Children’s Mental Health: What Happens in Counselling
What happens in Counselling?
When parents give consent for their child to have counselling, the counsellor will explain confidentiality and it’s limits to parents and children at the beginning of counselling. In the offices counsellors will meet the parent at the first session, but in schools work this is often done on the phone.
Children’s natural means of communication is through play. So the counsellor will use toys, games and creative materials to work with a child to help them express their feelings and emotions in a safe therapeutic environment. The sessions are child-led, so the child is able to choose what to play with, what to say, or not say, and how they use the materials available. If the child is an older child or a teenager, then the counselling will be based on the more adult form of talk therapy.
How to know when to end the counselling sessions?
In our centres and most of our schools we work to an open-ended model, which means that the counsellor and child decide together when to end. In schools there will usually be liaison with the Senco (or whoever makes the referrals) and the parent. However, at the moment we do have some Early Help work, which is limited to 12 sessions, so the ending can sometimes be pre-determined.
The counselling sessions for a child are confidential in the same way as they would be for an adult, so the parent will not be getting regular updates from the counsellor, although the child is free to discuss anything about the counselling with the parents. The exception to this (which the child is made aware of at the start) is if any safeguarding issues arise which need discussion with other adults to ensure the child’s safety.
The counsellor will review with the child from time to time, and they will decide between them when it is appropriate to work towards ending, and the parent may be included in that discussion. Often the parents/school will already have noticed that the child is managing better. At our centres the client can re-refer at a later date if they feel they need further support. In schools the parent would need to discuss re-referral with the Senco. We would see this as a positive thing, in that the child has been able to identify and ask for the help that they need.
For more information on Fegans’ Counselling click here.