Rate of Therapeutic Change

My experience is that children and adolescents usually enjoy or at least find therapy to be rewarding.  Some parents perceive benefits of child therapy straight away, some take longer to be notice any changes, and some deny that any change occurs.  What we know about psychodynamic psychotherapy is that it has a "sleeper effect" in that any changes tend to be deep and long lasting.

The progress of therapy is dependent on each child and their whānau and things like child development, family participation, and the fit with the therapist will affect it.  The frequency of appointments, and what is happening for the child outside the room play a part too.

A good thing to think about when assessing whether therapy is delivering what you expected, is what your goals are, and whether they are realistic goals, taking into account the child's developmental stage and situation.  Older children and adolescent may have their own hopes with what they will get out of therapy, and they may be different from their parents' goals.  Goals are something to discuss with the therapist at the outset of therapy.  

Keep in mind that progress may not be linear, that sometimes there are a few things that need to happen before the major tasks can be tackled.  For example, a trusting relationship with the therapist is a fundamental that can take some children a while to develop.

The first signs of change may be subtle and easy to miss.  For example, expressing a need or feeling openly, being more flexible, confident and playful, and taking more risks are signs that something has shifted.  Early on in the process, an increase in acting out is also an indication that feelings are being brought up, which can also be a sign that therapy is working.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash


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