Frequently asked questions
A guide for parents who has a child entering therapy.
What is involved in the assessment process?
The initial assessment is where we meet with you and the child that you care for. In this session we work with you to decide whether our service is appropriate for you and/or them.
We will let you know that this will be a safe space in which anything you tell us will be kept confidential and we will try to get an overview of the main difficulties that the child is experiencing. We will tell you a bit about ourselves, including about our qualifications which enable us to work safely and therapeutically with you and any children that we see. We will be non-judgemental and will not make any assumptions about what you or the child’s behaviours or symptoms might mean. We simply want to make sure that you have a realistic expectation about what we can do to help.
What approach do you take in therapy at TMH?
There are lots of different types of counselling or therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Person Centred, Integrative, Humanistic, Psychodynamic, and many others. Each have their own way of working with patients and there are similarities between some. No one therapeutic approach is perfect for everyone and most find that they benefit from an eclectic approach.
At Teenage Mental Health most staff are psychodynamically trained however we also have staff from other disciplines too. More importantly we are all qualified with masters degrees in our speciality, which means we will look at how patterns of behaviour and self-concepts are affected by the unconscious mind as well as outside influences including past experiences and relationships. We explore what is going on for the patient in their everyday life, but always look at this in relation to what is going on for them in their inner world. Because all TMH therapists are highly qualified we have a good awareness of all other therapies as well as their techniques, we believe in applying the appropriate techniques for you and your child and do not apply a one size fits all approach to an individual’s personal therapy at TMH.
Have I done something wrong which has led to my child coming to therapy?
This is highly unlikely. No parent sets out to intentionally damage their child and just because your child is facing some difficulties does not mean that you have done anything wrong or are a “bad parent”. In fact, it could be argued that by seeking help for their problems and by bringing them to therapy you have your child’s best interests at mind. The other thing to remember is that the problem that the child presents with is not usually the major issue. A problem that a child presents with, and that you bring your child to therapy for, is often masking something else.
These problems may well emerge over the time they come to see us. What’s important is that you do not see your child needing to see a therapist as a negative reflection on you and we promise to work with your child in a non-judgemental way.
How many sessions might my child need?
No two children are the same and it’s almost impossible to predict how many sessions a child might need. Our ethos is that the needs of the child come first and above else, so we will only ever work at a rate that a child is easily able to tolerate and is comfortable with. Therefore, what might take one child five sessions may take another ten sessions to work through. The important thing is that your child feels supported, nurtured and not rushed. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like but the most important thing is that the therapy is impactful and that it makes a long-term difference to your child.
Why do you need a basic information form, and will you contact anyone on this form?
We legally need the information requested on this form so that if there were a medical or other emergency, we can quickly get help for your child. We never contact any of the contacts provided without your express permission.
Do I need to inform the school of the sessions?
This is entirely up to you but be assured we will not without your permission.
What payment methods do you accept?
We accept cash, card and bank transfer payments for our services, and we always email you an invoice when your child attends for their session which has our bank details on the bottom. We respectfully remind all users of our service that we have a 24 hours remittance period and expect payment within this time frame.
Do I have to pay for missed or cancelled session and what is your cancellation policy?
Missed or cancelled sessions are still charged for, we are a weekly service and when you agree to use our services you are expected to attend weekly. Our terms and conditions of sale which includes our cancellation policyare clearly displayed on our website www.teenagementalhealth.co.uk/terms-and-conditions/.
I have health insurance for my family, can my child’s therapy be covered under the insurance?
We do not have arrangements with any medical insurance companies however we always provide full invoices for sessions and some insurance providers may reimburse you if you provide them with these invoices.
Does my child have to come to therapy every week?
Therapy is always delivered in weekly sessions at TMH and you should bare this in mind when signing up to our services. Interruptions for holidays and other activities should be avoided as much as possible as they can cause a disruption to the flow of the work and therapeutic benefits. This can result in the work taking much longer than anyone would like.
Do I need to bring anything for the first appointment?
Nothing at all however we do request that you return your completed information form and signed copy of our confidentiality policy before we start to work with your child.
Do both parents have to be at the first appointment?
Not at all, we do however recommend that parents do not leave the premises during a session for the first few weeks in case their child needs them. Therapy will be a new experience for some children and its nice for them to know that someone is waiting downstairs for them.
What can my child take with them to therapy?
The most important thing about therapy is that your child feels comfortable physically and emotionally. Whatever your child wants to bring in with them to help them feel OK is fine by us. We would rather they didn’t bring in strongly smelling food (the aroma can linger), and pet crocodiles are discouraged, but anything else is absolutely fine.
Can I be in the therapy room with my child?
Parents are always welcome to come into the room to settle a child. Nobody wants to feel pushed away or forcibly separated, however therapy works best when parents or friends are not in the room. Whilst it can be reassuring for the child to have a parent present for therapy it can and often does interrupt the therapeutic process. So, whilst we won’t ever force a parent out of the room, we do strongly recommend you only stay for a few minutes then leave.
Isn’t it all just playing and drawing?
It can seem like we all we do is just play with the children we see, and in some ways, this is true(lots of playing happens). However, children can struggle to communicate their inner thoughts and talk about their emotions yet find it easier to do so through their play. We are all trained to play with children and interpret the cues and signals that their play brings out and interpret these to the child to help them make sense of their feelings.
What are the common themes that are addressed in therapy?
