In addition to conducting talks and workshops for schools and organisations, Joy also offers counselling services on a one-on-one basis to children and adolescents in need. If you are concerned that your child may be struggling with certain challenges and may benefit from additional support, please feel free to contact Joy at 96182788 or for an initial consultation session. 

What is counselling?

Counselling For Children And Teenagers

Childhood is meant to be a time marked with fun, laughter and happy moments.  However, in reality, many children experience various challenges in the process of growing up. 

Consider the following children:

  • Peter, aged 9, struggles with school work and his academic results are usually poor.
  • Deborah, aged 7, is the subject of constant bullying in school as she is perceived as “fat” and “stupid”.
  • Kevin, aged 10, feels lonely most of the time. He feels no one listens to him or gives him any attention at all.
  • Jeremy, aged 14, has low self-esteem – he considers himself unworthy to have any friends and thus withdraws himself from other children in school.
  • Lina, aged 16, feels that she needs to meet her parents’ high expectations and puts herself under great pressure to perform well in school.
  • Gerald, aged 12, has had to experience his parents’ divorce, and he feels guilty about not being able to stop them from separating.
  • John, aged 11, is a kind boy.  However, he has difficulty in controlling his anger, and hence often gets into trouble in school.

To compound matters, these children often find it difficult to express their worries and concerns.  They may lack the language skills to gain appropriate support.  Hence, they frequently respond through behaviours that appear challenging to adults, including school refusal, attention seeking, aggressiveness, temper tantrums, conflictual sibling relationships, anxiety or depression.  Further, they also struggle in understanding and managing their own emotions and behaviour. 

The underlying issues beneath these behaviours, when left undetected or unresolved, can lead to significant challenges in future.  These children would benefit from additional support in the form of counselling or therapy, in order to prevent the formation of longstanding emotional and behavioural challenges.  Having a professional to support them through their challenges will aid them along their journey in life. 

Common Signs Which Indicate That A Child May Benefit From Counselling:

  • Constant feelings of sadness or depression
  • Anxieties and various fears
  • Mood swings (for instance, happy one moment and sad the next)
  • Anger, violence, temper tantrums or other aggressive behaviour
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or increased sleepiness
  • Physical complaints (for example, stomachaches, headaches, despite a normal physical examination by the doctor)
  • Social withdrawal (for instance, stops interacting or playing with peers)
  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • School refusal or frequent absenteeism from school
  • A significant drop in academic performance
  • Problems in transition (such as change of schools, promotion to higher school levels, moving house)
  • Being the victim of bullying or bullying other children

  • Heavy attachment to parents (for instance, cries and refuses to separate, clingy)

  • Difficulty in coping with bereavement

  • Feelings of responsibility for separation or divorce

  • Self-harm behaviour and threats of suicide

How Counselling Benefits The Child

Counselling is useful to address issues that cause the child to feel distressed.  It involves helping the child to identify and recognize his strengths, and to understand his feelings and thoughts in a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment.  The child is also equipped with adaptive coping mechanisms to express themselves and to manage various challenges.  In addition, through the counselling process, the self-esteem of the child can be enhanced, and the ability to manage life’s challenges is increased. 

The Counselling Process For Children

Similar to adult counselling, counselling for children involves the development of a trusting therapeutic relationship between the child and the counsellor.  The child is given space to tell his or her own story without any fear of judgment, in an emotionally safe and reassuring environment. 

However, unlike adults, many young children often may not be able to fully express their difficulties verbally.  Hence, various methods such as art, play, stories, or other therapeutic activities will be helpful to encourage children to express themselves.   Older children may prefer to express themselves verbally or a mixture of both.  Different age-appropriate methods are employed to tailor to the specific and unique needs of each child. 

The first counselling session is usually conducted together with the child and the parents.  It is generally an interview session, in which the counsellor develops an understanding of the needs of the child and the expectations of the parents.  Following this initial interview, the process of intervention is discussed with the parents.  Once the child and the parents feel safe and comfortable with the counsellor, individual counselling sessions may be conducted with the child, without the parents.  This provides a safe space for the child to share about their feelings and thoughts, without the fear of reaction of the parents.   Nevertheless, working with parents and the family of the child is definitely important when counselling children.  This is because parental support is vital, in order for therapy to be effective.  It is hence recommended that the counsellor meets the parents regularly, to update about the therapy progress. 

The child’s right to confidentiality is respected during the counselling process.  However, the counsellor may deem it necessary to share certain important information with the parent.  This includes situations where the counsellor is concerned that the child is at risk of harming themselves, harming others, or being harmed by others.  In such instances, the child’s permission to breach confidentiality is first obtained by the counsellor, in order to maintain trust.