What does Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Offer?

You've Helped us to understand that H's behaviour isn't about being provocative, it's because he's terrified. We've managed to find ways of understanding his fears and used story cards and pictures so that school is less of a scary place for him. We didn't realise how much we would gain from having your insight into his feelings, his own little world. Headteacher, talking about a five-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists assess and treat infants, children and young people and work with their parents, families carers and the networks surrounding them.  Children and young people who have emotional and mental health problems, that can be severe and long-lasting, may respond to people and situations in ways that they do not understand and cannot control.  Their emotions can be extreme and powerful and are often expressed through their behaviour and in problematic relationships. These difficulties often extend to relationships with services and professionals.  This can prevent these children from benefiting from the care and opportunities that are available to them and is in part why some programmes fail to meet the needs of the most vulnerable groups.

A Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist can help a child or adolescent to understand himself or herself through their relationship together.  The problems identified in this relationship shed light on those in other relationships in the child’s life, whether in the past or present.  During a therapeutic session, younger children may be encouraged to play, while older children may be asked to draw or paint and teenagers to talk about their feelings.  Through the relationship with the therapist in a consistent setting, the child or adolescent may begin to know and to feel able to express their most troubling thoughts and feelings.

The extensive training of the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist enables them to work with these very disturbing thoughts and help the child make sense of their experience and develop their own individuality and potential.  Confused, frightened, hurt, angry or painful feelings can gradually be put into words rather than actions.  As a result the child can begin to express their emotions in less disturbed ways and begin to return to the normal process of child development. They are likely to feel less anxious, more able to learn and better equipped to sustain friendships. It can also improve the quality of life within the family or in relationships with carers and professionals.  Significantly for the wider network, the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist will also be able to represent the child’s experience in relation to his/her family, placement, special educational needs and therapeutic needs.