What is Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy?

Child and adolescent therapy is a dynamic healing process guided by a therapist, with sessions and activities tailored to the child’s specific circumstances and unique means of expressing themselves.

 

The aim of the treatments is to help children and their families to better understand themselves and the difficulties they are facing, acquiring new skills and healthier coping mechanisms on the way. My psychodynamic approach seeks to look beneath the surface of problematic behaviours and instead focuses on children’s complex, and often hidden, emotional lives that trigger them to behave in certain ways.

 

A prerequisite of successful psychotherapy is creating a safe environment where the child can express even their most troubling thoughts. At its core, therefore, is establishing trust between client and therapist—and once our therapeutic alliance is formed, we work together to set realistic goals drawing on the child’s inner strength.

 

Some circumstances require that I see the child or young person individually, but other family members, especially the parents, are often asked to participate as well. Working together with the parents often promotes a deeper understanding of the child’s perspective and mental processes.

 

Activities during the sessions may vary according to the child’s developmental phase and interests—while younger children may be encouraged to play, older children are often asked to draw or paint. With teenagers, it is usually best to engage them in conversation and simply encourage them to talk about their experiences and how they feel those experiences affect them. The problems we identify along the way also shed light on other factors that may be affecting the child’s relationships, whether in the past or present. 

Who can benefit from therapy?

As a busy parent with a lot on your plate, it can be overwhelming to consider all of your child’s needs and wants. And while every child misbehaves from time to time, if a child has difficulty making friends or shows signs of anxiety or depression, it might be time to step in.

 

Unusual behaviours sometimes indicate more deeply rooted issues that a child cannot overcome on their own. Your child might be having trouble coping with illness or injury, struggle with peer/social pressure, or experience grief following a death, family breakdown, divorce, or other traumatic experience in their life.

 

Some children find it hard to express how they feel, and finding external support might be the best you can do for them. A trained therapist can give your child the confidence they need to overcome challenges in their lives and can provide much needed support for the family as well.  

 

As a busy parent with a lot on your plate it can be overwhelming to consider all of your child’s needs and wants. And while every child misbehaves from time to time, if a child has difficulty making friends or show signs of anxiety or depression, it might be time to step in.

 

Unusual behaviours sometimes indicate more deeply rooted issues that a child cannot overcome on their own. Your child might be having trouble coping with illness or injury, struggle with peer/social pressure, or experience grief following a death, family breakdown, divorce, or other traumatic experience in their life.

 

Some children find it hard to express how they feel, and finding external support might be the best you can do for them. A trained therapist can give your child the confidence they need to overcome challenges in their lives and can provide much needed support for the family as well.  

Benefit of child’s therapy?

As a busy parent with a lot on your plate it can be overwhelming to consider all of your child’s needs and wants. And while every child misbehaves from time to time, if a child has difficulty making friends or show signs of anxiety or depression, it might be time to step in.

 

Unusual behaviours sometimes indicate more deeply rooted issues that a child cannot overcome on their own. Your child might be having trouble coping with illness or injury, struggle with peer/social pressure, or experience grief following a death, family breakdown, divorce, or other traumatic experience in their life.

 

Some children find it hard to express how they feel, and finding external support might be the best you can do for them. A trained therapist can give your child the confidence they need to overcome challenges in their lives and can provide much needed support for the family as well.  

 

As a busy parent with a lot on your plate it can be overwhelming to consider all of your child’s needs and wants. And while every child misbehaves from time to time, if a child has difficulty making friends or show signs of anxiety or depression, it might be time to step in.

 

Unusual behaviours sometimes indicate more deeply rooted issues that a child cannot overcome on their own. Your child might be having trouble coping with illness or injury, struggle with peer/social pressure, or experience grief following a death, family breakdown, divorce, or other traumatic experience in their life.

 

Some children find it hard to express how they feel, and finding external support might be the best you can do for them. A trained therapist can give your child the confidence they need to overcome challenges in their lives and can provide much needed support for the family as well.  

Example of some underlying mental health conditions that often needed professional support :

 

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Defiant behaviour, to some extent, is a normal part of children’s development that tends to be more prominent around the ages of 2-3 and a child’s teenage years. However, if you notice that your child exhibits patterns of behaviour that are consistently above the threshold of social acceptability, it is often a sign that you need to seek professional help.

