Children and Young People’s Therapy FAQs
What is Children’s therapy?
In a therapy session, a child /young person can explore their thoughts, feelings and experiences and express things in a way that works best for them.
Creative therapy can help children and young people to produce pictures or stories which can help to understand themselves and their situation better.
Children’s therapy and play doesn’t just depend on words, so it can be helpful to anyone who finds it difficult to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
Art and play are a natural language for children so it’s easier for them to put across what they know or feel in a creative way.
How will my son/daughter benefit from therapy?
This will depend on their situation and what they want from therapy.
Therapy could help your child look at their experiences in different ways, helping them understand their:
This can lead to increasing their self esteem, confidence and how they view themselves.
Your child/young person can be stuck with thoughts that are intrusive and this may affect their school work or sleep. Therapy can help the brain make more sense of these thoughts, hopefully reducing the impact on daily life.
A therapist can also provide psychoeducation to your child and family. This involves explaining how trauma can impact your child/young person. It can help to improve communication within your family, and help your child be more mindful of how they respond to certain situations.
Children and Young People’s therapy uses play and creativity alongside words, so it can help your child express themselves in a way they didn’t feel able before. This also helps with their communication and expression outside of therapy.
What if my son/daughter doesn’t want to talk?
Asking your child about their traumatic event/s can be unhelpful as it can trigger their fight-flight response, making them unable to think about what is being asked. Children and young people may find ways to avoid these difficult feelings such as: being aggressive, day dreaming or leaving the room.
Art making or play based work can give your child a way of exploring a situation using stories, metaphors, made up characters and pictures. This work can be looked at from different angles, a bit like your child and the therapist being the audience to the situation. This means it isn’t as scary to look at so it won’t trigger the survival system they would usually use to cope with big feelings and strong memories.
What will happen when therapy starts?
You will be asked to attend an assessment without your child/young person being present. The purpose of this meeting is to find out more about your child and how they are managing/coping. This allows a discussion without re-traumatising your son/daughter.
The next session will be with you, your child and the therapist. During this session your son or daughter will have the opportunity to meet the therapist, look around the room and for the contract to be explained. It is important that this is understood and the boundaries are explained. These include confidentiality, timings and cancellations.
What happens in the sessions?
Your child will work with the therapist on his or her own for 45 minutes.
There are a lot of art and play materials to choose from and the sessions will vary from week to week.
The aim to to help your child to feel safe, relaxed and looked after. This way they will feel able to explore their thoughts and experiences using the play and art materials
To maintain confidentiality with your child, art work is kept safe and private until their therapy sessions have ended.
Sessions will be every week at the same time, the same place, and with the same therapist.
My child just scribbles or makes a mess in the sessions, what use is that?
Everything your child makes is valuable. Valuing even the messiest, dirtiest and unfinished pieces of work can promote self-esteem and lets them know that the messy or ‘bad’ parts of themselves are still important. It helps them see they are worth looking after and given praise for being able to show this to the therapist.
Your child could also be getting used to the art materials so it could just be experimenting. They could also be getting used to the rules and the boundaries in the session, finding out what is possible and how the therapist will react to their way of working. It can help them feel safer in the room after trying this out.
To you it might look like a mixed-up mess but to your child it might have some great significance – some big conversations could have happened in that therapy session!
I can’t bring my child every week, does that matter?
Yes! It does matter!
Therapy is set up so your child knows when therapy is coming and how it fits into their week. If your child works on some difficult feelings, memories or emotions in a session, they will already know that there is another session coming up the week after.
Your child/young person might be holding on to worries or struggles that they want to bring to the therapy space. It may be hard for them to keep hold of those things for longer than a week once they are in therapy.
If you don’t value the work then your child won’t either, and they won’t invest their thoughts, trust and difficulties during the sessions.
BUT we realise that life happens. There are school plays, sports days or trips and these are a really important parts of their lives too. Just give your child and the therapist as much warning as you can. That way the therapist can remind the child about the gaps coming up so they can prepare themselves for it.
How long will it take?
This can vary as some children/young people need longer time in therapy than others. We offer between 10 and 26 sessions of counselling depending on which service your child is accessing. Exploring the event can only happen when your child is ready. They need to feel safe enough in the room and with the therapist first, that way your child can work out a way they can explain their situation. It can take time for them to find the best way to do this.
It can also take time because your child’s past experiences has involved their trust being broken. They may have been scared or been confused by what happened, so this will make trust difficult when they are with new people and situations. Their therapist will promote trust and encourage the child to feel safe by offering consistent and predictable sessions with same times, days, rooms, etc.
Your child/young person may need the time to get used to this way of working and for their trust to develop.