Navigating Therapy with Marianne Deeks: Insights for Parents and Teens

Navigating Therapy with Marianne Deeks: Insights for Parents and Teens

by Chris Tompkins | May 22, 2024

Marianne Deeks is a registered psychotherapist with a wealth of experience counselling young people through her Ontario-based practice, Rerouted Counselling. For this episode of Shaping Our World, we did things a little differently and took advantage of Marianne’s expertise to ask her every question a parent could possibly have about the therapy process as it pertains to our kids. Listen along as she sheds light on everything from how to find the right therapist to supporting your child while they’re in therapy.

The first steps

When talking about how a parent can tell if their child might benefit from therapy, Marianne is careful to point out that some of the behaviours that teens and young adults exhibit, while concerning to parents, are simply developmental. She says that parents should be mindful of that, but explains that if things worsen or get so severe that they’re crying all the time and don’t want to go to school, that is a good time to consider therapy.

When it comes to introducing the idea of therapy to your child, Marianne explains that the approach is entirely dependent on age. If the child in question is older, she recommends telling them that it will provide a safe place for them to talk about stuff that they can’t talk about with you. For a teen who might be resistant she explains a different approach.

“I think that one of the best things is to say, ‘let’s try it and if you don’t like it after a month (or whatever), then we can stop or we’ll try and find someone else,’” Marianne says.

Consent and confidentiality

Marianne explains that in Ontario, there is no actual age of consent when it comes to personal healthcare decisions.

“Clients of any age are considered capable of refusing or providing consent,” she says. “As long as they possess the maturity to reasonably understand what information is being provided and they can appreciate the consequences.”

For this reason therapy sessions are completely confidential unless there’s an indication of harm to self or to others. Marianne understands that it can be difficult for parents who want to be there for their kids, to not be privy to what’s talked about in therapy.

“Particularly when we are dealing with adolescents […], we know that they start to pull away from their parents, Marianne says. “They want to find autonomy, and those things are really good.”

How to support your child in therapy

So how can we, as parents of teenagers, support our kids in therapy? Marianne says it’s all about your communication with your teen to begin with — and the personality of your child. She says that asking questions like, ‘How is it going with that therapist?’ or ‘How are you finding it? is okay. Some kids will unload everything in the car on a drive and some are more closed off. If your child doesn’t talk about it, Marianne would encourage parents to trust the process and let them hold their own space.

Listen to the full episode at the top of this post for more on what Marianne Deeks has to say about therapy and your child. Visit the Muskoka Woods Blog for an archive of Shaping Our World episodes.

Transcript

[00:00:13.080] – Speaker 1
Well, hey, everyone. Welcome to the Shaping Our World podcast. My name is Chris Tompkins, and this is a conversation all about young people, the world they live in, and how we, as caring adults, can come alongside them as we are shaping the world in which all of us live. If you’ve been tracking with the show as we get into conversations with the experts that we have here, oftentimes the idea of seeing a therapist or going into counselling comes up for not just the young people, but ourselves. And I know when we think about counselling and therapy, we may have different ideas or opinions about that, and particularly when we’re thinking about kids. And so today, we thought we’d do something a little bit different and invite a registered psychotherapist to come and talk to us about what it means to kind of go through the counselling process, how you know, who to select, what is the process? What can parents expect? What can kids expect? What are some of the ins and outs of exploring this? I think really important resource and tools for young people today. In order to do that, we’ve invited Marianne Deeks to the show.

[00:01:23.830] – Speaker 1
Marianne is a registered psychotherapist who’s been with an organization called Youth Unlimited for 26 years. She spent 12 of her years working in high schools as a child and youth worker, and this motivated her to get her masters of divinity in clinical counselling so that she could ask deeper questions, allowing young people that she was working with to have a safe space to share. Currently, she has a private practice, rerouted counselling in Newmarket under the Youth Unlimited umbrella. She specializes in adolescents, young adults, and families. Marianne is passionate in helping young people move forward and overcoming the challenges in their lives. Her hope is that by positively affecting the life of one person, that individuals can impact their sphere of influence, causing a ripple of change. She’s been married to Danny for 25 years, and they have three daughters, Hailey, Hannah and Camryn. I think you’re gonna find this a really insightful and enriching conversation as we think about what does it mean to invite to encourage the children and young people in our lives to explore therapy and counselling and how we kind of navigate the process and what to expect. Welcome, Marianne. It’s great to have you.

[00:02:46.690] – Speaker 2
Thanks. Thanks for having me.

[00:02:48.000] – Speaker 1
Those listening know our podcast is called shaping our world. And we always want to know what has and is shaping your world. So when you were growing up as a kid, as a teenager, what were some of the biggest influences in your life? What shaped your world growing up?

[00:03:02.270] – Speaker 2
I would say my friends, for sure, my family, a few teachers, and then my faith and at the end of my teens, actually, Miss Cocoids played a significant role in my shaping my development.