 

Children and teens with ODD appear more intense and display pervasive anger, irritability and seemingly cruel or vindictive behaviours more frequently compared to their peers. They also tend to be uncooperative, defiant, and hostile towards their parents, teachers, and other authority figures.

 

Parents are often puzzled about how to adapt their discipline methods and overall parenting style, especially when they see that their child’s behaviour hinders their learning and socialization with others. Managing the extreme behaviours stemming from ODD can be frustrating, often presenting a bigger challenge to the child’s surroundings then it does to the child himself. 

 

 

Anxiety

Anxiety manifests in some individuals as a persistent feeling of fear or worry, while others appear easily irritable or angry. A child with anxiety might be having trouble sleeping or present physical symptoms like fatigue, recurring headaches, or stomach aches. Some children with anxiety disorder also have a tendency to keep their worries to themselves, making it more difficult for the parents to recognize the early symptoms.

 

It is often not clear why some children or teenagers develop anxiety disorder, however, there are some commonly observed causes. For example, a history of anxiety disorder running in the family makes it more likely for a child to develop the disorder. Unfortunately, children can also “learn” anxiety, fear, or avoidance behaviour by unconsciously copying their parents.

 

 

Depression

Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health disorders affecting preteens and teenagers. These conditions also share many similarities despite the symptom behaviours appearing to be different. A key difference between them is that anxiety is usually linked to avoidance behaviour, while depression is characterized by withdrawal from friends and family.

 

Feeling low or unmotivated is something most individuals experience at one point or another, but for people with depression this feeling of helplessness persists and can even develop into more serious conditions. Patients with depressive disorder generally describe their experience as a paralyzing feeling of sadness that disrupts their daily life. Two key symptoms of depression are sleep difficulties and not being able to shake off certain thoughts. Other common symptoms include:

 

  • Emotional symptoms (e.g. feelings of misery, lack of self-esteem, a sense of helplessness, shame, extreme sadness, excessive crying, irritability).

  • Motivational symptoms (e.g. apathy, indecision, lack of self-control).

  • Mental symptoms (e.g. negative self-appraisal, bleak outlook for the future, thoughts of inferiority, thought distortions, suicidal thoughts, self-blame, memory problems).

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by the child experiencing recurrent, distressing thoughts and relying on repetitive behaviour (such as hand-washing).  A child with OCD may routinely perform certain activities to prevent obsessive or intrusive thoughts, some feared event, or to reduce their feelings of anxiety or distress.

 

The World Health Organization has ranked the condition as one of the top 10 disabling illnesses because the symptoms can become so disruptive that people with severe OCD often find it challenging to maintain a normal daily life.  

 

OCD has a lifetime prevalence of about 2-3 % in the US population with up to 80% of adults with OCD experiencing symptoms before the age of 18 (Swedo et al, 1989). However, OCD tends to be underdiagnosed and undertreated as it has symptoms similar to other disorders, and those who are affected tend to be secretive about their condition.

Length of treatment

Child psychotherapy can last from seven sessions to two years, and it is not uncommon for young adults to return to therapy when they feel confused or in need of additional support.

 

Besides working with children individually, I also offer sessions for families who worry about their babies or young children. Parent support therapy can take place parallel to the child’s therapy.

2010 - present

2010 - present

Therapy sessions

One-on-one therapy sessions last for 50 minutes, while family meetings are 1 to 1.5 hours long. I try to see children at the same time and in the same room every week. A predictable routine supports the work. 

 

Play therapy for young children and talking therapy for preteens and adolescents help the affected child to deal with the difficulties they are experiencing, and the practical coping skills they learn along the way make a world of difference for some of those conditions.

 

Sometimes children find it hard to communicate through words or play, and some do not have the language skills to convey their thoughts. For some, the traumatic events are too painful to recall and talk about. During the sessions I provide children with more adaptive ways to express themselves and process their feelings and also help parents to find ways to communicate with their children meaningfully.

ms.loralee@gmail.com
Tel: +852 3752-0654
Skype: +44 (0) 20 8123 9887

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