I have joked for a long time that I was going to put on a conference for clients with break out sessions titled:
Your Therapist is not a Magician.
It is not your child who needs to change....it is YOU.
I can't fix stupid. (Yes I know that one is mean, but sometimes I am driven to go to that mean place in my head.
Why parenting your small child from the couch is not working.
There are others but I can't think of them right now.
I have found that a surprising number of people seem to have the belief that therapists have all of these magical things that we do that will make their child behave the way they want them to. What is even more amazing is why people can not understand why nothing is changing when they fail to follow through with anything discussed in the course of a therapy session. To go along with that, it is stunning how people can tell you 10 different ways an idea will not work, prior to actually putting said idea in to practice. Let me tell you that one has made my head explode so many times it is a wonder I am not sporting a tiny shrunken head on top of my neck. Even though it is frustrating and makes me want to bang my head against the concrete walls outside my office, that stuff is par for the course of therapy. If the people were dealing they wouldn't be there.
I think one problem is that people in our country have become so used to everything being fast and gratification being instant that they expect everything and I mean everything to happen quickly. Therapy just doesn't work that way and it is VERY difficult to get people to understand that. Insurance companies do NOTHING to dispell this notion and in fact perpetuate it in my opinion, with their willingness to pay for only 6 sessions, and only certain diagnoses meeting criteria for payment. How lucky we are that people who have no education or background in anything that even remotely resembles mental health know EXACTLY how long it takes to help a person resolve mental health issues, and to top it off they also are privy to which diagnoses are worthy of reimbursable treatment. My personal favorite is when said people from insurance companies tell me how to proceed with treatment of a client THEY HAVE NEVER MET.
I don't know that I have the energy tonight to further this rant about availability and affordability of mental health care. Or the rant about the pittance providers are reimbursed for their services. That one will have to wait for another day.
So to turn this back to where I started I give you my wishes/tips for parents seeking mental health treatment for their children:
- Understand that you as a parent will likely have to do things differently if lasting change is going to happen.
- Your child's behavioral problems did not develop overnight, and they will not be resolved overnight, so please be patient. Therapy is a process.
- Try suggestions before saying they will not work.
- Try suggestions more than once before saying they will not work.
- You must get up off the couch, get down on your child's level to get them to listen to you. Hollering directives from across the room is the best way I know of to get your child to ignore you.
- Listen when I talk about what is developmentally appropriate for your child. A three year old can not clean his room by himself. A 6 year old is not going to come into my office, sit nicely in a chair and tell me all about her problems. The toys are there for a reason, please let me use them as they are intended.
- Bring your child to appointments on a regular basis. I can not help them if they go three months between each session.
- Please remember that I have no magic wands, potions, or spells to magically turn your child into a perfect little angel. Mainly because magic is not real and neither are children who are perfect angels.
I think that is all I have to say about that.