Child / Teen Counseling
Lacamas Counseling Serves Vancouver, Camas, Washougal Washington and the surrounding areas
Children and teens vary widely in their maturity, thinking, emotional understanding, and physical abilities. Child and teen counseling is designed with this in mind. Child/teen counseling is a professional relationship focused on helping a child or teen through challenges in a way that is appropriate for their age and stage of development.
Teens may choose to pursue counseling services when they experience problems, life difficulties, or transitions that are beyond their normal ability to cope. Parents may also initiate counseling for their child or teen if they have concerns about changes in their child’s normal pattern of functioning.
Child/Teen Counseling may address concerns about:
- Significant changes in mood, behavior, or attitude
- Traumatic or abusive experiences
- Relationship conflict or breakup
- Communication problems
- Academic or behavioral problems at school
- Grief and loss
- Significant stressors
Parents may notice changes in their child/teen that would indicate a need to consult with a counselor:
- Preoccupation with death or suicide
- Self-harm or risky/violent behaviors
- Significant changes in behavior, mood, or school performance
- Depression or excessive tearfulness
- Regression (i.e. bedwetting, temper tantrums)
- Disinterest in normal activities or friendships
- Increase in physical complaints with no identified cause (i.e. headache, stomachache)
Getting Started With Child/Teen Counseling
Child/teen counseling is used to create a therapeutic relationship between a child or teen and their counselor. The therapeutic relationship offers space, safety, and trust to achieve growth. With this trusting relationship in place, the child or teen is encouraged to express themselves and process through the problem or difficulty. Play therapy is sometimes used as a way for children or teens to express themselves more easily. This type of counseling allows children to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that comes naturally—through play. The counselor collaborates with the child/teen (and parent, if appropriate) to create goals and a plan for counseling.
The counselor assists the child or teen in reaching their goals by facilitating communication, implementing collaborative problem solving, providing education and skills training, giving an outside perspective, empowering the child or teen, and using many other therapy skills and strategies.
The child or teen practices these skills with their counselor and on their own. As the child or teen experiments with the strategies and skills they have learned in counseling, the child or teen gathers valuable feedback through successes, failures, and relapses. Feedback is used as a way to re-focus and align the child or teen toward their personal goals. Finding the courage to experiment with new strategies can lead to growth, progress, and change.
What to Expect from Child/Teen Counseling
Counseling can be short-term (about 2-6 weeks) to address a specific problem or counseling can be long-term (about 2 months to 2+ years) to address larger and more complex issues.
Counseling appointments are typically scheduled weekly, though more or less frequently scheduled appointments can be arranged depending on the severity and intensity of the problems.
Eventually, as the child or teen reaches and maintains progress toward their goals, and if they are satisfied with their progress and no new goals are identified, then counseling is completed.
Children or teens may continue to meet with their counselor on an infrequent basis (in several months or years) to “check-in” about the problems addressed in session or new problems, life difficulties, or transitions.
Parents or families may also decide to pursue family counseling in order to support the child or teen or more holistically address the problem or transition.