Parents as Partners

May 9, 2022

By Kasey Cain, Licensed Professional Counselor


The first sentence you see when you visit The Wise Family website is:

We help worried kids, stressed-out teens and the families who love them.

I adore this sentence because it includes both the child/teen and the surrounding family system. As I have shared before, I began my counseling career as a school counselor. I continue that work and have added onto my work as a licensed professional counselor. I got into the mental health field because I adore working with children. What began as a love and specialty of working with children ages 4-11 has expanded to include work with tweens, some teens, and caregiver coaching. So now, I truly do work with the kids, teens, and families that love them. I have purposely sought out training and development to enhance my skill in working with parents/guardians/caregivers because it is my belief that the most effective therapy involves a partnership between the therapist and the adults in a child’s life.

How to Foster that Partnership in Therapy: 

I strive to view families through a strength-based lens. If I am meeting you, that means you are asking questions and seeking support, which takes bravery and strength in itself. Kudos to you and thank you!

So, for the families I work with, for those engaged in the therapeutic process elsewhere, and for those thinking about seeking therapy for their child(ren), I offer the following tips to support productive therapist/parent partnerships:

  • Be open, honest, and detailed:

    • Therapists are the experts in their fields but you are the expert on your child(ren) and your family. Sharing detailed information on developmental milestones, family history, family interactions and routines (or lack of) is key to therapy. In the grand scheme, therapists get only a snippet of time with our clients and those that love them. Any information can help us develop a full picture, select appropriate interventions, and create a fine tuned treatment plan. I have had families share that they did not give all of the information because they were embarrassed that their family wasn’t perfect and that they were worried I would judge them. No family is perfect and a therapist’s job is not to judge but to actively listen with empathy. We may ask questions. That is not out of judgment but rather out of a need to gather more information or clarify what we are hearing – all in efforts to better support the client and the entire family system.
  • Ask Questions:

    • Therapists aren’t the only ones that can ask questions. As the client’s parents, questions are welcomed and warranted. Depending on the age and stage of the client and confidentiality, it will not be possible for a therapist to share detailed conversations they have had with your child(ren). However, therapists can answer questions about the therapeutic process, strategies used in session, themes of session focus, and more. When we engage in back and forth information sharing and questioning, all parties feel heard and engaged, and we increase the success of the therapeutic relationship.
  • Practice Strategies/Language:

    • During sessions, therapists engage in skill building. This could involve expanding feelings vocabulary, using specific language/prompts, or learning specific strategies. We get to practice these with your child(ren) once a week or every other week for 30-50 minutes. While we may introduce these things, it is important that they are reinforced and practiced outside of the therapy session. Think about anything you have learned – reading, math, a new language, etc. If you only worked on these things once a week for an hour the likelihood of you mastering these skills would be very low. However, if you practice daily, you increase mastery potential.

As a parent/guardian, you are the driving force of your child’s life. Prioritizing practicing strategies and reinforcing what is shared from the therapist allows you and your family to get the most out of therapy. ”

Did you enjoy the above tips from the fabulous, Kasey Cain? Be on the lookout for more parenting tips all month long!

Until next time, Be Wise!