What is child counseling?
How do I know my child needs counseling?
Change is a big indicator that may include a change in the family (such as divorce or death of a loved one), a change in school, a change in living location, life transitions, etc. Trauma is another indicator that a child may need counseling.
It is important to monitor children's behaviors. They tend to give signs that they may be experiencing a big emotion that needs tending. That may be nail biting, acting out behaviors, change in school work, change in enjoyment, or change in motivation.
Types of child counseling include:
Child behavioral therapy
Often, children come to therapy because either they or their parents have noticed and named a change in their behavior. Psychoeducation and relational techniques are used to foster understanding that our behaviors have significant meanings attached to them which can begin to normalize and bring insight to the depths beneath the behaviors. This type of therapy is most effective when caregivers are taking on a large role during and outside of therapy. Therapy sessions are typically utilized to educate parents and to allow the parents to observe skills demonstrated by the therapist.
Child trauma therapy
Much of this approach is drawn from TBRI to create a safe, consistent space and relationship with your child. Depending on the age, games, activities, art, books and play are utilized in trauma therapy, as well.
Child anxiety therapy
Art therapy, play therapy, and books as well as writing are utilized to help your child explore, express and process the anxiety, and then begin to create tools and coping skills to help soothe the anxiety. The therapist will help your child process life changes and events to gain insight into their anxious ways of coping. Mindfulness practices are also incorporated.
Child mental health therapy
Mental health therapy for children will use play, art, interactions, activities, games, books, and play. Children's imagination can help them express their needs to develop mental "wellbeing" - connecting mind, body, and soul.
Child therapy for divorce
Counseling provides safety and support during a confusing time. Psycho-education, books, art, validation, and normalization of emotions is often utilized. Therapists typically work with both parents and child to create routines and consistency in their life when many things feel out of control.
What can I expect from child counseling?
Parent(s) will be welcomed back to the office in order to discuss intake paperwork, confidentially, informed consent, and logistics. A conversation will be had about how involved you will be in therapy sessions. Lastly, the therapist will ask your input and observations of your child's behavior and symptoms as well as your hopes for therapy.
Techniques may include:
Play therapy is often used. As children tend to be very in-tune with their body, play can be a great way for them to begin to express their experiences and emotions, as well as begin to process those as they continue to develop their language.
Art therapy is also utilized. Drawing, painting, creating can be a great way to explore what is occurring internally.
Books are also used as ways to introduce coping skills, emotions, and to normalize an experience.
Relational techniques allow the therapist to communicate their experience of your child to your child in session.
Psychoeducation regarding childhood development and attachment may also be used.
Work in the relational framework is meant to be long-term in order to develop rapport to explore depths beneath behaviors and symptoms. It takes time for your child to build trust and a relationship with the therapist. Once the relationship has been more established, more work can then be done.
My role as a parent
Parents are typically in the room during the first session. Beyond that, it’s different for each situation and will be determined between the parents and therapist. Your child’s therapist will provide insight of the therapy process, including the relational aspect of sessions. Family therapy may be applicable, in order for your child to exist within the "system" of their family. Parents will be provided with tools to support your child in the home and school environment.
It is important for caregivers to take an active role in the therapeutic process for change to take place. It can be helpful for parents to have some strategies to utilize to help their child. It is important that both the therapist and the parents are using the same type of language when discussing emotions and experiences. The more consistent, the more change that will be created. At times, it can also be very helpful for parents to be apart of the therapeutic session to learn skills such as non-directive play therapy, as well as observing how to create space for your child to explore their emotions and experiences.
What makes Mindful Counseling different?
Mindful Counseling offers Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LLMFT), who have taken additional Master's level courses in topics concerning working with couples, families, and children. Therapists have taken many trainings on play therapy, as well as Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), which is a model for treatment of caregivers and children who are at risk.