It’s weird, right? Meeting with a complete stranger and telling them about yourself and why you’re at their office for therapy. It isn’t always that way for the children and teens that see us.
Therapists are trained to talk. But we don’t just talk, we communicate, we evaluate, we assess, we active listen, we diagnose, and we do everything we are taught to do to make our clients more comfortable about communicating.
Children and adolescents are more likely to communicate their fears, ideas, needs, and situations to a therapist than most adults are. Most kids have a strong desire to “feel better” or “fix” what they’re dealing with.
Do you know you’re talking even if you aren’t saying anything? Body language is a major form of communication in therapy. Even when someone refuses to talk, they are still communicating by their actions or body language. Pointing your knees away from someone means you don’t want to interact with them. Crossing your arms is a way to protect your body and close yourself off from others. There are many other ways we communicate with our bodies, and those ways help us to determine how you really feel, talking or not.
How do you make your child or teen more comfortable at their first session? 🤔
- Talk to them about the positives of therapy. Let them know that the therapist is there to help them and not harm them.
- Communicate with the therapist about ways to engage your child. If you know your child or teen is adverse to interactions that require talking, let the therapist know what they might need to prepare for. Some children prefer play therapy and some teens prefer to talk with music or headphones on.
- Don’t force the issue. If your child or teen is still angry about going to therapy, then let them know they don’t have to talk. Let them know it’s okay to just attend the session and do their best to be involved. This often will ease the anxiety they feel about the first session.
- Inform them. Let you child or teen know why you’re going to therapy. If there’s an issue that led to happy, if you’re going as a family, if it’s court ordered, or whatever the reason, let them know. They will feel more comfortable knowing they have a goal, and the reason leads to the goal.
- HAVE FUN! Therapy doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a great therapist client relationship comes the freedom of being able to be themselves with a safe and confidential outside party. Therapists can’t disclose what the client says unless it’s going to hurt them or someone else. Knowing you have that type of person who is cheering you on for a successful life, can really make it easier to tell the truth about how you feel. This will also give the child or teen comfort, to know they have a safe space, where no judging will happen, and they can just relax and enjoy their mental health journey.
These are just a few ways to prepare your child or adolescent for therapy sessions, but these steps will make it easier not only for your child or teen, but for you and your therapist, too!
I’m currently taking new clients in Kentucky and my office hours are flexible for families and working parents. Contact me to set up an initial appointment.
Warrior Battalion pays for therapy for veterans and their family members, sign up here for free sessions.
Questions? Email me or text me for help.
I look forward to seeing you in therapy!
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