What do I need to do before the appointment?

Children and adolescents can be reluctant to talk to a psychologist. Many times they have pre-conceived ideas about what a psychologist is and what happens in therapy. It is important to explain to your child why they are going to see the “worry doctor”. A good way to explain it is using the broken arm analogy. “If you have a broken arm or a bad cold, you go to the doctor for help and to feel better, right? Well, sometimes kids (and grown-ups) worry too much and need to see a doctor who helps their worries, we call them psychologists or “worry doctors”. A psychologist teaches people how to be brave and “boss back” their worries just like the doctor who mends a broken arm”. Explain that everything that is talked about is 100% secret and does not go out of the room. It is also beneficial to read a parents’ guide to OCD – Download.

What is the psychologist going to ask?

Explain to your child that during the appointment they will not be examined or given injections like at a typical doctor visit. You’ll sit in a comfortable chair and just talk, play games or sometimes draw pictures. The psychologist will talk to you about your worries and ask you about how you feel. Don’t worry – it is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers.

What to do if they refuse treatment

It is really difficult when you know your child needs help but you do not want to increase your child’s stress. For older children, it is important to encourage them with assurances that through available treatments most people experience a significant decrease in symptoms. There is help and there are others with the same problems. There are a number of teen OCD websites (refer to resources) which can help normalise the OCD symptoms. For younger children, a “team approach” is crucial where they are the star player, the therapist is the coach and the parents the supporting players. Remind them that giving into their compulsions may make them feel better temporarily, but it does not help long-term.

What will happen when I arrive?

  • Your parents will fill out some forms and you and your parents will answer some questions on an IPAD
  • Your parents may go in with the psychologists first for a little time and you can play with some games on the tablets or read some books. Then it will be your turn. Your parents can stay with you the whole time if you feel a little nervous.
  • Your psychologists will then ask you about your worries and rituals and talk to you about a PLAN to beat them.
  • Note: For young children the first session will be just the parents.

Is therapy right for you?