Counselling Information for Parents
As a parent, it may be hard to see your children in difficulty and you may wish they could discuss their problems with you, but this may not feel like an option for them at this time. It is not always easy for a child or young person to talk freely about their feelings especially with their family or friends as they may be just too close to the problem to listen or provide solutions objectively. They may fear they might say something that would negatively impact their relationships, or don’t feel that their feelings are safe to express.
A young person’s difficult feelings could stem from their beliefs about themselves against a setting of their home background or their relationships at school. Counselling provides them with an opportunity to open up and express their feelings about what is going on in their lives in a confidential and safe setting. In my work as a counsellor, I help children and young people develop the skills to build positive relationships with the significant people in their lives around them, so that they can develop more open and communicative relationships.
In the therapy room I am there to listen and empathise with the difficulties your child is or has been experiencing and I understand it is important for them to feel heard, cared for and understood. The environment I provide is nurturing and non-judgmental, so enough trust can be built for the child to let go of defences they may have built up and express themselves freely. I will not advise your child about what they should be doing, rather I help them to connect with their own feelings and develop the confidence to make their own decisions while providing the boundaries to ensure that these are both safe and ethical. I will encourage your child to find a positive way forward and to strive to reach their full potential.
The Therapeutic Process
Through the counselling process, a young person’s expression of their feelings and processes allows a discourse that can enable them to get to know themselves better and understand the many ways that they feel. It is a journey of discovery totally individual to them. Their story that is really being heard. During the sessions I will help your child to identify a therapeutic aim to work towards which will give a focus to their counselling sessions. Young people may have very different aims than those their parents might set for them. I feel it is important to listen and respect their wishes and make young people aware that they have certain choices that they can make about their way forward. Through these exchanges, the aim is to build a mutually collaborative relationship, to instill a sense of responsibility and engender confidence, and to encourage and empower your child to make changes that may be necessary to feel better.
At the start of counselling, it may be hard for a child or young person to voice their feelings, put things into words and tell their story freely. For counselling to be successful, I frequently use strategies to ease the process of expression as well as tools to enhance and sustain the development of the empathetic relationship. The tools I employ are varied, drawing on different theories and approaches to suit the child or young person’s needs rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The strategies I use, particularly with younger children, include play, artwork, sculpture, music, therapeutic storytelling, the use of sand trays, drama, symbolic representation, mindfulness and CBT. The creative work can demonstrate inner feelings that the child may not be aware of. CBT strategies emphasise discussion of the child or young person’s beliefs, expectations and self-beliefs as well as problem solving. This may be more applicable to older children and teenagers or those who prefer talking to creative work. The sessions will be led by what the child or young person feels they would be more comfortable doing. Using CBT techniques, I can help my clients to recognise their problems, to envisage alternatives to his or her present way of thinking and behaving, to make positive life choices and to design a plan of actions and outcomes.
I endeavour to equip young people with strategies that they can call upon outside the therapy room such as breathing exercises to aid anxiety and depression, guided meditation, muscle relaxation techniques, being assertive with help of a specific formula and other practices relating to CBT. These help to create greater independence and a sense of empowerment to the young people I work with.
The desired outcome of these encounters is that gradually your child will begin to feel better about themselves, and with support put their plans into action, implementing better ways to manage the things they find difficult at home or school.
© 2020 Zaira McIntyre. All rights reserved