Understanding Psychotherapy: Our Top FAQ’s


Finding a therapist for your child can be intimidating and many parents are unsure about what elements to look for when seeking help. Parents may wish to consider the following:

  1. Research shows that the element that is most predictive of success within therapy, is the quality of the relationship. A parent should check-in with their child after two or three sessions to determine if the child likes the therapist. Kids might be uncomfortable with tasks a therapist is asking them to do (e.g., like talk about their emotions), but they should have genuine positive feelings about the person. If they don’t, try another therapist.
  2. Therapeutic goals are essential! All involved parties including the child, parent, and therapist should be able to name a few goals that are the target of intervention. As therapy progresses, growth toward the goals should be seen.
  3. Most therapists use a variety of techniques tailored to the person’s needs and goals; however, most therapists also tend to operate more heavily from one treatment modality than another. Ask questions about therapeutic philosophy and techniques and make sure it is a good match for your child’s needs. As an example, there is evidence that exposure and response prevention, a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, is most appropriate for significant symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  4. Good therapy involves work outside of sessions. For example, this might include tracking how often something occurs, practicing relaxation techniques, or trying out a different way of communicating. Only with practice do the skills learned within therapy generalize to a child’s home or school environment.

~Lauren Cook, Ph.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist