What to Expect in Behavioral Health Therapy

Little girl attending behavioral therapy


Mental health matters. It’s connected to nearly all facets of life – our relationships, physical well-being, and capacity to handle stress and cope with life’s challenges and uncertainties. Emotional and mental health stress can impact the health of children and their families. Mental health counseling can help a child and family learn:

  • About their moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Good communication skills at home and school.
  • How to work out problems and try new solutions in a safe space.

Counseling can help families deal with conflict and stress and teach parenting skills. It can help families deal with trauma and behavior problems. Counseling helps families grow together and can help children grow into strong, healthy adults.
As you prepare to receive counseling services at Families First Pediatrics, you may have questions about what to expect. The following questions and answers may help you prepare for a positive experience:

What can we expect from our mental health provider?

Our team is highly trained, and we make sure our clients and families receive evidence-based care. As part of the client-clinician relationship, we will set goals, strategies, and a timeline to help your child reach these goals. We will keep you and your child updated on progress.
Our providers are all specialized in working with children and adolescents. Developing rapport and trust, they help children feel safe and open to discussing their emotions and behavioral health needs. In addition, our providers will share our confidentiality policy and how it affects the child and the family.

When can we expect to see change and benefits from participating in therapy?

Every client experiences change differently. Motivation to work on identified treatment issues plays a key role in determining changes. It can be uncomfortable to talk about memories and experiences, change behavior, and understand oneself. However, therapy can bring joy and relief in life.

How long will my child be in therapy?

The length of therapy will be determined individually, depending on the needs of each child. Following the initial assessment, the therapist will schedule regular appointments with the child. In most cases, your child will come to work with their therapist every other week. As your child progresses toward their treatment goals, therapists and families can transition to fewer appointments each month, eventually working toward a discharge plan.

How are parents included in a child’s therapy?

Families First Pediatric Counseling believes that children should be able to work on treatment issues in a safe and confidential environment. Sometimes, the parent or other family members will come into session. The therapist will generally share information with the parent addressing the treatment goals worked on and suggesting interventions for the parent to use at home with the child. It is important that children feel safe to express their concerns and issues within the therapeutic relationship, which is why confidentiality will be honored.

How can parents support their child or teenager in therapy?

Parents, children, youth, and therapists collaborate on interventions, progress, and concerns. Counseling can support parents in helping their children and youth learn new coping skills, ways to problem solve, and healthy social behaviors. Therefore, a parent’s primary role during treatment is to help encourage, support, engage, and practice newly learned behaviors with their child in between sessions.

How can we prepare for our first session?

Parents will meet with the assigned therapist before their child begins counseling sessions. During this time, parents can discuss goals, expectations, concerns, preferences, and ask questions. In addition, you can share what works and doesn’t work for you and your family. However, success in counseling is more likely when families are open to new ideas and strategies for solving problems and managing life’s challenges. Make sure you complete the intake paperwork available in our patient portal.

What can my child expect in their first session?

The therapist will get to know your child and family before reviewing confidentiality agreements, expectations, and individual responsibilities. Next, they may discuss potential diagnoses, strengths, and challenges and create a therapeutic plan. In the following sessions, the therapist will continue to get to know your child and work on individual therapy goals. They will use a variety of interventions to help your child share thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and help them work out problems and try new solutions in a safe space.

Will my insurance cover counseling sessions?

Before beginning counseling at Families First Pediatrics, contact your insurance provider to verify coverage. Many insurance providers provide benefits that cover mental health services. Be sure you understand your insurance coverage and benefits before your parent interview.

Valerie Peterson, CSW

Valerie Peterson, CSW

Valerie is a therapist in our Bluffdale office.

a happy father receives a kiss from his son

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