[00:03:17.000] – Speaker 1
For those listening, we often have guests that we don’t have much knowledge or context with, but Marianne and I are friends. We know each other through Muskoka woods. We are kind of almost neighbors as well, so there’s that context as well. And those of you who are part of the Muskoka woods world, Marianne has worked there and comes back and helps us out with some of our training for staff as well. So, but we’ll get into that later. What is shaping your world today? Give us a little bit of insight. What do you like to do for fun? Where do you spend your time outside of like your professional work?

[00:03:48.820] – Speaker 2
I would say family is huge for me. I enjoy the time, obviously. I have three daughters and a husband and so spending time with them. I love the outdoors, so I love to take my mountain bike or my bike and go into the forest or spend time outside camping. I love of my community of friends, so time just engaging with them, whatever that looks like, walking, talking, coffee and then faith. I have a great faith community as well that I’m involved with. So those are probably the big ones.

[00:04:24.630] – Speaker 1
Yeah. And just again, I get all the inside scoops. So for those who are thinking, oh, three daughters, they’re like older teen into adulthood now. So you’ve lived through all the seasons of that. So that’ll just be good info as you share some of that stuff with us. What are you doing now that’s shaping the world of teens and young people? Talk about your work, your role with young people. Tell us a little bit about that.

[00:04:49.130] – Speaker 2
Yeah, sure. So I am currently a registered psychotherapist. I specialize in teens and young adults and then their families when necessary. My background is that I’m a child and youth worker. And so I did that for twelve years and then realized that I had too many youth asking me to be their therapist. And I said, can’t do that. So I went back to school. So I worked under an organization called Youth Unlimited. And under that I have this practice called rerouted counselling. And that’s what I’m currently doing.

[00:05:22.120] – Speaker 1
So that is why we have you on the show today. So we realize that in a lot of our conversations we talk about therapy and kids going to therapy and we don’t really dive into that. And I know there are a lot of families who kids are seeing a therapist, going to visit a counselor regularly, maybe semi regularly. There are other parents and families that have listened to something like this or just in life and have gone, oh, how do I even know if this is the right thing? How do I pick a therapist? So we thought we’d bring Marianne to kind of like, go through all things child and adolescent counselling and therapy and kind of unpack and walk through how to make decisions about that, how to navigate it appropriately, what they can expect and not expect. And so we’re going to dive into that and go through some of the mechanics of therapy. So the best way to start at the very beginning is to ask you, Marianne, how would a parent recognize that it’s time to see a therapist? And where do they even start? And what type of therapist should they look for?

[00:06:37.830] – Speaker 1
Counselor, psychotherapist, psychiatrist? Like, can you kind of walk us through the beginning kind of decision making as we look at our kids and say, maybe it’s time to explore this a little more in depth?

[00:06:51.530] – Speaker 2
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I guess the first place is, are they looking for it? Are they asking for it? Obviously, if they’re a child, they wouldn’t necessarily know that. But I think maybe it’s through noticing different behaviors that are just seem off or odd or just catching your attention regularly and you’re concerned. It could be that someone has said something to you, like a teacher or just pointed out something that they noticed. And so, again, paying attention for that. This is an interesting question. Cause I think we also have to look at development. And so when you look at adolescent development, especially, they show behaviors that are very concerning, and yet it’s just normal development and so being mindful of that. But then if it continues on or becomes, like, extreme, so, for example, they stop wanting to go to school because they’re so anxious and they’re crying. And that would be a great indicator of maybe you need to go and speak to someone or figure out what’s happening for that individual. But I think that’s where it would begin from.

[00:08:03.290] – Speaker 1
So can I jump in on a quick question before we get to, like, where you even start to find someone? What if you suspect, you know, you’re observing some of that behavior, like you said, and you know, your child doesn’t want to go to school, and then they’re really not wanting to go school and they skip and you think, okay, you know, you kind of broach the subject with them. How do you bring that up with them? Because, again, you can’t really force kids to do this, right? Or you shouldn’t. So if your child doesn’t really want to, how would you kind of open the topic of conversation and, like, do you ask them to try one and see how it goes? Like, help me understand? Like, if your kid doesn’t really seem interested or want to, how can you kind of move that forward?

[00:08:47.950] – Speaker 2
Yeah, that’s a great question. Again, I think it depends on the age. So if you have a child in grade, you know, it’s not uncommon for like grade three, grade four, like a child, a younger child, then it’s. It isn’t really an option. Right. You want them to. To seek help. They may not understand. So just having that dialog to gently introduce the fact that it would be helpful to have conversation with someone else, that you’re going to go with them, that you’re going to be there for the process, like, whatever that looks like with the person. But you’re right. As our kids get older, it’s more of an introduction to a different person to talk to. I know some parents that I’ve spoken to will say, it’s a place for you to talk about stuff that you can’t talk about with me, or we want you to be free from whatever the struggle is. And so having a different place to unpack things, engage in things, etcetera. And then to your point, I think that one of the best things is to say, let’s try it. And if you don’t like it after a month or whatever, then we can, you know, we’ll, we’ll stop or we’ll try and find someone else and we’ll talk about that, I guess, in a bit.

[00:10:00.850] – Speaker 2
But the idea of finding the right person is really significant as well. However, then you get to the place where they refuse. And honestly, you can’t. You can’t. You’re right. You cannot make someone go because you’re basically wasting your time and your money.

