The question of a therapist working with more than one child from the same family gives important insight into the dynamics of therapy. 

It is a question that I get asked a lot, so let’s explore it together. In my experience, families are often pressed logistically for time and getting their children to different appointments and agencies, which is a part of why I get asked, “Will you work with both of my children,” or a variation of it, on a semi-regular basis. family counseling in northern colorado

There are critical items that should be considered between a therapist and a family when working with multiple siblings. 

My first priority is having a conversation with my client about it. If I know two siblings have a strong relationship with minimal sibling conflict, then I am significantly more open to the possibility of working with both. 

A bigger age gap can be more indicative of a successful relationship with more than one sibling in my experience. To put it simply, sometimes there can be a higher chance of conflict between a 12 and 14 year-old in a similar developmental bracket than there can be with a 12 year-old and a sibling who is in college, or out of the house. 

family counseling northern coloradoUltimately, the biggest question for me is, “Does my client express an openness to it?” 

Even if two siblings have a strong relationship, a client might want to feel like their relationship with their therapist is uniquely theirs, and that is a completely valid response. A client’s relationship with their therapist is uniquely individual between the two parties, and they may find themselves challenged in sharing information about a sibling with their therapist. I make a point of emphasizing that I will need to maintain confidentiality with each of my clients, but it can be difficult in certain situations with sibling conflict when both siblings know the other one is working with me. 

Ultimately, I can process with each of my clients about what is going on, but I cannot reveal what the other sibling has said, as that confidentiality applies itself to two individual relationships. 

Working with separated parents of siblings can also present unique dynamics. Some parents want to take more of an active role in their child’s therapy than other parents (there isn’t a specific ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ amount), but working with different households can sometimes impact a therapist’s working relationship with both individuals. 

As a therapist, I need to be as objective as possible in helping my client find strength and security in both relationships.

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 A massive indicator of success is when two separated parents can sit down and put their child’s needs first before any sources of interpersonal conflict. 

Additionally, it is common for me to see siblings working with different therapists within the same agency. Sometimes, a client may feel more comfortable working with a therapist of a similar gender, age, faith-based background, or other orientation that they identify with. 

If you’re sharing intimate items with your therapists, this is a completely understandable consideration! One item to remember is that even if I have a good relationship with your child and a working relationship with you, as a parent, you can still explore your options! 

There may be a better fit with another therapist within the same agency.

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Working with multiple clients within a family can present unique challenges, but also a unique set of opportunities. 

It can be an opportunity for a family to both ease the logistical burden of getting to different appointments and locations, but also to develop a strong and trusting relationship with a therapist who you feel good about working with your children.