The purpose of the assessment is to clarify your child's presenting problems and plan a course of treatment. The assessment begins with a parent interview so that the salient concerns can be discussed. The child or teen is almost always not present for this interview. After this interview, I meet with your son or daughter individually. For further diagnostic clarification, I may administer various measures. The specific measures administered will depend upon your child's presenting problems. Additionally, with your permission, I contact your child's school and gather information about their academic and behavioral functioning. Finally, I meet with the parents to discuss my findings and make recommendations for how you might want to move forward. Usually the assessment takes at least three sessions to complete.
For younger children, my treatment of choice is usually play therapy. Play therapy is basically what it sounds like: the treatment of problems through clinically informed play that the child directs. Play therapy meets the developmental needs of younger children more so than does talk therapy. This is because younger children tend to express their worries and confront their challenges through play. Play therapy provides your child with a non-judgmental, safe environment in which to explore more adaptive means of resolving problems and conflicts they might be having. It can also help them practice constructive social skills and better conceptualize the workings of social interactions.
By the time most children have reached the age of 10-12 years old, they are developmentally ready for a therapy that uses words more heavily than play. I have found that many children benefit from the framework utilized in cognitive-behavioral therapy with adults, though on a simpler level. When children constructively develop more balanced perceptions about themselves and others, as well as practice new behavioral skills, they feel more competent, optimistic, and successful.
Therapy with children does not occur in a vacuum. Children and teens tend to do better in therapy when there is some level of parental involvement with the therapy. Often parent-child sessions involve clarifying family expectations and roles. Parent-child sessions can be helpful in improving communication between parents and children. These sessions also can help to foster a sense of common purpose within the family. The frequency of parent-child sessions depends upon the nature of the presenting problem.