There is growing evidence that introducing children and adolescents to therapy can prove beneficial in a host of areas; in fact, recommendations have been made that most, if not all, young people undergo some sort of professional screening for feelings of depression. The effort to help curb unnecessary suffering in youth is undoubtedly important, and mental health professionals from many different fields are keen to lend their knowledge and expertise to the health and well-being of kids. But as for engaging in actual therapy sessions, there is some contention between those who assert that the child is the most apt representative of their person, and those who prefer to glean the most information from the parents.
This issue has recently come up for a professional in Israel, who has discussed the virtues of meeting with parents prior to meeting with the child, and adds that meeting with the child may not be necessary at all. While it is generally accepted that parents who are concerned about their relationships with their children can benefit from meeting with a therapist, the idea that a child who could realize greater well-being from therapy can be treated in a vicarious manner is cause for questioning for some professionals. With that said, experienced marriage and family therapists have known for years about the positive impact made on the lives of children as a result of their parents being in therapy or marriage counseling. And although family therapy has gained in popularity over the past 40 years, treatment absent of the person for whom the treatment is intended is not nearly as accepted by professionals outside the realm of marriage and family therapy.
As therapists, counselors, and other professionals sound off on their perspective over whether the child or the parent (or some combination) is the primary focus of therapy, it is clear that the psychotherapy community is striving to provide better service to its more youthful clients.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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