You have completed the initial phone consultation, and now you have booked your first initial diagnostic appointment for your child. Maybe this is your first time in a therapist’s office, or perhaps this is your first counseling appointment regarding your child. It’s normal to be a little bit curious as what to expect on that first appointment. So here is a general outline of the items we will discuss in the parent only interview session.
We all know that filling out paperwork can be pretty dull! But this is beneficial information for your child’s therapist to have. If you feel a little confused as what to say, that’s ok! We will fill in the gaps when we talk at that first appointment. But it is super important you try to fill out your paperwork to the best of your knowledge. You will also have an option to sign releases of information for your child’s therapist to speak to any other healthcare providers.
We will talk about limits of confidentiality, how we are mandated reporters and what that looks like in the counseling process. We will also talk about how we are going to explain confidentiality to your child. That’s right! We even go over all of this with your child the first time they come in. Confidentiality helps you and your child feel safe, and it helps to develop a working relationship.
Why now, what goals do you have for counseling:
Yes, we are going to talk about why now it is essential that you want counseling services for your child. Sometimes issues will be happening for a long-time for months and even years before families seek out counseling services. So, we want to know what happened recently that gave you the big push to reach out to us for services. This ties into what kind of goals you would like to accomplish with therapy. We will also talk about the expectations of the therapy process.
Mental health history of your child & family members:
It is vital for us to know your child’s history as well as your family history of mental health problems. If parents or siblings are experiencing any psychological issues like depression or anxiety, then that helps us understand more about your child’s current struggles. Having a broad understanding of your child’s mental health history as well as the family influences the management plans for your child.
Developmental and trauma history:
We will also discuss your child’s developmental history, major milestones & if any of these milestones were late. We will also probe around any traumatic experiences that you have to face as a family, like losing a loved one, divorce, moving out of a significant person. Also, the traumatic events experienced by child hold great significance like academic failures, bullying, social adversity or family trauma. Sometimes, the events that are normal to us are distressing for the child. Thus, a deep understanding of any such issue is necessary for understanding your child’s problem.
What are your child’s self-care & coping skills? Do they struggle with finding coping skills? Or do they have some set skills they go to when they need some extra support? Some children turn to problem-solving approach, some get freeze in case of distress, and some become aggressive and frustrated. All these reactions are normal and knowing the exact coping skill can help us in encouraging, promoting and developing healthy coping skills in your child.
Strengths, talents, and interests:
We are always interested in knowing what your child’s strengths are. Do they have unique skills or interests? Sometimes, we underestimate our child or try to choose their hobbies, totally ignoring their interests and abilities. Thus ruling out any such issue and problem is necessary.
Social support system:
Another area that we like to explore is the support system of your child. Does your child looks up to his parents or siblings? Or maybe he has cousin or aunt that he like to confide on? Or is he more close to his friends and share his problems with them? This helps us in understanding the influential and significant persons in your child’s life. This tells us about his communication patterns and social interactions.
At last but not least, family dynamics is another critical area that has significant impact on your child’s life. What type of relationship your family observes with each other? How close are you to each other? How do you people deal with problems, family conflicts, and familial issues? How you people deal with extraneous issues as a whole, like a clash with a relative or neighbor?
We hope this description provides an informational picture of what to expect during your parent interview session. In short, the first session would be an introductory session where we will explore your child’s all relevant behaviors in the past and present and his interaction patterns. This can help us in devising a treatment care plan for your child.