When should you take your child to a counsellor?

Following our successful article on how a parent’s mental wellbeing can affect children, we thought we would look at how seeing a counsellor or therapist can help your child or children.

Before we go any further it is important to remind our readers that The RockPool Org is here as peer to peer support only. We share our experiences in the hope that they will be useful for others, we do not replace the need for professional medical help, nor do we provide medical guidance.

Why would my child need a Counsellor?

57% of carers will suffer with Depression or Anxiety as a result of caring for someone with mental illness. In addition, childhood trauma is one of the leading reasons for clinical depression in adult life.

Given this there is a strong argument to suggest that helping your child now and taking them to a counsellor can aid their mental wellbeing in the long run.

Counselling isn’t just for those who have been referred by a doctor, it’s not just there for treatment, it can also be used in a preventative way.

How does Counselling help?

If a child has someone to talk to, who they can trust, it can be very stabilising for them. With professional guidance they can learn to work out their problems and discuss their worries in a safe and trusted environment.

There will be things which they may feel they can’t discuss at home, for fear of adding to the burden. Holding onto their worries can lead to a heavy emotional weight and problems with their own wellbeing.

What happens in the therapy session?

During a session with their counsellor or therapist your child might do one of the following:

  • Talk:

Talking is a healthy and productive way to express and release feelings. In a session the child will have the undivided attention of the therapist or counsellor, who has been trained to actively listen. The listening and the acknowledgement of the child’s feelings is also extremely important. This is true of any person, young or old.

  • Play:

Play therapy is popular and counsellors often use it to teach the child about feelings. This is particularly helpful for younger children who don’t yet recognise what they may be feeling or how to articulate it.

Through play, therapists are also able to teach children new social skills, such as self-control, sharing, patience and how to cope if they lose.

  • Relaxation Techniques:

This is becoming more popular and more counsellors and therapists are teaching children mindfulness and breathing techniques to aid relaxation and lower stress.

Who is the relationship with?

As the parent we, understandably, want to know what is happening and going on for our child; however it is important to remember that the counsellor’s relationship is with their client and the client is the child.

For counselling to work there must be complete trust and a totally safe environment. Your child must be comfortable that what they share in confidence during their sessions will remain so. Only where there is a concern about the child’s wellbeing should a counsellor discuss the sessions with you.

Where can your child get counselling?

There are several routes to child counselling and the 2 most common are through your GP or through your child’s school.

If you are happy with your child seeing the school counsellor and they are equally happy with this, it does mean you don’t have potentially difficult silences on the way to and from your child’s sessions. If you would like to discuss their sessions, they may feel uncomfortable as they may not want to share them, this can complicate the relationship between you.

In addition to going to your GP for a referral you can also contact some counsellors direct.

Does this mean my child has a problem?

Mental wellbeing and mental health happens to everyone, we all have it, we just have it in varying degrees.

If you are concerned about your child your first stop should be your GP.

At the start of this article we talked about counselling and therapy being preventative. It’s there to give your child some support when their home environment might be temporarily challenging. We all need support and we all need to talk, why would your child be any different?

There is nothing wrong with giving your child the support they need and investing in their wellbeing.

We would be interested in hearing about how counselling may have helped your child and family, if you are willing to share please use our comments box below.

Thank you.

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