Written by: Cally Worden
There are myriad reasons why your child may benefit from counselling. Perhaps they have suffered from bullying, illness, the death of a loved one or another traumatic event. Or it may simply be the case that you child finds it challenging to manage their emotions and behaviour in general. Counselling for children requires a different set of techniques from those employed with adults, so it’s important to seek a counsellor who has specific experience of dealing with young people.
How is Child Counselling Different?
Most adult counselling comes in the form of talking therapy. While this may be appropriate for some children, the counselling approach adopted with any child will depend on factors such as:
- The child’s age
- Their stage of development and maturity
- The specific difficulties they are experiencing
Younger children often find it hard to talk about their problems as they are unsure of the words to use to express the emotions they are experiencing. In these instances counsellors may use play or art to create an environment within which your child can safely express their feelings without having to specifically name them. Reading stories is a technique often employed too, giving children a character they can relate to as a means of showing what they are feeling.
Older children may prefer talking therapy, or exhibit a preference for a blend of talking and playing. Every child’s needs are different and an experienced counsellor will quickly be able to assess the method that will work best for your child. Whatever the method, the desired result is the same – to assist a child in coping with their feelings and emotions.
How does Counselling Help?
In encouraging and enabling children to express themselves, counselling offers them an opportunity to recognise and accept all aspects of their personality. This helps to foster confidence and positivity. All counselling should be non-judgemental. In this way it validates your child and everything they are experiencing, which can be an incredibly liberating experience.
How to Choose the Right Child Counsellor
There are no specific guidelines governing the required level of experience or training for a child counsellor. However, any reputable counsellor for children or adults will align themselves with a professional body that provides an assurance of their abilities. Always ask any prospective counsellor if they have any child-centred training to ensure they have the skills necessary to work with your child.
Who should I Contact?
Your local authority may have a list of child counsellors to get you started. Alternatively you can select a counsellor from the registered membership lists of bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Charities such as Childline, the NSPCC and Kidscape may also be able to help you find a suitable contact.