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For parents

Firstly and most importantly well done for recognising that your child may need professional and qualified support. Parenting is the hardest job in the world and one for which we are least prepared. As a parent of six children, I know from experience that it can be distressing to witness your child struggling with the difficulties of adolescence. Disruption and discord are a common part of adolescence and, although most of this will dissipate naturally as they become young adults, sometimes this transition may be complicated by difficult circumstances. It is normal and supportive to access therapy for your child at this time.

Working therapeutically with young people at this stage of their emotional development is rewarding work that can result in permanent beneficial change. Sessions can be face to face or web based. Over the last three decades, I have established a good reputation amongst health professionals and parents with regard to my work with young people. I receive regular referrals and recommendations through psychiatrists, GPs, school pastoral care officers, parents of previous clients and counselling colleagues.

Common difficulties that young people struggle with include exam and school-related stress and anxiety, eating disorders, phobias including emetophobia and agoraphobia, anger management, anxiety disorders including GAD, OCD, panic, health anxiety and social anxiety, PTSD, peer pressure and bullying, body dysmorphia, depression and self-harm, transition to school or university, self esteem, loss, divorce, death, and friendship difficulties.

Will I attend my child’s sessions?

If your child would like you to be present for the first part of their first session then you are welcome to join them. After the first session, I dissuade parents from attending even if your child requests your presence. From a therapeutic stance, your presence may have a negative impact on the child’s processing and progress. There are exceptions to this when you may be invited into sessions to support the process of your child’s therapy and treatment plan. This is usually the case if your child is suffering with trauma, OCD, or suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Sometimes your child may want to share something with you in their sessions.

Will I know what is discussed in my child’s sessions?

Confidentiality is an ethical prerequisite of the therapeutic relationship to establish trust between counsellor and child. Thus, as a parent, you will not be privy to the content of your child’s sessions. Conversely, once sessions have commenced, any communication from you about your child may be shared with your child if this will benefit their progress. Understandably some parents find this difficult especially if they are not familiar with this therapeutic arrangement. This confidentiality rule needs to be agreed to before sessions begin and we can discuss this further during our initial consultation. Please be assured that you will be made aware if your child is in any danger.

What is the general process of my child’s therapy?

In my experience the initial sessions provide relief as clients are able to safely explore issues that have been upsetting them. As the sessions continue you may notice that your child is more distressed as they explore and address their difficulties at a deeper level. Usually sessions end when the circumstances are fully addressed, understood and hopefully resolved.

How do I access support for myself and other members of the family?

A young person’s distress may be as a result of difficulty in their family system. It is not unusual for other family members to be struggling emotionally as well. This can be difficult to manage. I recommend that you consider seeking support with your own therapy and even parenting classes. Currently, I do not provide family therapy or parenting advice but I can help you to find support if you do need it.

How can I most effectively support my child’s therapy process?

It is normal to be curious about how your child experiences their sessions. I recommend avoiding direct questioning. Give them space to tell you as much as they feel comfortable. Respecting their decision to discuss their sessions or not can build autonomy and confidence in your child. Research confirms that if your attitude towards your child’s therapy is positive, this will help their progress because your opinion is important to them.