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How to Encourage Your Child to Start Seeing a Therapist

  1. Find a good time to have a quiet and calm discussion with your child. Talk about how much you love him/her and yet you have also noticed that at times he/she seems to be struggling.
    • Listen well to the response
    • Acknowledge your child's feeling: "I hear you saying..."
    • Do not comment or add any thoughts of your own.
  2. Talk about the idea that if you had a pain in your knee or were finding math really hard, a special someone who really knows about this stuff would be helpful. Introduce the idea of seeing a special someone who really understands the way people, especially young people, think and feel AND knows how to help him/her feel better. "This person is called a therapist."
  3. Introduce the idea that a therapist is just a nice person who knows lots about emotions, feelings, and how to deal with them better. Therapists are good at helping people figure out what is causing the hard feelings, and they know how to help kids solve problems, no matter what they are.
    • Listen again.
  4. Explain that you will speak with a good therapist you know about. You will make sure he/she is nice and that the child will be comfortable with her. You will tell the therapist a little bit about you and the stresses he/she is feeling.
  5. Assure them that you will go to the appointment with them, that sessions are less than 1 hour and that your child and the therapist will talk, draw, play games, dance, and many other things that are enjoyable AND the therapist will help you learn ways to feel better.
  6. Ask if the child understands why going would be a good idea.
    • Listen again.
  7. Then say, "I can come in to your session so we can all meet each other then when you are comfortable, I will sit outside the room so you can work together privately with your therapist."
  8. "That's it! Nothing weird or scary, just easy and good."
  9. Reinforce that this is a good thing and that you are going on the journey too. Tell your child you love and are proud of them, and that you will figure out how to be happier together.
  10. Leading up to the appointment, reinforce the above ideas.
    • Keep being available and listening!

Shauna Gray, MA, R-DMT, RP

Interactive Therapist, Registered Psychotherapist, Expressive Arts Therapist

  • • Individualized
  • • Insightful
  • • Integrated

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