Counselling can help anyone, whatever their age, but children are a very special case. For one thing, they may not yet have the vocabulary adequately to describe their experiences, or they may be too upset or traumatised to do so. We must remember that they are not merely young adults – they must be listened to and treated very carefully indeed.
The difficulties that they face may also differ from those that adults face, and we should also recognise that they may react to them differently. If there are problems or arguments at home, for example, or a death in the family, the upset that the children feel may lead them to become withdrawn and uncommunicative, making it even more difficult to understand their concerns fully.
Children may also communicate their difficulties in other and sometimes non-verbal ways, perhaps through their play which might be aggressive. Unusual misbehaviour can be a sign that something is wrong.
Being able to talk to someone other than a parent can sometimes be very helpful to children. This might be another family member – an aunt or uncle or grandparent perhaps – or potentially a trained child counsellor with years of experience.
If you do consider child counselling, then rest assured that the assistance your child will receive will probably differ from counselling for adults. Factors like the child’s age, their development, the difficulties they are facing, and their behaviour, will all be taken into account. In addition to talking things through, activities like play, drama, painting, storytelling and art may be used to encourage the child to express themselves.
Ground rules for children
The same ground rules apply as for adults, with added dimensions relating to the child’s maturity, their ability to understand what is going on, and what the desired outcomes are. The counselling will be safe for them, with a heavy emphasis on empathy. Thus the treatment will be:
- non judgemental
The counselling may be provided to the children on their own, or it may be provided as part of family counselling. Either way it can be enormously helpful.
We are here to help you
All Vivamus Psychologists are registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and hold a practising certificate through the British Psychological Society (BPS) and are bound by the Society’s code of conduct and ethical principles.
If you would like to discuss anything that you’ve read in this article in greater detail, would like additional information, find out how we can help you, or arrange a consultation, please contact us:
by phone 07797 952 950 or 07900 285 561
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Your complete confidentiality will of course be respected at all times.
In a 2014 survey by the BACP, 69% of people think the world would be a better place if people talked about their feelings more!