Counseling Services for Children
Problems Children Face
Children, like adults, face challenges in their lives. Life can be stressful and children sometimes need extra help in getting through the tough times. When they experience changes in their family like divorce, birth of a sibling, death of a pet or loved one, a parent's illness or absence from home, children may feel confused, angry or isolated. Some children have trouble with impulsivity and focusing which may prevent their full academic and social development, or they may just wish their lives were not so hectic and hard to manage. Some children may learn and process information in a different way and some may even experience anxiety and depression. Counseling helps to build self esteem, manage angry outbursts, develop coping skills, adjust to changes, and increase individual strengths.
Deciding on Counseling for Your Child
Parents are the experts on their children. They may wonder if their child would benefit from seeing a counselor. During any type of change or trauma children may develop behaviors or exhibit emotions that are challenging. Or maybe a child doesn’t seem their old happy self and can't explain what's wrong. It is always helpful to get the advice of a trusted pediatrician, school counselor, or clergy member for resources. In addition, seeking the help of a counselor who is trained to assess child behaviors and provide appropriate therapeutic services is a good idea. A counselor can help to identify what your child may need help with and provide solutions.
Preparing Your Child For the First Visit
It is always best to let your child know in advance that you have decided that counseling would be helpful. Start by mentioning how much you care about your child and that you’ve noticed their difficulty with some emotion or behavior. Let your child know that you think it would be a good idea to meet with a counselor to help you. Always ask your child what they think of this and what questions they may have, if any. With young children, be brief and just say you are taking them to meet with a counselor who talks and plays with kids to help them with their feelings (or deal with whatever their issue is). With older children be respectful of any resistance. Never bribe a child who is resistant to coming to counseling (i.e., "if you just go once or twice I’ll let you ….")
We can discuss how best to approach your child over the telephone. Always be positive about them starting counseling since you would not want your child to feel embarrassed or negative about themselves.
It is my practice to encourage children to openly communicate with their parents. Since confidentiality is the foundation of the counseling profession, I adhere to that ethical standard. However, I will always communicate to parents any safety concerns that I have for their child.
For therapy to be effective it is important for parents to respect the confidentiality of their child’s session. When parents ask about what their child does or talks about in counseling, the therapeutic value is compromised. This is their special time and what you think is necessary for them to discuss with their counselor may not be what they need to bring up at that time. Let your child know that although you won’t ask questions about their sessions, you’re always there to listen to whatever they need to talk to you about.
If parents have important information about their child or family they need to share with me, it is best not to use their child's session time for this purpose. Hand me a note before the session or schedule a parent session where we can discuss your concerns.
Parent sessions are scheduled periodically to access your child’s progress and for me to understand what’s going on with your child at home and at school. Parents may choose to schedule these sessions as often as they need.