“Why can’t our therapist tell me what my kid says in therapy?”

Teens. Today's question is gonna be dealing with the right of every teen
and child to have confidentiality in their session even when parents wanna know what's going
on. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and I run two organizations
here in Woodland Hills, California. The first is a group private practice called Teen Therapy
Center and the other one is a non -profit organization called Child and Teen Counseling. Both
work to help kids, teens, and families. All right, every Wednesday at 12 o 'clock, I answer your
parenting questions, and this is no different. And this is our last Tips on Teens of the Year,
the next two Wednesdays. I'll be out for the holidays. We'll pick back up on January 8th. But
today, we have the question of the day. Here we go. Why can't I know what my kid says in therapy?
How am I supposed to help if her therapist keeps me in the dark. It feels like they are making me
out to be the bad guy, but how am I supposed

to make things better if I don't know what's going on? Her therapist won't tell me a thing. How
is this helping?" It's a good question. I think a lot of parents can relate to this. When our kids
go into therapy, it can create a lot of anxiety and frustration in us. We want things to get better.
In this situation, the way this parent describes it, it sounds like there's some tension between
this parent and this child, this daughter and sounds like you want to resolve this. You want
to get on this and resolve it. You want to, when she gets out of therapy, you want to, you know,
drive home and have a happy conversation. Unfortunately, it sounds like she's not there yet
and I encourage you to be patient with the process. Here's the reason why kids need to have that
confidentiality, even if you're paying the bill, even if it's your kid. And I get why that's
frustrating because it's your kid and you want to know what's going on. you want to help. So as
a child therapist, I am not an authority

figure. I don't make your kid brush their teeth. I don't make them do their homework. I don't
come down and be that authority figure that says they must do something. And that gives me an
advantage that I can just connect and befriend them and where they feel safe and they can just
open up and talk and not feel judged. And parents, as all of us do, we will judge sometimes. It's
just inherent in being a parent. We want our kids to do their homework. We want our kids to pick
up their shoes. We want our kids to brush their teeth, take a shower, put your clothes away. And
it creates some frustration at times. So while I'm not being an authority figure with your kid,
it allows me to connect and allow them to be safe and talk about what's really going on and be honest
themselves. If they're honest themselves in therapy, I can help them be honest with you. So
it may take several sessions for the therapist working with your daughter to get to that place
where your daughter is able to articulate

what her frustrations are, why she's upset, why she's giving you the cold shoulder or yelling
you or whatever that is, and maybe have her have some agency in figuring out a solution to the
problem. So when they bring you into session, your daughter already has an understanding and
a working idea of where she wants to go, some goals, which helps you jump on to help protect those
goals and help support those goals. So it helps you guys both going in the same direction, thus
reducing some of the tension and anxiety and helping you guys be more on the same team. Now, when
I work with kids, I don't tell parents everything they say, but I will communicate with parents.
And what's really important is that the parent, I understand the parents. It's really important
that you feel your child's therapist understands you because you're a big part of this. So kids
don't grow up in a vacuum, they grow up with parents. Parents are the biggest factor in a child's
life, positive or negative, usually a little
bit of both, because we're human too. So what I would recommend is make sure you're talking to
this therapist, make sure this therapist understands your perspective. Now, I will share
from time to time broad generalizations of what we're working on. For example, I may share with
a parent, we're working on talking about family relationships or peer relationships, or symptoms
of anxiety, you know, something like that. I may not go into detail, I probably won't, because
it's more important that your kid goes into detail with you. I want your kid to feel empowered
to share that with you, and not go over her head. Because if I do go over her head, then it will betray
any trust she has, not only with me, but the next five therapists she has. So it's really important
that they maintain that trust. But again, the therapist you're working with, they should have
some kind of communication with you unless there's examples of, you know, abuse in the past
and maybe there, you know, there are some circumstances

where a parent has been abusive or neglectful and having them involved is detrimental and your
child needs to be in a stronger place to before that parent gets involved. I don't know if that's
the situation here. It sounds like it's more just a relationship issue that needs to be figured
out, but there are times if a has been abusive, that, you know, keeping them at a distance for
a while is helpful for your kid to feel safe and strong to eventually bring you back in. Again,
not an easy topic, not an easy thing to discuss, but these are the things that we're dealing with.
Anyways, that is our question for today. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for tuning in all
year long. Thanks for tuning in for next year. Keep your questions coming. We love them. If you
have a question, you can email us at Tips on Teens at TeenTherapyCenter .com, or just message
us right here on Facebook. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint at Teen Therapy Center and Child
and Teen Counseling. Wishing you all happy holidays,
happy new year, and I'll see you on January 8th. Bye bye.

This week’s #TipsOnTeens question may be familiar for many parents with children in therapy. After all, you’re the parent and you’re the one paying for sessions—why aren’t you allowed to know what your child is saying?

“Why can’t I know what my kid says in therapy? How am I supposed to help if her therapist keeps me in the dark? It feels like they are making me out to be the bad guy but how am I supposed to make things better if I don’t know what’s going on? Her therapist won’t tell me a thing. How is this helping?”

Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live.  He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com.  Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!

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.