Dear Parent With a Child in Therapy
1. A lot of our time will be in play: Play is the language of children. Children speak in an abstract visual language, which looks like playing a game, building with legos, coloring, dolls, or playing catch. However, your child is actually processing emotion, improving focus, and communicating their inner world.
2. Your child is trying to tell us something is wrong: Emotional vocabulary is not something we are born with. Emotions are complex, difficult to verbalize, process, and cope with. Behavior is the easiest way to alert others something is wrong. Anyone who struggles with difficult emotions, a child or adult, will experience behavior changes. Adults are better at regulating appropriate behavior boundaries. Listen with eyes and heart, not just with ears.
3. Please respect confidentiality: Don’t ask the therapist what your child said after every session. Therapy can only happen if trust is present- trust between your child and therapist and trust that you be informed if there was something a parent needs to know.
4. I’m not blaming or judging you: Parents do the best they can with the knowledge, resources, and emotional availability they have at the time. Concerns with a child are not the fault of a parent. Children have a unique temperament, personality, emotional knowledge, and various social interactions. However, parents should be open to make adaptive changes in the home to meet their child’s needs.
5. It may take time to build rapport: Your child may not warm up to the therapist or to therapy right away. This is normal but still listen and explore if your child is not comfortable with their therapist. Just as for adults, not every therapist is a good fit for the client.
6. Your child is the client but the family is needed to heal: Children exist primarily in the family unit. Your child will thrive best if the family is open to the therapy process and change. Also, it’s a good idea to have a parent session with your child’s therapist.