Therapy for my child is not working
As a parent, you have taken your child to therapy with the expectation that it will help your child overcome their current emotional trials. Yet, something has gone wrong. Your child still comes home unhappy and displaying troublesome behaviour.
You thought that therapy would help your child but it seems to be a waste of time and money. What do you do? Fortunately, hope is not lost. You do have the power to help your child move towards a happier, healthier life.
Therapy for my child is not working: Situations that hamper therapy effectiveness
Regardless of family dynamics, several situations can hamper therapy effectiveness for your child. These situations include parenting style conflict, misdiagnosis, or learning problems.
Conflicting parenting styles
The main cause of behavioural problems in children and the undermining of therapy comes in contrasting parenting styles. Contrasting parenting styles can occur whether you are married, divorced, separated, or remarried. Your child’s wellbeing requires that their parents work together with the same parenting approach and goal.
Misdiagnosis or incorrect therapy approach
Sometimes your child’s mental health may be misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis can lead to a therapy plan that is not suitable to your child’s needs rendering it ineffective. It’s important that your child is assessed by a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist in order to understand your child’s basic pathology.
Sometimes the therapy approach being used is not matching the temperament or character of your child. As such, your child may not be able to relate to the therapy or may be threatened by the approach used.
In either situation, a reassessment of your child and their needs by their current therapist may prove helpful. A second or third opinion may also assist in clarifying or confirming your child’s mental health as well as the best treatment plan available.
Sometimes learning difficulties or issues manifest in stress, change of attitudes and concentration, etc. Some examples of nonverbal learning issues include attention issues, poor processing skills, etc. If your child is having academic difficulties, they may need to see a learning specialist instead of a child psychologist.
Therapy for my child is not working: How you can help
Although therapy may not be working out for you and your child, the road may not be over yet. As a parent, you still have several options available to explore.
Talk to your therapist
When therapy is not working for your child, arrange an appointment with your child’s therapist. At this appointment voice your concerns. Ask your therapist questions and review the current treatment plan.
Is the current treatment plan focused on general goals or is it focused on the specific goals that you came to therapy for such as improved school performance or meeting family expectations? The treatment plan needs to cater for these factors.
Discuss with your child’s therapist the amount of time needed before you can expect to see results. Depending on your child’s situation, improvement could be within a couple of sessions or longer.
Assess if your therapist is a good match for your child. Does your child get on well with their therapist? Are there any issues?
Do the homework
Generally, therapists will give you and your child homework. This homework will continue the tools and skills used within the session. A single session a week with your child may show results however, those results are dramatically improved when parents work with their child and the therapist in completing any homework.
Homework may be specific or written out. Other times homework may be expressed verbally as a recap of what was used within the session.
Get empowered as a parent
Being a parent is hard at times. Often you are confronted with situations that no one told you was coming or shared tips on how to handle it. Instead, you find yourself staring at your child with a million questions and doubts racing through your mind.
The point of therapy is for the therapist and parents to work together as a team in helping your child. Part of that collaboration comes with the therapist helping the parent with parenting tools. Usually, parents interact with their children with the tools and skills they have. This sometimes can result in an incomplete toolbox.
Seek help from your child’s therapist, a support system or even a therapist for yourself who can empower you with tools in managing your child’s emotions and behaviours. This will help you to become the agent of change in your family. You become empowered thus empowering your child. Suddenly, misbehaviour becomes an opportunity to teach your child a valuable life lesson or skill in a way that is constructive and beneficial.
Healthy lifestyle changes
Ensuring that your family lifestyle is healthy will go a long way to helping your child. A healthy lifestyle will help both you and your child overcome the current situations and emotional challenges.
As a parent ensure that your child is eating a healthy balanced diet with limited sugars and junk food. Ensure that your child is eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.
Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep each day. Aim for your child to be in bed at the same time each night as well as getting up the same time each morning.
Help your child keep their lives stress free. This may mean slowing down on some extracurricular activities in order to give your child time to rest and complete those higher priority tasks. In today’s society, children are often busier with extra activities than adults are. This results in a stressful and fast-paced day. Allow your child ample time to get to their homework, play, and do what they enjoy.
Meet your child’s needs
In the midst of inappropriate behaviours and large emotional outbursts, it can be easy to focus only on your child’s current behaviour. Often what a child needs is for their parents to play detective. Investigate in your child’s life. What are the needs that they have that are not being met? How are their relationships at school and with their peers? What has happened in their life that may be affecting them deeply?
These are some of the questions you can begin to ask yourself.
Be aware that often children find themselves in a position of power thanks to inappropriate behaviours. Look at your child and see if they are needing to feel more in control of their lives. If so, discuss with your child and your family ways that you can entrust responsibilities, control, and power to your child that are age appropriate.
Your child may volunteer, take on a specific task at home, assist in the community, or get a job (if they are old enough).
Therapy for my child is not working: Remember the purpose of therapy
As you and your child navigate therapy or other means remember that therapy will not change your child overnight. The purpose of therapy is to use repetition as a means of cementing problem-solving skills, development of self-understanding and a changing of thought patterns and behaviours.
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