Counselling and therapy are important tools for children as well as adults. Whilst counselling usually focuses on the short-term, longer-term therapy allows children to learn their patterns of thinking and how to support themselves in the future. Let us guide you on what to look out for, and assure you that child counselling might be the right path for your child.
👉🏼 What are the signs your child may need therapy?
It hasn’t been easy living through the COVID-19 pandemic, let alone being a young person growing up in a time of constant change, rules and restrictions. Couple this with school closures and being back to school as normal this year and lots of unforeseen issues have arisen.
Unfortunately, during this turbulent time we’ve seen a huge rise in the numbers of mental health issues on top of those already untreated. We know that one in six school children experience mental health issues (up from one in ten over ten years ago), but that many haven’t received intervention early enough. 👎🏼
That’s not all. This is even higher for neurodiverse children. For example, 70% of autistic young people experience a mental health issue before they leave school. Students from the poorest 20% of households are four times as likely to have them too, as well as three times as many for those with a learning need.
As a result, children struggle academically and pastorally, and cases of bullying and exclusion are also on the rise. 🙁 It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious or worried at times, but as a parent you can look out for these emotions dominating your child’s thoughts and time. What are some of the other signs can you look out for?
🚩 Sudden changes in behaviour and lots of tearfulness
🚩 Negative or low-self esteem, and losing interest in daily life
🚩 Arguing or fighting more than normal
🚩 Changes in sleep patterns (this is also common for teenagers!)
🚩 Aches and pains, or complaining about feeling sick
Beyond the family, peer and school support network, and depending on the root of the problem, your child may need counselling or therapy. Anxiety and depression can come in phases and waves, but ultimately it can also be lifelong.
Therapists and child psychologists can teach tools to help children to manage these difficult periods.
👉🏼 Counselling for kids: how does it work?
Child counseling is tailored support specifically for children and their mental health needs. If left untreated, childhood trauma and pain can affect adults for the rest of their lives.
In the UK, the NHS website should be your first port of call. Free 24/7 helplines are there to advise and guide, as well as a huge range of advice from medical professionals. 💡
Seeing a counsellor, therapist or other healthcare professional is often the first step for children and their parents to feel as though they are taking back some control.
Practically, booking an appointment with your GP is a tangible and helpful first step to figuring out what avenue is needed. Counseling and seeing a registered psychologist is not cheap, especially if a long course of action is needed.
There are lots of free resources that can help, too. For example:
⭐ YoungMinds for mental health issues like anxiety and depression
⭐ Place2Be for mental health in school
⭐ The Mix for general support for under 25s
⭐ Kooth for child-friendly digital support
Remember to keep your child’s school and tutor informed, too, so that all adults involved can be aware of how to support your child in their various environments. 📗 Mental health issues affect learning, so being aware of the problem (and a possible diagnosis) can help teachers and tutors to support children better in the classroom.
👉🏼 What makes a good child psychologist?
Counselling involves talking about personal and sensitive issues, and not every counsellor is for everyone. First and foremost they should have some experience and be professionally qualified. You can check a practicioner against the Professional Standards Authority who they must be accredited with.
Beyond that, not every counsellor, therapist or psychologist is for everyone, and it can take time to find the right fit. A good counsellor should focus on getting to know the child, their strengths and their challenges. They need to be aware of the child’s preferences (how do they like to be communicated with?) and their cultural background.
If your child’s school is fortunate enough to have an in-house counsellor or therapist, you can also get in contact to see if you’re eligible to be on the waiting list. As we previously suggested, remember to go through your GP, too.
As a parent, you can focus on listening, creating routines and normality, showing positivity, love and support and being informed about what your child needs and works for them. 🌞
Remember to model good behaviours and routines (this involves showing and surpassing sadness and anger!), and make the home a safe space to talk.
Charities like Mind are also here to support children and young people with mental health issues.
At GoStudent we are aware of the pressures on children, and have tutors equipped to support them. Book a free tutoring session with GoStudent today and combine pastoral care with academic success.