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  1. #1
    petesgirl is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default Child Therapist question

    8 yr old DS started therapy yesterday for anxiety. I met with the clinic director on Monday and she explained on Monday that the therapist would help us find tools and strategies to combat DS's anxiety at school and at home. She said the therapist would meet with DS and then pull me for the last 10 mins and we would discuss things we could work on at home over the coming week. To be clear here, I don't think DS has terrible anxiety-he doesn't excessively express worry about something, doesn't complain of headaches or stomachaches that accompany worry. He does like to know where I am in the house at all times, but he is also fine leaving for school, playdates, etc so is isn't severe separation anxiety. He has some inattentive issues at school and we will do formal testing next month to determine if he has ADD or if anxiety is causing the inattentiveness.
    Anyway, that's all background--the therapist visit didn't go as I expected from the clinic director's explanation. The therapist said that she would only be meeting with DS each week, unless I had a specific concern, then I could request a few minutes alone with her. She said that I could email her concerns, but that she would read everything I sent her to DS. She told me that she would not ever discuss with me what her and DS talk about in therapy, and that DS could share whatever he wanted but that he is not obligated to share anything with me about therapy. She emphasized several times to DS that a therapist is an adult that you can tell things to that you wouldn't tell a parent or a teacher, and that there may be times when he doesn't want to tell me anything about therapy.

    My question: Is this typical of child therapists?

    I'll admit, this threw up huge red flags for me and I will likely request another therapist, but I want to know if that would change anything or if this is just how therapists are. I understand the need to have the child feel like they can trust their therapist and tell them anything, and I see how in some situations that could be a really useful relationship. But, my concerns are (1) how is this really going to be helpful to DS if I am never told what things he feels anxious over and if I am never told/taught the techniques she is supposedly teaching him to combat the anxiety? I feel like if I know what bothers him and what she suggests to do about it then we can apply it IRL, right? Otherwise, I don't understand how it is helpful. My most important concern is that I immediately thought of sexual predators that groom kids--all of what she said sounded like something an abuser would say! DS and I have discussed how he can tell me anything that an adult does that makes him feel uncomfortable, etc. Honestly, I don't like having another adult tell DS that it's ok to have secrets between him an adult that is not his parent, I mean he is only 8 years old. That just goes against everything we have tried to teach him.

    so, am I overreacting or should I request a new therapist?
    Last edited by petesgirl; 08-22-2019 at 07:05 PM.
    Mama to :
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  2. #2
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    I am used to the approach the clinic director told you. I get pulled in the last 10 minutes and we discuss strategies. If I have concerns, I can address those with therapist only.

    I am also used to--whatever the kid says to the therapist stays with the therapist. Unless the child is a danger to self or others. And they do emphasize this. This isn't a red flag about secrets. This is about confidentiality for your child. It seems a bit much for a younger child but I can assure you it is key for tweens and teens. DD's friend has completely shut down in therapy because the therapist told the parents things the kid had said--and did not ask for permission to discuss this or anything. That is a highly unethical practice.

    So, yes, there needs to be confidentiality but with a young child you need parenting coaching. Maybe the idea is to start with building rapport and identifying what causes anxiety and then move to coping skills. But the therapist totally could have handled this better. Did you ask for a Cognitive Behavior Therapy therapist? Because that's what you want here and is along the lines of learning coping skills. I would call or email the clinic director and tell that person about the "no parent' in the room idea and ask how you are to help your child with coping skills if you are not in there the last 10 minutes. If that doesn't get straightened out, I would ask for a new therapist.
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  3. #3
    MSWR0319 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    DS was about that age when he went to therapy. We met with her together to talk about how things had gone since the last visit, DS would go with her, and then weíd meet at the end to discuss the strategies she taught him and how to implement them at home. I believe she also told him he could tell her anything and she wouldnít share it. I was fine with that, as I had hoped he would open up about what makes him anxious.

  4. #4
    twowhat? is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    My DD2 has been seeing a therapist for a little over a year now (started when she was 9) and this sounds about right to me. If I have specific concerns, I email the therapist so that she can address it with DD2 (or I set up time alone with her). It's important for a therapist to be able to build trust and this is why - they won't be able to identify problems early and work with the child if the child thinks that mom and the therapist are scheming behind the curtains.

    My DD2 meets with therapist for 45 min, and then the last 10 min or so the therapist comes out and lets me know overall what they discussed and any specific things to work on. She does recommend techniques as appropriate (e.g. things a parent can do to help the child during a fit). I am certain the things she tells me are things that DD2 has agreed and given permission for her to say because every now and then she may not remember a detail and will look at DD2 and say something like "remember what we talked about after XYZ? Can I tell Mom about that?"

    And I trust the therapist to let me know if there is anything seriously concerning that she learns from DD2 - but she can only do that part well if DD2 completely trusts her to keep things confidential.

