If your child is resistant to therapy or refuses to cooperate with his therapy treatment program for depression, you may wonder how he will ever get better. However, it is not uncommon for a child to be quiet during therapy or even refuse to attend sessions. In fact, it is a well-known reality among therapists and researchers that some children will be resistant to therapy. Fortunately, there are measures that parents can take to ensure that their children follow and benefit from their therapy treatment programs.
It’s possible that your child may feel some anxiety about speaking to a stranger about her thoughts and feelings. She may be worried about rejection, judgment or punishment from a therapist or that their sessions may not be confidential. These are just some possibilities for why your child may be resistant to therapy.
You are not alone, however, if life events are getting in the way of your child attending therapy.
Consider Combination Treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in combination with an antidepressant medication is the most effective treatment for depressed children. Given this, you might suggest a combination approach to your child’s pediatrician if your son or daughter is in therapy only.
Try a Different Therapist. Very simply, your child may not like his or her current therapist. It is important that your child feels comfortable and safe during therapy. Meeting with the therapist before your child does will allow you to do a pre-screen. Additionally, it might be important to your child to have a therapist of the same gender, especially if they are discussing sensitive topics related to development or sex. Unsure of what your child thinks or would prefer? Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Lead by Example. Consider family therapy or individual therapy for yourself. Depression affects the whole family. Showing your child that the whole family is committed to mental health allows her to feel supported but not different from the rest of the family. However, family therapy should not replace your child’s depression treatment program.
Find the Best Timing. Examine small details of your child’s therapy routine, like the time of day or day of the week of sessions. Factors like fatigue, hunger, mood, and stress can affect a therapy session. If your child consistently has a test right before therapy, he may have a difficult time focusing. Find the best time for your child to attend and, whenever possible, incorporate something enjoyable into the treatment routine like going out for a treat afterward.