Stigma as a Barrier to Accept Parental Counseling

"I Don’t Want To Stigmatize My Child. I’d Rather The Teacher Not Know I’ve Sought Counseling."

the value of early intervention

It’s very important for the counselor to have the teacher’s (or day-care provider’s) opinion.  You undoubtedly realize that a parent has a hard time viewing their child realistically.  Parents tend to either over-emphasize a problem out of their sense of responsibility or guilt or anxiety; or under-emphasize it, for the same reasons.  

The teacher isn’t “objective” either, nobody is, but is probably closer than the parent. No less important, though, is getting a picture of the child’s functioning in a different setting.  I need to know (and so do you) whether the problem that’s worrying you shows up in the child’s other life-situations, and in what way.  That will help us trace the parents’ contribution to the problem and to its solution.  And of course it is often important to provide some guidance for the teacher too.

In my experience, it’s been years now that most educators have given up the tendency to stigmatize a child because of therapy or counseling.  They have realized the value of early intervention, and tend to respect parents who make the effort to get help.  Don’t forget, if there’s a problem the teacher is also dealing with it, and has an interest in seeing it solved.

When Do I Refer Kids To Other Forms Of Therapy?

Physiotherapy is called for when a child is having trouble with gross motor coordination and with muscle tone.  In most cases these children are being treated long before they reach me, thanks to their Well Baby care or pediatrician.  

When fine coordination (graphic skills, cutting, pasting, sculpting) is problematic the child needs occupational therapy; many are referred by their teacher before I ever see them.  Difficulties with sensory regulation (hyper- or hypo-sensitivity to sounds, smells, strong or light touch, motion) also require the attention of an occupational therapist.  

Language therapy is called for when the child’s language or communicative development lags behind her/his age level.

parents role in supporting a child facing emotional Difficulties

Above all, when parents understand the emotional consequences of such difficulties for the child—primarily low self esteem, a build-up of frustration and aggression, exaggerated need for control, or a tendency to avoid and withdraw—they can learn parental behaviors that support the child, minimize frustration, and mediate between the child and his/her environment.  This adds up to a very significant contribution to the child’s coping, and to avoiding emotional problems.

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© Copyright Michal Rokach Shamay.
Licensed marriage and family therapist #112104. Registered dance & movement therapist R-DMT #1937 ADTA.
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Office located in Albany, CA.
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