There are a handful of things that I like to tell parents before we begin the counseling process.
1.) Please take your child to the bathroom before the session starts. This way their session is not interrupted with a potty break. This is pretty simple, and makes a big difference.
2.) I do not require that the children clean up the playroom when the session is finished. This is because a child has just used the toys and play space to share and tell me things. I do not want them to have to put all that away, or back inside them. I can help distinguish for them that the playroom is different than their toys at home if you would like.
3.) Please call or email me with updates from between sessions rather than telling me in front of your child. Often times, parents use the first 10 minutes of the session telling me all the negative things their child did during the week. Then, the child feels less motivated to play and has the perception that they are now in trouble. Counseling should never be a punishment. However, I do like to stay informed and up to date, so a phone call prior to the session works great.
4.) Please continue to be the parent even when I am around. It is better for your child if you continue to discipline and interact with them the same way you do at home. These behaviors are helpful for me to see and they also keep me in the role of therapist, and out of the role of parent.
5.) Be advised that counseling has ups and downs. We will have good weeks where we see improvement, and we are guaranteed to have set backs. It has been shown that children get worse before they make lasting, positive change. It seems to be their last attempt to resist and rebel. Try not to let this scare you that counseling isn't working.
6.) The more involved and active you are in the counseling process, the quicker it will be. Your child will take note of your seriousness.
7.) Please do not ask your child if they did a good job during the session. This communicates that they could have done a bad job. In the playroom, there is no good or bad job. There is only unconditional acceptance for you child. Instead, you can say something like, "when we get to the car you can choose to share with me about your play time if you want, but you don't have to." Please don't pressure your child to tell you about their play. They often don't know how to put it into words. I will always let you know if I have concerns and you can always ask me if you have any. I will do my best to communicate to you about your child's play, while also maintaining their trust and confidentiality.
8.) It is important to continue counseling until the graduation sessions. Even if your child is doing much better, they need this sense of closure to maintain their progress.
9.) It is also important to do the homework assignments I may give you. Your child is only with me for an hour, so the real progress can be made when you work with them at home. I will always try to help you with whatever homework so you feel confident and able. During the entire counseling process we are a team, and I am here to help your child and you.
10.) Be ready to play!