Introducing Children to Therapy
Many parents ask us how best to introduce the idea of therapy to their child. We encourage you to tell your child or teen that you’ve found a really kind and caring “Feelings Coach” for them – to help them explore, talk about and play with their feelings, to get to know their feelings better and to help get the feelings out – especially if there are any feelings that are kind of stuck inside!
It can be helpful to share that with your child. It’s best to avoid “threatening” your child or teen with therapy, as we have seen that backfire. For instance, it can be helpful to refrain from saying, “If you keep this up, I’m going to take you to talk to someone so they can teach you how to handle yourself!” This kind of message tends to cause children and teens to feel badly about themselves, and thus resist the idea of therapy.
Keep the conversation short, light and uplifting. Once kids start feeling like there is something “wrong” with them, they can go into a place of shame, and hide their overwhelm from those who could otherwise help them.
And if you believe your child or teen really needs support, but they are not willing to see a therapist, it can be helpful to set a loving limit, while offering choice. Like this: “I know you don’t like the idea of going, but we care about you and we really do believe that this can be helpful. But we’d like to give you a choice. We’ve set up a time for you to meet with ______(therapist’s name), and if you don’t feel comfortable with her, we’ll set up an appointment with two other therapists and you can see who feels like the best match for you, ok? It’s important to us that you find someone you feel comfortable talking to.”
And it is helpful for you, the parent, to know that at Mindful Child & Family Therapy, our therapists use a variety of gentle and child-centered interventions when we work with children, such as:
- Art Therapy
- Therapeutic games
- Puppet play
- Kids yoga
- Kids mindfulness
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MB-CBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Our therapists will attune to your child/teen and will assess which modality will be most helpful for your unique child. We also appreciate the opportunity to work with you, the loving, committed parent. This gives us the opportunity to hear how the child/teen is doing form your perspective, and it also enables us the opportunity to empower you with the most effective tools and interventions to use at home.
We look forward to working with you, in support of your child/teen!