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Is there ever a time where you feel like you can help the children you're working with? If so is it hard to tell them and/or the parents ?

Is there ever a time where you feel like you can help the children you're working with? If so is it hard to tell them and/or the parents

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Kasey’s Answer

Hello again Dani,

This is yet another thing I struggled with for quite some time and all these questions are very realistic and obviously you are digging into your own ability to manage your emotions in these difficult situations, so I do appreciate that. Yes, there is absolutely times where I cannot help the child, especially as much as I would like to and know is possible if their circumstances change. Whether that is them leaving treatment, living in traumatic and/or stressful homes making it very difficult to process past trauma when they are triggered as soon as they leave, not coming to therapy as often as they should because of lack of effort or simply their parent or guardian's struggle financially or with their own life circumstances, or kids just being resistant to therapy due to a variety of reasons and coming to the realization that what you're doing isn't working. It's all hard of course. I think these are all very natural things you're asking and I, like most I would assume, struggled with these more when I first started than I do now. I think that goes back to discussing your struggles with your supervisor especially. Mine still makes me come to realizations quite often by asking the right questions and I know I need that, because my emotions have convinced me that a client isn't ready for discharge when they haven't given that inclination that therapy is still needed for them to continue making progress what so ever. This one takes time for sure, but looking at discharge as the goal and a positive thing has been beneficial to me for sure, because our goal is not to keep them longer so we can be the ones that continue to help them, which of course sometimes that is necessary., but our goal is for them to be ready to help themselves without us. That is true improvement and something to be proud of yourself for. Also, the more comfortable you get talking about discharge planning with the client periodically, even from their very first appointment, it allows the transition to go more smoothly in my experience.

As for telling the kids and the parents, I want to give you good advice and I am still learning myself to do this effectively, while keeping my emotions out of it, especially when their is abusive behaviors happening, so I suggest research. There are continuing education courses, books, webinars, you name it on anything an everything in this field and I think that is a struggle for many therapists working with children, whether it's due to fear, anger, or simply being uncomfortable. Practice compassion and empathy as much as possible would be the best advice I have on that one. As for the kids, addressing any situation that you have made the conscious decision to refer them elsewhere for whatever reason it may be means that they are not getting the care they need and you are providing them with that opportunity, whether it's another therapist that maybe specializes in that specific need, or a higher level of care is needed to providing more help and resources, etc. Focusing on the positives of the situation over all the best you can is definitely helpful to yourself and to them.

Thanks again for the great question! :)
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mark’s Answer

Hi Dani,


I think you are asking if there are times I have not been able to help the children I am working with, to which the answer is yes. It can be very difficult, especially if the reason for not being able to help was that I moved and left the area. It is very difficult to tell them and their parents when you know they like you and have faith in your ability. With some children it is not so tough, mostly because it becomes apparent over time that you are making very little progress and that perhaps the child would be better off with a different person, particularly someone with more expertise in an area.

The best type of endings are when the child has made so much progress, they do not need to come to therapy any more. When the parents, child, and myself all agree to discontinue for positive reasons, it may still not feel great, but it is a definite positive outcome.

Sometimes parents will abruptly end the relationship- this is the most difficult for a therapeutic relationship to end. No preparation often leads to hard feelings or feelings of incompleteness. There have been times where I was VERY upset over how things ended, but that is going to happen occasionally and we need to be prepared to process our emotions so that we can move on. Having a therapist of my own was always very important.

I hope I've answered the question properly.

Mark V.

Thank you comment icon This was very helpful, you answered just what i was asking. Thank you Dani
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