Why do children need therapy?
Did you know that 1 in 10 children aged 5-16 in the UK suffer with a clinically diagnosable mental health condition?
Whether it's Anxiety, Depression, Conduct Disorder, or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - there are plenty of children who need support. According to Public Health England, only 25% of children who need help actually receive treatment.
Making use of early interventions will help to prevent children from going into crisis later on in life and avoids more expensive and longer term interventions in adulthood.
Allowing poor mental health and traumatic events go unnoticed and untreated in childhood can lead to children and adolescents dropping out of school, long-term interpersonal difficulties, the development of additional diagnoses such as eating disorders, increased suicidal risk, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
What is the difference between child and adult therapy?
Where adults are more able to reflect on their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, children often lack the language and ability to do so. Children experience so much of their lives through their families and schooling, and are therefore limited in their knowledge of the world. Their ability to reflect on and process their emotions and experiences is directly influenced by their limited environments and interactions.
Given all of this, therapy with children does not look like the traditional therapy where there are two chairs in a room. Therapy with children involves play, art, music, and plenty of interpretation. Therapy with children often involves working with metaphors and imagination.
As the therapist, you almost have to wear two hats at once; you have to be completely present and in the room with the child, whilst at the same time holding in mind what might be behind the metaphor or the play or the artwork.
Whereas with an adult in therapy, or an older adolescent, the therapist might be able to share their interpretations, challenge the client, or explore with the client, with a child you almost have to do this alone and allow the child to use their time in therapy how they wish to.
Where can children get therapy?
In the UK, the main place that children would access therapeutic services would be through their schools. Place2Be is the UK's leading mental health charity for children and is places in over 290 primary and secondary schools around the country. Place2Be is mainly used in state schools, however many private schools will have access to a child therapist either in the school or in the local area.
Another place to start exploring this is through your GP. If you are really concerned about your little one, you GP can try to make a referral to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). However due to the high number of referrals, your child's symptoms would have to be on the extreme side to get them through to a counsellor this way.
There are many private psychotherapists who specialise in child and adolescent therapies. Searching through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) directory could be helpful, and there is also the Association of Child Psychotherapists, the Counselling Directory, British Psychological Society, and the Youth Wellbeing Directory.
As always, if you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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