What is Child & Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling?
The use of a regular time and the same setting is essential to contain the child's anxieties when working therapeutically. It is the availability of the therapist’s mind which establishes an emotionally containing relationship in which the child’s own view of the world can be expressed, through words, images, play, stories, dreams and/or actions. The work of the therapist is to find a way of carefully making this explicit to the child so that a shared insight into the child’s way of functioning is arrived at. Over time this understanding can be internalised by the child so that he or she can begin to understand their own feelings and behaviour. Left untreated children and young people may respond to people and situations in ways they do not understand and cannot control. They may also develop more serious mental illnesses in adulthood.
Psychotherapeutic Counselling with young people works with a wide variety of difficulties. These include family breakdown, abuse, behavioral disorders, communication disorders such as Autism, bed wetting, refusal to go to school, eating difficulties, developmental problems, psychosomatic disorders and depression.
It is often found that children who begin to make some sense of their own emotional life in turn establish better relationships with those they are close to.
Seeking help can stir up strong feelings for parents.
It can be very difficult for parents watching their child struggle with difficult feelings, especially when they might also be unsure of how to help them. It can also stir up a range of complex feelings when parents make a decision to seek some help. It can be a very generous act for a parent to allow their child to find their own voice and understanding of their emotional life in therapy.
How to get started
Prior to beginning any individual work with a child I meet with parents to get a detailed background of the child's developmental milestones and life at home and school. The work I do with the child is most effective if it is a collaboration with the parents. I feel it is so important to get a continued picture of how the child is developing outside of the therapy room, to help think about what is being brought up in the family as a whole while the child is in therapy. I then begin a six week assessment process with the child before meeting back with parents after those six weeks. It takes around six weeks for a therapeutic alliance to be created and for me to begin get a picture of the child’s inner world. At the second parent meeting I will make a recommendation going forward. If I recommend for short term work then I’ll see the child for six more sessions, if longer is needed I will organise regular parent meetings and term meetings with school. I strongly feel it is important for all adults in the child’s life to be thinking together, therapist, parents and teacher.