Does My Child Need to See a Counsellor?

upset childThe lives of children can be quite stressful – there’s the expectations of the school environment, study and exams, friendships and family relationships, and as the child gets older personal development, peer support and self-image. Then there’s the possibility of significant life events –an illness or a death in the family, parents separating and relationship breakups. Some of these events most people would find stressful, and some of that discomfort is a result of a feeling of being out of control.

Ideally, there will be someone in the family for the child to talk to, a parent, a grandparent, aunt or friend. What the child probably needs more than anything is the opportunity to speak, but in our busy lives, such opportunities can be hard to find.

Most parents try to create this time. There are times, however, when your child seems unable to express what they are feeling or what you notice as a change in their behaviour.

When do you know that the behaviour you are seeing in your child is a concern? When do you start to worry about a change in their behaviour? Clearly, that can get tricky because children do change as they develop. If you are worried talk to someone about it. If you have a GP, you can talk to that can be a good start to helping you decide what kind of help you need and who to go to.

Sometimes children can benefit from therapy. It may address some issues the school has told you about, attention difficulties, difficulty managing tasks and getting upset or angry or complains of being bullied or doing the bullying.

Some of the following things may cause you to worry

changes in appetite
spending more time in their room
Activities they previously enjoyed no longer of interest and nothing has replaced that enjoyment
increased periods of anxiety or sadness.

If your child does not share with you what is happening in their lives, you might find a family member they have confided in, or you could consider counselling. As a children’s counsellor at this practice, I would say that it is not always helpful to just refer the child to the counsellor to sort things out, without some background information. I would always recommend that the parent/s attend the first session either with the child or before the child attends, to enable a good understanding of the circumstances in which the child is living. All families are unique, and family dynamics vary.

Depending on the age of the child they may benefit from an opportunity to talk to someone independent of the family to help sort something out in their mind. At other times, it would be helpful for the family to attend some sessions with the child to enhance positive interactions in the family which will benefit the child, and in turn the whole family.

The counsellor can discuss these options with you at the first session or as sessions continue. In the situation where the child sees the counsellor alone issues around confidentiality need to be clarified.

The counsellor may also suggest that obtaining a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP to assist with the cost of sessions if your GP has not already suggested this as an option.

To see Di Clough under a Mental Health Plan, you would get $75.80 back from Medicare on a charge of $95 for a 1-hour session for a child under 18.

To make an appointment to see Di Clough or to obtain further information regarding counselling or Mental Health Plans, please call the office on 07 34581725.

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