No More Waiting in the Waiting Room: How Parents Can Get Involved in Their Child’s Therapy

The involvement of parents and caregivers in the treatment of mental health diagnoses is essential for promoting positive outcomes and improving the overall functioning of children and adolescents. Many mental health professionals recognize the important role that parents and caregivers play in the lives of their children and involve them in the therapeutic process to maximize the effectiveness of treatment. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of involving parents and caregivers in the treatment of common mental health diagnoses.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

  1. Improved communication: Involving parents and caregivers in the treatment of ADHD can improve communication between family members. Parents and caregivers can learn how to communicate more effectively with their child, and can learn strategies for managing difficult behaviors. This can help reduce conflicts and improve family relationships.
  2. More effective treatment: When parents and caregivers are involved in the treatment of ADHD, they can provide valuable information about the child’s behaviors and symptoms. This information can help guide the development of an effective treatment plan that addresses the child’s unique needs and challenges. In addition, involving parents and caregivers in treatment can increase their commitment to the process, which can improve the child’s outcomes.
  3. Improved academic performance: Children with ADHD often struggle with academic performance, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help improve academic outcomes. Parents and caregivers can learn strategies for promoting positive behaviors and study habits, which can help the child succeed in school.
  4. Increased confidence and self-esteem: Children with ADHD may struggle with low self-esteem and confidence. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help improve the child’s self-esteem by providing emotional support and positive feedback. This can help the child feel more confident and motivated to succeed.
  5. Reduced stress: ADHD can be a stressful and challenging disorder for both the child and the family. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help reduce stress by providing support and guidance. Parents and caregivers can learn strategies for managing stress and promoting self-care, which can improve their overall well-being.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

  1. Increased understanding: Involving parents and caregivers in the treatment of ASD can help them gain a better understanding of the disorder and its impact on the child. This can help them be more empathetic and patient with the child and can improve their ability to provide effective support.
  2. Improved communication: Communication can be challenging for children with ASD, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help improve communication within the family. Parents and caregivers can learn strategies for communicating more effectively with their children, which can reduce frustration and promote positive interactions.
  3. Improved behavior management: Children with ASD often have challenging behaviors that can be difficult to manage. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn strategies for managing these behaviors and promoting positive behaviors. This can help reduce stress within the family and improve the child’s overall functioning.
  4. Improved academic performance: Children with ASD often struggle with academic performance, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help improve academic outcomes. Parents and caregivers can learn strategies for promoting positive behaviors and study habits, which can help the child succeed in school.
  5. Improved social skills: Children with ASD often struggle with social skills and making friends. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn strategies for promoting social skills and building positive relationships. This can help the child develop more meaningful relationships and improve their overall quality of life.

Depression and Anxiety:

  1. Increased understanding: When parents and caregivers are involved in the treatment of anxiety and/or depression, they can gain a better understanding of the disorders and how it affects their child. This can help them be more supportive and empathetic towards their child, which can help reduce anxiety symptoms and improve overall well-being.
  2. Improved communication: Anxiety and/or depression can make communication difficult for children, which can lead to misunderstandings and increased anxiety and lower levels of depression. By involving parents and caregivers in treatment, they can learn effective communication strategies that can help reduce misunderstandings and promote positive interactions.
  3. Improved behavior management: Children with anxiety and/or depression often exhibit challenging behaviors, such as avoidance or aggression. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn strategies for managing these behaviors and promoting positive ones, which can help reduce family stress and improve the child’s functioning.
  4. Improved coping skills: Children with anxiety and/or depression often struggle with coping skills and may need extra support in learning healthy coping strategies. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn effective coping strategies, which can promote resilience and improve overall functioning.
  5. Improved family relationships: Anxiety and/or depression put a strain on family relationships, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help improve these relationships. By learning effective communication and behavior management strategies, families can develop stronger relationships and promote a positive family environment.
  6. Improved self-care: Caring for a child with depression can be emotionally and physically taxing on parents and caregivers. Involving them in treatment can help them learn self-care strategies that can reduce their own stress and improve their overall well-being.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD):

