If your child is coming to therapy it may, quite understandably, bring up some complicated feelings for yourself. Firstly, there are the reasons that the child is wanting to come, perhaps a difficulty at school, which you may find troubling on your child’s behalf.
As a parent, your instinct will be to sort problems out for your child and it may be difficult if this has not been possible, despite your efforts. Coming to therapy may be a last resort, a reach out for help when other options haven’t quite worked out. Perhaps support or therapy was offered elsewhere, such as through the NHS, and it hasn’t come to fruition. There might be a lot of frustration and disappointment.
On commencement of psychotherapy, your child may leave sessions feeling lighter, happier, clearer, more talkative, however, this may not happen at first – as I will discuss with you, therapy can cause the feelings to be more present for a time as they are being explored, therefore your child may talk this through with you or show it through their behaviour.
You may find this makes you question the effectiveness of the therapy, afterall, you are the container at home and wanted things to get easier - not stay the same! However, try to trust that this is temporary and it’s better to go through this process and learn emotional skills in childhood than have troubles stored up until adulthood.
You may find yourself with some envy, perhaps you wish your child could talk to you and didn’t need to speak to someone else. However, what we know about attachment is that children seek to keep their caregiver safe at all cost, thus, keeping their troubles away from you is part of a natural instinct.
Older children and adolescents are at a period of their lives whereby they are needing to explore space away from home – physically and emotionally. Therefore, talking to a safe other, who they will not see in other contexts is incredibly helpful in forming independence and isn’t a negative reflection on home life. In fact, it could be seen as quite the opposite; your child is using skills to problem solve in therapy and the fact they have these skills is with great thanks to you.
There may also be issues around the cost of therapy, perhaps there is also envy that you would like your own emotional support or there could be financial reasons why you could resent the therapy. This might be expressed indirectly through overlooking payments or wanting to withdraw your child from therapy altogether.
It is important to talk through anything you are experiencing of this nature with your child’s therapist – this is all helpful information to us and I would not judge any parent or carer that wanted to explore this with me.
If it’s helpful to talk this through before arranging for your child to come to therapy, just reach out for a phone call or email and we can discuss this together.
I am a child psychotherapist (UKCP Registered); a counsellor; arts and play therapist, covering Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. You can contact me here.