Counselling - Children and Young People
Once a parent/carer/guardian has made contact I will offer a free 30 minute telephone call assessment, or alternatively I can email the document.
At our first session, a visual therapy agreement is shared with the child/young person, it explains about counselling, the session, and confidentiality and its limits (serious harm to self or from others). I have a separate therapy agreement with a parent/carer/guardian which will need to be signed prior to counselling commencing. Sessions are 50 minutes long, and my session rate is £40. I invite the parent/carer/guardian to stay for part of the first session.
It is important for children/young people to know that what they tell me is held in confidence. This will include not discussing the work with parents/carers/guardians, unless the child/young person requests or gives consent for this. I understand that this is not an easy situation for a parent/carer/guardian, but ensuring confidentiality is crucial for establishing and maintaining a trusting relationship. This in turn will help the child/young person to speak openly and freely about what is bothering them. I will take appropriate action should a child/young person disclose about serious harm to themselves or from others. I have attended Safeguarding training and am DBS checked.
Children and young people may find some experiences/issues difficult to verbalise, or they might have limited spoken ability. Children are naturally creative beings and so I encourage them to access my suitcase of resources. It includes a small sand tray, figures, puppets, Worry Monster, Jenga, playing cards, dominoes, rubik cube, squeezy balls, play dough, bubbles, paper and pens/pencils/crayons. Young people may find counselling less threatening when they can engage in something, rather than just talking alone.
Using visuals can help children, for example to show the child what number session we are on and how many we have left when I am working with time limited sessions. Or it can sometimes be difficult to name a feeling or emotion, or know how to calm down from feeling angry, and so I have visual emotion pictures and cue cards available to help.
Online counselling - when working by video call, I will encourage children/young people to have some creative resources nearby, pens/pencils and paper, cuddly toys or puppet, playdough for example. Initial sessions may include 'getting to know you questions' (similar to those used in therapeutic Jenga) so that we can start to build a positive, trusting relationship. This will show children / young people that I am interested in them, and that they feel listened to. I can share my screen to show visual's which may help them to describe feelings, and the level they feel it. Mindfulness and visualisations using all 5 senses can also be offered.
Below is an example of a grounding technique I use with adults, young people and children. A technique like this can help to cope with intense feelings, they allow us to bring ourselves into contact with the ‘here and now’, with our minds and body connected and working together. When affected by some kind of trauma we might get flashbacks and feel like we are re-living the past, in the ‘there and then’, and so grounding can help us come back to the present.