It is not easy to push the door of a psychiatrist for the first time, whatever his field of action. While it is already difficult to know which type of specialist to contact, if the idea of having to test different practices before finding the right person is terribly uncomfortable, there is in the whole process a much simpler fear. . To sit (or lie down) a few meters from a stranger and undertake to tell him his life and his feelings, it is a leap in the vacuum difficult to carry out.
The fact of going to the shrink is still too often considered a step tinged with shame. Asking for help is humiliating: it means that you are not a perfect individual, that you are not self-sufficient. There is something psychophobic about this reluctance to consult. “Recently, during a dinner, says Joachim, a senior executive father of four, I heard someone say again, “I'm not going to the shrink, I'm not crazy,” which is total nonsense. The word “crazy” doesn't mean much anyway. But I believe that many of us have that in us: the fear of being called weirdos because we decided to take care of our mental health. ”
Joachim makes a comfortable living. "I prefer to say it right away, he specifies, because I am aware of all that it allows to undertake, such as going regularly to the shrink. Not everyone can afford it, far from it. " Three of her four children have seen psychologists on an irregular basis since they were old enough to speak. “It's a bit à la carte. Sometimes one session is enough, sometimes they need to do several sessions as part of a brief therapy. "
School discomfort, difficulties in making oneself heard within a large family, death of a loved one: the reasons that pushed Joachim and his wife Carole to take their children to a shrink are many. "We weren't sure if it would work, but we decided to give it a try. I have been in therapy for fifteen years, Carole for eight years, and it does us so good that we said to ourselves that we had to give our children this opportunity, without forcing them. "
The eldest of the family, having seemed satisfied with her discussions with a psychologist, continued to ask to meet her from time to time. “She just celebrated her 16th birthday, so it's been going on for a dozen years. She sees her shrink between two and ten times a year, it really depends on the need she expresses. "
Quite naturally, the two boys of the siblings (13 and 10 years old) followed in their sister's footsteps, and if the youngest (who will soon be 6 years old) has not yet taken the plunge, the door remains to her. obviously open. "She is very independent, very hard on the evil, describes Joachim. For the moment she does not express the need, but it may come. Otherwise, we will not force his hand … "
Leave the door open
At Marjolaine Solaro and her husband, we have also chosen to offer children (a boy and his two younger sisters) to consult when it seems necessary to them. In an article published on her blog in 2017, she says that it all started with the death of her eldest son's nanny when he entered the nursery. Here is an excerpt from his text:
“I remember that (the psychologist) notably advised us to use real words when talking to our son. “Tell her that Madame Perle is dead, not that she is gone. Because the day you tell him you're going shopping, can you imagine what he thinks? ”. She then alerted us to the possible precocity of the young man, she had supported our son when I was in the hospital and when his sister was at its worst. The presence of psychologists in nurseries is a real plus, so do not hesitate to ask for their help if necessary. "
The pattern is almost the same in the family of Marjolaine and that of Joachim. Currently, only the youngest has not yet consulted, as Marjolaine Solaro writes: "She has her anger, her sorrows and her fears (and her dictatorial side) but we always manage to accompany her to resolve them, something that we do not always manage to do with adults and which, in our opinion, requires help. exterior. "
The idea is therefore not to impose visits to shrinks on one's children, including when they have sufficient financial means, but to indicate to them that it is possible and that they will undoubtedly come out better in the future. their head.
For Emmanuelle Piquet, psychopractor and graduate in brief and strategic therapy from the Palo Alto School, calling on psychologists can have entirely positive effects, provided this approach is not systematized:
“Certain problems encountered by even small children (anxieties, obsessive thoughts, conflicts of loyalty, etc.) may seem difficult to them to share with their relatives, especially if they are the object of them., she explains. Knowing that it is possible for them to talk about it and look for solutions outside is already in itself soothing. But it is not necessary either that the recourse to the psychologist is replaced by the fact that the child goes to draw on his own resources when he is confronted with a difficulty. But that, any good shrink will tell him. "
Marjolaine Solaro confirms it to me: making the sessions more regular is probably not necessary if there is no reason for it. “Our children had follow-up for specific reasons. There is no reason to have them followed regularly. The idea is also that they appropriate the tools discovered during the sessions so that they are as autonomous as possible. ”
Clinical psychologist, doctor in psychology, Marie Danet suggests that an annual assessment session be for example fixed for each child: "It's like a check-up at the dentist, we just make sure everything is fine."
As part of the brief therapies she offers, Emmanuelle Piquet notes that it may take just a few sessions for an improvement to appear: “On average, we see a real alleviation of suffering after four to five sessions on average, sessions spaced out over a fortnight. Some therapies only require two sessions, and others ten. ”
The specialist insists on the need for these therapies to have a beginning and an end, "In particular to consolidate the learning that will have been made by the child and that he can apply them to other areas of his life". It also specifies that the positioning of parents is fundamental:
“In our brief therapy practice, we often work with parents as our co-therapists. We are in contact with them throughout the therapy, in strict compliance with the secrecy of what the child confides to us. This alliance with the parents often allows the therapy to be even more effective. "
To parents of children who consult shrinks, Emmanuelle Piquet advises above all not to be intrusive: “It seems more respectful and productive to me not to ask the child questions when he leaves the session. He will tell you about it if he feels the need. "
Marie Danet adds that if the child is received alone, "It is advisable to make one-off meetings with the parents, always in the presence of the child, so that they know that professional secrecy is respected". And when it appears necessary to speak with the parents about an element mentioned by the child during one or more sessions, it is essential "To warn the child beforehand, so as not to betray his trust, and to explain to him why he will have to talk about it".
The mode and degree of communication with parents may differ from one specialist to another, confirms Emmanuelle Piquet: "Some will be in the exchange, others will refuse to comment … It all depends on the school to which they belong."
Unfortunately, a majority of families cannot afford to spend 45 euros per session and per child. Marie Danet advises to contact her mutual, because "Some take care of one or two appointments per year".
As for Marjolaine Solaro, she suggests turning to certain individual and family therapy centers where the sessions are free. “There may be a wait but it's worth it. As a family, we find it useful to meet regularly to talk about what is going and what is not. Everyone can express their needs and difficulties and ask others to support them on these points. ”
A crucial choice
However, choosing the person who will take care of your child is not easy. "It's already complicated when you're an adult, sums up Joachim, but for a child, how can we know if the sessions are going well, since we are not attending? It's a real headache. ” “There is nothing like word of mouth, Marie Danet breathes, although someone may be suitable for one patient and not another. "
The clinical psychologist adds that Doctolib can be a good way to find the right person, even if all the specialists are not included because of the cost of the device. "You can also choose from among the health professionals listed in the Ameli file, or contact the nearest PMI (maternal and child protection, editor's note), who can also refer you to qualified people. ” She calls for great vigilance, recalling that the title of psychologist is protected and that only people who hold it should be consulted.
"A child whose therapy is successful, concludes Emmanuelle Piquet, he is a child who will have gained confidence in himself and in adults. ” "He is also a person who will feel more able to ask for help, complete Marie Danet. The sessions allow you to feel more secure and to build your confidence. ” To become more balanced adults tomorrow?
"It is to be wished, Joachim answers, even if we are very far from being able to control everything. I just know that my daughter, who is a teenager, wants to follow my role model and that of her mother by starting a more regular therapy soon, which she says she wants to carry out throughout her life. I am quite proud that we have succeeded in convincing her of the benefits of psychotherapy and, more broadly, of dialogue with trusted adults. ”