YOUNG PERSONS COUNSELLING
I work therapeutically with young people from ages 9yrs to 18 yrs.
Working for Relate (go to Who am I? for further details) has given me the wonderful opportunity to watch children create change in their internal struggles, confidently, innocently and powerfully without the inhibitions that society starts to create in adults. Below is a list of issues I have had experience working with.
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How therapy works for your child
We, as adults, can experience a multitude of emotions, which in our adult lives can be quite sophisticated because of the mature situations we deal with. We also have the language in which we can find the right word to express something near to how we feel to our friends and family.
For some children they are unfortunate to experience situations in which a sophisticated and complex emotional response is required. For example, fear but care when witnessing domestic abuse between parents, pleasure, uncertainty and fear with sexual abuse. Sometimes it can be something less daunting but emotional expression may be repressed due to the families own emotional dynamics.
However, at such a young age the child does not have the language to express this emotion and so it may manifest in behaviours and physical symptoms. There may be many other reasons why a childs internal self has not developed healthily.
A main aim is to develop empowerment for the child to feel able to get their needs met and for their internal world to meet with their external world.
Using creativity and play in counselling offers a medium and language in which young people can relate to and express themselves in an abstract form without the pressure of finding the right words. I support the young person to choose the activities they use to develop self-empowerment. Through the same medium I can convey empathy, to show I am understanding the young persons inner world. They can then rebuild their internal world so it works better in relation to their external world, particularly if they have no control in changing their external environment.
It is not for the therapist to interpret and decide what is happening. It is for them to work with the image and experience, and the child to illicit their meaning of the image. It may also just be to merely to facilitate a cathartic emotional response and expression so they can experience what their new internal world may feel like. With a therapeutic alliance being built through this medium a child is enabled to do the therapeutic work required.
I'm just relieved to get my little girl back
Preparing for therapy
Whilst young people are part of a larger system I am not a family therapist and my focus lies completely on the child's perception and experience of their world.
I stand by a strong confidentiality framework, that, regardless of age, nothing the child says is disclosed to the parents without permission. I do not write reports or offer case notes of sessions to parents. I will however support a young persons to communicate particular information to their family if it may be in their best interest to do so. If the intention or report of serious harm is disclosed I follow clear procedures about how this is handled.
I focus on the childs agenda, not the parents. Whilst an initial understanding is required from the parent as to what they see as being the problem, how the child understands the problem may be very different. What may also be a problem for the parent may not be for the child. This enables us to explore all of the childs world where we may discover the real reason for their problems or problems that had not previously been expressed.
I require a commitment of a minimum of 6 sessions to start with in order for me and your child to establish a trusting relationship, do some therapeutic work and end effectively. I will ask for some feedback about how you feel the child is progressing along with how the child is feeling about being in therapy so we can collaborate in a further plan. The child's choice about this is always paramount in this decision making.
These stipulations can be difficult for parents to work with but they are essential in creating a safe and secure environment for the child to explore their private worlds effectively. It is therefore important, before considering sending your child to counselling, if you are comfortable with this.
It is also important to consider beforehand if you think the young persons problems are part of a wider systemic problem. If so then it may be better to consider a family therapist who can advise accordingly. There may also be underlying health or learning issues which should be discussed with your GP and the child's school.
For further information to help you decide if therapy is right for your child click on the box below
Young persons therapeutic space