[00:10:17.390] – Speaker 1
So if you’re kind of suggesting your child to try it, what’s like a minimum amount of sessions that you think would get enough track? Like, it’s like, you know, before they just say, forget it, I’m not going anymore.

[00:10:31.600] – Speaker 2
Yeah, I guess it depends on the person. The first thing is, whenever I meet with someone, I will say to them, if you feel like I say it, kind of, I guess, bluntly. But if you feel like you can’t talk to me or you don’t like me, that’s okay. Then I will help you find someone else because that connection has to be there. However, when you have someone who’s very anti therapy, then it might be a harder convincing. So you might say, okay, so let’s try it for a month, or let’s try it for six weeks or even ten sessions. I did have an individual that came for ten sessions, and then at ten sessions, I said, how’s this going? And they said, I think this is a waste of time. And I’m like, it’s okay. We’re done. You can be free. Because we had agreed upon it. She knew the boundary of that. Her mom knew the boundary. And she was like, are you serious? And I’m like, yeah, you come back if you ever want to, but it’s wasting time for them as well. And, yeah, that part matters a lot.

[00:11:32.570] – Speaker 1
I do think just to kind of add to this idea of, like, kids who dig their heels in and don’t want to go, how do we encourage? I do think the more as adults, we seek therapy and have good experiences with it. I think part of what I think has happened since I was a kid is tearing down some of the stereotypes or misunderstandings or this, like, you know, it’s weak to go to counselling. And so I think as parents, the more we seek help for ourselves and can say, look, I see someone to talk about things because it helps me. It can kind of make it feel like less of this strange thing that, you know, only if you’re really broken. You do. Yes, for sure, which may be true, but I think it’s also in some ways, like an, like an oil change for your car. You want to take care of some of the spaces and spots that need help to go deeper. But that would be what I would add to that. Just an encouragement for parents, too, is to be able to talk in a healthy way about your own therapy.

[00:12:40.000] – Speaker 1
If you go through that, and if you don’t, I’m sure there’s things that you could consider exploring at the same time as well, independent of your own child, and then make it a bit more, hey, mom or dad is doing this as well. So I think that’s interesting. So let’s just say, okay, we’re like, okay, we need to do this. How do you even find a therapist? How do you know what type to look for? Where do you even find them? Out there in the world?

[00:13:08.230] – Speaker 2
Yeah. So I think the best place to start, actually, is with referrals. So asking friends, to your point earlier, a lot of youth people that we know anyways, are seeing therapists. So it’s always, I think, great to have a referral of someone who they know of or have heard of or something like that. Then the next one is, there’s a great resource, a website called Psychology Today, which it literally has thousands of therapists, psychologists, full range. It’s a little overwhelming because of that reason. However, if you type in a town, then you can put in certain filters to choose kind of what you’re looking for. So example, you would put in teen and then all the therapists that in that area that work with teens would come up. So that’s another great one. You wouldn’t know anything about them other than their profile, but the profiles are pretty thorough, so that would be another good resources.

[00:14:16.330] – Speaker 1
Well, I’ve also found your family GP. Like, if you have a good relationship, you can have a conversation and they might be have referrals as well, but they also might be better positioned, at least in the people that you may or may not know, to tell you whether it’s like a psychologist or a therapist or like we need to see a psychiatrist kind of thing. Like they might be able to not fully diagnose what’s going on, but at least to a level of this is the type of help you could see. I think that could be another person in your world.

[00:14:53.690] – Speaker 2
I actually suggest that to parents as well, right away, just because again, when we’re looking at adolescents or children, there’s so much happening in their bodies and so it’s just good to understand if there’s something like an iron deficiency or hormones that are needing some check in, whatever that may be. So I actually request that parents take their child to a doctor, like a physician for or as well, so that we can kind of clear that out of the way. So.

[00:15:22.200] – Speaker 1
Yeah, and I think that, uh, like we were saying, the more as adults, we talk about therapy and get involved, we’ve got connections. So I know I have asked my therapist, hey, can you recommend someone for this? Right? I’ve got friends that their marriage is breaking up. Do you know anybody who’s really good at that as well? So.

[00:15:42.180] – Speaker 2
Absolutely, yeah, yeah.

[00:15:43.830] – Speaker 1
I ask you often for advice, like that type of stuff, so I think that’s helpful.

[00:15:47.900] – Speaker 2
Yeah.

[00:15:48.270] – Speaker 1
So what about children who, like, do you ever get kids that contact you on their own? Like, they’re like, I need to see a therapist and reach out. Is there an age of consent that a child can go or not go on their own decision? How does that work?

