1. My child is in secondary school. How can you help?
I work with children and teens aged 5-18.
With the younger children I usually work using non-directive play therapy and often integrate elements of other models depending on the specific needs of the client.
For tweens and teens, I often combine creative arts therapy, counselling and elements of TraumaPlay into the work we do together, responding to what the client needs or wants. They can explore in a session anything they want to, so if something comes up that is more pressing than the referral reason, we can look at what the client feels they want to work on.
TraumaPlay is a great model for supporting clients regardless of the reason they have come to therapy; it is great for enhancing safety, security and emotional literacy and most kids and teens benefit from this regardless of referral reasons. There is also a lot of work I can do around helping kids (and teens) manage big feelings by using this model. For clients who have had hard experiences, there is a lot more that can help them manage and move on from events and experiences. See my information on TraumaPlay for more details.
2. How long do you work with a client for?
I initially contract for 20 sessions – these are invoiced for and paid for weekly. We have a review around session 10 to look at how things are going and how we are going to focus for the last 10 weeks. Length of time working with a client is very individual depending on referral reason and own personal experiences and feelings.
Most clients stop at or around session 20. Some go on well beyond 20 sessions. Some finish sooner if we feel it is appropriate, but this decided on a case-by-case basis looking at things like referral reasons and outcomes of therapy.
It is quite normal for a client to do an episode of 20 sessions, have some time away from therapy to consolidate their progress and then to come back for another episode later (or not if things are resolved). As adults we can’t constantly look at and work on the hard things in our lives and kids and teens are the same!
3. I am based in a school – can you come and see a child at our school that needs help?
I do accept referrals from schools, but I no longer do visits to schools. The therapeutic work I can do with a child in my studio far exceeds anything I can do in school. That’s not denigrating school-based therapists in any way – I was one for a long time. It’s just that you can’t fit a whole studio of therapeutic resources in a car…
4. My child has sensory issues (or other specific need), I am worried they will have to do something that is uncomfortable for them. How do you manage this?
As therapy is always client-led, there is never a situation where a child or teen will be asked to do something they are uncomfortable with. There is always a way around things, and we can always find another way of working. The client is always encouraged to say if they don’t want to do anything that is offered, and this is always respected.
I always do an intake meeting before starting work with a client and this is your opportunity to raise things like this with me and for us to plan solutions ahead of needing them.
5. I need to share something important with you. How can I tell you?
You are always welcome to email or text me. Contact details are in my welcome pack. If you are telling me something important about your child or teen, please make it clear to me when you tell me, what I can say in sessions. Saying something ‘you know this’ or ‘you don’t know this’ really helps me. That way if the client brings it to the room, I know what I can/can’t say or react.
If it’s urgent, please always send me a text if it’s the same day as your child/teen’s session. I don’t always have time to check my email, but it is easy to check my work phone.
If we need a chat, please make that clear and I will text you to arrange something and ring you back when I can, although that might not be the same day.
6. Why can’t we just stop therapy?
It’s incredibly important to model a good ending in therapy and celebrate the work your child or teen has done on themselves. From a therapeutic perspective it also means we can ‘work down’ towards an ending and your child isn’t left in a bit of a spot, looking at something hard without the support to move on. My contract details the minimum number of sessions for ending, depending on the time we have been working together, but three is the minimum. I would ask that you respect this as a way of supporting your child in their therapy.
7. I’m not with my child/teen’s other parent or I’m a family member/friend. Do you really need consent from both parents?
Yes. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, I always need consent of both parents. Generally, those extenuating circumstances involve a deceased parent, family courts, the criminal system or an in-patient mental health concern. Not just because they are in another country or things are tricky between you. If things are awkward, I am happy for you to pass my details on and for me to organise consent, meetings etc.
8. Do you see siblings or whole families?
Yes, I do. However, I usually see them separately as they are individual people with individual needs even if they have shared a hard experience. Even when the referral issue is about a sibling relationship, I will usually do some individual work first. The same goes with seeing a family. Every case is different, and we can discuss it at intake.
9. Do you write professional reports and attend meetings?
Yes, I do write reports, meetings are much harder as I am so busy. Reports are not needed for most clients, so are invoiced for separately from sessions. The details are in my contract.
10. I think my child has a learning difficulty or a mental health concern can you diagnose things like ASD, ADHD, ODD, PDA, PANDAS, depression, body dysmorphia, suicidal tendencies, schizophrenia, psychosis, gender dysphoria etc.?
No. I am not a diagnostician. I can support your child or teen with therapeutic support whilst you seek a diagnosis, but I cannot and will not diagnose. I can talk about those issues willingly with you, but you need someone else qualified to make a diagnosis.