Snuggle Muffins

Parents, Children & Young People

Neroli Counselling is an ethical private counselling practice in Bignall End (North Staffordshire). I work with people from all walks of life and I work with all ages: my youngest client is 4 years old and my oldest is 84 years old. An area that is very close to my heart is supporting Staff, Children & Young People as they navigate their way through education.

In recent times I have seen an increase in the number of Children and Young People referred to me by their parents. I do often wonder why this is so…?
Is it the shocking state of publicly funded Children’s Mental Health Services in the local area?
Is it the lengthy waiting lists to be seen by many overloaded but brilliant and hard working agencies in the voluntary sector?
Is it my vast and diverse experience of working with Children and Young People, Families, Organisations alongside and within the Education System (over 15 years)
Is it “word of mouth” recommendations from previous clients who liked my work? (this is my preferred reason)

I really don’t know the answer. I do know that Working with Children and Young People through a charity in this area is amazing. The “Dark Side” is when I have to bring funded sessions to an end as clients have had their quota. I try to signpost to other sources of support.
For those who can’t afford to pay for their own sessions, The picture is shocking: all agencies/charities are overloaded with long referral forms, huge waiting lists and seemingly capricious remits and targets… seriously struggling. But that’s another story…

The subject of todays blog is Parents who bring their Children and Young People to Counselling within the Private Sector.

People find themselves coming to counselling for many, many different reasons. It can be, at least at first, an uncomfortable experience. This results in most people wanting it to be over as fast as possible and sorted, done, dusted. Clients or loved ones often ask:

Can you fix this?
 How long till I feel better?
 How many sessions will it take?

Parents, in particular, when bringing children and young people have all their hopes pinned on me: I am the chosen one, one waft of my magic wand, an enigmatic smile and all will be better and brighter (I know, as I have been that parent.) Parents would often also like me to do so for as little money as possible: family finances are often very delicate and the thought of indefinite sessions can bring most parents pulse rates up at an alarming rate. Hopefully you will find it comforting to know that as a member of the BACP I am ethically required not to continue with therapy for longer than required.

What are you talking about in sessions?

I know that handing your child over to another professional adult can be an anxious time for a myriad of reasons. When I sent my son for counselling I personally found it intimidating to think that that grown up would be hearing intimate, personal and potentially embarrassing details about daily life in my home. What might they think of me? Would they judge me? Am I a bad parent? Professional Counsellor Persona (“Neroli Counselling” me) knows the other side of these worries: I am fully aware of the strict code of ethics counsellors follow which includes clauses about confidentiality. The counsellor is not there to judge you or anyone else in your family, their sole purpose is to help your child manage their problems and try to resolve them in a positive way. I know this true, but as a parent whose child went to Younger Minds I still fretted despite their very useful info page.

I bet he/she just complains about me?

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) says that “therapy offers you a safe, confidential place to talk about your life and anything that may be confusing, painful or uncomfortable”.

Sadly, parents, that can include you… Sorry. Often clients really don’t want to say the things they say to me to people that they are going to have to see day in, day out. Some things are really just too personal, awkward, embarrassing or painful. As a counsellor I have no part in peoples’ daily lives, both me and the clients’ thoughts stay neatly in my little box (aka counselling room). They can leave the nastiness with me, they don’t have to see “it” written all over their parents’ face.

I also get the lovely liberty of working one-to-one without distractions with your child. I really get to see the very best of them. I am aware that I may have upset several adult clients who are also parents who have teenagers: I said many people run from Children and Young People whereas I love to work with them. What I don’t always get to clarify is that I don’t have to live with them 24/7 nor them with me. I can (for a short period of time) give them what they need. Apologies to any adult clients who may not have heard the clarification!

Is there a plan? An Aim? A target?

No! I know, shocking isn’t it…

For once in their daily lives, there is no adult telling them what they can and cannot do. That’s not How Person centred Counselling works.

I would like to see some goal setting? I think he/she needs to work on this….?

Whilst you as parent are paying for the sessions, with all due respect you are not my client. It is my professional role to protect your child’s therapeutic space, strange as it sounds often I am like a bouncer and if your name ain’t on the list you’re not coming in. Obviously with your and your child’s permission we can gently and respectfully negotiate some flexibility on this and discuss issues that you both wish to discuss but you have to trust me to to my job. It sounds a bit dramatic but you wouldn’t second guess an A&E Medic or a Paramedic coming out to assist your child, so you need to let me do my thing. I will work with you, but sometimes it’s a very delicate tight rope walk between your child’s needs in the counselling space and you as a parent. I feel very passionately that it is my job to listen to your child to listen to their voice, even if their voice shakes and is barely audible.

How many more sessions?

The benefit of Private Practice is flexibility, we can have as few or as many sessions as your child needs/requires or likes. I have had a child have only 1 session, some clients take much longer. Many charities and government agencies are often limited to 6 or maybe 10 sessions maximum. Sadly often with vulnerable children it can take that long just to build up the trust and relationship required to begin the therapeutic work. In some cases we have had to work on ending sessions, before the real work has begun: as a counsellor that can be heart wrenching.

If you are ever unsure or unhappy with the number of sessions or perhaps unable to fund more, or you might even want to set a limit from the onset please do let me know at a convenient and discreet time. We can work it out.

When will I see a return on my investment?

Obviously with pressure on family finances ever increasing, parents do want to know when will they see results… unfortunately counselling our children and young people is something that’s very hard to quantify…. So here are some things that children have told me:

I received one-to-one attention.
I received a trained professional’s full, undivided attention, in a safe confidential environment with no interruptions.
I was able to set the agenda, I was in control of what went on and what was discussed, it was up to me.
I received a friendly warm and understanding environment where I felt at home and able to discuss some very raw emotions.
I was able to discuss some things that felt selfish, self-absorbed, possibly even self-pitying.
I was able to process my own reactions to things that I had heard or that had been said to me.
I was able to stop for a moment and look at events, people and stories in my life.
I was able to sift through what on earth was going on in my own head.
I was able to have a big sort out: pretend my head is a messy desk: I cleared away the scraps, the rubbish, the old things I no longer use.

So Yes indeed it is very hard to find a measure of success. However I find myself privileged both as a parent and as a counsellor to have witnessed the positive after-effects of person-centred counselling sessions. Its often in the little things… more confidence, sleeping through the night, going into school more happily, making and keeping friends, smiles, teachers reporting on little successes, children chattering about their day, reporting on events, being more willing and able to take part in activities, overcoming natural shyness, interacting with other adults in the family confidently.

I sincerely hope that this explains a few things, and eases some worries perhaps!