Child meeting therapist for first time-or actually doing anything new

14 Jul

First Session

I am looking forward to meeting your child next week, but don’t be surprised if the reaction you get from your child is, “No way, I am not going!” As I said in our meeting, I think it is important to remember that for any anxious child, any new situation can be especially challenging and that include seeing a doctor who specializes in worries. I think it is helpful to view their brains as having an overactive alarm system that just sends out a lot of false alarms. So I do not think we should be surprised if he does not want to speak, appears to be velcroed to your side and puts his mouth on your ear to whisper. Going anywhere new and meeting anyone new can be scary. The older child may simply hide behind impossibly vague statements or feign a vaguely coma-like state, or get irritable and ask when he is going home. These are simply the ways in which the child shows the new situations get the alarms bells ringing or more technically activate the sympathetic nervous system. However, an informal rule of thumb is that anxiety waves typically last 15-20 minutes. So I do not have expectations that your child will participate in the session for the first 15-20 minutes, but if she does, that is great. I will direct a lot of questions to you (remember I am not going to meet alone with your child at first) and I might do something like toss a ball around, or give you and your child some pipe cleaners, or some other way of discharging some physical tension.


A problem with anxiety is that your body gets all revved up thinking that there is some wicked danger nearby like a sabre-tooth tiger, but it has no place to go, so all that tension gets translated into something like an upset stomach, headache or feeling that you are going to faint. It really helpful to have some way of getting rid of that anxious tension. So that is why you may find me tossing a ball around, giving you pipe cleaners or excitedly showing you how my remote control spider works (as long this isn’t one of the worries). Please don’t ask say to your child “Would you like to tell Dr. Ted about …. (your soccer game or whatever)?” Have you noticed that this never works? If we give your child some time, she will start talking in her own way.

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