    Now, having said that...if you are not feeling good about this person for whatever reason - personality doesn't mesh with yours or whatever, by all means find another! Trust your gut on who would be a good fit for BOTH you and your DS. Because you need to feel just as comfortable with the therapist as your DS.

    edited to add: DD2's therapist is a cognitive behavioral therapist which is what our pediatrician wanted. I also agree with the above that you'll want a therapist who will help you, the parent, as well. DH has spent an hour alone with DD2's therapist to discuss coping strategies (as a parent), and both DH and I have met with DD2's therapist alone (over the phone, actually, after DD2 said some really scary things). And also, if I email DD2's therapist with specific concerns, she shares that with DD2 and I'm sure she's completely honest about it, e.g. "So your mom told me about something that she's worried about, let's talk about that..."
    Last edited by twowhat?; 08-22-2019 at 08:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    I am a child therapist. Here is my standard talk with parent and client:

    Everything you say here is confidential. This means I can not acknowledge you have been here, I can't repeat any part of our conversation and I can't approach you if I were to run into you in public. If you ever need me to speak to someone on your behalf, I will need your written permission and specific types of information you want shared. There are four reasons under the law that I have to break confidentiality (suicidal, harm to others, harm to a child, court order). Now, as a child, your parent has a legal right to know anything we may discuss in our counseling room. However, Mom and Dad, I ask that you don't pursue this information. i want this to be a place that your DC feels as if they can share anything they want or need to share without fear of getting in trouble, disappointing anyone, or angering anyone. If they don't feel like this is their place, our time is not going to be of full benefit to him/ her. That being said, you are infinitely more important in their life that I ever will be or should be and it is obvious how much you love your child by bringing them here today. I want you to be involved. Actually, I need you to be involved. As DC and I work together, we will discover tips and tricks to try to help them with xyz. I will then communicate these things with you so that you can help practice them at home. At the following session, I will ask both of you how it went and we can make any changes to it as necessary based on how it was for both of you. Other than that, our time will be spent with DC and me in one on one time together.

    That's my basic "speech" if you will. If a parent emails me or communicates with me, I don't read it word for word to the child, but I will say something like "Your mom told me about what happened last week, what did you think about that?" Or something similar.

    It sounds like I operate very closely to how the therapist that sees twowhat?'s DC operates.
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  6. #6
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    My Ds started seeing a therapist for anxiety as well (and adhd coping strategies). He has zero separation anxiety....he just fixates on things. His therapist is very collaborative. The session usually begins together and ends together. She does ask his permission before sharing things with me, so thereís definitely confidentiality involved. Iím glad itís collaborative though. Mostly because it was his behavior issues that landed us in therapy. I knew from the first meeting that his therapist would be a perfect match for him and me
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  7. #7
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    Remember, kids come to therapists for all kinds of reasons and there are all kinds of parents out there. There are many reasons, big and small, that children may need to keep things confidential. The idea is the confidentiality allows people to disclose without fear. We forget how important it was when we were young to please our parents and how scary and unfathomable adults are.

    As far as sexual predators go, yes, thatís a risk. Which is why itís important to discuss that with your child. But can you also understand how that confidentiality might allow a child to disclose to a therapist because an abuser threatened the family?
    Last edited by dogmom; 08-22-2019 at 10:32 PM.

  8. #8
    niccig is online now Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    This is how it works with DSís psychologist with confidentiality. I call or email him with concerns. We have had family meetings or a meeting just with DH and I. What has been most helpful is the behavior specialist who comes to our house. She checks in with me, works with DS then as a group we discuss what will happen. Sheís available via phone/email/text if thereís a crisis. Sheís been able to tell me what to do/say depending on the situation. Her advice was invaluable last year when DS was missing many days of school. I was in email contact with the Dr and psychologist but she was able to tell me, if he does x you do y, but if he does a you do b...steps all laid out. Wish we had started working with her months earlier



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  9. #9
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    KpbS is online now Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    I understand the perspective and the desire to allow the child to speak completely freely, but it still raises red flags for me.

    We had a very similar situation where DC reported the therapist almost bullying him into agreement regarding a topic with "don't you think this means _________?" and repeatedly insisting that DC had a "wrong"perspective. The therapist also put down another one of DC's therapists and questioned their abilities repeatedly. So unprofessional. It really bothered DC and we reported this therapist to the director and quit sessions entirely a couple of times later. Very frustrating and disappointing as well.

    I would go with your gut and request another person.
    K

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by KpbS View Post
    I understand the perspective and the desire to allow the child to speak completely freely, but it still raises red flags for me.

    We had a very similar situation where DC reported the therapist almost bullying him into agreement regarding a topic with "don't you think this means _________?" and repeatedly insisting that DC had a "wrong"perspective. The therapist also put down another one of DC's therapists and questioned their abilities repeatedly. So unprofessional. It really bothered DC and we reported this therapist to the director and quit sessions entirely a couple of times later. Very frustrating and disappointing as well.

    I would go with your gut and request another person.
    .

    I agree that was not a good therapist for your child, and may not have been a good therapist for any child. However, the OP is questioning whether the confidentiality concept is normal at the beginning before even starting therapy (if I understand correctly).

    To the OP: Look there are parents who donít believe their child should keep anything from them. Thatís not how Iím raising my kids, but thatís your decision and I wonít debate the pros and cons here. If you honestly just taken aback by it and didnít realize thatís how it works usually, the answer is it is. I might be reading into it, but you also seem to be on the fence about this whole therapy thing by how you describe the severity of your child's anxiety. I would encourage you to go to one meeting, see how your child likes the therapist, but try not to transmit your unease. (Kids are so good at picking up that, especially anxious ones.) Afterwards use the 10 minutes with your son to talk about your concerns about you know some things are private, but you want to understand how you can help if you donít know the strategies. Iím sure the therapist will help you. If not, then the fits not good. I would say to discuss it with your child present so they understand the ground rules.

    As someone with an anxious kid I know it seems like you need to know WHAT is making them anxious, but that matters much less than what to do about it. You can address the situations that trigger anxiety, but it is wack-a-mole, something else will replace it. I have found when itís important for me to know a therapist tells me. My issue with therapist tend to be they either arenít clicking with my kid or the ones that pushed a narrative that didnít feel right to me. But I never felt like anyone would tell not me what I needed to know.
    Last edited by dogmom; 08-23-2019 at 09:30 AM.

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