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What is my Child Actually Doing in Therapy?

During initial consultations, many parents have expressed concerns about their previous experiences with therapists for their children. They often say,“I don’t know what they were even doing in therapy. The therapist told me nothing!” Many are frustrated that they invested so much money and time in the process, yet they never knew what was happening or whether their child was making progress.

Due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act), it is made clear to clinicians that they are not able to disclose any specifics of what is being said and worked on in therapy. This is challenging for most parents as they truly want to be informed of the therapeutic process. There are, however, ways that clinicians are able to share and communicate the goings-on in the therapy room.

Working with children is definitely an art. Oftentimes children are reluctant to engage in therapy or are unable to sit still and talk. To make them feel more at ease, many clinicians use Play Therapy techniques. To the layman, this can often look like they are paying a lot of money for someone to play games and work on art projects with their child. Play therapy techniques are evidence-based practices and clinicians train for many hours (or years) to be able to utilize these techniques effectively.

Building a rapport with children can take a great deal of time and energy. Many clinicians choose not to work with children due to the increased effort that may have to be made in the therapy room.

If your child is seeing a therapist, ideally the therapist is giving you a general idea of what is being worked on and what strategies could be implemented at home to improve overall progress. Therapy typically only takes place for one hour during the week, so there is a lot of support and work that could continue at home to accelerate progress.

When screening therapists for your children, ask the following questions:

  • How are parents involved in the therapy process?

  • How often do you communicate with parents?

  • How will I find out what you are discussing in therapy?

  • Am I able to communicate my goals for my child?

Every therapist communicates differently with parents. Some prefer to not have much interaction. Again, HIPAA restricts therapists from revealing any details of what happens in the therapy space. Keeping this in mind, our practice strives to meet with parents regularly to ensure that their child is getting the most out of their therapy sessions. We also encourage family sessions when appropriate in an effort to address any concerns that parents may have.

Ultimately,It's important to honor their therapy as it is a safe space for your child and a skilled therapist will work to make sure they feel heard and understood.

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” – Lady Bird Johnson

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