Information for Parents/Guardians (Kids and Teens can read too!)
Working Closely with Parents/Guardians
As a group of psychologists who only see kids and teens, we are committed to working closely with the parents/guardians of those young people at all times wherever possible.
Because we know young people learn to cope with difficult times, develop life skills and manage emotions more effectively and more quickly when parents/guardians are involved in therapy.
Specifically, we work towards parents/guardians being able to:
- Tell us in an ongoing way about their child/teen and how they are coping
- Know something about the therapy and work being done in sessions with the young person
- Receive support and ideas from us to know how to support and respond to their child/teen at home
In order to best do these things, sometimes we will want to spend time with parents without the child/teen present. This is especially true for parents/guardians of younger children.
Unfortunately, for clients who are using Medicare "Better Access" funding, Medicare will not allow us see the parents without the child/teen present using the young person's Mental Health Care Plan. We have been lobbying government and Medicare directly to try to change this, but at this point in time these are the conditions Medicare have outlined.
This means when we do want to see parents on their own, we can only see parents alone without child/teen present for only 10 minutes out of our allocated hour with the client (because Medicare will pay us for a 50 minute session, and we have 60 minutes put aside).
HOWEVER, we cannot do this at every session, as we normally need that final 10 minutes of the hour to write notes and plan for the next session.
Therefore, in order to work effectively with the parent, we will sometimes ask parents to have a separate session with us that not using child/teen's Mental Health Care plan. In order to have these sessions, some parents obtain or use a Mental Health Care Plan of their own (if they are eligible) or some elect to use private health cover or pay for sessions privately.
Please note that if we see parents separately from the child, we will also need to make sure the child (depending on their age) is able to give consent to this, and understands the risks and benefits of us seeing their mum or dad as well as them.
We will also sometimes ask parents to fill in questionnaires, and to email us information prior to sessions in order to involve the parent in therapy without using part of the child/teen's sessions, which as explained, is not allowed by Medicare.
Confidentiality and Building a Relationship with the Young person/child
Although having parents/guardians involved in sessions is a very high priority for us, we also need to prioritise the rapport we have with the child/teen and the young person's rights to confidentiality.
- Often we will choose to speak to children/teens first and for longer periods of time in sessions before bringing a parent in to session.
- We usually can't have long conversations with parents while a child/teen is waiting in the waiting room.
- It also means that if a child/teen asks us NOT to disclose information to parents, then we will honour this (unless of course a child/teen is at risk of harm).
Balancing the Need for Confidentiality/Maintaining a Good Relationship with the Young Person AND involving parents/guardians in therapy
As you can see, your psychologist will be balancing both your child/teen's need for confidentiality and the importance of involving parents/guardians in therapy. This is a delicate balance and fortunately our psychologists have been doing this for many years and are generally very good at it.
However there is no "one size fits all". Your psychologist will have a better idea about how they might structure the sessions after they have seen your child/teen for one or two sessions and will let you know their rough plan for the session.
Please feel free to ask at any point if you have any concerns and let us know how you think therapy is going.