Feedback and forward planning
Since the second session has offered an opportunity for the child/young person and their parents to talk together, as well as for the child/young person to talk separately, the psychotherapist now goes one step further in elaborating a formulation about the problem to both parties. This first, takes the form of giving the parents some brief feedback about the meeting with the child. This does not entail a detailed account of everything that was said, but is intended to share with the parents the therapist’s impression of the child, and how they used the therapeutic encounter. For example, by relating to the parents of the adolescent boy described above, that their son had a delightful sense of humour, and how despite the seriousness of the problem, this indicated his wish to be different and more light-hearted, this eased their panic and anxiety. Children who have been described by their parents as aggressive, may show a very different side of themselves to the therapist, and may through their play or communication, indicate how their aggression covers underlying fear and anxiety. This is a critical piece of information that would need to be shared with parents, which brings us back to the essential linking and meaning-making task of the therapeutic process.
The final part of this second session brings everyone together, the parents and the child or young person. The therapist presents a brief summary of what has been observed, and what sense the therapist has made of what has been communicated. Whilst this summarising and confirming takes place at some level throughout the assessment, the coming together of the child, young person and their parents at the end of the session, allows this to be re-addressed. It also takes into account any differing views that may be expressed at this point. Negotiating a treatment plan arises directly from this formulation, and requires the agreement of all concerned. Even young children when they recognise that they are listened to, and taken seriously, can be part of this process.