Through parental involvement, a therapist can most effectively get to the root cause of any struggles with mental health/emotional well-being that the child might be going through. What’s more, the parent’s ongoing cooperation allows a therapist to offer the required tailored support best suited to the child’s particular circumstances.

Read on to find precisely why the benefits to the child’s experience with cognitive psychotherapy are strengthened when the parent is involved.

Reasons to involve the parent in the child’s therapy experience:

1) Understanding the child through understanding the parent

The parent-child relationship is a mutual experience: parents’ behaviour affects the child and vice versa. Parents, maybe without realising, engage in the coping mechanism: what they have gained from their own parents, they then pass to their children. This is the main reason why being a part of their child’s therapy is so important: it can lead the parent to understand their impact on their child truly. It can even lead the parent to reflect and work upon their own childhood trauma and life experiences.

This is a benefit to both parent and child: when a parent heals from their own childhood trauma, their child heals as well. This mutual healing will serve to strengthen the parent-child relationship as a natural consequence of the healing, both individual and shared.

Once parents become aware of this – that their own childhood experiences have been affecting their own beliefs and behaviour and that the ensuing coping mechanisms could be having a negative effect on their child – they can feel eager to share any information necessary. Maybe they didn’t have a positive relationship with their own parents; maybe they have been harbouring unhealed trauma. They naturally don’t want their child to suffer in ways they felt they suffered or to go through experiences they went through that they feel harmed them.

This awareness of the parent of their own trauma is essential because, while the child might not be able to pass information about their parents’ history to the therapist, the parents certainly can.

This crucial information about the parent’s backgrounds, experiences and behaviour helps the therapist to understand the child, through understanding the parent. This allows the therapist to find an approach best suited to the child’s experience and needs.

2) The child is encouraged to invest in the importance of therapy and healing

Parents’ involvement can encourage the child’s participation in therapy. By reflecting and working on their own unhealthy beliefs and coping skills, the necessity of this is modelled for the child. The child sees that this isn’t something that is just important for them – but that it is something that the parent places importance on as well. This can help the child feel part of a team, contributing to faster and healthier healing for both.

The role of the parent as a caregiver cannot be overstated. Their role is to set good examples, beliefs and behaviours – if they do not do this, the child will suffer. In most instances, the challenges a child faces have roots in family dynamics – difficulties might arise due to interactions and behaviour within the family stemming from unhealthy communication patterns. Regular misunderstandings that devolve into fights within the family can cause a child to feel terrified of speaking up, for example.

By addressing these family dynamics, the parent is demonstrating to the child that it is up to them to take the lead and to show support. This will help the child to want to invest in their one healing, and to work together with their parents.

3) Strengthening of family bonds + Teaching/sharing opportunities/modelling health and happiness

Close and healthy bonds between parent and child are essential in the child’s mental health journey, as they will freely share their feelings and experiences with their parents. Parents’ involvement in therapy helps lay the groundwork for this sharing and strengthening of these bonds.

The parent should prioritise learning how the child is doing in school, sharing stories and experiences and feelings – they can then give advice and guidance, leading to further strengthening of bonds and improvement of the child’s social and emotional development. This practice of sharing and support, over time, encourage the child to have the courage to speak up voluntarily about their experiences and feelings.

The strong bond forged through this sharing and cooperation helps strengthen family dynamics. This is an important and long-lasting solution to mental health struggles.

Parents, through experience with supporting their child in therapy, will see the importance of sharing challenges they have faced in their own lives, and the possible solutions. In modelling the importance of facing challenges with a healthy approach and of healing from trauma in order to experience happiness and contentment, the parent is bringing necessary and beneficial transformation to their child through teaching and sharing.

Parents cannot expect their children to be happy if they do not model what being happy looks and feels like – the healing starts from them, and steps to work on this seeps naturally into the child’s healing.

4) Working with the therapist to identify challenges 

As the people spending time with and monitoring their child’s behaviour and performance on a daily basis, the parents are best placed to know when the child is experiencing stress, trauma or other struggles. It is essential that parents are aware of how to spot this, and how to address it healthily.

The parents will be able to collaborate with the therapist through discussing any challenges to progress that they believe might be occurring. The parent-child attachment can be a helpful tool for the therapist. Due to this attachment, this connection, this love for their children, they can better understand the child’s needs and how to help them – and they can relay these thoughts to the therapist.

Based on all this information, the therapist suggests strategies and techniques, both to the parent and the child, that will be conducive to the healing, growth and development of both parties. These supportive skills and tactics need to be implemented and practised in the home, and parents are the ones who need to make sure to encourage, support and ensure this happens. The result of this can even be that these new techniques are passed on from generation to generation – the child’s children will naturally absorb healthier strategies through the copying mechanism mentioned above.

5) Social connection benefits

A family where healthy behaviours are modelled in the home will likely lead to children and teenagers who exhibit healthy behaviours outside the home. Through the natural human instinct to copy behaviours, children who have seen their parents handling challenges in a healthy way, will ultimately use these experiences outside the home, benefitting their relationships with their friends and leading to healthy social and emotional connections.

This all serves to improve the child’s sense of achievement and self-esteem.

Conclusion – Lessons and Message to reflect on

Parents’ involvement in their child’s therapy is crucial.

The above points show the effect that the parent-child relationship can have on the child’s experience of life. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that this is as positive and healthy an experience as possible, rather than a negative and harmful one.

Seeking support from a therapist for the child is only the first step – the most important part is the parents’ understanding of their own role, and their continued cooperation and support throughout the duration of this therapeutic process.

Published On: February 27th, 2023 / Categories: Forgiveness /

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