Saturday, November 27, 2021

How To Get Kids To Open Up In Remote Therapy

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many of our day-to-day endeavors online ― school, work, fitness, socialization, and even mental health care. But when it comes to therapy, the virtual medium can present challenges, particularly for young people.

It is sometimes more difficult to engage kids in sessions conducted via telehealth,” said Nicole Schatz, research assistant professor and clinic director at Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families. “Although many kids can engage with telehealth sessions just fine, some may benefit more from in-person treatment sessions. Speaking to a therapist through a screen from home can present concerns about privacy for kids and teens feeling their close proximity to family members. There may also be distractions.

Discomfort and a sense of distance that make opening up and engaging with therapy difficult. But even if in-person sessions aren’t an option at the moment, there are still ways to deal with some of these challenges. That’s where parents and caregivers come in. So what exactly can parents do to encourage their children to open up in remote therapy and have a healthy and productive experience? Below, Schatz and other experts share their advice.

Respect their privacy.

“Privacy can sometimes be a challenge during telehealth,” Schatz said. “Sessions may be interrupted by siblings or other family members coming into the room. Kids may also have concerns that others in their household will overhear the session from another room.”

Parents can help with privacy concerns by ensuring their children have a quiet, secure space for therapy sessions where they don’t have to worry about interruptions or eavesdropping. They may also offer headphones to create a more one-on-one feeling and help their kids isolate themselves from their surroundings.

“Allowing a child the time and space for their therapy conveys that therapy is important and also conveys respect for privacy,” said Allison DePoy, behavioral health clinical educator with Big Lots Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

On the other hand, small children might feel intimidated by teletherapy and want a parent present, at least at first. Parents should talk about this option with the therapist and child to determine the most effective approach.

“Discuss with your child ahead of time the limitations and benefits of online therapy,” advised Bethany Cook, a music therapist and clinical psychologist in Chicago. “Ask your child where they would like you to be during the session ― in the room or out of earshot?

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