Last week I spoke about how it felt to be told that I needed to take my child to a therapist. This week I want to talk about the first visit and how it helped me gain confidence to help my child.
Waiting has never been my strong suit. We waited in the therapist’s waiting room for sixteen minutes past our appointment time. I remember the time exactly because my butt was numb and my constant fidgeting was driving my partner up the bland coloured walls. My hands were sweating, and my knees shook – despite my previous conversations with other mums going through the same thing and my own psychologist, I still didn’t know what to expect and the unknown is terrifying.
When it finally was our turn, a cold sense of dread rushed over me. This was it. This is where I get told how badly I have messed up my child. My daughter picked up on our fears and mirrored them through a tight grip and sweaty palms. The therapist was lovely and had a huge smile that was obviously made to be comforting – I hated her on sight. I didn’t want comforting. I wanted answers and I wanted to know how to really help my child.
Her room was warm and inviting and her couch – it was made to melt in to. My mind was jumping to a million different things and my own anxiety flared in protest. I was a mess, and it was genuinely painful sitting there, waiting for our lives to change forever. She directed my daughter to play with some toys before she pinned us with those big baby blues.
“How can I help?” it is a simple sentence, but it seemed to be a cue for my filter to collapse and permission to word vomit. We explained everything the teacher told us was wrong, how we both agreed and didn’t agree as well all the emotions we were feeling. There is something incredibly healing about being so open with a stranger. She asked us a few questions that were less evasive than a doctor’s form before smiling. Then she turned to my daughter. My anxiety peaked and I was more nervous than before. The questions were posed as random thoughts mixed with her games instead of the interrogation I expected, and it eased my daughter into talking about how she felt.
My daughter showed a full range of emotions that day. She started off excited but then it became:
- Anxious of a new stranger
- Anger that I was “spilling her secrets”
- Annoyed that we were talking about her issues
- Scared that she was going to be in trouble
- Confused about the big words being thrown around
- Worried that there was something wrong with her
Before finally settling on comfort when told “there was nothing wrong with her” and that she was “a pretty awesome kid.”
The amount of information we were given in that first session (and most sessions afterwards) was overwhelming and I probably forgot most of it due to the sheer relief that someone had answers. The therapist opened the door to many new ideas and understandings we never even thought about. We automatically jumped to the worst-case scenario defence, as most parents do. Therapy changed our way of thinking, our outlook and how we approached things.
Of course, it wasn’t smooth sailing instantly. There were times where the information we received from the therapist was so overwhelming or the emotions were too high that I forgot 90% of it by the time we got home and there were some ideas that my partner and I couldn’t agree on. There were moments where both my daughter and I refused to talk, and it made the sessions harder – there were sessions where all we did was cry. The whole journey was incredibly emotional. The extra techniques and ideas she suggested, most that are found on ParentalEQ’s ParentalEQ App, were so helpful but some weren’t right for my daughter, so we worked together to pick what did. We had great days, good days, bad days and horrific days that sent us right back to square one. It was long, messy and a little painful but so incredible worth it.
Therapy is important as long as it is the right fit for you and your child. You have nothing to lose in trying. I won’t lie, it is hard on both you and your child and there are moments where you will want to just give up, but the information and guidance we were given was unmeasurable. Therapy is an ongoing process, not a miracle quick fix but it can be the right step for you and your child. Power is knowledge after all, and we parents can’t get enough knowledge of our children’s inner workings.
ParentalEQ’s ParentalEQ App is a pocket guide to help you navigate and support emotional & social development in your children. Share with your friends and join our mailing list today to keep updated with new activities, tips and tricks, and the next step in Casey’s journey in seeing a professional with her child.
First hand, first time scribed by Casey Luxford