child psychotherapy (ages 4 - 11)
Our approach with children varies considerably depending on each child's individual circumstances and age.
Sometimes, it is appropriate for a child and parent to have sessions together, at other times we see parents regularly with occasional sessions for their child. This can be an effective way of working with childhood troubles, and parents are very often willing and able to become "co-therapists" where they take home ideas after discussion with me. Other children are seen on a one-to-one basis. In that case, family and school context is still held very much in mind but our work then stays between the child and myself.
We also connect with other important people in the child's immediate network, including teachers and other professionals.
why do children come to therapy?
Children come for many different reasons, often because they feel worried, sad, or angry. However, some children cannot find words for how they feel, or they don't know or they might be confused about a mixture of feelings. Often, children are referred because a parent or teacher notices that a child is not doing well in one or more areas of their lives or are struggling with demanding and difficult behaviour.
Some children come because they have been traumatised and some struggle with sensory integration.
Click here to see some reasons why people come for therapy
materials and activities
Using the arts and play is useful for children of all ages but especially helpful when they struggle to find words to express themselves. We use drama, music, puppets, sand play, drawing, painting, story telling, clay, and games as a way of understanding a child's emotions, thoughts and behaviour. We also work with sensory integration difficulties, in particular with children who have suffered developmental trauma. We also employ humour and clowning which can of course be a way of hiding feelings (sometimes called deflecting) but when used psychotherapeutically, it can be a powerful tool for children to find a voice. Sometimes though, we just talk. At times, we lead the session and at times, the child is encouraged to be more in control of what we do.
what is psychotherapy about?
Whatever we do in the therapy session, we try to help children find a way of expressing and, ideally vocalising their feelings.Creative activities can really help children to think, explore, try things out, discuss and question. As we play, act or make an art object, children are able to use their concrete creations as a way of standing at a "safe" distance (not too far and not too close) from overwhelming emotions which may have made them feel extremely anxious, angry, sad or confused and hence unable to think. We then try to help a child contemplate their creative work, making more sense of difficult feelings and working through their thoughts in smaller manageable pieces.