What to expect when taking your child to a therapist

Visiting a therapist for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it’s because your child is facing some behavioral challenges. But sometimes it’s what you need to do to resolve recurring issues and bring your family closer together.

To help put your mind at ease, here’s everything you need to know about pediatric therapy. Our mini-guide includes everything from the types of problems a children’s therapist can help with to what happens in therapy sessions.

What is pediatric therapy?

Pediatric or children’s therapy for grieving children is like any other type of therapy but specially designed for children under the age of 18. Many children and teenagers have problems that greatly impact their feelings, behavior, and learning abilities.

In children’s therapy sessions, your child is in a safe space where they can discuss their feelings and the therapist can get to the root of the problem. When the issues have been determined, the therapist will help your child develop the skills and techniques they need to feel better and improve their situation.

Who benefits from it?

Pediatric therapists help children and teens with all kinds of problems. Here are some of the most common issues children’s therapists can help with:

Going through challenging times

  • Family issues
  • Bullying
  • Problems at school
  • Health issues

Experiencing uncomfortable feelings

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress

Mental healthy conditions

How does it work?

Pediatric therapy works differently depending on the age of your child. Most children learn fastest through action. If your child is young, you’ll spend time as a family playing, drawing, and talking in therapy sessions. If your therapist feels that it is more appropriate to do “play therapy” with your child alone, they will let you know.   

Play therapy is the gold standard for children under the age of 12.  Studies show that children act out their inner worlds best through their imaginations and through directed play.  Your child’s therapist will guide your child through different types of play activities designed to help them process their feelings and to learn new skills to express their feelings in a healthy way.  Kids love play therapy because it doesn’t seem like therapy at all, which is great! 

During sessions with teens, they’re encouraged to talk through their feelings and work on finding solutions with the therapist. The therapist will guide them through activities and help them develop the skills they need to cope. 

Whatever the age of your child, the therapist will support them as they learn and help them believe in themselves. They’ll praise your child and help them become aware of their strengths while trying to improve their weaknesses. 

Some types of therapy sessions are conducted between the therapist and the child. Other forms involve the whole family. Whichever type of therapy your child is receiving, you can always talk to the therapist and ask for ideas on how to help your child more at home.

What happens in children’s therapy?

The first therapy session is usually done with the therapist, your child, and you. Your therapist will ask you both questions and listen carefully to your answers. This helps them learn more about your family unit.

After that, your child will attend further therapy sessions, during which the following may take place:

  • Talking
    Your child will be encouraged to talk as a healthy way of expressing their feelings. As the therapist gives them their full attention, they’ll understand they’re being heard and will be more open to expressing further feelings, thoughts, and concerns.
  • Taking part in activities
    The therapist will introduce activities to help your child learn more about their feelings and develop coping skills to help them in their day-to-day lives. Playing, drawing, mindfulness, affirmations, and deep breathing are all things your child may learn.
  • Practicing new skills
    After the therapist helps your child develop new skills, they’ll encourage them to practice them so they can use them out in the real world. They may play games and create scenarios in which your child has to use self-control, follow directions, or accept losing.
  • Solving problems
    If your older child has a specific problem, the therapist will address it directly. They’ll ask your child how their problems affect them personally, at home, and at school. Together they’ll discuss ways to overcome the problems and improve their quality of life.

How long will it last?

There’s no one answer to this question. How many therapy sessions your child needs really depends on what the problem is and how committed you and your family are to solving it. For example, helping your child learn coping methods to handle their grief after losing their pet will take fewer sessions than a structural family therapy treatment plan that involves a number of different family members.

The goal of pediatric therapy is to help your child to get the tools they need to address their problems or to help them manage their symptoms better. Depending on what the issues are, this could take weeks, days, or even months. 

How can parents help?

Although it’s your child who really needs to commit to pediatric therapy to make it work, there are things you can do to help your child get the most out of therapy. We recommend:

  • Finding a therapist that you and your child are comfortable with and who works with children or teens
  • Take your child to every appointment and make sure they never miss a single one
  • Talk to your child’s therapist and ask for their advice on how you can help your child at home
  • Spend quality time doing things you and your child enjoy together every day
  • Be patient and loving with your child and support them while they’re going through a difficult time

We’re here to help

All families have problems. But if you feel like your issues are tearing your family apart and nothing you’ve tried seems to work, it may be time to reach out. Our team of Cyti therapists is trained in pediatric therapy. They can effectively communicate with your child and get to the root of the problem.

Asking for a little help isn’t something you should be ashamed of. Making an appointment to see a children’s therapist is a brave step that shows how much you care about the people around you. Get in touch today and do the best thing to get your family back on track. 

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741