As a parent, you probably have a lot of questions about how to best help your child. Are they learning the right social and emotional skills to be successful in the world? When your child is struggling – to make friends, take care of themselves, to do well in school, or to manage their feelings, you likely want to find a professional who can help. That person should be a team player – they need to help you understand your child’s difficulties, help come up with a game plan and work with your family and child to make things better.
Luckily, there are plenty of therapists to choose from!
Your child needs help to develop a trusting and mutually respectful relationship with their therapist in order for therapy to work, so picking the right therapist is important. Here are some signs your child and their therapist are working well together. These questions can help you decide which therapist may be right for your child:
- Does your child feel like they can easily talk to their therapist? Connection can take time, especially if your child is more reserved. The therapist needs to be able to find ways of talking with your child- for example, can the therapist elicit something through a game or activity? The therapist (and family) should be working hard to get to know who the child is and how they communicate. Kids are often not very verbal about their difficulties, so therapists need to be patient but also encouraging, open minded, and inviting the child to show who they are. Kids often communicate through their actions but they can learn to pay attention to how they feel and behave, and use those skills to better manage their challenges. Over time, your child can learn to be more verbally expressive and learn better ways of handling adversity and enjoying their life
- Does the therapist offer new perspectives and insights for your child? Therapy for both adults and kids is about learning new skills to tackle life’s challenges, big and small. The therapist and your child should be working on understanding your child’s challenges, motivations, and goals. Can your child gradually take insights from therapy and apply them to their life? Can they start to tackle problems one at a time and begin to deal with setbacks more maturely? The therapist doesn’t do the work for them, but they should be a good companion for the journey.
- How closely is your child’s therapist working with your whole family? When a child or teen is in therapy, sessions naturally focus on helping the child grow, but the whole family is also important. Is your therapist meeting with you and offering tips for how you can help your child between sessions? The therapist and parent(s) are a team, working closely and communicating often to help your child grow and develop new skills
It can be difficult to gauge whether therapy is helping because it is a gradual process. Sometimes, it can feel like pulling teeth to get details about your child’s school day, let alone their therapy sessions! But it’s important to pay attention to clues like enthusiasm about their sessions, their willingness to share, and marked improvements in their behavior and communication to see how things are going. Your child should be learning how to communicate better, how to take better care of themselves, and how to overcome challenges.
And remember – it takes time! That’s why it’s crucial that you and your child see therapy as a commitment. There might be times where life gets in the way of therapy – or your kid complains from time to time. But it’s important that once you find the right therapist to stick to therapy consistently so it can be effective.
Sometimes you may decide to switch therapists. That’s why it is crucial to know what to look for in a child therapist, and make sure therapy is helping along the way. Right now, Start My Wellness has several therapists who specialize in working with kids and/or teens currently. Since SMW is located in Ferndale by 696 and I-75, it’s convenient to visit us from most of Metro Detroit. Schedule your appointment to start your child’s wellness journey today!