I have been a children’s and adolescent therapist for five years. I believe it is a truly wonderful opportunity for youth to consult in therapy. I have prepared a guide to help you begin, I encourage all parents and guardians caring for children and adolescents to undertake this process.
What is the process?
Children between the ages of 5 and 13 meet with me for a session of one hour. Generally, I suggest seven sessions. The first three sessions are with the child only, the fourth with the parents/guardian only, followed by two more sessions with the child. The seventh and final session is with the parents/guardian. There are alternate schedules which may be discussed beforehand with the family.
Beginning at 14 years old, the adolescent must agree to and give their consent for therapy. I suggest ten sessions. There are exceptions and alternate schedules available which may be discussed with the adolescent. I invite the parent/guardian of the adolescent to attend individual therapy for adults.
How do I prepare for the first session?
During the first session, the parents/guardian, child and myself meet to discuss the goals and objectives of the therapy. I ask that the parents/guardian inform the child beforehand that they wish to consult in therapy and explain the reason for the decision.
- Here are a few examples of possible objectives parents or guardians may have:
- We would like for our child to achieve better grades in school.
- We would like for our child to have improved relationships with their friends.
- We would like for our child to express themselves with words rather than striking others.
- We would like for our child to have fewer conflicts with their sibling(s).
The first session with the adolescent is dedicated to formulating goals and objectives. I invite the adolescent to reflect upon what they wish to accomplish in therapy.
Here are a few examples of objectives an adolescent may have:
- I would like to have a romantic relationship.
- I would like to have a new circle of friends.
- I would like to choose or change the courses I’m taking.
- I would like to no longer feel isolated.
- I would like to have a better relationship with my parent(s)/guardian.
Beginning with our second session, I will help you explore your objectives in-depth and help make them readily attainable.
What happens during a session?
One of the objectives of children’s therapy is to learn self-expression. I use games, drawing, modelling clay and stuffed animals. The goal is to develop methods and solutions specifically geared and adapted to the child in order to help them from perpetuating the behaviour which has brought them to therapy. I am always amazed by how quickly a connection is created between a consulting child and myself.
One of the objectives of adolescent therapy is a deeper understanding of self. During the session, the adolescent will have the opportunity to express themselves and learn responsibility. Identifying inner and exterior obstacles and existing blockages will release the underlying emotions. From this point of clarity, the adolescent will acquire the necessary tools to obtain their objectives. Accompanying an adolescent in the discovery of identity and uniqueness is always a great honour.