A guide for parents -ten ways to get the most out of therapy

If you are investing the time, energy and money into child and adolescent psychotherapy, you will want to make it as effective as possible.  Naturally you will want this for the wellbeing of your young people and whānau too.  Here are some key points to getting the most out of child and adolescent therapy:

1.  Psychotherapy can be a long-term process.  Most of my clients come for at least five assessment appointments and then at least six after that.  Many clients come for 20 plus appointments.  

2.  Make sure your child attends every appointment.  Don't miss appointments, because it impacts the progress of the therapy.  One missed appointment can mean a break of two weeks which may interrupt and set back the therapy.

3.  Go to your own therapy if you can, or at least be prepared to introspect about your own childhood and the parenting that you experienced.  Clients whose parents are doing their own therapeutic work generally do better, and you will find you can understand the work your child is doing if you do it too.  Psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, relational, arts-based and indigenous therapies all align with the type of work I do.

4.  The ending process is important therapeutically.  If you would like your child to finish therapy, try and give me a least three sessions notice so we have time to deal with what that brings up for your young person, especially those children who have suffered grief and loss in the past.

5.  If you have any questions or concerns about our process or progress please tell me.  I can handle it. Ideally we can address any issues in session.  A feedback session is a good place to bring up concerns.

6.  Many times, young people will seem like they get worse due to the therapeutic process.  Acting out and concerning behaviours may increase before they get better, as feelings are stirred up and brought to the surface so they can be worked through. This is normal and expected for some children, and can be unsettling for parents, especially those of children who in the past have largely internalised their feelings. A change or shift in your child's behaviour or feeling state, in any direction, can be a sign that the therapy is working.  Please let me know if this is happening.

7.  Come to parent feedback sessions.  We have feedback sessions regularly and it's important you come to them.  The feedback sessions are usually every four to eight sessions.  If it's a feedback session, the child is normally not in the room unless we're doing something special, so please don't bring them.  We can manage with the child anything the idea of the feedback session brings up for them.

8.  Don't ask your child what they do in therapy.  You can just say, "I'm interested to hear if you want to share, but I won't ask you any questions".  It's OK to say "how did it go today", but try not to ask anything more.  Therapy needs to be confidential and the young person needs to trust that the space is their's, with no expectation or desires from anyone else.

9.  I will respect your child's right to confidentiality and I won't tell you the details of what we do.  I'll give you the themes, the general ideas, what I think is on their minds, what they're using to cope, emotional strengths and challenges and even a psychodynamic formulation.  Be assured that I'll  tell you anything you need to know related to child protection and safety, or anything urgent or important.

10.  When you're dropping off and picking up your child, please don't talk to me about them in front of them.  Email me separately or save it for the feedback session.  Likewise, you can let me know by email anything important that has happened, but I won't be able to directly address issues with your child at your request.  I will be able to guide you to do that.

Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash


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