[00:16:07.510] – Speaker 2
So, in Ontario, there’s no actual age of consent with respect to personal healthcare decisions. So in general, clients of any age are considered capable of refusing or providing consent as long as they possess the maturity to reasonably understand what information is being provided and they can appreciate the consequences. So, yes, I have had young people reach out on their own. In fact, it’s preferred, particularly when, you know, let’s say 16 and up. Then it’s definitely like, okay, we’re going to deal together now with children. Say, I know someone who works primarily with children, and she would describe it as family therapy because they’re young, they’re obviously navigating so much. And so you want the parents to be on board so that they can work with that child according to what’s happening in therapy. Right. And the same would hold true with teens. But many times, like, I haven’t met a lot of teenagers who want their parents involved heavily. So the way that I work is that in the first session, if they are under, like 17, even I’ll ask a parent, or 18, even ask a parent to come in for the first part of the session, if the parents involved at all, like, if the parent calls first or whatever, then I’ll ask them to come in so that I can sit down with the parent and the client and basically lay out kind of the ground rules, which is after this 1520 minutes hearing their, what they want me to hear, then that parent is no longer part of the process except for, obviously, paying the bills.

[00:17:49.930] – Speaker 2
So the youth knows that they’re getting the bills. And then, and even sometimes in that, I’ll just send the bill to the clients, and then they’ll send everything to their parents. Like, the parents aren’t involved at all. So that’s the ideal part. Sometimes a teen will invite a parent in just so that they can have a part of a conversation, but it’s always done with the consent of the client. Even if they’re very young, the client has to agree.

[00:18:19.090] – Speaker 1
Right.

[00:18:19.530] – Speaker 2
So I’ve had clients come in that are quite young, and I’ll say, I think this part would be helpful for your parents, you know, and they’re like, I don’t want them to. And I’m like, okay, then. Then we don’t invite them because that consent piece is significant, like a huge part of therapy and actually the law.

[00:18:38.590] – Speaker 1
Yeah, yeah. What about confidentiality between a child and a therapist? Like, like you said, it’s the law and not involving parents. But what can you say and not say? Because I’m sure you get parents that are like, what did my child talk about today?

[00:18:52.370] – Speaker 2
Yeah.

[00:18:52.990] – Speaker 1
How do you navigate that? What involvement can parents have and what does confidentiality look like between a child and their therapist?

[00:19:01.320] – Speaker 2
So I think I would answer that by starting by saying, as a mom, I can appreciate why a parent would want to know.

[00:19:08.690] – Speaker 1
Totally. Yeah.

[00:19:09.610] – Speaker 2
So I can. I empathize with that. However, as a therapist, a parent actually has no rights or no access to what we talk about in our sessions. And so it’s tricky because we want to be able to, as parents, we want to be able to come alongside our kids and be able to support them. But particularly when we are dealing with adolescents and even developmentally, we know that they start to pull away from their parents. They want to find autonomy, and those things are really good. Right. So, and there’s times where we’re talking about parental things and it’s not a slam against them or that we’re, you know, tearing them apart, but they need a space to talk about things that are. Yeah. Their place to be able to share and process and understand. And so again, when we talk about confidentiality, the only thing that kind of trumps that is when there’s a harm to self or harm to others. So then I don’t hesitate to just say to the parents that this is a problem. Like, this is, this is the conversation and they either need to go to the hospital or they need to, you need to see your doctor or.

[00:20:21.530] – Speaker 2
Right. So that piece again, we have to report that.

[00:20:25.080] – Speaker 1
Yeah.

[00:20:25.830] – Speaker 2
And then the other part is, which happens sometimes, is if courts subpoena your notes, maybe in the case of, I don’t know, an abuse situation, like a lawyer will subpoena your courts and basically say, we don’t have that choice but to give them up.

[00:20:44.850] – Speaker 1
What about just press a little bit on that as a parent? So I’m just going, okay, I get harm to self and harm to others. Where does risky behavior, that drug use or alcohol abuse, things like that, that might be in a teen’s experience? How would you navigate things like that as a therapist when you’re like, oh, I’m concerned, and a parent’s like, how do I should know these things? Shouldn’t I?

[00:21:12.550] – Speaker 2
You know, well, yes, but then the conversation would be that we need to inform your parents, but through how that, how does that look? So if the, if the youth is saying, I can’t, I don’t want to, then we would discuss, like, how to, or what it would look like now. Then there would potentially come a point for a therapist where it becomes a referral. Right. Where we need to include other people. Maybe it’s an addiction specialist or an eating disorder clinic or something like that. Then the discussion is, this is why. But it’s always with the youth. Right. This is why. And this is what we need to do in order for you to find healthy like a healthy behavior or healing or whatever it may be. So that would be the situation.

[00:21:58.300] – Speaker 1
Let’s get in. Like, what’s a typical session? Because if as a parent or an adult who cares for kids, we haven’t really done this ourselves, and we’re thinking, like, I don’t even know what goes into a therapy set. What. What is it? Like, can you take us through a typical session? I mean, maybe not all the details, but how would it go? What’s the ebb and flow? How do you navigate if a kid doesn’t say much? You know, like, take us through what a typical session might look like?

[00:22:23.130] – Speaker 2
Yeah, those are.

[00:22:24.780] – Speaker 1
So basically, I’m sure there’s a lot of different variations of that, but generally speaking.

