Over the course of this year, as a counsellor in Aberdeen, and a therapist in Dundee, I’ve treated nearly as many children and young people using Human Given’s psychotherapy as I have adults. Most arrive with anxiety-related symptoms – poor sleep, aggressive, cluster headaches, school refusal, over or under eating. Some are self harming or are suffering from depression. Most have had one if not many conversations with their school medics and their family GP. Some have already had therapy with varying degrees of success.
All of the children I see with mental and emotional health issues receive Human Given’s therapy from the first minute of the first session with me. It’s rare to still have a client with me after 4 sessions – although occasionally I’ve see a few for up to 6 sessions.
So what is it that Human Given’s therapy supplies to these young people that they’re missing out on elsewhere. Here’s what I think they’re benefitting from in the most part:
1. Deep listening: the sort of listening that rarely happens with parents because that’s just not most family designs. And it doesn’t happen with friends and peers because at 13-25 years old they’re simply not equipped with those life skills yet. So for many, the first time they get to sit down, uninterrupted for 60-90 minutes and just voice their thoughts, their ideas, their challenges, is in a therapeutic Healthy Chat. My job as much as is possible is to concentrate hard on the words, the tone, what’s being said, what’s being skated over; reflect back what I think I’ve heard; ask for more.
2. Releasing questions: the sort of enquiry that helps that teenager or young adult to recognise where they’re skilled; to link their multiple resources together; to see for themselves that where they’re at right now is not a dead end or a no-hope situation, but a chance to test their intelligence, self-discipline, communication techniques, powers of persuasion and reslience to a whole new level.
3. Practical knowledge: most clients, children to adults, who come to see me don’t have a working understanding of their own brains. They understand to some extent what learning and intellect is, but they’re fascinated to hear about the parts of their brain they can control consciously and the parts that control them without their knowledge. Knowing how it works helps to form a strategy on how to use it for the outcome they want.
4. Mindset expansion: when we change our approach to something, that thing changes. And if young people have one common trait it’s being creative about what else they could try. Working it out in a safe place, with an unattached-to-the-rest-of-their-life grown-up is mental medicine for most of them. (And reporting back their successes at the next session is mental medicine for me!)
5. Mental & emotional rehearsal: this is the main fast-tracking piece of Human Given’s therapy and most often works because it delivers a speedy confidence lift to a person who, right in that moment, realises ‘I can’. When I take a young person through a process where they can literally see, feel and sense themselves achieving what they’ve talked about, it changes how they perceive themselves – and that’s powerful.
African-American social reformer, Fredrick Douglass knew his stuff when he said: “Its easier to build strong children than repair broken men”.
Aware parents will keep on researching until they arrive at an answer for their children’s emotional and mental health & wellbeing. If that’s you and you know there’s something more that would benefit your child, niece, nephew or teenager of friends – genuinely consider calling me now at Healthy Chat. It’s what I’m here for.