Would your child like to have more self-esteem, more confidence and assertiveness in their communication with others?
Would your child like to learn coping strategies to control nerves, anger or anxiety?
Is your child involved in sport competitions, school productions or music exams and needs to be able to perform to the best of their ability?
Are you worried about your child's behaviour?
I can assure you that you are not alone in your worries - children do not come with an instruction manual and when we see our 'little ones' no matter what their age, in pain we want to find a solution straight away to comfort them, reassure them and let them know they are safe and protected.
I see my young clients either individually or during group work and I also host regular online webinars to encourage, educate and support parents who are going through a worrying time with their child.
Children respond very well to therapeutic intervention - often not even realising they are 'doing work', as I include drama, art, conversational hypnotherapy, metaphors, breathing exercises and biofeedback into our sessions. All very enjoyable, easy and effective. I find that children make fantastic progress after just a few sessions and may even come home armed with advice, tips and strategies for the rest of the family to start using!
Things to consider...
Is this just a phase?
Possibly, you are the parent so I suggest you use your strong parental instincts to come to a conclusion about this. Start to think about when, why and how your child's behaviour changed. Was there a particular incident or event that triggered it? Has it slowly changed over time? It's important to avoid comparing your child with other siblings or friends at this point and focus on what's going on for them, their needs, wishes and wants. Do they want to change an aspect about their behaviour? Have you talked to them about why they are behaving in a certain way? They may have a very valid reason which can be sorted out quickly and easily at home with some simple Positive Psychology exercises.
In contrast you may know exactly what has happened and know that this is not usual behaviour for your child. If you are concerned that this is not just a passing phase and something that needs professional therapeutic intervention please give me a call and we can discuss your situation further. There is no cost - I'd be happy to help.
Will I be able to afford it?
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Is therapy just a waste of time - surely my child should just 'toughen up' if they are to succeed in life?
I hear you! Believe me I'm a big believer in the whole 'you can kill you children with love' mentality. I have seen it numerous times in and out of the classroom and consulting room where parents have not allowed their child to 'experience the experience' of emotions.
Therapy, especially person-centred talk therapy is fantastic at building mental toughness because it gives children the tools they need to see them through life: to be able to sit comfortably with an emotion or feeling and know that eventually it will pass, that eventually the anxiety will dissipate and anger will dissolve.
I also teach Mindfulness techniques including exercises such as: body scans, flow of breath and conscious recognition. Fantastic techniques that all ages can use in stressful situations. Imagine being taught these amazing empowering techniques when you were young? Imagine what a difference it could have made for you in stressful situations.
How will I fit it in with all the other activities we do?
My advice here is that if there really is a problem then it needs to be addressed promptly - adding extra pressures such as making the school teams, passing instrument exams and running around town attending after-school activities will just add to the anxiety levels of you and more importantly, your child.
Therapy should be a priority - when you decide to embark on a therapeutic process you will be investing time and money. To see the benefits you will most probably have to loosen the reins for a little while and allow your child time to develop, grow and heal emotionally, cognitively and behaviourally. It will only be half a term at most and the rewards will topple the sacrifices - everything will still be there when you finish the therapy.
In fact, it's often a great time for you all to 'recharge' as a family and really pay attention to the expectations from others, ourselves and the expectations you have of your child. Your child will receive some homework tasks which will require contemplative reflection and talk time - it is very important that you factor this time into your home/family schedule.
Home tasks are always more fun when they are completed at quiet, peaceful and relaxed times when there is a chance to discuss thoughts, share ideas and describe experiences. The tasks will mostly be CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) these involve the stages and connection between thoughts - behaviour - bodily response - emotions. Your child will have a workbook that they can complete in their own time, some MP3 audios and video tutorials of breathing, Mindfulness techniques, guided visualisations and Clinical Hypnotherapy.
Have I made my child this way?
There is no judgement or blame and certainly no labelling when you decide to seek help. Instead of feeling guilty how about using that feeling to motivate you to practice some Positive Psychology exercises with your child and family, spend some quality time together or simply read them a story and tell them you love them and they are safe.
Yes, of course children can observe their environment and learn conditioned responses, coping mechanisms and behaviour. If you feel worried by something that is happening at home that you feel may have influenced your child negatively we can talk about that in our first Discovery Session together.
It is not uncommon for the whole family to be triggered by one member receiving therapy and realise that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed by everyone. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk about this further.
Should I talk to the teacher first?
If your child is at a supportive school then I strongly suggest you get them on board from the beginning and keep them in the loop of what is happening. I am very willing to work in collaboration within a therapist-doctor-teacher triad. The more support we can give your child from as many different directions as possible, the faster, easier and more beneficial the changes will be.
How do I know which therapist to send my child to?
There is a plethora of fantastic therapists in Dubai and The Middle East - I am lucky enough to be in contact with many who specialise in: Art Therapy, NLP for Children, Group Family Counselling, Mindfulness and Self-esteem. Let's have a chat about your child's needs and if I don't think I have the skills to benefit your child or we don't quite 'fit' I will be referring you to one of my respected colleagues.
My partner/family think I'm overreacting and things will sort themselves out in time.
Do you believe this? What are your partner's coping mechanisms in stressful situations? What was their childhood like? What expectations do they have of themselves, others and your child? Does this sit comfortably with your beliefs and values? This is something you are going to have to reflect on individually and as a family.
Is it a case that your partner is worried about the stigma attached to therapy, the cost or the disruption it may cause to the family...? It is important to discuss all of these topics first and that you are both united in your decision because if you have differing opinions on the benefits of therapeutic intervention and personal development this could hinder and compromise your child's sessions.
Will my child feel different or labelled because we have sent them for therapy?
Hopefully, with your support and the support of the family, the only thing your child is going to feel is empowered. All sessions are conducted with the utmost discretion, sensitivity and congruence.
This is also a good time to point out that once your child starts therapy, then THEY become my client. I will not be disclosing anything to parents without your child's permission. I will always ask at the end of a sessions, 'What should we let Mum and Dad know?' and 'Would you like me to say anything to them?'
As bitter a pill this may be to swallow, please bear in mind that I only have your child's welfare and best interests in mind - my reputation as a professional depends on it. Imagine the work we do in sessions is a bit like healing a wound - sometimes the more we poke and scratch at it, the longer it takes to heal, recover and rejuvenate.
You may also find that your child is fully energised after a session and want to tell you absolutely everything or they may be a little tired from talking and focusing. Whatever your child decides will be the right decision for them. You may find that a couple of days afterwards they will chat to you before they go to sleep or upon waking about the work they have completed in their sessions - times when they are quiet and reflective. Please respect their decisions and view it as part of the cognitive changes occurring as new ideas, thought patterns and responses are formed in the sub-conscious and conscious part of the mind.