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Del Morrill, M.S. C.C.H


A Center for Counseling & Hypnosis
Tacoma, Washington, USA
(253) 752-1506

Guidelines for Seeing Children


What type of guidelines do you follow when seeing children in private practice -  I mean regarding safety measures of having a parent or other guardian present during the session, audio or video taping the session, etc? Do states have different guidelines or laws for this? I know family therapists have to go through background checks, and we do so here in Washington to get registered, but what about in states like Texas?

Have you published anything on this that I can purchase? If not, I would really appreciate some clarification from your point of view and experience.



            Sorry, but I don’t have anything I’ve published on this issue, since it does vary so much from state to state. Ideally, to totally protect your self would be to video-tape (with audio, of course) any session with children.  If that’s not possible, at least audio-tape the sessions.  For minimal protection you need to make sure your parents sign an agreement before they bring in their child, and have them sign your disclosure statement (required by our state of Washington) during their visit with you. If you wish copies of these types of forms, I can send them to you.

            Prior to the session I send the parent a form to fill out, which is arranged to give me information on the child, and what the parent’s concerns are for the child.  Also, this immediately involves a parent in the process and confirms, for them, your qualifications and experience.  The agreement is attached to that form. 

            I work in my home, where I have both office and counseling rooms.  My counseling room is right next to the living room. When child and parent first arrive, we visit together, in the living room.  At that time, I discuss why they have come, our guidelines, confidentiality related to both parent and child, the child and family’s medical background if it might in anyway be involved, and answering questions about what is meant by hypnosis (any method, including the imagination of the child that will help them have the confidence to change, etc.)

Then I show the parent and child the room we’ll work in (the counseling room, and the bathroom next door). Unless the child is quite young, parent and child watch a DVD of a television interview done with me some years back, which explains the basics of hypnosis.  We then leave the child to go through my “magic boxes” or investigate the room, while the parent and I talk further, in the living room.  After ensuring the comfort of the parent(s) or guardian(s), I spend the rest of the time with the child. After the session, I meet briefly with the parent to assure them of how well the session went, what sessions we will need, and to handle any practics, such as payment and setting appointments.

            In over 25 years of working this way, parents have insisted on being with the child during my visit with them. With the exception of only a couple of case, the request has been the child’s. I have seen no reason to say NO, unless I decide the parent is controlling the child, frightening them, or keeping them from fully participating.  I try to remember that, from the parent’s point of view, I AM THE DOCTOR – not them!  Therefore, I can insist, if I should feel it necessary.  One parent did not agree with how I wanted to handle their child, so I encouraged them to leave, without payment.  I don’t fight with anyone, but I do carry myself as a professional who knows what’s she’s doing.





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