Working with children, families and couples
Counselling with children and young people
Sessions are of 50 minutes duration for individual children or young people; although I sometimes recommend a shorter time for young children. The sessions occur on a weekly basis at my private consulting room or in a confidential space arranged by the family, for instance within the child’s school or home. Depending on the needs of the child or young person, the counselling can be open-ended or time-limited to an agreed number of sessions; with regular periods of review.
When counselling has been requested for a child or young person, I like to meet first with their parents/carer to discuss the process of therapy and their thoughts and feelings about the difficulties their child is facing. This will be followed by an initial appointment with the child or young person to discuss the counselling and to garner from them what problems they feel they have and how it is affecting them. The counselling sessions with children and young people will be confidential in line with the BACP guidelines.
I structure the sessions around the needs of the child or young person. Depending on their age, it can consist of talking and/or non-verbal activities as a means of enabling the child or young person to express and find understanding of what might be worrying them. The past, present or future can be explored. This can include looking at issues in specific relationships, as well as the content of troubling dreams and fantasies.
I utilise a wide range of therapeutic techniques in working with children and young people. Depending on their age and needs, my work can include therapeutic play activities, creative therapies such as using art, writing and role play and calming techniques such as meditation as a means of supporting the child or young person to safely explore their worries and come to a place of resolution within themselves.
Whilst maintaining the child or young person’s confidentiality, parents and carers will be met with periodically to discuss the progress of the therapy. If the child or young person wishes to invite their parents to share in their therapy, family meetings can be scheduled accordingly. Usually children and young people are open to family feedback occurring in the last 15-20 minutes of their session.
I have an Enhanced DBS. I have undertaken extensive training in Child Protection whilst working for the NSPCC and as a practitioner within various Local Authorities and voluntary sector services.
Couples Counselling and Marriage Counselling
Family and couple sessions are of 60-75 minutes duration and crucially works to:
- open conversation;
- discuss patterns of communication and interaction, including anysense of stuckness and repetition;
- explore personal stories, experiences, and relationships relevant to the family/couple system;
- identify how the problem(s) entered the relationship and affected the dynamics of the unit as opposed to connecting (or blaming) the problem with specific individuals; and
- support the development of resilience and resources through problem solving.
Family counselling will involve a range of activities designed to engage all the participants of varying ages.
In terms of couples counselling and marriage counselling, often the aim of the couple is to repair and strengthen the relationship. For a few, and sometimes over the course of therapy, some partners may reach a decision to end their relationship. At such a point, my role as therapist is to support the couple to have an amicable ending, as far as it is possible.