Just like the complex, a sometimes overwhelming adult world we live in, kids are growing up in an ever-increasingly complex world of family demands, school demands, and social pressures and choices. Working with kids and teens often requires an additional skillset and a willingness to honor the voice of a child. We all deserve to be heard, no matter our age or stature.
Building a relationship is the first crucial step in working with a child or adolescent. This may not look like traditional ‘talk therapy’ and could include play, art, drama, or writing, depending on the age/stage of the client.
Appealing to the imagination and creativity of a child not only helps to build a relationship but also allows me a glimpse into the child’s inner world and view of life. It also helps the client to engage and eventually learn to integrate various parts of the brain responsible for emotional processing and executive functioning.
As a school-based counselor working individually with kids and their families, as well as leading groups teaching social skills and how to navigate peer pressure, I often see kids singled out for behavior issues or poor academic performance. My role is to help kids and their families understand what psychosocial factors may be underlying the difficulty being experienced. Therapy can help a child understand and learn tools to better deal with the inner emotional world in order to function easier in the external world.
How we learn to navigate the world as kids is what we take into our adulthood. If we don’t learn to manage our emotions, deal with stress, or use our words to state our needs as we are growing up, it will likely be hard to find a sense of confidence or resilience as an adult.
Will the family be involved in therapy?
Ideally, the goals of therapy will be supported and strengthened at home, with child and grown-ups learning to work together. I assess each client and family individually, balancing the needs of the child/adolescent with the needs of the family. Any specific questions concerning privacy, confidentiality, etc., can be discussed during the consultation session.