Last week, I posed a question to all the therapists out there. The question was an ethical one: what do you do when the beliefs of a family clash with the nature of your client, who happens to be a child? What’s your role as a therapist in this situation?
I posted a survey, asking for therapists to vote. Although there was only one vote (and since only 1, I won’t bother to show it), there were some wonderful, thoughtful responses:
- “A combination of the second and third (choices): that you will not promote the behavior and will try to redirect, but not to the point of creating a level of frustration that prevents the sessions from being therapeutic (a conclusion reached by one MT-BC, one MT-B).” ~Anonymous
- “I would first ask why they are not wanting him to talk about girl things and go from there. I would either pick the first choice or the second depending on their response.” ~Anonymous
- “That’s a tough one! Suggest that in therapy discussion of these topics will be necessary in order to be able to eventually work toward extinguishing them?” ~Janice with Heartbeat Music Therapy
- “Consider a more neutral option. Perhaps approach as merely a change in therapy goals. Invite parents to discuss child’s overall progress and changes they observe at home and in the community: their perceptions, his verbalizations, etc.” ~Anonymous
- “Respect the wishes of the family and not allow the boy to talk about those topics.’~Anonymous
So that’s what you all recommended. This situation did not happen to me, but did happen to a friend and colleague. After posting the question, I thought about it more myself. I suggested she get more information from the family, try and glean WHY they are suddenly uncomfortable. Did something happen at school? Is it pressure from extended family? Is he being teased somewhere? Their answers will help determine her best course of action.
Thank you again to all you read and responded to this post. It is a challenge when the majority of your work is solo and there is not always someone you can consult with. So I appreciate being able to share and consult with you all.
If you have a dilemma or a question, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be MORE than happy to share your question with my readers.