If you have a child that has been showing signs of mental health trouble, you are likely concerned about the situation and about your child's well-being. Whether they seem depressed, anxious, or have other mental health symptoms, you may be considering the possibility of sending them to counseling. However, you might also be unsure of how counseling and therapy work for younger children. Get to know some of the facts about how therapy works for children. Then, you can better understand the process when you take your child to their first therapy appointment.
Therapy Works By Building a Trusting Relationship
When you take your child to the therapist for the first time, do not expect your child to have instant progress on their mental health issues. Therapy with children especially depends on building a trusting relationship between the therapist and your child. This will take some time.
Sometimes, a child will be trustful of a therapist after the first session, but oftentimes, it takes several meetings before that trust forms. Be patient and know that your child's therapist is working to build that connection with your child so they can help your child going forward.
Therapy Works Through Play
Oftentimes, therapy with children, especially young children, can look like your child is just having a play date with an adult. However, there is a lot more to it than that. Children in therapy often engage in guided play activities that help reveal things about their thinking, feelings, and experiences to the therapist.
For example, in child's play therapy, a therapist may ask your child to draw a picture of an important place to them or of their family. What the child chooses to include and how they draw certain things can help to determine if the child has been through trauma, if they have unhealthy attachments, or various other issues.
Play therapy allows your child to feel comfortable with what is going on in their therapy sessions but also allows the therapist to get a great deal of information from your child. Then, when they sit down to talk to your child about things, they can connect more meaningfully and make suggestions and the like that are more useful to your child. So, do not be dismayed if after therapy, your child simply reports that they colored or drew pictures or otherwise played. This is a normal technique used in child therapy.
Now that you know more about how therapy works for children, you can be prepared for your child's first session with their new therapist.