WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THERAPY
I help young children (typically between 2 and 6 years old) and their caregivers to address common emotional or behavioral concerns. You (the parent/caregiver) are a critical part of your child's treatment! You and your child will typically come to sessions for one hour per week; however, you and your child are together for many hours each week, giving you many opportunities to practice the therapeutic skills outside of our sessions.
When caregivers are active participants in their child’s treatment, positive and long-lasting change is more likely to happen. This typically results in a stronger, warmer, and more supportive parent-child relationship which not only helps with current emotional or behavioral concerns but lays the foundation for your child’s future mental health and well-being.
The first few sessions are about getting to know you and your family and determining if my services are a good fit. During the first session, I will complete an initial assessment which includes a comprehensive interview with you and your child where I will talk about your current concerns, the history of these concerns, and any other relevant mental health and medical history (e.g., family history, medical history, school history, etc).
Often, I will also complete some observations of you and your child playing together as part of this assessment (typically at the first or second session). You will play with your child while I observe from another room, and you will wear a small ear-piece (affectionately known as the "bug-in-the-ear") so that I can communicate with you without distracting your child. This will also be a regular part of PCIT sessions. These observations can feel awkward for some parents initially, but typically both you and your child will get more comfortable after a few sessions (and most kids don't even notice!)
Sometimes I may ask you or other people who know your child well (e.g., teachers, other caregivers) to complete questionnaires so that I have a complete picture of your child's moods and behaviors in other settings. If I want to obtain this information, I will ask you to sign a release form allowing me to communicate with these individuals.
After the assessment is completed in the first 1-2 sessions, I will talk with you about any diagnoses and the recommended treatment plan for your child and family. This process can be confusing and I am happy to answer any questions you might have. If more comprehensive testing is needed (for example, testing for learning disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or developmental delays), I will provide you with referrals and resources as needed.
If you decide to begin therapy, we will discuss the general format and structure of the sessions (e.g. who will attend, length and focus of sessions, etc.). Depending on the focus of treatment, sometimes you (the caregiver) will be involved in the entire session with your child; other times I will check in with you for 5-10 minutes at the beginning and end of session while I meet with your child individually.
Sessions typically involve you and/or your child learning new skills and ways to interact. Therapy works best when you practice in between sessions, so you (and your child) will often have "homework" to help these skills become more automatic and permanent. We will talk about this practice each week and I will support you in addressing any barriers to completing this "homework."
Each week, we will also monitor your progress in treatment. As you and your child meet treatment goals and notice sustained improvements we will collaboratively talk about when to "graduate" from therapy. There is no set length of treatment, but on average I work with families for 4-8 months of weekly sessions. Please see the FAQ, PCIT, or CBT sections for more information about therapy.
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