Children and Youth
Children and youth can get therapy for emotions like anger, fear, sadness and bullying. Behaviour, play and art help understanding.
The emotional world of young children is predominantly understood through their behaviour, play and art.
For Youth: their music, literature and art are natural modes of expression.
In counselling, the young person may work with drawings, paint, clay, collage, or write poems and songs that give voice to their experience, needs and hopes. Christine Thomson’s understanding of child development informs how best to communicate with various ages during her sessions. Family or parents are likely to be included at some point.
See Creative Therapies for an overview of this method.
What is therapy for children and young people about?
“My goal is to build an engaging relationship, to understand their world and to help them have mastery over those things in their life that have been getting on top of them”.
• Anger or challenging behaviour
… can sometimes signal sadness, confusion or other worries. When the underlying feelings are attended to those behaviours often become redundant. At other times they are learnt behaviours, or may be a sign that there is stress in the wider world of family or school.
• Fears and anxieties
…are not uncommon in children, but when severe can cause great distress. A therapist will work with the child to jointly understand the root of these. Children can then often use their own mind to counter the workings and tactics of fear, and as a consequence feel more in charge.
• Sad or grieving
When sad or grieving, a young person may need help to find their own unique way to express themselves. A therapist will help them do this. It may also help to make something special for themselves or a loved one, or to make their own special book for writing or drawing in. They will often talk openly whilst doing so.
• Bullying or bad treatment
If bullied or being treated badly, a young person can often gain clarity about managing a situation by telling the story through play or one of the art forms. Education around feelings and communication is tailored to the individual’s learning style and can be done in a fun manner.
“He’d been really frightened by what happened, had become timid and not his normal self at all. I didn’t know how much he’d taken in, other people’s reactions and stuff, until he showed me the figures in the sand-tray they’d been doing. It seemed like by playing it all out he realised he’d actually done really well with an emergency that even adults would struggle with…..” (parent of an 8yr old)
The Family as part of therapy
Assessment is the first step. Christine Thomson will do this in a natural, low-key manner so as to develop a good relationship with the young person. This is foundational. She will work with the child (and the parent in most instances) to establish a goal, the session frequency and the level of involvement that family will have. Some teens can benefit from privacy in working things through. Christine will help them to:
• have their voice heard,
• strengthen relationships and
• involve family where indicated.
“ When I was first told we were going to counselling as a family, I couldn’t think of anything more boring, but the counsellor got us like…. saying what we thought and even laughing. The best thing was my brother had to shut up and actually listen properly for once. Well we all did. Now we’re doing that at home.” (15yr old girl)