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Preparing Your Teen for Counseling


DO:


* Talk to your child about coming to therapy before the first appointment. I recommend saying, “You are going to be meeting with Anthony. In his office you can talk about anything that you would like. He also has a lot of neat things that that you can do” If your child asks why he or she is going to therapy, you can say, “You seem to be having a tough time at home, school, etc., and sometimes it helps to meet with someone else who is not your family or someone from school.”


* Recognize that therapy is a process. While results are important—and anticipated—your child’s growth can’t be hurried. Some adolescents may open up and experience change quickly, while others may take longer.


* Have flexibility with your parenting style and be open to tweaking ways of interacting with your child as we work towards treatment goals and reduction in concerning behaviors.


DON’T:


* Leave the waiting room while your child is in session. If your child needs to leave early (i.e. feeling sick, an emergency), it is important that you are readily available.


* Ask your child questions about their session when they leave the office (i.e. “what did you do with Anthony?”, “did you have fun?”, “did you tell Anthony xyz?”) Your child’s therapy session is personal and private. Questioning your child about their session may negatively impact their experience of therapy, as they may feel like they cannot express some feelings or have to express others knowing that they might be questioned by their caregiver after the session.


Note: Because caregivers are such an important part of treatment, I schedule individual Parent Consultations Sessions without the child present, so that we may work together to discuss treatment, explore concerns in-between sessions, and identify ways to work together on goals for treatment. Family sessions are also included throughout the treatment process.


* Worry if your child is resistant to treatment in the beginning. Opening up about thoughts, feelings, and stressors occurring in one’s life is nerve wracking for anyone! Trust that overtime your child will begin to see therapy as a routine. As they build rapport with me, their resistance will decrease, and progress will start to occur.

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