Children and Adolescent Counseling

Children and adolescents experience and communicate emotional distress differently.  They may struggle socially, have difficulty learning, act aggressively towards others, develop rituals, use alcohol or drugs, cling to caregivers, self-harm, or have negative beliefs and feelings about themselves.  Such behaviors and feelings often interfere with their sense of well-being and capacity for emotional, social, and intellectual development.  Therapy can be effective when problems do not resolve with time and support from parents, teachers, or friends.

Child and adolescent therapy focuses on underlying emotional problems that interfere with development.  Through play and talk therapy, the clients are helped to understand the causes of their distress and to learn coping skills to deal in healthy ways in the future.  The goal is to show lasting changes in emotional states and behaviors.

The process for assessment and evaluation varies depending on the age of the child or teen.  During the initial session(s), information is gathered from parents or from the adolescent about their reasons for coming to therapy.  Typically, the client and the counselor will meet individually for the next several sessions for an evaluation phase.  The length of this phase varies.  The counselor uses information gathered to determine appropriate treatment needs and goals.  Therapy is a collaborative process with parents and often involves regularly scheduled parent meetings.  As teens approach older adolescence, parent involvement typically decreases in order for them to build trust and safety with their counselor.  When appropriate, the counselor may ask to consult with teachers, pediatricians and psychiatrists, and school counselors.

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