A child’s development is fast moving and complex. In development the child is learning how to understand and manage their emotions, behaviour and environment. During this time of growth they require support in processing emotions and life experiences, and in navigating relationships. The limitation of a child’s growing mental capacity means it takes longer for them to process change in their internal and external environment, whether this be a cognitive stage of development, a different routine, or the introduction to a new relationship.
In health children will be able to experience a wide range of feelings without becoming overwhelmed consistently. On the occasion they do become overwhelmed they are able to self-sooth or be calmed by another, allowing them to recover from the experience. In the early latency years, children will naturally be drawn to making relationships with their peers. Social development will involve their ability to play cooperatively and competitively with peers. They will also begin to manage receiving reasonable demands from those in a position of authority who are not their parents, and respond appropriately. Development is a fluid process and therefore all children will oscillate between younger and older behaviours and mental and emotional management capacity, as they decipher each stage of development. This is a natural part of development.
Children do not have the necessary capacities to adapt to change unaided. During the process of adapting to, and accepting change, feelings of anxiety, depression and anger may arise and behavioural signs of low self-doubt, withdrawal or acting out may ensue. These are normal reactions to change and can be manageable if they to not become overwhelming. However sometimes the consequences of our natural response to change, in the feelings and behaviours which follow the experience, can be in themselves difficult to manage and in which the child will need support. This is especially the case if the change or experience has been felt to be traumatic. Even with assistance to help manage the experience the child may need to use defences to keep the experience at bay until they are older and have sufficient capacity to process the event.
“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”
D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality
What does child therapy entail?
Therapy is a place where children can be supported in managing and processing their emotions. It is a space where emotions and experiences can be held until the child is ready and able to begin to process what may be at the time too much to think about. Sometimes children are unable to talk about what is troubling them, either because it is too upsetting or simply because they do not yet possess the maturity or cognitive capacity to articulate their feelings. As children’s mental capacities are growing, much of their processing is done unconsciously. Therefore different vehicles of therapy such as play, art and storytelling are used for children to help them express themselves and their emotions.
If you want to find out more about next steps in the therapy process please get in touch for further information.
BENEFITS OF THERAPY
- Aid Healthy Development
- Emotional Processing & Regulation
- Encourages Self-expression
- Aids Communication
- Increase in Confidence
- Aids Perceptive taking
- Encourages Resilience
- Increases Concentration & Attention
- Allows Decompression & Time away from life events
- Establishes an Internal Sense of Security
- Encourages Relationships outside Family circle
If you would like to discuss your child’s needs further please get in touch for an initial telephone consultation.
Who would benefit from therapy?
Children who have experienced events or change which have had a negative impact on their development.
Children who have challenging home situations and need time away from life difficulties to decompress.
Children who struggle with overwhelming emotions.
Children who struggle with understanding and expressing their emotions.
Children who are susceptible to anxiety and stress.
Children who struggle to communicate their needs.
Children who find it difficult to play.
Meet Sophie Barrett MSc, BA (Hons), Dip, CertHE
As a Child and Adult Counselling Psychotherapist I have extensive experience working with a variety of different issues and presentations in short and long-term therapy, from 1 month to 3 years. I have worked with Children and Adolescents for a number of years in the community and in primary and secondary schools, and currently in private practice. I see young people for a variety of reasons including developmental and emotional complexities with experience in issues of depression, anxiety, peer relationships, family dynamics, academic stress, separation anxiety, bereavement, self-esteem and identity. In addition, I often meet and work with parents to aid the support of the young person’s therapy.
EXPERIENCE SPECIFIC TO CHILDREN
- Grief & Loss
- Transitions (school years, moving house)
- Separation anxiety
- Sibling rivalry
- Family Dynamics
- Behavioural Difficulties
- Overwhelming Emotional States
- Withdrawing Behaviour
- Acting Out
- Difficulties with Change
- Parental Separation / Divorce