Psychotherapy for Children and Young People
Helping children, teenagers and young adults
We know that positive emotions are essential to a child's mental wellbeing. In fact, self-esteem, confidence, the ability to learn and get along with others, even future happiness and long term career success are all built on a foundation of positive emotions from an early age.
Today's world can be a challenging place though, especially for children and young people, and when issues crop up it can be difficult to know how to best support them as a parent or carer.
Worried about your child?
You might be concerned about academic pressures taking their toll, for example, or notice that your child is unable to stay focussed on tasks at school or home. Perhaps you are worried about your child's use of the internet, social media or time spent gaming. I can help you and your child navigate these modern world concerns, enabling them to self regulate more effectively and build the resilience and positive approach they need to thrive.
The importance of early intervention
Bringing children into therapy can be a daunting prospect and it can be difficult to acknowledge that they might benefit from psychological support. However, whatever issues or challenges they may be facing, the earlier we can offer them effective support and treatment, the better.
Early intervention ensures they learn the skills and knowledge needed to overcome any issues in the short term, but importantly also gives them the best chance of developing emotional wellbeing and resilience as they move towards adulthood. Therapy during childhood and formative years is therefore giving your child the best chance of a rounded and emotionally balanced life ahead.
Benefits of talking therapy for children and young people
- Develops problem-solving skills.
- Creates emotional resilience.
- Helps them understand the true impact of emotions.
- Supports healthy self-esteem and confidence.
- Creates healthy coping strategies.
- Identifies character strengths.
- Encourages feelings of pride in self, optimism, courage and hope.
- Fosters a growth mindset.
Our teenage daughter was experiencing severe allergic reactions whist in her classroom. After numerous hospital tests, no cause was identified and the situation continued. A friend introduced me to Dionne, who suggested that this reaction was likely to be a chronic stress response to academic pressure. It turned out that my daughter had unconsciously linked the smell of the cleaning products in her classroom with her feelings of anxiety about exams.
Dionne used Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to address my daughter’s issues and I am glad to say there was a huge improvement.
Issues I can help with:
Helping children to manage academic anxiety
The stress and pressure of exams is a common trigger of mental health problems in children and young people. In particular, the Kent Test (11+), and SATs in Year 6, and the start of GCSEs in Year 10 can all be a very stressful experience.
Ultimately, where academic achievement is consistently considered over and above emotional wellbeing, problems can manifest in mental health issues leading to decreased concentration, increased anxiety and ultimately poor results.
Internet gaming addiction in children or young adults
Although not yet officially recognised as a diagnosable mental health disorder, internet or video gaming addiction is a current topic of much debate and research. Over the last ten years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of males aged 12-18 years requiring psychological support because of the compulsive use of gaming.
How the Therapy Process Works
Parents often ask me about the process of working with their child. It does depend on the issues we are working on, but as a guide:
- An Initial meeting with parent/guardian and child, or depending on age, the child alone. I listen, ask questions, discuss key points raised and learn about the problems being experienced.
- Subsequent sessions are usually with the child on their own, unless the issues are connected to the wider family unit. For example, if parents are experiencing a difficult relationship with their child it might be beneficial to attend therapy together.
- A tailored therapy plan is created, selecting the tools and methods I believe will help the most.
- Therapy begins following agreement of all parties.
Parents also ask how I work with a child who may not be able to understand or express the worries they are experiencing.
Again, my approach varies depending on the child and the issue, but through gentle discussion and encouragement, or other creative techniques including role-play, I help them understand their negative thoughts such as sadness, worry, anxiety, loneliness or anger. Homework may also be given to support self-discovery and reinforce insights revealed during therapy.
Techniques used may include:
- Psycho-education interventions to educate a child about how a mental health condition might be affecting them and finding ways to overcome the challenges it creates.
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
- Role play of different situations to help them explore their emotions and learn appropriate reactions.
- Mindfulness and breathing techniques to help manage stress and anxiety.
- Visual imagery techniques that help a child to express what is worrying them through drawings and visualisation. Particularly useful if a child cannot find words to express themselves.