How to Talk to Your Children About Therapy

If you are a parent or a guardian, then chances are you have thought about talking your child to therapy. Maybe your little one is acting out, struggling making friends, or simply not listening. Or perhaps your family is navigating a recent death or loss, dealing with divorce, or struggling to adjust to a blended family. 

Regardless of the challenges you and your children are facing, therapy can help. However, it’s important that your child be open to the idea and willing to participate in therapy. We’ve put together this guide to help you talk to your children about therapy.


Ask Your Child What They Think Therapy Is

Start the conversation by asking your child what they think therapy is. It can be very helpful to see what they already know or how they view therapy. You can then use this as an opportunity to discuss what therapy is with them.


Explain Therapy with Age-appropriate Language 

All children are familiar with a doctor. Explain to your children that a therapist is like a doctor “for their feelings.” Kids know what it’s like to feel worried or angry. Explain to them how a therapist will help them express how they feel when they are mad, sad, or even when they misbehave. Use an example of something they have struggled with recently.

It’s also important to let your child know that their therapist will talk about the things they like to do, what they are good at, and what makes them happy or sad. Let them know that their sessions will take place in an office, just like when they visit their regular doctor for a checkup. Once they understand where and how their sessions will take place, they will feel more comfortable meeting with their counselor.


how to explain therapy to your child


Promise Play and Fun

Therapists often use play therapy when they work with children. Play therapy is a counseling method that uses play to communicate with children to help process their emotions, feelings, and behavioural challenges. Play therapy is designed to empower children to express their emotions naturally and relate to their world through play. This specialized therapy helps children to develop communication skills, coping mechanisms, social integrations, emotional modulation, trauma recovery, and standard growth and development.

During their play therapy session, your child will “play” and engage with their counselor using a wide rage of play methods. Through the process of play, kids are empowered to process their complex feelings and memories through symbolic expression (i.e. by using their toys as a method to communicate their experiences and emotions).

Play therapy may include:

  • Games
  • Puppets
  • Books
  • Dolls/stuffed animals
  • Coloring
  • And more


Do not Bring Therapy Up During a Tantrum or Argument

It’s important to talk to your children about therapy during a time when they are calm and able to listen. Discussing therapy with your child when you are frustrated and arguing may make them view therapy as a punishment. It can also increase their feelings of shame or embarrassment. Worst of all, it may turn them off to therapy completely. 

be psychology child psychology

Normalize Therapy

It’s essential that your child knows that everyone experiences challenges. If you have experienced something similar to what your child is experiencing, now is the perfect time to tell them. If you see a therapist, now is the time to tell them. The idea is to make them feel and understand therapy is a very natural process for their mental health and wellbeing. 

Explain how you think therapy will be helpful. Let your child know therapy is designed to help them, and your family, be healthier and happier.


BE Psychology Child Psychology 

At BE Psychology Center, our team of therapists and psychologists are trained to help treat both children and adults with any mental health concerns. If you or a loved one are in need of testing, assessments, or psychotherapy, we can help.


reem shaheen counseling psychologist


Reem Shaheen – LMHC