How do I know if my child needs to see someone?
Parents bring their children to see me for different reasons. Sometimes it’s because they’re trying to be preventative and checking to see if what their child is doing is normal for a child that age. Some parents are concerned because their child has experienced a major change or negative life event and they are worried how the child will cope. Other parents see that their child is struggling to keep up or showing other behaviours of concern. Basically, if you have questions about your child’s mental health, development, or functioning, it is helpful to consult with a psychologist to get an opinion on this.
What is the process to get started?
How do I explain what is going to be happening to my child?
This is one of the most common questions I get when I first meet with parents. How you talk to your child about this depends on their age, stage of development, and personality. It is usually best to try and prepare them ahead of time and maybe mark it on the calendar so they have a visual reminder. Keeping explanations simple and avoiding any judgmental language is also helpful to set a positive tone and get children in the door with minimal fuss. Saying something such as “We’re going to see someone that will help you and us because it’s good to get help if you need it” is reassuring and can help to reduce any anxiety. Helping to personalize and make it more concrete will also help, such as saying “Her name is Dr. Shelley and she has toys in her office to play with.”
How do I know this is working for my child?
Sometimes parents get alarmed when they see an escalation in behaviour after therapy has been happening for a while and they are concerned about that word “regression”. It is totally normal for children to experience periods of sliding back into old habits and responses because change and learning new skills is hard work. At other times, your child may be testing the boundaries to see if you do what you say you will do. There are many reasons why a child may plateau or backslide while engaged in therapy. If there is a concern, it is always best to discuss it with me first to prevent pulling your child out prematurely.
What if I decide it’s not what I want after we have begun?
There is no penalty or fees for discontinuing therapy once it has begun. There is no-one-size-fits-all service and you may not discover it is not a good fit for you or your child until after we have already begun. I sometimes tell my parents let’s try it for a couple of months and then evaluate how it’s going. However, if your child is resisting coming or you have decided it’s not what you were looking for, you are free to withdraw and seek services elsewhere. I will even suggest some other service providers better suited to your needs if you want my ideas around that.
How much information do I get about what’s going on in therapy?
You will be involved in feedbacks immediately following your child’s individual time with me. The purpose of this feedback is for information sharing. I will get information and updates from you and that helps me better “read” what I am seeing or hearing in therapy and adjust what I do with your child. As this is therapy, I provide information about general impressions and themes that are emerging and keep the specific details private to safeguard your child’s right to confidentiality. I will explain the conditions that limit that confidentiality carefully to you prior to starting therapy and will also explain this to your child so everyone is fully informed what will and will not be shared. With teenagers, clearly explaining what will or will not be shared with their parents, and getting their feedback, is especially important to maintain their trust and keep them engaged in therapy.
What are your fees and is there a wait-list?
My fees vary depending on your circumstances. The fees will be communicated to you once some preliminary information is obtained regarding your situation. Although there is a recommended fee scheduled identified by the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta, it is considered a base rate and clinicians adjust their fee rates depending on several variables including the client’s financial circumstances, the complexity of the case (i.e., family law cases involving litigation), and the clinician’s years of experience and specialized areas of expertise. The details of payment are provided during the intake process. Fees are paid by the client directly and receipts are provided to the payer once the appointment has happened. I try to answer phone and email inquiries within 2-3 working days and the intake appointment, which is typically an hour in length, is usually scheduled within 2-3 weeks from that first contact. Appointment times are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. That is, clients are presented with some possible options and whomever responds back first will get that preferred time. The intake process may be expedited if the client is in crisis or it is deemed an urgent matter. During peak assessment times (i.e, spring), the waittime to get in for your first appointment may be a longer and it may take up to a month to begin the assessment process.