Frequently Asked Questions about Counselling
What should I expect when I come to counselling?
In the initial consultation you and your child will meet the psychologist to discuss your specific issues and concerns and to set goals relating to therapeutic objectives. Your child will then spend time individually with the psychologist. While your child is with the psychologist, you may like to visit one the local cafés or browse the Bay Street shops. At the end of each session we briefly summarise what was achieved and we often set small homework tasks for the student to complete before the next session.
What sort of activities will my child do in counselling?
Your child may use a series of worksheets, role plays and active learning approaches that will help them to resolve any issues or conflicts. Cognitive strategies to replace unhelpful thinking patterns will be explored. Unhelpful thoughts such as negative self talk will be replaced with more realistic and practical ideas and thoughts. Emotion management strategies will be explicitly taught and practiced. Specific scenarios will be discussed and acted out to help your child how to self-manage any depressive thoughts and feelings.
What should I tell my child?
You can tell them that they are going to visit a psychologist who helps lots of different kids deal with all sorts of issues. They will spend some time with the psychologist talking about the good aspects of their life and also those aspects that may need some improvement. They will be talking about their family and friends and also developing some strategies to help them cope better at school and at home.
Can I stay with my child during a counselling session?
Yes. Parents may choose to stay with their child during some sessions. However, it is often better for your child to have some time alone with the psychologist. It is important that your child is given the opportunity to express their own opinions and ideas without Mum or Dad in the room. At the end of the session, we like to give you a brief summary of what was achieved during the session, so we can all work together to achieve the best possible outcomes.
How many sessions will my child need?
The number of sessions can vary widely depending on the issue. For example, if we are teaching social skills or study skills, most children will make solid progress in 4-6 sessions. Other problems may require a longer term approach.
How confidential is counselling?
We try to maintain confidentiality as much as possible. Children need to have a private space where they can freely express their thoughts and ideas without the scrutiny of parents.
Our general policy is that confidentiality must be broken if a child threatens to seriously harm themself or others. In this serious case, you will be notified immediately and given an action plan.
If you have given permission (verbal or written) to talk with a third party, such as a GP or school, we will discuss any relevant issues with them.
For young children, parental involvement is necessary for change, and we therefore encourage you to participate in a brief review and summary of the session with your child, at the conclusion of the session.
Teenagers are usually more concerned with privacy. We encourage teenagers to share a review of the counselling session with you. However, we do respect their right to share only to the extent that they are comfortable in doing so.
Do we provide holistic care?
Yes. We work in conjunction with GPs and paediatricians to help children and teenagers cope and thrive within the school, home and wider community.
Do we treat serious mental health issues?
If your child has severe mental health issues, such as psychosis (any severe mental disorder in which contact with reality is lost or highly distorted), or suicidal thoughts or attempts, we suggest that you get a referral to a Child Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist has specialist medical training and can prescribe medication and other medical interventions. However, we do help manage cases in conjunction with medical professionals, as part of a team approach.
What is the APS Charter?
The Charter for Psychologists is a code of ethics and a statement how you will be treated. The ASP stands for the Australian Psychological Society. We are members of the APS and uphold the highest possible ethical guidelines. View a copy of the APS Charter (PDF).
How is an Educational Psychologist different from other psychologists?
Educational Psychologists specialise in child psychology and educational issues. We work with children who are experiencing problems at school and help them to enhance their learning. For example, a child with severe anxiety in social situations will struggle at school. An educational psychologist can teach a child skills for managing specific situations where they experience difficulty in coping or learning. Through counselling, they will learn practical strategies to cope and function more effectively in general.
Educational Psychologists are also experts in child testing and assessment. We use standardised psychological assessment tools to help identify any learning issues and we provide practical strategies to manage and overcome these.
We have extensive experience in working within the educational system and we are ideally placed to assist school children of all ages.