Answers to Concerns Families Have About Therapy
Making the leap of faith to enroll into therapy is a substantial decision that no one takes lightly or impulsively. If you have never had any experience with therapy, you may have questions or concerns. If you have had prior experience with counselling, based on your experience, you may also have questions, or even reasons for hesitation. You are not unusual. Many adults have reservations about the time, money, effort, and results they may expect from the therapy process.
Below on this page you will find answers to some of the most common questions I am asked about therapy. These responses should relieve your fears and help you have a secure image of what therapy is like with me at Help for Families Canada, and lead you to Contact Me to book your initial appointment with confidence.
Index of Concerns That Hold People Back From Saying Yes to Counselling
Please find your question, click on it and it will take you to your answer.
List of Frequently Asked Questions
ANSWERS TO CONCERNS
Q: How do I know I need professional help?
A: This is THE big question. It starts with your gut, your intuition, that quiet voice that tells you – “this is not normal”, “this is too much”. Psychologists evaluate child behaviour problems by asking 4 or 5 questions:
i) Is it not typical for their age and development? A 2 year old may bite but a 6 year old typically does not, or 3 year old may be afraid of monsters but a typical 10 year old is usually not.
ii) Is it too intense? The force of the anger or the fear is more than usual. E.g., yelling is one level, destroying property and fighting others are more intense expressions of anger. Being nervous about doing a class presentation is one thing, refusing to go to school for 2 weeks is more problematic.
iii) Has it been a problem for too long (duration)? Generally we are concerned if behaviours/conditions worsens over a 6 months period.
IV) What’s its impact? Is the problem intruding in other aspects of the person’s life? Are other people’s health and happiness (family members, peers, teachers) being restricted by the problem?
V) Are personal resources being exhausted? Probably none of the above applies, maybe you are a diligent parent who has read all the books, consulted with all your friends, and tried several of the best recommended strategies but just haven’t seen enough results. Maybe you are just weary of giving all you have to try to help others and need your role as parent, as a person, to be validated, encouraged and, strengthened.
The good news is that professionals, like myself, are trained and experienced (20 + years) in helping children regain control of their lives and, supporting families (e.g. you) to acquire effective strategies to master difficult circumstances. Contact me to explore how I can help your family.
Q: How do I avoid spending years and lots of money if the process can’t be rushed?
A: It is true healing cannot be rushed. Also, everyone processes hurts and fears at different paces. There are no guarantees that in 8-10 sessions your child could be ‘cured’. Therapy cannot be taken like a regime of antibiotics to treat the flu or an infection. However, treatment can be facilitated by a therapist structuring the sessions in a manner to provide more focus to the process so that the concerns to be addressed are being targeted in a consistent, systematic way. Providing some structure to play therapy offers, in my experience, a greater chance of achieving treatment goals in a more efficient time frame. This is the modality in which I work.
Q: How will I know if the counsellor is addressing the issues and not wasting my time and money?
A: Your time and your money are valued resources. I deliver a semi-structured approach where I give some partial direction about the play activities done in session. Interventions are intentionally chosen according to the goals we have agreed upon. Furthermore, built into my operations are regular accountability checkpoint times where parents (you) and I will talk concerning how your child is progressing. At this time you can tell me your concerns about the behaviours you see which continue to disturb you. I cannot tell you the content of your child’s sessions. I am bound by the professional ethical rule of protecting all clients’ privacy. It is part of what makes the counsellor-client relationship safe and, professional. But, I can share, in a general sense, my perceptions of how things are moving forward or not moving.
On occasion I may arrange for a joint parent-child session where you can air your concerns openly and give your child an opportunity to respond.
You will have the opportunity to ask more detailed questions about this during our first meeting. To book that appointment you may contact me now.
Q: I am worried about the cost of long-term therapy.
A: Yes, therapy with a private practitioner is not cheap and it can accumulate to a good sizeable investment. But, lots of other things we do with our money is costly but we do them because we see value in them. We enroll children in private school because we value education, we buy them branded clothing because we value their self image. We enlist them into extracurricular activities because we value their rounded, social development. Your presence here on my site is an indication of your value of your child’s emotional and mental health. You are seeking answers to your questions because you want the best help for your family. Therapy is an investment into your child’s and your family’s future.
