English Counselling Kansai

Psychotherapeutic Counseling · Family Support · Training · Consultation



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Children, Teenagers, Parents and Families

art therapy workshop

'Creative Crew' therapeutic art workshop for international children I ran in London*

How do you work with families?

When working with families or children/adolescents I primarily use a systemic model which takes into account the inter-relationships of all members and their different contexts and includes solution-focussed, narrative and play therapy approaches which help families to collaborate to create new solutions to old problems. This is the preferred model used in the National Health Service and Social Care settings in the UK for it's effectiveness, however I also combine elements of other approaches, which flexibility is built into the systemic way of working. My approach is very collaborative, meaning that I am very foccused on finding out what you want, how you are finding our work, and what is the best and most effective way I can help you and your family in particular, which will always be unique from all other families.

How therapy is done depends on the situation - Please contact me to discuss your family's needs. Work may include therapeutic play for the child (with or without parents present), whole family work (this is usally recommended as at least part of the work - although it may feel more daunting at first it's often the most efficient route to improvement), individual work with young people or time for the parent(s) to discuss the problems with me away from the child. I use a systemic viewpoint which means being aware of every part of the problem and people involved as a complex web of relations - no single factor can be fixed in isolation, but equally all parts of the system can contribute to changing it, and sometimes problems which arise in, for example, a child's behaviour have surprising causes and and can be resolved by the process, as much as by direct approaches. Even if there are external pressures which can't be removed, our responses to them make a big difference.

I also work with international schools, however except for specific projects I remain independent from them to provide an external support, and will not share information of private clients with schools (or anyone else) unless you request it (except for the duty to report child abuse).

How does Family Counselling work?
Family counselling or systemic practice is a way to support a whole family which is impacted by a problem or situation. Even where problems are focussed on one individual this will impact others in the family and in order to resolve the difficulty they need understanding and sometimes changes which spark change in them or support them to sustain new thinking. It's much harder for change to occur when only one individual attends counselling because after each session they they must return to an unchanged situation which is unaware what difference has ocurred and so unwittingly pushes them back into the old way of thinking. Conversely if a whole family or more than one person from the family attend, one or two members may grasp a difference which has reverberations and ripples in the whole family. It also prevents the problem where too much focus is on one individual causing resistance and/or difficulties for siblings or others. Family counselling is a way to deepen relationships that protect and strengthen the family and discovers the unused ideas and resources within it families frequently come out at the end with a totally different perspective on the situation from how they arrive.

For those who think, 'talking as a family? that sounds uncomfortable. I'd rather go by myself!' or 'I think my child would rather go by themselves they won't talk in front of me!' it might be that talking together is something you have been avoiding unawares and that finding a way back to communication is exactly what will be most effective in resolving difficulties, although this doesn't mean that all sessions will necessarily include everyone.


What is therapeutic play?
Therapeutic play means doing therapy through objects, art and stories, using creativity to communicate and to access intuitive knowledge. The child (or adult) client can express themselves by acting out play scenarios, drawing, talking, (or just play!). The counsellor responds and works with the information produced (or just plays!). The play therapy room is a safe, fun, space with puppets, dolls, toys, art materials, play dough or clay, musical instruments, and a sand tray with many different figurines and symbolic toys with which the client can tell stories, invent imaginary worlds, and build a safe relationship with the counsellor. Unspoken fears can be expressed and worked through in 'as if' situations and safely left behind at the end of the session. Play can be used with individuals or in whole families and can also be adapted to online work with some creativity!

Click here for more information and photos of Therapeutic Play

child therapy - exploring situations with dolls,  Kobe, Japan child counselling - puppets in the play therapy room, Kobe, Japan

Click here for more information and photos about Therapeutic Play

When and Why do children and young people need counselling?
The reality of childhood is sometimes far from care-free. Children suffer from all kinds of worries and fears, from their parents’ divorce to the terror of the monster under the bed and recently anxiety levels and pressure on children seems to be increasing. Some children experience trauma such as accidents, bereavements or abuse and others suffer with disabilities. If children get no opportunity to deal with these things, they can be left confused and fearful, leading to problems with school or home-life or longterm difficulties. Troubled children may be either clingy or withdrawn, may have anger outbursts, or difficult behaviour, (although sometimes children with emotional difficulties do exceptionally well at school). Sometimes issues like bed-wetting, eating problems and bad behaviour are signs that children are unhappy.
Children and adolescents of all ages are often reluctant to tell parents what is wrong, but seeing a counsellor for some therapeutic play or to help communication with parents can make a big difference. Children come out of themselves and recover their enthusiasm and achievement through therapeutic play.

