The decision to seek psychological therapy for your child or teenager can be a difficult one, and as a parent, you may be unsure of what to expect during the first session. It's natural to feel anxious or uncertain about the process, but understanding what happens during the first session can help ease some of those worries.
In this blog post, we will outline what typically happens during the first session of psychological therapy with a child or young person, as well as who should attend the session.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
It's important for at least one parent or guardian to attend the first session with their child. This allows the Psychologist to gather important information about your child's history and any concerns you may have as a parent. It also shows your child that you support them and are invested in their well-being.
If possible, both parents or guardians should attend the first session. This allows everyone involved to have a clear understanding of what to expect during the therapy process and it can help ensure that everyone is on the same page moving forward.
In the cases where parents are separated, parents may decide it is more appropriate to conduct the initial assessment across two sessions with one appointment involving each parent.
For younger children, the parents are encouraged to remain highly involved throughout the session. For older children and young people, your Psychologist may choose to see the young person on their own for some of the session.
GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
The first session of therapy is an opportunity for the Psychologist to get to know your child and establish a rapport with them. The Psychologist will likely begin by introducing themselves and explaining their role in the therapy process. They may also ask your child to introduce themselves and share a little bit about what's been going on in their life.
This part of the session is important because it allows the Psychologist to begin building a relationship with your child. The more comfortable your child feels with their Psychologist, the more likely they are to open up and share their thoughts and feelings.
Similarly, the Psychologist will also aim to get to know the parents and work on building a relationship. This is important as children and young people often require support outside of the sessions to implement changes and the Psychologists and parents being a united team can support these changes.
The next part of the session will typically involve an assessment of your child's current emotional and mental state. The Psychologist may ask your child questions about their mood, behaviour, and any symptoms they may be experiencing. They may also ask about your child's medical history and any medications they may be taking.
The purpose of this assessment is to help the Psychologist better understand your child's needs and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their specific situation.
After the assessment, the Psychologist will work with your child to set goals for the therapy sessions. These goals may be related to improving specific behaviours, reducing symptoms of anxiety or depression, or improving overall well-being. Similarly, you will also be involved in understanding what your goals are for your family. It's important to note that these goals may evolve over time as your child progresses in therapy.
ENDING THE SESSION
At the end of the first session, the Psychologist will likely review what was discussed during the session and confirm the next appointment time. It can take up to two sessions for the Psychologist to clarify the diagnosis and treatment options. At the end of the assessment process, they will provide you with information about the therapy process and answer any questions you may have.
It's important to keep in mind that the first session is just the beginning of the therapy process. It may take several sessions for your child to feel comfortable with their Psychologist and begin to make progress towards their goals.
In conclusion, the first session of psychological therapy with your child or young person is an opportunity for the Psychologist to get to know your child and assess their needs. By understanding what happens during the first session, you can help your child feel more comfortable and confident in the therapy process. Remember, seeking therapy is a courageous step towards improving your child's well-being, and with the support of a skilled Psychologist, they can make progress towards a happier, healthier life.