Child and Adolescent Therapy
This all depends on their age, and the reason for the visit, but it’s important they know that a psychologist is someone who helps people.
Whether it’s because they’re feeling sad or worried, having problems with friends, school or siblings – a psychologist is someone to talk to, who will help them learn how to cope and feel better.
A psychologist will listen to anything they have to say, and will always be there for help and support.
They should know that mums, dads and grown ups can go to psychologists – that it’s normal and nothing to worry about.
If you have concerns about speaking to your child about their visit, feel free to call and discuss your worries.
Again, this all depends on their age.
With younger children, more of the work is done with the parents than the child. This can mean that the first session, or several sessions, are undertaken exclusively with the parents.
However, when your child does meet with the psychologist they should expect to spend sessions doing activities (like games or drawing), that are designed to get them talking about what’s been happening for them, and why they’re feeling anxious or upset.
As the parents, you will initially be in the room with your child for the introductory stages of this session. After this, your child will usually spend some time alone with the psychologist.
With older children, the initial consultation will take place alone between them and the psychologist. We encourage them to spend it talking about why they have come, and what’s happening in their life that they need help with.
They will decide on some goals they would like to achieve and discuss a plan for how to achieve them. They should then expect to spend sessions learning the skills to successfully work towards these goals. It is important for them to understand that they will likely have some things they need to try to do in between sessions. This “homework” is vital to their success. At the end of the sessions, parents may join if the psychologist feels it would be helpful.
Prior to the initial session, you will be asked to complete some questionnaires about yourself, your family and your child.
This will help the psychologist get a full understanding of the family background, better placing them to help.
This depends on their age and the circumstances, so it’s hard to be definitive.
Usually, however, parents remain in the session for the first part. They then leave to let their child do some work alone with the psychologist, before coming back in for the last part.
By splitting the time in this way, the psychologist is able to include parents in the consultation and let them understand the issues at stake, whilst providing the child with a safe space to speak and be heard.
This varies significantly depending on the situation, specific goals and the response of your child to the treatment.
Your child’s progress is of paramount importance, and will be reviewed and discussed.
1) A parent with a legal responsibility
2) A young person who can give informed consent, so long as they can pay for sessions
3) An adult with legal authority (such as a legal guardian or carer)
Both parents don’t need to give consent for a child to attend psychology sessions. If you have a legal responsibility/authority, you can arrange psychology sessions for your child without their other parent’s consent.
Psychologists have a legal obligation to report child abuse and neglect. Also, if not disclosing information may result in risk of harm to the young person or to others, a psychologist must disclose. This is explained to the child and their parent when they first come to the practice.
If a young person can give informed consent, their consent is needed for any disclosure to the presenting parent, the other parent, and third parties.
If a young person can’t give informed consent (for instance, they may be too young), the presenting parent’s consent is needed to disclose information.
If the young person’s presenting parent asks the psychologist what’s happening in sessions, but the young person doesn’t want to disclose, the psychologist will discuss this with everyone involved. The result may depend on who has provided informed consent (the child or the presenting parent), though the psychologist will attempt to resolve the conflict. The psychologist will keep the young person’s best interests a priority throughout sessions.
There is no specified age at which a young person may be found capable of giving informed consent. This capacity is assessed during an assessment, and on an ongoing basis during sessions.
A young person with an intellectual disability may be able to give informed consent. The psychologist will assess this capacity, and decide whether the young person or their parent is the person who needs to give consent. There is no specified age at which a young person with an intellectual disability may be found capable of giving informed consent. In summary, just because your child has an intellectual disability doesn’t automatically mean that you have a right to know what is going on in sessions. This is best talked about with the psychologist if you have concerns.
If you have the legal right to arrange psychology sessions for your child, and you are the person giving informed consent, you can decide who does, or does not, find out about what happens in the sessions. If your child wanted their other parent to know, it would be important to discuss that with your child, and decide what’s in their best interests.
If your child is the one giving informed consent, as we’ve already confirmed, it would be their right to choose who information is disclosed to.
If consent has not been provided to disclose information to the other parent, if the other parent contacts the practice for information, they will be encouraged to talk with you instead. Protecting your child’s privacy means we wouldn’t even tell them whether your child has been to the practice.
If the other parent also has legal responsibility for your child, the psychologist would discuss the other parent’s concerns with you and your child, so that the psychologist can decide whether psychology sessions should continue. The psychologist is always thinking about what is best for the child.
If the other parent does not have legal responsibility/authority for your child, you may arrange psychology sessions for your child without their consent.
Only with the parent’s permission will your child’s school be contacted.
However, it is usually helpful for schools to be involved so that they are able to support the child and their treatment goals.
If you are concerned about your child’s mood or behaviour it may be worthwhile talking with a psychologist.
It can surprise parents that children need to see a psychologist, but often – when they have difficulty coping – it is the most helpful way forward.
Children often demonstrate feeling anxious, upset or uncomfortable with noticeable changes in appetite, sleep or behaviour. They may withdraw socially, become oppositional, or excessively introverted or extroverted. Behaviour that is unusual for your child, but is becoming a consistent problem, can be discussed with a child psychologist.
If you are unsure, it is often helpful to organise an initial session to discuss your concerns and talk about whether proceeding with a psychologist could be beneficial.
This depends on their age.
With younger children there is usually very little resistance, as long as you frame it in such a way as shows that visiting a psychologist is normal and nothing out of the ordinary. If they see that it’s something you support them in, they’re far more likely to feel comfortable about it.
For older children, or adolescents, it can be similar to asking them to do the chores they don’t want to do. Ask them to go, and remain positive about the experience they may have. Remind them – this is not a punishment, but a resource that can help them.
If they feel like they don’t need help, encourage them to just come and talk about what is happening and go from there. They’ll be surprised by how beneficial they find it.
They are very similar and work with the same concepts. The difference is that child psychology is tailored to your child’s age and development stage, so the sessions can include activities or games as part of the treatment.
It would be good if the parent who is responsible for your care could be told if you are coming to a psychologist, especially if you are under sixteen years old. However, your psychologist will discuss with you what it is important that you share with your parent or carer, and what the limits of the sharing will be. You will have a big say in this. You can make a confidential appointment without telling your parents, as long as your psychologist is clear that you understand what you are doing and that you can afford to pay for your session.
By law, psychologists have to report any case of a child being hurt or in danger of being hurt, to people who can make you safe. So, when you tell a psychologist about bad things in your life, we will make sure that you are safe from now on, and you will not be in trouble from anyone for telling us.