Counselling for Children
Children, just like adults, can sometimes experience mental health issues and distressing feelings, including sadness, anxiety, confusion, and anger. It is normal to experience these feelings from time to time, and additional parental support can typically assist children to cope during periods of increased stress. However, for some children, these feelings can be persistent, and may significantly interfere with daily living. Emotional difficulties place significant stress on children and their families, and may become increasingly challenging to manage over time. When a parent is having trouble supporting their child’s emotional wellbeing, counselling can offer significant benefits.
Emotional Difficulties in Childhood
When stressful life events happen in families such as divorce, bullying, or the death of a loved one, children may become vulnerable to developing emotional difficulties . Some warning signs include:
- Periods of sadness or irritability lasting longer than two weeks
- Withdrawn behaviour
- Disruptive or aggressive behaviour
- Unexplained physical complaints, such as stomach aches
- Feelings of guilt or responsibility following separation or divorce
- Developmental issues, including delayed speech, language, or toilet training
- Concentration issues
- Significant changes in appetite or sleep
- Difficulty separating from parents or carers
- Reduced engagement or performance at school
Our Team members, Mariana, Emili and Mathew work with children from the ages of 5 years and older, for assessment and counselling. They takes into account factors such as any warning signs above, in combination with further contextual factors, such as the child’s developmental stage, and life history. They work with both the child and parents to gain an understanding of how symptoms may have developed or been maintained within the child’s socio-cultural environment. This shared understanding then guides the development of a treatment plan that addresses goals specific to the child.
Child mental health difficulties are not uncommon, and are estimated to affect approximately one in seven children in Australia. However, these difficulties can go unnoticed, as children often struggle to express their concerns to others. Difficulties may also go unrecognised because they can be challenging to differentiate from normal developmental processes.
Call us on 1300 739 514 to make an appointment
- Phones answered Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 8pm, Saturdays 9-5pm
- After-hours appointments available weeknights to 8pm, Saturdays 9am to 4pm.
- Medicare and Private Health rebates can be processed at your session.
- For details on our psychologists, see Our Team.
Our Treatment for Children
Counselling with children is more effective when parents are actively involved. Parents of children are asked to attend the first session without their children, so that the psychologist has an opportunity to listen to their reasons for wanting help, first, and to assess how best to proceed. In the following sessions, when they bring their child along, parents are also asked to participate in sessions so that they can continue to support their child at home in a seamless way that reinforces the therapy. As therapy proceeds, parents may be invited to join only at the beginning and end of sessions.
Initial counselling sessions with children focus on providing a safe environment in which they are supported to express their concerns, and understand their thoughts and feelings. As sessions progress, the child is encouraged to learn and practice strategies that can assist them in coping with difficult situations. Strategies that are taught during counselling will vary depending on the child’s presenting difficulties. A child that struggles to separate from a parent is taught to respond to distressing thoughts with positive self-talk, and is guided to separate in a gradual manner that strengthens confidence. Alternatively, a child experiencing social difficulties may be taught to understand others’ feelings, engage in co-operative behaviour, and respond to conflict with assertiveness and respect. Counselling with children is more effective when parents are actively involved. Parents are asked to participate in sessions so that they can continue to support their child at home in a seamless way that reinforces the therapy. Parents are typically invited to join at the beginning and end of sessions.