Children and adolescents come to therapy for many reasons, often broadly to explore emotional or behavioural difficulties that impact their relationships with family members, as well as their teachers and friends. During assessment of a child, the qualified therapist will consider the child’s current problem, their developmental stage, and the history and context of the child when evaluating the need for therapy.
The relationship between the therapist and the child (and of course the child’s parent) is crucial, as the child (and their parent) must feel comfortable, safe and understood. The benefits of child therapy are wide-ranging: a child receiving emotional support, developing the ability to constructively resolve conflicts with those close to him or her, learning to navigate the impact of trauma, restoring appropriate behaviour, understanding feelings and problems such as sadness / anxiety / fear / worthlessness, and exploring new solutions to old problems.
The value of parental involvement in the child’s therapy process cannot be underestimated. Effective consultation with the parent maximises the effects of therapy, and children who make the most gains in therapy are the ones who have a parent or parents who are actively involved in the process. However, there are limits to involvement, particularly with adolescents, who may reveal sensitive information that may be kept confidential within the therapeutic setting.