What is Child Counselling?
Child counselling is a type of therapy that focuses on children, teens, and adolescents with one or more emotional challenges or mental illnesses. It provides aid to children who have experienced trauma, and/or are living in a dysfunctional or stressful home environment.
Child counsellors provide many services to vulnerable youth. Most importantly, these mental health professionals have the knowledge and skills to provide your child with the help he/she needs to resolve his/her issues and resume a healthy and productive life. The ultimate goal of child counsellors is to help children better interpret the issues they are dealing with and/or the trauma that occurred in a way they can process and understand, so they are able to live healthy lives without the lasting effects of fear, confusion, anxiety, or trauma.
How does Child Counselling work?
At first, the therapist will meet with you and your child to talk. They will ask questions and listen. This helps them learn more about your child and about the problem. The therapist will tell you how they can help.
After that, your child will go to more therapy visits. At these visits, your child might:
• Talk: Talking is a healthy way to express feelings. When kids put feelings into words instead of actions, they can act their best. When someone listens and knows how they feel, kids are more ready to learn.
• Do activities: Therapists use activities to teach about feelings and coping skills. They may have kids draw or play as a way to learn, and they may also teach mindfulness and calm breathing as a way to lower stress.
• Practice new skills: Therapists help kids practice what they learn. They might play games where kids need to wait their turn, use self-control, be patient, follow directions, listen, share, try again, or deal with losing.
• Solve problems: With older kids and teens, therapists ask how problems affect them at home, at school and will talk over how to solve these problems.
If you notice that your child’s behaviour has suddenly and/or dramatically changed, or something feels “off” with your child, schedule a consultation with your child’s paediatrician or search for a child counsellor for a more in-depth assessment. Sound judgment can ensure that your child receives the best treatment possible for his/her condition or issue.
How can you tell if your child needs counselling?
There are some signs that may signal that your child needs counselling. For example, a child who has suddenly begun to have developmental problems or rebel and act “out of character” in ways that are not considered normal behaviour for their age, may need to talk to a professional. In addition, if your child has experienced a significant trauma (i.e. abuse, the death of a loved one or pet, uprooting, divorce, chronic illness, etc.) recently or in the past, but has not received treatment or therapy for it, he/she will most likely benefit from child counselling.
It is important to understand that children, who are suffering from mental health issues or psychological distress, may not share these concerns with their parents. That doesn’t happen because your child doesn’t love you; rather, it occurs because he/she fears disappointing you. Below are some signs your child could be in distress and could benefit from counselling.
Common signs your child could be in distress and would benefit from counselling include:
Leakage of urine
Difficulty adjusting to social situations and/or new situations
Recurrent nightmares, night terrors, and/or sleep difficulties like insomnia
Low grades or a sudden academic decline
Constant worry and anxiety
Social withdraw from activities your child once liked or loved to do
A noticeable and/or sudden loss of appetite and/or extreme weight loss
Repetitively performing rituals and routines like hand-washing
Suicidal ideations (thoughts) or attempts
Your child responds to voices he/she hears in his/her head
Spending most of his/her time alone or engaging in voluntary social isolation
Alcohol and/or drug use, abuse, or addiction
Increased physical complaints, despite a healthy report from a medical professional
Engaging in self-harm practices, such as cutting oneself
Who can Child Counselling benefit?
Child Counselling can benefit a child dealing with a wide variety of issues, including:
Grief and the death of a loved one, pet, home, etc.
Witnessing or experiencing a trauma event(s)
Mental health conditions and psychological distress (i.e. anxiety and depression)
Sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse
Relocation issues (i.e. changing schools, homes, families, and/or cities/states)
Family substance abuse or addiction
Child counsellors treat any issues that cause children social or emotional distress and/or any mental health condition that is affecting a child’s life. The goal of these professionals is to help your child identify and cope with any issue or issues they are experiencing in a healthy way.