When a child is in therapy, the whole family is actually in therapy. First, there is never just one member of a family with a problem and secondly, it takes the whole family working together to help the child through therapy. Just like adults, kids can benefit from therapy and if your child is referred to a therapist, it’s important to recognize that the whole family will now be a part of the process.
Child therapy can be a scary experience for the parent as well as the child. It’s important that you are as comfortable as possible so that your child can gain the most from the experience. If you have any questions or concerns, take time to get these out in the open with the therapist from the start. Never be afraid to ask questions as you go along and to ask your child’s therapist how you and other family members can aid in the therapy process.
Some reasons therapy can be scary for the parent of the child include:
Not knowing what is being said– usually therapists will meet with the child alone for at least part of the session. This will leave you curious or anxious about what is being said when you are not in the room.
Family issues brought out in the open- sometimes past issues or family issues will need to be brought out in the open during the therapy process. This can be emotional for the rest of the family but is an important part of the process.
Not knowing how to help- at times you might feel like you have no control or that you don’t know what to do to help. You have to let the therapist do their job, be supportive and ask how you can help.
Here are some tips for the whole family when there is a child in therapy:
- Always speak about the therapy in a positive manner.
- Never tease or taunt the child about being in therapy, even in a joking way.
- Ask other children to keep certain family matters private, such as the fact that one child is in therapy.
- Talk openly and frequently with your child as much as you can.
- Always set a good example by taking care of your own needs and speaking positively about therapy.
- Be open and understanding to feedback from your child and the therapist.
- Encourage your child to speak openly in therapy and don’t punish her for expressing her feelings.
- Let all family members know that therapy is a safe place.
While it can be challenging for the entire family, take it one step at a time, remain calm and remember the importance of why you are doing it. This can be a growing experience that will build the family bonds and improve your relationships forever.