When it is time to get child counseling?
It is worth going to a child psychologist when we notice any disturbing symptoms in a child’s behavior. We should remember that a child psychologist is the same specialist as a pediatrician or dentist, in the sense that a visit to him does not mean that the parent can’t handle raising a child, as, for example, a visit to a dentist does not mean that. It’s simply about consulting a specialist.
We should also remember that not every situation will require a long-term therapy. In many cases one visit is quite sufficient. Asking for a support from a specialist also has the advantage that the specialist will be able to dispel the parent’s doubts and give him an objective and impartial opinion on the child’s development.
Symptoms that often result in a visit to a child psychologist include:
1. Clear neurotic symptoms – e.g. unexplained allergies or stomach pains, tics, stuttering, repeated inability to control urination (enuresis).
2. Recurring problems in relationships with peers – when a child is a victim of violence, or when he or she acts aggressively toward them, as well as when the child does not enter into social relations with other children and stays away from them.
3. Problems in parent-child relationships – e.g. arguments, communication difficulties.
4. Parent’s divorce – emotions associated with it are very difficult for a child.
Read more: How to divorce without hurting children
5. A big change in child’s behavior – when the kid feels sad, angry or isolated more often than before.
6. The child has problems with learning at school – when he gets worse grades, many parents attribute it to laziness, for example, but the reason may lie elsewhere, e.g. in the child’s emotions.
7. The child is frightened – he is afraid of various situations, is introverted, shy.
8. The child has low self-esteem – when the child considers himself or herself worse than others.
9. Teachers or loved ones report that something bad is happening to the child.
What does the first visit to a child psychologist look like?
The first visit is for the parent (guardian) or both parents (guardians), while the first visit is carried out without the child being present. The main thing behind that is that the child should not hear what the parent tells the psychologist, because the child might perceive this as a criticism towards him or even as a parent’s dissatisfaction with the child. On the other hand, it is also important that the parent is not embarrassed by the fact that the child hears the conversation, and can honestly tell the psychologist about he sees the problem.
The consultation takes 50 minutes. During this time, a child psychologist collects an interview – asks about the child’s state of health and about all information relevant to working on the reported problem. Then, the psychologist and parent will determine the purpose of helping the child and the methods that will lead to this goal. In particular they decide whether the child’s visits will be necessary and if so, what should be the frequency of these visits. The psychologist will also tell the parent what his meetings with the child will look like and what to expect from therapy.
Child going to psychologist
The way the parents tell the child that they would like the child to visit a psychologist is extremely important. The point is that the meeting with the psychologist should not be perceived by the child as a “punishment”. It is better for the parent to explain that a psychologist is someone who can actualy help the child.
The child psychologist first needs to build a proper relationship with the child. To talk to him about his emotions and feelings, the child at the psychologist must feel safe and comfortable. That is why a child psychologist usually needs several meetings to achieve the goals of his work, but of course the number of meetings always depends on the specific case. The work of a psychologist with a child can be divided into a diagnostic part when the psychologist examines and analyzes the problem, and a therapeutic part when he is working on achieving the set goals.
Of course, the way the psychologist works also depends largely on the child’s age. In the case of teenagers it can be a loose conversation, in the case of younger children the psychologist can start with, for example, having fun together. Having fun together helps to establish a good relationship in a natural and unobtrusive way. It also gives the psychologist the opportunity to directly observe the child’s emotions and behavior. At the beginning, it may be helpful for the psychologist to ask the child to draw something. Then the interpretation of such a drawing can be used as an introduction to talking with the child and a step forward in understanding the problem.
However, it should be remembered that a psychologist always chooses the working methods for a particular case.