Starting therapy can be scary, especially if you and your child have never done it before. What is going to happen? What am I going to be doing? What am I going to be talking about? Will I like my therapist? Will my psychologist like me?
For children, many new experiences can cause emotional responses due to the fear of the unknown. However, there are some things you can do to help prepare your child for their first therapy session to help reduce their worries.
Let your child know they are going to see a therapist: a few days before the appointment, sit down with your child during a calm moment and let them know they (and you!) will be going to see a therapist together. Explain the purpose of therapy using simple language, letting them know that therapy is a way for them to talk about their feelings and problems with someone who can help them.
Normalize therapy: Let children know that many people go to therapy, and it is not something to be ashamed of. Be positive, encouraging and reassure your child that they can be honest with their therapist because they want to help them.
Preparing for the first session: Let your child know what to expect in their first session. At Hopscotch and Harmony, this will generally involve meeting the therapist in a special, safe room, playing games or doing activities, and the therapist asking questions to get to know more about the child.
Involve the child in the process: Involve the child in the therapy process by letting them choose a favourite toy or game to bring to sessions or giving them some control over the therapy goals. This can help them feel more comfortable and invested in the process. You can also look at your therapist’s biography on Hopscotch and Harmony’s website to let you child become familiar with the therapist they will be seeing.
And of course, your therapist will do everything they can to make sure your child feels comfortable, and safe when they arrive.