Hi there Eclectic Chic Family! Happy Therapy Thursday! I cannot believe it has been a year since being promoted, and beginning my job working as a child and family therapist. I have learned SO much. Before graduating, I knew that I wanted to work with children. However, I could not have imagined the ways in which working with children could have stretched, pushed, progressed and enhanced my skills and abilities as a therapist.
I love that the kids I work with don’t have hangups and stigmas about mental health and receiving therapy. Sometimes I see clients in the community, but I always respect their privacy and the confidential nature of our relationship. It always surprises me when my little clients run up and introduce me to others, “Miss Lia is my therapist, and we’re working on X, Y, and Z”. That shows the strides and progress that our field is making.
Outdoor Activities During Family Therapy Sessions Are Great Icebreakers
I have learned that people in the helping fields have to take their capes off at the end of the day. Self-care is something that I emphasize for the families that I work with, but something that I have to be mindful of for myself as well…”healer, heal thyself”. Ensuring that I have time for my hobbies, such as kickboxing, traveling, blogging, trying out new restaurants, and spending time with my loved ones has been key to keeping me fresh. I am glad that I have a great support system that encourages me to be my best self during and outside of therapy sessions.
As a therapist to adult clients, you become used to the communication staying between you and that individual. While working with children, however, the number of hours I am on my work phone has increased tremendously. It truly takes a village, and the number of hours I am on my work phone has tremendously increased, due to time spent coordinating with parents, guardians, teachers, school counselors, school officials, adoption care workers, foster care workers, psychiatrists, amongst others consented to be a part of the treatment team. In the beginning, I would take phone calls at 8pm, 10pm… and on and on from parents worried about their child who is depressed and suicidal; or trying to deescalate their agitated and violent child. I learned that if you take phone calls from anxious parents and guardians at all hours of the early morning and night, you will get burned out. Really. Very. Quickly. There is a reason why there is a rotation of therapists who are on-call to offer 24-hour support; and prevent fatigue of mental health clinicians.
Working with adults, I was used to discussing and helping clients to work through past sexual traumas, physical abuse and domestic violence. Since working with children, I have experienced days that I would feel physically ill and not be able to sleep after hearing about the horrendous ways in which no child, much less any human being, should ever experience being sexually or physically violated and abused. Sometimes, this is inflicted by the exact people who are supposed to be protecting these children. It has changed me. It has made me look at people differently. It has also caused me to feel more motivated during my sessions, and session planning to guarantee that they are receiving the support they need.
Books, Games and Activities Help Introduce Discussion Topics During Therapy
I’ve learned that their is much more success when I am able to coordinate with the child, family, and school as a team to support the goals for the child. It is a challenge when I reach out to a school, with the consent and encouragement of the child’s guardians, to join as a team to provide resources to assist a child who experiencing social and academic difficulties; and am met with resistance, rudeness and dismissive arrogance. Then, lo and behold, I get a frantic phone call or email from the school 6 months, 8 months, 10 months later to let me know that the child’s behaviors have progressively become more violent or aggressive, disruptive, you name it. There is something about the reactive rather than proactive nature of this that I find to be disheartening. I have learned that even in 2018, my race and age have caused, some (not all) school districts to interact with me in a condescending and uncooperative manner. This saddens me, because their is a great discrepancy between the advancement of the children whose schools I work collectively with; versus those who’s schools are less willing to collaborate.
I have realized the amount of respect that I have for my profession and this field, when having to decline taking on clients who wanted to utilize therapy for their child as a way to deem a parent unfit. Therapy is a tool and process that I believe allows individuals, couples and families to heal, learn and grow. Not a tactic to manipulate or control the outcomes of custody battles or situations where children are involved. Growing up, my parents taught me that all money is not good money; and I do not want to compromise my role as a therapist.
I’ve learned that there is a lack of resources for, understanding of, and research done regarding children with psychosis; and that the more we know, the better equipped we are to treat and assist. I know those advancements will eventually come with time.
There are so many things that I have learned and continue to learn. I love and enjoy working as a therapist to adults and children equally. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to do therapy with all ages, and respect the differences that come with working with different populations.
Do you have any mental health questions, or anything you would like me to blog about on the next Therapy Thursday? Let me know in the comments below! I’m glad I got the opportunity to share with you all. It’s time for me to get some shut eye. Good night!