Counselling with Children
My specialisation in children’s counselling began in 1997 within a local community agency. Initial child presentations included grief as a result of loss of a parent or parental separation and various forms of trauma with ages ranging from preschool through to late childhood.
I have generally found that younger children respond well to creative and play based approaches including sand tray, small figures, creating images and constructing objects. These approaches help children make meaning, express feelings and move through most difficulties. Talking together is important but less so than work with adults especially in the early stages of the counselling process.
Within the counselling process I use psycho-educational approaches assisting children with issues such as bullying, sad mood, grief, separation, anxiety, trauma and anger. Psycho-education gives the children’s counselling tangible outcomes because it provides labels for concepts and gives children more power in their world. As I counsel children we set collaborative goals providing momentum to the child based counselling.
Working out of a strength based and client centered counselling model I view each child as capable and dynamic. I make an effort to understand and enter respectfully into each child’s inner world.
In 2002 I attended the Violet Oaklander two week training in child and adolescent therapy which included direct instruction and guided peer role play with creative therapies including sand tray, use of clay, writing and visual media. This training was pivotal in extending my interest in children’s counselling.
From 2012 I developed a social-emotional skills programme which runs annually in an Auckland school. This experience led on to a research based project developing mindfulness skills with children over twelve weeks in 2015.