What to Expect for Children in Therapy

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When a family decides to begin therapy for their child, it can be a scary and daunting process. Even with the recent attempts in the media to normalize and destigmatize mental health concerns, parents can feel unsure about seeking help. We’ve included a list of what to expect during and in between sessions and a few other important aspects of beginning therapy below.

  • The first session is an intake session, where the therapist will meet with the child and at least one parent/guardian. This is the session where we talk about why you are seeking therapy, what family and school life is like for your child, the child’s relevant family, social, emotional, and medical history, and what your goals are for therapy. This the paperwork day!
  • Please bring any relevant past documents, including psychological testing results, custody/guardianship documents, or school information you’d like your therapist to have.
  • Therapy is a 50 minute hour, in order to allow for documentation (required by insurance and licensing boards), and clean up from play therapy sessions. Therapy may be cut short at the therapist’s discretion if your child is struggling with regulating himself or herself or is showing signs of being too overwhelmed.
  • The younger the child, the more parental involvement is required. Minimally, parents are required to meet with me (with or without the child present) once every 90 days to update goals and discuss progress.
  • Please remember to call and cancel an appointment as soon as you know you won’t be able to make it, and be aware that the cancellation policy states that we require 24 hours’ notice of cancellation to avoid a late fee. If your family develops a pattern of late cancels or no-shows, you may be terminated for therapy until you can commit to your appointment times. See Summer Counseling’s official policies for more details.
  • There will be homework! At Summer Counseling, it is our strong belief that both children and families will need to practice skills they learned in session at home on a daily basis. The more time you can dedicate to practicing skills at home, the more positive change you can expect.
  • If your child is seeking therapy for behavioral issues, please read “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Foster Cline and Jim Fay as a reference for behavioral interventions. You can also investigate Summer Counseling’s “Six Weeks to Success” behavioral management program.
  • Children are entitled to confidentiality within the therapeutic setting, with the exception of legally required reporting (someone harming the child, the child harming his or herself, or the child intending to cause severe harm to another person). See Summer Counseling’s official policies for further details.
  • The exception to confidentiality is the “red flag” rule. If a child reveals some information to me that is potentially dangerous, but does not fall under the reporting mandates, I ask the child that we make a plan to tell his or her parents/guardians. This rule is in place to allow for trust between myself and your child, and to give parents and guardians reassurance that they will be informed of anything concerning.
  • Please note that the play therapy room may include objects that parents find objectionable, such as pretend weapons, anatomically correct dolls, or toys that relate to drug/alcohol use or death. Children attend therapy for a variety of reasons, and these toys and objects are here to help them tell their story. Please feel free to ask questions about anything in the play room.
  • Most families prefer to schedule appointments in the evenings, so these times fill up quickly. Please make every effort to attend your sessions unless your child is ill. Please consider at least one daytime appointment per month, especially for children in elementary school. If you are struggling with finding a time that works for your family, remember to call or check our scheduling program via mobile app or online regularly in case someone does cancel and an appointment time becomes available.