Though I am available for just one parent consultation session as needed, I prefer to move through the following five session sequence:
First, I meet with one or both parents without the child. Co-parents should decide if they are more comfortable coming in separately or together for this first meeting. If at all possible, I prefer meeting each parent before seeing the child, so that I can hear each parents story and sense of family dynamics. That way I get a full sense of the child's world. Both parents stories are held in the child's psyche. The goal is to create a neutral place where a child can thrive and trust that this is a place to express themselves.
Children may decide to use their voice, play, sandplay, art therapy, games and therapeutic stories. Removing the pressure to talk helps the child feel more at ease, where they can find their own voice without being asked leading questions.
I spend the next three sessions with the child. One or both parents are welcome to come for as long as it takes for their child to feel comfortable. Parents can help their child relax by focusing on this as a place just for kids; their own time to do and say whatever they wish to. Once parents are familiar with me after the initial session, they can facilitate the child's transition.
If the client is an adolescent who does not want to come to therapy, I ask that they come in with a parent. After one or two parent/ teen sessions, more often than not, adolescents ask for individual sessions. If a teen has made their own request to see a counselor and wishes to come in first on their own, we can discuss whether an initial parent session is needed on an individual basis.
After the three initial child sessions, I meet with one or both parents again to talk about where to go from there. We will discuss my initial impressions and together we will build a preliminary strategy individually tailored to each family.
Issues addressed may range from healing from abuse, from divorce, grief and loss, alienation or estrangement, divided loyalties and step-family issues. Sometimes it is necessary to address the possibility of earning difficulties or sensory processing issues.
Sometimes parent or co-parenting education is the predominant need. If a family is re-organizing into two households, we may talk about tools for navigating the new co-parenting relationship with an eye towards enhancing, rather than hurting, the children's well being.
I value parents participation as critical in child therapy and meet with parents for consultations at regular intervals.
I am always happy to discuss further questions in person or by telephone consultation
Average practice statistics are as follows:
40% individual and couple adult psychotherapy
40% child and adolescent psychotherapy, parent consultations, co-parent therapy/ co-parenting education
20% re-unification therapy/ therapeutic supervision