Child, Adolescent and Family Therapy
Does My Child or Adolescent Need Individual Therapy, or Family Therapy?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether your children’s situation requires individual therapy (or one on one therapy) with the psychologist or counsellor. Or whether they would benefit from family therapy. These factors are in relation to the following questions:
Is this an issue around my child’s emotional or developmental needs?
Is the issue affecting the whole family, or more than one member?
Is there relationship or communication factors to consider?
Meet our Adolescent Therapists
Meet our Adolescent Therapists
Meet our Child Therapists
Child and Adolescent Counselling
There are a set of unique issues that children and adolescents face as they grow and change throughout their developmental years. There’s a special kind of nurturing that they require from their parents and the specialists involved in their life. Raising children can be stressful, and parents can find themselves confused and concerned for their children and wanting some expert advice and support to ensure their children are supported during these formative years.
Bridges Counselling can match your child’s specific needs to one of our professionals to ensure they can meet their emotional and developmental potential. Our counsellors and psychologists have extra training and experience to ensure that they can offer the best possible treatment for your children and young people.
During childhood and adolescence, a person goes through many changes, with their learning, their physiology, their hormones and their brain development. Each stage of development sees different issues that can be focussed on during therapy. We can offer assessment, diagnosis, early intervention and psychological treatments to children of all ages from 4 to 18 years of age.
- Developmental difficulties
- specific learning difficulties such as reading difficulties
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD)
- Anxiety disorders in children
- Depression disorders in children
- social difficulties
- life skills development
- discipline issues
During these years children often need help to improve social skills, to develop pre-academic skills and to increase social and emotional competence. Some children can suffer from significant separation anxiety when transitioning to preschool and preparing for big school.
This is the stage in life where parents may begin to notice that their children are not developing at the same pace as their peers and they require support to assess their abilities. Many children at this age may be assessed as having neurological or cognitive disabilities and their parents may require support and psychoeducation to understand what these diagnoses mean and how they can be treated.
Psychologists can create individualised programs to cater to the needs of each child depending on the issues that they present with. Some interventions that are common for this age group are behavioural interventions and emotional scaffolding, developing routines and structures, treating separation anxiety and specific phobias such as fears of animals or loud noises.
Primary school years
As children develop throughout their primary school years, they are undergoing significant changes. These are the years that children are supported to develop their self-esteem and their identities. If children have suffered trauma or setbacks they will need some support to navigate these years. Some children experience significant shyness and find trying new things really scary. They often hold a lot of worries inside and don’t yet have the emotional expression to articulate how they are feeling.
They can find support to identify and communicate emotions very helpful during this time. Sadly this is also the time when some children experience grief and loss in relation to losing elderly relatives. There is also a high likelihood that children are the victims of bullying at school and this is often hard to navigate.
Children can benefit from support to develop their social skills in such areas as conflict resolution, communication and developing resilience and assertiveness. Treatment for this age group requires a specialist to think creatively, to engage with your child in a way that will foster their progress.
Psychologists often used expressive therapies such as play and art as a means to enable children to express themselves and gain understanding. A major part of the therapeutic process for children is to involve their parents in our sessions as well. Our therapists aim to educate parents, support their relationship with their children and upskill parents to work through the presenting issues with their children.
Some children require an educational psychologist to help to assess their academic potential and their academic needs. And educational psychologist can do psychometric testing to determine a childs learning profile which can help t determine what supports they need in school as well.
The high school years present an entirely new set of goals and issues for development. During this time the adolescent brain is undergoing a transformation in structure and chemistry, this can lead to some difficult years which young people need support to navigate. Specifically, the pre-frontal cortex, or the front part of the brain, is developing and expanding in this time. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for moral thought, decision making, and social behaviour. Young people, in this time make decisions that are narrow minded, or impulsive and can have negative affects on their social connections and safety and wellbeing. As well as this their social and educational settings are expanding and the demands they find imposed on them can lead to stress and emotional reactions.
Common issues teenagers find that they need to see a professional about include, anxieties such as social anxiety and performance anxiety in relation to grades. They often need help to navigate social issues such as bullying, relationship issues and their developing social identity. Teenagers can also become victim to peer influence and participate in risky behaviour because of peer pressure. Partly due to their desire to fit into social groups and partly bause of their teenage brain as discussed above. Adolescents can get support to develop their communication skills and their problem solving skills which will help them both now and into the future as they prepare for life after school.
They may also require support to express themselves in helpful ways without resorting to problematic reactions such as anger and aggression. This is the time where their world is opening up to them and they may need support to navigate peer pressure. They may find themselves adopting unhelpful coping skills such as alcohol or drug abuse, or risk taking behaviours.
The above mentioned issues may be dealt with in individual, one on one modality, or they may be best treated using a family therapy model whereby other members of the family may be called upon to participate in the sessions to better support the child and young person’s development towards their therapeutic goals. This may encompass relationship building, attachment building, routine setting, improving communication, or educating family members.
Our adolescent psychologists and counsellors may invite the whole family to sessions, the individual’s siblings, or a parent, both parents or a step parent. These decisions will always be mad in consultation and negotiation with the child or young person and their representing parent.
Family Therapy enables family members to:
Express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely.
Understand each other’s experiences and views
Appreciate each other’s needs, and build on strengths
Make useful changes in their relationships and their lives
Family Therapy may cover any of these issues:
- Anger management
- Separation and divorce, and the impact on family members
- Building better relationships
- Child protection
- Communication issues
- Conflict resolution
- Decision making and negotiation
- Emotional abuse
- Extended family and boundaries
- Family mediation and parenting plans
- Family roles, power and control issues
- Family or domestic violence and abuse
- Parenting issues
- Step family and extended family conflict
- Step family parenting issues