All my parent – child therapy services start with an initial consultation with you, the parents, without your child present. You will receive some questionnaires to complete and bring with you to your first parent counseling appointment.
This first parent therapy session is 90 minutes long. We will use the time to discuss concerns you have about your child and your family. We will review your child’s physical and emotional developmental history, medical and school history, and assess factors that may produce and contribute to the problems you are experiencing. We will explore the larger context including any stresses your family may have been going through. As a child and parent psychologist, I will assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and temperament.
Attending the initial psychological consultation does not mean you must make a commitment to attend further parent, child only, or parent – child therapy sessions.
Once a follow-up counseling session has been mutually agreed upon by us, usually a couple of therapy sessions between you and your child are necessary to gather information, properly assess your child’s difficulties and understand more deeply the nature of the problems. Following these first therapy sessions, you will receive recommendations regarding the appropriate forms of therapy or counseling required to solve the problem.
Therapy with your child involves not only myself as the therapist, but also you as the parent(s) in one form or another.
If your child is under the age of 3 or 4, play therapy sessions will be conducted with you and your child together in the child counseling room. We will create an atmosphere of curiosity and exploration through play while we talk and take time to understand your child’s inner world.
Play therapy sessions are scheduled weekly and are 45min in duration. The length of child therapy sessions varies from a few weeks to over a year. In general, the younger the child the shorter the time frame your child will require counseling. Noticeable results can sometimes be achieved even after a few child counseling sessions.
When I provide counseling for parents and infants we might, if you agree, use a specialized technique called, “Videotaped Interaction Guidance”. You and your baby will first get comfortable in the play therapy room. You will then be videotaped for about 10 minutes playing and talking the way you do at home with your child. After the video-recording is complete we will view the videotape together and determine how you might be better able to help your child. Later, a separate parent counseling session is often scheduled for us to view the video without your child present.
When we review the video-recording we will try to understand your child’s behavior and style of interaction with you. We will discuss what you saw and how you felt watching it, and how your child may have felt.
Through the viewing of the videotape you may become more aware of the positive interactions you have with your child and explore ways to enhance them. If there are interactions that are less enjoyable and need to be changed, we will explore options for doing that as well. We will identify mutually satisfying and enjoyable interactions and highlight both yours and your child’s existing strengths. An additional advantage of videotaping is that it will allow us to recognize specific improvements as they occur over time.
The videotaping and review of parent – infant therapy sessions are 1 hour in duration. You will receive a copy of the video to take home with you.
Children communicate their thoughts and feelings through play more naturally than they do through verbal communication. The play usually reflects issues which are important to children and typically relevant to their specific difficulties.
A child over the age of 4 will typically come to play therapy sessions alone. We will meet in a specially equipped play therapy room that will enable your child to use play material freely so that he or she can express him or herself without having to provide verbal explanations.
Prior to scheduling the first play therapy session with your child, I will advise you how to tell your child about play therapy, how to prepare him or her, and how to answer any questions the child may ask about the sessions.
Individual play therapy sessions are scheduled weekly and last 45 minutes.
Parent counseling sessions are conducted separately and are scheduled weekly or every other week.
Your child’s difficulties can affect the whole family. This is one of the reasons parents and family also need to be involved in parent counseling.
During parent therapy, we discuss concerns you have about your infant or your young child and try to identify the thoughts and feelings that fuel your child’s behavior. Early childhood research confirms that understanding why children behave the way they do, understanding underlying emotions, thoughts or attitudes, can help parents improve their behavior.
Sometimes parents and children get out of sync. They seem to miss each other’s cues. In parent therapy sessions we will help you connect more deeply with your child.
In parent counseling sessions, we will together try to discover alternative ways to communicate, manage problems, and make things better for you, your child and your whole family.
Parent counseling sessions last 45 minutes and they are scheduled weekly or every other week.
Concerns About Seeking Counseling for Your Child
As a parent, you may be unsure if you should seek counseling for your child. You may fear that you or your child will be stigmatized by therapy. Or, you may hope that your child will outgrow the issue and decide to put off getting help. While children do sometimes “outgrow” some of their problems, younger children, toddlers and pre-schoolers, are significantly more responsive to counseling intervention than school-age children.
It is therefore important to consider catching the window of opportunity to intervene briefly and effectively before behavioral problems become entrenched. Child or parent therapy may also help you recognize and break self-perpetuating vicious cycles in the whole family that may be contributing to the problem.
If you need help in deciding if your child and your family would benefit from therapy, or if you are ready to get started, please call me for a free 10 minute telephone consultation at (281)-267-1742.
Dr. Irena Milentijevic is a psychologist and therapist who specializes in helping women and couples cope with infertility and also in helping parents with young children. Her therapy offices are in Houston and in the Woodlands, Texas.