How can counselling services help my child?

Many young people are struggling with how they feel. They are having problems with friends, family or school, they are anxious, depressed, angry or scared and need to talk to someone, but find it difficult to talk to people they know. Counselling and other advice services can help them talk things through, support them without making them feel judged, and in confidence (unless they disclose that their personal safety is at risk). Advice services can make a positive difference to their lives.

The range of advice services for children and young people includes face-to-face counselling, one-to-one phone calls, webchat, email, forums and face-to-face sessions.

How counselling can help young people

Counselling is the most common form of talking therapy. It can help young people deal with issues and events and the effects they are having on their mental wellbeing. Counselling could be recommended for young people who are basically healthy but who are struggling with a mental health disorder such as depression or eating disorders; it can address problems with anxiety, bereavement; bullying, anger, relationships, low self-esteem, and self-harm. The counsellor will help explore the problem, the symptoms and strategies for coping.

Different types of counselling

There are different types of counselling, but the most common ones recommended for young people are:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): The approach of CBT is about thinking more positively about life, looking at  how you can get stuck in patterns of behaviour and ways of changing these rather than dwelling on past events. There are typically six or 12 weekly sessions and the therapist sets goals with the young person, often with ‘homework’ to do in between.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is often combined with CBT and helps a young person to focus on difficult thoughts and feeling, rather than avoiding them, so that the fear of them gradually lessens. Therapists can also include meditation, yoga and breathing exercises.

Psychotherapy: This is a more long-term therapy and involves talking about the effects of past events and can be more helpful with long-term problems such as depression or eating disorders.

Family Therapy: The whole family works with the family therapist to try and understand the problems they are all having. It can help improve communications between family members and issues such as children’s behavioural problems, disability, family breakdown, addiction and domestic violence.

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