What Parents Should Know to Support Their Child or Adolescent in Therapy: Part 1

What Parents Should Know to Support Their Child or Adolescent in Therapy: Part 1

By Dr. Courtney Klein

Finding the Right Balance is Important

Parents who arrange for their child or adolescent to meet with a therapist are taking an excellent first step to promoting overall health and well-being. A therapist can serve an important role for parents, children, and families as a whole. They can operate as an objective person outside the family who has the professional background to help address emotional, behavioral, or other types of life struggles a child or adolescent might be dealing with. 

Moreover, when children or adolescents access supportive therapy, it can help promote positive change and long-term benefit which can deeply enhance their lives.

As a parent, you likely want to know therapy is doing to help you child, and also what ways you can help support the process.

Obviously it is important for you to be informed about what is happening, but it is also crucial for your child to have the privacy of a safe place to meet with their therapist without the fear of being critiqued or “getting in trouble.”

This might seem like a challenging balance, but working as a team with your child and their therapist can help establish an effective and satisfying therapeutic arrangement.

Where do you as the parent fit in?

One of the easiest ways you can support the therapy process is by providing important information about your child’s current and past functioning.

This often means sharing a history of your child’s development, academic performance, social patterns, and behavioral styles with their therapist at the beginning of therapy. You can then provide feedback on the concerns you might be having about your child’s emotional or behavioral health, and also help collaborate on goals for therapy. Once these initial conversations occur, your child will most likely start meeting with the therapist individually every week where private discussions can occur. While this might seem uncomfortable at the start since you won’t always know what is talked about in therapy, your help is still important to the process.

Many therapists actively check in with parents about the general progress of treatment, but you should also feel empowered to ask the therapist questions about how to enhance your role or relationship to your child.

You can also give reports on how your child is responding to treatment, noting any increase or decrease in concerning symptoms or problems, and also highlight positive strides your child might be taking. Your child will discuss the things they feel are important with their therapist, and you as their parent can share what you think is important as well during check-in meetings, etc.

The therapist might not share every detail of conversations they have with your child, but will always alert you to safety concerns or ways you can assist with therapy goals.

To be continued in Part 2...

Read more about Dr. Courtney Klein and her perspectives:

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