Child psychotherapy is psychotherapy conducted with children younger than 12 years. The aim of child psychotherapy is to assist a child and often the parents, psychologically with various difficulties affecting the child or parent-child relationship emotionally and behaviourally.
Early development is a busy, drastically changing time in the child’s life. With all the developmental milestones that the child needs to reach as part of development, the child is also part of a busy often challenging world. In an ever evolving fast passed life with more demands on children and parents, is it no wonder more and more parents seek assistance form health care professionals in addressing emotional and behavioural challenges which might prevent a child from achieving all the required developmental millstones necessary as part of this life span.
Children often become overwhelmed by all the demands facing them. Child psychotherapy is a broad form of therapy and focus on various difficulties which affect children emotionally and behaviourally and some of the broad goals might include but is not limited to: building self-confidence, improving communication and expanding emotional vocabulary, optimizing parent-child relationship and broadening emotional and behavioural role repertoire.
Parents might seek child psychotherapy when they become aware or feel concerned because their child’s behaviour changed, school results diminished or the child is uncharacteristically emotional. As a parent, it is difficult to always know when your child’s behaviour is a normal part of growing up or warrants further investigation into a possible bigger issue.
When parents reach out for child psychotherapy, an appointment is set up by the psychologist with the biological parents or legal guardians of the child. Here after, two to four sessions are set up between the psychologist and the child. Depending on the child’s age one or more of the parents or the legal guardians are asked to accompany the child during the therapeutic sessions. These sessions are multi-purposeful in that a therapeutic relationship between the child and the psychologist is established and the child is evaluated psychologically. A feedback session with biological parents or legal guardians are arranged for feedback and planning for further therapeutic contact. The therapeutic relationship between the psychologist and the child is used to assist the parents or guardians to understand the child within his or her unique functioning, for the child to work thought unresolved emotions and practise new behaviours safely in the context of a trusting relationship free from judgement and pressure. It is through the therapeutic relationship that the child learn various new behaviours in order to function more optimally in his/her environment.
All children are different and often problematic behaviour can be seen as part of growing up and gaining experience in life. However, if a child continuously engages in behaviours that might be inappropriate, be self harming or harms others, consider setting up an appointment with a psychologist who works with children and can offer child psychotherapy.
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