a creative space for change
Individual child psychotherapy offers children and young people a creative space of their own to work through their difficulties and build more confidence about their lives.
Child psychotherapy draws on a deep psychoanalytic understanding of emotional development. The therapy works through enabling the 'internal' thoughts and feelings of children to come to light. The working through of these often unconscious thoughts and feelings with the therapist leads to new understanding that makes real change possible.
Play is fundamental to psychotherapy with younger children. The child's 'internal' thoughts and feelings are expressed through their play in a way that enables the therapist to think about what is going on for the child. The different toys and art materials in the therapy room provide opportunities for the play that is at the heart of coming to understand the child's difficulties.
For older children there is more emphasis on 'talking' as the means of exploring their difficulties with the therapist. However, older children and young people can also find it helpful to draw or write alongside talking. The 'internal' thoughts and feelings become known through the therapist being able to think about the things that come to mind for the child or young person in their conversations with the therapist.
An initial consultation might indicate that individual psychotherapy would be helpful. The child or young person would then have a number of individual sessions with the therapist so they could see whether it felt like the right kind of help for them. These initial sessions would be around 4 in number. They would take place at the same time on successive weeks. Each session lasts 50 minutes.
If the child or young person thinks that psychotherapy feels right for them, and if more help is needed, it would be possible for them to continue with an on-going period of therapy. On-going psychotherapy could either be for a short period of a few months or for longer periods of over a year. The sessions are usually once weekly. When difficulties are severe and longstanding a child or young person might attend 2 or more sessions each week.
Alongside psychotherapy for children and young people another therapist would meet regularly with the parents. The purpose of these meetings is for the therapist to think with the parents about how best to support their child through the difficulties that they are experiencing.
Psychotherapy is both a challenging and exciting process. At times coming to understand your difficulties can feel stressful and confusing. At the same time it can feel exciting to begin learning about yourself in a new way.
Individual psychotherapy can enable major changes for children and young people. The in-depth therapeutic work can make it possible for difficulties to really be overcome. Children and young people should feel more able to realise their potential. Research has shown that the psychotherapy goes on being helpful to children and young people long after the therapy has ended. The therapeutic work will have become part of who they are and it will stay with them as they move forward with their lives.
After the psychotherapy children and young people often like to let the therapist know how they are getting along. Sometimes this might take the form of writing to the therapist. Often it takes the form of a follow-up meeting that offers an opportunity for the child or young person to let the therapist know how things are going in person.
When there is some concern over the possibility of a further period of difficulty in the future it is helpful for the child or young person to know that they could seek further therapeutic help with the therapist if needed.