How can I prepare my child to see a psychologist?
When parents or caregivers decide that they may need further assistance (outside of advice from family and friends or Doctor 'Google'), it can be somewhat tricky to explain to a child how seeing a child psychologist may be helpful for them individually and for the whole family!
Here are some tips that may be helpful:
1. Explain to them WHAT a psychologist is:
Sometimes when you are not well, and feel sick because your stomach hurts or your nose is runny, you visit the doctor and they check you and give you medicine to make you feel better. Psychologists can also help too, but they are helpful when you feel sad, hurt , angry or worried about something. They can also be know as the "Feelings Doctor" or a "Thinking Coach" and can help you through your troubling feelings or thoughts'.
'Remember you are not the only kid that may feel these feelings or have problems! Many kids see a child psychologist and many kids get help through them just like they get help from a kids doctor for feeling sick or their teacher for school work. Child psychologists are child specialists and it is their job to listen and work with kids to make them feel better'.
2. Explain to them WHY kids may see a psychologist
Psychologists who work with kids understand the different things that can make them feel angry, anxious, sad or upset. The biggest reason why young people see a psychologist is to help them to talk to someone, outisde of family or friends in order to make them feel better.
Some things that kids talk about to psychologists may be that they are feeling very worried that they cannot stop thinking about things, or that it is stopping them from having fun and enjoying their lives. Kids sometimes see psychologists at times because they have problems getting along with their friends or have issues with their friends that they can solve on their own. Other reasons could be that the young person is fighting with their members in their family, like mother, father, sister or brother and they need help on how to handle certain situations.
At times, kids see a psychologist because they have problems concentrating in their class or have problems understanding their school work, have emotions that they are finding to understand or express, or even have problems that they don't know what to do about.
Some young people also see a psychologist during really tough times, like when their Mum and Dad are not living together anymore, when they lose a grandparent or even a pet, or when someone is making them feel uncomfortable and is not treating them right. Your psychologist is able to help you and make you feel better if you are going through any of these things.
3. Prepare them with an idea of what to EXPECT when they meet with the psychologist
Your psychologist is like your teacher at school and have met with many kids before, and will want to get to know more about you; like your family and friends in order to make you feel more comfortable. You can also get to know them and ask about their family or even pets!
If you feel a little bit worried to speak to the psychologist alone, you can have your mum, dad or even grandma come in with you. Remember you do not have to say anything you may not want to say. But your psychologist will tell you that everything you talk about is between you two, unless there is something really serious, but your psychologist will get permission from you.
In later sessions, you and your psychologist will work with you and with us on solving the problems that we may have; whether it may be at home or at school. You may see your psychologist every two-three weeks. Sometimes, your psychologist will ask you to give you some easy exercises to work on to help you between sessions.
4. Tell your child that getting help is NO BIG DEAL
Some people think that seeing a psychologist means that your are "weird" or "different" or that if anyone finds out, then they will get bullied or teased about it. Remember this is NOT TRUE, child psychologists see many kids with so many different problems or brain differences. Many kids feel worried (approximately one in every ten children), many kids have divorced parents, many gets get angry sometimes or even feel sad sometimes. There are also many kids who have problems making or keeping friends.. so its NO BIG DEAL to talk to someone about it...
Seeing a psychologist means that you want to learn a different or new way that will give you results; like feeling better, making good friendships and solving problems... So, seeing a psychologist can be VERY HELPFUL and can give you ways to be happier or less stressed about your life.