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...

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What Is My Role While My Child Is Receiving Psychotherapy?

You’ve identified your child is struggling emotionally and in need of help that you aren’t able to provide. You’ve done your research and found a therapist that you hope can help. The therapeutic process is about to begin, so you may be wondering what your role is now.  

Before Therapy Starts

Your role at this point is to reinforce to your child that getting this type of help and support doesn’t mean they are broken.  Explain to them in age-appropriate language that just as medical professionals help us keep our bodies healthy, these professionals help us to keep our minds healthy and strong. After reinforcing this message, you should do more listening to what your child has to say than talking

First Appointment

As the parent, you should attend the first session with your child and reinforce their courage for going and their willingness to be so open.  You should also further evaluate how your child and therapist interact with each...

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My Child Needs Help. Where Do I Start?

Parents are expressing concerns for their children right now.  Their children are struggling in a host of different ways. 

  • isolating 
  • having angry outbursts 
  • uncontrollable crying
  • inability to stay focused 
  • heightened anxiety 
  • fear of returning to the world
  • …… the list goes on

 

I am here to tell you that the challenges they are facing are not normal. It’s completely understandable why they are struggling.  Everything has changed and continues to change.  Kids don’t know if they are going to school, staying home and doing it remotely, wearing masks, not wearing masks.  Our children are learning no sense of normalcy or stability.  This has major effects on their emotional state.  

When you notice any of the behaviors above or any new behavior that doesn’t seem to be positive, what should you as a parent do about it? 

First, and foremost, you should LISTEN to what your child is...

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Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Therapist...Oh my!

I have been encouraged about the recent acknowledgment of mental health challenges in the Olympics as a movement in the right direction of being able to address these issues out in the open without stigma. I believe many of these challenges in sport, as well as society at large, are due to the emotional toll that was felt and continues to be felt, due to the consequences of living during a global pandemic.

The increased attention in mental health has many people needing help and wanting to find services, but they are confused about where to go and whom they should see. There are many different types of mental health professionals, so how do you know which one you should contact? I will be the first to admit it is all very confusing. 

Here is a rough guideline to help explain some of the basics of the primary roles of the most common mental health professionals to help you know where to start and steer you to the type of help you may need.  

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Actively Listen To Gain 'Respect' Power

parent's of athletes Mar 24, 2021

As a parent, you need to have some level of power and control over your children in order to protect, teach, and guide them on their path to becoming an adult. The words "power" and "control" are usually not considered a good thing when talking about our relationships.

However, there are two different types of power.  There is power based on “fear” and there is power based on “respect”.  The type of power model you have with your children will decide how open they are going to be with you when they face challenging feelings and emotions in the future.    

 

Fear-Based Power

Power based on fear is the way most parents have been taught to raise their children.  Children in this type of relationship know that they are going to get in trouble (grounded, yelled at, preached too, hit, guilted, and/or shamed) if they do something wrong. This type of power causes them to live in fear of disappointing you, so they are...

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Shut Up And Listen!

parent's of athletes Mar 12, 2021

Parenting is a tough job. It's REALLY tough right now. The changes brought on by the pandemic are wreaking havoc on our kids. It seems to be especially hard on them because isolation is being imposed at the same time they are biologically primed to start seeking independence. It's having a devasting effect.

As their parent, you want to help. Many of you well-meaning parents may find yourselves trying to "fix" the situation by telling your kids what to think, feel or do by lecturing or telling endless stories. Or maybe you are asking them questions, but to them, it feels more like an interrogation with machine gun-type questioning. The result, in either case, is the child clams up and they clam up...tight!

One of the best ways you can support them through these and other difficult times is to have open lines of communication that will allow your child to open up to you so you can help them to talk about and deal with their feelings.

The best advice I can...

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When Well-Meaning Parents Are The Problem

 

I can’t tell you how many, well-intended, loving parents that I have worked with that genuinely “only” wanted their children to be happy and successful in the sport they love. Many were surprised to learn they were putting unintended pressures on their child through comments they were making.  Many comments that are intended as support can be received by the child as pressure.   The good that the parent wanted can end up having the opposite effect and actually causing the pressure.  

 

It quite often doesn’t have anything major to do with the parent and all to do with the child.  Their inherent nature is to want to please their parents.  It is how the child responds to those types of comments that can cause the problem. Learning how to recognize pressure, where it’s coming from, and how to handle it is an important skill for our kids to learn in order to deal with future...

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Oh no! My Kid Got Cut!!

Being cut from a team is one of the most difficult situations for athletes to handle. It's also one of the most difficult situations for parents to deal with because our natural instincts are to want to step in and rescue them and take away the pain that they are feeling.  Believe me, I understand!  I am a parent!    

Taking the pain away is one of the worst things that we can do as parents

Our kids are meant to learn this lesson to see how they are going to respond to challenges like this in the future.  However, your role is crucial at this point.  If you make excuses for them, or blame the coaches, or even belittle them for not being good enough, it can have a lasting effect on how they handle these types of challenges in the future.

Your role is not to try to fix it. Instead, it is to help guide them through the pain, embarrassment, doubt, and fears they have just experienced as a result of not making the team. 

So, how do...

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2020: A Clear Distinction Between Champions and Wanna-be’s

Hello Parents!  

 It’s been a crazy year full of lots of challenges!  But even in the midst of the craziness and all the challenges presented, I still feel as though it was a productive year because of the things I’ve learned along the way. These lessons help me to grow as a person and as a coach. I would like to share these lessons and insights to end this year and start the new year with a clean slate.

 Before I share these lessons, I need to preface it by explaining a technique I use with the athletes I work with on how to turn any loss into a victory, or how to turn a challenging situation into one where they can learn and grow from it. 

 At the end of every game, at the end of every season, and/or after a setback or challenge, I have them ask themselves these three magic questions:

 

  1. What did I learn?
  2. How am I going to use what I learned in the future?
  3. What were three positives that came out of it?

 

When used...

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Parents: Take Care of Your Mental Health First

This year has been one for the history books, for sure.  All of this quarantining has been a foreign territory for most of us and especially for our kids.  Most of the parents I talk to have voiced their concern for their child and how their children are struggling with the emotional challenges that have been caused by the pandemic. The isolation, fears, and doubts are accompanied by irritable outbursts, not to mention the video game addiction that seems to be taking over our children! 

It's normal for most parents to become concerned for their child's mental health, although the pandemic has taken it to a whole new level.

However, the oxygen mask analogy comes into play here. As parents, it is natural to try to take care of our children, often putting our own needs in the background.  By doing that, we end up not taking care of ourselves or them.  You need to put your own mask on first or you will be no good for your kids.  We...

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