When children encounter challenges and are referred to therapy, they are often referred alone to a therapist, and this is valuable and important work. At the same time, often the so-called “problem” is more readily addressed by seeing the parents together and empowering them to manage “the problem,” which often then disappears. In my experience with parents struggling with challenging child behaviors, sitting in my office and discussing what to do may not be very helpful. In such cases I have found it more cost and time efficient to allow parents to learn through modeling and coaching, as the challenges are actually occurring at home. Individual therapy for the child, alongside such parent coaching is usually advisable as well, especially when the child therapist and parent-coach have a mutually supportive, and collaborative relationship. At times, family therapy is the most effective option.
Children and Adolescents
For parents seeking therapy for their children, I recommend letting your children know that you simply consider therapy an important part of their education. The reality is that no matter how bright and successful children are academically or in their extracurricular activities, their sense of contentment and satisfaction with their lives and their success in the work world depend largely on their ability to relate effectively with others. For parents contemplating divorce, I recommend putting the children in therapy, before you tell them about your decision to divorce, if this is viable, so they have an established relationship with their therapist ahead of time, and so that you are able to prepare and plan how you tell them in the most effective way possible.