The initial assessment is an important part of counselling. In the case of a younger child, I prefer to discuss the details of the child’s difficulties prior to the assessment, over the phone, (without them being present) to avoid any unnecessary distress. Then the purpose of the initial assessment is to agree we can work together and complete paperwork. This session normally takes 1 hour.
The sessions last for 50 minutes (unless the child becomes distressed or tired). The first few sessions are usually about getting to know my client and developing the therapeutic relationship. Some of this early work might be helping to overcome any immediate issues as this can help so much with improving well-being and better coping before we start to look at any trauma and past experiences to increase understanding of present difficulties.
I would not expect to be told everything in the first session, as it can take a little while for a client of any age to feel safe. I work at the child/teenager pace and some days the experience might energising, but other times it can be exhausting. This is normal. It is also normal to experience setbacks at times, before they begin to feel better.
During the sessions the child/teenager and I will work together, exploring the difficulties presented in ways that make them feel most comfortable, This can be talking therapies, using sand tray therapy, creative arts, using non-directive play. But there’s no set format, as each child/teenager is different.
As a parent, I understand how difficult it can be to feel ‘shut out’ of the therapy sessions. However, in order for therapy to work it is important that the child has 100% trust in the therapist’s confidentiality. Children instinctively want to protect their parents from negative feelings, so if there’s a chance they think I might discuss the sessions with their parents/carers it could mean they will resist working with me. So, unlike other forms of medical treatment, a parent or carer does not have a right to access information regarding their child’s therapy sessions. I also ask that the child isn’t asked about their session afterwards , but instead be ready to listen if they choose to tell you about it.
To read New Leaf Counselling Children and Teenager Policy please click here