Children

Sometimes adults (parents, carers, teachers, social workers) find themselves in the position of having tried everything that they can think of to help a child to make positive change and yet progress doesn’t seem to be being made. This is a tough place to be....

It might be that a child is displaying a lot of sadness, is withdrawn or self-harming; or that they are having explosive outbursts which are making life really difficult for the child or young person and those around them; or that they seem scared all the time, unable to enjoy things and not wanting to go to school; or that they just can’t seem to get on with other children.

We have worked with children who were presenting in all of these different ways pre-therapy, also those who have experienced significant losses e.g. refugee and asylum seeking children, fostered and adopted children, and those who have experienced bereavements. We have experience working with children who are questioning their sexuality and/or gender too.

Therapy provides a time and space where a child can work things out in the company of an adult who has no agenda other than spending time with them, supporting them in however they choose to engage in the room. In our experience, children use their therapy sessions to express and explore the things that are most important to them at that time in their lives; whether these are events from the past or present or feeling states that they are experiencing or remember experiencing.

We know that working with the adults around the child, first and foremost the parents or carers, is often vital to the progress of the child who is engaging in therapy. This means that we meet regularly with the adults involved to provide support and a time to think together about what the child is expressing and needs in terms of support to move forward.

We are highly experienced in working with schools and social workers, if this is needed to fully support the child and family.

Our therapists/ counsellors are trained to work individually with a child or young person, and also with the parent and child together.

Process following referral

Our process is to have an initial conversation on the phone to ascertain if we may be able to offer support and then to meet with parents of young children and meet or speak over the phone with the parents of older children and teens. This conversation enables us to hear all about what is going on in the family and hear the adult’s description of the child’s current presentation and their thoughts about what might be ‘playing out’. If needed, there can be more than one of these kinds of conversations so that the therapist can gain a clear ‘family history’ in relation to the child. This is useful, particularly with children who have had a lot happen in their short lives and who are most likely to share this with the therapist via. their play.

We then arrange a meeting with the child or young person, the parent/s and the therapist, in the room where sessions will take place if everyone agrees to this. In this meeting the therapist introduces themselves, ensures that the reasons for the child having been referred for therapy are understood and that there is a shared language around this as well as understanding. The therapist explains what will happen in the room; i.e. that child/young person will choose how to use the time in the room and choose what they want to think about while they are in the sessions. The therapist will be with them and the detail of what happens in the room will be between the two of them.

There would be a discussion of the sharing of information between the therapist and the parents/carers. Our therapists feel strongly that they have a role in supporting the whole family when working with children. This means that they will schedule regular parent meetings to look at the family dynamics with the adults and reflect on ways of parenting that will support the child in developing their self-confidence and resilience, their capacity to engage in their lives and enjoy themselves. With teens, it is really important that they know that the space with the therapist is protected and it may not be beneficial for the therapist and parents to meet. However, some teens sometimes want the therapist to be with them as they share their experiences with their parents and discuss the kind of help they feel they need. This can be arranged if required. Therapists can also support with discussions with school staff if this is something that the family feel would be useful.

In this meeting, the therapist would also explain the limits of confidentiality in terms of safeguarding. If, whilst in the session, the therapist heard or saw something that made them feel worried that someone might be getting hurt (the child or someone else) then they would let the child/young person know that this information would need to be shared with certain other adults. The child/young person would be given the opportunity to share the information with the other person if this was possible and appropriate.

It may be appropriate for the child/teen to spend some time alone with the therapist following these discussions. Having 10 or 15 mins to experience being in the room with the therapist can help the individual to know if they would like to give therapy a go, or if it isn’t something that they want to engage with at that time.

Following this meeting the child/young person will be asked to decide what they want to do next. If they decide to come back to therapy then an appointment will be arranged for the first full session. Both child/teen and parent will know what to expect. A review meeting will also be arranged for after 6 to 8 sessions where the therapy experience can be reviewed and further plans made.

The therapist working with a child is interested in any changes that are noticed at home whilst a child is in therapy and is happy to receive phone calls or emails with such information and any questions a parent may have. If parents feel the need for a longer discussion then an appointment can be made to give proper attention to what is being experienced.

The therapist will be clear about the process for compliments and complaints and will encourage the process of raising and discussing issues as they arise as this is an important part of any therapy process.