[00:22:30.880] – Speaker 2
Yeah, well, I laughed at the last part. You just said if they don’t really talk much. So once an appointment is set, an intake will be sent to the youth or to the parents, depending on the age, of course. And the first session typically is just to go over the intake, ask clarifying questions, potentially fill out some other forms that might be helpful for the process. And then through that discussion, goals are typically started to develop. So when you’re done this process, what are you hoping to change or where do you want to grow? How will your life look when you’re finished with this kind of thing? Sometimes they’ll be very clear and concise, of course, depending on personalities and what we’re talking about. But then other times, that sense will be quite general, and we’ll develop those goals over time, but it just allows for where we’re headed. So then when we’re done that session, then I would go back and create, like a therapy plan, sort of processing in my own mind what tools or what modalities we would use, so how we would approach it. And then the next time they show up, then I always ask, sort of go back to what we were talking about the week before, but then always ask if there’s something else that they want to talk about.

[00:23:54.800] – Speaker 2
Like, did something come up this week that’s substantial or they feel like, I don’t care about what we were talking about, I need to talk about this. And then I ask questions accordingly. So the best is sometimes they’re like, I don’t know, and that’s okay. So then I have questions that I would ask that would try to open up some of the dialog. And sometimes, to your point, they don’t want to talk. And so we might engage in a totally other way of asking questions. So just getting to know them more, creating space for them to say things about music or what they like to do and why they do about, but their friends, like, just really trying to unpack who they are as people and also allowing them to develop a bit of a relationship with me or their therapist so that they feel comfortable. And then eventually we can start working on why they’re there.

[00:24:51.040] – Speaker 1
I know with today’s day and age, a lot of therapy is done virtually. Can you speak to the pros and cons of virtual versus in person sessions? Is there a preferred way of doing it with young people? Children?

[00:25:04.170] – Speaker 2
So the pro to virtual is obviously, people don’t have to leave their house. They can be in their pajamas. So it allows for more accessibility to people. Like, you have a farther reach to find therapists, actually, and vice versa. We can have clients that are all over Ontario. So the other pro is that it’s less time. So it’s about an hour. Right. And so you don’t have to worry.

[00:25:31.320] – Speaker 1
There’s not travel time in there, so.

[00:25:33.950] – Speaker 2
It’S less of a chunk of a day sort of thing. The cons for virtual is sometimes there can be Internet problems, and so, you know, you’ll lose each other. So it just gets disrupted more, like easier. Also, the odd time you have, like, people walking through sessions. Like, I’ve had parents walk through their sessions of their youth, and I’m like, oh, boy. And then even the idea of there’s times where you’ll have teenagers who are almost falling asleep.

[00:26:03.930] – Speaker 1
Right.

[00:26:04.340] – Speaker 2
So that’s tricky too. Right. That you’re like, how about we sit at a desk? Or. But, yeah, so that can be tricky too. But that piece can be also very beneficial for a lot of people, the. The pros to. In person, I think that it’s easier to have connection personally, and some people prefer it for that reason. I think sometimes, especially teenagers, want to do in person because they feel like it’s a safer space to speak. You know, maybe the room that they’re supposed to do their therapy and their parents are around, so they feel like they’re listening and there’s more, a little more confirmation of confidentiality. You’re not gonna have someone walking in or anything like that.

[00:26:45.100] – Speaker 1
Yeah.

[00:26:45.830] – Speaker 2
And I think it’s sometimes easier to do activities in person, whether it’s a game or, you know, I have a huge whiteboard in mind, so whatever. You know, there’s people that do art therapy and some people do music therapy. So all of that just offers, I think, maybe a greater range. Now, I know there’s some people that really do a lot of stuff online, great games, etcetera. So, yeah, those are kind of the pros and cons.

[00:27:11.000] – Speaker 1
I would imagine the distractions are way less in person than virtual. Like, I know, virtual meetings, any kind of meetings, you can open other tabs on your computer or, you know, be looking at something on a screen that’s not actually what you’re doing. And so where in person, you can’t really do. If they pull out their phone, you know, they’re doing that. Right. So I would imagine the distractions are less in person, but I think the convenience that, you know, the barriers to entry are really important, particularly if it is difficult to kind of get in the groove of that.

[00:27:47.970] – Speaker 2
And also, it’s actually less of a barrier for a lot of parents. Right. Cause your youth, your teenager comes home after school, they can do therapy while you’re at work, but if you have to drive them or, you know, take off a day of work, that’s. That becomes difficult for parents. Right. So sometimes online is just a lot easier.

[00:28:05.080] – Speaker 1
Yeah, that’s good. So we talked about confidentiality. We’ve talked about a few things, virtual stuff. So I imagine as a parent, like, this idea of our kids are in therapy, we don’t know what’s going on. We also are coming into that because we don’t know what to do about what’s going on. So there can be kind of stress and pressure. We’re not privy to the, the sessions themselves. So what are your suggestions about how to support kids through the process? As a parent, how do we know what’s too much and not enough? How do we engage with them? What boundaries should we observe?

