Liza Hinchey is a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (LLPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. Liza completed dual Master’s degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy from Wayne State University, and works with individuals, families, and groups across a range of presenting issues.
In any therapeutic relationship, trust is one of the most important factors in supporting positive change. If you are interested in counseling services for a minor, as a parent or guardian, it is important to understand the conditions that help your child build trust with their counselor so that they can get the most out of their experience.
In a counseling setting, children and adolescents must feel that they have a safe place to explore their thoughts, emotions, and goals. With your understanding in advance, we shall keep what your child says or does confidential, within age appropriate limits. Depending on the age of the minor in therapy, the parent(s)/guardian(s) and the counselor will discuss what confidentiality will look like, prior to beginning treatment. For example, counseling a very young child will require the counselor and parents to communicate in much more detail about what happens during sessions than counseling a 16-year-old.
However, there are always going to be several exceptions to this confidentiality, regardless of the age of the minor. A counselor will share with the parent(s)/guardian(s) any information which is necessary for the safety of their child or adolescent, in addition to any information that is required by law, including if a client expresses that they plan to harm themselves or others, or if they report child or elder abuse. In these scenarios, counselors are required to break confidentiality, whether the client is a minor or an adult.
Aside from safety issues, if a counselor believes that it would be helpful to share additional details with the parent(s) /guardian(s), the counselor will usually discuss this with the child and initially encourage them to do so themselves. This would occur more often with older children and adolescents, as with young children the counselor may need to do more of the talking to parents themselves. Of course, if the child does not want to share with their parents but the counselor still believes it would be very helpful, the counselor may still choose to share information with the parent when appropriate.
Parent(s)/guardian(s) also always have the right to ask questions regarding general progress and the therapeutic process, and to offer feedback regarding their interactions with their child and their observations in various settings. In this way, counselors and parents work as a team. We as counselors greatly value your consultations with us and your involvement, as it helps us help your child more effectively. We will discuss with you during our initial meeting how you can participate effectively in your child's specific treatment and progress outside of counseling.
Depending on the age of the child, it may also be appropriate to schedule additional meetings with the parent(s)/guardian(s) to discuss progress or address their questions or concerns. Parent(s)/guardian(s) can feel free to share information that they feel may be important for the counselor to know at any time, however due to time constraints, a counselor may not always be able to respond in a thorough manner. That does not mean that your communications are not valued, however, as the information you share is always helpful for us!
That said, if parent(s)/guardian(s) would like to have a more in-depth discussion with a counselor regarding their child, we also offer in-person meetings or phone consultations. Occasionally meeting with parents can be a very useful part of the “teamwork” aspect of a young child’s counseling and is always an available option.
At Trinity Family Counseling Center, we are committed to helping our younger clients, and we are grateful for the trust that you put in us to do so while upholding confidentiality. Our counselors recognize that it can be difficult for parents to be unaware of all the details of their child’s counseling, so we also want to express our appreciation to you for taking this step for your child’s well-being. In return, we are committed to encouraging open communication between your child and you, and we will do everything in our power to help your child achieve their goals and improve their mental health.