When a child in therapy reaches the age of 18
It can be difficult for a parent to let go of control when a child reaches the age of 18, especially when that child has needed therapy for any reason. As a parent, all you want is for your child to get the very best help for whatever issue they may be dealing with. Some parents can take exception to being asked to stand aside and let the newly-fledged adult take the wheel, but it's common practice for therapists to request clients to do just that. It is important for a number of reasons...
1) It shows an investment in their future happiness. Having the courage and foresight to book sessions on their own also boosts their confidence and self-esteem.
2) It puts them in control of their wellbeing, which can also be important for the progression of their therapy. In some cases a loss of control is what caused them to need therapy in the first place, so encouraging them to be autonomous about decision making can be quite freeing in its own right.
3) As an adult they have the right to make their own decisions, including continuance or severance of therapy. There are many reasons why a client may discontinue therapy; it is important that they find their own way with that process, and as therapists we have to respect the decisions that the client makes, even if we disagree.
4) At this juncture a therapist cannot discuss any decision made by a client with you unless they either fear for the safety of that client, or they have permission from the client. Circumstances permitting, they will encourage you to discuss any queries with your child. Ultimately a child in therapy is there because an adult saw fit to take them; if that client chooses to terminate therapy sessions, a therapist cannot force them to attend.
If you are a parent who has a child in therapy approaching the age of 18 it may be an idea to sit down and discuss how things may change after they turn 18. If you're in any doubt as to how your therapist approaches this subject, please make time to speak to them to discuss a seamless transition, and how to support the client through that change.
Things you may want to ask your therapist:
- What changes need to be made when my child reaches the age of 18?
- What would you recommend regarding booking sessions?
- Will there be any additional paperwork required?
- Can I still fund my child’s therapy? (Because some therapists require the client to fund their own therapy in line with showing an investment in their future)
- How can I support my child through this process?
You can be assured that your therapist will do anything they can to assist both you and your child with this transition.
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