How does counselling work for children and young people?
I offer counselling sessions tailored to the child or young person’s needs. An adolescent might wish to come and talk for a regular 50 minute session, but a younger child might come for 30-45 minutes depending on age and developmental stage, and we might use a mix of talking, play and creative activities to work through what is worrying them.
Some children and young people come to see me for just a few sessions, and others stay for longer. It all depends on what they would like to get from coming to see me, and how they find the experience of counselling. Regularly reviewing the work together is part of the process.
If appropriate to the child’s age or developmental stage, parents and/or carers often like to meet with me alongside their child, at least for the first session. After this I generally work with the child on their own. Adolescents usually attend sessions independently.
What a child or young person says in a counselling session is treated as confidential, unless I am concerned for their safety or for someone else’s safety. This can be very difficult for parents and carers but in my experience counselling can often lead to easier and more frequent communication within families.
How counselling might help a child or young person
Counselling, or even spending sessions ‘playing’ and engaging in creative activities, can help a child or young person to express what is troubling them and to feel understood. Once they experience feeling understood and understandable by a counsellor, who after all is someone who hasn’t the advantage of any prior knowledge of them, they may begin to trust that they and the world make more sense than they had previously thought. This can lead to increased confidence in themselves and more awareness of their own choices. Through talk and play, and with a supportive neutral adult such as a counsellor, children and young people often make constructive changes and feel more secure.