Frequently Asked Questions
It can be very difficult to know when a problem may require professional evaluation or if you can safely wait for it to go away by itself. If after all of your efforts to comfort your child and to help reduce the stress, you are still concerned, you can ask yourself the following five questions:
1. Is my child experiencing prolonged and intense discomfort?
Is your child stuck in some way, or feeling or behaving in a manner that is causing him/her or you or other family members distress? There may be a negative reaction that is causing the child upset, whether it is expressed through aggressive or disruptive behaviour, trouble with a developmental task such as toilet training, extreme fears, such as fear of separation, or through confusion, anxiety, sadness or anger. On the other hand your child may show his or her distress by withdrawing. Although the behaviour may not be causing a great deal of problems in the family, you may be very worried about your child. Symptoms may appear at school that are related to experiences at home (e.g. birth of a new baby) or school problems
(e.g. peer relationships) that may manifest in having nightmares.
2. How long has the problem been going on, and how intense is it?
Use your judgment in deciding how long is too long, depending on how you and your child are coping. For instance, if someone close to the child dies, it may take a long time to get over it. In general, you should notice some lessening of symptoms as time goes by. If a child feels slighted for not being included at recess and then avoids going to the playground for several weeks, then the child may need additional help. Also, for age-related problems that persist beyond the norm (typical 2 year old oppositional behaviour) that is frequent and persistent still at the age of 4, may indicate a child who needs additional help moving forward. If you are unsure if your child needs counselling, you can always make a counselling appointment www.kerrisdalecounsellingservices.com where we can assess the situation.
3. Is my child’s problem affecting other areas of his development?
If your child is preoccupied with worries and cannot concentrate in school, it will be difficult for him/her to achieve their potential. Lack of eating or sleeping will be detrimental to your child‘s health. Aggressive children who continue this behaviour beyond the expected age, become socially excluded. If a child is constricted by fears or phobias, she is not able to explore and develop appropriately. Anything that hinders a child from mastering problems in life, or from learning new skills, interferes with self-esteem.
4. Is my child’s problem spreading to other areas?
Children tend to have symptoms in vulnerable areas. For example, a child who has never been a good sleeper is most likely to develop a sleep-related disorder when he’s emotionally stressed. Sometimes symptoms get added on, so that discomfort spreads and worsens. For instance, a child may begin by wetting the bed, then after weeks develop sleep problems, and eventually refuse to go to school. When symptoms seem to snowball, this is a sign that children may need professional therapy.
5. Is the family affected by the child’s problem?
Your child’s problem may take up a lot of parents’ time and attention, leaving your other children feeling deprived of attention. Conflicts with your spouse are also common when your child has difficulty. You may disagree about how to help your child. If you are a single parent, you may become exhausted, overwhelmed and feel completely alone with the burden of your child’s problems. Counselling can help you address all of these problems.
Counselling provides a space and opportunity for you, your child or family to explore any situations, relationships, behaviours, feelings, or thoughts that are causing difficulty in your life. Counselling provides a source of support during a crisis or difficult time. Counselling can bring deeper personal insight and awareness, better ways of understanding and coping with problems, better functioning in life, and improved relationships. Counselling can help you and your family become happier and more harmonious.
Because you will be dealing with difficult topics in therapy, sometimes this may bring temporary discomfort. It is common to feel emotionally or physically tired after a therapy session due to experiencing stronger than usual emotions. It may help to schedule some time after a session to be alone or to do something you enjoy or to allow you or your child time to process things that were discussed. As internal thoughts or feelings begin to change, this in turn can have positive effects on relationships with others. These changes are usually positive but may require some adjustment for those around you. Any issues of concern can usually be resolved by expressing these in subsequent sessions and working closely together.
In the first counselling session, we will meet together so that I can get to know you and get a sense of your needs. You will spend time getting to know me as well and we can then determine if there is a good fit between us, and whether it would be beneficial for us to continue working together. We will always work together to set goals and make plans for what to work on in future sessions.
It is difficult to determine how long therapy will take. The length of therapy depends on many factors including the complexity of the problem, the length of time the problem has existed, the developmental age of your child, and the additional supports that may be in place for your child and family. As therapy proceeds, we will review your goals regularly to ensure that you are satisfied with the progress being made.
Yes, any personal information you share with me is kept confidential, even after the counselling relationship comes to an end. The following are exceptions where I may be obligated by provincial laws to share information:
- information is shared by you or your child indicating that a child is, or may be, at risk of abuse or neglect, or in need of protection;
- information is shared that causes me concern for your or your child’s safety; that you or another person is at clear risk of imminent harm;
- I receive a legal order such as a subpoena, to release copies of my clinical records, or if a disclosure is otherwise required or authorized by law.
Email Janice Ebenstiner at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604-787-7258 and leave a message on the confidential voicemail. Please note: there is no receptionist — your call will be returned as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.
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Janice Ebenstiner is a child play therapist, family therapist and parent counsellor and coach in Vancouver.