Chico Center for Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy and Counseling services for Children & Adults | Support for Parents


Chico therapist An Bulkens, LMFT is psychotherapist and counselor in Chico, California.  An Bulkens specializes in psychotherapy and counseling for young children  (toddlers, preschoolers, adolescents) and support for parents, with a special emphasis on  early childhood psychotherapy, and counseling  for preschoolers and Kindergarten aged child.  She also offers parenting skills support. She offers psychoanalytic psychotherapy for adults.  Her approach is grounded in  Lacanian Psychoanalysis. She was also trained as a clinical psychologist in Europe, Belgium.  Her education emphasized developmental psychology and psychoanalytic therapy. 

My child does not want therapy.

When parents first meet a counselor or therapist to talk about their child, they are often concerned that their child will not want therapy, or would not be willing to come in to talk. I typically do tell them that indeed for therapy to work it is important that the person engaged in it wants to come, is engaged in the process. This is the case for adults as well as for children. My first job as a therapist whether I am working with an adult or a child is to explore whether there is a demand for help. Sometimes the adult is sent by a concerned spouse, but is not suffering himself. Sometimes a child is brought in by concerned parents, but the child is not suffering himself. In those cases it might be better to work with the concerned spouses, or with the concerned parents.  It might take some time to explore whether the child wants to come.  

Just the child saying he or she does not want to come is of course not enough of a reason as the child does not know what he is refusing.  It will be important for the child to say this in the presence of the consulting room, after the experience.  Sometimes a child just tells his parents that he does not want to come, but actually engages in the process and tells the therapist session after session that he wants to come back.  If that is the case, it is something that needs to be explored. It is important that the decision to start or not start the treatment is something that is expressed in the treatment room, by the child himself, and not through a parent. 

Parents might be hesitant of their child wanting to come to treatment because they think of therapy as a way 'talking about feelings.' Although treatment can certainly include talking about feelings it is not only that, and it is much more in the work with children.  The child will typically come to the treatment with the idea that the therapist is a figure like a teacher or a doctor, a parent: an authority figure. It might take several sessions for the child to explore the possibilities and nature of the therapeutic space: a space where you can say whatever comes to your mind without getting in trouble, a space where you do not 'have' to do anything.

As an example of this I can mention a child that came in pouting, feeling he had been forced to come to see me. He did not want to come and talk to me. He had spent the whole session with his head on his arm, pretending he was sleeping, and eventually even falling asleep. He was refusing my presence. Or was he. At one point I peeked under his arm, met his gaze, waved at him, and he waved back and smiled. At the end of the session, in which I had been talking about what his parents told me about him, I told him I would like to see him again (even though he did not do anything!) He responded to my surprise that he wanted to meet me again the next week. A session were apparently little happens can be very important, and actually can mean a lot! 

To schedule an appointmet call An at (530) 321-2970


An Bulkens    |    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist    |   MFC 52746

Tel. (530) 321- 2970    |   186 E 12th ST,  Chico, CA 95928