[00:28:42.720] – Speaker 2
Those are great questions. I think that it really depends on our communication to begin with, with them. So if they are closed and don’t talk or they’re just a teen or a child or whatever, that doesn’t engage with a lot of what’s going on, then trusting the process is really important, I guess, where you’re going to trust that if it’s not working out with the therapist, that the therapist is going to end the sessions, but also then allowing the teen or the, I’m going to speak teens because children are more engaged with their parents, but that they have spaces to hold on to their own information because we allow them to go to counselling because we want them to be able to talk. And so if they’re talking with someone else, that’s great. Right. And so even you could ask them, like, I know, driving or walking. Like, how is it going with that therapist? Or how are you finding it? And hopefully they’ll engage in that question, but those, you know, open ended questions of, do you want to talk about it? And if so, like, share whatever you want to share. Some, I know for some youth, they’ll go back into their car and they’ll just like.

[00:29:58.850] – Speaker 2
Like, unload everything and their parents know everything. And so it just kind of depends on your own, you know, your own relationship and that the personality of your teenager, then I think those boundaries are important. So, for example, not guilting them into not speaking or I have one daughter that sometimes will tell me that I badger her just in general. So. Right. Because we think that we’re asking these great questions, but it’s actually just like poke, poke, poke instead of listening, saying, hey, if you ever want to unpack anything or talk about anything, I’m willing to listen.

[00:30:37.310] – Speaker 1
Yeah.

[00:30:37.780] – Speaker 2
So I think the one thing is just paying attention to our own anxieties as parents. And what is, why do we want to know? What is it that we are digging for so that, you know, we feel better? Is it because we want to make sure they’re not talking about stuff in our family, like that kind of stuff, where we allow them to have the ability to speak in a space that is as they wish sort of thing?

[00:31:06.780] – Speaker 1
Yeah. I think there is a huge trust piece in that. Right? Because I know, and I’ve said this on the podcast in a previous season, I read a book when my daughter was younger. I think it was called Planet Middle School. And one of the things that stuck out to me, the gentleman who wrote the book was saying, you know, as parents, we get in the car after school, and we want to ask a million questions. And he was encouraging us to, like, be quiet and actually just wait and listen. And actually, that was part of when I went to therapy with my wife and couples therapy, it was like, that was the piece. I interject stuff into silence all the time. Even if there’s a question, if you don’t get an answer just to kind of sit in it and wait. And when they were saying, you know, in the middle school years, pre adolescents to adolescents tweens when they’re ready to talk, they’ll talk. And it just. Then it all comes out. Right? And so sometimes when we get in and mess with it, we, like, can shut it down without knowing we’re doing that.

[00:32:13.800] – Speaker 1
And I remember just driving one home, a day home with my daughter in the car, and I was just like, I’m gonna practice this. And I didn’t really say the typical. How was your day? What did you do? How was your test? Like, I didn’t ask all the questions, and I remember just sat there. Oh, you know, you’re not, like, not talking, but you’re just more making statements. Like, it’s a great day today, isn’t it? You know, that kind of stuff.

[00:32:34.300] – Speaker 2
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:32:35.150] – Speaker 1
And then all of a sudden, she just was like, this is what happened at school. And, like, after, like, a few moments of silence, and I was like, oh, wow, that, like, that kind of works. And I think, yeah, with therapy, it’s not like a one session fixes everything, too. So if you create space, that stuff as it’s meaningful for them will come to the surface at some point if you’re nurturing the relationship side, as you mentioned. Right. Like, if you’re investing in time together and being around and being open and. And listening the stuff that. And again, you can correct me if I’m wrong, Marianne, but my. My understanding and experience would be, like, as you create more space for them to talk in relationship with them, you probably won’t have to, like, pull super hard to get some of the stuff out. It might not always, but over time, the stuff that they’re working through may float to the surface just because you’ve created that safe space for them to process, to talk, and to engage with you as a parent.

[00:33:35.350] – Speaker 2
You know, just adding on to that, I think it’s really important also to, to say the part about consent. So in any sort of therapeutic relationship, you have to have consent for what you’re doing and even what you’re talking about. And, you know, so if I bring in a different kind of form of, like, a modality of therapy, then you explain what it is, and they can say, I don’t want to do that. And so they have a lot of autonomy even to say no to things. I’ve brought up things and they’re like, no, I don’t want to do that. I’m like, okay, let’s shift gears then. So, you know, when, when I think about what you’re saying as parents, I think often we are like, I’m the parent, so I want you to tell me. But as they get older, they need to have that place to just wrestle with what’s happening or to say, I want to tell this to you, or I don’t, and that we have to say, okay, which is really hard as a parent, but it’s really important.

[00:34:31.850] – Speaker 1
And I would just add one thing, that if people listen to this podcast would know one of the things we always have talked about is one of the benefits we can provide for kids, our other adults that care for them, that are outside of us. And so if they have those, be at peace that they may be working some of that stuff out with those trusted adults as well.

[00:34:54.760] – Speaker 2
Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:34:56.060] – Speaker 1
And it doesn’t always have to be us. But I wonder, what can a parent expect from follow up or feedback? Like, do you ever, once you kind of sign up and do a bunch of things, do you ever hear from a child’s therapist at all? Like, what’s that parent therapist relationship look like?

