Why you may be seeking psychotherapy for your child?
Your child or teenager might be displaying emotions or behaviours that are making you concerned. These emotions or behaviours may be out of character, may have appeared suddenly, or they may have been happening over a period of time. Your child may appear excessively anxious, or depressed, or they may be displaying unusual and worrying behaviours such as sexualised behaviours, eating difficulties, obsessive compulsive traits, aggressive or withdrawn behaviours. Whatever is causing you concern for your child, it is important to share these concerns, ideally with a professional.
How I can help you
Whatever the reasons, I can help you to gain a compassionate, holistic understanding of your child's issues. I can offer you a space where both you and your child can express yourselves freely, without fear of judgment. I have repeatedly been amazed by how, in the right therapeutic conditions, children have dropped years of emotional suffering in an instant. Sometimes it just requires a letting go of something they have been holding on to. Sometimes it can just be hearing the right words at the right time. Sometimes it can be putting their heart and soul into a drawing or in play and releasing their demons in this way. Usually, because they have had less years to be weighed down by negative emotions, it can be easier for children to let these demons go. Children can inspire adults with their lightness.
Of course, sometimes it can be more difficult to get to the bottom of what is causing a child to react in this negative way. This is especially true with emotional issues related to attachment styles. These can take time, patience, and consistency to repair. I know this, having worked for the last 5 years with some of the most traumatised children and teenagers in London, through the charity Kids Company. I have seen repeatedly how even the most messed-up kids can, with the right care, attention, and therapeutic bond, overcome their issues and thrive. Whatever the issue, I believe it is important for parents and therapist to trust that children's challenging emotions and behaviours will change, given the right conditions.
What issues I work with
I am experienced at working with a range of difficulties. I have worked with great success with adolescents suffering psychosis, anxiety disorders, depression, and acute eating disorders in a Tier 4 CAMHS unit (I am still in touch with one of the patients I treated there, and am pleased to say they are doing incredibly well.) In the community, I have worked successfully with younger children and teenagers with behavioural difficulties, depression and suicidal thoughts, anxiety disorders, ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, gender and sexuality issues, drug addictions, complex trauma, acute attachment difficulties, and issues around loss and bereavement (I currently work in a hospice with children and young people).
What a Child Psychotherapist is?
A child psychotherapist is a professional who has completed an intensive and rigorous training. They have learned to treat mental health problems and emotional difficulties in children through very careful observation, building therapeutic relationships of trust, applying in-depth knowledge of child development and attachment styles, and using effective, evidence-based interventions such as mindfulness, CBT, play, and attachment-based therapy. There is lots of evidence that child psychotherapy can help with a range of issues (including OCD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, PTSD, self-harm). But what the research shows most consistently is that it is not the specific method or knowledge but rather the therapeutic relationship that has the greatest, most consistent positive effect on child mental health problems.
Why do children sometimes need psychotherapy?
You may even be asking why do children need psychotherapy at all? It seems unfair that children should be suffering from mental health problems. Childhood is in many cultures deemed a sacred period of human development, where children are to be protected, as much as possible, from the stresses and strains of ‘adult’ or ‘real’ life. Sadly, this ideal of childhood can put even more strain on parents, carers, teachers. It is not humanly possible to always be the perfect carer to children in your care.
It is not possible to completely protect children from the stresses and strains of life, nor would it be healthy to hold such impossible standards. For those in the care of children, a balance needs to be struck, between exposure to life as it is, and sheltering children from the harsher elements. Sometimes, this balance simply can not be achieved, and children, being extremely sensitive creatures, will pick up and absorb any excess of emotional energy from their environment, whether that be at school, in a peer group, in a family group, or even online.
When this balance is too difficult to achieve within the family, children, adolescents, and families may need help from a supportive third party, be it a counsellor or a child psychotherapist.
Why is my child suffering?
There is rarely a simple explanation for why some children are affected more by mental health difficulties than others. Sometimes there may be some genetic roots. Sometimes children’s difficulties can be the direct expression of family traumas that have gone on unresolved, often for generations. Sometimes children are badly affected by the culture or society they live in. Sometimes, children have been treated in a way that deeply and negatively affects them.