gather information to inform the plan for the therapy. This includes a thorough evaluation of your child's current concerns and contributing factors.
With your permission, as developmentally appropriate, and if relevant to the presenting concern, I may speak with other people who can help gain me understanding of your child and the current concerns. This could include your child's teacher, school counselor, principal, pediatrician, psychiatrist, occupational therapist or tutor. I may ask to view your child's school records and/or test results.
After the initial assessment, we will meet to discuss my initial impressions. We talk about whether it seems to make sense to continue to work together. If the decision is yes, we will then discuss the plan for the therapy. This includes the goals, an estimate of roughly how long we think the therapy will last, and what the parent consultation component will look like for you. For older children and teens, this process is adapted to meet their developmental needs.
Your Child's Therapy Begins
Early in the therapy, my focus is on providing a non-judgmental environment for you to tell your story, and getting to know you and your child. I will try to see your child through your eyes, while also developing my own impressions. If your child has been in therapy before, please let me know what has worked or not worked previously. The thoughts you share are an important part of the therapy.
Counseling sessions are usually 45 minutes long, once a week. The frequency and length of the sessions may vary depending upon the needs of the child or teen. Sometimes a child who is quite young, anxious or shy may need shorter sessions, at least initially. I might meet with a young person more than once a week if the concern is pressing. Regular attendance is necessary.
Typically regular parent meetings are scheduled outside of the child's therapy sessions to talk about the child's therapeutic goals and progress and how they can be supported at home and at school. This is particularly true for younger children. If your child is in middle school or older, we will discuss how to adapt this in respect of his or her age/developmental stage.