Child & Family Services

 

WHAT’S TROUBLING MY CHILD?

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Your child seems down or excessively worried about things 
  • You notice sudden changes in school performance, appetite, or participation in usual activities
  • You are getting into more arguments with your child, not seeing eye to eye
  • Your child has been withdrawing from family or friends
  • Your child is having difficulty adjusting to a recent stressor (e.g., loss of a significant person or pet, separation, divorce, recent traumatic experience)

When you notice difficulties at home, school, or with friends, it can be challenging to figure out what is at the root of the problem.  Children and youth have difficulty expressing their distress.  Their problems may be compounded by how they are coping in a world which is largely out of their control.  It can be confusing to find the source of the problem.  Examining your child’s behaviour may give you clues to what is troubling him or her, but it may not give you the whole picture.

You may have tried different ideas for how to solve the problem and made little headway. Sometimes just trying to manage the problematic behaviours can create arguments and get you into power struggles with your child, only making things feel worse. 

 

It is painful to see your child struggling.  It is upsetting to feel your connection with your child eroding. You may be losing sleep over it.   You may be feeling inadequate as a parent.  You may be feeling overwhelmed and helpless about what to do.

No matter how confused you feel, we can help you disentangle the problem.  When you come to see us for counselling we will work together with you and your child to determine what underlies feelings, such as, anxiety or depression or acting out behaviours. 

Our psychologists are trained to help you and your child overcome difficulties with learning abilities, social adjustment, family relationships, and overall self-esteem and coping.  You and your child will be supported in navigating the journey through childhood and adolescence.  You will discover how to speak the same language and understand each other; reducing conflict and rebuilding the warmth and joy of your connection.  Your child can develop confidence in coping effectively with problems in school, with peers, or other life pressures.  In turn, imagine your sense of relief at being able to tune into your children’s needs and support them effectively. 

 

How Do Our Counselling Services Help Your Child, Youth, and Family?

 

Stage 1: Psychological Assessment Phase

Depending on your needs, we may offer your child or adolescent psychoeducational and/or clinical psychological assessments. 

Psychoeducation Assessments

Psychoeducational assessments for children and youth between the ages of 6 and 16 years may assist you in uncovering issues related to learning and school performance for the purpose of diagnosing:

  • Attention-deficit-hyperactivity problems
  • Learning disabilities or difficulties
  • Intellectual and developmental delays
  • Giftedness
  • Social and emotional problems impacting school performance

Your psychologist will meet separately with you and your child, conduct an assessment and provide you with useful feedback.  Your psychologist will develop recommendations and learning strategies to help optimize your child’s strengths and address challenges.  Your child will work with a psychologist to adopt these learning strategies.  You will also be supported in implementing practical strategies at home that will help your child feel more effective. 

Clinical Psychological Assessments

For children and youth between the ages of 3 and 19 years, a clinical assessment will assist you in understanding your concerns, taking into account your child and his/her developmental, social, familial, and cultural context.

Clinical assessments for children and youth will help to identify:

  • Adjustment and behavioural problems (e.g., coping with recent life changes, relocation, divorce, blending families, grief and loss)
  • Developmental issues (e.g., issues with body image, identity formation, self-esteem)
  • Social difficulties (e.g., problems with peer group, bullying, unassertiveness)
  • Specific emotional problems (e.g., anxiety, depression, coping)
  • Family relationship issues (e.g., power struggles, different parenting styles, marital conflict)

Your psychologist will meet with you and your child separately and together.  Based on your meetings the psychologist will help you formulate and understand the full picture of what is troubling your child/youth, or family.  You will be offered recommendations and services adapted to your needs. 

 

Stage 2: Therapy services for children, parents, and families

We provide counselling and therapy services for children from preschool, through adolescence, and up to young adulthood.  Based on a comprehensive understanding of the issues that are triggering and maintaining your child’s or family’s difficulties, therapeutic services may be offered.  They can include:

Structured cognitive behavioral therapy   Attachment based play or “talk” therapy Attachment based Therapy for
for children and support for parents for children and support for parents couples (EFT) and families (EFFT)

 

Structured Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a short term approach to helping children and youth develop practical strategies to cope with a variety of difficulties such as anxiety, depression, anger, and peer problems.  This therapy approach is also very helpful to children facing major life transitions such as separation, divorce, and entering a blended family. In addition to meeting with your child, we dedicate time to working closely with you as a parent. These sessions are designed to help you develop effective and consistent parenting strategies to support your child in managing his/her emotions and behaviour.

