Parent Coaching 

Learn what we know about changing behavior.

There’s no handbook for raising children—especially when it comes to parenting kids with emotional and/or behavioral issues. That’s where parent coaching comes in. It isn’t therapy, but it speeds up the progress a child makes in therapy. That’s why we insist that the caregivers of all kids and adolescents who come in for treatment have a parent coach. Yep. It’s that helpful.

FAQ’s : Parent Coaching

What happens in a Parent Coaching session?

Each session, caregivers meet with their designated parent coach to review the “Parent Report Card.” The Parent Report Card assists the coach in knowing how to prioritize the 45 minutes and set an agenda. If caregivers have anything they want to be sure to address, it is important to say so ASAP. Coaching sessions fly by. Caregivers receive direct instructions on how to use behavioral principles and validation strategies to help change their child’s behavior and improve the relationship for the long-term. Parent coaches teach, role-play, and provide specific instructions and recommendations which are based upon their knowledge of the child, the caregivers, and their education/experience.

What’s the difference between Parent Coaching & Therapy?

Parent coaching is definitely not therapy. Although it is impossible to leave emotions out of the room entirely, the more caregivers can minimize focusing on how they feel, the better. Parent coaching involves direct, “rapid fire” learning and recommendations, not warmth and reflection. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to “process” worries, fears, or frustrations that can, and will arise in the course of coaching. When caregivers feel that they need more emotional support, reassurance, or they find themselves simply unable to carry out the recommendations in spite of committing to do so, parent coaches may suggest adding individual or couples therapy as a way to help meet the need. About 75% of families in parent coaching have at least caregiver who also participates in individual therapy.

Does the Parent Coach know what’s happening in my child’s therapy?

The parent coach knows the MAIN issues that the individual therapist is working on. The Parent Coach will be informed if the child is at risk for life-threatening behavior. However, the individual therapist does not tell the Parent Coach everything. Because the child is building a relationship with their therapist, some things need to be kept private in order to increase the child’s confidence that they can tell their secrets. That means that the individual therapist will keep many things under wraps, only disclosing it if there is no progress being made or if the issue is one that is particularly concerning. If the individual therapist feels like some environmental changes could make a big difference, they may ask the Parent Coach to intervene and speak to the caregivers about it. Caregivers are ALWAYS welcome to request a joint session with their child’s individual therapist AND the parent coach.

How do I contact my Parent Coach?

The parent coach provides caregivers with their cell phone number, email address, and a handout with other parent coaches’ contact information so that they are more likely to be able to reach a coach when the need arises. Generally, caregivers text the parent coach and request a call back rather than calling them directly. If something does not need to be addressed ASAP, it is likely best to send an email or wait until session. Text and phone calls are generally reserved for situations in which immediate advice on how to intervene is needed.

What does a Parent Coach expect?

Parent coaches hope that caregivers will contact them BEFORE an issue becomes “full-blown” and that they will not wait until session to communicate concerns. They hope caregivers will fill out the parent report card each and every time and that they will be honest with themselves when doing so. They hope that caregivers will follow-through on the plan as agreed upon, but they definitely don’t expect them to do so perfectly. They expect rapid progress on a child’s dangerous and most frustrating problems first, then slower improvement on the other things.

Where can I learn more about what I’m being taught in Parent Coaching?

Listening to the PSYCHē Squad podcasts, attending the Parent Coaching support group, and reading our top 2 most recommended books are the best ways to speed progress.

How often is Parent Coaching?

That all depends. In the beginning, sessions are weekly. The faster that caregivers learn, the faster they implement the plan, and the less complicated the child’s issues, the sooner the sessions will decrease. Some parents have meet weekly for months while others dropped down to every 6 weeks after just a few sessions. At minimum, caregivers meet with their coach every 6 weeks while their child is in therapy. This helps to ensure that the individual therapist has another perspective on how the child is doing and so caregivers are refreshed on some of the basics that may be easily forgotten over time.

What are some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to Parent Coaching?

Do contact the parent coach at the first sign of trouble.

Don’t waste time complaining, worrying, or expressing emotion in a parent coaching session.

Do follow through on the plan as discussed.

Don’t express negativity to your child about the therapist or parent coach.

Do make notes ahead of time and include concerns to address.

Don’t keep secrets from the parent coach.

Do tell your parent coach about a child’s suicidal thinking, self-harm, or other target behaviors ASAP.

Don’t send lengthy emails filled with negativity, hopelessness, and blame.

Do ask for a joint session with BOTH the child’s individual therapist and parent coach if you want to know what’s happening in therapy

Don’t try to save money by skipping parent coaching—it can end up costing far more in the long run!

Do notice the progress your child is making.

Don’t take it personally when the parent coach gives corrective feedback.

Do communicate information to your child’s therapist by sending it through the parent coach.

Don’t contact your child’s therapist directly for anything other than scheduling.