I didn’t go to therapy as a kid. Maybe I should have, but more on that later. I do however have plenty of experience with therapy as an adult, so Melinda’s take here does not surprise me:
“my take is that if your child is struggling and you’ve got the means, therapy may be worth trying. Yes, that sounds a bit wishy-washy—but as is so often the case with therapy, whether it’s necessary, and whether it works, varies wildly depending on your family and your child. The key? Find someone your child can trust.”
Unfortunately, whether therapy is effective for your child, or for yourself as an adult, depends on a number of factors. Finding someone you can trust is an obvious one, and sometimes a real struggle. Elsewhere in the article, Melinda talks about the child not currently being in a traumatic situation, notably one interviewee who was seeing a therapist for depression while also being sexually abused at home. She knew she could talk about that, so the therapy was doomed from the start.
Sometimes I believe we look at mental health treatments like therapy and dismiss them because “it didn’t work” without considering all of the outside factors that can influence whether it works or not. A child going to therapy may be helpful. The research cited below shows that it is mostly positive, but not always. When it’s not it may be something as simple as a bad match between a patient and therapist, or it may be something much more complicated, existing completely outside of the patient-therapist relationship.
You don’t simply go to therapy and everything is fixed, because the thing you are trying to treat exists outside of the therapist’s office, and if you are powerless to change that, therapy will only get you so far.
We need to also recognize all of the things that may exist in a child’s life that may be causing the mental health struggle to start with and deal with them, or the likelihood of therapy being effective becomes less and less. Children currently being abused, obviously, but also children currently facing excessive bullying, stressful home lives, and other traumatic events, can’t just go talk to a therapist and fix all of the effects of that. They need more support than that and they need hope that life is more than their current situation.
They won’t get hope if we send them to a therapist without doing anything to help them avoid further trauma.
We all need hope.