Evaluating Therapy: When Is It Time to Change Therapists?

Date: 07/06/2023

Title: How Do I Know If It's Time To Try A Different Therapist?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
It's. How do you know if it's time to find a new therapist for your teenager? Well, that's what
we're talking about today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage
and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives.
I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 C three organization, child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
on the Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. My 14 year
old son has been in therapy now for seven weeks, and we haven't seen any changes. When we started
therapy, we thought that by this point, he would be seeing our point of view a little better,
but he's still doing the same disrespectful behaviors and not doing his homework. It's hard
for me to have any faith in this process when I don't even know what they're talking about, too.
How long should I wait before I try another therapist?

00:01:03 Speaker 1
Thank you for your question. I think it's an important question that all parents will ask from
time to time when their child is in therapy. A few things to consider. Number one is the reason
why your therapist can't say exactly what your child is saying. Therapy is because it's important
to protect his confidentiality, even if he's a minor. That is a right protected by California
state law. And the reason that is, if your teen's therapist goes and talks to you and says, this
is what's going on, and your son finds out, the process is done, he will never trust that therapist
again, nor will he trust the next five therapists you try to send him to. He won't trust the process.
We need to have a safe place for your son to honestly self reflect and say the uncomfortable things
that are in the back of his head that he's afraid to say. And once he can get that out, then he can
work on them. And that's why he does have that confidentiality. But to consider whether it's
time to move or not, a few

00:02:06 Speaker 1
things to consider. Number one, does your son like his therapist? Does your son feel safe with
his therapist? Does your son feel connected to his therapist? If so, I think that carries weight,
because that's where the work happens. Once your son feels safe and secure and trusts therapist,
the therapist can take him places. Therapists can challenge him to look at things in a new way.
You may see those changes. You may be the last person who sees the changes because you're the
parent. But that may be happening. I don't know if it is, obviously, but it's possible. Another
thing is it's important that you have a relationship with this therapist? As I say, when I work
with a kid, I work with a family. I work with the parents all the time. Now, what the child is saying
stays confidential again. But it's important that I, as a therapist, have your perspective.
If I was working with your family, I would want your perspective because you have a much broader
view of what's going on. Your teenager

00:03:00 Speaker 1
may have very much tunnel vision of what's going on in his life, and you can see a much broader
vision. So if I talk to you and get some feedback, and then Junior comes in to see me and say, hey,
I talked to your mom, something got a big fight. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that. Okay, so now
we can talk about it because sometimes kids aren't focused on what you want them to focus on,
and it helps therapist have a broader view. Also, you should feel heard by your child's therapist
your perspective is important. And also, is it time for possibly a family session just to reconnect
and see how things are going? I think those are important as well. But in judging how long therapy
should go, it really depends because every family is on their own time clock, everyone's on
their own schedule, everyone's on their own path. So you can't really say it's going to be three
months, six months, nine months, whatever that is. But what I generally recommend is judging
therapy in three month chunks. And

00:03:53 Speaker 1
the reason for that is you're trying to judge therapy week to week. It's like watching a garden
grow. It's going to drive you nuts. As you can go in your backyard, get all your garden boxes,
get your organic soil and your compost and your fertilizer, and you plant your seeds and you
water them, and you come out the next day and you still have boxes of dirt. The next week, you still
have boxes of dirt. A month from then, you still have boxes of dirt. It takes about three months
for you really start the tomatoes start blooming and the sunflowers to really pop open. And
then the carrots oh, the carrots aren't really growing the way they should. We need to put a little
more attention on the carrots. We need to keep the tomatoes growing and the sunflowers growing,
and somehow we need to put a little more attention on the carrots. And that's kind of like therapy.
If you judge it day to day, week to week, it's going to drive you nuts. So it's kind of like an investment
in long term. And how you

00:04:44 Speaker 1
decide if that investment is going well is your relationship with therapist, your son's relationship
with therapist? And just some time, if you feel it's not working, I encourage you to talk to your
son's therapist why it's not working. See if he or she can address your concerns in a way that
is satisfying for you. And if not, ask that therapist for referrals or ask other people for referrals.
And anytime you're talking to a therapist, if that's not working, they should be able to give
you some other qualified referrals that they know and trust. And again, in La. There's no shortage
of therapists in this town. There's plenty of therapists. If you're in another city or state,
I'm sure there's a lot of therapists there too. Anyways, that's how I would approach this. It's
a tough question, and thank you for your question. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy
Center and Child and Teen Counseling. If you have a question you like me to answer here on Tips
on Teens on Wednesdays at

00:05:37 Speaker 1
noon on Facebook Live, email us at tipsonteens@teentherapycenter.com or direct message
us right here on instagram or facebook. We love your questions. Thank you so much. I will see
you next Wednesday. Have a great week. Bye.

Not happy with your kid’s therapist?

At some point all parents with children in therapy will ask themselves “is it working?” How does a parent judge whether they should keep their child in therapy, or with the same therapist? There are some basic questions to consider to help you when evaluating therapy and if it’s helping or not. Here are a few:

  • Does your child like their therapist? If your kid feels safe and connected with the therapist that’s a really good sign. Once your son/daughter feels secure, their therapist is more likely to be able to challenge them in a meaningful and helpful way.
  • Do you have a relationship with the therapist? It’s important that you as a parent feel heard, but also, the therapist needs your perspective to give them a broader view. Sometimes kids aren’t focused on the bigger issues. Parents can often provide information that helps the therapy along.
  • How long has your child been in therapy? Therapy is a little like cultivating a garden. It takes time to work, and you’re likely to get impatient if you watch it too closely. We think evaluating therapy in three month blocks is the most productive way to judge whether it’s helping
Another Parental Judgment Call

Therapy takes patience, and it may or may not require changing therapists. Ultimately it’s going to be a judgment call and we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:

“My 14 year old son has been in therapy now for seven weeks and we haven’t seen any changes. When we started therapy, we thought that by this point he would be seeing our point of view a little better, but he’s still doing the same disrespectful behaviors and not doing his homework. It’s hard for me to have any faith in this process when I don’t even know what they’re talking about too. How long should I wait before I try another therapist?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.