Counseling for Children
Counseling is the practice of self-exploration and reflection in which people examine their sense of self and how they interact with the world. Self exploration and reflection are unique to each person, so we shape our counseling style to compliment a child’s process. These may include elements of both individual and family counseling. At Bozeman Therapy & Counseling, we hold a strong belief that working with children means working with families. Therefore, we use evidence-based researched theories, models, and techniques to assist in personal reflection and growth for both children and families. The most common of these are Child-Centered Play Therapy and Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (see below for more information).
We can help your child or family with:
- Improving family or parent-child relationships
- Learning how to establish healthy relationships/friendships
- Reducing feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, or numbness
- Developing social skills
- Increasing self-esteem/self-worth
- Fostering independence and autonomy
- Managing academic issues
- Increasing self-regulation
- Life transitions including divorce or separation, birth, death, aging, etc.
- Developmental delays or other special needs
How does it work?
Relationships influence and impact our development dramatically! Therefore, in counseling, we tend to focus on relationships in the beginning. It is typical for a child to feel embarrassed, anxious, or angry at the thought of counseling. These reactions are understandable and normal. For that reason, at Bozeman Therapy & Counseling, our first step is to establish a safe and accepting relationship with the children we counsel, which may take time and involvement from families. Once a secure relationship is built between counselor and child, then we develop our focus to setting and meeting collaborative goals between families and counselor. With younger children, ages 3-12 years old, it is typical to provide a combination of individual and family sessions. A common example of this combination is 2-4 individual child sessions and 1-2 family sessions per month. During these family sessions, we may focus on creating goals, exploring relationships within the family, building support systems, and problem solving (which may include academic or other social issues), among many other topics.
What is Child-Centered Play Therapy?
Play is highly regarded as the language of children, meaning play is an age-appropriate way to access children’s emotional experiences. Methods such as art therapy, games, puppetry, sand tray use, and other sensory play materials are used in the therapy playroom most commonly. The purpose of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) is not to fix the child’s problems, but rather to assist the child in developing their sense of self, which will eventually include the ability to problem solve for themselves. This is important to establish early on in a child’s life in order to continue building a strong sense of autonomy. CCPT’s primary intervention is to create a safe and warm environment through unconditional understanding as well as acceptance in which a child feels comfortable sharing vulnerable information with a counselor.
What is Emotionally Focused Family Therapy?
Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) is grounded in attachment theory, which places emphasis on how our sense of self is highly influenced by the relationships we experience throughout our life, most notably the parent-child relationship. EFFT challenges families to examine their attachment with their family members, or more specifically children, to determine what patterns of interactions are occurring and how to attend to and repair potential attachment injuries or harmful interaction patterns. Sue Johnson, EFFT founder, refers to a cycle that families become stuck in as the “negative interaction cycle.” The prominent goal of EFFT is to promote secure attachment styles within the family, as well as improve interaction cycles, allowing children and parents to interact with a stronger sense of connection.
Please feel free to contact us for more information regarding childhood and family counseling. We are here to help!