By Dr. Justin A. Naylor, Ph.D
A first-time appointment with a therapist can cause a little nervousness – and children and teens are no exception. Here are some tips to help you prepare your child for their first session.
- Make sure your child or teen knows why they are meeting with a therapist. Explain – in terms appropriate to your child’s age and developmental level – what problems the therapist will help them with. These can be specific issues – such as problems they’re dealing with in the family or at school – or they can be feelings or behaviors – such as sadness, anger, grief, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors – that are causing difficulties in their day-to-day lives.
- Let them know the therapist is here to help them — and their parents too — so things can go better at home. Make it clear that we all need support sometimes, and that talking with a therapist is a great way to get that support.
- Talk about what happens in therapy. Explain that their sessions might include:
- Talking – about how they feel
- Playing or drawing (depending on the child’s age)
- Activities such as deep breathing, relaxation, or meditation
- Learning and practicing new ways to solve problems, cope with their feelings, or manage their behavior.
- Explain that the first appointment is to just get to know each other and to get some information from the parents. This can take some of the stress out of the first session. In most cases, there will be three parts to the first appointment:
- Introductions and review of privacy rules
- Getting to know your child
- Discussion with parents
- Make sure you have a private area in your home where your child can talk with few distractions. Also, make sure the technology is working well. You can test the tech ahead of time and troubleshoot with the support team.
- Give your child the option to have you present for the appointment or to talk with the therapist in private.
Ready to schedule a therapy visit for your child? Log into the Amwell app and select a therapist by reading their bio to see if they specialize in therapy for kids.