Look 10 years into the future, imagine what it would look like if no intervention took place and the problems got worse. What opportunities in life would your child have lost access to because of this problem behaviour? What negative coping habits might they have developed to cover up their pain? The long-term costs (financially, emotionally, and relationally) of no counselling over time is higher than the immediate investment of counselling in the present.
Having said that, I believe money is never be a reason to deny anyone help. I would be very sad if a client withdrew prematurely from counselling simply because of costs. If we have developed a relationship to talk about challenging emotional issues, I hope you’d be able to talk with me about any financial struggles. There are systems in place to help families in financial need, you just need to ask.
Q: What if we can’t make the schedule work?
A: This is a common struggle for professional families. My office hours are set at times in the daytime, evenings, or Saturdays in consideration of the regular working hours of most families. Appointments are booked at the same time every week for a month at a time in advance. This allows you to arrange your schedule around this consistent commitment, e.g., every Saturday at 11a.m. Sometimes families sacrifice other engagements to accommodate this high priority appointment for the limited season. Sometimes other parties (relatives, friends, sitters) are deployed to assist in the multiple commitments of different family members. We can talk more about this in our first meeting.
Q: What kind of commitment is the therapist going to be expecting of us?
A: Some of the commitments that will help you see the best results are:
– Attend therapy for your regularly scheduled appointment with consistency
– Be encouraging and supportive of your child during the treatment,
– Be willing to express as much of your story as you can handle,
– Be open to new experiences and perspectives.
– Therapy does most of its work outside of the session, so be open to work with new ideas, behaviours, and emotions in response to our sessions.
– Commit to a treatment duration of a minimum of 10 sessions.
Q: I am divorced and share joint custody with my ex, does s/he have to be involved in counselling?
A: Well, yes, to the degree that s/he should be made aware that you are pursuing counselling, and s/he must sign the consent form prior to a therapist seeing your child. That is the ethical rule ALL professional psychotherapists adhere to. It is in the best interest of your child to discuss with your parenting partner the concerns you have about your child and explain how you think counselling might help.
However, if you and your co-parent do not have an amicable relationship, I want you to know that I have helped other parents in similar situations. I have coached many parents in how to have that conversation with their fellow parent and, I would be willing to help you. Additionally, I have also done parent coaching, i.e., empowering the concerned parent (without seeing their child), in how to better manage their child’s emotions and behaviours at home. Give me a call now. Together we can work out getting help to you and, your child.
Q: Does Help For Families Canada conduct parent assessment for custody arrangements?
A: No. The mission of Help for Families Canada is to help families heal and reconnect. We do not engage in any services which could be used vengefully against another family member. We reserve the right to withdraw our services from clients who we discover are holding this hidden intention.
If you suspect the other parent is abusive or in any way “unfit” please contact Edmonton Child & Family Services (Southside) at 780-422-2001 or your local child protection services.
Q: What if my child doesn’t “click” with the therapist?
A: Relationships take time. Some children connect quickly with new people, others are slower to warm up. There are certain things you can do to facilitate the child-counsellor connection.
- Be honest with your therapist about your child’s resistance to go to therapy. I cannot solve a problem I don’t know about. Sometimes I can make a simple adjustment to my interactions to provide a child with more safety space resulting in more ease in relating.
- Guide your child to focus on the positive experiences in coming to counselling. Sometimes kids like playing some activities more than others. You may say … “You really enjoyed playing with that monkey puppet in the last session, maybe you can ask to play with it again”. If your child has more feelings of enjoyment they usually warm up.
- Be a reassuring presence initially, if needed. In some cases, having you as parent playing in the room with them provides a base from which our relationship can develop.
- Understand and be sensitive to the highs and lows in the growth process. Parents may try to be aware that therapy may become challenging at times and children will project their discomfort with the healing process towards the perceived source (i.e., me) Patience and compassion are the best solutions.
- Finally, after 5-6 sessions, if your child remains closed to working with me then we would have a (no-cost) conversation about finding a therapist who is a better fit, or consider delaying intervention until they are more open.
(Coming Soon – Read More in blog post – when your child doesn’t want to go therapy )
Q: Is play therapy a waste of time? We tried play therapy previously and though my child enjoyed the play time, sadly no change took place.
A: Play therapy is a well studied and empirically validated modality proven to be successful with various conditions, effective with diverse cultural groups, and ages of children. The other variables influencing the success of therapy are the child and the therapist.