  1. A better understanding of the disorder: When parents and caregivers are involved in the treatment of ODD, they can gain a better understanding of the disorder and how it affects their child. This can help them be more supportive and empathetic towards their child, which can improve their relationship and reduce negative behaviors.
  2. Improved communication: Children with ODD often struggle with communication, which can lead to misunderstandings and increased negative behaviors. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn effective communication strategies that can reduce misunderstandings and promote positive interactions.
  3. Improved behavior management: Children with ODD often exhibit challenging behaviors, such as defiance and aggression. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn strategies for managing these behaviors and promoting positive ones, which can improve family relationships and reduce family stress.
  4. Improved family relationships: ODD can put a strain on family relationships, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help improve these relationships. By learning effective communication and behavior management strategies, families can develop stronger relationships and promote a positive family environment.
  5. Improved coping skills: Children with ODD often struggle with coping skills and may need extra support in learning healthy coping strategies. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn effective coping strategies, which can promote resilience and improve overall functioning.
  6. Improved self-care: Caring for a child with ODD can be emotionally and physically taxing on parents and caregivers. Involving them in treatment can help them learn self-care strategies that can reduce their own stress and improve their overall well-being.
  7. Consistency in treatment: When parents and caregivers are involved in the treatment of their child with ODD, they can help ensure that treatment strategies are being implemented consistently at home and in other environments. This can promote more effective treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of relapse.
  8. Increased motivation: Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can increase their motivation to help their child manage their symptoms and behaviors. This can lead to more active participation in treatment and a greater likelihood of achieving treatment goals.
  9. Reduced stigma: ODD can be a stigmatizing diagnosis, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help reduce this stigma. When parents and caregivers understand the disorder and its impact on their child, they may be better able to advocate for their child and educate others about the disorder.

Trauma (PTSD):

  1. Increased understanding of trauma: Trauma can be a complex and difficult experience for both the child and the family. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them better understand the impact of trauma on their child’s behavior and emotions. This can help them respond more effectively and support their child’s recovery.
  2. Promotion of safety and stability: Trauma can disrupt a child’s sense of safety and stability. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them create a safe and stable environment for the child, which can promote healing and recovery.
  3. Development of coping skills: Trauma can lead to a variety of challenging emotions and behaviors, such as anxiety, anger, and avoidance. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them develop strategies to cope with these emotions and behaviors, which can help the child manage their symptoms and improve their overall functioning.
  4. Increased support: Trauma can be an isolating experience, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can provide additional emotional and practical support for the child. This can reduce the child’s feelings of isolation and improve their overall well-being.
  5. Improved communication: Trauma can strain family relationships, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can improve communication and promote a more positive family dynamic. This can help reduce stress and promote healing for the child and the family as a whole.
  6. Strengthening of the parent-child bond: Trauma can disrupt the parent-child relationship, and involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help strengthen the bond between them and their child. This can improve the child’s sense of security and trust, and promote healthy attachment.
  7. Promotion of self-care: Trauma can be a stressful and emotionally demanding experience for parents and caregivers as well. Involving them in treatment can help promote self-care and improve their ability to manage their own stress and emotions, which can improve their overall well-being and ability to support their child.

Attachment Disorders (RAD):

  1. Promotion of healthy attachment: Attachment disorders are characterized by difficulties in forming healthy attachments with caregivers. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn strategies for promoting healthy attachment, which can improve the child’s overall emotional and social functioning.
  2. Improved parent-child relationship: Attachment disorders can strain the parent-child relationship, but involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help strengthen the bond between them and the child. This can improve the child’s sense of security and trust, and promote healthy attachment.
  3. Reduced parental stress and anxiety: Parenting a child with attachment disorders can be stressful and emotionally demanding. Involving parents and caregivers in treatment can provide them with support and guidance, and help reduce their stress and anxiety.
  4. Promotion of positive behaviors: Attachment disorders can be associated with challenging behaviors, but involving parents and caregivers in treatment can help them learn strategies for promoting positive behaviors and reducing negative ones. This can improve the child’s academic and social functioning, and promote overall well-being.
  5. Attachment disorders often result from disruptions in early relationships with caregivers, so involving caregivers in treatment can help address these underlying issues and promote healthy attachment between the child and caregiver.
  6. Parents or caregivers can learn specific strategies for responding to the child’s needs and behaviors in a way that promotes secure attachment and reduces symptoms of the disorder.

Involving parents and caregivers in the treatment of mental health diagnoses is critical for promoting positive outcomes and improving the overall functioning of children and adolescents. By working collaboratively with parents and caregivers, mental health professionals can develop effective treatment plans that address the unique needs and challenges of the child, and can improve the child’s overall well-being. It is essential that mental health professionals prioritize the involvement of parents and caregivers in the therapeutic process, and work together to promote the best possible outcomes for children and adolescents with mental health diagnoses.

Check out the Parent Hub’s Handout section for:

  • Weekly parent/caregiver report that can be filled out and brought to therapy sessions each week.
  • Specific diagnostic information
  • Handout on questions to ask in a parent/caregiver session¬†