[00:35:21.010] – Speaker 2
No, you don’t. When it ends, it’s over. It’s like the conversation, again, they might, they’ll know it’s over when the bills aren’t coming or their child or their teenager tells them. And again, it depends if they’re involved in the process when they’re young, like, say children, of course they would know when they would be in dialog and.

[00:35:44.090] – Speaker 1
But it’s not like school where we get like a report card, right?

[00:35:47.240] – Speaker 2
No, no. And I’ve had people, I’ve had parents email me, which is why I invite them into that first session. I have parents email me partway through to say, how are they doing? I sometimes don’t even answer the email because it sounds crazy, but that is actually a conflict of, like, what we’ve talked about. I’ve had parents say, well, I pay, so I deserve to know. And I’m like, no, you actually, I’m sorry. You don’t deserve to know anything. Like, it’s not, that’s totally going against the confidentiality and what we kind of discussed in the very beginning. So. Yeah, there’s not a whole lot of follow up.

[00:36:25.000] – Speaker 1
Yeah.

[00:36:25.550] – Speaker 2
Even say, we have to talk to doctors or psychiatrists or we always have to have consent from the client to allow us to talk to that other professional or teacher, whatever it may be.

[00:36:39.670] – Speaker 1
So how do you as a therapist know it’s working? How do you know when it’s like, we’re done here? And then second, how would a parent know?

[00:36:48.790] – Speaker 2
Hopefully with the parents, you’d see some changes or some behavior modification or, I mean, sometimes we’ll talk about how to talk to parents or what you can share or whatever it may be. Because I think the important part is as a therapist, you don’t want to be against the parents. Right. Particularly if it’s a healthy relationship, which you pick up pretty quickly, or at least like an engaged parental relationship. And so I’m very aware that my part is to come alongside of a family in some ways. Right. So if it includes having conversations about how to talk to parents or how to talk to friends or whatever it may be, I think that parents should be able to notice some changes within the therapy session. You come to a place sometimes where you’re just done, like, there’s not really a lot more to talk about. You’re both kind of going. And this is why we have goals. We look at the goals. Like, if I get to a place where I feel like we are, okay, what are we doing today? And then I go, okay, let’s read the goals. And we go through the goals.

[00:37:53.600] – Speaker 2
And I say, it’s, you know, what about this? And they say, oh, no, I feel good about that. Then we just, it’s over and we part ways. And I always say, if you want to come back, you are always welcome back. And often down the road, they will come back at some point, and it’s great. It’s really neat to see how they change and grow, and it’s quite a privilege.

[00:38:16.000] – Speaker 1
Yeah, I love that. That’s really helpful to think about. Like, this is, like, goals based, and you come up with a kind of a clear plan and, you know, while the child or young adult or youth is there and what they hope to get out of it. And you kind of create that together and then have some goals and then work towards that. So you, as the therapist, have an idea of how you’re tracking and how they’re doing against the goals that you guys have collectively set out to work through. So that’s actually really interesting. Right.

[00:38:47.680] – Speaker 2
Otherwise it becomes almost like you’re like a friend or. Right. Or a youth worker.

[00:38:53.380] – Speaker 1
What are we even really doing here at the end, you know?

[00:38:55.570] – Speaker 2
Yeah. And that’s not the goal of therapy. It’s actually to do therapy like, yeah.

[00:39:01.120] – Speaker 1
And to take you somewhere. Right. Like on a journey to a destination, whatever that is. And I love that, too. It’s not something that you necessarily like as a therapist. You play a role in that, but it’s not like someone does an intake form and you’re like, okay, we’ve got ten weeks to get them to this point. You work on that together.

[00:39:21.430] – Speaker 2
Well, and also it’s interesting because I think, you know, you might do, I don’t know, like, let’s say you do therapy on, you have a highly anxious person, and then they come and they work on their anxiety, and then a couple years later, they’re dealing with something else and they might find a different therapist for that, or they might come back to their original therapist. But it’s like this ebb and flow of learning and growing, especially during adolescence. Right. And so it is, again, I think it’s quite a privilege to be able to start with someone when they’re, you know, an early teen and work them. Like, work with them throughout the years.

[00:39:57.490] – Speaker 1
Yeah.

[00:39:57.950] – Speaker 2
It’s really, it’s really neat to see where they end up.

[00:40:00.730] – Speaker 1
Would you ever, I know you spend a lot of time with children and youth, but would you ever, like, stay with someone till they’re in their adult life or at that point, do you like. No, I work better with kids and youth.

[00:40:12.120] – Speaker 2
No, no, you would stick with a person. Yeah. If they choose to.

[00:40:17.140] – Speaker 1
If they choose to, yeah.

[00:40:18.450] – Speaker 2
Or they come back and they, or they come back and they. And it’s a topic that is out of my scope of practice. Then you would say you’d be better suited with someone else.

[00:40:27.370] – Speaker 1
But no, on that note, I didn’t ask this, but like all therapists, or a lot of therapists, I should say, have different areas of specialty and focus. Is that true too? Like, can you, as you’re looking for a therapist, if you’re dealing with a specific topic, I’m sure there’s a lot of generalists, but there might be people that are better, you know, say it’s disordered eating. Right. Like there might be people that specialize more in that than, say, other things. Is that true?

