When a child has a medical problem, doctors see the child and parent together. It would be unusual to have a clinician meet alone with a minor with an illness or injury or a regular check-up. But this situation is reversed in child psychology. Parents are often asked to wait outside while a child is evaluated, and young patients are assured that nothing they say has to be discussed with mom and dad. This safeguard is meant to make children feel safe, and allow safe disclosure of abuse, but parents unfamiliar with this convention in psychological treatment often report feeling uncomfortable and even judged as bad parents. This lack of trust can be self-fulfilling when a clinician senses this skepticism.
A growing trend in treating mental disorders in children might seem obvious - include the parents - but is still surprisingly rare. But results are promising: with ADHD, depression, eating disorders, and now in obsessive compulsive disorders the family is being brought into the room and into the treatment team.
Recent research published by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
explores preliminary work with very young children, 5-8 years old, comparing cognitive behavioral techniques with relaxation techniques offered in family sessions. The CBT group saw better results, in only 12 sessions.
One blogger describes the approach as “to provide both child and parents with a set of tools to help them understand, manage and reduce OCD symptoms.”
Parents might describe this as common sense.