Working with Children - by Tina Taylor
Having had quite a few requests from parents who are looking for help for their children, some from parents who have taken their children to other therapists and been disappointment with the outcomes I have been thinking about guidelines for working with children.
When setting up my therapy practice some 10 years or so ago I had a picture in my mind of my clientele and this did not include children. However, as I began to specialise in working with Fertility issues and helping women achieve painless childbirth it seemed to be assumed that I would also work with children.
Gradually over the years I have worked with many children and periodically re-think this process and whether or not this is something that I will keep as part of my practice. I naively thought at one time that if I helped children overcome their childhood fears etc I would be assisting them into becoming well adjusted and balanced adults but at that time there were a couple of things I had not taken into consideration – their parents.
If you should decide to work with these young people there are a few things to consider.
What ages will you work with?
If you decide that you will work with very young children remember you will need both the parents and childs understanding of the problem and be able to speak the childs language to be able to get them to follow your instructions. I have toys available when I am working with young children and also add some time onto the consultation so that we can play together first. Once you have rapport with the child it is very easy to work with them, in fact they are much easier than most adults as they do not question what you tell them and just follow the instructions.
Any hypnosis technique can be used with a child as long as it is presented in such a way that the child understands and is delivered in a non authoritarian manner. For example, speaking about their magical arm; getting arm catalepsy, telling them that once the problem has been solved their arm will move down towards their leg and at the point where their arm touches their leg the problem will be gone forever. Children love arm catalepsy and also IMR’s as these seem to be truly magical to them.
Children are great subjects and they will also let you know if they get bored so be prepared with different approaches.
In some ways very young children are much easier to work with than their older siblings. Something that has come up many many times with older children, is that the parent may have a different view to the child and what they perceive as a problem the child may be very happy with and at times the session has included time to negotiate with parent and child regarding the outcome wanted from the session.
There is also the consideration of whether the older “child” wants the parent in the room and whether the parent wants to be in the room. If the child is under the legal age of consent legally it is up to the parent whether they will stay in the room with their child. In practice I have found that generally parents of teenage boys are happy to stay outside whereas parents of teenage girls occasionally want to be in the room with you. And of course the teenage girl rarely wants anyone in the room with her so once again your negotiating skills will be needed.
And there will be times when you will need to give the parents advice. The mother of one of my clients, a 6 year old with a phobia, called for another appointment as the fear had come back. At the appointment my client said “its not the same fear”. When I asked whats different she replied “You took that fear away but when I got home daddy said you’re gotta be careful because it might come back”. Daddy who I’m sure had no intention of scaring his little girl had given her a fear of the fear coming back.