Children should be psychologically ready to work through their issues in play. Only the child controls his/her readiness.
As a therapist, I have regular accountability checkpoints in the treatment process to check in to assess if you are satisfied. It is unlikely that a child’s stagnation would be unrecognised and not addressed.
Q: What is the difference with a counsellor playing with my child and me playing with him/her at home?
A: You playing with your child at home can be very beneficial for your child and your relationship. The difference I bring is the years of specialised training in understanding childhood behaviours, awareness of what typical and untypical play looks like, and expertise in how to use a variety of techniques to explore, strengthen, and support your child’s experience. Additionally, as a professional, I offer your child a new, neutral, unconditionally accepting relationship within which s/he can express their true self without consequences. These combined characteristics enable me to use play to promote healing and growth in a way most parents cannot.
Q: What if I do not like the approach or methods the therapist uses?
A: Most methods used in psychotherapy have been tested and found to have some efficiency with some conditions and with most clients. You however are an individual who doesn’t have to conform to a laboratory norm. I am not “a one-trick pony” therapist. If a treatment approach or style doesn’t click with you it is acceptable for you to let me know. It may take us some time to explore alternatives but I am committed to finding an approach that can work for you. You are the client paying for services to address your concerns and this is not feasible if you are consistently uncomfortable. My mission is to equip and empower your family.
Q: How does Help for Families Canada work with other professional services that also support our family?
A: If there are other professionals working directly with your child or family sometimes it may be helpful to share information. Most commonly, I am asked to share strategies with a classroom teacher. This is done only in the best interest of the child and never without your prior written consent with a specification on the limits of the information to be disclosed.
In other contexts, sometimes marginalised families are denied access to services and supports for whatever reason. I am willing to operate as your advocate, with your permission, to get your case heard by the right authority figure, and pursue a solution that is satisfactory to your family.
Q: Since the condition is being treated by medication, do I/we still need therapy?
A: While taking supplements can offer great support, by themselves they do not lead to total wellness. Medication is good at managing the neurological or biochemical roots to some mental health conditions, such as ADHD, Anxiety, or Depression. Psychotherapy offers clients the skills and tools to live with their symptoms and, eventually become masters over them . Several studies indicate that treatment outcome for those on combined therapy and medication have higher success rates than those treated on medication alone.
After a broken foot, the doctor may prescribe crutches and physiotherapy to help a patient function with some mobility. Therapy is like getting into physiotherapy and relearning, re-strengthening, those bruised muscles. The exercises may hurt, but with persistence soon you will discard your crutches and walking strong on your own feet.
Q: In my previous experience with therapy, the counsellor blamed and shamed us for the problem we were seeking help with, how can I know this isn’t going to happen again?
A: I am very sorry this was your prior experience with counselling and it left you feeling unsafe about the therapy process. I am imperfect and while I can’t guarantee that I will never offend or, hurt or, disappoint you, I can promise that I will always be respectful. Whenever I have previously mis-stepped with a client, I have been open to accepting my responsibility and apologizing for any hurt or misunderstanding. Reaching out for help is a courageous and humble thing to do; it is my intention to honour that courage with respect and dignity. The vulnerability involved in the counsellor-clients’ relationship is, by itself, a source of healing, and when done right, it is worth the investment. I hope you will give me the opportunity to serve you with kindness.
Q: I am a Christian believer, will I be able to incorporate my faith in God and my spirituality into my therapy experience?
A: Yes. Faith is a core value for many families. I have committed to living a
lifestyle for almost 30 years, so that is the belief system I am most familiar with. I have experience with biblical counselling. During our intake session we can talk about your faith and how you envision incorporating it in your therapy.
If you do not hold a Christian worldview, this is not a barrier to receiving therapy with me. As a professional, I am respectful of your own definition of spirituality. You can be relieved that I will not preach or impose my personal beliefs upon you. Cross cultural counselling research indicate that it is not necessary for your counsellor to share your cultural identity. What is revealed to be more influential is my openness and comfort with exploring differences and my conscious resistance against treating you in any stereotypical or discriminating way.
Browse our page on Christian Family Counselling Services to find out more.
To get answers about any other questions you may have I invite you to schedule online now a time for a counselor to call you for our FREE PHONE CONSULTATION.