[00:40:57.780] – Speaker 2
Yes. Yes, it is. It’s true. And then also, like, there are, and you alluded to this earlier, just with regards to a psychologist who can do assessments, and then obviously through a doctor, you can see a psychiatrist who’s actually a medical doctor, specialized. Right. So there’s all the different parts, but yes, as far as talk therapy slash psychotherapy, then you’re looking for someone who fits what you’re looking for. So especially with teenagers, I find, you know, someone who actually likes, likes teenagers and, and is able to work with that population. Same with children. You want someone who might do sand play therapy or just play therapy in general or art therapy or something like that. So, yeah, that’s great.

[00:41:51.430] – Speaker 1
Well, we’re coming to the end of our conversation, and just to kind of wrap up, you mentioned psychology today. Are there other resources or, like books or anything you could suggest to parents who are thinking about their kids might need therapy or they’re just more curious about what child talk therapy or psychotherapy is even about? Can you just point us in some directions to help parents who are like, this is really interesting. How do I learn more?

[00:42:19.180] – Speaker 2
Yeah, psychology today again, has a ton of information on it. Plus you can find therapists. So that would be a website. The other one is the Canadian Mental Health association that would have some great resources. You can look up so much of different websites and information online, but those two really stand out to me. And then with regards to books, I can’t really think of a book that’s specific to what you should look for for a therapist. But there’s obviously lots of adolescent development and child development books, but, yeah, that would be very dependent on what the topic is that you are focused on.

[00:42:59.450] – Speaker 1
Yeah. And we’ve had guests on the show that specialize in very different things, that write books so parents who are listening can track with different topics and places like that. I think that’s wise.

[00:43:11.390] – Speaker 2
Yeah, totally.

[00:43:12.360] – Speaker 1
So final thoughts or words of encouragement for parents who are working through really tough, like, he’s. I’m sure there’s times at, well, you’re a mom yourself and have navigated your own journey and story, but as a counselor, a therapist, I’m sure you’re in there and sometimes you can, you know, you’re for the teens, but you can also, as a parent, resonate with like, oh, man, this is tough to work through. And again, as parents are, like, I’m sending them often, trust them to this conversation and I don’t really know and they won’t talk to me. Like, what would be some words of encouragement or thoughts you could give to parents in that situation?

[00:43:49.390] – Speaker 2
Yeah, I think make sure that you have a community around you who, that you can be honest with as a parent. Parenting our kids and our teens can cause so much fear and shame and guilt and just to encourage parents to take care of themselves and their marriages, especially when you get into some really, really heavy mental health, mental illness issues. So it can feel super lonely or embarrassing, but our goal is to help our kids thrive and grow into thriving adults. And so that piece, I think, is really significant. And then the other one is the world of mental illness and mental health and resources. It can be super hard to navigate. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and advocate for your child and teen. I believe that is our role as parents. And so, you know, even from here, this conversation reaching out to you or just or me or whatever it is that just ask those questions. Right. And again, not to be embarrassed or ashamed of what’s going on in your family, because sometimes it can feel like we have done a bad job and it’s a reflection of us, but that’s not true.

[00:45:07.660] – Speaker 2
It’s really significant to walk with other people. So.

[00:45:11.620] – Speaker 1
Yeah. And let me just add one thing to that. As I’m thinking of parents and navigating it is like, especially when we’re dealing with such difficult things, is like grab hold to those really good, positive, fun moments, you know, as an encouragement to your soul. I just, I was talking to a friend who lives across the world and I was describing him. I’m in Ontario. It, it was yesterday. It was 18 degrees and sunny, which it hasn’t been in a long time. And everybody is out. Right? They’re smiling, they’re saying hi on walks. And today it’s rainy and miserable. Right. And so I think, like, I can choose to stay in the rainy, miserable thing or let yesterday’s bright sunshine give me a little hope for what’s coming down the road. So I would say store up those positive, fun moments you have in amidst all the crisis and chaos and really, you know, enjoy those, enter into them. Let them give you encouragement for the other stuff that you navigate along the way. Remind us, Marianne, where people can find you online and your practice.

[00:46:21.470] – Speaker 2
My website is rerouted counselling. R o u t e d. So rerooted. Counselling.

[00:46:31.150] – Speaker 1
Counselling. All right. Well, thank you so much, Marianne. It’s been a great conversation, so much insight into this, you know, very, that we are very specialized and unique today. But I think it’s so helpful, particularly parents who are thinking about and pondering whether their child needs therapy or are going through it and are kind of wrestling with what that looks like. So you’ve been hugely helpful and insightful for us today. So thanks so much for joining us.

[00:46:56.800] – Speaker 2
Yeah, thank you. And thanks for having me.

About the Author

Chris Tompkins is the CEO of Muskoka Woods. He holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Guelph, a teacher’s college degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Clemson University. His experience leading in local community, school, church and camp settings has spanned over 20 years. His current role and expertise generates a demand for him to speak with teens and consult with youth leaders. Chris hosts the Muskoka Woods podcast, Shaping Our World where he speaks with youth development experts. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a good book. Chris resides in Stouffville, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
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