How Do You Know If Therapy Is Working For My Child?


In my last couple of articles, I have discussed who to turn to for psychological help for your child and how to find a therapist and get your child engaged in the process.  

Now that the process has started and they have gone to 3 or 4 sessions, how do you know if things are getting better for them? 

Great question!  

We tend to all want quick fixes or immediate relief for our children from their pain. But in the therapy world, it takes time. Developing a relationship where the child can talk openly with the therapist doesn’t happen overnight. It's difficult in 3 or 4 sessions (hours)  to make a realistic determination if it is working or not.  

It's also hard to evaluate the initial effects of therapy because oftentimes it gets worse (by bringing up difficult topics) before it gets better. It is a process and not a destination, which means that it just takes time to see the benefits.  

 So the real question is, “how do I know if it is working?” 

 Here are some signs that therapy is providing value to your child:

  • Has their overall mood changed?
  • Have they addressed the issues that took them to therapy in the first place? 
  • Are they learning/using new techniques to address the issue
  • Are they talking more? 
  • Are they making changes?
  • Do they seem to be expressing their thoughts and emotions in new ways?
  • Do they seem to have increased resilience and the ability to bounce back when facing challenging situations? 

What if it doesn’t seem to be bringing about positive changes in their behavior?

Now, let's say it has been eight weeks and your child is continuing to struggle and you’re not seeing any positive changes mentioned is important that you voice those concerns if you feel your child is not making progress or addressing the issues that took them to therapy in the first place.  

The amount and level of your involvement at this point are dependant on your child’s age and the types of challenges they are facing.  If your child is 10 struggling with behavior problems it is probably more relevant for you to be engaged in their treatment than with a 16-year old that is struggling with anxiety. It may not be advantageous for the parents to be involved. 

A discussion with the therapist and your child might provide insight into the cause of little or no progress and how it should be handled. Start by asking your child if you could attend a session with them.  Oftentimes, giving them the power to invite you into their session makes them more engaged in the process.  Calling the therapist without the child’s permission can adversely affect the therapeutic relationship with the child because they do not feel like they can trust you to not disclose it to their parents. 


Unfortunately, therapy doesn’t work like taking medicine, it can be much harder to quantify and define success because it can be so subjective. You know your child better than anyone and can use this knowledge to make sure they are getting the most out of this experience.

I hope this gives you some guidance along the process.  It can be a very difficult topic to address but it can also make a huge difference in a child’s world.  Good luck.  

Thanks for reading!

Jeff Miner, "head" coach

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