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Young people & counselling

Sometimes young people, like adults, can benefit from therapy. Young people suffer stress from school demands, bullying & friendship issues. With adolescents, parents and carers may be wondering what happened to their lovely girl or boy, who now storms around the house and slams the door in their face. Whatever their age, experiencing difficulties at home such as parents rowing or big transitions like a parent being ill or a relationship break up can also affect how a young person feels. Sometimes they’re not told what’s going on because parents or carers are being protective. Whatever the circumstances, Young people often feel they are to blame in these situations, even when adults around them tell they’re not. Counselling can be very helpful in supporting a young person in being able to name their concerns to someone who’s not family.  It’s heartening to know that young people’s brains are more open to their environment – more vulnerable to negatives but also more open to positive influences – so they tend to be more open to the benefits of counselling, particularly adolescents.

How does a parent or carer distinguish standard young person behaviour or relationships from situations which might warrant counselling? A key thing for parents and carers to notice is changes in their child – radical changes in their happiness, contact with others, sleep or eating patterns all show something is going on. If talking things through with your child doesn’t leave you satisfied that they are doing well within the changes they are going through, then its worth talking to someone about it- including friends and family. If you think your child might get help from counselling, you could ask them. It might make it feel more “normal” if they know someone who’s had counselling, so if you have a friend or relative who has, it might help a child to know this. It’s important that the young person has a choice in having counselling. If they don’t want it, it is better to give them the choice to say no. They may then ask for counselling later.

Successful counselling comes from building a positive relationship with the counsellor, in which concerns can be talked about confidentially. How this is managed with young people depends on their age and level of maturity. If you are thinking that counselling may be helpful for your child, this is something to discuss with the counsellor.

 Christine Fletcher