Before the Assessment The Integrated Psychology Clinic (IPC) will have reviewed your referral and recommended an appropriately experienced clinician. With younger children under the age of 11 years old, in the majority of cases we carry out the first appointment just with you, the parent/s. We may also send you questionnaires to complete either before or after the assessment meeting. Some parents feel that they want us to see their child straight away in the first appointment. This is completely understandable, but over the years we have learned that having the first appointment alone with parent/s usually sets therapy up to be most successful.
The first Assessment appointment
If there are two parents in your family, it is ideal if you both attend the first appointment. However, we understand that this is not always possible. Having a parent only appointment means that we can talk through information freely, it will allow us to gather information and you to consider whether we are the best therapists to help your family.
Amongst other things, we will ask you about the history of the problem, what has or hasn’t helped so far and more about your child’s skills and strengths. If direct work with your child seems most appropriate, this is an opportunity for us to gain from your parental insights in how to engage them in the work.
The second Assessment appointment
We sometimes recommend sessions to help with parenting strategies as the most effective way of providing treatment. This could either be as the sole method, to complement individual sessions with your child, or to help you first create the most conducive environment before we move on to working directly with your child. So based on our clinical understanding, this second appointment will either involve us meeting your child for the first time or a further parent only appointment.
Either way, at the end of the assessment we aim to provide you with a summary of the problem, the approach we feel will be most helpful, what it is likely to involve and whether it will be important to involve another kind of therapist or healthcare professional.
Sometimes we may need to go away and reflect further on what you have told us, or seek further information before making our recommendations. We value gaining a thorough understanding about the issues, so that we can create a careful approach, tailored to your child and family’s needs.
On rare occasions, we will suggest that a different therapy is needed and will make recommendations to you of alternative next steps or clinicians. However, we are able to help directly the vast majority of children and families who come to see us.
We tend to work collaboratively with parents to come up with ideas which will result in positive changes, based on our psychology expertise and your expertise about your child. Due to their developmental stage the younger the child, the more actively involved parents need to be in therapy. With very young children, in some sense, the parents are the main ‘therapists’ – because you are the ones who are with your child most of the time and are going to implement whatever strategies we come up with. Issues around managing challenging behaviours and changing relationship interactions with your child are only usually possible to effectively address through a core parent or family intervention.
We write short assessment reports for you, or for you to share with other professionals, when needed. Sometimes it is more helpful for us to write reports at a later stage of therapy.
If you decide to start therapy with us, we will try to give you an approximate idea of how many sessions may be needed. This contract of care allows you to book regular sessions into our diary, reserving a regular space just for your family and providing a sense of consistency and security, which is key in therapy. Depending on your personal situation, sessions are usually either weekly or fortnightly. Time between sessions may increase towards the end of therapy or in follow-up.
We arrange for us to have regular review together as part of therapy. At the review (or sooner if appropriate), we give you feedback based on my developing understanding of how best to help your family.
We believe that therapy should not be mysterious, and that you, as a parent, have a right to know generally what we’re working on and how. On the other hand, children also need some privacy to be able to trust their therapist and there are legal and professional rules around confidentiality. If there is something important that we think you should know, we will encourage your child to tell you or ask your child’s permission to tell you. The reviews we will hold are a helpful place for this, and with younger children more frequent feedback is important. If there is a serious safety issue which meets the criteria for breaching confidentiality, we have a duty to share this information with you.
Clinician’s discuss your child’s progress in therapy in confidential ‘supervision’ meetings with their ‘supervisor.’ Supervision provides a form of clinical governance and is something that all therapists have to do to ensure that we are practising to the best of their abilities. To ensure anonymity, we do not use client names in supervision meetings. Clinical supervisors have to respect all of the same standards of respect and confidentiality as the clinicians.
Our team at the Integrated Psychology Clinic are here to support you throughout and our Practice Manager Ulrica Taylor is available between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, if you need further help.