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Children and young people counselling

Children and young people do not have the ability to understand, express and process feelings and emotions in the same way that adults do.

Benefits of children and adolescent counselling

Children and adolescent counselling helps children and young people explore their concerns and the issues that may be causing problems in their social interactions, emotional or cognitive development. The therapeutic process facilitated in a counselling session gives them the opportunity to:

  • Express difficult or confused feelings in a safe environment with clear boundaries.
  • Learn healthy ways to emotionally regulate.
  • Learn problem- solving skills.
  • Learn and practise coping skills to help them deal with trauma, upsets and disappointments in life.

What children and young people counselling involves

Professional counselling is a confidential and non-judgmental service. Just like adult clients, children and young people receive emotional and goal support in their counselling sessions. They can focus on resolving conflict, understanding their own thoughts and feelings, and on thinking of new solutions to their daily problems.

My sessions will also involve some level of age-appropriate therapeutic play and other creative tools to help children and young people to talk about issues and problems they are facing in their lives and verbalise their feelings and emotions around them.

Explaining counselling to children and young people

Child counselling offers young people a safe and confidential space to discuss and work through anything they may be struggling with like family worries, exam stress and mental health concerns like anxiety and self-harm.

Firstly, be honest about what therapy is and explain why you are taking them to therapy and your concerns about their well-being.

How I work with children and young people

I counsel children from the age of 11- to 18. Gaining and keeping trust is a key element to develop a therapeutic relationship with children or young people in counselling as it can help bring about positive change.

Every child or young person is different, and I will adapt my approach to counselling accordingly, depending on the individual personality and their individual needs. However, I enjoy working mainly in a person-centered manner as it involves a high-level of non-directiveness: ‘I let them be, let them do’ without judgement. I walk beside them, supporting them rather than giving orders or instructions. It is believed that acceptance and a feeling of empowerment is best to allow individuals to work out their own solutions.

I will offer a free 20-minute phone or online appointment with the parent/s to briefly with no obligation to commit. This is mainly for you to briefly the issue with your kid and for us to see if I am a good match for the work required.

If you decide that I am the counsellor for your child, we will be contracting for a short course of 6x 50-minutes counselling sessions. This timeframe is required to allow the child to express and process feelings and be able to see some progress and signs of positive change. However, with some more complex cases, more sessions or long-term counselling would be required. We will review after the 6 sessions anyway and decide accordingly. At times, I may need to refer the child onto another professional.

Once the initial intake form and related paperwork has been completed, and the contract has been signed by both the parent and I (depending on the child’s age and level of understanding, the contract can be shared with them too), counselling with the child with then start.  I will first find out details about their personality, likes and dislikes to choose the most suitable techniques, approach, and activities likely to get them engaged in the therapeutic process.  I will also explore their views of themselves the world, and their feelings. I will look at their past, including traumatic events, and will see to their patterns of relating. I will take an active interest, not only in their achievements, but also in their struggles and concerns.

“Counselling is a safe place where you can play with a new friend and learn about feelings, talk about your problems and get help.”  

Note for parents

It is important for children to know why they are being sent to counselling. Ideally, they agree to be there too.

Counselling cannot be used as a punishment for negative behaviour as the kid or young person may then be reluctant to engage positively with me in the therapeutic work. It is worth noting that your goals and expectations from counselling for your children may be very different to their ow goals and expectations.

I always want to know the parent’s agenda for their children. However, my approach is to focus entirely on the client, being the children or young person, and their own agenda. By focusing on the clients, I can the validate their own experiences, challenges, concerns, and related feelings.

Finally, counselling is a confidential service: I will not breach their trust in me by revealing what they have shared with me in confidence, unless I suspect they are at risk of harming themselves or others. Only in this instance would I then breach confidentiality and inform parents.

See my professional profile on the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society.