Children come to us when they are struggling emotionally, and this is often reflected in their behaviour. They may struggle with in their engagement with others or suffer from mood swings. Common themes with the children we see are a reluctance to go to school, feeling angry or having angry outbursts, feeling anxious, or feeling tearful. We approach all these symptoms in much the same way. We initially build a relationship with the child so that they feel comfortable to talk to us and then help them explore these feelings or worries in a safe way.
What can my child’s therapist tell me?
All sessions are confidential, and we cannot tell you what your child says to us, but we can let you know how they are doing and what we think the overarching issue is. Often a child will not want a parent to know certain things and we will help them work out why that is. We will also work with them to find an appropriate way of telling you something important so that in the future they can come to you with that worry.
What might my therapist tell other people?
Nothing at all. We do not share information with any other agencies and most certainly not with anyone without the child and parents’ permission. All therapists attend regular personal professional supervision as well as our own organisations group professional supervision. During this no child’s name is ever used or details that would identify them to others.
What about confidentiality?
Often parents are concerned about our confidentiality policy which is that we never breach a child’s confidentiality under any circumstances. It is of utmost importance that when a child talks to us, they know that what they tell us will not be repeated to anyone else without their permission. This can be frustrating for parents however is in the child’s best interests. By law we are only able to breach a child’s confidentiality if we believe that they are at serious risk of immediate harm, if we were to breach confidentiality, we would be breaking the law and our industry professional guidelines. If we believe that a child is at risk of immediate significant harm, we will always act in the child’s best interests and preservation of life, and as such have protocols in place to safeguard the patient. Our full confidentiality policy is available on reception and is also published on our website, we also ask that you read and then sign a copy of our confidentiality policy before your child starts sessions with us.
Can I talk to my child’s therapist?
Yes of course, however we respectfully request that you phone and speak to them via reception or make an appointment to speak with them separately to your child’s session. It is important that parents and therapists do not chat before or after sessions as the child may well perceive this as them being friends which could very well block the child’s sense that their therapist is impartial.
Is the therapist available out of the allocated sessions if there is a crisis?
Your child’s therapist may give you their mobile number and will email you after your child’s first session so that you have their email address. You are welcome to contact them by email outside of sessions however please be aware that all our therapists work part time and are not always available when you would expect them to be and that not all calls, texts and emails can be answered immediately by them. If you have an urgent request it is generally best to phone our reception team who will be able to support you appropriately during our normal opening hours.
Our main phone number and email address are manned in the evenings and weekends however please be aware that we are not a 24 hour service and these communications platforms are monitored on a best endeavours basis and we are not able to provide a guaranteed service. If you are concerned about the safety of yourself or others please contact the emergency service by calling 999.
How can I support my child at home, before and after a therapy session?
Try not to ask them about the session they have just had. A child may feel questioned after a session and this can have a very negative impact on how the child feels about attending and being able to speak openly to us. It is generally best to simply ask if it all went well and leave them to tell you about the session if they wish to. It is also generally best not to instruct the child what to say in sessions, children can feel overwhelmed easily if they feel that they have a tick list of subjects to discuss with the therapist. It is often best just to let the therapist and child discuss what the session brings if something is bothering them it will always emerge in a session.
Should I discuss my child's therapy with other family members?
This is generally best discussed with your child first to see how they feel about others knowing, some children are happy for everyone to know, others are more self-conscious. You know your family better than we ever will so are best placed to make these decisions, but we can help and advise you on how best to let the wider family know about your child’s therapy and our support group is the perfect place to talk this through with one of our therapists.
Should I talk to my child about the cost of therapy?
Sadly, we have to charge for our services (if we could do it for free, we would!). Please try not to talk too much about the cost of therapy, in front of or with your child. Often if a parent comments on how much it costs, this can leave the child feeling that they are a burden or that they should be getting better quickly.
Can my child change therapist if they want to?
Everybody is different and no two people have the same relationship in everyday life. The same is true in therapy. No pairing of child and therapist will be the same. We work hard to ensure that we pair the right therapist with the child they are seeing, but this is not an exact science. If this relationship doesn’t work, your child may request to change therapist. However, sometimes a request to change can come from not wanting to explore an issue that the therapist has identified, and the child could be trying to avoid or defend against something emotionally difficult. We are happy to allow a change in therapist, and this will be done without any hard feelings, however we do recommend that the child has a few sessions before changing therapist so that they can be certain that they need that change.
When should therapy end and how will I know?
Generally speaking, as the child progresses through treatment you will notice some changes. These might be small at first, but these will be built on over the course of treatment. It is also not unusual for children to get worse once they start therapy as it can bring up worries that they perhaps haven’t confronted before. This is completely normal. During sessions the therapist might check in with your child on how they think they are doing and based on their response help decide on how and when to end therapy. As our focus is the child, we always let the impetus for ending come from the child and not us. However, if we feel that a child is ready to move on, we will always encourage this. We will never see a child if we do not feel that we are adding value to their lives and helping them.
How can I manage my own mental health?
Children will look to you as a model for how to react to situations. It is important that you maintain open communication, provided in a reassuring and calm manner. This can feel difficult if you are trying to manage your own anxieties. Try to practice self-care, by eating and sleeping well and trying to make small moments of time for yourself. If you are struggling with you own mental health, then reach out for support for yourself too. The more you are able to manage your own feelings, the better you will be at supporting your child’s.