Counseling. Therapeutic Services. Behavior Management. Emotional Support. ERMHS (Educationally Related Mental Health Services). All of these pretty much mean the same thing: therapy. So what is therapy? What does it look like? How will it help your child? Let’s grab a coffee, sit down, and talk about therapy.
By general definition, therapy is the act of a professionally trained Counselor working, either one on one or in a group, to provide support to increase a person’s well-being and quality of life. This can include a Counselor helping a person with their current behavior, emotion, social, or mental aspect. In California, Counselors must have an advanced college degree and either a license or credential to provide counseling.
Let’s talk a little about how therapy works within the
- The first thing to know about therapy is that it’s a process. In general, life struggles do not occur quickly, they happen over time. Because of this, it can take time to resolve. Progress is also, not linear. You may see growth over a couple weeks or months and then hit a plateau or even a decline before the goal is reached. This is especially important to know when working with kids. Because kids bodies grow and change at different times and different rates, progress in therapy cannot be predetermined.
- Although medication for mental or behavioral concerns is beneficial and sometimes necessary, therapy is a lasting treatment method. While medication effectiveness can diminish, what is learned in therapy can last throughout a lifetime. Let’s look at an example. If a child is suffering from anxiety and unable to attend school or other social functions, medication can assist in the stress that the body feels during these times. However, therapy can give the child tools and strategies to use to combat the thoughts, feelings, and behavior that is causing the anxiety and in affect, possibly alleviate the anxiety altogether.
- Sometimes parents bring their child into therapy to be “fixed” or to have them stop doing something that they don’t like. What we need to understand is that a child is not broken, they are just responding to something in the environment that is bothering them. Sometimes it is the job of the therapist to help the parent and the child come to a mutual understanding so both parties are happy. Here is another example.
- Therapy is best done when the parent is highly involved in the work and committed to following through. Because children usually have very little control of their schedule and day to day expectations, parents can be the best teachers and therapists in times of stress. Think of it this way,
- Although a Counselor may work hard to connect with you and your child, sometimes it isn’t the right fit. And you know what? That’s ok! In fact, research has shown that the relationship between the therapist and the client is the most important aspect of therapy that determines success. The suggested amount of time to establish if it’s the right fit is about 6 sessions. This gives the Counselor enough time to discover the best approach to working with your child and this gives your child enough time to build a relationship. If after 6 sessions, you still feel like your family would do better with a different Counselor, contact one of our Directors. We would be happy to work with you to find a better fit.
- One thing to note about counseling with children. Children learn the most through play. They learn about social expectations, how to make friends, and how the world works around them. That is why Counselors use the aspect of play very often as a therapeutic strategy. You may hear your child talk about all the fun that he had with his therapist and all the games that they played. Don’t be concerned that your child isn’t learning how to control themselves, their worries or interactions. If you are curious about how the games are used therapeutically, just ask your Counselor, they would be happy to answer any of your questions.