What therapy is like depends on a lot of things, like the youth’s age, style of interacting, strengths and interests, as well as the specific issues being addressed.
For very young children, therapy primarily involves working with their caregivers. It can be helpful for these children to interact with the psychologist, so she can observe their behavior and interactions with caregivers, and can then model new strategies for the parents to try out during or after the session.
When young children participate in therapy, it often involves non-directive methods, including art and play, to facilitate the interaction. These methods are also used to teach children therapy concepts in concrete ways they can understand.
Older children, adolescents and young adults generally engage in more direct talk therapy. As youth get older, they can get more out of having lengthy conversations and can then gain insight and develop a plan of action to address concerns.
Working with youth generally involves working with their caregivers. What that looks like may differ. For patients 18 years and older, they may participate in therapy and not have their caregivers involved. If they live with their caregivers, however, it may be helpful for the caregivers to be involved in therapy.
There may also be times when caregivers come to therapy without their children. This may happen if caregivers primarily want to work on parenting skills, if caregivers are working on coping with issues related to their children (e.g., youth illness, parenting a challenging child, etc.), if youth refuse to participate in therapy or if youth cannot consistently attend sessions (e.g., due to custody/living arrangement, scheduling issues, etc).
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