Children and teenagers can be helped with problems such as:

    Anxieties and fears

    Attachment difficulties (clingy, refuses to separate, cries, anger)

    Refusal or anxiety about going to school

    Reluctance to speak


    Coping with divorce or family conflict

    Behaviour problems (tantrums, anger, behaviour problems at school, eating problems...)

    Anger management

    Getting over traumatic experiences (accidents, previous family situations, moving, illness, loss)

    Developmental disorders (I cannot diagnose developmental disorders, however I may be able to provide therapy which helps children to cope and make progress with issues such as Aspergers' Syndrome.


    Eating troubles


How can counselling or parenting support help parents?
Bringing up children is a difficult task, not usually made any easier by being in a foreign country or raising cross-cultural children, where it can be hard to get support and advice that suits your family. Many children go through difficult times and as a parent it can be very isolating and difficult to know what to do for the best. Many parents find their assumptions about parenting differ from each other, or other people around, and it's easy to get caught in a maze of questions and arguments.

Counselling or therapeutic play provides a space where all these issues can be addressed and it is possible to communicate without arguing and find a way forward. Parents may know what they want to do - but putting it into practice may need support. I can also offer some tried and tested techniques and explanations for many common issues and help you work through issues unique to your family. Some families face added stress such as illness, mental health problems, financial worries, relationship problems, etc that make parenting more difficult. Some parents find that coming for individual counselling themselves frees them to look after their children's needs better.


Being a teenager is never easy, and the identity crisis young people face may be complicated for some by being dual culture, gender or sexuality questioning, etc. Relationships with parents are often strained and teenagers may fear sharing their worries for lots of reasons. This age group is also at high risk of bullying,eating disorders, self-harm, and depression and under pressure from education, peers and media.. Counselling offers teenagers somewhere separate from family and school to work out their feelings as well as a way to communicate as a whole family in new ways with less escalation and conflict and more positive outcomes.

children's counseling - bullying  therapy workshop

Bullying Role-play in young people's drama group*

Parenting Support – Dealing with difficult behaviour
In addition to counselling I can offer a more active training role where appropriate, for example where there is a problem with managing a child’s behaviour. I am an accredited practitioner of Triple P, a highly regarded parenting training programme with remarkable results, changing even the most difficult young child and teenager behavioural difficulties. This can be offered individually or for groups.
Click here to visit the Triple P website: http://www.triplep.net

Worried about a child?
If you are concerned that your child seems to be unhappy or that something or someone in your life could harm your child, please contact me or another counsellor or support centre. It is much better to get support early, and prevent the situation deteriorating, rather than wait till problems get worse. When families come to me for help, I understand that they are trying to solve a problem. I do my best to work with families confidentially to ensure everyone is safe. Although counsellors have a responsibility to report abuse of children, this does not mean children will be taken away from families or authorities will intervene, this is only a last resort in extreme cases (and is exceptionally rare in Japan, where families can usually refuse external involvement). Usually, families can get help while they resolve the problem privately. Families are usually the best people to know what their child needs, but getting support is important if thing start to go wrong.

If you are concerned that a child you know might be being abused (either physically, sexually, emotionally, or by neglect) please do not ignore the problem and hope it will improve by itself. There are child protection centres covering all parts of Japan that you can contact who will investigate and try to support the child and parents when the child is at risk of abuse in their family. You could also contact the child's school or an NGO. If you are not sure what to do, you are welcome to contact me to discuss it.


Play therapy and counselling room in Kobe, Kansai, Japan

Therapeutic play with a Sand-tray

Refugee Children's Workshop in London*

child art therapy for refugees

*All pictures of clients are shown with permission of child and family


Home Background & Qualifications Counselling Children, Parents & Families Info for Organisations Other Resources Contact, Access & Prices 日本語
Please contact me if you have further questions or wish to arrange an initial meeting


Telephone no: 0081-(0)78-453-1030
email: englishcounselling@gmail.com