For you, who are a dad or a mum wanting to soon understand what is that’s going on with your child: Some parents consult me because they want to know the reason why they offspring behaves in a given manner, but they don’t feel satisfied with the results of a single therapy session. Why does this happen? The therapy with children is somewhat slower than with adults. A session of 2 hours can be really productive with adults, due to the fact, that there’s a lot of time to listen, prepare the patient’s record, estimate exhaustively patient’s beliefs, and even generate a mechanism of constraint. But with kids, the first hours of interactions are used for creating a trustworthy space in the first place, a space of comfort and liberty. That’s why it may appear to you that there hasn’t been much progress, but you have to understand that the success of the whole therapy depends mainly on the very first session with the therapist.
This has something to do with the experiences, skills and the education of the psychologist in general, as not all persons have a feeling for children or do better with teenagers with whom they can actually talk instead of little kids, with still very basic level of verbal development and missing ability to think precisely. I recommend you to get to know about the qualities of the specialist beforehand. You can use the first meeting to find out if he or she is on good terms with your offspring. Once you’re sure, you’ll know you’ll be dealing with a suitable professional.
In specialized therapies to heal traumatic events, the cases are nothing but easy; on the contrary, they’re about sexual, psychological and physical violence, abandonment, lost etc., and these situations require even more prudent time to manage them. That’s why proper usage of didactic elements renders essential for making the session pleasant for the little patient. All measures are to be organized according to the age of the child, because, even if the difference may seem small, it is something very different to treat a 6 years old and a 7 years old. It’s indispensable to take the individual development into consideration, and establish strategies to be incorporated in the interaction with a child during the session.
Having said this, what more is needed? The unconditional help with a lot of patience is necessary for the kids to recover quickly, to evaluate his or her relationship-building skills with peers and with adults, his or her thoughts and emotions which are evoked by being in a specific place (like the psychologist’s office, playing room), the gender of the therapist, his or her own age, if he/she looks alike as someone the child knows — all those can be determinant factors.
The children of certain ages are not able to recognize and name their emotions clearly. That’s why one has to use communication codes, like chips, counters, colors, textures or objects which will be the base for future sessions.
Personally, I think that everything counts in this space: it should be fun so that the little patient actually wants to return. If that’s the case, you should consider it as a success, as you have a child in front of you who is motivated to continue the psychological treatment and will be better and better with time — usually faster than you think, because even if we start slowly, we’ll get to a better rhythm later — it’s all about patience and perseverance.
What do children want when they have to go to an unknown place with an unknown person? If you responded “to play”, you’ll completely right. All questions asked to a child must be done via playing, because the way they play shows us everything about how they think and how they build relationships with others, about their view on social roles and emotions. Something graphical is always better than letters or strictly defined elements. It is also important to vary the activity during the session and between sessions. Each activity should last no longer than 25 minutes, depending on the attention span and focus abilities of the patient. The combination of the environment, interactive materials and activities makes the session productive and step-by-step effective. However your specific case is, simple or complex, you always have to have willingness and the disposition to see the results.
¿Something similar happened to you?, ¿You went to a therapist with your child and you didn’t want to return? Tell me what you liked and what you disliked, so I can help you.