James (2013) documented parent concerns regarding mental health treatment along with necessary components (from the parent’s perspective) for effective home based psychotherapy. More specifically, the study described four central themes from parents regarding intensive in home psychotherapy services. The themes include: (a) awareness of cultural differences; (b) comfort in the session; (c) time to understand the family needs; and (d) counseling strategies.
As such, it is important for psychotherapists to take the time in understanding your concerns while avoiding factors that can get in the way of progress in mental health treatment and home based psychotherapy services. Below is a description of some reasons parents or children do not progress as quickly as they could as well as a short description of how to work through these elements.
As a psychotherapist working with parents and children with intellectual / developmental disabilities regarding mental health treatment, I sometimes hear this from the parent, "Psychotherapy will never work for my child..."
The above-mentioned statement that psychotherapy will never work for their child is a form of overgeneralization as the word never does not accurately describe the situation. Additionally, the statement is a form of jumping to conclusions in that an opinion was formed without gathering the facts. I encourage parents to say, "Until now..." to reflect their statements more accurately.
Moreover, if you are able to consistently get your child to engage in the behavior you want without psychotherapy, great! But if there is something that your psychotherapist can share with you that will make it easier or more likely that you will achieve your parenting goals, why not let him or her share it with you?
The fear of discomfort is one of the strongest forms of resistance in psychotherapy and mental health treatment (Pucci, 2006). More specifically, it is based on the idea that feeling upset is unbearable. The parent’s or child’s thought that feeling upset is unbearable leads him or her to avoid anything that would cause upset feelings, such as talking about certain problems. As a result, sometimes parents or children are very reluctant to discuss important issues, and, therefore, have a difficult time getting better.
Besides feeling upset about a situation regarding parenting, many parents also end up feeling upset about the fact that they are upset! Symptom stress can distract a parent significantly regarding the mental health treatment of their child.
I have worked with many parents who were so caught up with being afraid that they will always have their problem that they actually forgot the original reason for seeking intensive in home clinical services! Symptom stress also puts undo pressure on the parent or child, giving him or her the impression that relief must be obtained immediately.
Emotional distress is unpleasant, uncomfortable, and unfortunate, but it is something that we all can tolerate or stand (Pucci, 2006). Realizing this makes parents feel less pressure in helping their children to get better, and actually speeds their progress. Refuse to distract yourself with unproductive thoughts about how you are feeling as a parent and work on imaging how good you will feel when you are feeling as good as you want to feel as a parent.
Therapeutic hopelessness is often the result of past psychotherapeutic failures. However, the only thing a lack of progress in mental health treatment proves is that what is necessary to experience progress has not yet been done. It does not prove that the parent or child has a lack of potential, or that the psychotherapy was poor. When we look at it in these terms, it opens our mind to ask ourselves, “What are those necessary ingredients that have been missing?”
Some parents, especially those that are court-ordered, Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) mandated, or who are seeking mental health treatment or psychotherapy at the insistence of someone else, have the sincere, but mistaken impression that they are forced to participate in psychotherapy sessions. This perception of being forced causes a person to resent participating in psychotherapy, and often leads them to refuse to do so. When this is the case, I point out to parents that the only time we are ever forced to do something is when we are physically overpowered and made to do against our will. Otherwise, when we do something, no matter how much we dislike doing it, we are choosing or deciding to do it.
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Mental health disorders affect an estimated 22% of American adults each year. Here you'll find in-depth mental health information including care, and various mental health conditions.