Counseling can be as beneficial to children as it can for adults and it can help them develop healthy behaviors and coping skills. In some cases, counseling can even prevent serious behavior problems in life. If you have any familiarity with the counseling profession, then you acknowledge that childhood can be a very stressful period of life for many people. The therapists at L&B Counseling are here to help and provide counseling services for children and families. Counseling can help children deal with many different stressful life situations, from coping with learning disabilities to adjusting to their parents’ divorce and getting along with stepparents.
If you are concerned about your child’s behavior or perceived emotional state, there is no wrong reason to seek counseling. The following are just some of the reasons that children go to counseling (http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/finding-therapist.html):
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Learning difficulties
- Parents’ separation or remarriage
- Death or illness of a close family member
- Other traumatic or very stressful family situation, such as a parent going to jail or a military parent being deployed
- Physical symptoms (such as headaches or stomachaches) for which no physical cause can be found and therefore which might be physical manifestations of emotional stress
What Counseling Is Not
Counseling is not an attempt to change or fix who a child is. It is not about labeling the child a problem and isolating him or her from normal activities of childhood. It is not like taking a misbehaving child out of class and sending him to the principal’s office. As Robert Brault said, “A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to.” (http://www.childology.in/counseling.aspx ) The purpose of counseling for children is to be a process by which a child learns healthy behaviors and learns to advocate for himself or herself. It focuses on setting and achieving goals, and not on making the child feel ashamed or on assigning blame and deciding which adults are and are not responsible for the child’s troublesome behavior.
Play Therapy for Young Children
Some forms of therapy used in counseling for adults, such as talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, require a high level of verbal skills and sophisticated thought which young children do not possess. Therefore, one of the most common techniques used in counseling for children ages 11 and younger is play therapy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_therapy). The therapist observes the fictional scenarios that children act out while they play and uses this as a starting point to gain insight into the stresses and fears that the child is not yet able to articulate. In addition to the diagnostic applications of play therapy, this type of therapy can also be used to gradually desensitize children to situations that are a source of anxiety and stress for them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_therapy).
If you sense that your child is suffering from emotional problems but your child does not want to talk to you about them, you are not alone. It is very common for children not to want to open up to their parents about things that are bothering them. If you see your child exhibiting worrisome behaviors, it is a good idea to bring your child to a counselor. These warning signs include:
- Lack of interest in school or change for the worse in academic performance
- Self-harming behavior such as cutting
- Marked change in eating habits
- Persistent aggressive and violent behavior
L&B Counseling Can Help
At L&B counseling, our counselors treat each child as a person and an individual. We understand that there are no one size fits all counseling services.