I help children and teens using the same skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which I use with adults using age-appropriate methods. Young clients have fun while learning and practicing strategies to address their issues.
A Double-Barreled Approach to Coping
I use a double-barrelled approach to helping children and teens—problem-focused and self-focused coping. In problem-focused coping, I help young clients take action to solve problems which are adding to their distress such as those they face at home and at school. In self-focused coping, I help children and teens learn skills to manage their emotions. Self-focused coping skills include scheduling pleasure and mastery activities, switching attention away from negative thoughts, using physical relaxation activities to calm the body, and practicing cognitive skills to identify and change negative thoughts.
When I work with children and teens, their parents play an active role in in many ways. It begins with their giving parental consent to treatment as required by the College of Alberta Psychologists. Once I begin working with a child or teen, their parents can facilitate progress by providing helpful information about their child, assisting them in practicing psychological skills between counselling sessions, and taking action to help them address problems at home, at school and in other life situations.
Common Issues I Help Children and Teens Address
Some of the common issues I help children and teens address and manage include depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, health anxiety, separation anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, low self-esteem, anger management, stress management, autism, substance use, and eating disorders.
A Skill-Based, Child-Focused Approach
My approach to helping children and teens is skill-based. I tell my young clients that if they can use skills to perform well at school, in sports or in other activities, they have what it takes to use skills to make them feel better by addressing their issues. Before introducing these skills to my child and teen clients, I get to know them and their issues while allowing them to become comfortable opening up to me. To begin each counselling session, I ask my young clients which topics they want to discuss. While we discuss each topic for that session, I look for opportunities to help them apply their existing set of psychological skills and add new skills to their repertoires.