Once you have found a therapist that is a good fit for your child, you might have some questions about what progress looks like throughout therapy. Therapy is a process with lots of tiny steps and tiny changes that add up over time.
Progress Looks Different For Each Child
Each child that comes through IFC’s door is unique, and their therapy journey won’t look the exact same as another. Therefore, there are many factors influence the speed and pace of progress, including:
- Child’s age
- How long these concerns have been affecting your child
- Family involvement in therapy
- Need for medication
- External factors (i.e., positive support system at home, school & friendships)
- Beliefs about therapy/therapist
The first goal of your child’s therapist will always be to build an authentic connection to facilitate a safe and supportive environment for your child. This is a critical ingredient in allowing your child to feel comfortable, understood, and empowered to engage in therapy. This means that therapy may not immediately focus on the concerns you have voiced during a parent session. Although it can feel frustrating to wait for positive change to happen, a strong relationship between child and therapist is essential to helping your child achieve their goals.
In your intake, you and your therapist started setting goals together. These treatment goals ultimately help guide therapy and define progress.
Goal setting is an individualized and collaborative process between parents, children, and therapists. Everyone works together to address your child’s needs and wants. While you started the goal setting progress in your parent intake, your child may have their own goals they would like to focus on during their therapy. Their input is important and encouraged! As a team, your therapist will assist in this process, help manage expectations, and develop goals to ensure they are measurable and attainable.
Common goals may look like:
- Increase child’s coping skills to manage difficult transitions
- Decrease the frequency and duration of outbursts
- Increase positive interactions with family, friends, and peers
Noticing Progress Towards Goals
“How do I know if therapy is working?”
Your therapist may choose to track your child’s progress with the help of periodic assessments and questionnaires that measure your child’s symptoms. Additionally, they may also track progress through you and your child’s observations and experiences while working towards a goal.
It is important to remember the therapeutic process takes time, patience, and consistency. Progress can be slow and steady, and there might be setbacks. In fact, progress is rarely linear. Mistakes along the way are part of learning and growing!
We encourage families to notice and celebrate small wins, especially as these wins tend to add up and happen more frequently over time! Whether that looks like your young child taking three deep breaths when feeling angry or your teenager trying out for a new sport despite feeling anxious. Celebrating these successes will help to build your child’s sense of accomplishment and confidence. It also shows them their loved ones are paying attention to their efforts, not an outcome.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s progress in therapy, please do not hesitate to communicate them with your child’s therapist in your next parent session.
Remember, patience and consistency are key! It is easy to get frustrated when we forget to look at seemingly small goals/successes in the child’s day to day!