When a Child Says They’re Done in the Session

A child wanting to end a session early can rattle even the most seasoned therapist. So how do you handle the situation? In this podcast, Lisa Dion discusses how to recognize flooding, return a child to their window of tolerance, and why ending a session doesn’t need to end the relationship.


1:08 What do you do in the middle of a session when a child says they’re done?

1:27 How do you make this moment therapeutic?

1:40 Lisa introduces Kenzie and Chelsea, two play therapists taking part in this discussion

2:30 What are the different ways children tell the therapist they’re done?

3:32 There are many reasons why a child may want to leave

3:45 What is the significance of “flooding”?

3:50 How do we keep children in their window of tolerance?

5:11 Children set boundaries by telling you how they feel

5:25 Sometimes, a child explaining that they’re done is a beneficial sign

7:06 Being “done” may be nothing more than a sign a child needs a break

7:26 How can a therapist be mindful in their response?

8:49 Every kid is different and requires different reactions

9:30 How to work with kids who leave the playroom early

10:23 Working with children is a two part process

11:09 Ending a session doesn’t mean ending the relationship

11:33 Often, kids just need a shift before coming back in

15:10 What happens when a child refuses to return to therapy?

16:00 Why is putting a number on “sessions left” a setup?

17:11 The importance of conveying trust to a child

19:07 A child wanting to stop doesn’t have to mean you did something wrong as a therapist

22:10 Treating the parents the way you want the parent to treat the child

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