The Hidden Benefits of The Car Ride To Your Child’s Therapy Appointment

Over the years, I’ve heard the same comment from my adolescent client’s parents: that they had the best conversations with their child either on the way to therapy or on the way home after the appointment. It makes sense why this works, right? You and your child are stuck together in the car for the entire time it takes to drive to therapy. For some parents, it only takes about 10 minutes to get to my office, while some families drive 30 or even 45 minutes to get to therapy. This is prime time to have some good heart-to-heart conversations. I’ve found that when my clients tell me about these great conversations, that they weren’t planned. By that I mean that the parent or the child did not set out to purposely talk about an issue, but the environment of being stuck together combined with the right elements for a close conversation allowed these good conversations to begin. If you want to make the car ride to therapy a meaningful one for you and your child, below are some tips to set up the environment in a way that might encourage your child to talk:
  • Encourage your child to be headphones-free during the drive to therapy
  • Don’t take calls during the drive – show your child that you are available and invested in being with them during this time
  • Music is fine, but only if it the sound is low and in the background
  • Don’t force conversation, but let it come naturally
  • You can ask questions to your child, but don’t probe or keep asking the same question – just show that you are open to discussion if they are willing to talk
  • Let silence be your friend – eventually your child WILL talk.
Therapy can be a long process, so you’ll have many weeks in the car alone with your child. If you set up the right environment using the points above, you’ll be having some really memorable discussions with your child very soon.

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Dr. Becca Ballinger is a clinical psychologist practicing in Redlands, California. She specializes in therapy for teens, tweens, young adults, and families. Call (909) 326-2562 to schedule an appointment.


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