Counseling Children
Just DIPPING OUR TOE into the topic...

Lori Streu, Ed. S/LPC

Challenge:
How to MODIFY and apply basic counseling skills used with adults to counseling with children.

Top recommendations for counselors...
*build trust
*maintain a helpful attitude
*use questions
(sounds very similar to working with adults)


Talk therapy or other types of therapy with kids?
*Some children are verbal and they will talk.
*Other, younger children, might need a therapy that relies less on talk

What are the other options:
*play therapy
*behavior therapy
*music therapy
*art therapy
*role-playing

Physical setting options:
*child size furniture
*doll house
*human figures/dolls
*coloring books
*musical instruments
*puzzles
*toys
*stuffed animals
*art supplies
*children's books
*games


Remember about children:
*different cognitive levels
*limited vocabularies
*can be less verbal
*may try to manipulate adults
*respond to love and firmness
*may have learned from their parents how to hide their feelings


TOP reasons children come to counseling:
*fear
*anxiety
*depression

The following important skills are generally used 'the most':
*Reflecting content
*Reflecting feelings
*Counselor interpretations
*Use of metaphor

Reflecting content and feeling:
*content may not be expressed explicitly, you can add behavioral tracking--helps them make what they are doing more concrete and lets child know the Co is attentive
*sometimes ill-advised to ask child how they are feeling
*Label for them (with check out) or provide a feelings chart

More on ways children express feelings and content...
*role playing
*dolls/puppets


Interpretation/Metaphor:
*Metaphor allows child to confront difficult personal experience while giving them some distance from what distresses them
*Metaphor is VERY often displayed through play AND drawings ("visual metaphors")
*Found that this transfers to reality sometimes even without explicative verbal discussion
*Other time Co must draw a connection between fantasy world and real world for child


Quick Time Out...
Let's look at Art Therapy with Children:


Why is PLAY therapy a popular choice with children?
*helps child express self both literally and figuratively and doesn't require extensive vocabulary or insight


Important and often overlooked: Setting Limits in Counseling with Children:

*Protect children, materials, counselor
*delineated at beginning or as the session goes
*can use passive voice--"the sand is not for throwing"
*some ask child to create their own alternative behaviors

Sand-Tray or Sand-Play Therapy
*Currently a very popular subset of play therapy
Here is what it is...


How would you start a session with a child?

Let's see...