Counselling Children & Teens:
Young children express themselves best through play. Both parents and therapists may learn a great deal about the child by watching or joining their play or looking at their art or written work. Then they comment or question supportively to explore the child’s feelings and support the child’s own problem-solving.
As a child therapist I have some toys and art supplies that I give the children. Or we may write stories that cast a new light on the child’s experiences. I prefer this approach with the parent’s participation. Working together works best.
Family Therapy involves all members and can help everyone to express themselves and to hear each other in ways that usually do not happen in today’s busy households. Sometimes one child may be able to shed light on another child’s behaviors. Sometimes the therapist can support the kids or parents to express their feelings in new ways. This approach works best with youth who are mature enough to participate in an hour-long discussion. Middle-school children, teens, and adult children may all benefit from family therapy.
Adolescents may prefer their own private counselling. Their concerns and feelings increasingly relate to their body changes and to their peer group. They may love their parents, but be uncomfortable discussing certain things with the older folks. Often they can use written information such as books or workbooks to help them develop coping skills. Do not ask them or me for a report of the session.
Adolescents may also resist counselling entirely because of their desire for privacy and control. Listen to your teen’s preferences. Come to therapy as a family if he/she resists coming alone.
- Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life, and Relationship Skills 101, by Sheri Van Dijk
- How to Talk so Kids Will Listen . . . , by Faber & Mazlish (teens enjoy this)
- Mindfulness Skills for Kids & Teens: a Workbook . . . , by Debra Burdick
- The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry (An Instant Help Book for Teens), by Lisa M. Schab
- The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens: CBT and ACT Skills to Help You Build Social Confidence, by Jennifer Shannon (Author), Christine Padesky (Foreword), Doug Shannon (Illustrator)
- Contact Niagara, the regional resourse for accessing mental health services for children and teens, http://www.contactniagara.org/en/intake
- Kids’ Help Line, 1-800-668-6868
- McMaster U. Medical Centre Anxiety Disorders Clinic, http://www.macanxiety.com/
- Pathstone Mental Health Crisis Service, 1-800-263-4944, http://pathstonementalhealth.ca/services