Teenagers, Parents and Families
Crew' therapeutic art workshop for international children I ran in
do you work with families?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
here for more information and photos of Therapeutic
here for more information and photos about
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.
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.
and teenagers can be helped with problems such as:
difficulties (clingy, refuses to separate, cries, anger)
or anxiety about going to school
with divorce or family conflict
problems (tantrums, anger, behaviour problems at school, eating problems...)
over traumatic experiences (accidents, previous family situations,
moving, illness, loss)
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.
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
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
Bullying Role-play in young
people's drama group*
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
Click here to visit the Triple P website:
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.
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 with a Sand-tray
Children's Workshop in London*
of clients are shown with permission of child and family