How do I get my child to see a psychologist?

You may be wondering how to get your child to see a psychologist. Here’s how to make him more comfortable with the idea.

People of all ages can benefit from seeing a mental health professional. However, children may be afraid to talk to someone they don’t know. They may also distrust something they don’t fully understand. You may be wondering: How do I get my child to see a psychologist?

It’s common for a child to not want to see a therapist because that person is a stranger, says Scyatta Wallace, PhD, a psychologist in Brooklyn, N.Y., who specializes in creating mental health wellness and leadership development programs for teens and women. youths. .

“The very idea of ​​doing something that is very unfamiliar to them can be really difficult for them,” says Wallace. “They could be really nervous or hesitant about it.”

You can help your child get over his fear or reluctance by explaining why therapy might be helpful.

Describe it as a way to make things better for your child and family, advises Dr. Beth Westbrook, a clinical psychologist specializing in psychotherapy in Portland, Oregon. “A general emphasis on the fact that talking is positive will go a long way,” she says Westbrook.

Many children may resist starting treatment. It is important to be understanding and at the same time recognize their needs and what is best for them. Child therapists are trained to handle a child’s discomfort or hesitancy, and many children are often open to continuing to meet with a therapist after initial sessions.

Since the global COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, people’s stress levels have increased dramatically. Wallace suggests that parents consider the impact on their children’s mental health, even those who seem to be adapting well to change.

“Your child may be suffering more from this pandemic than you really know and if you start to see small signs, be open to therapy as an option because they may need a lot of support right now,” advises Wallace.

If you notice changes in your child’s mood or behavior, relationships, school performance, or any other aspect of your life, it could be a sign that your child may benefit from therapy.

Some sign therapies that might be helpful for your child include:

  • changes in mood or behavior
  • sudden changes in relationships, for example, going from being outgoing to more withdrawn
  • expresses thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • seems depressed, for example, loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • changes in appetite, eating more or less than usual
  • changes in school performance

“Those are situations where a parent would be on the lookout to say this child needs support,” says Wallace.

If you are considering acting on suicidal thoughts, seek professional support immediately.

Calling or texting a crisis helpline will connect you with a trained counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, any day of the year, completely free of charge:

When your child asks about therapy

Your child may also request to see a therapist. This is common for some children and adolescents, and can be a good thing as it can be difficult to discuss certain topics with parents and caregivers. If you are concerned, therapists always share information with parents if their child’s safety is at risk.

“Especially now that conversations about mental health are really supported in schools and other spaces, the child may be more aware and open to (therapy) than the family member,” says Wallace.

She advises parents to take the application seriously. And even if she is alarmed, she tries not to show it in front of her son.

“You don’t want it to look like something is abnormal when the child asks to go to therapy,” says Wallace.

Be curious about why your child wants to go to therapy and get a sense of his feelings and the seriousness of the situation, advises Wallace.

“It might be cause for alarm, or it might not be,” says Wallace.

That’s why it’s important to have a calm, honest conversation with your child. It can help keep the lines of communication open, he adds.

Consider that it can be challenging to get an appointment with a child therapist due to the constant pressure of the pandemic on the availability of mental health care.

Also, the first therapist you try may not be a good fit for you or your child’s personality.

“You may have to go through one or two therapists before it’s a good fit for your child.” But don’t give up, says Wallace.

“It does not mean that you have failed or that your son is completely against it. It simply means that you have not found the right person.

If the first therapist is lost and if you can, take some time to explore further and seek referrals from people you trust, like your child’s pediatrician or other parents.

For example, says Wallace, some therapists are fairly quiet, while others talk a lot. During your search, think about how your child connects with people in general.

Another tip for parents is to find a licensed mental health professional with experience and training in the type of therapy that will work best for your child and family.

Before suggesting therapy, it’s a good idea to really listen to your child and see how he expresses his concerns. says Mary Alvord, PhD, a psychologist in Rockville, Maryland, who works with children and specializes in anxiety and mood disorders and the regulation of emotions and behaviors.

Your child is likely to identify with you more if you use the same words as him when he expresses himself.

Convincing your child to go to therapy can take time, and it may be best to encourage your child by suggesting why therapy might be helpful.

Parents can explain that therapy can be a way to stay healthy, just as daily routines can help us take care of our bodies.

“It’s important to normalize mental health in that way,” says Wallace.

“It’s also part of your physical health. Most children who are at least 5 years old understand their body and go to the doctor and eat certain foods, brush their teeth, they understand that there is nothing wrong with that. They get it,” she adds.

It can be helpful for children to understand if mental health is framed in the same way.

When you talk about therapy with your child:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • Try to manage your own feelings of nervousness or frustration beforehand.
  • Share a positive personal experience, maybe you were able to sleep better after talking to a therapist.
  • Encourage your child to “try it” at least once.
  • Frame therapy in a positive way to increase the likelihood that your child will not be afraid to speak up or participate in it.

Therapy can address a variety of mental health problems and symptoms in children. The goal of therapy for children can often be to provide them with emotional support and understanding, and to find new solutions and ways of coping.

Therapy can provide a pathway to becoming resilient, which is a trait that can benefit a person throughout life and fuel mental health, says Alvord.

Intervening early to help your child through therapy can set him up for success throughout childhood, adolescence, and well into adulthood.

Are you experiencing challenges finding an in-person solution for you and your child’s needs? Check out our article on the best online therapy and mental health support programs for kids.

If you are considering acting on suicidal thoughts, seek professional support immediately.

Calling or texting a crisis helpline will connect you with a trained counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, any day of the year, completely free of charge:

Leave a Comment