Children really enjoy the right therapist that gets their world
Remember when you were young and there were adults around you that you liked and adults that you didn't like? Well, that's what it's like for kids when they need help, it's really that simple.
We like some and we don't like others and that's just an instinctual thing about connection and being comfortable.
In our past, we remember the adults that made us smile, made us laugh and "got us" so to speak. We liked them more, really.
A therapist has to understand the young person's personality, character, quirks and be able to talk their language and accept them - warts and all.
Even more than that, they need to be able to communicate back to them that they are being understood, heard, valued and accepted. And that it's ok to be themselves completely.
So, 'why is that?' you may be thinking. Well, children are used to adults being authority figures and always telling them what's what and what to think and what to do, so they keep their distance and keep their cards to their chests with what's going on. They can often be closed down with a stranger therapist.
Taking them to see another authority figure in a strange place or over the internet could be really challenging and way too far out of their comfort zone if it's the wrong person.
I have had children and young people brought to me that had no idea they were even coming for help that day. That made me cringe inside but it also gave me an opportunity and a great way in to make the child laugh too - whilst deliberately laughing it off with them.
Children need to be able to trust the therapist and know the session(s) are all about them and not the parent. Even though legally you have to be there you must sit back and keep right out of the way, because you may be a hindrance to uncovering the problem, or the child may even perceive you as the problem itself.
I ask the parent to take a seat behind the child and move back. This is intentional as it lets the child know they are number one here and now.
It is important you say nothing unless invited into the conversation. Usually, I ask the child's permission to do that and place them in charge of that. They don't expect that normally and it can make a massive difference in how the therapy progresses.
I always set up this deal with the parent and the child from the off because the child must know they are the most important person there. For me, this is absolutely crucial.
Children are great fun when they are open and can respond well to the right person for help and that person can't be like an adult in my experience.
How do you qualify who is a good fit for your child?
Look out for recommendations within Google or Facebook as social proof. Be aware that recommendations and testimonials on websites may not always be 100% genuine.
If it's a Facebook recommendation then you may also have the facility to send a private message to that adult to ask them about the therapist.
Find a therapist on a reputable directory where you can check their credentials and ask them for more information about how they work with children.
I often dress down and wear trainers, jeans and a hoodie with kids to be more informal and better able to connect with them and I tell the parent this in advance.
There are many people that specialise in working with children and it's all about the trust and connection that is generated.
Children are great fun to work with and are far less complex than adults so very often they respond very well and in a shorter space of time and often need fewer sessions than an adult.
Last thing: please tell your child that you are wanting to get them help and that you are taking them to see a therapist in order to avoid any shock and so they can have the chance to prepare themselves.