Tips to help your child get used to the idea of going to therapy
1.) Do not lie to your child, regardless of their age
They need accurate, age appropriate information about what to expect at their first appointment. Providing them with facts they can understand not only helps decrease their anxiety, it helps lay healthy groundwork for a positive experience in therapy. Telling them their therapist’s name, office location, or even showing them a picture of their therapist are all helpful ideas.
2.) Give them some say in the matter
When kids feel like they have choices, it helps them feel more confident about new situations. Younger kids might like to pick what outfit they will wear to their first session, or select a special toy to bring. Older kids might have a day of the week they prefer, or may even have preferences about whether they see a male or female therapist.
3.) Let them express their thoughts and feelings
They might cry and tell you they don’t want to go. That’s ok-therapy can be overwhelming for adults at first thought too. Children respond well to stories and characters they can identify with personally. Reading some books together about beginning therapy also might help ease the transition. The following are available on Amazon:
4.) Encourage them to ask questions
It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers! Letting them know that, together, you can ask the therapist all sorts of questions when you meet will help reinforce the idea that everyone will be working together!
If your child continues to be distressed about the idea of therapy, please reach out to their therapist for more personalized ideas about how to help!
By: Torrie Giovinazzi, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC