When a child is receiving therapy, it's common for a parent to ask me how it's going, if I have any updates, or if there's anything they need to know about. In California, the age of minor therapy consent is 12 years old, which means that if a kid is over 12, they are the ones consenting to their own therapy and have control over who sees their information. However, just like parenting a teenager - it's a lot more complicated than that. Here's what you can expect:
During the intake session, I will explain to both parents and child (separately or together) what confidentiality will look like in the therapy relationship. I don't want there to be any surprises in the process.
If there is a safety issue (meaning the child is a danger to themselves or others), then I am mandated to report that to the guardians and potentially 911 (if a safety plan cannot be established within the situation)
To build a good rapport with a kid starting therapy, they need to feel safe within our relationship, which means that some things will be 100% confidential. Some of my work here is helping parents become comfortable with recognizing the benefits of this.
Part of my process is helping a kid to decide when it might be useful to involve their parents, and figure out how to talk to their parents in the way that feels most authentic to them. Options for this include: holding a family session, having me talk to parents separately, or role playing how the kid can give this information to their parents on their own.
For any non-safety related information that I believe would be beneficial to share with parents, I will ask the child's consent, and explain transparently why I think it would be useful.
Part of why I recommend family therapy as part of the child therapy process is to help families develop their own conversations about these issues, and become comfortable talking about difficult topics like mental health and tough family relationships. This process looks different for each family, and I individualize it to suit your family's needs. If this sounds like something your family could benefit from, fill out a contact form to set up a free 15-minute consult to see if it's a good fit.