Structured Cognitive Behaviour Therapy will give your child a better understanding of triggers and the consequences of choices made. He/she will learn new ways of thinking about stressful situations and managing his/her feelings. You will be supported in helping your child to benefit from therapy with a clear plan with concrete and useful strategies to follow.

  • You and your child are given the tools to build on their strengths and work through their challenges
  • Your child’s coping skills and self-esteem grow
  • Your child begins to get along better with people and becomes involved in healthy activities
  • Your confidence in your parenting improves

 

Attachment based play or “talk” therapy is a longer term approach that focuses on helping children and youth who have experienced adversity such as trauma, loss, or grief. Through the development of a strong relationship with the therapist, we help your child or youth build a sense of safety in the world.  By working through difficult emotional experiences in play or talk therapy, children come to view themselves as capable and loveable.  We also support you as a parent in better understanding and responding to your child's emotional and relationship needs.

Attachment oriented supportive and play therapy will give your child the opportunity to express through safe mediums such as play, art, story-telling, or traditional “talk” therapy, experiences that may be confusing or distressing.  The approach will be suited to your child’s age and natural mode of self-expression.  Your child will develop a sense of mastery over his/her challenges.  You will be supported in offering your child the guidance and emotional support that he/she needs.

  • Your child learns to express him/herself more clearly rather than through misbehaviour
  • Your child learns that he/she is not to blame for difficult things that have happened beyond his/her control
  • Your child will have a better understanding of who he/she can trust
  • You feel closer to your child and better able to support him/her when  he/she is upset

 

Attachment based therapy for couples (EFT) and families (EFFT) is an approach that invites the couple or all members of the family to work together on diffusing conflict and strengthening bonds. Through building a greater sense of security and connection between family members, communication improves, and new, creative solutions to old problems become possible.  Click here to learn more about EFT, which is recommended for couples.  EFFT is an adaptation of EFT for working with families and follows the same principles and process.

EFFT involves tracking patterns of communication in the family system and discovering where they break down.  Family members are first encouraged to notice where they get triggered in their interactions.  Our counsellor will help your family explore and communicate feelings that stir up in conflicts or times of disconnection.  Over the course of therapy, your counsellor may ask you all to come in together or in groupings, such as parent-child or siblings, to focus on strengthening particular relationships in your family.  Greater understanding and constructive communication will solidify your family bond and improve resilience to stress or transitions. 

Attachment oriented couples (EFT) and family therapy (EFFT) with your child and family makes sense of difficult behaviour patterns in a way that helps you and your child connect.  When your family members learn to speak the same language, you understand each other, and can align with each other.  You can address problems in a united way, fighting a common goal. 

  • Your child’s self-esteem and social skills develop
  • Family conflict can resolve without power struggles
  • Relationship rifts are repaired
  • Developmental transitions can be negotiated successfully

Our psychological interventions are firmly based on what therapists have learned from leading psychological theorists and researchers over the last 40 years. Family attachment is the basic foundation that children and parents need in order to function well in school, work, or social contexts, cope with stressful events, and even maintain good general health and wellness.

Regardless of the therapy method used, our approach is holistic in that we strengthen your child’s ability to cope with his/her concerns AND strengthen the social and family network within which your child grows.  Your psychologist will offer recommendations to enhance your ability to tune into and respond to your child’s needs.  In addition, your psychologist or counsellor may offer to consult with teachers and school counsellors. This holistic approach enables children to maintain gains made in therapy by optimizing their environments outside of therapy.

 

What Kind Of Benefits Can You Expect From Child and Family Therapy?

Psychological studies show that it is most effective to help distressed children by addressing all the problematic components of the system integratively, just as the spokes that extend from the centre of a wheel need to be balanced for a bicycle to function well.  We aim to understand your child within his/her environment (family, school, community, culture).  This helps your child develop personally within the context of his or her environment.  The environment can also be modified to better meet the needs of your child. 

 

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The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
Thomas Merton

 

VCFI Child and Family Services

 

VCFI Child and Family Services