How do I find a Child and Adolescent psychotherapist?
IFCAPP is the body which organizes regulates and accredits child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapists in Ireland. There is a list attached to this website of all the professionally trained and accredited Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists in Ireland.
How do I choose a suitable psychotherapist for my child?
Usually parents like a recommendation from a friend, GP or school, rather than just getting a name from the web. Try and choose a therapist who lives near you or is near to your child's school. If you're in a position to speak to the therapist before the initial consultation, explain your concerns. The therapist will let you know if they are in a position to help you. This call will be confidential. You do not need to say too much over the phone though.
Who attends the first meeting?
This depends on whether you are being seen in the Child and Adolescent Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or privately. CAMHS will have their own procedures. If you are being seen privately, who attends for the first meeting will depend on the age of the child. Very often, if a child is still in primary school, the therapist might see the parents on their own for the first meeting. However, if it is a teenager, the therapist will usually invite the teenager along to that first meeting too - this is important to develop an alliance with the young person. Otherwise the teenager might be concerned that the therapist is more on the parents' side than theirs. Where the parents of the child or teenager are separated, the therapist will want to meet both parents in order to best understand the whole situation.
When do I need to bring my child to a therapist?
If you've been noticing unusual behaviour or just have a feeling something is wrong with your child it can be helpful to talk to your family members or friends about your concern. Also talk to your GP or your child's teacher. But remember that ultimately you know your child best. Remember if your child is at risk of developing mental health problems the sooner it is diagnosed and treated the better.
How do I explain therapy to my child?
Most children do not ask to see a therapist but if they are having emotional difficulties you might be surprised at their willingness to attend. Teenagers are different - they can be very concerned that there is something seriously wrong with them mentally. Also they are at the developmental stage where they feel they know more than their parents do. However, it is most therapists’ experience that teenagers realise when they are in trouble and will be somewhat relieved when they meet the therapist - even if they don't say it. Simple, short, honest age appropriate statements are advised.
How long will the therapy last?
This a difficult question to answer - you could say that therapy is as long as a piece of string. When children and teenagers run into emotional difficulties usually the course of their development is delayed or has gone off track. Therapy is a way of helping the child/teenager get back on track. When therapy is working, after a time you notice your child starts to get on with life in a more "normal" way. How soon this happens depends on the presenting problem and the child and family dynamics. Remember therapists will not keep your child in therapy unless the therapist feels it is needed.
What are the fees?
Fees vary from therapist to therapist.
Will the therapist tell me what my child/adolescent talks about?
One of the cornerstones of therapy is confidentiality - what happens between the therapist and your child stays between the therapist and the child. Your child can tell anybody what is happening in the room but the therapist will not break confidentiality. It is important that parents respect the child's need for confidentiality. However the therapist will keep parents informed of how the child is doing. What therapists say is that parents can know about the process of the therapy, but not about the content.
Will both parents have to attend for therapy too?
Therapists expect both parents to attend for some of the sessions - even where the parents are separated. This enables the therapist to get a full developmental history and also helps the therapist understand the family dynamics and the relationship between the parents. Remember the therapist is there to help you and your child as much as he or she can. Sometimes though, a therapist who is working with your child will recommend family therapy, parental support or couple work. If your child's therapist recommends any of these options please talk to the therapist if you are unsure about the recommendation.
What about child protection issues? What does that mean?
Children and young people need to feel that they can talk privately to the therapist. They need to know that their confidence will be preserved and that information will not be shared with anyone without their consent. However that confidence needs to be broken under certain circumstances. They will be told what these are. Such circumstances arise when the young person’s safety is at risk or when s/he discloses information that refers to the safety of another young person. Usually the young person is encouraged to talk to the parents’ him/herself, or the therapist would support the young person to do so. Under the Children First Guidelines the therapist may have an obligation to share information with the family doctor or another agency where they are told something that raises serious concerns over the child's safety or someone else's safety. These difficult situations would always be discussed with you beforehand. Please remember the therapist's aim is to provide as professional a service as possible and their commitment is always one of being in the best interests of your child.