When your child first starts therapy – for whatever reason – you may wonder when enough is enough. Your child may be in therapy to help deal with your divorce, with abuse, or with a mental health issue.
Who Decides if Therapy Is Over?
When it comes to stopping therapy, it is not a decision that either the therapist or the child should make on one’s own. Instead, it is a decision that should be reached together including, depending on the age of your child, your input as a parent. There are a number of questions that should be answered, including the following:
- Do you feel as though therapy is still productive?
- Have you accomplished what you wanted to in the therapy sessions?
- Will you be able to manage your daily life?
- Do you feel like this therapist is not the right one for you anymore?
- What could be accomplished by continuing therapy?
These are just a few of the questions that you and your child may want to discuss prior to another therapy session. Then you can discuss the same questions and answers with your child’s therapist. The therapist will be able to help your child explore the questions more thoroughly and offer an opinion on whether now is a good time to stop therapy. Again, the older your child, the more independent they will feel in answering these questions.
The length of therapy will also depend on the type of therapy; cognitive behavior therapy is one such type. This is used to help a patient reach a certain goal. The therapist will usually set a specific number of sessions, say 10 to 20, and then see if the issue has been adequately addressed.
There are other options for your child, too. If your child has been seeing a therapist once a week, maybe it is time to go once every two weeks. Ending therapy can be an emotional experience because your child has bared his or her soul to that person. The therapist has not judged your child, something your child may still feel comes from family and friends.
Your son or daughter may find that when they stop therapy, they want to go back. It may not be to talk about their parents’ divorce, but simply to talk about minor issues that are going on at school. Your children could feel that their therapist is really the only person they can open up to. If that is the case, the therapist should encourage conversations with you and others. This can help your child learn to be more open and communicative.
In some cases, your child’s therapist may not agree that it is time to end therapy. The therapist may think that your child has not dealt with all of the issues that are affecting him or her. It could even be a possibility that the therapist may suggest your child continue therapy with another therapist to move beyond specific barriers. This can be a rather dramatic move, especially if the two therapists are very different in the way they do their job. Keep in mind that your child’s health – including mental health – is why therapy was started. You will be able to notice if your child has progressed from when he or she started therapy.
Success at the End
If terminating therapy is the decision that the therapist, your child, and you make in agreement, then there should be feelings of success and accomplishment. You child should feel proud of what they have done. They have worked hard to learn more about themselves than they knew before. They have learned how to focus on continuing to grow as people and move forward with life.
Your child should understand that therapy is used to help you deal with many things in your life, but that doesn’t mean they will immediately go away. However, if therapy is successful, your child will now have the tools to deal with many issues that they couldn’t deal with before.