Most children are open to the idea of therapy. They may even enjoy it and revel in the attention from an adult other than their parents. However, sometimes a child may resist this new part of life at a time when they may already be dealing with a lot of emotional stress. Here are some ways that you can help a child who may be originally resistant to the idea of psychotherapy.
Ask Plenty of Questions
If a child is resistant to the idea of therapy, they may simply be afraid. When a child is afraid, you may have to gently do some digging to find out the motivations for the fears. This is not likely the time when they will come to you with the questions they have, but you can get them to open up by asking some questions of your own. Open-ended questions tend to work best, but you may want to mix it up with some direct questions as well. Try some of the following:
- What do you imagine your first session in therapy would be like?
- Everyone gets afraid of new experiences sometimes. Have you ever been afraid of something that ended up being not scary at all once you tried it? What was that like?
- What is the worst thing that can happen in therapy?
- What would make this experience easier on you?
Talk About Who Goes to Therapy
Your child may have seen some of the negative stereotypes of therapists that exist in television and movies. In reality, a psychotherapist is an ally in healing. Your child's heroes may even have been to see a therapist. Among the famous folks who have spoken out about the benefits of therapy in their own lives are Kristen Bell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga, J.K. Rowling, Shelley Long, Kesha, and Lena Dunham. Talking about celebs in therapy can help normalize it for your child.
Create a New Weekly Tradition
To help alleviate some of the nerves that the child may feel about trying the new experience of therapy, you should create a weekly tradition around the therapy outing. After the child's appointment with the psychotherapist, you may make going out for ice cream or another special treat a part of the weekly tradition. Be consistent and deliver the reward every week. That can help your child better adjust to therapy and even start to look forward to both the therapy appointment and the fun experience after it's over.
Finally, keep in mind that the psychotherapist, one like Caroline B. Goldberg, LCSW, LLC, may be able to help your child work through the resistance even if you struggle to do so. Behavioral therapy addresses a wide range of issues, and initial resistance is no reason to keep child away from something that can ultimately be the best thing for their overall well-being. When your child has access to therapy and your unconditional support, you are setting them up to overcome any obstacle.