How do I talk to my child about coming to therapy?
Try this: We go to therapy to learn about our feelings and how to take care of them. The therapist is like a teacher or coach. She helps us learn about ourselves and each other so that our family can be a good team. I’m excited to go to therapy with you and be the best mom/dad I can be. If you have a specific behavior you’d like your child to work on, let them know without judging or criticizing. You might say “I’ve noticed that you get really upset when your friends play with someone else. A therapist can help you to feel better.” or “Your teacher has been saying it’s hard for you to get your work done. A therapist will have ideas for how we can help you with that.”
I’m used to handling things on my own. Does seeing a therapist mean I’m crazy?
Not at all. People who ask for help are the strongest people we know, and we’re honored to be the ones helping them grow even stronger. See our article What Your Therapist Sees in You to discover what coming to therapy says about you.
How can therapy help my parenting?
Our therapy training has helped us to be better parents, and we’d like to pass that wisdom on to you (without you having to go to graduate school). By attending therapy to talk about your parenting, you can become a therapeutic resource for your child and help him or her to grow into an emotionally healthy adult. This can often be the most efficient way to teach your child new coping skills, as he’ll have your expertise every day (not just for an hour a week). Plus, when you can experience and process your own emotions effectively you naturally model that for your child.
When is it time to see a therapist?
When you aren’t feeling positive about your day to day life or you reflect on what you’re doing and think “I want to do better,” you’re ready for change. It can also be a good idea to see a therapist during times of transition (moves, entering a new career or school, engagement/marriage, parenting, transitioning your children to adulthood) and times of loss (changes in health status, separation/divorce, death), especially if you hope to handle it differently than your parents did. You should seek help immediately if you or your child is feeling suicidal, experiencing hallucinations or delusions, injuring him/herself intentionally, experiencing intense emotional outbursts, or becoming disinterested in hobbies and social activities, as these are signs of significant distress.
What’s the difference between talking to you and talking to a friend?
Good friends are an important source of emotional support in your day to day life. Therapists are specially trained to help you grow and heal. Your therapist will listen without judgment and help you find your strengths, respond differently in moments of stress, and move toward the future you want for yourself. Therapy is also completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings by saying what’s on your mind.
How does it work? How long will it take?
The first step is an initial consultation. At this appointment we’ll gather information from you to ensure that we understand what is happening and confirm whether we are the right therapists for the job. If you choose to work with us, we’ll make a plan together to reach your goals as efficiently as possible. We’ll be honest about how long and how much work we expect it to take, and you’ll make your own decision about when and how to do the work. A typical course of therapy begins with weekly appointments of 45-50 minutes in length and transitions to bimonthly or monthly appointments as you enter a maintenance phase.
What’s a therapy session like?
You (or your child or family) will tell your therapist about the concerns that brought you to therapy. Your therapist will be warm and supportive and will suggest strategies you could try to make things better, but the choice to try them (or not) is always yours. If the therapy session involves children, puppets, figurines, games, and art materials will be used to act out scenes and practice new skills. You’ll take the new skills you’ve learned in the therapy session and practice them at home until they feel more natural to you. Doing this helps you to reach your goals more quickly. If your child attends a therapy session alone, the therapist will talk briefly with you about the skills that were practiced and suggest a way for you to practice at home.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
We’re glad you asked! Therapy that may involve both partners should always start with both partners present to establish mutual goals and trust. The therapy process may later involve some individual sessions for each of you, but only after both of you have a trusting relationship with the therapist.
My partner won’t come to couples therapy. Can I do the work by myself?
Yes! When you have concerns about your relationship it is often most effective to attend therapy together. However, we know that isn’t always an option. A trained couples therapist can help you change your role in the relationship to effect change in the relationship. It is extremely important to seek this kind of help from a therapist that is trained in couple and family therapy, like the ones you’ll find at Better Together. In Maryland, therapists who are licensed to practice couple and family therapy always have LGMFT or LCMFT after their names. Other types of therapists (LCSW-C, LCPC, Psychologist) may or may not have training in couples therapy. Give us a call for help figuring out who can best help you.
Are you going to tell me to medicate my child?
No. We’ll suggest that you consult with a Psychiatrist about medication if we think it could be helpful in your case, but the choice will always be yours. Our job is to teach you and your child strategies that help you accomplish your goals together, whether or not you also take medication.
Won’t a pill make me feel better faster?
Medication can be part of the healing process or help you manage symptoms, but isn’t always needed. We’ll determine together whether a medication evaluation might help you meet your goals, and refer you to a Psychiatrist for that service if needed. Research shows that medication is most effective when paired with psychotherapy, so therapy would be recommended whether or not you choose to take medication.
What if I don’t like my therapist?
A good fit between therapist and client is absolutely necessary for therapy to be effective. You should always tell your therapist if you aren’t comfortable or feel like things aren’t working out, and try working with someone else before deciding therapy isn’t for you. We’re always happy to help you find the right fit, whether it’s here or somewhere else.