Becoming Allies with My Child's Therapist | Sonia Hasjim, B.Sc from Love 2 Learn Consulting, LLC| Kinderkloud

Becoming Allies with My Child's Therapist

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Every parent wants the best outcome from their trusted place or person for therapy for their children. Finding a trusted person or place to place one’s child is already hard enough, so naturally, parents want the best outcome out of it. To have best outcomes, would the work of the therapist be enough to do so? Some evidence-based practices such as ABA has been proven to be beneficial when children are put in therapy earlier, but what can be done additionally to help aid their outcome in therapy? One of the answers is parental involvement and collaboration with therapists. According to a source from International Journal of Language and Communication Disorder in 2020, there are clear language benefits for children whose parents are actively involved in their children’s speech therapy.

Collaboration between parents and therapists is not impossible, however, it may come with its own difficulties. When parents come into therapy, they may have strong opinions about their children’s development and outcome during course of therapy. Additionally, other life factors such as employment, other family members to take care of, and general stress levels may hinder parents to be more involved in their children’s therapy journey.

So, the next question is: How can parents be actively involved in children’s therapy? Here is some advice based on my experience as a Behavior Interventionist for almost 4 years:

  1. Be transparent
    1. When a therapist or supervisor comes in to assess the child, it is advised that parents are honest and truthful about the answers they provide to the therapist or supervisor. Therapists and supervisors come into session with the hope to help children and families with the issues they need to address, and honest answers would enable therapists and supervisors to help families best.
    2. One of the issues that families may encounter with being truthful or honest is the fear of letting someone new know about the situation at home. I find that questions that help families may come as intrusive, so families may hesitate answering questions truthfully. Families can and should have the rights to keep details about therapy and therapists/supervisors should be able to ensure confidentiality.
  2. Actively ask questions
    1. Families have the rights and should be allowed to ask questions about the procedures that is involved in their children’s therapy sessions. I find that during my time as a therapist, families who ask about the therapy procedures and are curious about the underlying processes that is happening during therapy shows that they want to learn. Therapists/Supervisors are also responsible for keeping families updated with the procedures that are done during therapy sessions. I believe that families would want to know what is working for their children and what is not working.
    2. Families can start by asking if they can be in the therapy rooms. Sometimes, this can be a tricky one because the presence of parents may make child’s behavior different compared to being alone with the therapist, but I believe sometimes, it can be a good idea being in the room to learn with the therapist, communicate about their struggles on applying procedures at home, and enable therapist/supervisor to observe parent-child interactions. 
  3. Implement some procedures from therapy at home
    1. One thing that parents need to keep in mind is that therapists/supervisors are only able to be with the child less than how much the family sees the child. I find that it is helpful when the family is eager to do a part of the procedures at home in order to improve on skills or decrease problem behaviors. The only precaution that I would advise to parents is to make sure that the procedures to be done at home should be under supervisors’ careful supervision and will need lots of parent consulting and training. If there are aspects of the procedure that may seem impossible, parents are advised to ask on how to proceed. Parents are allowed to voice out concerns if there are any.
    2. One of the things that may hinder parents to apply some strategies at home is that there are things that may be outside of parents’ comfort zone. I believe that it is okay to communicate and compromise on what the best action is with the therapist/supervisor on how to best proceed.
  4. Be open to discussions
    1. Parents and therapists/supervisors come from different perspectives of the child’s development. Although it might be different, both perspectives bring important information about the child. In my opinion, it is important to agree that the best interest at heart is the child, and that it is important to compromise when needed. Both parties have to be open to discussions when there are disagreements about procedures or other aspects of therapy. Without open communications and agreements on how to best communicate, therapy would most likely be inefficient. 
  5. Ask for support, when needed
    1. It is essentially important that parents know that therapists/supervisors want the best for the family, which means that they would want to help when help is needed. Communicating those needs is important for the therapist/supervisor to know the families’ perspectives as well as knowing how to best adjust and proceed with the therapy.
    2. Support doesn’t only come from therapists/supervisor. I find that it is important for families to rely on each other and be a team. The whole therapy process has its ups and downs, and it is important to share some of those with other people as well.

Therapy is a process that needs a lot of time and effort from a lot of sides to see progress on the child’s side. All support system for the child has to be able to communicate with each other in order to make the therapy process even a better experience for all sides. Just as mentioned, this process won’t always be a happy one, but there are going to be difficult times. During these difficult times, there are two things that are important to know. First, communication will be evermore important factor in order to get through the tough times. Second and most important thing is to remember that the collective effort is for the child’s betterment.

parent involvement, therapy, child therapy, alliance, parent-therapist collaboration

Special Needs / Berkebutuhan Khusus / Parenting / Pola Asuh / Family / Keluarga / Becoming Allies with My Child's Therapist

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