Children can be referred to counselling from their parents, GP, social services and school. This can be for a variety of reasons, school phobias, depression, self-harm, anxiety and so on.
It is important when a child sees a counsellor, it is the right counsellor for them. There are particular differences in working therapeutically with children than adults and both require different skills and experience.
Some differences are obvious, but the needs and expressions of these age groups are distinctly different. Research has shown the significant brain development that takes place during the teenage years. As counsellors working with children we need to have an understanding on development from a young age and an insight into the differences between an adult, adolescent and a child.
When working with children they will communicate distress in a different way to adults. Any therapist working with children should be able to understand non-verbal communication and how to make sense of the child’s inner world through symbolic communication. Even the therapy room is likely to be set out differently when working with children and young people.
When working with children we also need to look at the potential power imbalance, if we have communication with their parents and how this may impact the relationship with the child, if a child is sent by someone this my change how we work with the child. These are all areas and many more that need to be considered when working with children and this is why it is important the therapist has experience and specific training in working with children.