Each of us has coping mechanisms of our own that we use whenever faced with certain stressful situations. However, those coping mechanisms take time to develop fully. If you’ve got a child and they get caught in an incident that their young minds have yet to learn how to deal with, they can easily succumb to a range of emotional and behavioural problems that can negatively affect their growth and development later in life. As you wouldn’t want your child to suffer too much once they reach adulthood, you should consider letting them undergo child counseling with the help of a certified mental health professional.
What Is Child Counselling?
It may be your first time to hear of child counseling, most especially if you didn’t have to go to one back when you were a child yourself. Add to that the unfortunately still-prevalent stigma surrounding children’s mental health. But when you’ve already tried dealing with your child’s mental health concerns within the confines of your home, and you’ve failed in every attempt, you might want to consult a psychologist who would then ask your child if they’re willing to undergo counseling and if you’re amenable with it.
- Child counselling allows your child to have the opportunity to air any grievances that they may have – whether it be regarding school, play, or even their current situation at home – to someone who they believe would give them the time of day more than any other adult would.
- Child counselling also gives your child a safe environment in which they could more freely express themselves as well as unburden themselves of any excess emotional baggage without fear of judgment from fellow children as well as other adults.
- You should remember though that child counselling isn’t a one size fits all thing as what may work for toddlers might not have the same result for adolescents.
What Are Some of the Techniques That a Psychologist May Use During Your Child’s Counselling Sessions?
Depending on the severity of your child’s mental health issues, their psychologist may use different child counselling techniques as suited to their specific needs. Some of those techniques are as follows:
1. Play therapy
Children often display their emotions better through play. With play therapy, your child’s psychologist would choose which activities or games might get your child to open up about any mental health concerns that have been bothering them before you decided to have them undergo child counselling.
The activities and games that your child’s psychologist would choose for them may range from those that would encourage them to run around to those that would teach them how to strategies and focus better.
2. Art therapy
Your child may be as silent as a clam whenever you’re asking what’s wrong with them.
But with art therapy, your child can express their feelings better as all they have to do is to grab a piece of paper and whatever medium they feel like using, and then start drawing whatever images come to their young mind that may have something to do with their mental health problems.
Art therapy sessions are usually more helpful to your child when conducted in a group setting along with their fellow children to encourage interaction. It also helps them to learn some basic social skills that they can use once they turn into adults themselves.
3. Family therapy
Child counselling may not always solely consist of sessions between your child and their psychologist as the latter may also ask for your involvement as well as any other members of your family that are directly involved with the former.
With family therapy, your child’s psychologist would delve into every aspect surrounding you, your child, and other members of your family from established communication patterns to power dynamics, to name but a few.
Family therapy is a faster and more efficient child counselling technique as more than one person is going through it in the office of your child’s psychologist.
4. Talk therapy
If your child’s too old for either play or art therapy, their psychologist can start letting them undergo the usual talk therapy that most adults with their share of mental health problems most commonly find themselves undergoing. Talk therapy may be of great help to your child if they’ve experienced trauma after getting either physically or sexually abused by a member of your family, or if any of your closest relatives had died.
How to Know If Your Child Needs to Undergo Counselling
You may have mistaken your child’s mental health concerns at some point as nothing but the usual temper tantrums that most children their age often experience. You might have even thought that your child would outgrow them over time. But the more you dismiss or even outright ignore any issues that your child may have regarding their mental health, the harder it may be for you to get them back to normal once they grow up. Thus, while your child’s still young, you should start checking if they’re currently experiencing any of the following warning signs that may indicate that they need to undergo counselling as soon as possible:
- A prolonged feeling of despair.
- Frequent skipping of classes in school.
- Refusal to talk about whatever’s bothering them.
- Sudden loss of interest in doing physical and other activities that they used to enjoy before.
- Successive failing marks in several subjects as written in their school’s report card.
- A tendency to overreact to certain situations that most other children their age respond to calmly.
- Irrational fear over things that most other children their age aren’t afraid of – for example, sleeping with the lights off.
- Attention-seeking behaviour that may lead to self-harm.
Looking back at your childhood, you may have thought to yourself that children from your generation didn’t need to visit a psychologist to have themselves checked and yet turned out fine just the same. But with today’s society placing too many demands on your child, some of which may border on unreasonable even for an adult, it isn’t surprising that they’re having a difficult time keeping up which can cause them to succumb to stress – or worse, commit suicide. Your child shouldn’t have to suffer the same fate after getting plagued with emotional and behavioural problems by setting up an appointment with any of the mental health professionals like TG Psychology.
Todd is the Director and Principal Psychologist at TG Psychology, in Penrith, NSW. He has over 14 years of experience working with adults and young people in both public health and private practice settings. He has treated people from diverse cultural backgrounds, with a variety of emotional health and behavioral issues, including depression, anxiety, relationship issues, anger, addictions, trauma and grief. He has also facilitated a number of group programs, treating a wide range of issues: from quitting cannabis, to social skills training, self-esteem development and deliberate self-harm behaviours.