It takes a village to raise a child. Never has that old adage been more true than in child and family therapy. Children with mental or behavioral health issues require a lot of support, and not just from a therapist or counselor – from the entire family unit, too. Encouraging your child and collaborating with his or her counselors can make all the difference in the long-term outcome of therapy.
Learn what your child needs from you and the rest of your family at each stage of the therapeutic process:
stage I: pre-therapy
Before your child begins his or her journey, it’s important for you to ask questions and weigh in on the various therapeutic modalities being suggested by the counseling team. You may not be a licensed therapist, but no one will know your child as deeply as you do. Your insight will be invaluable as counselors strategize the proper treatment plan for your child and his or her unique needs.
Some important questions to ask include:
- What is the goal of my child’s therapy?
- What new skills should my child develop as a result of counseling?
- What should I expect?
- Will I see a change in my child? How so? When?
- How do you plan to gauge the effectiveness of this counseling?
- What can I do to best support my child throughout the therapeutic process?
stage II: during child and family therapy
There can be, unfortunately, a lot of shame and stigma associated with getting your child into therapy. However, it’s important for the people involved your child’s caregiving to know what is going on. Doctors, teachers, siblings and immediate family members should all understand their role in supporting your child through therapy.
Sometimes, families have a hard time implementing some support mechanisms at home. Whether you feel you lack the skills and understanding, or are simply having a hard time getting the strategy to “stick,” you should ask your child’s counselor or case manager for some training resources. There are many video tutorials available, or your therapist may be willing to visit your home and model proper support techniques and strategies. In some cases, families may be eligible for a community-provided support partner.
Throughout your child’s therapeutic journey, it’s important for the counseling team to provide you regular progress reports, opening the communication floodgates to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and where there are opportunities for further improvement in the treatment plan or at-home support system.
It’s also important to ensure your child spends plenty of quality time with his or her family. Simply stated, children need time and attention from their families – quality time and attention. When you take the time to engage and interact with your child, without outside distractions, you show the child that he or she is important and loved. You also give your child a chance to learn and model good behavior while creating an open environment in which to talk about his or her thoughts and feelings. And what better way to learn about your child’s strengths and weaknesses than in an intimate family-centric environment?
stage III: family therapy
The results of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry shows that family involvement is key to treating many behavioral health and conduct disorders. Historically, family therapy has earned a bad rap – parents hinder their child’s treatment, parents don’t do anything but defend their parenting skills, etc.
But family therapy, specifically parent management training and behavior family therapy, teaches families to promote good behavior via positive reinforcement while reducing family stressors that may be contributing to a child’s destructive behavior.
After your child has had a few sessions with his or her counselor, they may suggest engaging in a combination child and family therapy.
contact creative counseling center
If you would like to talk about the therapy options available to your child or adolescent, or would like to support your child’s therapy with family therapy, complete the brief form below and we will contact you to schedule a complimentary consultation. Our team of therapists includes many child and family therapy specialists. It would be our honor to connect you with the therapist who can best meet your needs!