Introducing your Child or Adolescent to Therapy
While most children and adolescents do not independently choose to enter into therapy, their understanding and willingness to enter into the therapeutic relationship and process is really important to ensure that therapy can be successful. As such, I encourage parents/caregivers to thoughtfully introduce therapy to their child, whether they are 5 or 16. Here is one therapist's tips for parents on introducing / preparing their child or adolescent for the process of therapy: ttp://www.lianalowenstein.com/articleBringingYourChildToTherapy.pdf.
What to Expect - Initial Session(s)
It takes about 3-6 sessions for me to get to know children, their parents/caregivers, and fully understand their unique context and troubling issues in order to develop a treatment plan. Initial sessions with me may be more directive, where I may ask you the parent to fill out rating scales about your child or your current stress level as part of my initial clinical interview; I may also ask your child or adolescent to do a more structured activity such as drawing or answering some structured questions. These activities can help me gather information more quickly about your situation. Sometimes I may invite you and your child to do an activity together.
What you and your Child/Adolescent can expect from therapy
The most natural mode of self-expression for a child is play. It is natural therefore that a child would use play and expressive arts to help resolve underlying conflicts, a traumatic past, or master their anxieties. Here's an article that provides a better elaboration on what to expect during different stages of play therapy.
Therapy with adolescents, given their older age, is less straight-forward. Some adolescents may be reluctant to play or draw initially, others may also be reluctant to discuss much of their lives. Over time, however, some may eventually feel safe enough to venture from typical talk modes of therapy (nonverbal forms of therapy can be helpful for adolescents, and even adults, who tend to shy away from talking about themselves, or those who tend to talk a lot).