We know the idea of switching to Telehealth sessions can be a little alien or anxiety provoking, so we thought we’d give you an insight into how therapy with children can work well over video.
These days many of us have had to adapt to communicating via video, for social catch ups, work meetings or health appointments, such as with your doctor, physio or therapist. Adapting to change often leads to innovation and therapy is no different.
We’d like to make it as easy as possible to provide continuity in supporting your child’s mental health support.
If your child has been seeing a therapist/ counsellor, you might be curious about how a Telehealth appointment will work for them and how to help them get the most out of it.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens on the other side of the door, children’s therapy normally involves a lot of therapeutic play. Play is understood as the primary method in which kids can safely explore their world and their feelings.
Usually kids aren’t comfortable or able to simply ‘talk through’ their feelings or problems straight away. By playing with toys, games or using expressive forms like art, they can indirectly work through issues happening in the real world.
During an in-person session a child usually picks from a range of age-appropriate toys/ games that reflect their emotional space. The therapist can also help them find expression through role play, puppets, art and craft, acting out scenarios with figurines, movement, song, etc. Often there are parallels in the imaginary worlds being created and what is happening at home or at school. Sometimes kids feel more comfortable sharing more details of their life verbally once they are feeling more relaxed and safe through play.
So how does this translate into a video session for your child?
Often kids surprise everyone with their comfort in using technology, and some feel even more confident in that domain.
Luckily, these days just about every game can be played virtually in real time, including card games and board games.
Telehealth therapy platforms usually include a screen sharing function, where drawings, pictures and videos can be seen by both simultaneously. This can make good conversation prompts for different topics, for example: making friends, bullying at school, parents separating, etc. There is also a fantastic range of short animations about various mental health issues for kids, such as managing emotions, ADHD and mindfulness.
Telehealth allows multi-media formats to be added to the repertoire of therapy, and in many ways more closely mirrors the world kids spend their time in.
And therapists can still use conversation, movement, song, art and craft activities (though the materials might need to be discussed with the parent beforehand).
One of the great things about Telehealth therapy is that kids are in the comfort of their own home and can share more of their personal world with their therapist. For example, they’ll have the opportunity to introduce their therapist to important favourite toys, pets, or family members, and show them their safe spaces.
Take for example the game ‘The scavenger hunt’, where the child finds different objects in their room or the house that relate to different themes, (something that makes you laugh, something that makes you feel safe, something that reminds you of someone you miss).
When kids are in their own familiar environment it can often remove barriers that would otherwise create anxiety (i.e. office buildings and waiting rooms) and lead to more conversations points and sharing.
How do you fit in as the parent?
While you won’t have to deal with finding parking and sitting in the waiting room for an hour, you’ll still play an important role.
You might for example be on hand to sort through a technical issue, manage siblings or provide art supplies.
For younger children you might need to usher them back into the frame of the screen. And older kids might need support in finding a private space in the house without interruptions.
Usually the therapist will be happy to check in with you at the start and end of the session, depending on how old your child is, or email you between sessions to give you heads up about themes, strategies to continue with, or what materials might be required for the next session.
If this is your child’s first Telehealth session, the therapist can phone you beforehand to discuss setting up. Usually it’s as simple as the therapist sending you a link via email or text and clicking on it to access the session. Once you click the link you’ll remain in a digital waiting room until your therapist logs in and appears in the window.
Any issues or questions, we’re always here to help you through.