Counseling for children and adolescents
Childhood, pre-teen, and adolescents years can be a very difficult for both child and parents alike.
This is a time when we as human beings develop the foundation of our individual sense of self. Our clinicians provide professional adolescent counseling to help adolescents and their families navigate through this tough maze like time.
Childhood is a time where a human being begins to learn how to communicate, socialize, and interact. Children learn primarily through emulation of their parents, care givers, or adults around them. Generally speaking, they will take the values and beliefs of those who are raising them—of those who are closest too them. As they grow in years, children move into being a pre-teen (9-11) just prior to their teen years. At this time they naturally begin to question the values and beliefs they had taken on in childhood. Their thinking has deepened to where they are no longer children and not yet adults, which means that at one moment they are very calm and rational, while the next, they may be acting like they were five again. Although physically, they have grown taller, pre-teens have not entered the hormonal changes which will take into adulthood. Some conflict is normal at this stage, but outside support, encouragement, and perspectives can be very helpful.
During adolescents, a teenager is experiencing change from every side: physical grow and development, logical thinking is deepening, emotions are fluctuating, while expanding further their understanding of social interactions, as well as, beginning to try and find their place in the world. At times, the changes they are experiencing can be very confusing at best. Socially, adolescents are moving farther into their own social circles of friends, and naturally, farther away from their parents/care givers as a way of learning how to interact with the world as the adults they are becoming. The struggle naturally becomes for the adolescent: who knows me best? The adolescent can become very isolated, confused, and alone as they are trying to do the best they can, which may also be working against them in the long run. One of the keys during adolescents is having learning how to have an interdependence between both their parents and their social world; learning the value of having multiple sources to lean on.
Our clinicians have a large amount of experience in working with children and adolescents in a variety of different ways for several decades. One of the differences with our clinicians is that they approach children and adolescents in world they are in. They work at seeing the world through the eyes of children and adolescents; rather than, seeing them or working in counseling with them as they would adults. Our approach in counseling with children through adolescents is to consider the: physical, social, economic, mental, linguistic environment. Our clinicians seek to identify and develop strength and growth in areas while helping them reduce stress and increase their coping skills. At times, we may asked to bring in other members of the family, friends, teachers, and care givers at times if bringing people in would assist the client.
Our clinicians are also experience with: addiction, co-occurring, depression, trauma, anxiety, self-esteem enhancement, adjustment to transitions such as: divorce, grief, loss, changing schools or environments, peer relationships, behavioral problems, attention difficulties, etc. They have experience working specifically with the psychological, mental and emotional changes of childhood through adolescences changes and other related adolescent issues. At times, those issues can either revolve or be formed out of the dynamics between children and parents/care givers. Our clinicians are experienced at gently working with the multiple layers of those tender dynamics. They are also experienced in working with adolescents who have every day problems to the complexities of: trauma, mental illness, at risk components, foster care, depression, etc.
In addiction our clinicians are skilled at working with families in order to address and improve the dynamics and communication. We have worked families who came in with very volatile relationship. Through focusing on specific techniques and building on the already established strengths of the family, relationship underwent healing and rebuilding. Generally speaking, when families come into counseling, years have gone by which developed the dynamics which are now fueling the conflicts between members. At times, having a third party is the key to facilitating changes and healing in those dynamics.
There are two other focuses which are clinicians have. 1) Is working with students in the area of school achievements and adjustments. We can assist families and students in being able to establish routines in and outside of the classroom to improve studying and learning. 2) Working with autism (see our page on autism under counseling).
When to seek counseling for children and adolescents:
Very seldom that children under the age of 11 are able to ask for assistance such as: counseling. They may ask for help from their parents or family members but generally adults, parents, and care givers may have to make the decision for their children. As children they have only began to understand what it is to have a voice for themselves. Even though children may not be wanting or willing to enter counseling; however, counseling can still be very effective as the child begins to build rapport with their counselor.
With adolescents 12 and up, asking for help can still be difficult, but adolescents will at times ask for their own help. It is still rare, but when they do those are the best moments to seek a counselor for them. It is still tough at times for them to see what they are doing to themselves in order to coop with the world or situation they are in. Although their minds and their thinking is growing, they lack two very important things: 1) Life experience; 2) And the next developmental shift in thinking where teenagers more from emotional thinking to logical adult thinking. It is not that adolescents do not have enough life experience to make the changes they need too. They do have experience, but many times the struggles they are facing keep them from coming forward and asking for the help they may need. At times, adolescents are not able to ask for help because they are seen as “needing to have an attitude change” and parents or caregivers have the ability and authority to reward or punish the adolescent’s decision on whether or not to enter counseling. It may also become the parents or court’s decision for the adolescents to enter counseling and although it is always easier in the beginning if the adolescent is choosing to enter counseling, it can still be effective for them even if they are not.