Working with parents

We work with parents who have a concern about their child and want to better understand what their child’s difficulties are about. 

Parents can feel ‘stuck’ when they want to help their child but don’t know how to, or feel that whatever they try doesn’t help or even makes things worse. 

We also offer support to parents if other people are worried about their children such as teachers, social workers and grandparents. 

Issues we can help with 

We offer support to parents for a wide range of issues children face, such as: 

  • emotional or behavioural difficulties
  • school or home based problems
  • relationship problems inside and outside of the family
  • specific problems such as post-trauma symptoms, phobias or difficulties with regulating emotions

Length of treatment

The length of treatment depends on the problem and what else is going on for your child. 

You could be offered a short course of meetings and this might be enough to support you in your parenting. 

If your child is seen for individual therapy, you may be seen more regularly (monthly, fortnightly or weekly), depending on your family’s circumstances. 

We offer parent training groups with other parents who experience similar difficulties. Parents get support and good ideas from the strategies others are using. Parent training groups run for 8 to 12 meetings, with tasks to work on between sessions.

Assessment

During assessment you have initial meetings with your therapist to understand what your difficulties are and to consider the most appropriate treatment. You can choose to meet us with or without your child present.

Your therapist explores your understanding of the situation and how you have tried to help your child in the past. They try to gather a picture of the issues and get a sense of what support and therapy would be most helpful to you and to your child.  We also offer group work for parents who have separated but want to parent their children effectively as co-parents. 

Meetings

During parent meetings you are encouraged to share your thoughts and feelings about your child. 

This is often through:

  • descriptions of specific incidents
  • a look at your child’s development
  • a look at your family history

We help you think about the meaning of your child’s behaviours and how you might manage stressful or challenging situations. 

We can work with you separately when your child is seen for individual therapy. This provides you with a space where you can think and talk about the impact that your child’s difficulties have on the family as a whole, as well as you as parents. It gives you the opportunity to think and talk about how your behaviour or parenting may have an effect on how your children feel or behave. 

Effectiveness

Change happens much faster if parents and other family members are open with each other and with the therapist. Children are usually relieved when adults get together to think about them in a sympathetic way. 

Parents of children in long term therapy usually find parent support at the same time extremely helpful. It can support you in your parenting and help you to understand what is happening for your child in their therapy. 

Risks and side effects

Talking and thinking about how you as a parent or how your family works together can be difficult and can bring up feelings of conflict, disagreement and distress. We work with you to manage strong emotional reactions.

Alternatives 

Parent meetings are not for everyone. There is a range of alternative treatments that your therapist talks to you about during assessment. 

Other psychological treatments include: 

Parents may choose not to take up any form of professional help for their issue and manage the problem themself. 

Questions or worries

Therapy can bring up difficult issues. We want you to feel able to discuss any questions or worries with your therapist. This is important to progress your therapy. 

If you would like to discuss any concerns with someone independent of your therapy please contact our patient advice and liaison service.